Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christine O'Donnell, Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann and Brett Favre

Witch hunt (this is too easy): the feds are investigating Christine O’Donnell, the Tea Party darling famous for her “I’m not a witch” TV ads. For spending campaign monies on personal stuff. Like rent. Allegedly.

That brings us to Sarah Palin, who is not a witch allegedly but sometimes rhymes with one. I’ve been wanting to write that for a long time. The line forms here for anyone offended by these grinners.

Oxymoron: Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann has been appointed to a super-secret intelligence committee.

Apology. I did not set out to offend only women with this post. Surely there are some wusses out there who object.


PS—The NFL barely gave Brett Favre a slap on the wrist for his alleged sexting to that woman who is young enough to be his daughter.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Internet -- pro, con

So. The Internet is good for us. Not always.

Quick fact: 35 hours of video are uploaded on YouTube every minute. Most of those rack up zero views. What a colossal waste of time.

Question: did the computer make us better writers? Did the eraser?

Headline: the Kindle is the best selling product in Amazon’s history, outselling even Harry Potter stuff.

Prediction: someday soon, over 200 million people will call themselves ex-bloggers. Yes, there are 120,000 new bloggers every day. But more than that go dark. The blog is where elephants go to die.

Smart phones. Tablets. That’s the future. Like plastics used to be when Dustin Hoffman was a boy.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

What would Ole do?

My new hero is Ole the First.

This marks my second Big Winter in Minneapolis. And it’s a doozy – the fifth toughest winter on record. Snowfall, even if only flurries, for 15 of the last 21 days.

Looking through the lens of history, I can see why Ole spent his first winter up here. He was snowed in! But, I cannot fathom why he spent the second winter, assuming he had a choice.

Admittedly, I’m feeling a little cocky. I’ve learned how to dress for the cold and how many calories I need to take in so I will have the strength to get the clothes off when I get indoors. I have learned to wear good socks because snow-slopped shoes are left at the entry.

Gradually, little things come to the icy dawning. Like frequenting only establishments with a parking lot that has been plowed recently. Curbside parking requires more athletic ability than I will ever again possess . Even in my best years, I’m not certain I could jump that high. Yessir, give me the good crunch, crunch, crunch of a fresh-plowed parking lot.

At last, I understand the muted cheers across the Twin Cities as the TV weather dudes get all wee-wee’d up about the temp “warming up to the twenties.” Between zero and 22, there's a big difference.

Only one last major hurdle: I scream a lot while driving.

The Mystery Woman is not sympathetic. She calls it my ice scream.

And then giggles.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Home for Christmas

The Mystery Woman and I wish you the best of holidays from our perch just above Minnehaha Falls, made famous for white people by that Longfellow guy. Indians already knew of its beauty. The 80-foot waterfall is now solid ice. At the time the picture was snapped, the outside temp was 14 degrees with a wind chill of 4. Flannel-lined everything: pants, shirts, car keys. Two more snows predicted this week.

Quite an adventure. Clink.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Move the Bears - Vikings game indoors


The decision for the Vikings to play the Bears Monday night at the open U of Minnesota stadium is difficult to understand.

The field will be frozen solid. It’s like playing on concrete in 15 degree weather. That’s dangerous to a lot of expensive beef. Those guys are athletes, not gladiators. The home field advantage is simply not worth the risk. After all, the Vikings are statistically out of the race for glory.

Where the hell is the player’s union? This macho is misplaced.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Roof skiing next Olympic sport?

When the first guy named Ole climbed up the side of his house just to look around, it was the Eureka Moment. Roof skiing was born.

After all, there’s not a lot to do once your world is buried in snow. Even ice fishing loses it’s sizzle after a while.

Men of all ages like to do many things while at the edge of the roof, but none are so edgy as roof jumping. A successful jump requires skill, daring and snow at the bottom.

Thanks to the glaciers, Minnesota is blessed with more than 10,000 lakes. Everybody knows that. What is less known is the glaciers knocked the top off all nearly all our mountains. Few survived.

And few men survived the early days of roof jumping. But once you’ve climbed to the roof, you have to get down somehow.

When I lie to my friends back in Austin, I tell them this is me skiing off the roof of our house into a snow drift. Like a native. (Over 30,000 viewers on YouTube. Click here.)

That’s not inaccurate enough to be wrong. Although I don’t know the skier, I do know his parents.

They are so proud.

Monday, December 13, 2010

More snow predicted Wednesday, Thursday

With snow this deep, it is easy to understand why there are no Chihuahua clubs in Minneapolis.

The temp was minus three degrees when I got up this morning. But it has warmed up to a toasty minus two since the sun came out.

It’s so cold that I’ll switch parties if Sarah Palin will shoot me a grizzly and gut it so I can crawl inside to get warm.

Layers. Explain to me how to do grizzlies in layers.

Palin’s in Haiti, you know. As Jimmy Fallon observed: "I just read that Sarah Palin is going to Haiti this weekend to deliver humanitarian aid. ... Because if there's one thing that's reassuring, it's seeing Sarah Palin above you, in a helicopter."

Because of the snow drifts, we can't get the van out of the garage. We're stuck for a while but at least we are near food and shelter. And we are both wearing nice color schemes. My pacemaker fritzes up at the mere mention of show or shovel so we'll have to wait until the teen-ager we hired gets home from school to run the plow.

