26 April 2010

The search for ancestors

I've been digging up family history in recent weeks. I guess it is sort of the latest fad because there's a prime time show on NBC about it- "Who do you think you are?" Of course they make it interesting by searching the roots of celebrities like Spike Lee and Lisa Kudrow. I wish they did Gary Coleman or  Allan George See (aka Gavin Macleod ).  But searching for old dead relatives is pretty boring unless you like sifting through lots of data- especially census data. And I guess I do because I still do it.

While, looking at old pictures on Shorpy I found a photo of a character that had a strong resemblance to Minnesota Wild player Derek Boogaard. Could it be a distant relative? Could both these guys be enforcers in their respective jobs? Well, the guy on the right is in the U.S. Navy and so possibly an American. Derek is from Saskatchewan. I wouldn't want to be in fisticuffs with either.

Still another ugly online advert

The ugly online ads diminished quite a bit after I blogged about them. They are still around. The "old guys" are popping up in other ads.
Finally older women are banking in on the online ads. Well at least one is and her add is rather rare and I believe her picture has been touched up to look even more...well take a look.

I believe there has been quite a few wrinkles added. It is an advertisement for wrinkle reducer so why not exaggerate the claims. Make her more wrinkly. To which I wonder if she can sue for defamation. I guess the first question to ask is wether this lady is still in the land of the living.

24 April 2010

Back in 'Sota

Blogging from Minnesota this weekend. I am attending the annual Truebridge Conference where a volcano has prevented the main speaker from coming. Ben Goodman is speaking in his stead which I sort of predicted on the weekend. Still good. The father of Brett Winkelman is also in attendance. This year's theme- Building healthy and effective churches through the power of God.
Onto other things, like fishing for more Finnish readers. So I had my mostly Finnish girlfriend (MFG) over to Lehigh a few weeks ago. Not that is interesting but I did show her the "fake" sauna. It is an electric one which kind of resembles a one hole ice house. Not authentic but it works. I miss the cedar smell. You can see the picture above. 

I am with my MFG this weekend as well. Albeit not in the same lodgings. We went to Como Park on Friday afternoon and I am glad to see that they still have somethings I remember from my childhood, such as this:
It looks a little like a jukebox or a strange video game. It is a wax figurine maker. Place in $2 and get a wax cast of a gorilla or lion or some other mammal. I remember getting one years ago at Como. I think it melted one day or my mom made it into a candle.
I was surprised that Como seemed a little small. Or maybe its more crammed together. The Minnesota Zoo is vast compared to Como. But Como has a charm- well it is also is a free park so maybe that's most of the charm. I guess it has history to it. None more so than the conservatory. But that's for another entry. We'll be there on Saturday for a wedding. Now I leave you a photo of a primate. Sorry Finns, didn't get a picture of the reindeer.

09 April 2010

Royce Files Digest Spring 2010

Lots of things to discusss. So let's get on with this digest.
Red River Basin Flood
Spring has finally sprung upon the landscape on the Great Plains. The always anticipated spring snow storm never arrived. The flood waters continue to recede in Red River Valley. As of yesterday I could see most of the paths by the river. This by no means will abate the continuing debate concerning future flood control. It was just heating up as the crest arrived a few weeks ago.
A North Dakota diversion seems very popular. It gets more good press then a Minnesota diversion which the Corps of Engineers have stated would be the most cost effective solution. Neither solution seemed to answer adequately the concerns of pushing floodwaters further north. Our hydrology correspondant, DJ George, has advocated some form of water retention for years and not only because of flooding but to increase available water sources in the Valley. U.S. Representative Colin Peterson seemed to echo DJ a few days ago.
An issue that got put on the backburning because of the last floods has been the need for the community to have another source of water so not to deplete the aquifier as the region grows. Of course this is sort of a historical debate (see Garrison Diversion). And argiculture will not want land taken up by large holding ponds which cuts in their revenues.
For now it looks like a North Dakota diversion will be the submitted plan to the Feds. Whether the stipulations for retention will appear is yet to be determined.

Internationally Speaking
If you look to the right sidebar of the page, you will see the flag counter. I've had this tool on here for a while and have been keeping track of the increases in traffice from other parts of the world. As expected mostly United Staters are stopping through. They are followed by the Brits and some Canadians. Mostly English speaking places. I'm not sure why I'm not pulling in much Irish since I do write about Eire a wee bit. I think I need to get an Irish correspondent.
The fourth ranking nation is Malaysia!!! Not sure why anybody from Malaysia would come here. Maybe its my now rare football reporting and the beer ads.
Germany rounds off the top five most certainly because of the beer ads.
Since I have a mostly Finnish girlfriend, I am hoping to pull in an audience from Suomi (Finland.) I think I should do a post about an authentic wood heated sauna (pronounced SOW-na). The Finns love their saunas. And I do too although I mostly grew up with the electric or gas buring ones. I also like Finnish hockey player and captain of the Minnesota Wild Mikko Koivu. Never met him but we've been in the same place a few times. And my mostly Finnish girlfriend met someone in Finland whose friend was once his girlfriend. Maybe all the girls in Turku say that. 

