Saturday, May 31, 2008

Relief at last

Sitting at Caribou Coffee.

I can feel the release of tension. Rather like the end of this last semester. The only things remaining in the apartment are the sofa, the dresser, and the vacuum cleaner. Waiting for a pick-up truck to get them out, now that the elevator works.

Opa and Oma are leaving tomorrow morning. The kids (especially Michael) will probably be devastated. Their source of maternally un-approved chocolate and other sugar-containing substances will be gone.

Moving Day - Part 2

It's added at the bottom of Part 1, below, starting 5 p.m.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Moving Day. - Part 1 and Part 2

8:45 a.m. The moving van just showed up. Gregor going bezerk as Ilse drags him bodily away from the excitement. It’s not as big as Peter imagined. Of course, there’s that English:Metric conversion factor that probably doesn’t translate well.

9:37 a.m. Michael is getting into the swing of his new job: Doorman. P & B are schlepping the first pile of stuff.

9:56 a.m. Am just informed that Michael isn’t a doorman because he isn’t a man. He states that he isn’t a door-boy, either. “I’m just Michael.”

10:48 a.m. The first truck load is leaving. Our neighbors across the hall are equally disappointed in the absence of a functional elevator. Peter hasn’t mentioned it, but I’m pretty sure he’s frustrated at the (lack of) speed.

11:20 a.m. five 12” subs, please

11:55 a.m. subs, pretzels, veggies & beer in fridge. So, does the word pretzel come directly from German, or Yiddish? Inquiring minds want to know.

1:40 p.m. joyous news that the elevator should be repaired by 6. Since Peter’s colleague is going to be here by then, we should be able to actually move the pain-in-the- ... well you get it ... pieces of furniture.

2:30 p.m. Finished registration with the Kinderstube (German pre-school). Michael announced that he wanted to stay. We hope this is still his opinion on Monday.

3:31 p.m. Back to moving.

3:32 p.m. Micha: “I like wenig Arbeit. I don’t like viele Arbeit.” [i.e., “I like little work. I don’t like lots of work.” Out of the mouths of babes.

3:41 p.m. Wow. apparently I forgot to finish the mountain of electronic stuff necessary to start my new job. Wow. like I definitely have lots of time today!

5:24 p.m. truck is full. Waiting for Peter’s co-worker to schlep the stuff off to 16th Ave. Where’s the phone # for Dominos?

5:42 p.m. Alex arrived. Pizza ordered. sigh. I want a nap. Guess I should go finish packing the kitchen.


Part 2

5:49 p.m. It’s raining.

7:02 p.m. Dominos! ?? I ordered for 7:30 delivery, didn’t I? well, I guess that’s why the oven has a ‘warm’ setting.

7:15 p.m. “In the Lowery Tunnel. We’ll be home in about 10-15 minutes.”

7:43 p.m. The Crew arrives. Pizza still warm, although 2 pieces of the Brooklyn-style pepperoni are already missing. Yum.

8:20 p.m. Pizza gone. Beer gone. Children totally hyped on adrenalin.

9-ish Oma, kids & I arrive at the New Home. Get the boys settled? Ha. The obsession with Oma seems to evaporate when they are hitting that wall of exhaustion, when Mama returns to her role as Comforter.

9-ish + 10 min. Feet washed. Milk drunk. Giraffe/Llama in hand. Bedtime songs sung (ABC, Froggie Went a’ Courtin’, and Scarborough Fair, by request).

9-ish + 12 min. Unconscious children.

10:57 p.m. Last truck load for the day is empty.

11:33 p.m. Our bed is sort-of-made. Made enough to be warm and off the floor.

11:34 p.m. Good Night, Minneapolis.

I’m going to curl up in the nice warm cocoon of my duvet and read my book until Peter gets back from dropping the truck off at Old Home.

We’ll send invitations to the house warming party. It will be in June, so you have no excuse about the weather. We’ll try to avoid any more tornadoes until then.


of course, the elevator was fixed at about 1 a.m.

