Saturday, December 30, 2006

Scott and Judy, the Bodeans and Jerry

I took advantage of 40 degree weather a couple days ago and took down the outside Christmas lights...we also put away all the indoor decorations and reclaimed our home. It's nice to get things back to normal.

We met Scott and Judy at Hardrock Cafe in Minneapolis last night for dinner. It's been too long since we've gotten together and we had quite a bit of catching up to do. They're really happy and it's nice to see. Scott's last marriage wasn't a good one and he suffered through a lot...he could never please Barb. I remember when they first met at the Plaines bowling alley in Huron in '84. He was really happy and I think she was too. It didn't take long though before that all changed. It was during the breakup when she became pregnant with their child. Those were some difficult times but it's all worked out well for both of them...and Lindsay too. Scott's wife, Judy, is a real sweetheart. I haven't spent all that much time with her but she's very likable and seems a perfect match for Scott. Their big thing is riding their Harley together. I don't think Scott has ever been happier.

After dinner, we walked in the rain to the Fine Line Music Cafe a few blocks away to see the Bodeans. We got there 45 minutes before the opening act who I really can't recall the name of. We found some spots to stand a few rows back from the stage but not before Tammy lost her purse. She had it on the walk to the Fine Line but once we got inside she couldn't find it. We began retracing our steps inside the club hoping to find it on the floor. It's just a small purse she uses for nights such as this but it held her license and credit card along with some cash. Finally, she found it at the front desk...some kind person turned it in. We continued our vigil in our spots waiting for Kurt and Sammy along with the band to take the stage. They kept us waiting till 10:15 but I forgave them. Just before they began playing I heard somebody say that Saddam was dead. That caused me to pause for just a moment. The whole idea of executing somebody is a difficult one for me even though he deserved it as much as anybody ever has. On the other hand, it almost seemed too easy of an out for the guy. I don't know...this world can be a troubling place sometimes.

Back to the show...I was really wishing that I'd brought my video camera as it would've been easy to get a couple songs on tape. There weren't any seats for this show...standing room only. We got some nice spots to stand just left of center stage in front of Kurt. He's such a good guitar player. The highlight of the show for me was Fadeaway. Listen to the guitar in the song...I was mesmerized as I stood not 6 feet away watching him play. It sucks when your camera's flash is only good for 4-5 feet at the most. I did my best to get a few photos of the guys. Here's a photo of Kurt, and another. But here's the memorable part of the show Tammy and I will recall years from now—the drunk sweaty guy standing next to her who kept moving people out of his way. His girlfriend was no better. They were both obnoxiously drunk and kept pounding their fists in the air and bumping into those around them. I could've changed places with Tammy but she wouldn't be able to see over the guy standing in front of me. We had a similar occurrence in '99 when we saw Journey and Foreigner play up in Hinkley. An obnoxious drunk woman behind Tammy spilled her beer all over Tammy's coat. We tried to ignore them but we weren't so good at it. Tammy can be a scrapper when it comes to situations such as that...but she does it well so as not to leave the offending person much in the way of wiggle room and they know they've been told.

We left the concert and walked the five blocks to our cars. It was still raining but it had been so hot and moist in the club that it felt good. Scott and Judy talked to us about going with them to Las Vegas in March. I've never been there. Tammy has and she's been wanting to get me out there for a while. Neither of us are gamblers but from what she tells me there is so much more to do there. We've got the Indian casinos in Minnesota but the payout on the slots isn't very good. We've been in there a couple times but we usually leave feeling sad for the people who mindlessly shove coin after coin into the machines. It doesn't do anything for either of us. Tammy's mother, on the other hand, is a different story—she loves it.

I was watching President Ford's funeral tonight. I first caught it on FOX or CNN but quickly turned to CSPAN where there was no commentary. It seemed more meaningful to not have to listen to the useless background banter the other stations offered. It was a sad moment watching his wife, Betty, as she stood before his coffin saying her last goodbyes, lingering with her hands pressed against the flag which draped it, not wanting to let go. Contrast Ford's funeral with the send-off given to Saddam; sobering when you think about it; two totally different worlds. Do we have any real chance of changing hearts and minds in the Middle East? God, I want to believe that we do but I have more doubts than ever.

It was a late night. We got home after midnight but stayed up and watched Me and Dupree. A cute show but I fell asleep before it was over. I had to be up early as my brother-in-law, Jerry, was coming over to install a water softener for us. He made it look easy although I know it wasn't. Our old softener still worked but the timer on it was toast. I'd have to manually recycle it every 5 days or so. It served me well for over 20 years. The Water Boss promises to make that routine a thing of the past. Before and after. Jackie assured me that he wouldn't take any money for helping so I got them a gift card to Ruth's Chris Steak House in Minneapolis. Jerry turns 60 in a couple days. I don't think you'll find a nicer guy. It's been years since we've sat and talked as we did today after the work was done. It was nice to reconnect with him. Sometimes this busy world gets in the way in more ways than we can ever know.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas and 9002 Covered...So Far

I don't know where this post will go but I do have some things on my mind.

Tammy, Rachel and I exchanged gifts with each other on Friday night as we had family coming in the next day and it would be the only chance we'd have to spend some time alone together if that makes sense. I could go into detail about what we got each other but that would be like forcing somebody to sit through a slide presentation of a family outing so I won't. We had Tammy's parents and sisters and their families over for dinner on Saturday evening. Tammy did a great job of putting it all together. I helped where I could without getting in the way. We also went to church that night as Hosanna had a service the evening before Christmas Eve. that worked well for me because I had to work last night and wouldn't be able to make it to church otherwise. It was a full weekend and everybody enjoyed themselves, what more could we ask for?

My family on the other hand isn't so unified at the moment, nor has it been since our reunion back in August. I'm speaking with my mother again but there is still a chill and I'm not feeling very compelled to do much about it. I feel very let down by an older brother, an older sister and a younger brother. I got a Christmas card from my older sister who orchestrated the meltdown within my family. In the card was another smaller card with my name on it and some sort of Catholic prayer instructing me to let go of the hate in my heart. hmmm—I wasn't aware that I was the one spewing hate-filled jabs at people at the reunion. Claudia owns that and to try and put that on me is just more of the same from her. I'm filled with frustration for what she's done to our family but not hate. Tammy and I were talking this morning about how much nicer it is that we've distanced ourselves from her drama and manipulations. I hope to never have to deal with her again. That's not hate talking, it's self-preservation; it's about not allowing somebody into your life who has nothing positive to offer and is only concerned with getting people to sit in her mud puddle of a life with her.

This is really a bummer to be writing about such stuff on Christmas day. I'm sorry. I don't write in here often enough so some of the bad gets mixed in where there should be mostly good. Yesterday I reached my upwardly revised riding goal of 9000 miles on the road for 2006. I began the year with a goal of 7500 which was going to be an effort on its own but with the addition of my new ride and a renewed love of riding I reached for a distance I've never covered in a year. I'm a bit tired and should probably take it easy for the next couple of months. I certainly don't want to burn out but more importantly, I don't want to develop an overuse injury.

Tammy worked the day shift today and after work is driving her parents and sister home to northern Minnesota. she'll stop in Duluth to drop off Cindy then continue on to Babbitt where she'll spend the night with her folks before returning home tomorrow. It's been a very busy week for her. I'll be glad when we get back to a more normal schedule so she can catch her breath. We've got the Bodeans planned for Friday night at the Fineline Music Cafe in Minneapolis. I suppose this is where I should insert a rant about Ticketmaster but what's the use. We'll meet Scott and Judy for dinner at Hardrock Cafe downtown and see the concert together. Tammy also has a friend from work who will be meeting us for the show. Scott and I used to get together several times a year but that was 10 years ago. Since we've both remarried we seldom see each other any more. I think the last time we got together was for their wedding 5 years ago. It will be nice to see them again. This will be my 6th time seeing the Bodeans, I think. It could be more. They never put on a bad show and the venue they're at is very intimate.

