Sunday, January 22, 2006

Zicam, Getting Up Real Early and a New Project

It was great riding weather this past weekend but I couldn’t partake in it. I locked myself in our shop and worked on getting some drawings done for a window project we’re about to start in our basement. I’ve got some sort of chest cold so I figured it was a good time to not worry about riding and focus on the drawings.

I’m a believer in the zinc nasal spray called Zicam. I still get my occasional colds but I think this stuff helps to lessen their severity and length. Maybe it’s all a placebo effect but that’s still fine. Rachel’s avoided the bug so far but Tammy and I haven’t. Usually, it’s the other way around.

I noticed Rachel was up in the middle of the night on Thursday for quite some time in her bathroom. I didn’t wake Tammy as I figured she’s a big girl and if there’s a problem she’ll let us know. I mentioned it to Tammy early the next morning and thought that she may want to check on her before she left for work. It turns out that Rachel thought she heard her alarm go off and got out of bed and got ready for school. It wasn’t until after she was all ready that she looked at the clock and noticed it was only 2:15am and she had 4 hours to sleep yet. I think I may have done that once in my life.

Tim stopped by with his friend Tina on Friday to show her our stained glass and kiln setup. I think she’s considering getting into that sort of thing but I made sure she knew that it’s probably best looked at as a hobby rather than a vocation unless you’re really talented. There are too many cheap imports on the market to try and make a go of it with stained glass. The guy (Dan) who did our basement work for us asked if we’d be interested in selling some of our stuff at his sister-in-law’s wine shops. She and her husband have 15 specialty wine shops around the country and would be interested in getting some of our work in them. I don’t know. I was telling Tammy that typically the consignment fee is around 50% and after you figure in our material and shipping costs it most likely wouldn’t be worth our while. I haven’t called Dan back yet to tell him it’s probably not going to work out. It sounds like a great opportunity but I’m not feeling it.

Anyway, back to the window project. We’re finally getting around to doing the windows in the kitchenette portion of our basement above the sink. I think the reason we didn’t begin this project sooner is that we weren’t sure what we wanted to do. We sort of thought we’d do the windows above the entertainment center first but that project is going to take a lot more work than the other set of windows so we’ll start small and work into the others.

Last weekend Tammy sketched out some rough drafts for the 3 panels above the sink. We’re doing a grapevine which meanders through all 3 windows. I asked her about sketching in a couple birdhouses with some birds and at first, we thought it may look a bit too cutesy but in the end, we both like it. I took the rough drafts Tammy designed and did the fine-tuning so they could actually be used for stained glass. Here’s a view of the rough draft Tammy drew for the center window and here’s a view as it sits today ready to be cut out. This is a photo of the left window also ready to be cut out. I hope to have the right-side panel done sometime this week. We’ll visit some stained glass shops this week and try to find the glass we’ll need so we can get going on them.

Toby and Allie kept trying to get up in my lap while I was trying to draw and no matter how hard I explained to them that I couldn’t do both they usually won out for a while. I used my breaks to do some posting on the forum and try and get the rest of the world thinking just like me. I’m not sure that happened—the thinking just like me part.

This is supposed to be the coldest week of the year but it's nowhere near being anything considered cold out there…at least not by my standards for mid-January. I think I read where the sun finally came out in Oregon after being a no-show for the past 6 weeks or so. I’m not sure which I’d rather have…no sun and warmer temps or sun with snow and colder temps. Actually, I think I’d opt for the no sun with warmer temps so long as it wasn’t continually raining and I couldn’t ride.

Saturday, January 7, 2006

From Pollywog to Shellback

I hadn't been on the ship more than a few months when we crossed the equator on our way to Brisbane, Australia. I think we got underway from the Philippines or somewhere in that vicinity and traveled south. It was probably a couple weeks of port and starboard shifts so having the initiation thrown in was a nice diversion.

The night before the crossing we held a beauty contest made up of a Wog from each division. I was the junior guy in my division but moreover, the most beautiful and so I was chosen to represent OI division. I have to mention that the negligee I'm wearing was courtesy of Pete Alford. He bought it in Hong Kong for his least that's the excuse he gave us for having it.

