31 March 2011

Slow and snow

It seems like the flood has taken backseat to Japan and Libya probably because it is a "slow flood flood a coming" as former Fargo dweller Robert Zimmerman might exclaim. I guess that is all right since Japan is in much worse condition than us at the moment.
So since the last update, sand bag filling operations stopped in Fargo due to new estimates for needed bags. So somewhere between 2.5 and 3 million sand bags were made. Moorhead stopped last week and Cass County did as well. In 2009 the flood was already here by this time. I think the 2010 flood crest already arrived by this time. But the crest in 2011 is taking its time. Winter continues to exert itself upon the region with weekly snow. I think the precipitation this year is higher than 2009. But it is slowly melting. More snow came this morning.
A large community prayer meeting also was held a few weeks ago. For prayer meetings, it was pretty good. It was held in a huge church in SW Fargo.
Fargo had planned to lay sand bags today but due to weather it has been postponed. It was scheduled last week but the snow storm changed that. Moorhead will begin putting up the sand bag dikes on Friday.
A new blog is covering things about the flood- http://www.fargoflooding.com/. It has the usually commentator and links to pertinent stories and a few live web cameras.
http://valleyfloodwatch.com/ has all the important river gauge numbers at top. Looks like Fargo hit flood stage today or yesterday with a reading of 18.7 where 18 is considered flood stage. It also streams live flood meetings.
New forecasts give a 50% chance of hitting the 40.5 crest and a 10% chance of hitting the monsterous 44 foot crest.
The diversion keeps getting more expensive and no doubt dragging this thing out like the Garrison diversion proceedings of decades prior. I am unsure if there will be a win-win solution. The costs keep increasing and outlyling communities are banding together to keep the diversion from affecting their communities. It is kind of like a super-meta narrative: diversion fighting, but when will the diversion come or will it ever?

27 March 2011

Par Ki Revisted- chapter 1

I had the distinction of attending Park High in my fledgling days. And it was one of those schools people would mistaken for the half dozen or so other schools which had a Park in its name: Como Park, Champlin Park, Spring Lake Park, Brooklyn Park, Park Center, Highland Park, Park Rapids. And let us not forget Darth Maul- Ray Park. But that was later. My Park was in the south east suburbs- a kind of forgotten collection of bedroom communities which is now home to 4 high schools since East-Ridge was added recently. Well back in the day it was just Park and Woodbury and that private high school and Hastings if you want to stretch it. Now these burgs usually get overshadowed by their southern neighbors Eagan and Apple Valley and Lakeville. But back in the day we held our own.
There is so little about Park history out there on the web I thought I'd add what I recollect (and discover) from those days when Park was still the Indians. Park had been the Indians since the beginning- which I think might have been nearly a hundred years ago. In those days it was St. Paul Park Senior High School- an even more confusing name because it was not even in St. Paul but St. Paul PARK- just down the road from its namesake. In the mid 1960s, the school moved into its current digs in Cottage Grove. As memory serves I believe they were the Indians because of the the group of Navtive Americans (politically correct here) that lived in the vicinity of the school at Grey Cloud Island. In fall of 1993 the school nickname became the Wolfpack.
I hope to add little artifacts I have laying around but it really is not a priority.  But here's one I took from the the 93 yearbook.
The yearbook had been sliding into some disarray for some time but 93 was a real formatting and layout nightmare. You can't judge a book by its cover but the cover to this annual was purple and hot pink.
Still it had its subtle moments of pizazz.
Here we have comments from 2 students on their plans for spring break.
Mindy really had high expectations when her and her carload of friends decided that North Dakota was an ideal spring break location. I'm not sure she brought home many photos.
On the other hand, Joe sneaks in this comedy gold mine about his chores. I have been told a few years later his house would burn down. Today, Joe could probably kick your ass since he is a seasoned tri-athlete.