I've been hanging out at the Serotta forum for the past while—lots of knowledge there as it receives a large volume of traffic.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Best Buy, An Update

I got a call from Best Buy last week stating that my laptop which they'd had for two months and couldn't fix was being junked out and that I would be receiving a new one. I am happy to say that I am now the proud owner of an HP Pavilion dv9035nr Entertainment Notebook PC. Thank you, BB but you've lost a solid customer. Hello, competition.

A Winter Wonderland, At Least It Is For Me

I can’t remember a milder winter than what we’re experiencing in the Midwest this year. The temp was in the upper 40s today which is about 20 degrees warmer than normal. The winds were strong from the west but that warm air has to be driven here somehow. I worked the all-night shift, came home and got a few hours of sleep, walked the pups and headed out on my bike. This time of year I’m usually happy to be able to get 30 miles in before I can no longer feel my toes and have to call it quits. I didn’t ride outdoors in the winter until a couple years ago. I used to be fine on my indoor trainer in the basement but once I actually ventured out into the frigid air and found that it was easily doable my indoor trainer has been sitting idle, so much so that I’ve stored it away.

I left home at noon and headed out not sure which route I’d take. A few minutes into my ride I decided I’d take a route which I’ve done half a dozen times this year and one I always enjoy for the variety it has to offer. The first 45 minutes of the ride was easy as it’s a bit downhill from my home to the Minnesota River and the wind was helping. This is a view riding north out of Eagan on Hwy 13 overlooking the river toward Bloomington. Notice the lack of snow…this is Minnesota after all and we’re well into December. I continued north on 13 to Hwy 494 where there is a bike path to cross the river. A few miles later I’m at a stop light in front of the Mall of America. It was still early in the afternoon so the traffic hadn’t gotten too crazy yet but Bloomington is an older community with plenty of elderly people. I had one older guy who passed me with no more than 12 inches to my left. It didn’t appear he cheated at all toward the left of his lane. He was wearing a hat. I don’t want to offend anybody but there are two, no, three things which I look for when I ride…old men with hats, women with blue hair and anybody on a cellphone.

I pressed on westward into a 20+ mph wind trying to catch whatever protection from the wind I could from passing vehicles but there wasn’t much to be found…not today. I rode by the home where I spent most of my school years from 1966 to ’75. It was a good home for us. I cycled past my elementary school and took this photo of the playground where Bob Johnson and I got into a fight after school in 5th grade. I don’t know how it started but I seem to have this out of body visual of us fighting and wrestling on the ground with a circle of kids around us. We were finally broken apart by one of the teachers and dusted off and sent home. It was to be the only fight I’ve ever been in and hopefully the last. I’m pretty sure I cried.

Highland Hills Golf Course was where I used to hang out and watch with fascination as people played up to the 8th green and teed off on #9. I’d never played on a real course yet as a kid of 12 or 13, just knocking the ball around the schoolyard but I used to like to watch other people play. One day a guy a bit older than me told me about a place off the course alongside #4 tee box where you could find the balls golfers hit out of bounds and never bothered to look for because to get to them they’d have to climb a fence and look through tall grass. But that was just the half of it…you could sell the balls back to other golfers. I could make $5-7 for a few hours work out there and it was fun. I’d bring an egg carton and display the balls I’d find in it. Usually one or two of the guys from the foursome waiting to tee off would wander over to see what I had and often enough they’d buy something from me…maybe too often as the course owner would sometimes chase us away. Maybe we were cutting into his sales in the clubhouse…I don’t know. I still remember the first ball I ever found…it was a Dynaflyt. I’d never heard of it before but it was new and shiny and was easily worth 50c.

Just across the street from the golf course was Al Boehne’s house. That was where I saw my girlfriend of a year and a half (Sandy) kissing one of my good friends (or so I thought) at a New Years Eve party, 1973. It killed our relationship and was the catalyst for my first real attempt at poetry. A broken heart gives you lots of material and emotion to work with.

I next biked past the apartments where I stayed the last half of my senior year in high school. My dad’s job took our family to Pottstown PA and I was given the option of staying behind to finish school. There wasn’t much of anything for me to consider…of course I opted to stay behind. My dad took me out and together we found a 5-year-old 1970 Ford Maverick, 3-on-the-tree with a plaid front bench seat. That bench seat would come in handy a few months later when in the spring of ’75 I tore cartilage and strained ligaments in my right knee during a softball game and had to have my leg put in a full length cast for 3 weeks. I found that I could still drive if I extended my leg along the seat. That only left me with my left foot to work the brake, clutch, and gas but I managed. I don’t suppose there is much stopping a determined kid with places to be. Two weeks after getting out of my cast I would tear cartilage and ligaments on the other side of the same knee in a fall and end up in another full leg cast. I’m still recovering from the second fall and always will be.

Through west Bloomington and into Eden Prairie I’m cycling past Flying Cloud airport I look over at the planes parked at Executive Aviation and all of the tail numbers are familiar to me from my job as a controller. I don’t work at Flying Cloud but all of these planes eventually make their way through my airspace. I continue on along Flying Cloud Dr and the wind is hitting me hard. Another 5 miles and I’ll be able to turn out of the wind and head south back across the Minnesota River into Shakopee. I won’t be totally done with headwinds for the day but most of the hard work is done.I’m cruising nicely along hwy 101 east of Shakopee past Valley Fair where I try to find myself at least one or two days each summer. Power Tower is my favorite…the red towers...and you can't hang on!

I head south on hwy 13 and climb out of the river bottom into Savage. It’s a nice grade with a good shoulder but I could really use a drink as my water bottles have been empty for the last several miles. I get into Prior Lake and pull into a gas station knowing they have no Hostess products but they do of course of Gator Aid. I grab a bottle of the sweet nectar and a package of Mrs. Freshley’s Apple Danish. Its 480 calories will be more than enough to bring me home. I sit outside in the 48-degree weather and take off my left shoe as the heat pack I’ve got stuffed in its toe is bothering me after 50+ miles and I really don’t need it.

I jump back on my bike and take advantage of a nice tailwind as I head for home. It’s been a nice afternoon but I need to get home as it’s clouding up and the sun is getting low in the sky making me difficult to see in the rush hour traffic. I get off the main highway and onto Judicial where I’ll be able to add a few extra miles to the trip. Judicial is a winding and at times hilly road with not much traffic. There are also lots of deer in the woods which sometimes come out of nowhere to remind you that they’re there.

The final stretch of highway for me today will be county road 46 which is one mile north of home. It’s been a good afternoon in the saddle but I’m ready to bring it home and get in a hot shower.

I get home just ahead of Tammy and Rachel and before I can get out of my sweaty clothes, Rachel is giving me a high five for having successfully negotiated speech tryouts for high school. She’s craving Italian food and suggests that maybe we can all celebrate her school day by going out to eat. I mention Cossetta’s in St Paul and both she and my wife are more than agreeable to the idea. It’s one of our favorite spots for Italian and always a good time.