Football UpdateMy last football update rambling on. I'll try to be more succinct In the English Premier League it looks like Chelseas have the upper hand after defeating Man U at Trafford. The league is not out of reach for the Red Devils but has become dependant on other teams taking a swat at Chelsea. Arsenal have an outside chance at topping the table but injuries may be a factor, especially since talisman mid-fielder Cesc Fabregas is out for the season. Man City and Everton and even Liverpool seem to be contenders for the 4th, the last Champion league place.
The Mighty Fulham have been advancing well ahead of expectations in the Europa League despite not being much of a glamorous side. West London team is now into the semi-finals and along with Liverpool are the only English clubs left in European competition. Man U, Arsena, and Chelsea bowed out of the Champions league in the last month.
In the fantasy world, my season and others has been sticken by injuries to the big guns Wayne Rooney, Cesc Fabregas amongst others. I'm barely grasping for 4th in the league. Hopefully a  return to form of Fernando Torres will keep me from dropping more points. I am actually kind of amazed at how well I am doing despite not having stepped foot in England.

On the Minnesota WildI mentioned above that Mikko Koivu and I were in the same place a few times. We were both at the Xcel Energy Center and many times with my mostly Finnish girlfriend. (I am really pushing for more Finnish readership here.)
The Wild have had an up and down season. New coach Todd Richards got out to a bumpy start but things improved come November and December. The addition of Guillaume Latendresse was a turning point both for club and player. Still, it seemed the Wild were hampered by injuries and another Finn, goaltender Niklas Backstrom, having an average year. The Wild also saw a lot of newcomers come into the squad this season for periods this season. The post Olympic period was not very good. When the Wild needed to win they just didn't have enough. On the weekend I go to final game of the season. 

On Being One of the Best Places to Bike in America
It seems Bicycling magazine thought well enough of Fargo's efforts to create a more bike friendly city to name Fargo-Moorhead as a potential/future best bike city. Here's the blurb.
As I have known for the few years I have been here, the community is very bikeable. Plenty of quiet roads and commuting distances are not out of reason. A great bike shop and a recent addition of a bike coop have helped make biking more popular. Paths along both sides of the Red River are popular routes as is rail to trail segment in the south part of the city. During the warming months I ride from both sides of town.
However, with a lot of growth on the southwest side, some destinations are not as friendly to get to. And the article is right on with the major impedance being car-oriented culture. It's not just that we over rely on cars, it is that we are not expecting a bike and hence don't live with them well. As a daily commuter I see this often. Well, got to bike away.

01 April 2010

It's over- for now

For now the hard flood work is over. Some residents are even removing dikes. A year ago, I could not have said that. Fargo was watching over the largest historic crest and digging out of a spring snowstorm. It was surreal sitting out a flood and a snowstorm last year
This year preparation and planning paid off. Sandbagging ceased before I even had a chance to volunteer. The only real work I did was pray.
I believe I wrote in an earlier post that the 2010 crest was almost a non-event although it happened to be the 7th highest. The weather was pleasant, people were flocking to the Main Ave bridge, you might have well packed a picnic and welcomed the crest to town.
Across the river, Moorhead was better prepared than last year. One of our correspondents, Phil, who lives on the river didn't have to call in privateers to dike his home this year. The city dropped off sandbags and a busload of volunteers and got it done. I'm sure Phil celebrated with a brew. 
I'm sure it wasn't quite as good elsewhere, but I have heard no reports of major proportions. Overland flooding did occur in places which I will now share with you.
I took these photos heading west towards Jamestown. The overland flooding seemed to cease just before Valley City.  Overland flooding is fairly common in these parts due to the extreme flatness of the terrain. When the snow pack melts quickly this type of flooding will result. Valley City and Jamestown were both spared major flooding this season. Instead Jamestown suffered herds of drunken people wandering downtown.

Surprise Crest Engulfs Town

It was turning out to be a remarkable week in Fargo. The temps were high, the sun was out, the water was receding. All was well.
That was until 12:21 AM on April 1st when a torrent of rushing water entered the Red River at Wahpeton. Within hours waters engulfed the unsuspecting cities on the Red River.
Regional hydrologists surmise a channel of the Laurentian aquifier deep below the earth collapsed due to recent seismic activity.
Off the record, government officials blame it on the alignment of the full moon.
"I am not surprised.Crazy stuff happens during a full moon." an official who did not want to be named stated.
For now the city remains a veritable natural water park. Fargo is considering charging admission in order to pay for a diversion which will include a wild rapids ride to the west of town. Regional planners are hopeful the diversion and water park solution will bring more vacationers. The city of Centralia plans on holding a sandbagging festival to draw attention to the potential the diversion could have on Red River Valley tourism.

(ed. note: The above story is not true. It only appears to be. Fargo is fine.)