My boss, OS1 Corey, had been saving some eggs in the overhead panels of the 1st class mess which he'd gotten in port a month earlier. By the time of the crossing, they were ripe. How I escaped having one of them placed in my mouth and then broken I'll never know. And some people thought Balut was bad.

As a Wog you spend all your time in a crawling position. In the case of us OS's it was Corey who took us through individually to make sure we didn't miss out on any of the challenges. The initiation begins with a visit to King Neptune's court and the receiving of an oyster from the Royal Baby's belly which has been smeared with grease and other disgusting stuff. The oyster must remain in your mouth at all times.

There were several obstacles you had to maneuver your way through on the way to becoming a Shellback. One of them was the coffin. The coffin has a few inches of wet garbage in the bottom just to make it fun. You're put in there with two or three other guys and the lid is closed. When the lid is reopened you have to have switched places with the others. Remember, don't lose your oyster or you'll have to go back in and find another or something similar to hold in your mouth.

Next was the garbage chute. The garbage chute is filled with wet garbage which was accumulated from the mess decks during the previous few weeks. The stuff isn't kept refrigerated and in the heat near the equator it doesn't take long for it to take on a life of its own. The smell was pretty bad and getting through the chute was made more difficult because there were people ahead of you being hassled as they tried to make their way through. If you were going to lose your oyster, this would be the place.

The initiation ends with a visit to the baptismal pool. Here's a photo of John Winton being led there by Wally Corey after having just come through the garbage chute. Once inside the pool, you're forced down in the water and as you come back up you're transformed into a Shellback. This is a photo of John as he emerges a new Shellback being helped out by Wally. I made it a little more difficult for Wally. When he pushed me under I came back up and he said, 'what are ya?' and I responded, "I'm a Wog!". He pushed me under again and we replayed the same scenario. The third time he pushed me down I stayed under for 10 or 20 seconds and sprang back up exclaiming as loud as I could, "I'm a Shellback!" It's probably a good thing I did because I don't think I'd have been given a fourth chance.

After leaving Brisbane we set sail for Hawaii and altered our course just a bit so we could cross the equator at the international dateline thereby giving us Golden Shellback status.

Wednesday, January 4, 2006

Letter to the Editor

Yesterday in the Star Tribune the editors opined the following...

An American right is under siege

Minnesota has a lot to share with its nearby states, and medical expertise is high on the list. But things have gone awry when a next-door neighbor must ship in Minnesota doctors to perform a procedure local physicians could easily undertake. That's what has happened in South Dakota, where the fight over reproductive rights has grown so heated that getting an abortion is just this side of impossible.

Hence the flying Minnesota doctors -- four of them, who take turns showing up at South Dakota's only abortion clinic to provide a service that no doctor in the state dares to offer. Never mind that the procedure is legal -- and that the U.S. Supreme Court has declared its availability a constitutional right. South Dakota's abortion foes have rendered those facts nearly irrelevant by branding as a "baby-killer" any doctor willing to perform abortions. Not surprisingly, no doctor remains willing. South Dakota has become one of the three states in the nation where getting an abortion is most difficult.

Surely Minnesotans shouldn't resent lending out a few doctors. But they ought to take real umbrage at the movement that makes the arrangement necessary. South Dakota has long been in the vanguard of the quest to fulfill by intimidation a goal lawmakers and courts have so far declined to deliver: an abortion embargo.

Not that South Dakota's Legislature hasn't been trying. Last year, a bid to ban abortion outright -- in direct defiance of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Roe vs. Wade -- failed by a single vote. In 2005, lawmakers passed five laws restricting abortion. This year state leaders are almost certain to consider proposals that would oblige any abortion-seeker to watch an ultrasound of her fetus and to receive psychological counseling and warnings about abortion's presumed dangers before the procedure.

South Dakota's drama might be barely worth a worry but for the example it sets and the future it portends. Many states -- Minnesota included -- have passed laws forcing women to clear an obstacle course on their way to an abortion clinic. Such hindrances have worked lamentably well to make pursuit of an abortion more arduous -- though in most states, women eventually reach their destination. In South Dakota, the destination has virtually vanished; but for a few frequent-flying Minnesota doctors, the abortion choice would disappear altogether.

