Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Constitutional Amendment anyone?

Independence Minnesota (our big 3rd party) is soliciting opinions regarding a proposal: reduce the state legislature to one house. Unicameral legislature? Talk about changing the way gov't runs!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Food Fight: croissants

Food Fight: Trung Nam vs. May Day Cafe croissants
from City Pages:

If foods were gods and ruled over us, don't you think it would be butter that presided? Is it fair to say, then, that foods that are basically just thinly-veiled vehicles for butter are more godly than the rest? Possibly, in fact, godly period? When you're dealing with such divinity, it's kinda tough to choose between two, sorta like choosing between your mom and dad or something.

See who wins in a Croissant-Off: mom or dad.

One good way to judge a croissant might be its pillow-to-crunch ratio, its ability to simultaneously harness the butter to make the exterior of the pastry as flaky and crispy as the interior is soft as delicate. Trung Nam's got the ratio down. For a flat $1.50, you can score one of the St. Paul Vietnamese bakery's croissants in a number of flavors like coconut, blueberry, strawberry or almond. Rich and light, they're like buttery clouds.

Another good way to judge a croissant might be by how much butter seeps through the bag when you're transporting it. On these merits alone, May Day Cafe's croissant wins out. For $1.75 plus tax, May Day will deliver a pastry whose aura suggests no less than a choir of angels. The cafe's croissants are a bit smaller, darker and heavier than Trung Nam's, and also, dare we say, more buttery?

The Winner: They're a tad more expensive, but May Day's croissants honor butter and unite them with pastry in a way that is almost weep-worthy. You can almost see the purposefulness -- the precise, technical skill -- that went into making them. Yet at the same time they arenot at all fussy, with a simple, honest flavor. Bonus: The crunchy ends taste not unlike some of the best pizza crusts. Alleluia for croissants!


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Pond Hockey, pt. 2

Yes, we made it there. No, we almost didn't make it back. It was sooooo wet; being about 32 degrees, the rain was thick. Not thick as in #drops per cubic foot of air, but rather the #pounds per drop pounding on the side of one's face. The precipitation bordered between rain, snow & sleet. Once it hit the ground though, it was just wet. The boys & I attended the US Pond Hockey Championships today @ Lake Nokomis, in south Minneapolis. Not wanting to deal with cramped parking & icky weather, we took the bus. The best route stops on the other side of the block we live on; and the walk wasn't so bad on the hockey end. On the way home, however, ... ... ... Jr.Gopher#2 was just whooped. It's a really long walk for really short legs.

Strangely, the amount of ice on the sidewalks seems to be related to the general income/neighborhood. The poor people up closer to Lake Street, just north of us, don't seem to shovel their sidewalks nearly well enough. Once you head south into our part of the neighborhood, the sidewalks are nice & clear. Further south (read: increased per capita income), they become impassable. Not just a little bit of ice, but the "I haven't gotten off my Viking-cheering-potato-derriere to shovel my sidewalk because the path between the door & the SUV is just fine" kind of ice.

Route 14, south bound, heading down Bloomington Ave. towards Lake Nokomis (sort of).

Jr.Gopher#2 forgot his scarf. Suffering for one's progeny; man, my ears were cold.

This, boys, is the great northern sport. On ice. Well, actually today on slush.

It's too cold; Jr.Gopher#2 just isn't quite getting into the spirit of things.

Each team is required to show up with two different jerseys: light and dark. No one said it had to be unique. (The white jerseys with the green N are the now defunct NHL Minnesota North Stars.)

This is the only good shot I got of the goal. Yes, that box on the ice is the goal. It is basically a wooden box about 2 x 4 feet and 6" high with two holes in the front of it. Now that takes skill (a.k.a. luck)!

Sledge Hockey was also being played. I've never seen this before. A nice fellow showed the boys the different sticks & how the sledge works. Now these are the people I felt sorry for ... with so much water on the ice, they are already only 5" or so above it anyway. With 2" water at one end, they are going to have really wet pants at the end of the game.
The were also the only group I noticed with mixed gender and ages. There was at least one woman in the game we watched, and the age group on the ice went from 30-something to one boy about 14 or so.

The carrot at the end of the stick this afternoon was hot chocolate at May Day Cafe. My favorite hangout. The best coffee in Minneapolis, btw. Tell them I sent you; they won't give you a discount, but they will be nice to you. Well, they'll be nice anyway as long as you don't wear an "I Love Bush" t-shirt.

