Sunday, March 27, 2011

In Need of Redemption

If you've caught much of the news this week you've no doubt heard about the air traffic control supervisor who fell asleep in the control tower at Reagan National Airport in Washington DC.  I first learned of it when my cousin Deborah posted an article on my Facebook. I was certain the article was wrong when they stated that the lone controller involved was a supervisor. Since when do they work a midnight shift on their own I wondered. I've never heard of that. But sure enough, the article had it right. I would not want to be that person. I'm curious to see what sort of broad-brush the FAA responds with to ensure that this scenario never repeats itself.

I don't typically watch Fox News very often because to me it's much less about the news than it is about propaganda and a right-wing agenda, but I do occasionally check in as I did a couple days ago. The host was talking about the sleeping controller and how in any other field a person with similar responsibilities would be fired and not just suspended. He went on to say that the controllers' union was going to try and prevent that from happening. Say what? Natca (our union) has no reason to involve itself in management issues of this sort but I guess the folks at Faux News couldn't resist a chance to discredit labor.

Speaking of the FAA. It was 29 years ago this weekend that my brother Keith drove with me to Oklahoma City in my 1970 Pinto station wagon for a reporting date of March 28th at the academy. I had no idea what I was getting myself into but I was wide-eyed and anxious to begin. It maybe feels like 15 years ago but certainly not 29. I've returned to the state-of-mind where I'm in no hurry for this phase of my life and my career to be over. A contract can have a way of doing that.

Eight weeks of being off my bike came to an enjoyable end yesterday afternoon as I worked through a 49 mile ride with a temp in the upper 20s. It's been a nice break from my bike but I'm once again looking forward to doing some miles.

I don't know what it is about this time of year but if I'm going to have issues with drivers it typically isn't during the summer—it's much more likely to happen during the colder months. The only thing I can figure is that there are a few angry people out there who feel I should limit my cycling to warmer months. I was riding along this section of county road 47 yesterday when a gray pickup truck traveling in my direction crossed over the white line of the shoulder and threw a drink at me. It startled me because there was no other traffic out there and I was well within the confines of the shoulder. But you know what? I didn't flip him off—not that I could have if I wanted to because of the lobster mitts I was wearing but still, it's been years since I've reacted like that. I waved and wished him a good day all the while wondering how it is a person lives in that state of mind?

I need to get back to the glassblowing studio again and make right what I couldn't on Thursday when we were last there. All I can say is that I really sucked when I blew. We'll be back there both Thursday and Friday this week where I'll be looking for a little redemption and I intend to find it.

I still can't get enough of Adele. If I've got to be stuck on somebody I'm fine with it being her.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Run Lena, Run!

Tammy and I came back from church this morning to the sound of a robin singing in a tree in our front yard. I recognized its song and paused long enough to find the source. It's reassuring to know that this especially long winter is nearly over. Today is officially the first day of spring but it still looks a lot like winter out there.

I never made it out on my bike this week like I figured I would but I'm fine with that. I'll be riding regularly soon enough. I did a tough 30 minutes on our Concept 2 rower Wednesday; maybe a little too tough. I was trying to beat my previous best of 7136 meters but came up 7 meters short. With my heart rate steady between 165-170 for the last 15 minutes, it's a punishing machine.

We were back in the studio again on Thursday and Friday. We were both glad to have two days because neither of us was happy with our Thursday effort but that's the way this sort of thing can be. I was talking with a woman there who has been doing this for a long time and she mentioned that she had a particularly difficult day recently where 5 out of 5 attempts ended up in shattered pieces on the floor. I think I learn more from my attempts that end up in the scrap pile than from those that make it successfully into the annealer.

You can find us there again next Thursday.

I've been playing more Scrabble this past month than ever. Between Tammy and our Facebook Scrabble games and a friend from Sweden on WordFeud on my Droid, I'm actually beginning to get better but still usually coming out on the losing end. These games probably require more thought than I sometimes have time for but they're a lot of fun.

I got an email request from the folks at Animal Planet this week inquiring if I'd be interested in submitting one of our videos from several years ago for their show:

Animal Planet is interested in your video

Hello, my name is David Yourgrau and I work for the Animal Planets television show "America's Cutest Pets". We are currently searching for the cutest animal videos to air on our special. I came across your "Lena Running!" video during my search and absolutely loved it! Do you own the rights to this video?

If so, I wanted to reach out and see if you would be interested in submitting your video and/or any other cute clips you may have for our show. Submitting is easy, and can be done online in just a few minutes. Our show will feature the best videos of dogs and puppies doing the most amazing, hilarious and just plain adorable things.