My bike is a filthy mess and I keep telling myself that one of these warm days I’ll take some time and clean it real good but I just can’t seem to waste any of these warm days cleaning it when I can be riding. It’s a good problem to have.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Best Buy...Sucks

I've been without my laptop since October 12th when I took it in for servicing by the Geek Squad at Best Buy. Here's a copy of a letter I sent to their corporate office last week.

Best Buy
Corporate Customer Care
P.O. Box 949
Minneapolis, MN 55440

To whoever may wish to help me, 11/27/2006

I brought my laptop in for servicing back in September to the Best Buy in Apple Valley, MN for a keyboard, touchpad, and CD ROM read/write which had gone bad. The problems were resolved within a few weeks and I had my laptop back. One week later the TV tuner on my laptop quit working. I reformatted the hard drive to see if I could resolve the problem myself as I did not want to be without my laptop for another extended period of time. I determined that the problem was hardware and not software and brought my laptop back for service on October 12th, 2006. The tech spent 30 minutes trying to fix the problem but agreed with me that it appeared to be hardware related and that they would have to send it back to Louisville for repairs and that he would put a rush on it. A couple weeks went by and I phoned in to check on my laptop’s status. I was told that they were waiting on parts. I waited another week before following up and was told that it was fixed and in transit.

When I went in to pick up my laptop on November 7th I inquired as to what parts they replaced. I was told that they didn’t replace any parts and that it was a small software update which was the problem. I was skeptical but brought my laptop home and checked to see if was indeed fixed. It was not. I brought it back within 30 minutes and told the tech that it was not fixed and that they needed to look at it again. The tech spent 20 minutes trying to get it to work but was unable to. They wrote up another service invoice and told me they would put a rush on it as it once again needing to be sent to Louisville. I got home and phoned Best Buy to speak with the manager on duty. I spoke with Jessica. She was very sympathetic to my frustration and assured me that if the laptop came back again in the same condition (not fixed) that I would receive a replacement laptop. I was fine with that.

On November 17th I was phoned and told that my laptop was back and that I could come in and pick it up. I asked the tech what they did to fix it and he told me that they replaced the hard drive. I told him that the hard drive was fine but felt I’d play along and wait until I saw if my laptop worked or not. This time I asked the tech to show me at the service counter that it was indeed working rather than take it home and find that it was still broken. It was not working. I asked the tech what services were performed and she said that none were. I just spent another week and a half waiting for no reason whatsoever. I told them that I’ve been extremely patient with Best Buy and that I was tired of waiting and being lied to about the extent to which they were actually doing repairs on my laptop. No parts were ever replaced when I was told that they were waiting on parts and no hard drive was replaced when I was told that it was. I was also told that they had reformatted the hard drive but this too was untrue.

At this time the service manager (Nick Rosenow) got involved in the situation. He was very deceitful and condescending in his approach to me. He told me that there really wasn’t much else they could do and that they had no comparable laptop to exchange for mine. His words to me were that I ‘was out of luck’. I told him that they actually do have a comparable laptop but he insisted that they did not. I asked him to follow me back to the computer department and showed him an HP which included a TV tuner similar to what my laptop has. He said he wasn’t aware that they carried that. Rather than apologize for being wrong he then began to confuse the issue by saying that my laptop wouldn’t qualify for the ‘no lemon’ clause because it didn’t meet the 3 qualifying repairs. He also stated that since my warranty had expired while my laptop was in for servicing that there really wasn’t anything he needed to do and anything he did do would be a cost ‘which he would have to eat.’ Excuse me but you cannot hold onto my laptop for six weeks, do no repairs then after the warranty expires tell me I’m out of luck. The Minnesota Attorney General’s office will most certainly frown on this as will the Better Business Bureau when I tell them and I intend to be in touch with them if you do not resolve this to my satisfaction without delay.

Nick insisted that I let him try and get my laptop fixed and that he knew of an option that nobody else was aware of. I told him that if such an option existed it should not be something which only he was aware of…why wouldn’t all the service techs know of this option? The option was to send it to a shop in Bloomington where a friend of his who works on Apple computers will fix it. I’m not even sure if this is a Best Buy service shop. I asked Nick how long this would take and he said it could be several weeks. I told him that I wasn’t interested in being without my laptop for several more weeks since they’d already had it for 6 out of the last 7 weeks. He told me they would expedite it. That conversation took place on 11/17.

I left that night more frustrated than I have been in years at what was happening and the stonewalling treatment I was receiving. I called the corporate number and lodged my complaint with a woman named Gabby or Abby at extension 60091. She told me that I did, in fact, qualify to receive a replacement laptop and that I could go to the store that night and get one. I waited on hold while she unsuccessfully tried to contact the store. She was unable to get through but told me that she would keep trying and that I should go to the store and give them her extension number to call her if need be. I got to the store 15 minutes later and explained to Jessica what I was told. I waited 45 minutes before Jessica found me and told me that there would be no replacement for me but that she would be sure to follow up and get in touch with me. That was the last I heard from her. She told me how she was an advocate for me. Yeah, right.

I phoned again on the 11/22 and spoke with Nick. I asked what the status was of my laptop and he said it was still at the store. I asked to speak with his manager, Paul. He said he would have him return my phone call. Paul never returned my phone call. I called Nick back and told him that he should expect a visit from me at the store shortly and that I wanted to speak with Paul. When I finally got to speak with Paul I asked him what he understood my problem to be. He told me that he has a busy store to run and I told him I only needed a few minutes of his time. I asked him again what he understood my problem to be. I didn’t appear to me that he had a clue as to the treatment I’d been receiving or the frustration I was feeling. He simply stated that he stands by his manager and that whatever he says he believes. In other words; it didn’t really matter what I had to say as he couldn’t care less. I told him that if I had to I would elevate this to the Minnesota Attorney General’s office and he said that we were done talking if that was the case. I asked him what other option did he feel that I had? He told me again that he had a busy store to run and so I left.

It is now 11/27 and my laptop remains at the Apple Valley store…I know because I just phoned the store to check on it. It has not left. Is this what I should expect when I’m told that my situation would be expedited?

I intend to contact the Minnesota Attorney General’s office and the Better Business Bureau. I intend to contact every television news station in the Twin Cities and see if there is a trend which needs to be exposed with the way you do business. I paid honest money for the extended warranty for the expensive laptop I bought at your store. I expect that if you’re unable to fix it as your warranty states that you will live up to the agreement we both entered into…this part of the agreement in particular…

*Products, including those within the original manufacturer’s warranty period, may be repaired or replaced with a comparable product, or Best Buy will issue a voucher for the original purchase price at our discretion.

You have had my laptop in your possession for 7 weeks and have been unable to fix it. My laptop was in your possession one month before the warranty expired. I demand a replacement laptop at this point! I have waited long enough and I have run out of patience. If this problem is not resolved by Friday, December 1st, I will follow through with my plans to contact the Minnesota Attorney General’s office as well as the Better Business Bureau and the many news media outlets in the Twin Cities. Thanks for your attention.

Kevin Gilmore

P.S. My wife and I were in the market this past weekend for a washer and dryer. I can guarantee you that we would have in all likelihood made the purchase at Best Buy prior to being abused by your managers. We instead chose to take our business elsewhere and used your competitor across the street. Please see the enclosed receipts.

I received a letter in the mail yesterday from bb's corporate office telling me that they were confident the TV tuner they've got on order will fix my laptop's problems but if for some reason it doesn't work they will come up with an alternative solution. I'm holding off on contacting the Attorney General's office until they've replaced the tuner.

