Thursday, October 30, 2008

New Pictures

Well, of course, here comes Autumn. The Halloween pictures will get put up sometime after tomorrow night.

We went out to an apple orchard somewhere east of here (not quite into Wisconsin) for a family day in the country. We wanted to ensure the boys understood that food comes from somewhere other than Cub Foods or Aldi.

It was a completely idyllic day. Blue skies, white clouds, pleasant temperature, not too crowded (at least when we showed up it wasn't). There was a taste-testing table at the front of the orchard, to determine which of their varieties you wanted.

And, of course, what Autumnal harvesting would be complete without pumpkins?

Jack o' Lanterns for Halloween & one for MamaGopher to for a completely-from-scratch pumpkin pie.

Well, rather than quicksand, they had a quick-hay pile. Just sucked the kids right up.

It was a wee bit long for some of the wee ones. Jr.Gopher2 was draggin' his wagon by lunch time.

If you're tired enough, any pillow is soft.

Those are Regent apples in the bag.

Wandering around the orchard having a late-morning snack.

Not quite the Garden of Eden, but thankfully no snakes.

The boys

Well, both boys are beginning to develop a sense of style. Of Fashion. Of Savoir Faire. well, of something.

check out both pairs of shoes.

Sing us a song, Mr. Piano Man

That little red thing is a stuffed lobster. Courtesy of a Maine-based scientific instrument company that makes ventilation equipment.

Seriously, talk about photogenic.

Jr.Gopher #1 has developed camera shyness. Try to take his picture, and he turns his back to you. Well, hopefully, he'll get over it and there will be more in the future.

We've got Jr.Gopher #1 Halloween costume made, ready for his pre-school party in the day, and the Trick-or-Treating in the evening. #2 costume, made to go with #1, is partially made. I ran out of spray paint, and need to hit the hardware store tomorrow.

Peter is going to make a foray on his first-ever trick-or-treating with our neighbors. The neighbor's adult "guys" are going out with their favorite potable Beverage in an Unobtrusive Container to escort the kiddies. Mrs. Neighbor & I will man the fortress walls against incoming hoards of children. .. well, we've no idea, but I'm looking forward to meeting some of the neighbors.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

[movie review] In the Name of the King

This one is STFU’s fault. He stated Jason Statham was the most underrated action hero in Hollywood today. I respect his opinion. While searching for something relatively undemanding on the video store, I noticed In the Name of the King. Starring Jason Stratham & John Rhys-Davies. Sure, looked like a B-grade fantasy film. But, hey, I loved Tremors & still think Army of Darkness is epic. Rhys-Davies is good, but not particularly consistent. Indiana Jones #1 (there should only have been 1) - he was great; LotR, he was good. Most of his other stuff is hit & miss. And, looking like an action-flick, I thought, hey that Stratham guy, I'll check him out. Hmmm ... not one of my brighter ideas.

The scenery was not really off-putting, but it was obviously post-Lord of the Rings: ooooh, look, that’s Osgiliath ... and Helms’ Deep ... oh, and the pretty magic tree in Minas Tirith ... oh, and I think that’s the burning of the Westfold, done in much greater gory detail with uglier orc-y looking things. And, heaven help us, that’s Burt Reynolds.

Right off the top - any movie that starts with a sword-swinging, boomerang-wielding turnip farmer who can kick-ass with a minor hoard of orc-things .... come on, no matter who the actor is ... this just sets the tone for the movie, or else you’re tone-deaf. I’m okay with this, I wasn’t expecting great art. And, hey, Stratham is supposed to be an action-hero, he ought to be kicking orc-y ass. I only got to 39:42. I quit. I'm sure Stratham is probably an underrated action hero. And, if this is the material he produces, it's easy to understand that no one wants to watch him long enough to appreciate him.

If I’d seen the longer cast list, I wouldn’t have borrowed it. Ray Liotta would be enough to get me to rent anything else. I’ve never seen him in anything that I liked, and never liked him in anything I've seen.