Just pictures

Photos are from: Minnesota Zoo, Murphy's Landing (historic site)

Bernhard & the boys

Michael the Voyageur. French fur-trappers at Murphy's Landing let him sit in their boat.

Lounging, 19th century style

Ringing the school bell.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Why can't it just be simple?

Got the key.
Got the house (almost) packed.
Got the furniture.
Got no elevator?!

Our building's elevator went on the fritz on Monday night. Are hoping it will be fixed Thursday (tomorrow) or Friday. We have no way to get our large furniture out of the building. And everything else will be a total pain. Had a little chat with the management to explain that we will not be out of the apartment by the 31st. And we don't plan on paying rent for the extra week.

God! Peter took a week off of work to help with this. We hired a rental truck. I scheduled my job start to accommodate this. Aaargh!

More pictures:

Street view. We're the right half of the duplex; car isn't mine; man is.

This is going to be the dining room. Same style for the bedrooms. The boys will continue their indoctrination of sharing.

Kitchen. Rather 60s. Big enough for 2! If I can't have the really cool ceramic stove top, at least I'll be cooking with gas.

Laundry room / boiler room / work room / storage room.

Whatever you want to call it: den, playroom, basement. It's carpeted and containable.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Got the keys

we picked up the keys to our new house this morning. There are now 2 boxes sitting in the soon-to-be dining room.

If you're bored and want some exercise on Thursday, come and visit! Pictures available soon.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Got plans for the 1st of September? Come visit!

Freedom of Speech. Freedom to Congregate. Two cornerstones of the politicians who forged our Constitution. Can't very well screw the king and the greatest empire on the earth, if you can't meet publicaly. Oh, I guess they did. Which is why the oppressive monarchy across the ocean didn't want them to.

We the People are stuck with the same damn crap.

"This protects free speech…the strength of the proposal is that it sets forth responsible guidelines for police to address any problems." -- Yup, the strength of the new rule is not to protect the people, it's to strengthen the Police State.

I don't know why they don't just give up the fake concern for the law and just enact friggin' martial law during the convention.

Protesting in the street in violation of some fascist effort to squash my rights?

Sign me up!

This is exactly the sort of thing that on GPs gets me to *want* to go hangout on the streets of Mpls during the RNC just to enjoy my constitutional rights of Free Speech and Freedom of Assembly.

I got arrested once on a stupid problem with parking tickets. I got arrested once on a case of mistaken identity (you try being named Smith). Those are stupid and a good party story, respectively.

I would be proud of getting arrested defending my constitutional rights. Collecting on the sidewalk, as long as it doesn't spill into traffic or into private businesses ... yup, sign me up.

Freedom of Assembly:
"If the assembly in public is expected to involve more than one participant, its organisers are obliged to notify [authorities] of the upcoming event few days in advance in writing. However, legislation does not foresee an authorisation procedure, hence the authorities have no right to prohibit an assembly or change its place unless it threatens the security of participants or is planned to take place near hazardous facilities,...prisons, courts,... The right to gather can also be restricted in close proximity of cultural and historical monuments.

The regional and local authorities can issue secondary regulations, but limitations and prohibitions on public events can only be introduced by Federal Laws."

sounds okay? not so bad? the Feds can't go changing this ... uh, Yeah, but the above quote is from current Russian law. Unlike Boston 4 years ago. Or like the dorks here want.

In Michigan, the state gov't regulates and rather tightly restricts the right to assembly on the capitol grounds. This is okay with me. One must 'reserve' a space for the day, with a first-come first-served rule. They have given permits to the KKK and some rabid left-wing group. As discovered during the KKK demonstration, they didn't restrict the right to assemble on the sidewalk across from the demonstration area. I'm okay with needing to 'reserve' a spot in front of the capitol. Not here! The Minneapolis City Council wants to make people "voluntarily register" to "reserve" a designated spot in public areas. With the ability of the police to forcibly evict you, if you haven't "registered".

