Monday, September 29, 2008

My annual flowers are gone

Yesterday was a sad day. Necessary- but sad. I tore down all my flowers for the year.

I took the day off on Friday to do this very thing (as well as other fall cleaning chores) but I couldn't bring myself to tear out all my carefully crafted and cared for pots when it was 80 degrees. So Jeff and I went shopping instead.

But, like every fall, a rainstorm comes through, the temperature drops, and the warmth does not reappear until May. After the showers on Saturday night, working yesterday in 60 degrees and overcast weather was the perfect entry into fall. all of my pots are down and stored away until next year.

I can't wait for the tulips and crocuses to spring through the frost in April.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Wow, what a day

Busy, busy, busy day today (Saturday: I am writing this after SNL).

TCMAS meeting at 11am - 3 fantastic, educational speakers (plus lunch). Left at 3pm.

Quick regroup at home - making phone calls and tracking down stuff. Left at 4:30pm.

Trip all the way over to ye olde stomping ground, and Fleet Farm, for work jeans.

Trip to Schuler Shoes (closed at 6pm, didn't make it).

Dinner at Woodbury's #1 pizza joint, Pinos.

Grocery shopping back in Eagan. Done by 8:30pm.

Cleaning chores and misc tv watching. Done by 10pm.

Nap until 10:30pm.

SNL wraps up the night.

Wow, all that stuff and I think I was busy? Man, I am getting least I didn't throw in a 'dinner at 5pm, then bingo'...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

We're Digital!

Hi everybody! Our very exciting news for today is that we have upgraded our Comcast cable for $1.99 to a digital service, instead of whatever we had before. Apparently, a new card thingy plugs right into our Tivo. All I know is we now receive my favorite channels in HD, which is awesome. I will be watching the Twins whoop the White Sox in HD tonight. During commercials of The Office's premiere.

It was not achieved without difficulty though. Jeff has now restarted the Tivo about 8 million times AND we had two technicians visit the house in one day. Two!! Do you know how many minutes on hold, then with customer service it takes to have two technicians come? Thank god my beloved took care of that part - he is much more patient and even-tempered than me.

But, by 7pm yesterday, the HD channels were up! Here are the things that I saw:
1. Locusts swarming, and transforming, on Discovery HD.
Truly terrifying.
2. Rihanna on one of the new MTV HD stations.
Truly thrilling.
3. Poor 'pets' abandoned and mistreated on Animal Planet HD.
Truly sad.
4. Watching Jon Stewart kick butt on Comedy Central digital.
Truly awesome.
5. The Cubbies in HD.
Truly amazing!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Things I don't understand (sports-related)

I don't understand lots of things, but as for sports, I have a few glaring holes in my bowl of knowledge.

fantasy football. I just don't get it. I get loving your favorite team and cheering for them (I start out that way with the Vikings most years). I get drinking beer and hanging out with your pals watching "the game". I get buying the jersey and obtaining autographs and attending training camp in Mankato. But I don't get fantasy football. There is very little high-fiving involved, for a sport.

hockey. I do not know the rules, nor the points structure, nor any of the strategies involved. I have never learned it, and until we moved to Minnesota, I don't think any of my acquaintances knew anything about it either. The only thing I do know is the fight highlights on the 10:00pm news are kinda interesting.

horse racing. I did learn the term, "trifecta", when I took gambling bids at the track the summer I was 18. But I'll be darned if I can remember what it means now.

tennis. My roommate in college was a tennis superstar in high school, but I never really learned how to play (sadly, as I kind of wanted to). I think everything I have learned about scoring has been from the Wii.

soccer. See description for "hockey". Oh, but I DO know that I really like David Beckham (who doesn't?).

Ok, the point is - several people I know L-O-V-E one or more of the above items. In an effort to better understand their love, and in turn, them, I pledge to read the Wikipedia descriptions of each in the next week. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

If you read this...

If you read my blog, please post a comment.

It makes me feel loved.

Changing worldviews

Today's post comes courtesy Seth Godin's blog. He usually writes about marketing and business stuff - which most people think are boring - but I HAD to show all of you this post. His post is a tangent of a mentality that I was introduced to at my other company: to think as an ally.

I have a tendency to get very impatient with people that do not immediately see my point of view like I do, or at least give a good explanation as to why they are dissenting. Thinking, and problem-solving, as an ally really took a lot of that frustration out of the equation for me, and got to the issue at hand - so we could focus on THE SAME facts and data, so I could explain my position even further (my worldview), as could my counterpart (their worldview), and get to a resolution even faster.