I had no idea that there was such a culture of deceit and lies associated with the staff at bb. I'd be very interested to see how they indoctrinate their workers to go along with the program. I'm sure it's something very either want the job or you don't. There must be some rogue employees who won't be silenced. Think I'll skip on over to and see if I can find some. appears the above link has been bought out by the evil company itself as it no longer goes to the site it once did and now takes you to an official BB site.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Afters and 8000 miles

It's been a busy week...aren't they all. We weren't crazy about the election results but neither were we surprised. Divided government really is the best approach when it results in people actually working together rather than one party having all the control and steamrolling their way through. I've always been a strong supporter of Bush but there are some things about him which trouble me. I watched as his appointee to head the FAA negotiation with our union (NATCA) didn't really negotiate with us at all. In the end, we were forced to accept a contract we never even had a chance to vote on. It's a long story but it showed me a side of this administration which isn't very pretty. In the end, there are other things more important to me than pay raises and such. I still voted a straight Republican ticket more-so as a protest to the pro-abortion candidates.

We saw The Afters at Club 3 Degrees in Minneapolis last night. Rachel brought her friend, Katrina. We went out to dinner before the show and of all places we ended up at Hooters in Minneapolis. The girls were big on this idea and felt like they were really getting one over on us. The food is okay and priced in line with other restaurants with similar menus.

We got to the club an hour before the doors opened. There was nobody else around so I stood out in 33-degree weather to secure the numero uno place in line while the girls waited across the street in a heated entryway. They were laughing at me for standing out there all alone in the cold; that's when I struck my Emperor Penguin pose and told them I was pretending to balance an egg on top of my feet and that I could do this for an hour until the doors opened. You have to have seen March of the Penguins to understand what I'm referring to. When the doors finally opened they told us that the sound checks weren't complete and that we'd have to wait downstairs in the lounge. Great! I wait in line out in the cold for an hour only to be mixed in with all the other later comers and no shot at a good seat. As it turns out when they let us take our seats the manager came looking for me to let me go up first as he'd seen me standing out there. Pretty cool. The girls found places to stand right in front of the stage. They had a great time. The Afters did a fine job too. I've uploaded several videos from the show to my YouTube account

It was a beautiful morning to get out on my bike...a bit chilly but sunny and little wind with not much traffic. This ride put me over 8000 miles on the road for 2006. That was a goal I'd sort of set for myself without really believing I'd actually make it. I can back off now for the year but I'll no doubt keep pressing on when the weather allows me to.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

YouTube and Jars of Clay

I decided to set up a YouTube account last week. I've got a bunch of videos uploaded to my website but they're WMA files and people with Macs can't open them. YouTube converts them to a format viewable to all. Click to go to my videos.

We went to see Jars of Clay last Saturday night at Maranatha Hall at Northwestern College in St Paul. It was a very good concert and our seats were in the 2nd row, right next to a huge stack of speakers. Fortunately for us, we brought along earplugs. I'd listened to their new CD several times before the show so I'd be familiar with the songs but one in particular which hadn't really caught my attention was Light Gives Heat. Tammy had been asking me what I thought of the song but I couldn't remember it. I thought that Oh My God was the best song on the CD but now I think I'm giving the nod to Light Gives Heat. It's a very moving song. They closed out the show with it. Here's a link to the video I took. Please excuse the over-saturation on the audio due to the speaker right next to us.

Light Gives Heat

Catch the rain empty hands
Save the children from their lands
Wash the darkness from their skin
Heroes from the west
We don't know you, we know best
But this is not a test

You treat me like I'm blind
Setting fires around houses on the hill
But light gives heat
You segregate my mind
Burning crosses from your fears, oh
The light gives heat

It's not the way to light their way
Boys in holes in empty fields
Oh, how good it feels
Lower-class, and understate
Empty promise, empty plate

You treat me like I'm blind
Setting fires around houses on the hill
Light gives heat
You segregate my mind
Burning crosses from your fears, your fears
But light gives heat, gives heat

You treat me like I'm blind
Setting fires around houses on the hill
Light gives heat
You segregate my mind
Burning crosses from your fears
But light gives heat

Will you teach us how to love?
To see the things you see
Walk the road you walked
Feel the pain that you feel
At your feet, I kneel,
I want to see you shine
See your light not mine'
Cause light gives heat
Your light gives heat ...

The song talks about how we in our own way try and help the struggling people in east Africa who desperately need our help. What they don't need though is for us to look down on them and treat them as though they're something less than ourselves. They're stuck in a life none of us can likely imagine and they're trying to make the best of it...but they do need help. So would we if we were in their place.

I had a fun ride on my bike today. The last 8 miles I really hammered. There's something about being out there with my heart pounding through my chest and my quads burning from lactic acid which is very addicting. The weather has been cooling down but I keep telling myself that in January I'll feel like I'm in bicycle heaven with temps in the 40s and dry roads...keeping it in perspective.

Monday, October 16, 2006

No More Mids and Rachel's Latest Dance Recital

It seems like forever that I've worked a schedule where my last shift of the week was an all-night shift. That's about to change. We're bidding our schedules for next year and I've opted for different days off and no more mid-shift. I think my body is liking this already. They've been changing work rules in the FAA and we're no longer allowed to read materials at the sector on the midnight shift. That's a very ridiculous thing to do as a person needs to have something to occupy their mind when traffic is slow and a lack of sleep begins to overwhelm you. Anyway, for the past several months my body has been telling me that it's time to give the all-night shift up. Several guys who have already done so told me that I'll be much happier to not be working it.

Our mouse total stands at 8 kills and no more signs of the critters for several days. Tammy is sleeping better and so am I as we didn't need to bring in an exterminator.

I had to take my laptop back into BestBuy after getting it back last week as the TV tuner wasn't working. I was hoping to record some programs at home to watch on my breaks at work. The folks at BB tried to get it working but they had no luck either. It's still under warranty for another couple weeks.

Rachel had a dance recital last Saturday with her kick-line team from school. She did great.

My riding is winding down now that I'm back at work full time. It would be great to get to 8000 miles before the end of the year but I'm not sure I'll make it. I'm sitting at just over 7200 miles with a solid 4 weeks of riding left but a lack of daylight hours in my schedule. It's okay if I don't make it as I've had a good run this year.

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Egads...We've Got Mice!

Yeah, just like the title of this entry says—we've got mice. We caught 3 more last night and a couple during the past few days. This happens every fall. Tammy freaks a bit and threatens to call an exterminator while I try and calm her fears. We think they get in from some small opening in the garage but we're really not sure.

So, this was my first week back at work since I was off for one month while on medication for headaches. I looked at my month off as sort of a practice retirement and I found that I will have no problem at all filling up my days with things to do. I'll be eligible to retire in another 5 months but I'd really like to get our house paid off and get Rachel through college before I pull the plug. The time-frame for all of that to happen is 7 years from now. Some of the guys I hired on with are already gone or will be leaving soon. Another approach some guys are taking is to retire and then find another job; something different to do. I figure I'd have to find something which would pay me about 25% of what I'm making now to have the same cash flow I have today. I'm not sure I want to risk leaving here and working someplace else where I'd be less happy. Where I'm at now isn't bad; we've got a bunch of new work rules in place since the FAA's imposed work rules have gone in effect but it's still a good place to work.

I went over 7000 miles on my bike for 2006 on my ride today. The gorgeous weather continues in the Twin Cities with a few more days in the forecast. They're hinting of snow this time next week. I think I'll spend tomorrow pulling plants from the garden and taking them to the compost site.