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. -- apparently Congress can't, but the Minneapolis City Council can.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Long, long posting

Lord, I need a break from German. the language of my husband. And his mother. And his father. And falteringly of my elder son.

B&I are confirming their holy status in my sight. From Tuesday to Friday, they took Michael & Gregor out, spent all day outdoors with them, and kindly returned the boys at dinner time. I have consequently packed about 80% of the apartment. If I could remove the furniture, I think I would feel more positive about the degree of progress. Removing all of the photos and art from the walls certainly returned it to a semi-inhabited appearance.

While packing, I was reminded of my summer spent as an archaeologist. Grossly non-quantitative activity followed by tediously time-consuming work. After collecting everything that could possibly be categorized as "office" or "work" stuff, it was segregated into 3 piles: Elizabeth's, Peter's and Miscellaneous. This last pile consisted of things like post-its, note paper, pencils and pens. I sorted the pens by color (yup, procrastinating about the next box): red, blue, black. then pulled out all of the Sharpie permanent markers, of all colors, and then the pencils. It is a safe assumption that this apartment is inhabited by 2 scientists. There were 2 normal wooden pencils. And 14 mechanical ones. This didn't include the 2 I know are in my school bag.

Today the Tobias Clan went to Interstate Park. It straddles the St. Croix River, including both Minnesota & Wisconsin. This is the 5th day in a row of sunny weather. Good bye Lansing, Hello Sunny Minnesota. -21 F seems so much more bearable when it's sunny and -21. Yup, one day this February it was -21 F. I decided that any amount of environmental protection was more than appropriately disregarded and took my car to university.

I have a summer internship with Honeywell. The HR department was trying to reach me and failing because T-Mobile has no coverage in the sub-basement of the building housing the School of Public Health. They eventually gave up and called Peter, looking for me. I had night classes 3 days/week this semester. On a Monday Honeywell called and offered me the job, stating that they thought I was the best candidate for the position. I failed to tell the HR manager that I was not only the best candidate, I also knew I was the only one. I said "thank you, yes". Get home, Peter is already in bed, asleep. Tuesday morning, I leave early with a "thanks for taking the boys to daycare."; get home, he's asleep again. Wednesday, he's out before me. I'm hoping that the warm spon on the other side of the bed was actually left by my husband. Later that afternoon, the safety manager at his facility stopped by to say "I hear your wife is going to be working with us." Peter's reply "Really?"

I am still waiting to get my final grade for the "I Hate This Useless Course" class. It ended 5 weeks ago & none of us know just how badly we all sucked, which is the general consensus of our performance. Occupational Medicine? I'm an industrial hygienist. What do I care what the signs, symptoms, or biochemical action of pneumoconiosis? This means your lungs have gunk in them, go to a doctor. Other than that, I find myself staring at the to-date grade point average (everything is on-line) daily when I check for the missing grade. 3.8. wow. 3.8 I think if I'd bothered to study as an undergrad, I might have had a better GPA. I can't even smile in fond remembrance and think that at least college was a social whirl. No. Oh, well, grad school isn't either. Though it is infinitely more intellectually interesting, if less intellectually challenging. Come on - the basic physics of noise, radiation, temperature, vibration, and some other things just pale in comparison to 2 years of statistical thermodynamics, quantum mechanics and whatever else that class was that Kathy Hunt taught. It had lots of squiggles that vaguely resembled the squiggles in the other classes, except these were meaningless. [she could have been lecturing in Urdu for all the good it did me.]

Tomorrow is rather a blank slate, past the "go to Mass and then eat lunch" routine. It's midnight and raining, so we might drag my history-enthralled mother-in-law to the state history museum. I've never been there, so it should be interesting for me, too. Minnesota celebrated its 150th anniversary of statehood last week,and there's a major exhibit about it. Memorial Day is going to be a "Hiking und Picnic" day, with a major American Picnic. Can you believe I heard the word "gepicnickt"? Ge-picnic-t. What is the German Language coming to? It sounds like something an American would make-up when at a loss of what the Real German Word was.