Jr.Gopher#1 took this photo. I returned the favor & took this one:

I'm not sure how the odd lighting happened; it was a flash picture & there wasn't anything reflecting that should have caused it ...?

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Purity of Hockey

Lake Nokomis, just south of where we live, I assume either this morning or last year. Those are 25 ice rinks (

U.S. Pond Hockey Championships:
Get excited for hockey the way nature intended! Last year it was minus 20 degrees. This year it's mixed precipitation. Only Mother Nature knows who will win the
Golden Shovel!

The boys & I are going tomorrow. Who needs the Wild?

While perusing the team names, there's
the expected: Mother Pukers
the befuddeled: Angry Chickens
the amusing: Frozen Pond Scum -- Zamboni Drivers -- Frozen Assets
The prognosticatory: Runners Up

The teams had an opportunity to describe themselves. For example:
  • Six oldtimers from Grimsby Ontario Canada looking forward to some good old American hospitality. Hell we might even bring some of our beer to share with you fellas.
  • Somebody told us that, win or lose, everyone in the 40+ division gets a free one-year supply of Guinness. So we've got that going for us, which is nice.
There's only 6 teams in the women's division. Surprising, given how many girls'/women's teams there are these days, especially high school teams here in Minn.

I have a totally irrational fear of skating on natural ice. Seriously. Total fear of falling through. Now ... look at the photo at the top. Look at the sheer number of people. They're not afraid... The ice is probably a foot thick ... you can drive your pick up out on to Lake Calhoun to set up your shanty ... They certainly use trucks to put the rink boards up ... right? I keep telling myself that it will be okay to let the boys out on the ice tomorrow. It's not going to collapse... right? ...

I have no idea which games we're going to see: Men's, Women's or Kids. We're just going to go. I might, however, need to find the bus schedule & $1.75, because as we drove by this evening from picking up Jr.Gopher#2, the parking lot @ Lk Nokomis was still packed. The tons of snow still lying all of the city have eliminated at least 10% of the parking spots, too. I'll try to call Lawyers A & B to see if they want to bring their kids, too.

Updates & pictures if we make it. And the ice doesn't collapse.

And ... Jr.Gopher#2 was at a substitute sitter for the day ... who took him ice skating. He was pretty happy about it, although he informed me "I fell down".

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Law v. Russian literature

Politifact, my amusement for the evening states:
... a Nov. 19, 2009, news release, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said that the 2,074-page bill was "longer than Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace ."
We decided to see if he was right.

As for the bill, we cut and pasted it into a Microsoft Word document and found that the bill contained 384,067 words. Just to make sure that Word wasn't choking on such a large file, we did a sampling of word counts on individual pages, then multiplied the typical one-page count by the total number of pages in our Word document. The single pages we checked tended to have a bit fewer than 300 words per page in Word. So, with our document running to 1,372 pages -- shrinkage that illuminates how spread-out the text of the Senate bill is -- we came up with a ballpark estimate of 411,000 words.

So while Hatch is right if you simply count pages, when you use a more accurate comparison -- the number of words -- War and Peace is actually longer. In other words, he is right by one measurement, but not by the best measurement. So it turns out that Democrats aren't as wordy as a Russian novelist. Who knew?


2009: 19 people were murdered in Minneapolis

Jan 20, 2010: the 7th homicide is reported.

Not doin' so great in Friendly Minnesota.

Be a lady

Arlen Spectre tells She Who Must Not Be Named (R-MN) to act like a lady, to wit:

"I'm going to treat you like a lady," Mr. Specter shot back. "Now act like one."

Ah, all the more reason to rejoice that he became a democrat: no party harangue after such an honest reminder of common courtesy. This article, however, gave grave cause for fear & trepidation. She Who Must Not Be Named (R-MN) is apparently hosting She Who Must Not Be Named (R-AK) at some rally. I will definitely be somewhere else that day.

I thank God that I don't live in the 6th District. Keith Ellison could board a Northwest flight with explosives in his underwear & I would still prefer him to Bachmann. Come on - complaints about Ellison going on Hajj - or complaints about Bachmann lying about health care bills?

Truth-o-Meter Lie of the Year:
61% Palin ... claims ... uh, lies ... about death panels
3.8% Bachmann ... claims ... uh, lies ... about health care bills

Now, lest you think this is just a bunch of "liberal elitists" slamming "poor misunderstood Christian conservatives":
7.1% of their readers thought that Pres. Obama's claims about "preventative care saves money" was a lie.