Based on a comic book? Nope. A short story? No. A fairy tale? Someone's 13-year old D&D adventure? No? ... oh, a video game. Of course.

You know how I can tell the CGI is pathetic? Because even I can tell it’s bad.

As long as the camera doesn’t get close, the brother-in-law bears a striking resemblance to my landlord. Very Strange.

Rating: 6 - Go get your teeth cleaned.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

[def.] Mixed Precipitation

You know what 'mixed precipitation' means? It means it's snowing.

Holy Mary, Mother of God. It's only October 26th. It's snowing. More and more snow, as I watch, and less of that "thick rain".

Saturday, October 25, 2008

News from The Land of 10,000 Lakes*

* according to AAA, there are actually over 12,000

Again, a reason to have a camera: there is this fellow who comes into the local cafe who is the absolute spitting image of Richard Gere. So help me, a total shocking double take. Down to the same glasses, salt&pepper hair, it took staring (covertly) for a while to think, 'no, that's no him'. Of course, had it been him, it would just have become an interesting 'guess who I saw @ MayDay'. Besides, seeing Richard Gere (or anyone else reasonably famous) is far less remarkable in Minneapolis than, say, Big Isaac, West Virginia. Or even Lansing, Michigan. Rather like last year sitting in a restaurant and thinking, god, that looks like Al Franken. After a (much longer) covert stare, I finally realized, yes it is him. Of course, I hadn't realized StLP was his home town.

The Big Brother Factor is in full-swing with the boys. Jr.Gopher #2 sits & watches #1 in a very analytical manner, taking everything in. A few seconds later, the identical behavior appears. Unfortunately, this applies to playing Wild Boy at the dinner table, as well as joyful running around screaming in the maternally approved great outdoors.

Gregor is finally beginning to talk. Not much, but occasionally real, understandable words emerge. So, Müll is no longer his only word. There is little incentive for him to speak, since he comes equipped with a personal translator.

Me (to both boys): Do you want corn chex?
Michael: Do you want corn chex, Gregor?
Gregor: nods
Michael: Gregor wants corn chex, mama.

Boys running full tilt around the wheelchair ramp outside Kinderstube. Gregor falls down, gets back up.
Michael: Gregor, are you okay?
Gregor nods
Michael (to me): Gregor fell down. He says he's okay!

Michael wants a puppy. He doesn't want a dog, only a puppy. I don't want a dog. Dogs slobber. That's why I wanted a cat. Cats don't slobber. Except mine. Mine drools. A lot. So I'm confronted with 'would it be so bad, since I'm getting slobbered anyway?' Oh, there's that little "gotta let the dog out" every 6 hours or so. And that little euphemistic "walking the dog". Walking's ok. But, I'm really looking forward to the collection and disposal of fecal matter ending soon, not starting. Canine additions to the HealthyGopher family will wait until the children are old enough to comprehend "You will take care of the dog". And then I'll probably get the a bunny. Something that can play with the next cat. Cats eat bunnies? Oops. Maybe a guinea pig - Raven hasn't eaten the neighbors' yet.

I am officially done with my ethics class. Interesting reading. Totally useless course, if we're meant to learn anything about ethics. Useful, if we're simply meant to brush up on our composition and writing abilities. Oh, well. C'est la vie.

Autumnal fun

Jr.Gopher 2 & Josie
from his daycare
Yesterday was "rake the leaves" day.

Even cuter was me coming home. Gregor was still sitting at the same tree, leaning against it, reading a book sitting in the leave pile. I sooo wished I had a camera.

Leaves are changing. Today required not just a jacket for the boys, but hats & mittens before the bike ride with Mr.Gopher.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Dysfunctionality, USA

I have never seen any production by Arthur Miller. The Crucible, Death of a Salesman, All My Sons, nope. Haven't even seen the movies made of of all 3 of these.

Friday I corrected this literary deficiency and went to see A View From the Bridge, courtesy of a friend's extra ticket. We managed to miss the first scene courtesy of my bad directions. Set in early 19-something Brooklyn, this is the story of an Italian-American family (uncle-aunt-niece) who take in a couple of illegal immigrant cousins (married & single brothers) from the Old Country and the ensuing drama.