Meanwhile, we've got enough firewood and barley products to make a stand.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Serious snow storm

As the Mystery Woman came down the stairs for her grand entrance to the day, she looked through the window at the mountain of snow outside and mused: “So, it wasn’t just a bad dream.”

The local newspaper can’t decide what to call the Blizzard of 2010 – Snowmaggedon or Snowmygawd.

People are beginning to venture outside. Mostly young people. To marvel at the snow. To shovel it. As a precaution, the Heart Hospital is on full alert.

But the snow gods sometimes take pity on old guys. The roof of the dome caved in which means Bret Favre might get another week for his shoulder to heal and keep his record of consecutive starts alive and counting.

During the worst, MDOT pulled snowplows off the roadways. Even for the professionals, too dangerous. By sun up, our street had been plowed twice. Now it’s trench warfare. Snow cliffs run curb to curb making snow canyons of our streets. The sun is brighter but has no warmth as it pinions shadows of bare trees to snow covered yards.

It was an honest mistake as I looked at the indoor/outdoor thermometer. I didn’t have my glasses and thought the device measured 38 degrees. (Let the party begin.) No. A closer look revealed the true story. It registered 3.8 degrees.

Maybe it’s time, a friend from Texas advises, to revert from wine back to bourbon.

This stuff won't melt for months.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Arctic, where blizzards come from

They buy hot chocolate by the keg hereabouts.

Winter is coming tomorrow. Blizzard warnings have been issued for Minnesota. Arctic clipper. We anticipate 35 mph winds packed with snow. White out conditions.

We may get a foot of snow.

A foot of snow! Our mini dachshund’s legs are barely two inches. Now that’s a serious winter problem. So far, I’ve managed to keep a patch in the yard cleared for her constitutionals. And she’s getting faster as the temperature drops. One minute, 45 seconds, that’s the time to beat. And that’s both barrels.

Gradually, the Norwegians are letting me in on their little secrets to winter survival. Like wearing pants lined with warm, soft flannel. The big blondes with the biggest smiles are going commando.

This is only my second Big Winter and naturally, I’m a little apprehensive. The Mystery Woman thinks it best we get outta here. Just this morning she said, “You know, honey, I’ve been thinking we should take a cruise.”

"To Alaska," she says.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


What is happening to me?

After 30 years of reading the NY Times every day, I let my subscription expire. For the past two weeks, I haven’t watched Keith, Chris or Rachel.

Barely, just barely, have I continued sending a conservative friend the news stories, essays and columns about the bad ass stuff the Tea Parties mistakenly call governing. The emails are like counting coup.

The Daily Show is still must-see TV, although the late schedule is giving new appeal to the re-run next day at noon.

I still spend about an hour on the computer each morning reading interesting stuff from half a dozen news aggregators.

Every day, I still read the local paper and watch local TV news.

But the thrill barely flickers where once there was enough heat to tan hides. What is happening to me?

Age-related? Perhaps. These days, I seem to need less bile.

Obama? Again, a real possibility. Our great hope has been dashed by his weak actions and the right wing victories.

The big money from big corporations? Jesus, yes.

Big money buys lots of big lies.

The lies? Yes. They are beginning to grow heavier than before.

Outside, the sun is shining. A beautiful day. So it’s not that winter disorder thing. I’m not hung over. No mood altering meds.

Battle fatigue? I dunno. All I want to do is build a fire and re-read all of Tom Robbins’ novels.

And dance with the butterflies.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Let it snow

A friend in Texas sent this knowing I am a sucker for beauty. And just in time for Friday’s snowfall in Minnesota. But beauty is apropos all the time.

by Joseph Stroud

Everywhere, everywhere, snow sifting down,
a world becoming white, no more sounds,
no longer possible to find the heart of the day,
the sun is gone, the sky is nowhere, and of all
I wanted in life – so be it – whatever it is
that brought me here, chance, fortune, whatever
blessing each flake of snow is the hint of, I am
grateful, I bear witness, I hold out my arms,
palms up, I know it is impossible to hold
for long what we love of the world, but look
at me, is it foolish, shameful, arrogant to say this,
see how the snow drifts down, look how happy
I am.

"Manna" by Joseph Stroud, from Of This World. © Copper Canyon Press, 2009.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Walking on water

You’ll never guess what I saw today. Footprints. On the Mississippi River.

Just when I thought I understood the Minnesota attitude about cold weather, I saw footprints in the light snow that covers the new ice on the Big River. It was strangely disquieting to someone who has never walked on water. Looks dangerous. Not my thing.

Up here, the dawn seems to break slower. Like it’s a street fight just to shove the wintry dark out of the way. There is some hope but little comfort in the morning sun. The wind bites. It is sharp enough to take your leg off.

I know these things. This is my second winter. I’m a cold country veteran.

After walking the dog in 15 degree weather this morning, I was checking the news on my computer and feeling pretty cocky about how easy I had acclimated to the tundra conditions. Then I happened to look out the window. In the near dark, I could see this guy my age walking by. I often see him walking the neighborhood. No dog in tow. Just good exercise. And there he was again, walking.

Why not? It had warmed up to 16 already.

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