Why spend money on basic education, when PR campaign dollars are so much cheaper and quite obviously so much more effective?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

German Poetry in color

... and no, not Goethe ...

Vor allem Schwarz und Weiß und Grau
vergesse ich manchmal
die bunten Farben in meinem Leben:
Du bist für mich
weder Schwarz nor Weiß
sondern Rot und Blau und Gelb und Grün
meine Lust und Freude

rev: it occurred to me that most of my friends don't speak German, so a translation is in order:
With all of the Black and White and Grey,
at times I forget
the brilliant Colors in my Life:
You are for me
neither Black nor White
but rather Red and Blue and Yellow and Green,
my Passion and Joy

My friend The Author enjoys poetry; I braved the elements of authorship & posted something I wrote on her blog. to wit:

The only thing vaguely like poetry that I’ve written in my adult, post-college life was in German.
We do not, and will certainly not, even consider what spewed forth from my pen during those heady days in Arnold Hall dating one of the ... uh, no, the greatest asinine Idiot I've ever given my affections to. Boy, and that's some epitaph. What a waste of paper that relationship was.

This is why one should clean out the car regularly, besides achieving the status of mobile microbiological experiment station. One might leave bits of paper with incriminating doodles indiscriminately about a semi-public space.

My mother-in-law saw a small bit of such paper in my car. My heart sunk, as she read it. Her comment was along the lines of “it looks like something written to a lover”.

I responded, with forced courage, “I wrote it for Mr.Gopher” (who at the time of maternal discovery was my husband, although he was my lover at the time I wrote it).

I’m not sure if the surprise was due to the fact that I wrote it, or that I wrote it for her son. Although, I suppose, the surprise might simply have been that I wrote anything in German.

And, strangely enough, I didn't feel embarrassed, when I contemplated sharing it on The Author's blog. This is strange since I’m horribly, mortally embarrassed every time I think about asking for someone’s opinion on the prose fiction that I wrote. Perhaps this is simply too short to be able to be embarrassed.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

New Party

Farmer Dick & I were chatting @ May Day. I am considering campaigning for someone this Summer, if I could only figure out who deserves my help. He is considering getting a political party that could combine the Greens and other Libertarian-minded folks. This boggles the mind. Upon consideration, I suggested a name would appeal to younger voters. And, he could always call it something else. My suggestion was the Where's The Freedom Party. a.k.a. WTF Party

Friday, January 15, 2010

Fahrenheit 32 ... or 451?

"Book-burning seems terribly wrong but we have to get rid of unsold stock for pennies and some of the pensioners say the books make ideal slow-burning fuel for fires and stoves," from CNBC

Name that team ...

New Minnesota soccer team conducts online vote for name

Minnesota Voyageurs
NSC Minnesota
FC Minnesota
Minnesota United
Minnesota Northern Lights
Northstar FC

While I like the sound of "Voyageurs", I'm reluctant to lend the name Minnesota to any other sports team. The state of Minnesota seems to keep demanding the people here in Hennepin Co. shell out the money for the latest sports insanity. Now, Blaine is sufficiently far away that I don't imagine they'll be able to increase the sales tax here just in Hennepin County to foot the bill. So, while I still think the new baseball stadium should be used by the Hennepin County Twins, I won't mind the Minnesota Voyageurs I guess.

I'm voting for Northstar - if the ice hockey team isn't here to use it, someone else might as well.

The team will be replacing the Minnesota Thunder. So, Mr.HumanTeam - you can come visit during the summer season for a nice football game. The kind with spherical balls. They'll be playing with teams from the United Soccer League.

Enter to pick the new name & win season tickets (1 from the pool of all entrants and 1 from the group picking the winning name).

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Butpulski Ice Garden pictures

birthday present #44: digital camera

this didn't make it to the ice skating festivities last night at the Butpulski Ice Garden. LawyerB (married to LawyerA) posted pictures on his Facebook page. Luckily, one can copy them. So, while the photograph wasn't taken last night - - it at least gives you a picture of the rink we were on.

This afternoon after school:
Jr.Gopher#1 asked me if I liked the way he was hitting the puck.
me: yes. I was proud of how well you were doing by the end of the night
Jr.Gopher#1 you were proud of me?
me: yes. So was Leo's dad.
Jr.Gopher#1 were all the grown ups proud of me?
me: yes
Jr.gopher#1 was Papa proud of me?
me: I'm sure if he'd been there, he would have been proud of you.