Michael is completely, totally, insanely over the top about Opa & Oma being here. He has an emotional breakdown every time they leave for the night. Today they reinforced their position in his world-view when they gave him a present. He'd been eager to carry (i.e., wear) B's backpack on the daily playground tour. They bought him his own last night. That alone might have been fantastic. The least expensive turned out to be developed around the theme of "Cars", with Lightning McQueen on it. He not only wore it all day today (loaded with 2 chocolate chip cookies and a banana), he had it on at home, and it was a fight to get him to take it off at the dinner table.

Gregor has gotten over his hesitation about these 2 new people and is happy about spending time with them. He has hit the "I want to help Mama" phase. Yesterday I found him sitting in the kitchen with a cloth wiping the floor. Get 'em young; train 'em right.

While Mass is much less physically demanding that hiking all day was, I still need to get some sleep so that I don't catch up on it during Fr. Pat's lecture.

Peace to one and all.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Still at it ...

B&I are now completely familiar with all of the playgrounds within a 4 mile radius of our apartment. The boys are completely grungy from playing in aforementioned playgrounds. I am - unfortunately - not completely done packing. I can see the end in sight. The problem so far is keeping enough stuff out to pacify the boys and still be able to cook and feed 6 people. Peter is off for the week, so he finally gets to see his parents for more than just supper.

As soon as we get some of the pictures up loaded from Ilse's camera, we can post them.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Needed a Laugh

Gabelstaplerfahrer Klaus

Upon request:
Forklift Driver Klaus


I am quite surprised at the number of pairs of shoes I own.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Zoo, Minnehaha, Packing

Bernhard & Ilse arrived from Germany. Michael is totally bezerk about Opa & Oma visiting. Totally. Gregor is over the fearful uncertainty about these new people.

I'm beginning to panic at the sight of the empty boxes in the living room.

We (minus Peter) were at the zoo today. B&I got a chance to see some native animals on the Minnesota Trail. Michael got to sit on the tractor at the family farm. Definitely the last thing to let him do, since you'll never get him off. Yup, I know we were there 10 days ago. The boys are fine with that. It's a nice walk and exercise for me.

We (plus Peter) went walking along the Minnehaha trail on Saturday.

Yes, Minnehaha is a real name. As is Minnetonka & Minneapolis & Minnesota.

tomorrow B&I are taking the boys all day, so that I can reduce my panicked state about the empty boxes.

Definitely will be in front of the TV at 7 p.m. local time on Saturday. Go Wings.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Deutsche Kinderstube

Michael is going to be attending the German preschool here in Minneapolis. We've explained it to him, but I'm not sure how happy he'll be to leave his friends at his current day care. He's a little stressed that today is his last day. I'm hoping that hearing German from lots of other people will help him separate the two languages.

Gregor is of course oblivious to changes in daycare status.

Anyone wanting beer & pizza is welcome to show up on Moving Day. It will be good beer; no guarantee about the pizza.

3:1 odds

There's a German saying: Dreimal umziehen ist wie einmal ausbrennen - moving 3 times is like having your home burned once.

So, counting:

Summit - 5th St. - Aikane St. - Rialto Blvd. - Off Post - On Post - 5th St. - Tuckerton - North Beach - Station House - Fire - God Awful Pit - Farm House - Morgantown - Salem - Morgantown - Salzburg - Morgantown - Harrisburg - Spartan Ave. - Lake Lansing Road - Durand St. - Sycamore Ave - Illinois Ave. - Smetana Rd. ...

that makes 23 moves + 1 fire = 8.6 fires

If you eliminate the summer jobs and count 1983 - 1987 as just Morgantown, that still makes 18 moves in my whole life,

16 of which I remember

7 of which are by my choice.


Packing tomorrow must include cleaning the bathrooms, since B&I are arriving Friday. At least having a stupendously disorganized and messy abode doesn't need to be excused by my lack of interest in housekeeping. All of the brown cardboard boxes piled around the apartment hide the strata of toys, cat hair, dust, and simple 'stuff'.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Puking Republicans

Truth and Rumors about the pending RNC here in Lovely St. Paul. My favorite is the request to extend last call until 4 a.m., rather than 2 a.m., for the duration of the convention. St. Paul City Council axed the idea. The council member whose ward includes the bar-district, stated that he wants to spare his constituents the sight of "puking Republican lobbyists" in the streets.