If this is what Miller's work is like, I'm surprised no one has done research to determine if there's an association between watching his work and an increased suicide rate. I guess the fact I was just morose, rather than seeking oblivion from the misery and futility of life, is due to the acting quality one normally finds at the Gutherie Theater.

Perhaps it was the initial "I wandered into the set of All In The Family" feeling, but I spent the first act wondering what god-awful thing was going to happen. The blatantly obvious foreshadowing in Scene 1 of some neighborhood guy ratting out illegal workers to the INS was so blatant that perhaps it was intended to leave me wondering 'when is he going to rat out these fellows' throughout the next 90 minutes? (BTW "submarines" must be an archaic antecedent to "wet backs").

Another surprise was the realization that the initial production date was 1955. I'm subsequently left unsurprised that the House Committee of UnAmerican Activities thought he was an undesirable character. The attitudes of the main character, Eddie, were unsurprising and perfectly acceptable for the 50s. Gays weren't exactly a widely embraced sector of American society; suspicion of illegal workers marrying just for their citizenship papers persists today. But, the final confrontation with his feelings for his neice, and his method for demonstrating the unworthiness of another man's affections for her was shocking. I just can't come to grips with that having been done in 1955. I suppose if it managed to shock me in 2008, it is a credit to the playwright's ability to draw me in to the play's setting, rather than my own.

The Actor playing Eddie was the picture perfect image of a 40s blue-collar archetype. I can see where Archie Bunker came from. The woman playing the 18 year old niece was an annoying version of the all-too-often-seen character which must be advertised as 'bouncy enthusiastic dotting daughter who is required to bouncily skip around the stage at all times'. Good lord, almighty - who in their right mind wants an actress to behave like this? Have you actually seen anyone over the age of 6 walk around the house like this? Dorothy on the Yellow Brick Road ain't got nothing on this chick. If this was supposed to underscore her non-adult behavior towards her uncle, being his 'little girl', it failed and simply annoyed me. There must be other ways to convey this.

Acting aside - I find I'm generally not great at assessing the merits of actors in any meaningful way beyond 'I like it' - the framework within which the action occurs was really nice. The theater is big enough to allow a complex set to be built. This provided plenty of space without needing to have a huge footprint. The little details, especially how the secondary sets were moved in/out were nice. E.g. a group of longshoremen bring in a huge crate, open it, and voila! the desk for an office scene is left on the stage's skirt. The primary set of the family's house remained intact, while the other scenes were set around the skirts of the stage, allowing the home life of the typical dysfunctional American family to remain the center point of the story, keeping it in view the whole time.

Right after the set design, as the best part of the show was Rudolpho, the single brother who - of course - falls madly in love with the family's niece at first sight. Perhaps he was remarkable simply by dint of not being some stereotype. He flung himself into the part with the same enthusiastic un-self-consciousness that one expects from the character himself.

I have no set recommendation scale for plays, as I do for movies. So, "would I recommend it?" Yes, I would. Although it's not a 'drop everything and go see it if you can'.

Hmmm... I suppose I need a scale for theater ...

Worth the price of tickets & babysitter: go see it!
If there's an afternoon matinee ...
Well, if someone else has an extra ticket ...
You need to balance your checkbook, don't you?

resume for Failin' Palin Replacement

So please, people, write me in on the ballot in November, or write me in New Zealand, where I'll be making my new home.
- RoseAnn Cash,
Why I'd be a Better VP than Sarah Palin (or, The Bridge to New Zealand)

hee hee hee

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for the oversight and enforcement of compliance with regulations addressing the safety, efficacy, and potency of drugs (as well as all medical devices & biological drugs).

FDA sends its auditors to every drug manufacturer in the US at least once every 2 years.

They send auditors to foreign manufacturers who supply US drugs whenever they get around to it. 80% of our drug materials are made overseas.

