Friday, March 18, 2011

more family photos

more photos from the Minnesota gophers:

A bit more recent - since the big blizzard in January through a couple weeks ago. Misplaced the camera for a while. I'm not sure, but I might bring it to the Tae Kwon Do next weekend for JrGopher#1's yellow belt test.


The hike en route to the falls:

Further on the hike - please note the fact that Jr.Gopher#2 could just sit on the snow without sitting down.

Playing ice hockey over @ the But-Palskis

Yes, we will show this to Jr.Gopher#2's girlfriends. He said he wanted to be a princess, and the neighbor girl assuredly had the accessories to do this. (Lord, don't get me going on the revolting Disney Princess obsession.)

MPR's modern station, 89.3, had their annual Rock the Cradle a couple weekends ago. It's a music splendor at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. All focused for children, I would assume about 10 and under. A kiddie disco, where the DJs were the radio station's DJs. One program was an Instrument Petting Zoo, where the kids could pick up and actually play different instruments. Violins, cellos, an electric piano, a drum set, a couple hand drums, electric guitar, and lots of different little percussion item. The boys both found the string instruments interesting and fun.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

holy cow ...

Tone of awe: oh, my god.

Parking lot of Cub Foods @ 60th & Nicollet.
Someone just told me there used to be a gas station there before the grocery.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

[review] Careless in Red

Wow - I just realized I've never written a review for an Elizabeth George book. I own almost all of them and am eagerly awaiting the latest being available at the Mpls Library.

Which is which?

updated photo selection: okay if you are the one person who actually look at this often (Hi, mom), you'll be able to tell, since only one changed - I got a much better photo from Japan (thank you, Der Spiegel).

Tell me which one is Fukushima (Tokyo) and which is Chernobyl (Prypyat)?

Photograph #1

Photograph #2

A Ukrainian Liquidator, one of the first on site at Chrnobyl & surprisingly still alive, compliments the Japanese. "We wore normal clothes and a face respirator. As we went in to the reactor we were given an iodine preparation which was normally the first emergency aid..."

Today, 50 are remaining to control 3 reactors, hoping to keep them cooled. Or more, depending on which source. The Ministry of Health increased the acceptable exposure limit to "to 250 millisieverts from 100 millisieverts, five times the maximum exposure permitted for American nuclear plant workers."

Despite the demands of occupational safety experts here to protect workers, I can't imagine the Dept. of Labor (i.e., OSHA) actually being capable of moving overnight to change an exposure limit. The cynic in me thinks this is, in part, because after-the-fact the safety professions would turn around and demand to have all of the other 30-year old limits changed, too.

I'm surprised the Green Party in the US isn't going more ballistic, given its absolutist platform on nuclear power. The party chair for Die Grüne [the German Green Party] was making this point in a rather restrained manner Sunday, anticipating the impending state elections in Baden-Württemburg. Given the party's platform on feminism, I suppose referring to her as the chairman would be gauche.

Interestingly in the German news, the Greens are confronted with 'warming their hearts' [ihre Seele wärmen] over the opportunity to renew one of their core beliefs coming to conflict with their desire to create a Black-Green coalition government, i.e. CDU/Green, which to the American bipolar condition sounds strange with the conservatives & tree-huggers. Admittedly, the German Conservatives are still in touch with reality, unlike ours.

#1 = Chernobyl
#2 = Fukushima

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Financial whining

I'm so sick of listening to complaining about cutting government spending. Let's back up and look at it again, folks. How to fix the country's budget/spending problem:

1. Figure out how much money is actually coming in
2. Make a list of everything that you want the government to pay for.
3. Make a list - it'll be reeeaaaaaaaaaallllllllllllly long - of every last damn dime spent by Uncle Sam. Do NOT make this list first. Ignore, completely and totally ignore what we're spending today when you make the list of what you actually want to pay for.
4. Start spending and stop when your balance sheet hits $0.

The financial wizard/con-men are trying to screw you by including point #3 above. This is completely irrelevant to the solution. Ignore today's reality when trying to create tomorrow's. Really. Seriously.

"Cutting Spending" is the modern mantra. It's bullshit. You don't want to pay for the state's maternal and child welfare (a.k.a. WIC) ... just don't put it on the We Want To Pay For It list. Cut everything!
Start from Zero. Not from the current budget.
What do you want? Can you pay for it? Figure out what you can afford. Everything else will be eliminated anyway, so stop arguing about whether or not to cut it.

Back up.

1. Decide whether or not you want to live with Capitalism. If you don't, please go away. If you do, please wake up and smell the coffee. You don't live in a capitalistic economy, if you live in the USA. I hate to break it to you, but all of you already live in a socialist state which has NOTHING to do with whether GW or Obama is in office.

2. Eliminate every last goddamned penny of federal subsidies. Take the resultant $1.6 Trillion* and cut the federal deficit by half.

Subsidies are economic engineering. A True and Pure Capitalist would refuse to take them. A real capitalist would ... well, actually she would take them. And any other damn thing the federal government threw her way.
Then she would start to rely on them.
Then she would demand them as her due.
Then she would claim they were her right as a business owner.
Then ... one day she might look in the mirror and realize that she's been sucking off the teat of the American Taxpayer and has committed Capitalistic Heresy and Apostasy.

If you want subsidies, that's fine. Just don't ask for them and then delude yourself into thinking you're a Capitalist.