Try it for a day - when you are in difficult situation today, put yourself in their shoes, explain what they are not understanding, listen, and think as an ally.
Your difficult boss, customer, prospect, voter, student... probably not stupid, probably just uninformed. There's a huge difference.

Every person makes decisions based on their worldview and the data at hand. If two people have the same worldview and the same data, they'll make the same decision, every time (unless they're stupid.)

The easiest way to grow is to sell to people who share a worldview that endorses your position. The most effective way to grow bigger than that is to inform those that disagree with your position--more data in a palatable form. And, unfortunately, it turns out that the best way to change the world is to open the closed-minded.

Monday, September 22, 2008

'Tis a gift to be simple

Things that I am grateful for today:

1. Free filet mignon for lunch.

2. Jeff is awesome, and not hurt.

3. Heroes. In HD.

4. Singulair - and other Western medicine.

5. Beautiful late September days above 70.

6. Air conditioning.

TV this week

Yea! All my favorite shows start this week, beginning with Heroes tonight. We have a fun night planned with a Papa Murphy's pizza and the 7pm premiere. I know, it's still really nice outside and we should enjoy it - but I cannot WAIT to see what happens tonight.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Facebook ads

Judging by the ads on my homepage, Facebook thinks that I am either getting married soon, having difficulty conceiving, or need to talk to Oprah.

Truth be told, I would really like to chat with Oprah.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

New Trees - re-do!

It was pointed out that photos never appeared in my earlier post. So here they are!!

House before bushes were removed. Can you see how they just topped off the arborvitae??

Bushes in process of being removed. You can see Lois and Jeff cut down the majority of the brush with a chainsaw and piled them in the yard, ready for pick-up the next day (we rented a trailer). In the photo are Lois, Jeff, neighbors Jon and Cindy (standing and in pink) and neighbor Jon (in truck). The removal process took about a day and a half to cut them down, dig out the stumps, and get them pulled successfully!

The House's new look!! The front tree is PrairieFire Crabapple tree, which will have beautiful bright pink blooms in May, and dark green foliage with red berries (that don't drop) the rest of the time. There is also an Endless Summer Hydrangea planted (which will most likely be moved) and we are putting in spring bulb tulips too. You might also notice the new motion light sensor under the front light, as well as a new doorbell. Ok, I bet you can't see that, but it's there!
The corner tree is a Autumn Blaze Maple, the side tree is Ruby Red Maple. Not pictured are the weeping white spruce (on the sideyard by the garage) and a Honeycrisp apple tree in the backyard. Hopefully in a couple years we will have apples - the crabapple tree SHOULD pollinate the apple tree successfully. Also, notice that the trees have been edged, then mulched with red cedar mulch and re-pitched slightly, so they are not on such a steep hill.
WOW - what a change, huh???? Lois and Jeff worked soooooo hard making this a reality - while I was sick, attending a chorale retreat, working, and teaching lessons....they transformed our yard, HGTV-tyle!
We are going to start saving our pennies again so we can put in the front landscaped bed this spring - probably planting and mulching the 1/3 of the yard around the house.

Things that sound funny

Caucus. When spoken by a Denverian (as heard on MPR today) sounds a lot like 'ca-cas'. Yeah, it sounded like that during the whole story.

Crack Spread. A new term brought up at staff today: stating the crack spread is widening. It really means the difference between crude oil and petroleum deriviatives (like jet fuel). I liked my internal snickering definition better.

Moist. On the off chance Marne might read this post today, this word makes my list. Because it makes her laugh.

Turkey Vultures. Commonly known in Saudi Arabia/Ohio as vultures, but in the midwest as turkeys. It's easy to mix them up, so why not just put the words together?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Hehe, Man Rules

1. Under no circumstances may two men share an umbrella.

2. It is OK for a man to cry ONLY under the following circumstances:
(a) When a heroic dog dies to save its master.
(b) The moment Angelina Jolie starts unbuttoning her blouse.
(c) After wrecking your boss's car.
(d) When she is using her teeth.

3. Any man who brings a camera to a bachelor party may be legally killed and eaten by his buddies.

4. Unless he murdered someone in your family, you must bail a friend out of jail within 12 hours.

5. If you've known a guy for more than 24 hours, his sister is off limits forever unless you actually marry her.

6. Moaning about the brand of free beer in a buddy's fridge is forbidden. However complain at will if the temperature is unsuitable.