I can personally vouch for the fact that the oversight of the FDA and their power to terminate licenses at will on zero notice quite sincerely does drive compliance with their regulations.

The 2007 congressional appropriation for this agency was $1.58 million dollars.

$1.57M is less than 3/4 of the budget for the county school district where FDA's headquarters is located.

$1.57M is approximately the projected cost of the Sarah Palin commemorative 'Bridge to Nowhere'. -Playing "Kick the FDA" - Risk Free to Players but Hazardous to Public Health, Alastair J.J. Wood, New England Journal of Medicine, vol 385, no. 17, 4/28/08

So the next time people start dropping dead from bad Vioxx or heparin or toothpaste made with anti-freeze labeled as sugar syrup, Congress needs to be added to the whipping boy list.

21 - 16 - 0

I actually need to pause and consider who to vote for in the US Senate election next month. While it's a pretty safe bet that I'd vote for the DFL candidate ... I'm not so doctrinaire that I wouldn't at least consider the Republican. And, of course, having a viable (currently holding 18% in polls) Independence Party, I have a 3rd to think about. And, before you think "god, 18%?" -- the other 2 have 36 and 39%.

Minnesota Public Radio has a Pick the Candidate page to match your opinions vs. the candidates on 11 policy questions. The Healthy Gopher matching rate was:
Franken (DFL): 9/11
Barkley (IP): 8/11
Coleman (R): 1/11

hmmmm... maybe I don't need to consider Coleman so much after all. The fact I concur with this position on stem cell research pales, utterly pales, in comparison to funding education, health care & energy.

Guitar Hero?

An e-mail note from Gregor's day-care:

Funny/Naughty/Smart Gregor story: I was trying to screw the rake back on to the handle but the 2 youngest, including Gregor wanted to strum the rake like it was a guitar. Tried as I may, I couldn't screw it on with them strumming so I asked them to stop. Gregor finally stopped after a few times and walked straight over to the "baby grass" [newly seeded lawn] and sat down in it. I asked him to get out. He looked down at the grass and back and me and gave me that contented look.

On the outside, I let him know I didn't appreciate the behavior with a time out. But on the inside, I died of laughter at his form of rebellion.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Why I Hate America

... Representative Robin Hayes, who prefaced his comments by saying it was important to “make sure we don’t say something stupid, make sure we don’t say something we don’t mean.” Republicans, he reminded the crowd, were kind people.
Plus, he added, the liberal media had shown itself eager to distort such remarks. With the crowd duly chastened and put on best behavior, he accused Obama of “inciting class warfare” and said that “liberals hate real Americans that work and achieve and believe in God.”

Our own Palin clone was - of course - cited immediately after this paragraph. See revised comments below.

What is this? The RNC must have cut off funding for "Control Mechanism on Speech of Radical Christian Idiots We Are Trying to Distance Ourselves From"?

400:1 - good odds?

"Things are roughly where we expected. For having been outspent 400 to 1, we like where we're at." The Barkley Effect

(Barkley is the Independence Party's U.S. Senate candidate)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Our own Palin - revised

Unfortunately, in contrast to the individual running as the GOP-VP, this woman has actually been elected to office. And succeeded in winning the GOP primary. Although, since the party actually let someone run against her on the party ticket, I suppose it could be inferred that even within the party ranks she isn't a golden child.

Bachmann is pretty much a cookie cutter of Palin. Thank god she isn't my representative. She's a darling of the local media (at least the ones I read) due to her truly bizarre behavior.

People from around the country donated $640,000 to Tinklenberg's campaign after Bachmann said Friday on MSNBC's "Hardball" that Obama "may have anti-American views."

That comment not only replenished the campaign war chest of Bachmann's opponent, but it also clogged up her office voice mail with many angry messages.

During an interview Sunday on WCCO-TV, Bachmann suggested people are overreacting to her remarks Friday.-MPR

This is just all over the news today (Monday). Tinklenberg's campaign has received $800,000 dollars in 3 days (since Friday, after the 'misunderstood' comment). The Cook political assessment group has switched her district from 'definitly republican' to 'could go either way'.