Our Future VP ?

Tim Pawlenty, Governor of Minnesota, is (apparently) a serious contender for the Republican ticket VP. He's not a bad governor, I don't think, though he isn't a great fisherman. During MN fishing season opener, after loosing to the Lt.-Gov., he was chatting with the press:

"I have a wife who genuinely loves to fish. I mean, she will take the lead and ask me to go out fishing, and joyfully comes here. She loves football, she'll go to hockey games, and I jokingly say, 'Now, if I could only get her to have sex with me I'd really have it made.'" or On audio.

Sink his vice-presidential potential or not?

I was more amazed that Mrs. Pawlenty was not only present, but insisted that it was a joke. Perhaps it wasn't later that night.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Budget Hero

Match government funds to your values. Play Budget Hero and demonstrate how you would spend the three trillion dollar federal budget.

More and more reasons I give my money to MPR. Well, I will again, once it isn't going to U. Minn.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Another Phase in Life

The Tobias family is cruising into another phase of insanity. We're moving. Into Minneapolis and out of the burbs. I could go on and on about the benefits. No, we aren't buying. We're renting half of a duplex.
The bus stop for a non-stop 20 min. ride to the U. is on the other side of the block. (rather than an 8 min. drive to get the one-transfer hour-and-a-quarter trip).
The next-door neighbor (read: landlords) have an in-home daycare which will take both boys until Michael goes to the (now closer) German preschool.
It's closer to much of the fun social stuff that's in Minneapolis.
t's in a nice neighborhood with lots of other families with children (read: not in the middle of a sterile "ignore me & I'll ignore you" apartment complex).
There is a yard. With a fence. I can finally say "go out and play in the yard!" without releasing them a) out of my sight, b) into a sea of goose-guano, c) onto insanely pesticided grass and d) next to the parking lot.
It's bigger than our apartment, though perhaps not much more sq.ft., but what's there is much, much better designed.

School is over for me, for the summer. I'm not quite 1/2 done. One year down, 1.5 to go. I have an internship for the Summer at Honeywell. I'll be doing noise measurements in a factory area. This is a different facility than the one where Peter works. It's a paid positions - double bonus.

Michael is now 4. His birthday party was today. He and one of his new friends (a daughter of a classmate of mine) went to the Minnesota Children's Museum, one of the coolest places in the world for a kid. He & Reece spent the morning playing with all of the cool stuff. We enjoyed eating banana birthday muffins. (mom - the Muppets are another success.) Michael's communication is amazing, even when it needs to be de-coded, as he still tends to mix up both languages. I find it amazing that when he starts putting German words in the sentences they abruptly take on German sentence structure.

Gregor is big and happy. He's running around on his own. Has hit the "I want that because Michael has it" phase. Yes, I know this doesn't really stop. Ever. Well, at least not for a while. He is also entering the "I need to cry when being left at daycare so you know how much I'm suffering" phase. When he's quiet, he'll pull a book off the bookshelf, sit down, and read it. He also destroyed Michael's favorite "Cars" book (which is in hiding, until I can figure out if it can be fixed).

We finally got a region-free DVD player. Finally, we can watch "Findet Nemo" & "Monsters AG". Oma & Opa are bringing a couple more from Germany next week. They've never been in Minnesota, so it should be interesting for them.

Peter is sick. We made it for about 2 weeks without any plague striking the family. Gregor is sick, too; unfortunately, there's no way to tell if it's the same thing. Although, since Peter want to puke, and Gregor succeeded in doing so (all over me), it might be the same bug.