7. No man shall ever be required to buy a birthday present for another man.

8. On a road trip, the strongest bladder determines pit stops, not the weakest.

9. When stumbling upon other guys watching a sporting event, you may ask the score of the game in progress, but you may never ask who's playing.

10. You may flatulate in front of a woman only after you have brought her to climax. If you trap her head under the covers for the purpose of flatulent entertainment, she's officially your girlfriend.

11. It is permissible to drink a fruity alcohol drink only when you're sunning on a tropical beach ... And it's delivered by a topless model and only when it's free.

12. Only in situations of moral and/or physical peril are you allowed to kick another guy in the nuts.

13. Unless you're in prison, never fight naked.

14. Friends don't let friends wear Speedos. Ever. Issue closed.

15. If a man's fly is down, that's his problem, you didn't see anything.

16. Women who claim they love to watch sports must be treated as spies until they demonstrate knowledge of the game and the ability to drink as much as the other sports watchers.

17. A man in the company of a hot, suggestively dressed woman must remain sober enough to fight.

18. Never hesitate to reach for the last beer or the last slice of pizza, but not both, that's just greedy.

19. If you compliment a guy on his six-pack, you'd better be talking about his choice of beer.

20. Never join your girlfriend or wife in discussing a friend of yours, except if she's withholding sex pending your response.

21. Phrases that may NOT be uttered to another man while lifting weights:
A) Yeah, Baby, Push it!
B) C'mon, give me one more! Harder!
C) Another set and we can hit the showers!

22. Never talk to a man in a bathroom unless you are on equal footing (I.e., both urinating, both waiting in line, etc.). For all other situations, an almost imperceptible nod is all the conversation you need.

23. Never allow a telephone conversation with a woman to go on longer than you are able to have sex with her. Keep a stopwatch by the phone. Hang up if necessary.

24. The morning after you and a girl who was formerly just a friend have carnal, drunken monkey sex, the fact that you're feeling weird and guilty is no reason for you not to nail each other again before the discussion occurs about what a big mistake it was.

25. It is acceptable for you to drive her car. It is not acceptable for her to drive yours.

26. Thou shalt not buy a car in the colors of brown, pink, lime green, orange or sky blue.

27. The girl who replies to the question "What do you want for Christmas?" with "If you loved me, you'd know what I want!" gets an Xbox 360. End of story.

28. There is no reason for guys to watch Ice Skating or Men's Gymnastics. Ever.

29. We've all heard about people having guts or balls. But do you really know the difference between them? In an effort to keep you informed, the definition of each is listed below:
"GUTS" is arriving home late after a night out with The guys, being assaulted by your wife with a broom, And having the guts to say, "are you still cleaning or are you flying somewhere?"
"BALLS" is coming home late after a night out with the guys smelling of perfume and beer, lipstick on your collar, slapping your wife on the butt and having the balls to say, "You're next Fatty!"

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Snack Attack

This time of day gets me. Unless I am super busy, I start winding down for the day, thinking about what's going on tonight, which leads me to thinking about dinner, which makes me think, hmm I am hungry now. MOST of the time I try to plan ahead for this time and bring a piece of fruit, or string cheese, or granola bar, or something that will help the snack attack.

So today, I just had some grapes - a good choice to be sure. But you had better believe that if I HAD had $0.75 that I probably would have gotten Skittles. Or a Twix. Or maybe those shortbread cookie things in the machine.

And I am not alone!!! See this article on
and posted here for your reading enjoyment.
Despite our best intentions to eat something healthy, we often choose sugary snacks.

Dutch researchers asked 585 participants to pick between four snacks: an apple, a banana, a candy bar and a molasses waffle. About half of the participants indicated they would choose the apple or banana.

But when presented with the actual snacks a week later, 27 percent of those who had said they'd pick a healthy one switched to the candy bar or waffle. And more than 90 percent of those who had initially made an unhealthy choice stuck with it.

The researchers figure that while we are in control of our intentions, our actual choices are often made impulsively, even unconsciously.

"A substantial gap between healthy snack choice intentions and actual behavior was demonstrated," said study leader Pascalle Weijzen of Wageningen University in the Netherlands.

"Despite that gap, the results suggest that individuals who plan to make a healthful choice are more likely to do so than those who plan to make unhealthful choices. Because more than 50 percent of the population seems to have no intention at all of making a healthful choice, identifying tools by which this group can be motivated to choose a healthful snack is strongly needed."