At the end, at least he seemed to have some self-confidence in his approval rating.

The boy with the blue jersey & white helmet is Michael's buddy Leo. Another great reason to have picked St. Albert's: wonderful people our age whose children are the same age as ours. clarification: these were taken another day, just wanted to show where we were; the other kid isn't mine.

Charity begins at home: in your brain

Because other people besides evangelical TV assholes are also evil:

Here is a list of at least slightly reputable organizations which are providing aid to Haiti
Personally, based upon past records, if you feel more comfortable giving to a longer-lasting bigger named institution, try:
American Red Cross
Catholic Relief Services
Doctors Without Borders
Lutheran World Relief
Partners In Health

Caution: Bogus On-Line Scams about Haiti (or anywhere else):
Haitian Earthquake Relief Fraud Alert from the FBI.

More advice on intelligent charitable giving:

1. During disasters, stick to the Oldies but Goodies, give directly to the charity, do your research, don't give to governments known to be corrupt. or in this case, already completely dysfunctional
2. Avoid "new" charity websites registered within 24 hours of the disaster.
3. Pick the charity which has the lowest overhead - i.e., the maximum percent goes to the actual cause, and not administrative costs (read: big salaries for American fat cats)
4. Call the charity and ask questions; never feel pressured to give right now. I assure you, your $20 will not matter if it's right now, or tomorrow.
5. It's your money; give it where you want.
6. Realize that the costs of disasters are looooooooooooooooooong. They will still need your money tomorrow. and the day after and the day after and the day .... don't give till it hurts. Give in smaller amounts over a longer time. This is all about cash flow.
7. Diversification might be good risk management for your 401k; it might not be for charitable giving.

Check out charity groups with other sources:
Charity Watch - rates national (not local) organizations, but the details aren't on-line
Charity Navigator - their tips & resources are well done

Some of these only rate national groups; e.g. Catholic Relief Services isn't rated by Charity Network because they're exempt from certain IRS reporting (because they are the international arm of the Catholic Church, not domestic);
similarly, the Archdioscese of St. Paul isn't rated by Charity Watch because it isn't a national organization.

Websites debunking urban legends or scams should also be considered, if you aren't familiar with a group trying to pry your cold, hard earned cash out of your pocketbook.

Charity Watch listed its top-rated charities serving Haiti: 4 of the 5 I listed above all have A ratings (the highest). The 5th isn't listed with them.

And, by the way ... I strongly recommend finding some charitable organization which supports something you like. And then give to them. Being a routine donor helps the organization plan its budget. Some places have a monthly donation on-going payment plan. e.g. Minnesota Public Radio does, with an option to make it an on-going donation, rather than an annual one. It cuts down on their administrative costs by not needing to pester me or remind me to give them more money. (Although last Spring I did promise to give them more money when I get a job again - - they laughed and said that if I keep giving them worthwhile advice, they'd count it even.)

Techological generosity

From the American Red Cross:

In addition, several hundred thousand people have chosen to make a mobile donation. Donors can text "Haiti" to 90999 on their cell phone to send a $10 donation to support Red Cross relief efforts in Haiti. The mobile giving effort raised more than $3 million by Thursday morning, and all money raised goes to support Red Cross relief efforts in Haiti.

An interview this afternoon mentioned this. They were really pleased by the ability to raise so much money in so little time by taking advantage of the marvels of modern technology. Telephones are nothing compared to this.

That said,

I strongly urge anyone who can to donate blood. Go find someone to do it for you, if you can't. The lines outside the Red Cross office in Lansing stretched around the block on the evening of September 11, 2001. I was there for 5 hours (well, first donating & then helping). This is a much, much, much greater disaster.

And, sure, donate money. Directions are above. This is assuredly the most pressing item. But, if the ARC is going to send blood & blood products to Haiti, they need to replace them here.

The president of Haiti is homeless; I can't imagine anyone ever saying that here. Here there's always a few more miles to go before getting out of a disaster zone. Haiti is about the size of New Jersey.

The sheer poverty of the country beggars the imagination. And that was before Tuesday. I'm left wondering how much money will be dedicated to relief efforts. I am then left wondering why it couldn't have been sent there some time over the past 20 years. No different than the bottom of New Orleans: sure, we can spend a billion dollars to do a half-assed repair job after a hurricane, but we sure couldn't possibly be bothered to have spent anything before Katrina, to have minimized the disaster.

