Monday, December 29, 2008

Another Merry Christmas--Automotive Style

Son Casey has spent his life without the benefit of an automobile of his own, except for a brief unfortunate stint with a red Oldsmobile that crapped out 60 miles down the road. He got his wish though this weekend as he took the wheel of a 1989 Toyota Corolla. It's no tire-squealer, no bone-shaker, and he won't be tempted to taunt that Carerra driver at the stop light. But it will get him from home to work to school, maybe not in style, but under his own power.

We looked at some other vehicles that were tempting, a 1991 Ford Probe and a 1988 Honda Civic (a real beater). There were others on the list, including a 1991 VW Golf GT that slipped out of our grasp, sold on our way there. But those will be forgotten as Son2 eases into ownership of the little Corolla and plots to find something down the road to better suit his style.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas Celebrations

The wife and I were driving out to her folks' place yesterday for lunch and some celebration of Christmas, listening to holiday songs on the radio, when someone came on with a story about how the true gifts are the ones you give, not the ones you get. Sappy and sentimental, "The Widow Jensen and the Rifle" told about Matt and how his wish for a rifle at Christmas was crushed by his parent's poverty, only to realize they HAD saved enough for it, until his father had seen poor little Jakey Jensen out hunting for scraps of wood to burn, his feet wrapped in burlap. Pa took the rifle money and spent it on the Jensen's, and he and son Matt hauled their gifts (food, shoes, and a pile of wood that Matt had split) over to their cold house to find them wrapped in blankets. Leaving them happy and well-fed, Matt realized that Pa had helped him give the best gift of all.

Now that's a story about giving. Another one is the dandy gift pictured, a shadow box to hold my Twin Cities Marathon medals, done by the wife's younger sister and her husband. It's one gift among many from people, books and clothes and a new wireless mouse. Best, as always, is the time together sharing and playing and enjoying the company of others. Another great gift is the one from my mom, who donated a gift on my behalf through Heifer International.

Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy Smiling Sisters

You might think these two young girls are sisters, noting the similarity in their cheery smiles, and you'd be right!

Saturday, December 20, 2008


Some people just like to make a splash; they wear glittery clothes, flashing shoes, spiky hair, tattoos, neon ties. Some do it by talking too loud, going too far, slapping too hard on the back. Some do it by making the grand gesture. Others are a little more tricky. They do it by arriving at a dinner with a home-made concoction that stands (snowy) head and shoulders above all the other condiments. Here's to those splashers!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Google Puts Life Photos Online

Google's putting its clout to work in providing more cool photos for folks to look at, cataloging all the photos from Life magazine from the 1860's to the 1970's. They're available for personal, non-commercial use, like this Roger and Me reference. Check it out here. You can search for images directly by using the terms "source:life" as part of the search term.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Brother Joe and "Abraham Lincoln's Big Gay Dance Party"

Big brother Joe, now Joe Kady to distinguish him from others in the Screen Actors Guild, sends notice that he's in a San Francisco play titled "Abraham Lincoln's Big Gay Dance Party."  Oh my.  Reviews are in the San Francisco Chronicle and the SF Examiner. It's showing at the SF Playhouse from Dec. 13 to Jan. 17.  If you're in town, check it out.  It sounds like a wild event!  

Poor Abe's got even more to make him spin in his crypt.  

Friday, December 12, 2008

Finishing Hard

My high school cross-country coach admonished us to "finish hard." It was his idea that coming in to the end of something often resulted in people coasting to the goal, rather than putting forward their best efforts. I use that admonition with my own students today, encouraging them to put their best efforts into their last work, the point at which they should be showing what skills they've developed over the course of the semester. Here's a photo of me, finishing fifth in the Three Rivers Conference cross-country meet in 1973. Finishing hard, or trying to.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

My Electronic Tabernacle

I have a friend who doubts some of my statements (she might doubt the part of this one that reads "I have a friend," but, just for the sake of argument, let's let that pass). When she indicated that she had not received a recent email from God, I wondered what the problem might be, since I did get that one. She doubts me, but since I can't show her the actual email (reading His emails are a little like seeing Him Face to Face), I just mentioned I keep those emails in my e-tabernacle. Naturally, she doubted the existence of that, too. But that I can show you here. I hate to have to confess that there are unread messages there. If He'd just stop forwarding those Ole and Lena jokes!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Backyard Economic Security

The old dead tree that stands in your back yard, the one that died five years ago? It's fuel for my Hearthstone wood stove, a way to keep the cold at bay, a way to keep the cold from getting its grips on our bank account.

Friday, December 05, 2008

My Other Life. Life #2. This One's Still Primary

DSU's intrepid librarians led us on a virtual tour of a virtual world today, exploring together in Second Life, the online "world" that offers a number of possibilities for educators looking to link with students who can't all physically be together. It was interesting and informative. Here I am watching a slide show as some virtual females show us some presentation tools. I'm the guy with my Second Life-issued black clothing. I might have to buy hair. Then again, it might be a way to get used to having none. Some were able to use audio chat, but I had trouble with the basics, like sitting down. I was better at flying.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Affordable College

Recently our Argus Leader reported that college students in South Dakota owe more after graduating than graduates in any other state, owing, on average, over 24, 000 bucks.  I may be remembering that wrong.  However, worse news comes from the New York Times that "College May Become Unaffordable for Most in US."  Some states are looking at tuition raises, the article says, of over 10 or even 20% for the year.  That's not good news, not when education is the foundation upon which a solid country rests, and poorer families, for whom education can mean a ticket to a better life, are hit the hardest; tuition counts for a larger share of their income.  

Monday, December 01, 2008

A Tree Glows in Bookland

The south half of the living room has been painted, the bookshelves painted, the books restored to their shelves, and now the tree is in its spot and all's (almost) right with the world.  
TQ and LB stayed over on their journey home from Pittsburg via Omaha Saturday night, and she thought that watching the fire in the wood stove was better than watching tv.  Yay!