The study is detailed in the September/October issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Errand Boys and Girls

Today we had one of my favorite days ever - errands. I know, to most people going to get groceries or Target or Walmart is a sucky task that you barely fit in. But in my view, a huge chunk of our budget goes towards this stuff so I might as well enjoy spending my money!

We headed out to Schuler Shoes and Jeff got 2 new pairs of shoes - which were embarassingly badly needed. We will not go that long again without new shoes for him! Then it was over to Super Target, where we got only a couple extra things not on the list - like a sweet Halloween decoration. After that it was on to Gertens to get a Treeagator (one of those thingies that waters trees over 7-8 hours) and some tulips to plant this fall.

Yee ha!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Grammar 201

I did not call this post grammar 101 because it is a little more advanced than elementary school - I think it is about 8th or 9th grade level. Anyway, I had to let you all in on a little pet peeve of mine called - "using the improper word".

Here are the most common ones that make me inadvertantly judge you when you write emails, IMs, post on facebook, etc:

to and too - Too has primary meanings of “also” or “excessively". And that's it.

your and you're - If you cannot insert "you are" where you type "you're", use the other one

their and there - their relates person, there is a place

Affect vs Effect - affect is an action (verb), effect is what happens because of an action

borrow vs lend - I will lend something to you, while you borrow it. Seriously, just get this one right, and do not say the phrase, "will you borrow me something?".

Ok, off the soapbox. Have a great day speaking your native tongue!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Staff meeting

So the big joke at our staff meeting today is that our boss has to go to diversity training. Again. For the 3rd time. And he swears it's not remediation - it is just how often they have it.

I don't know how our group could not be considered diverse - we have a Greek-Canadian, a Russian, a Texan, a Chicagoan, and me.

Diverse group, huh?

Sore tooth

Why do teeth randomly hurt? I woke up this morning and the left side of my face freaking hurt! I suppose when it is raining and thundering and lightning like it was last night, maybe I crunch my jaw together or something.

All I know is if I bite together it does NOT feel nice. I suppose a moratorium on eating for a day wouldn't hurt me. Ok, it definitely wouldn't hurt me.

In any case, it makes for an uncomfortable day.

What's my obligation?

I am heartsick about the possibility the direction of this country will continue down the same path as it has for the last seven years. Quite frankly, we cannot afford to have that happen. The economy is in the tank, we are in a war that is unwinnable, heathcare reform has not happened, and the best education policy that has come out is No Child Left Behind.

But how much can one person do?

At the very least (and most), VOTE.
Talk to your neighbors and friends.
Support Get Out the Vote efforts and register new voters.
Door knock with flyers and personal stories.
Send money if you choose.

The only way change can be had is if Americans support that change with a vote for their candidate.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Yard work



In process, with roots being pulled


WOO HOO!!!! Thanks Jeff and Lois, things look great!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Voting Part I

Today is primary day! In Minnesota anyway. Although there is not much to vote on I still feel it is my civic duty to vote. And it will feel nice to check the box for Al Franken.

It will also be a good practice run for November since I am not 100% where to go, or how busy it will be, or how long it will take.

Hopefully I will also receive a sticker.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Pulling & Planting Trees

YAHOO! Jeff and Aunt Lois have been working soooo hard since Friday - check out everything that's been done!
3 arbovitae trees are cut down, roots cut, stumps pulled [thanks neighbors!], and disposed
10 wheelbarrows of rocks moved to the back,
5 trees purchased at Gerten's,
1/2 cubic yard of topsoil and 1/2 cubic yard of Western Red Cedar purchased,
2 trips to Menards and 1 to Home Depot,
3 new trees planted - Prairiefire Crabapple, Autumn Blaze Maple, Ruby Red Maple

Things are looking great - photos are forthcoming once I get them off the camera. I feel extremely lucky that while I was sick, at a retreat, and at work, these 2 have done so much great work!!!!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Continued seething

I am still amped up about the attacks the Republicans made on community organizers.

About the only thing that has calmed me down is the idea they are digging their own hole by alienating normal people who want to make a difference.

This article sums up what I am feeling:

Community Organizers Put Country First

The Republicans have made it clear where their focus is this week with their convention slogan, "Country First." With the abundance of flags, chants of "USA, USA" and tributes to those in the military, they have been laying it on thick, which is traditional at GOP conventions. Sen. John McCain often has talked about the need for Americans to dedicate themselves to service, namely military, and he is on the money.