25 March 2011

Curse of the Ugly Online Ad

 They are back at it again. The ad men (and gals) are using redirection to grab your attention. It must be the greatest discovery made in all online advertising- make it ugly or weird or outlandish and you will get clicks. Since I know their game I refuse to give him the satisfaction of getting a few cents more for a click.
But let's dig into our set for today. The one on our left I call "surprised by the mortgage." It is an animated one but I captured the terror of model at the height of mortgage discover. Quite a few online ads are using the animation/vid style but mostly the rocking head guys or the gal running. But this one rocks. After a few cycles through, you too could be haunted by low mortgage rates.

 Ever since the Simpsonize me app came out years ago- must be 3- a ton of clones followed with terrorizing results. Well, they need to advertise too. Remember the economy is hard on us all- even in the cartoonizing apps market. This sample from an app that makes you a bit realistic but with an ironic twist.
Here the fellow was duped into thinking this was him in cartoon form. Well they got the mouth right, but that's about it. He nearly looks like a she except for the ant and coffee grounds beard they give him and the slivery eyes. I would guess in the a full length cartoon this guy just got ants and coffee grounds thrown at him. Also I could very easily adapt the cartoon so that he would be able join the cast of Marc Brown's Arthur. I hope this guy didn't pay an arm and a leg for this.
 Be afraid. Be very afraid!
This is possibly the most scary ad I've seen since the dumb teeth guy.
I can hardly stand to look at this freaky thing. Is it staged? Is this for real? Is this from an episode of Star Trek?
And finally, bodybuidling tatooed women can secure a $434 mortgage and so can you. This one is another strange one that grabs you and puts you in a headlock and then you awake and wonder why you signed up to get a mortgage- you don't have any money. Must have been that dame with the tatooed biceps at Dempsey's that bought a round of Molson and Canadian Club chasers for the boys.

17 March 2011

The feast of St. Patrick

He allegedly drove the snakes out of Ireland. He taught a lesson on the tri-unity of God using a clover. He defied the High King of Tara. He sat atop of a mountain in County Mayo and prayed for 40 days for the Irish. He won the adoration of the entirety of Ireland despite not being Irish himself. Numerous wells, geological features, churches and towns the world over are named for him. Not bad for a religious fellow who lived over a millennium ago.

And today we usually use it the possible day of his death to drink and parade and celebrate all things Irish. And let us not forget- wear green.
The parading started with Irish immigrants to America and only recently was added to the mostly religious activities of the day in Ireland.
The parade in town was pretty short. So short that I missed it. I got there almost 1/2 hour after the start and alas, the last float went by and it was done. It was rather chilly that day so I suspect a hasty parade was made.
I did not make it to the Celtic Fair this year. I just did not have the time and I only stopped by for 1 hour last year. It was pretty much the same stuff. A little Irish music, Irish step dancing, a few crafts, and a handful of lectures I always seem to miss. They also have mostly Irish food- corn beef, Irish stew, soda bread.
This year I will not have a celebration at the domicile. Instead, our very own beer correspondent, Phil, will be hosting a spread at his new place.
And speaking of Ireland- why not remember to pray for it today. The island is going through some difficult times economically. Here's a sample prayer card.
Have a great day. Slan.

07 March 2011

Sandbag it

 I spent part of Wednesday last week making sandbags in preparation for flood season. It appears we are in for another major flood by all forecasts.
Sandbag central was bustling. Mostly full of the younger folks but there were some older ones there too.
Operations were in full swing. It looked as if there were about 4 spider devices running.
I jumped right in and it all came back to me- how to get the bag open and quickly get it under the chute to get the sand. It was a real fun atmosphere. They gave incoming volunteers Hawaiian lais and stickers if they so wished to wear them. Organization was spit spot.
My friends and I were only there for a little over an hour then the operations stopped for the evening. Approximately 115K sandbags were made. Just a few hundred thousand more until they reach 2 million total. There was a record volunteer turnout the day before.
I was hoping to do more on Friday or the weekend, but sandbagging seemed to be meeting their goals and they closed operations early on Friday and suspended them until today, Monday. And I had time to volunteer on Saturday.
Here below we have some artifacts of sorts. My friend found these item in her coat pocket. A coat which she only used to sandbag back in 2009! Notice in particular the cheese. Still virtually intact. But I wouldn't eat it.