I'm still waiting for my laptop to return from BestBuy's service department. I reformatted the hard drive a couple weeks ago and used some compressed air on the keyboard trying to force out whatever junk had fallen in between the keys. When I fired it back up the keyboard was acting up. It's still under warranty for another month so it was good timing to get it worked on. I also wanted them to adjust the lazer settings on the cd/dvd reader/writer. I called BestBuy yesterday and they said it was in transit back to the store and should be in today.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

It's Been Nice

It's been a nice month off. I phoned work today to let them know that I'm no longer on Prednisone and that I'm experiencing no headaches. I just got a phone call from the front office to tell me that I've got my medical back and I can return to work. Actually, I'm ready to go back. It's been nice sleeping in every morning until the pups lick me awake but it will also be nice to get back to my routine. I do like my job and I'm very blessed to have it although there have been some recent changes at work which will take some getting used to. No more reading material on the midnight shifts to keep you awake when traffic is light. Business-casual dress even though we have no contact with the public. Salary capped for the foreseeable future. I'm still okay as I really can't complain. Sure, I'd like to see the steady raises we've enjoyed year after year continue but they pay me quite a bit to do what I do. As I'm typing this I got a call from my boss at work to tell me he was looking forward to seeing me on Sunday and did I know about the new dress code. Yep...I know all about it...see you then.

My mother doesn't care if she ever talks with me again. That's the latest I'm hearing that she said about me. Hmmm. It shouldn't be this difficult to do the right thing but apparently, it is. My relationship with my mom is possibly forever tarnished and I'd venture to say that it is over between my older sister, Claudia, and I. I'm very much okay with that as she has been a continual source of stress in our family for the longest time. I have a hunch my older brother Bryan falls into the tarnished category although it could be years before either of us resurrects anything between us. We've all got a bit of stubborn Irish blood in us and it will no doubt come into play now. I stood up for my cousin when she was verbally assaulted by Claudia and for that, I suffer my family's wrath. How small of them. I have the hardest time understanding where they get off thinking this is the right thing to do. I suppose so long as I try and make sense of it I will be frustrated because there is no making sense of any of it. Oh, and on top of all of this, I hear today that the only reason Tammy is agreeing with me is because I'm her bread and butter and she will say nothing which would go against me. What an insult to Tammy. The only question I have is did my mother come up with that on her own or did Claudia help her out?

Friday, September 22, 2006

It's Just Tissue

I wrote a letter to the editorial pages of the StarTribune a few months ago which was critical of our nation's approach to abortion. It didn't make the paper but it did get printed in the online edition where someone from Human Life Alliance found it and responded to me. Since then I've been receiving their mailings. I was looking through their latest newsletter and came across this...

It's Just Tissue

Consider the following facts: Simple tissue does not have a beating heart, brain waves, fingerprints, and unique DNA. A woman can carry a baby with a different gender or blood type from her own. After the moment of fertilization, nothing new is added to the baby except oxygen, nutrition and time. The only differences between a newborn and a preborn baby are size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency. All of these facts confirm the reality that you are a person worthy of protection from the moment of fertilization.

I'm reading on a little further in the newsletter and I find this...

"I'm personally opposed, but I can't tell others what to do"

What if U.S. citizens had been willing to accept this justification for tolerating slavery? Our forefathers took away the "rights" of slave owners in order to give freedom and respect to African American people. Our youngest and most vulnerable are still slaves to the life and death decisions of others.

Now I remember what the opinion piece was that I wrote...I was talking about slavery and how it was a person's right to choose whether or not they would be a slave owner. The slaves, after all, were 2nd class citizens not worthy of the protections afforded you and me just as an unborn child is not worthy of those same protections. I was drawing comparisons between slave owners then and pro-choice people today and hoping that someday as a nation we will be able to look back on these days and realize the error of our ways the way we realize the error of our ways those many years ago with respect to slavery.

Returning to Normal

My cluster headache cycle has pretty much run its course. I go through a headache cycle about once every 15 months and it used to be that they pretty much owned me. The last two cycles have been different, though, and I'm encouraged by my new approach to them—that being heavy doses of Prednisone. If you've ever had a Mr. Misty or an ice cream headache you have a good idea what a cluster headache is. It's a sharp pain behind one eye which causes you to cease functioning until the pain goes away. In the case of an ice cream headache that pain usually only lasts a few moments. In the case of a cluster headache, the pain can last for hours. These are worse than migraines. They're called cluster headaches because they come in clusters and then they're gone until the next cycle begins. It used to be that during a headache phase, I'd get one or two headaches a day. I pretty much just suffered through them without using any meds for years. Prednisone has been around forever so I'm not sure why I wasn't treated with it as a prophylactic years ago but I wasn't. I started using Imitrex about 8 years ago for breakthrough headaches which get past the Prednisone.

The FAA won't allow me to work traffic while I'm in a headache cycle and on my meds. This time around they've allowed me to use my accrued sick time to stay out of work until I'm off the meds and I get my medical back. It's been nice. I've been getting in huge amounts of riding and taking care of stuff around the house. My motivation does suffer some though and there are days when I really have to push myself to get moving. Once I'm on my bike I'm usually fine; it's just getting there which is the hard part. Each of the last two weeks I've averaged over 415 miles. This week won't be so good as I'll be rained out today and tomorrow. I hope to get out Sunday for a long ride.

I was out on my bike yesterday and I got a phone call from Tammy. She told me that my supervisor at work called to see how I was doing. I phoned him back while cruising south on Cedar Ave to tell him that I was doing well; hey, I'm on sick leave and I'm riding—how good is that? I told him I should be back around the end of the month and he was fine with that.

Tammy's been working lots of hours so I'm trying to lighten her load around our home. I spent 4 hours cleaning the house today so she wouldn't have to do it. We'd planned to do it together tomorrow but I wanted to surprise her and have it done so she can have some free time to do with whatever she wants. I got lots of thank-you's for it when she got home so yeah, it was worth it.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Jars of Clay

Tammy brought home the new Jars of Clay cd this week. There are some real gems on it. This song seems appropriate for me this past week. It's called Oh My God and is somewhat of a lament of a man's cry out to God in a fallen world. Don't quit too soon on the song as it's got a powerful ending. Here's the song...

Oh My God

Oh my God, look around this place
Fingers reach around the bone
You set the break and set the tone
Flights of grace and future falls In present pain
All fools say, "Oh my God"

Oh my God, why are we so afraid?
We make it worse when we don't bleed
There is no cure for our disease
Turn a phrase and rise again
Or fake your death and only tell your closest friends
Oh my God

Oh my God, can I complain?
You take away my firm belief
And graft my soul upon your grief
Weddings, boats and alibis
All drift away and a mother cries

Liars and fools, sons and failures
Thieves will always say
Lost and found, ailing wanderers
Healers always say
Whores and angels, men with problems
Leavers always say
Broken-hearted, separated
Orphans always say
War creators, racial haters
Preachers always say
Distant fathers, fallen warriors
Givers always say
Pilgrim saints, lonely widows

Users always say
Fearful mothers, watchful doubters
Saviors always say

Sometimes I cannot forgive
And these days mercy cuts so deep
If the world was how it should be
Maybe I could get some sleep
While I lay, I dream we're better
Scales were gone and faces lighter
When we wake, we hate our brother
We still move to hurt each other
Sometimes I can close my eyes
And all the fear that keeps me silent
Falls below my heavy breathing
What makes me so badly bent?
We all have a chance to murder
We all feel the need for wonder
We still want to be reminded
That the pain is worth the thunder

Sometimes when I lose my grip
I wonder what to make of Heaven
All the times I thought to reach up
All the times I had to give
Babies underneath their beds
Hospitals that cannot treat
All the wounds that money causes
All the comforts of cathedrals
All the cries of thirsty children
This is our inheritance
All the rage of watching mothers
This is our greatest offense

Oh my God
Oh my God
Oh my God

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Some Random Thoughts

I was struggling with some fit issues on my bike earlier in the year and tried a bunch of different fixes but none of them were getting me the position I needed, or if they did it was at the expense of the handling of my bike. I worked with Scott Flanders at Flanders Brothers in Minneapolis and together we put together a new bike package for me. My new bike has a compact frame design (sloping top tube) which will more easily allow me to get the bars in a little higher position and remedy the fit problems I've been having with my other bike. We placed the order to Serotta in May and began the wait for the frame to be produced. Serotta has a demand for roughly 16 frames per day but is limited to a production capacity of 12.