It's so soul crushing to look at the sheer waste of human life resulting from humanity's unwillingness to engage in anything preventative.

The immediate disaster is going to be horrible, yes. But there's no water; and certainly no clean water. After the acute care, disease is going to set in. TB is rampant in the country already; so is AIDS. They can soon expect everything else water borne to set in - typhoid, malaria, dysentery, etc.

The bill in the long run is going to be in the trillions. Jee, if the GDCSMF bankers hadn't tanked our economy, maybe we could have spent a few billion dollars on our neighbors rather than even further padding the GDCSMF's self-righteous nest eggs.


Pat Robertson is evil.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

9:40-what? p.m.???

It's 9:57. p.m. Central Time.

Our friend (LawyerB) posted on his facebook page:
"... enjoyed skating on the backyard rink with friends tonight. We had hockey sticks, hockey pucks, a sled, mini-chairs, a push car, 3 adults and 5 kids on the ice with plenty of room to spare. Off the ice, we had a fire, hot chocolate, and cookies. Not a bad evening out."

Nope, not a bad night at all. At the beginning, Jr.Gopher#1 was inching along on his skates. At least he was standing on them without problems, and he *was* moving under his own power. Actually, when I came out of the porch, being the last one to get skates on, Jr.Gopher #1 was pushing Jr.Gopher #2 around the ice. #2 was sitting on one of the aforementioned mini-folding chairs.

By the end of the evening, Jr.Gopher#1 was moving rather comfortably, holding a hockey stick and knocking the puck around a bit. I was really quite impressed. Dispelling the maternal bias theory, our friend, LawyerB was also impressed. #1's friend Leo, however, was zooming around the backyard rink like a speed demon, apparently fearless of falling. I suppose when one is wearing hockey gear, it doesn't hurt as much.

By the end of the evening, I had only fallen down twice. For the first time, I got to hold a hockey stick and knock the puck around. I wasn't doing so bad. I'm debating whether to exchange my figure skates for hockey skates. I've decided to learn how to play hockey. In a practical manner, not just appreciating it from the stands. If Jr.#1 is going to learn how to play, I might as well. It will give him someone to at least minimally practice with. And, considering how great I feel right now, after spending well over an hour on the ice, the exercise will do be wonders.

The boys' bedroom light was turned out around 9:20 p.m. Two - yes, 2 - hours past the normal time. Healthy Gopher's prediction: Two demon-children will be discovered tomorrow morning at 7 a.m.

Both of the boys had a really good time. Jr.Gopher#2 demanded rather forcefully whether or not we were going to go to Oskar's house again. (where we were tonight - they have two boys the same age as ours). Jr.Gohper#1 said he wanted a play date with Leo sometime to play indoors, and maybe on the ice. After putting 'jamas on, I discovered Jr.#2 was considering short-term. He wanted to go back to Oskar's house right now! Resulting in quite a bit of crying.

At least it only took about 4 microseconds for the boys to fall asleep. It might take me 15 minutes, but not much more.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

bumper sticker of the month

At least the war on the environment is going well

Monday, January 4, 2010

500 cal/day v. 300 cal/hr

The standard figure cited for breastfeeding is that it uses an extra 500 calories per day; an incentive to loose the pregnancy weight.

The English National Health Service (their agent of evil socialism), reports something even better. Sex will use up 300 calories per hour. Giving you a whole-body cardiovascular work-out and reducing the risk of heart disease. I suppose this figure depends upon how ... enthusiastic ... you are.

And, yet again even better:

If you're worried about wrinkles - orgasms even help prevent frown lines from deepening

Sunday, January 3, 2010


I heard Jr.Gopher#1 utter the phrase: "The TV said ..."

And we don't even have broadcast television, just ads on the kids videos, as he was trying to explain that we needed to buy him a Bob the Builder video on November 15th. (The release date mentioned: I heard the ad.) Mr. Gopher had to explain that it was an advertisement.

What's an ad for? They want you to want something.

yes ...

What do they want you to do?


They want you to give them money. What happens if you do?


You don't have any money left in your piggy bank. You have their junk; they have you money.

(He's saving to buy a Mac the Truck a la 'Cars'. $13.95 @ Target. $7 to go.)

Jr. Gopher#1 looked a bit bamboozled when I said the Nov. 15 date was probably 5 years ago.