Bachmann's opponent in the primary has decided to launch a write-in campaign against her in the general election.

Bachmann Friday on MSNBC Hardball:
On B.Obama "Absolutely. I'm very concerned that he may have anti-American views."
On M.Obama's 'first time I'm proud of my country" comment: "And so these are very anti-American views."
On Media: "I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out, are they pro-America or anti-America?"

Bachmann on Monday: claims she didn't suggest "some House Un-American Activities Committee witch hunt into my colleagues in Congress." Well, that is true. Tangential and misrepresenting, but factual.

On top of the Democrats/liberal/reasonably intelligent people screaming for her head, the Governor of Minnesota, Republican Tim (I Wouldn't Be So Screwed If I'd Picked Him as VP) Pawlenty criticized her comments. Of course, T-Paw immediately appended "well, that's what happens when you talk all day", you say things you wish you hadn't said that way. Well, Mr. Governor, perhaps it's a matter of "you say things you should have kept your mouth shut & not said at all"?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

[def.] Loitering

Loitering: the act of sitting in the chairs in the lobby of your apartment building.

a.k.a., translated into standard English,

All those damn niggers living in my building lowering my condo's property values by loafing in the lobby.

ed: an NPR interview-ee who didn't want to quite come out and put it this way. -- sorry if you read this and thought it was my opinion offered. It is not.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Parenthood: job requirements

Things you need to do as a parent they didn't mention:
  1. Buy frozen peas in the 4 lb. bag
  2. Put the fluoridated toothpaste out of reach
  3. Laundry laundry laundry
  4. Wear pyjamas
  5. Explain death
  6. Make sure your laptop's power cord is out of the reach of little mouths
  7. Explain the family cat is not a pillow
  8. Become totally immune to the gross-out factor of any bodily fluid
  9. Buy band-aids in the child-size box (i.e., big)
  10. Explain where the sun goes at night (Japan & New Zealand)
  11. Explain why mama & papa kiss on the lips, but you don't get to
  12. Sing the ABC song and Old MacDonald over and over and over and over and ...
  13. Teach how to ride a scooter
  14. Deal with sleep deprivation for 18 months
  15. Read Mouse Paint over and over
  16. Read Go Dog Go! over and over and ...
  17. Watch Cars over and over and over and over and over and over and over and ...
  18. Maintain a stock of either Goldfish or Cheerios in your purse
  19. Wish you'd bought stock in Pepperidge Farms, considering how many Goldfish you buy
  20. Laugh after being puked on at 1:00 a.m.
  21. Laugh after being puked on at 1:05 a.m.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

long way across the river

Today again I bicycled to campus. The bridge between the banks (the university straddles the river) is partially closed for repair/assessment. For some reason, the stability of the bridges around here got to be a big thing in the past year. The bridge upper deck has a covered central corridor - Yes, it's covered. When you need to walk to class in -10F weather, it's nice to have a windbreak.
- for pedestrians, with the outer edges for bikes. The whole thing spans the width of the 4-lane bridge.

I have no idea why it's okay to drive across the bridge, while I can't bike on it... One of the city buses must weigh far more than all of the bicyclists on the bridge at any given time.

I have to dismount & walk my bike across the river, which I discovered is a really, really long way. I never really noticed how wide the Mississippi is here.

The walls for the pedestrians' covered corridor are just cheap plywood. The interior of which are painted panels for the various student organizations, ranging from the Vedic Change Your Life to the University's marching band to Der Svenskaklubb. Some however, are amusing:

Queer Women: a flaming good time
CASH: Campus Atheists Skeptics & Humanists: the best damned group on campus
Heavy Metal: University Marching Band Flutes & Piccolos
University Physics Society: Is Carl Sagan your homeboy?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Hocky Fan Mom

I like hockey. I'm hoping Santa Claus brings me a ticket to the Wings' game here in town in January. I am not, nor shall I ever be, a 'hockey mom' (like I'm going to let my boys do that on a serious team? Be real. Pond hockey yes; NHL no). Soccer mom, maybe if you can be one without letting it consume your soul. We might have a mini-van, though. With camping gear.