06 March 2011

At the movies

Took the morning session of the Fargo Film Fest today. It featured 8 films- most were short. Here's the run down and what I thought of each.
An Affair with Dolls- Confusing at first but then you realize it is a the meta-narrative of the story we don't see. So it's a meta story acted out with the dolls that in the end you feel sadness for the protagonist- the lady trapped in this odd relationship who is acting out the story with dolls. And this was a foreign film- in Swedish I believe.
The Cleaning Lady- A period piece, looking at how the time following the assassination of  MLK- specifically in Baltimore, MD. The film was made in Moorhead. It was a good story. 1968 was believable, but 2 things bothered me a little - I thought the protagonist - the cleaning lady - had way too short of hair for 1968- and trying to create the Mad Men feel with insertion of references to martinis. Otherwise it was pretty good.
Dragon's Breath- Feng Shui becomes a super power. Film seemed to be trying to fuse quirky Stranger Than Fiction narrative with Marvel superhero films. It was good.
Thought of You- Animated short. It was a song and dance that I felt were done superbly. Beautiful animation sequences of a couple dancing individually and then separately.
Tami Tushie's Toys- Documentary about a mother who sells "adult toys." Nothing raunchy about it. In fact it doesn't really focus so much on the toys. Ok, there are a few shots of what she sells at these Tupperware like parties. Anyways, Tami lost a child and decides to leave the regular 9-5 grind to have more time with her family. It just happens this is the line of work which she has found to allow that to happen. And to blow your mind even more, her and her husband are people of faith. I liked it.
Between the Bridgerock- Another film made in Moorhead. Some guy has the same name as a super star and faces a bit of tension in his life because of it. Very good. An excellent piece. The actor who played the super star was really good- he was also sitting a few seats a few rows away from me. For some reason he just had "the look."
Something Fishy- Excellent film from Australia that subtly (or perhaps not so subtly) deals with race. It was filmed it really cool location where the tides change and make for unique landscapes.
Make, Believe- Another animation but with narrative of people talking about how they used their imaginations as children. Really good.
Lines of Communication- Documentary short about animator Angela Steffen. She had an entry in last year's film fest and this documentary was made while she was in town. She talks about her father and how creating the animation for Lebensader was something she did for him while he suffered with an illness. It was vague at times what the film was trying to get across. It seemed to be an interview with the animator interspersed with clips from her time in Fargo and her animation.
A Lutefisk Western- Interesting, a bit funny, and well down in places. A western? Well, I guess it sort of takes place out west, but this is no horses and guns type of western. Not sure I would have used the apartment they used. Too clustered. But they used Dempsey's Pub! So the story follows a guy named Gunnar who inherits a piece of land which 2 antagonists want for a treasure buried beneath. Gunnar is the only one with a map to this treasure. Gunnar was well casted. The bad Canadian was good too. Although the mysterious seductress performed well- I think the whole art direction on her was wrong. She played vamp well- but mysterious, nope. She should have had more of a look that suggested mysterious and sexy.
I have links above to either the film, info on the film, or the trailer to the film. Overall, I had a great time at the movies. It inspires me to make more- heck make even one more.

02 March 2011

Let us begin to fight

It would have been heroic if the Mayor gave a stirring speech and urged us to volunteer by concluding with those lines- "Let us begin to fight."
The pre-emptive strike on the waters of the Red River of the North began on Valentine's Day with the opening of sandbagging operations. The river is mostly frozen solid now. There was a week of warmer weather after that week. But then winter re-asserted its position and put us back into the freezer. As March approached it looked like a warming trend would return. However, it again was upended by winter and powerful winds.
Yesterday, there was a record volunteer turn out at sandbag central in Fargo: a little over 800. Moorhead did not fare as well. The city on the east bank just started sandbagging, but only a handful of volunteers turned up.
Forecasters have predicted a major flood based on the amount of moisture in the snowpack. It has been a rather snowy winter. 8 foot snow banks were common along the boulevards and avenues and many are in fact still intact.
As for the actual flood, the waters won't be rising for another few weeks. Ice and snow are pretty well solid. So now we "fight" and wait.