But a line of attack that was used consistently Wednesday night by former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin calls into question whether community organizers put their country first. Palin focused on the issue in order to attack the Obama campaign for offering up Obama's community organizing work to counter her experience as mayor and governor. But when you examine Giuliani's and Palin's community organizer jabs — and the subsequent laughter by the Republicans in the Xcel Energy Center — the Democrats could have an opening.
After praising Palin's speech, I said Republicans can expect the Obama-Biden camp to seize on that point.

This morning, I read an e-mail from Obama campaign manager David Plouffe, who incorporated the community organizer argument into a fundraising appeal. Republican operatives I talked to said the lines were brilliant and that community organizers don't play to the GOP's strength. I disagree. And so do the many folks who have sent me angry e-mails. They include white Republicans, black Democrats and people from Small Town, USA, and Big City, America.
At a time when Americans are losing their homes to foreclosure, trying to get by after layoffs, lacking health care, and facing pressing environmental issues, it's ludicrous to slam people who aren't asking the government for handouts but are doing what they can to make their neighborhoods and cities better.

I think of my parents. When I was a child growing up in the Clinton Park neighborhood in Houston, my parents were just regular folks trying to raise their five children (sounds like Gov. Sarah Palin). They were always present at our local elementary school (sounds like Gov. Sarah Palin) and were involved heavily in our church.

But our neighborhood was dying. Drugs were ravaging it. Older homeowners were dying, and their children didn't want to live there, so they began renting to people who really didn't care.

We saw abandoned homes, weeded lots, no sidewalks, a park falling into disrepair, and a senior citizen center shuttered. So my parents joined several neighbors and decided to form a civic club. Others called them crazy for trying to advance their ideas, but they didn't give up.
They enlisted their children in passing out fliers and putting up signs notifying people of the monthly meetings. Only a few folks showed up, but they kept going. And going. And going. And going.

After months and then years, we began to see progress. Stepped-up police patrols. Crack houses raided by the Houston police, DEA and FBI. Abandoned houses torn down. Weeded lots cut. More heavy-trash pickup days. New streetlights. New sidewalks. New sewer pipes. A refurbished park.

Bottom line: These average, low- to middle-income people didn't have political power. They focused on people power. They organized a community to take action.

So when Giuliani and Palin mocked community organizers, they didn't just toss a barb at Sen. Barack Obama; they also were demeaning Reginald and Emelda Martin. They were degrading the women who fought for their rights. They dissed labor activists and immigrant-worker activists, such as Cesar Chavez. They dismissed those in the civil rights movement, folks from small-town America who were sick and tired of being sick and tired. They thumbed their noses at the Nelson Mandelas of the world, who want better lives for their children.

It would have been perfectly fine for Giuliani and Palin to say Obama's community organizing days don't amount to enough experience to qualify him to be president. But when you openly laugh at and mock those hardworking Americans who are in the trenches every day, then you really don't care about "Country First" or service.

Will this be a major deal or a ripple? Likely the latter. But the one thing I know about community organizers is that they know how to organize communities. And if the McCain-Palin ticket wants to win, it better not slap those folks it will need to organize voter registration drives and pool systems to get folks to the polls.

Community organizers always are told they can't do certain things or are dismissed as meaningless. Yet they often have the last laugh.

Rudy, Gov. Palin and Sen. McCain might want to remember that.

Roland S. Martin is an award-winning CNN contributor and the author of "Listening to the Spirit Within: 50 Perspectives on Faith." Please visit his Web site at To find out more about Roland S. Martin and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Community Organizing

I am still sick, so I hope my logic is somewhat sound - here is my question: How can Republicans possibly find fault with community organizing? Community organizers are responsible for things like food shelters, employment agencies, mental health facilities, urban housing, neighborhood clean ups - basic and 2nd level needs that affect ordinary Americans every day.

How can that be an un-noble thing? It takes a lot of leadership, skill, and influence to organize regular people, mostly volunteers, to donate their time and money into effective organizations that help the greater good.

I don't like this negativity that McCain is trying to push toward community organizing - bark up another tree.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Still sick

Sorry faithful readers, please hang in there and check back tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Germs not allowed

Our household is sick. First Jeff on Tuesday, then me on Saturday night. What a way to spend Labor Day weekend.

Mom, Dad, Amy and I did stimulate the economy by shoe-shopping on Sunday, and then hitting the Renaissance Fair. It was really fun (more on this later)! But by the time I got home I wanted nothing more than to collapse on the sofa and sleep with a Kleenex box.

So I am posting, but only a little as I seriously feel terrible.

Maybe more later...