After hearing about this for several days, I finally found a functional internet connection, and watched it. Wow. Awesome!

The Nation's comment about Failin' Palin hiding behind her daughter's skirts was the most laughable. If she's going to drag the little kid out onto the ice, to keep the Flyer fans from booing her, the least she could do is give the kid the damn puck.

Although, as a PR point someone should have made to her, she should have avoided the Burbury coat and worn a hockey jersey. Not from the Flyers (whose fans might have been even more enraged), but the U.Alaska/Fairbanks. They have a nice team. "Rah rah hockey" without the "I'm sucking up" factor.

Got Vote?

Think nationally, act locally.

Miller points to the ouster of ACORN's founder earlier this year after the controller, the founder's brother, had embezzled nearly a million dollars. --- maybe he should move to Alaska. --- Lewis, ACORN's chief organizer, says the group's profile has never been so high. "This election, this linking us to Obama in order to try to damage him, that's a great opportunity," she says.

And, since "others" (i.e., the RNC) are complaining about ACORN nationally (accused of getting people to register multiple times), the Hennepin County (i.e., Mpls) attorney is checking into them for potential fraud. ooooh, horrid! Fraud, in this case, means holding the registration cards for longer than the 10-day submission deadline. A deadline intended to avoid a document log-jam for the county, since they enter the registrations on the same day they receive them. Strangely unmentioned here is the fact the county attorney also said they would accept all of the registrations as valid; it's just that they might nail the poor schmuck in question anyway.

On an 80% positive note:
The Sec.State expects an 80% voter turn out, while achieving a 90% voter registration by Election Day (we have same-day-at-polls-registration).

A recent surge in Minnesota voter registration — 60,000 new voters in a little more than a month — has pushed statewide voter registration to an all-time high.

An analysis shows half of the new registrations come from three (most liberal & most populous) counties that voted heavily for John Kerry in 2004, potentially giving Democratic hopeful Barack Obama a boost in a critical battleground state as the 2008 presidential election enters the homestretch.

"These results actually reflect our strategy of focusing aggressively on new voters and current nonvoters and getting them engaged in this election," said Jeff Blodgett, Obama's state campaign director.
StPl PiPress

Those 3 counties have been referred to as "ground zero for our get-out-the-vote efforts" (by DFL). Someone has been hammering voter registration on campus. I just got an email from the U's president reminding me to register to vote. My Tuesday evening class professor gave us permission to miss class for voting, since most have either work or a long bus ride rather prohibiting getting to class by 4:40. I've been accosted twice to get me to register. There have been postings all over the school of public health to get people to register (although I didn't notice which group posted them).

See, class, you should have paid attention in math class.

Monday, October 13, 2008


I realize the only people who read this are related to me ... so it's not like my view of politics is a secret, nor is it that different than the rest of you. That said... today's news (which actually means the past 2.5 days) just stupefies me. totally stupefies me. This exceeds even my terminally pessimistic view of the idiocy of U.S. elections.

I'm on drugs. I'm on hallucinogens. Please, someone tell me this is all one giant methamphetamine induced delirium. Lie, baby, lie.


Friday, October 10, 2008

Who are these idiots?

I just drove home. Who are these idiots on the roads?

The major road through U-Minnesota's East Bank campus (major = only one that actually goes straight though) has a pretty long light to cross it, letting the pile of traffic through. It's got lots of traffic all day. Needless to say, the pedestrians at this particular crossing (none of the others, just this one) actually wait for the cross light. Not this chick. She is blithely strolling across the stopped traffic. This wouldn't be a big problem, except that my lane to turn on to Washington Ave is, by default of course, green. She abruptly gets this deer-in-the-headlight look as I come to a halt to avoid plowing into her and her GDMF cell phone. And you thought the drivers with them were insane? At least hitting a car (which would likely have had a Republican perfectly coiffed soccer mom in an SUV sitting 4 feet higher than my VW) would mean hitting a fairly well armored target. This girl? Splat! like a bug on my windshield

2 lanes of a large road (Cedar Ave) at an intersection becomes 3 lanes: the same 2 + a left turn lane. Some SUV not only swerves in front of me as the light turns red, she swerves straight across my lane and turns left through the intersection. (Don't know if it was a Republican perfectly coiffed soccer mom.) Loud cursing and a long honk ensues.