Politics is beginning to get a bit more political, in both the stupid and bizarre sense. Political protesting and permits therefore are big in the news around here, due to the impending doom of the Evil Empire's Quadrennial Conclave. (the RNC convention). Some store in Mpls (Stpl?) is making tons of anti-republican/bush/etc. paraphernalia. He's offering a 20% discount to any Delegates who visit. See, free market economy in action.

The photos are from the Minnesota Zoo (yesterday) and the Children's Museum (today). I assume you can figure which ones are which.

Electoral Arithmatic

Leave it to a foreign news group to try to explain American Voting Mathematics and it's inherent fallacies.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

[movie review] Iron Man

I saw this Tuesday night, following my final presentation. I was going to write a review, only to realize the Kevin had a pretty articulate one. C'est la vie. I'm not from SoCal, so I can't comment on the BK product placement (which was so obvious as to be perhaps intentionally ludicrous?) I would definitely go for In-and-Out waaaay before BK, whether or not I'd been in an Afghani cave for 3 months.

I've never read the comic book, and never been that much into them anyway. This is definitely not the semi-plausible superhero (Batman) nor is it the completely implausible (X-Men). That leaves the techno-superheroes: Spiderman and Iron Man. I'm not sure which I find more implausible. But I must admit a buff Robert Downey Jr. is better eye candy than Toby McGuire. That, of course, could easily lead to a super-hero comparison via the eye-candy factor.

What seemed a bit lurching was the pace of the beginning and end. The beginning is slow, but not unpleasantly ('get to know the cast of characters and understand the hero's tragic flaws'). But it seemed to be rushing towards the end - fast paced action, sure - but this seemed like someone abruptly realized it was already min.120 and counting, and had to hurry to end it.

Downey was spectacular as the nascent superhero, developing the new suit. A childish joy immediately squashed by Newtonian physics. Childish, yet thoroughly amusing consequences (several squashed cars).

p.s. - late addition: Ebert's review is an utterly delightful read. To wit: "The world needs another comic book movie like it needs another Bush administration ..."

Elizabeth’s rating: 2
The special effects are better on the big screen

1 - Go see it on the big screen at full price.
2 - Go see it on the big screen, at matinee prices.
3 - Buy your own on video.
4 - Definitely see it on video.
5 - Well, if someone else it paying for it ...
6 - Go get your teeth cleaned.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Academia & thesis

This week is the end of the school year for me. I don't have any "finals" during finals week. (I had one a few weeks ago for a short course.) However, I have 3 group project presentations on Monday/Tuesday of this week. The fact that I will then be 95% done for the semester isn't any comfort as I'm struggling to get caught up and still make sure my children remember who I am. I was up most of the night trying to improve my part of a project - I realized how stupendously half-assed a job I did. It approaches, and perhaps surpasses professional embarasment. Well, that's corrected, although my sleep deprevition isn't.

I have accepted an offer of a summer internship with ... wait for it ... Honeywell. Unfortunately, I won't be at the same facility as Peter. Even better, I'll be paid. Anything to mitigate the cost of daycare.

Perhaps the most exciting to me: I have picked a research topic and adviser for my thesis. In short, I will be trying to determine if someone else's gizmo works for measuring something other than its designer intended, to measure the size and other aspects of solid aerosols.

For any of you Ph.D. science geeks: the gizmo is described in Induction charging and electrostatic classification of mirometer-sized particles for investigating the electrobiologic properties of airborne microorganisms, Mainelis, et al., Aer. Sci. Tech., 36:479(2002).

Doesn't that sound impressive? Yeah, then I saw reality. The instrument in our lab is certainly not nearly as cool as its name implies.

I don't care how impressive it looks. I want the big piece of paper that has my name next to the words "masters of public health". That will be impressive enough for me.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Political Obvious Obfuscation

winners of City Pages' "Best Citizen-based Media Outlet" -- getting kicked out of many Elephant gatherings.

If elephants can be culled in southern Africa, maybe we could follow their lead?

Only the first 0:45 is really amusing. The last 0:45 or so is ironic. The middle is so-so.
Have I said anything obscene about Comcast recently?

Please imagine I have. Repeatedly. At length.