I got a call from Scott on August 8th telling me that my bike would be ready later in the day or the next. I was actually just a bit nervous about my new ride...worrying that all the money spent wouldn't solve my problems. Scott had assured me when we did the sizing that I would definitely notice a difference and he was confident that it would work out well. It's been one month now and nearly 1400 miles and without question, I can say that my new bike is all I could have hoped for it to be. Within the first 2 miles of riding it, I could feel the obvious difference in the rear end with the carbon fiber seat stays and their ability to absorb shock. My position on the bike had also changed but I'd have to wait just a bit longer to confirm that it was what I needed. I can now say with all certainty that it is a change for the better. I'm riding faster and more comfortably than I have in a long time. Now the question becomes, what to do with my other bike? I thought I'd put it up on Ebay but I've rethought that and decided that I'll use it for my winter ride or for those times when I've got my new bike in the shop. It's been a great bike and I would never be able to get for it what it's worth to me.

I had several good rides this week but the one which stands out was a ride I took Thursday to Waterville, southwest of Fairbault. I was on the road by 8:20am and pedaling under a beautiful sun-filled sky with some tunes to keep me company. The only issue was a minor saddle sore but I won't elaborate on that. I don't usually ride bike paths but there is one which I occasionally pick up in Fairbault and ride to Waterville...about 15 miles worth of path. It's nice because there's little to no other traffic on it and when the wind is coming from the southwest it helps protect you from it. I got to Waterville at 11:00 and made a quick stop to refuel. I clipped back in and headed north on Highway 13 toward Montgomery and New Prague. It was at this time that I had this moment of clarity which said...this is why I ride. A light tailwind with a beautifully paved shoulder and very little traffic, cornfields and the occasional farmhouse, not too hot or too cool—just right. And best of all, I was feeling comfortable on my bike. I brought it home with an average speed of 20.1 over 106 miles which for this 49-year-old is good. I came real close to making this a 500-mile week on my bike but I've been rained (or drizzled) out today.

That's okay. Tammy and Rachel had the weekend from hell last weekend as so much went wrong with their trip up north to get her folks and take them to a relative's wedding in Park Rapids. Just as they arrived at their hotel on Friday afternoon Tammy's mother tripped on a curb and fell and broke her hip. Tammy phoned 911 and got her transported to the hospital where they scheduled surgery for the next morning. The surgery went well and Tammy and Rachel headed out Sunday morning with Tammy's father to take him back home to Babbitt and then head for home. It would be an all-day drive for them getting home just after 10:00pm. Tammy would go back up there last Thursday after work to bring her mom to back toward home to a temporary care unit in Virginia, Mn. The transfer went well and she got back home last night ready to put her feet up and try and recoup after a busy week of work and driving.

We're all just hanging out today. Rachel is working on her homecoming pants and making brownies and Tammy and I are going to clean the house together. We've got Trains, Planes, and Automobiles on the queue for tonight.

I’m being ostracized from many in my family for defending my cousin, Deborah, from a verbal assault she endured from my sister, Claudia, at the family reunion. I’ll never understand it. Is it wrong for me to stand up for someone when mob mentality takes over and people collectively lose all sense of reason?

Sunday, August 27, 2006

They Say You Can't Go Back Home Again

They say that you can’t go back home again; maybe not but I did. I was out on my bike yesterday and I found myself not far from the home I grew up in. I decided to go a little off my intended route and cycle through the old neighborhood—something I do maybe once every couple years. Anyway, yesterday was the first time I’ve ever seen anyone out in the yard and when I did I didn’t hesitate to stop and introduce myself. The owner’s name is Byron; I forget his last name. He was out edging the grass along the sidewalk and I biked up to him and told him I was one of the original residents of his home and that my dad had this house built 40 years ago. His face lit up and he put out his hand and we exchanged greetings.

I looked around the yard and told him that my dad had put in the fence and I helped him a bit but I mostly remember just trying to walk along the top rail all along the perimeter of the yard. I told him how I'd loved it here. I mentioned the tree swing in the backyard and how our Canary, Tweeter, got loose one day and we had to hose her down out of the tree. We talked about the large oak in the front yard which died a few years back and how to one of our pets it was the ‘big tree’. I mentioned the first black family which moved into the neighborhood in the house behind his and how that was a big deal back in the day but how it was a good thing for everyone. I pointed to the sidewalk where a few of us neighbor kids had signed our names and ridden our bikes through wet concrete. He said they finally got around to replacing the two sections about 5 years ago. I told him how it was a great place for a kid to grow up…how none of the schools were here when we arrived but when they were finally built they made great places for us to play once the workers had left for the day. I told him of the countless hours I’d spent across the street in the pond in search of anything living which I could bring home and make a pet. Byron commented on my bike and the GPS unit and I told him that “yeah, it’s not quite the same as the bike I used to ride on these streets”.

I inquired about the inside of the home and if the basement was still finished in the cedar my dad used. He told me that it was and asked if I’d like to come in and have a look. He didn’t have to ask. I rode my bike up the driveway and parked it in the garage and I had this surreal feeling that I was coming home just like so many years ago. I stood in the garage and looked around expecting it to look much smaller than I’d remembered it but it was much the same. A bit more stuff but it was our old garage. Byron walked me into the house through the garage door and the first thing I noticed as I was removing my shoes was the linoleum…it was the same linoleum that was in the home when we were there…brown brick in an alternating pattern. I couldn’t believe how good it looked. Byron assured me that it was original. I stood in the entrance and looked around imagining myself some 30 or more years earlier. The swinging doors in the hallway which separate the front entrance from the garage entrance are no longer there.

We walked through the kitchen and he led me into the dining room. The hardwood floors may still be there but they’re all carpeted now in a near-white color which never would have worked for our family of six kids who weren’t very good at taking shoes off. The dining room and living room have a very open and clean look that I liked very much. I looked around and told him that many memorable Christmases were spent in this area.

Byron next took me downstairs…probably one of the spaces I mostly wanted to see. The first thing you notice is that the tongue-in-groove cedar ceiling is no longer there. It’s been replaced with (I believe) a textured ceiling. I mentioned to Byron the time capsule we’d placed in the ceiling when Dad finished it and that it’s most likely gone now. The walls have been changed some too. No longer are there thin strips of cedar banton strips between sections of cedar. There’s now a ledge that begins about 3-4 feet high and runs along the two long walls and extends out about 8 inches. There is also a dry bar which was built of the same type cedar Dad used and that’s located where the shelving for stereo components used to be. The area under the stairs is still used as a desk area.