Same road. Back to 2 lanes (in each direction). Another SUV just abruptly swerves 1/2 way into my lane and then swerves back. Why? There was a bicyclist in the right lane. There was also no one behined me in the left lane. Could the SUVidiot wait 30 seconds for me to pass, so that she could gracefully and safely pass the bicyclist? Apparently not. A much quieter curse and a little honk.

Still the same road. 2 lanes in either direction. The black sports car in front of me starts to turn right on a green light. Using his turn signal. She abruptly comes to a halt, half way into the turn. I.e., I am part of the way into the intersection. I come within about 12 inches of hitting her. Why? Same bicyclist. This time there's significant cursing, although no honking.
Although, I'm willing to bet that the cyclist wasn't using hand signals before she got to the intersection. (why? Because I rarely see them used hereabouts. An amazing situation, given how many bicycles are on the roads). I would be equally willing to believe she used them, and the driver didn't pay attention. Considering her blatant disregard for her own life (no helmet + big city streets = stupid), I would be equally willing to believe that she drove ahead with no regard to whether or not she had the right of way compared to the car.
At this point, when the black car continues through the intersection, the cross-traffic has a green light. I have no room to back up, because another car is right behind me. I - of course - have to drive through a red light to avoid getting hit. It wasn't just a little red. Or orange. Nope, it was red all the way across.
Much honking ensued - at me.

I'm off the stupid street, into my neighborhood, onto a normal street. All is well, right? If it were, the post would end here.

This is now an ordinary neighborhood street: one lane in each direction. Although with parking allowed on the sides, it is fairly wide (35th St.). Being wider than the completely residential streets, it follows that there's more traffic than in front of our house. What happens? This time I need to move out of my lane. Not abruptly, I might add. Why? There is a completely idiotic bicyclist on the road, bicycling in the wrong direction towards me. I'm not sure who has the bigger death wish - the chick on Cedar Ave or the old guy on 35th.

I'm afraid of getting back in the car to drive over to pick up Jr.Gopher #1.

When does something become a word?

At Stammtisch, the German language conversation group, we were discussing the size of something. In German, adding -chen to a word makes it a diminutive. So, Hund=dog, Hundschen=puppy or possibly, used jokingly, one of those itty-bitty yippy dogs.

The discussion in German involved a town the rest of the group had never heard of. The speaker tried explaining it was not a city, and not even a small town, but a village (Dorf). She then said she was hesitant to even call it a Dorf. I suggested that it was a Dorfschen. Everyone laughed (my goal). I thought of Big Isaac, which was apparently the size she meant. Not even a Dairy Queen.

No one could find the word in a dictionary. It wasn't in the monster-sized on-line dictionary. I had never heard the word from anyone else. After all, everyone listening knew perfectly well what I meant. Even in another context, they would have. I'm pretty sure a German would have understood, although she might not have found it amusing.

When does something become a "real" word? Is Dorfschen a word? In the absence of other knowledge, I figured this was akin to Mr.STFU's use of 'fucktard'. I'd never heard it before, but immediately understood his meaning. [of course, I have since seen it other places, so either it was already a 'real' word, or else my brother has had a huge impact on the English language.]

I'm thinking of submitting it to the German equivalent of the OED. (Being such an orderly culture, they must have one.) Maybe they'll like it.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Nothing special

Here it is, October. School is into 5th out of 16 weeks, just over 1/4 of the way. I'm confronted now with "what the hell are they doing?" The gizmo I need to start my research project isn't here. Unless I become far more efficient than I have managed to achieve in the past 42 years, I doubt it's going to finish before Dec.23 (or whenever the semester is over). The grade for my Spring 'incomplete' class isn't posted yet. Where is it? My "Field Experience" (read: internship) which I did in the Summer is technically happening this semester. Great, 3 credits on my schedule with no work attached. But, what in the world am I supposed to do now about it? Epidemiology turned from 'what's so hard about this?' to 'what the hell is this?' in 1 week. Ethics has nice reading, but none of us can figure out "what are they expecting of us?"