As I listen in painful agony every weekday morning to 91.1 FM, I hear people of all parties saying they want to cut spending. And I never ever ever ever hear them say exactly what they want to cut.

The following need to be removed from any conservative (that is, the American ones) whining about social problems. None of this would be a problem if you just sucked it up and did what you're supposed to be doing according to the Word of God and Conservative Society:
  1. birth control: if you ain't married, you don't need it because you aren't having sex
  2. abortion: since the only way you'd get pregnant is if you're married, you can't need an abortion
  3. financial aid: if you can't afford to pay tuition, you need to get off your ass, get a job, and save up your money. You cannot sit back and expect me to pay for you to go to college.
  4. unemployment benefits: you'd have a job, if you just got off your ass and made a real effort
  5. unemployment benefits: if you'd saved your money like a responsible person, you wouldn't need to worry about a year of being without a job because your neighbors and fellow parishoners will be helping you like Good Folk Should
  6. job safety: if you just do your job properly, there wouldn't be any accidents.
  7. drug safety: if we just let Pharma alone, they'll be more than happy enough to let us know if there's a problem with their products
  8. food safety: if it isn't safe, don't buy it and the market will realign itself to reflect the customer demand.
Holy cow - think of how much money we could save by eliminating all of the government agencies or laws which regulate the above items?

This, plus cutting all subsidies should fix the Whole Financial Crisis and we could get back on with our lives.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Nigeria v. France

So, unless I'm becoming even more chronologically illiterate ... the opening game of the 2011 Women's World Cup in Germany, hosted by the current World Cup holders, Germany, is between ... drum roll, please ... Nigeria and France in some city somewhere named Sinsheim.


oh, yeah ... later on that day, Germany will be playing Canada in Olympic Stadium in Berlin.

Sinsheim, fyi, according to FIFA "lies at the heart of the Kraichgau region".

... uhhh...

I probably know more German geography than the Average American -- terrifying, considering how limited my knowledge actually is -- and I have not only no idea where Kraichgau is, I've never even heard of it, either.

To put this statement in perspective, I can't actually tell you exactly where Mecklenberg-Vorpommern is ... but I do know it's a state, I can spell it, and I'm pretty sure it's in the former DDR somewhere in the vague vicinity of Berlin. Okay, so just about all of East Germany was in the vague vicinity of Berlin, so sue me. And, yes, I picked that state at random after thinking "hmm, which state sounds the coolest & do I know where it is?" I didn't look at a list of states, I already knew it was one. Really. Being inveterately curious, I of course had to go look. It's in the north-west corner of modern Germany, north of Brandenburg, which is the state surrounding but not including Berlin.

Further on, from FIFA, I read that it's in Baden-Württemberg and is 22 km. SE of Heidelberg.

At least, unlike most Americans, I know what a kilometer is.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Cancer sucks

We got totally shitty news Saturday. The 6-year old son of some friends at church, whom we haven't unfortunately seen in a while, discovered he has cancer. Not some pansy-ass whimpy thing like leukemia. The name is 2" long and ends with -carcinoma. It's highly aggressive & highly malignant.

Something so rare in kids that the docs at the Mayo Clinic [just down the road from here] initially said, "that can't be right", go get another opinion. 4 opinions later ...

There's only 2 cases reported in the literature about kids. Which translates to "we're sort of clueless about what to do".

He started chemo over the weekend. A whirlwind saga of options on chemo, surgery, and lots of medical terminology.

They aren't telling him the extent of the extremely poor prognosis. It hadn't occurred to me that there would be a psych specialist for the parents. Managing the information flow to their child, to help him stay informed enough about what's being done to him without nuking his still-positive outlook.

I'm not sure if Jr.Gopher#1 remembers the boy - right after we started going to St. Albert's, there were four boys all the same age who really enjoyed playing together.

A friend of the family is in the home stretch dealing with pancreatic cancer. Did I mention cancer sucks? He's 78. As unhappy as I will be, and likely contemplating the age of my parents, it will not be a life cut tragically short. 6 years, though ...?

Explaining to Jr.#1 that Don is sick and probably won't live much longer seemed a beneficial situation. After all, he intellectually knows that old people die. I am assuming [?] that Don's death won't be emotionally traumatic. Raven the Cat dying will probably be more emotional.

We told the boys that Mr.Gopher's uncle died - but this was 2 years ago. We could have said any other stranger died, for all it mattered to them. They had never even heard of this man.

So, thankfully at least, their first exposure to Death will be the death of someone they actually know, and it won't be their grandparents. But this boy? Even if Michael doesn't remember him all that well, trying to explain that a 6-year old boy probably won't live through the Summer...? God. No wonder people want to be atheists.

I was the Lector yesterday at Mass, and read the Prayers of Intercession.
These are the prayers that include:
lector: "For the healing of the sick, we pray."
Response: "Lord hear our prayer"
I was sooooo close to simply adding the boy's name to the list of the sick and realized I didn't know if the parent would want me to ... it made me feel so sad to refrain from asking people to pray for him.

For the healing of Will Newll and the courage of his parent, we pray.
Lord, hear our prayers.

If anyone can, please say a prayer - or whatever intervention method you want - for Will Newell.

I'm usually one who cries at the drop of a hat. This ...? Mr.Gopher told me on Saturday night. It was this afternoon before it hit me. I'm sitting in the StPl library, trying to finish my thesis, and I can't stop crying and don't have any kleenex.