We next walked into the laundry/utility room. They wanted to show me where one of us (Keith) had signed our name in black marker on the laundry chute hamper. “Keith Gilmore April 1971 10 years old”. We walked toward the back of the utility room to where Dad had his workshop set up. I mentioned that if we were ever looking for my dad you could almost always find him down here tinkering with something. There is still a workbench there…maybe it’s the same one Dad used…I can’t be sure. There is also another workbench directly across from it. As we were leaving the room Byron mentioned that they’ve still got the original furnace. Wow.

I asked them if the house has been good to them and they said yes. They raised their two daughters there. About the only complaint they had was that there should have been a sump pump and drain tile installed with the house as they’ve apparently had some water issues with the clay soil. They also mentioned that although it was quite a job, they installed central air conditioning a while back. They love the baseboard heat for the home.

I didn’t get a chance to tour the upstairs.

We walked outside and looked into the backyard. I told him how it had changed…no longer a garden and the trees are so large. I mentioned how I used to mow the lawn with a non-motorized, reel mower and how I used to crosscut it. I also recalled then how I used to have to use hand clippers to clip the grass at the base of each fence post…that was before anybody had thought of a weed whip. I pointed toward a spot between all the houses, behind the Kelly’s and Testins’ where for a week one summer a bunch of us neighbor kids tried to organize a petition to have a neighborhood pool built. It was a fun thought but probably got lost to other summer distractions.

Byron replaced the concrete driveway a few years back and told me he wasn’t happy with how it turned out. The day was very hot and the concrete was setting up faster than they could manage it. It looked fine to me. I asked him if he’d replaced the hedge along the front of the house and he said he hadn’t. I told him that my folks had put that in. I mentioned how I used to throw a baseball against the front of the house…I’d pick out a brick which I’d use as dead-center for my strike zone and throw for it.

We talked a bit about the two owners before him. He said the person who bought it from us was an assistant coach for the Vikings. He sold it to a dentist and Byron and his wife bought it from the dentist in 1979.

In parting, I asked Byron if he had an email address as I’d like to send him some photos of the home as it was when we lived there. I put together a few links to photos on my website for him to see. My only regret is that I didn’t have my camera with me. I hope to arrange another meeting sometime soon and maybe take my mother along...and my camera.

Some moments from then...

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Kevin, Is That You?

I brought Rachel to Coles to have her hair cut and high lighted the other day. While we were sitting there waiting for her stylist I heard a woman's voice from across the way say, ' that you?' It was a neighbor lady (Luann Coburn) from my old neighborhood whom I hadn't seen in a dozen years or more. We chatted for a few minutes before Rachel was led away to have her hair done. That was a nice touch to my day. I left Coles to run over to BestBuy while I killed time waiting for Rachel. As I was parking my truck I looked over in the truck next to me and there was another familiar face I hadn't seen in over 10 years; a friend from high school: Gary Sink. I yelled over at him and we both got these big smiles on our faces. We stood in the near 100-degree heat in the parking lot and talked for 20 minutes catching up on the last decade. We said goodbye and I went into the store thinking, wow, two in one day—that's pretty odd. The next night Tammy and I went to Mall of America to kill some time and while walking through the new Coldwater Creek store I saw a woman approaching me saying, "Is this Kevin Gilmore?" I looked at her and she was familiar but I was having a very hard time coming up with her name. She was another neighbor whom I hadn't seen in 9 years since they moved to south Lakeville.

I dunno—I just thought it was very odd. The thought crossed my mind that maybe I was going to be leaving soon and God wanted me to have one last chance to see these people. It's difficult not to have those sort of thoughts when unusual stuff like that happens.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Father's Day, 2006

In church each year on Father's Day, our pastor has all the dads stand up for a moment of recognition. It's become for me one of the prouder moments of my year and I always look forward to it. I stand up to say that I'm proud to be Rachel's dad...well...step-dad. I'm proud of the love she has for me and amazed at the unconditional love I've been given for her. When Tammy and I first began dating a little over seven years ago, I wasn't really looking to be a step-dad again. I'd done that once before and it was not easy. I love(d) David and Joe but we never achieved the bond that Rachel and I share.

We celebrated Father's Day yesterday as I had to work today. I got up early and was on my bike by 8:00am headed 50 miles southwest to LeSueur. It was a hot day and I rode as well as I've ridden in a long time. I'd had my bike into Flanders the day before and had some adjustments made so that it's now back to its original setup. Here's my route. With the way I was riding, I thought for a while that I might be able to finish with an average speed of 20 mph. I was averaging 19.7 through 85 miles but headwinds and uphills the last 10 miles brought my speed down to 19.3. Total mileage was over 103.

After I got home I spent some time working in the flower gardens doing some weeding but also working on some stretching. I'm terrible when it comes to stretching and I find that working in the gardens gets me into positions where I'm able to work some of the tightness out of my quads and hamstrings.

We made a brief appearance at a graduation party for a neighbor girl and then headed into St Paul to see the Body Worlds exhibit. Rachel has been wanting to see this and this was the first chance we've had. There is also a Body Worlds movie which played in the Omni theater and costs extra but is definitely a must-see. I wasn't sure what I'd think of seeing the dead bodies on display. I suppose I thought it would be morbid and disturbing but it wasn't anything like that. They're more like works of art.

We left the Science Museum and headed for Cossetta's for dinner. We used to find an excuse to eat there every few months but not lately. It's a great place to eat...nothing fancy...just very authentic Italian food.

We watched Glory Road over the weekend. 5 stars!

Thursday, June 1, 2006

The Way We Were

I got an email from my older brother a few weeks ago telling me that he'd found the super8 mm home movie tapes which he'd lost several years ago. They were small, 3-minute movies from the late '60s and early '70s; no sound, just movies of us mugging for the camera. He asked if I was interested in them and I told him I absolutely was. I got them in the mail a short while later and took them to National Camera Exchange to have them digitized. I got them back last week and have been adding some background to a few of the better ones. Some of the films are quite good and some are not so good.

This first one was taken in 1968 while my brother Bryan was home on leave from the Navy. Your typical home movie stuff where all us kids are mugging for the camera. I'm the overly energetic red-headed kid.

The second video I think is from 1971 and is taken in the basement of our home in Bloomington, Mn.

The final video is an eclectic mix of several of the film reels and has some nice footage (the only video) of my grandmother dancing.

I'm so glad to have these film reels recovered and preserved. I was pretty sure I'd never see them again.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Recital Weekend and a New Ride

It was dance recital weekend for Rachel this past weekend. Tammy's folks came into town as they always do to watch her. Every year I think it will be the last year her father will make the trip but every year he surprises me and finds his way here. The recital was great. Rachel is so poised and beautiful on stage. She continues to grow as a dancer and her love for it is as stong as ever.

This was the first year I took part in the Dads' Dance and now I'm left wondering why I took so long to get involved. There were 20 of us dads and we had a blast out there dancing to Puttin' on the Ritz. We had our top hats, tuxedo shirts, black pants and black canes. We actually put in several class sessions to get the moves down and I think everyone put in some time on their own, too.I know I did. I wasn't sure how I'd react to being on stage. I was somewhat worried that I'd freak and forget the moves but that didn't happen. I had a blast! The only time I messed up was when I caught Rachel out of the corner of my eye as she stood off stage watching me. For just a moment I lost my train of thought and missed a transition. I quickly recovered but was a bit disappointed with myself. Hey, it's the dads' dance—we're expected to mess up.