Here it is, October. Halloween is around the corner. Happy Birthday, Brother #2. This is the first time we've lived in a normal house in a normal neighborhood since Jr.Gopher #1 was 7 months old. First trick-or-Treating for both boys. Trick-or-Treating? Ooops, I'd better figure out what to get the boys for a costume. And figure out how to explain the whole thing to him. Jr.Gopher #2 probably won't care.

Here it is, October. Mr.Gopher was working late to submit yet another patent application. This one to the European patent office. I suppose that's good. If Honeywell wants it protected in more than one country, they must figure one of these days they might want to prevent others from using it.

We had some company over for dinner on Saturday. This is the first time I've had to consider a special menu for something other than vegetarians. My friend has some digestive complications that needed soft food, very soft. We had quite a pow-wow about what would be okay. Hmmmm. Mediterranean wound up being the choice: hummus, tzatziki, pita bread, babaganoush, extra cooked rice, and chicken I tried to cook super moist. At least on the last 2, I'm finally getting some milage out of the Angel's wedding present, a really big paella pan. Jr.Gopher #1 chowed down on the babaganoush (basically eggplant puree with garlic) that night, and has refused to eat it since. Jr.Gopher #2 seems to be willing to eat anything other than dessert (unless it's cookies or chocolate bars). The evening was really nice. Aside from pleasant company (and an entire bottle of wine consumed between Mr.Gopher and me - mostly him), I was really happy to be able to cook more than just beans & rice or spaghetti or some other "mix with real food for dinner in less than 30 min."

I just started reading Collapse: how societies choose to fail or succeed, by the author of Guns, Germs, and Steel. Of course, I could just as easily read the news for Collapse: how the economic fucktards in D.C. are choosing to abandon ship.

I'm hoping to upload some of the more recent photos off the camera, so that I can post them.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

classroom behavior

I'm studying for an exam tonight (in 3 hrs). I am - of course - reviewing my notes from class. I see:

benchmark dose
alternative to NOAEL / LOAEL
lower confidence interval

~~~ sleep

modeling interpolation

I distinctly remember falling asleep in class that night. I figured I ought to put a note in, so that i could go back and get the notes. Ooops.

What do you learn at university, mama?

The LD-50 for sucrose (table sugar) is 29,700 mg/kg. This amount of material is expected to kill 50% of people who ingest it. For the metrically challenged people:

A 175 pound person who eats 5.2 pounds of table sugar will probably die.

To put this in perspective, the next time you go through the baking aisle at the grocery store, look for the sugar. It's normally sold in 5-pound bags.

Normal Coca-Cola has 39 grams of sugar in a 12-oz can.
It would take 60,161.5 cans of Coke to do you in.
Or 5,640 Gallons of it.
If that were gasoline, it would be $18,330. (Mpls prices)
Although, it would be $4,230 just to by the Coke (U of M prices).

So, the next time you want to persuade your kids that they shouldn't drink soda pop, you can simply tell them that it's toxic.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

finally not procrastinating

Sitting on the downstairs couch, reading something which is anything but academic, listening to Over the Hedge, which Jr. Gopher #2 is intermittently watching. Jr. Gopher #2 was really sick yesterday. 12 hours of crying and insisting on lying on mama. With his stuffed ferret. I was sick too, albeit not as sick. And soooooooooooooo tired. Because, of course, he had been up all night with the same problem. All I wanted was a nice long nap. But did he take a nap? No. Did I get one? No.

Jr. Gopher #2 is sitting astride my lap at the moment, looking at my fingers typing.

Fare well,


& Elizabeth --he did that all by himself. Well, with some help with which keys to push.