And it may well disappear -- not just next door, but throughout the nation. As Americans look toward a new year, a judge named Samuel Alito is preparing to persuade the U.S. Senate he's fit to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court. If he succeeds, he'll tip the balance on a court that has long maintained a delicate equilibrium sustaining abortion rights.

While that would be true of any court newcomer, onlookers have special reasons to worry about President Bush's current nominee: In applying to work in the Reagan Justice Department in 1985, Alito emphasized his belief that "the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion."
Having secured the job, Alito soon thereafter spelled out his favored strategy to "advance the goals of bringing about the eventual overruling of Roe vs. Wade": Until the time is right for a "frontal attack" on Roe, Alito wrote, the ruling's opponents should focus on "mitigating its effects" -- by supporting just the sort of restrictions that have made abortion so hard to get in South Dakota and beyond.

Now this early strategist against Roe -- the landmark acknowledgment of a constitutional entitlement to privacy -- has a chance to join the high court. U.S. senators are gearing up even now to determine his fate -- and, whether they know it or not, the future of the nation. Therefore their hearings must delve deeply into Alito's thinking, then and now, on privacy.

I submitted a response this morning although I'm not very hopeful that it will be printed and even if it is they will no doubt leave off the last paragraph.

There was a time in our country not so long ago when it was acceptable to own slaves. Slaves weren't citizens deserving of basic rights. People could decide for themselves if they wanted to exercise their right to own a could say it was a choice. If you didn't believe it was okay to treat another human being this way you didn't have to. The Supreme Court (Dred Scott vs Sanford 1857) at the time supported slave owners rights to continue the practice.

I look at the abortion issue today and the divisiveness which surrounds it and see many parallels to the slavery issue which divided our country. The Supreme Court was wrong then and it's wrong now.

To the editors of the Star Tribune, please tell me what part of a personal belief in the sanctity of life you find threatening and explain to me how abortion has any place in our society. Please go one step further and speak of the merits of partial-birth abortion. Enlighten me if you will.

Monday, January 2, 2006

Blokus, In With The New and Third Day With The David Crowder Band

The holidays are over for another year. We took down our tree on Saturday and packed away all the decorations. Tammy's mom came into town to see her new and first great grandchild. She gave us a hand with our un-decorating. I let the outdoor lights run through last night and went out and pulled the plug on them this morning. We have an evergreen tree in a pot downstairs with lights on it which is all that remains of our Christmas decorations and I’m not in a hurry to see it go.

On New Year's Eve, we were going to order an appetizer tray from Applebees but Tammy did one better and baked up some chicken wings, egg rolls, twice-baked potatoes, and quesadillas. Rachel was skiing at Buck Hill with Katrina but Tammy’s sister, Theresa, celebrated with us. We got a little crazy playing Blokus and Scrabble. Whoohooo! Blokus is a strategy game we got recently. It’s best played with four people. The object is to take your pieces and place them on the board while attempting to block your opponents from doing the same. Each piece you place has to contact one of your other pieces via the corners…no side to side placement. The pieces are all shaped differently. They all ganged up on me.

We were listening to KTIS (98.5) for a chance to win concert tickets to see Third Day and The David Crowder Band in February. We’d been trying to win all week long between 5 and 6 in the evening. You had to be caller ten…I was caller 9 once and couldn’t get through the other times. Needless to say, our luck wasn’t any better New Year's Eve. We really want to see this concert and the tickets they’re giving away are in the first few rows. There was a pre-sale for the tickets on Saturday morning. We woke up early and got online to see what we could score but the only seats we could get were middle of the pack and back from there. We wondered if maybe they were holding some better seats for when they went on sale this morning (Monday). We got online again this morning and I was able to get four tickets on the floor eight rows from the stage. Tammy was trying at the same time with her computer and got a connection less than a minute later but already the floor seats were gone and the only seats available were toward the back. We’re pretty happy to have the seats we have.

I was able to get out on my bike a couple times last week. If I can get out to the main roads there is usually a good shoulder to ride on. Coming home on Cedar ave I had a playful dog run alongside me. I wasn’t too worried about him running in front of me, at least not too worried to shoot this photo. He was ahead and kept looking back to see if I was still there. When he finally ran out of steam he pulled off to the right. I wish there were more dogs like that one.