I went down to Flanders Brothers Cycles in Minneapolis over the weekend and got fitted for a new Serotta. My current Serotta is 8 years old and doing fine but I was having some issues with neck pain. Scott made some adjustments to my position on the bike as I've been fiddling with it over the years and it's gotten out of whack. We lowered the seat 1.8 cm and I can already tell that it's the fix I needed. I had the seat extended too far to the point where I had a dead spot in my pedaling. I'd pretty much made up my mind before the adjustments that I was going to invest in a new bike. I suppose that maybe I could get by with my current ride for years to come and I'm a bit torn about having purchased the new bike. Tammy and Rachel were both encouraging me to get it. Buyer's remorse for sure. The new frame will be what's called a sloper or a compact design with a top tube which slopes downward 5cm from the head tube to the seat tube. I'll be going with Dura Ace 10 speed components.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Spring Has Sprung

I seem to have so many things to get done this spring, so many that some days I’m not sure where to begin. I’ve got some projects in the yard which have me a bit preoccupied. One of those projects I was able to get done this past weekend when I found someone to come and grind our stumps out which were left behind after we cut down our Aus trees last winter. I would’ve thought it would be easier to find somebody to do the job than it was. I found a guy in the Yellow pages less than a mile from home. He came out last weekend while I wasn’t home to size up the job and he was to give me a call back with a bid. He never called back. Tammy saw him out back looking at the stumps so I’m (sorry) stumped as to why he never called to at least give us an estimate. I called another guy on Wednesday and he said he’d be by the next day around mid morning to quote us a price. When he hadn’t shown up by late afternoon I called his number and he said he was planning on coming out on Monday instead…hmmm…it would be nice to know that so I didn’t have to wait around all day for him. I told him not to bother as I had somebody else who would do it sooner than that. The other person I had in mind was a guy who had phoned me the previous day but I had told him I’d already found someone. He came out the next day and did the job for me for a very reasonable price of $100 for 3 stumps. The other guys had truck mounted units which no doubt would’ve torn up the lawn but this guy had the really cool self propelled unit which looked like something out of a sci-fi movie. I was happy with the job he did for us.

You wouldn't believe the hardiness of the Aus trees. Here's a photo I took of what remains of some of the logs I kept. They're alive and growing!

We’re still working on the 3rd of 3 windows above our kitchenette in the basement. We’ve probably got another 30-40 hours of work to do before it’s done, maybe less. I have a very hard time getting myself to do stained glass once the grass turns green but this year I’ll have to keep at it until this job is done.

We had some sick pups this past weekend. Toby picked up some flu bug and passed it along to Allie. The poor guys had it bad. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Toby pass up a meal until the other day. They’re doing much better now.

I've reached the age where stretching before a workout is no longer optional. I keep having thoughts of taking 20 minutes each day to work on stretching but so far that’s all they are—thoughts. I actually stretched for 2 minutes before today’s ride. Yesterday’s ride sort of reminded me of the rides I would do when I was in the Navy. I had no plan where I was going and just made it up as I went along. Those rides are usually the most fun. I’m enjoying playing around with my GPS unit while I’m out there and going back over the route data during my cool-down phase when I get home. Here’s yesterday’s route.

Anyway, that's about it from this end.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Dad's Dance, Riding and Projects at Mom's

I picked up Rachel at dance last week and her teacher poked her head in the truck window to tell me that they were looking for dads for the dad's dance and she needed a 'yes' from me. My default answer was that I had to work and wouldn't be able to attend the practices...whew...I really dodged a bullet with that one. I could tell that Rachel was really counting on me to get involved and over the course of the 20 minute drive home I'd pretty much changed my mind although I didn't tell her just yet. I got home and both Rachel and Tammy let me know that they were really really really hoping I'd do the dad's dance, "okay, I'll do it!" They were so happy—that alone was worth it I suppose. My first practice is tomorrow night. We'll find out then when the other practices are. There still is a chance that the practices may interfere with my schedule and I really won't be able to make it but I'm actually looking forward to it. This could be fun. Hey, I never thought I'd be using the dance floor in the basement to practice my own routine. Rachel puts a lot of effort into her dancing and the weekend of her dance recital is probably the highlight of her year.

I got out for my first long ride of the year last Friday when I headed up to Rogers. It was a beautiful day. I left home around 10:00 am and headed out highway 13 toward Shakopee. Highway 13 is a busy section of road through Burnsville and Savage but what makes it worse is that the shoulder is nearly always full of debris. The further to the right of the shoulder you ride the more debris you encounter. I try and cheat toward the left as much as possible to minimize my chances of flatting but to the average driver, they only see you as a rider who should be hugging the right side of the shoulder; they don't see the debris I'm trying to avoid. I headed north out of Shakopee and picked up highway 101 where the first half mile is a nice 11 to 14% grade. As I neared the top of the hill I noticed my heart rate monitor showing 172 bpm. I love that feeling. I live for it!

I'm probably a bit nuts for taking highway 101 because it's got little to no shoulder for much of the way up to Rogers but I enjoy the hills and views along the way. It sucked a bit more than usual near St. Louis Park as there is a bunch of road construction and not much extra room but it only lasted a mile or two. Once I got to Maple Grove the road opened up a bit and the traffic fell off some. I got to Rogers around 1:00 and got a bite to eat at the Super America where I sat on the lawn and gave my legs a rest while watching the people come and go at the BK across the lot.

I headed for home and put a 15 to 20 mph tail wind to work for me. I was going to stop at Jackie's in Maple Grove on the way home but I really needed to get to Shakopee before the traffic got too busy on 101. It was a fun ride home but I was ready to call it a day. I came in at just over 100 miles. Here's an overview of the trip.

I spent Saturday out at my mom's place taking care of some loose ends outside for her. Her gutters were sagging in spots so I took the old ones down and put up some new ones—the same type she had. Nothing expensive but she just wants the water diverted away from her flower beds below. I also took out her old landscape lights as they were falling apart and some weren't working. I put in some solar lights for her so she doesn't have to mess with replacing broken bulbs. She was so thankful and it was nice to see her so happy. I really need to make myself more available for her. She's so giving and I need to be more like her.

Sunday, April 9, 2006

Contract Talks and Riding

We've been in contract talks with the FAA management since last July and this past week the talks came to a halt and an impasse was declared. This isn't the end of the world but it does signal the end of status-quo. We've enjoyed several years of prosperity as air traffic controllers and now management is looking to get back some of our gains. Where it will hurt most is in our retirement pay as any pay raises we see for the next five years will be seen as bonuses paid out in lump sums and not to be used as part of our base pay for annuity purposes—boring stuff so I'll stop writing about it.

I've been finding my form on my bike...I went out for a 70 mile ride yesterday. My Edge 305 has been good at helping me squeeze more out of my workouts.

The poll numbers continue to fall for Bush. So let's see, continued negative reporting and nothing but hate-Bush-talk from the left. Hmm, I'm not surprised. Not to compare President Bush to Jesus but Jesus also suffered a turn of public opinion in only a few short days which led to his crucification. He rode into Jerusalem amid the praises of the people only to be led to the cross a few days later amid the shouts of "crucify Him". There is a mob mentality at work in our country and it is bringing us all down.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Garmin Edge 305

Okay, I've been neglecting my blog...sorry. I got a Garmin GPS unit for my bike last week and I've been playing around with it. It's an Edge 305 and it's such a cool toy. I've got to be careful to keep my eyes on the road and not spend too much at looking at all the gee-whiz stuff it's showing. It's really something how it tracks my slightest movements. Check out this photo—the red line across the top is me returning home, heading from right to left. You can even see where I got into the left turn lane to make the left turn...pretty cool. Here's a Google Earth file of the ride I took on Saturday. You'll need to download Google Earth to be able to view it. Once the file opens you can press the play button toward the left and watch the ride unfold. I love this technology.