 If interested, please email me at with the information below:
1. Subject: America's Cutest Pets - Attention Minna & David
2. Your Name, email address and phone number
3. The name of the video(s) with the link(s) below
4. Your dogs name, gender and breed
5. Whether you own the rights to the video

Once I receive your contact information I will reply to your email with instructions on how to upload your video (it takes less than 3 minutes) as well as our Animal Planet Release (which states you own the video and are allowing us to use it).

If you have any questions, please feel free to send me an email or give me a ring at 617.908.4899. Videos must be submitted by March 28th, 2011.

Thank you for your time. I hope to hear from you soon.

David Yourgrau
Powderhouse Productions & Animal Planet
212 Elm Street Somerville, MA 02144 USA
339-221-0474 cell email

Hmmm...maybe I'll give it a shot.

We went out for dinner at Jensen's with Mom, Keith and Tracee Friday night. It was a really nice time. We were there nearly three hours. Can that be right? Anyway, we were there quite a while and I enjoyed my 2nd ever martini, a Bombay Sapphire with Gin and blue-cheese stuffed olives. I'd order it again but I think I'll need Tracee's help once more. Lots of verbiage I didn't understand but which resulted in a very nice drink. Lots of good food too! Mom was looking so nice.

Rachel came back from her service trip with the University of Minnesota kids. After stops in Indianola, Iowa and Kansas City, Missouri they continued on to Tulsa, Oklahoma where they cleaned a Christian camp. From Tulsa they went to Dallas, Texas and put on a carnival for learning-disabled children. Little Rock, Arkansas was their next stop where they cut out invasive plant life in a park. Their final destination before heading for home was Memphis, Tennesse. She was on the trip with 42 other students for a little over a week and 2600 miles.

The highlight of the trip for her was Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas where a 1954 U.S. Supreme Court ruling forced the integration of public schools and defiant whites tried to deny access to 9 black students in the first public test of the ruling. Rachel said it was emotional to walk the same sidewalk that those 9 walked and to try and imagine the hatred they must've felt.

She also saw the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis where Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968.

Tammy and I were trying to think of all the places Rachel has been in the last 5 years. The list is quite impressive for somebody so young. Los Angeles, Atlanta, Seattle, Las Vegas, Colorado, twice to Guatemala and now this trip. We'd like to take a trip to Europe when she's out of college and we've got those bills covered but the question we're kicking around is do we take her along with us or will this maybe just be a getaway for Tammy and me knowing Rachel has done her share of traveling? I have a feeling I know what Rachel will say to that. Rachel?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Just Wow!

It's been over six weeks since I've been on my bike, either indoors or out. I got busy with a bunch of other things of no less importance that had taken a back seat to it for too long. But now I'm all caught up and ready to consider hitting the roads again this week. The break from my riding has been nice but I'm feeling the need.

Rachel came home Thursday night. Just like old times, she occupied a place in front of the entertainment center in the basement while Tammy and I sat on the couch and listened to her tell about all that's going on in her life. I miss that. The funniest story was about a dollar party she'd attended. Everyone was required to bring something they could sell for a dollar (at least I think that was the deal). Anyway, she and her friends made jello-shots but without the alcohol. She said most of the kids were too drunk to notice that she and her friends were getting one over on them. Too funny—at least I thought it was.

I drove her to the University of Minnesota campus Friday at noon so she could catch a bus for a trip to Memphis with a bunch of other students. They'll participate in a leadership conference with some volunteer work on the side. They spent Thursday night in Indianola, Iowa where they volunteered at a nursing home. They were in Kansas City, Missouri last night where they worked at a boys' home sorting through donated clothes. She was hoping to take in some sights. I was texting with her earlier today asking her where they were at. She said she had no idea but added: "I'm basing it off of the wizard of oz it looks a bit like kansas." "I body surfed on the bus." That's my daughter. They'll be spending tonight in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She's the only one from UMR on the trip and that works well for her. She's all about meeting new people and I admire that.

We were back in the studio on Thursday doing our usual footwork: two steps forward, one step back. We continue to make progress and that's all that matters. We'll be there again both Thursday and Friday this week. Our work so far is worthy of the sort of stuff you bring home to your mother but then my work with stained glass began the same way. I'm hopeful we'll be able to one day look back on these days and know that we eventually got beyond them. Regardless, we're having a blast even making the simplest of forms. We both love the learning part of this and there's plenty of that.

Now that I've got our most recent stained glass project off the table in the shop I'm feeling like I have a lot more time to do whatever I want. I spent a good part of yesterday working on a gift for a friend. I used the same design I did for our entertainment center but changed up the colors.

I had to swing by Target on the way into work today to pick up Adele's new CD. Tammy and I were driving to dinner last night listening to her on Cities 97. Just wow! Tammy wasn't familiar with her but I'd seen her on one of the morning shows recently and immediately liked her. I think I'm on my third listening of her CD as I write this. Good stuff!

Sunday, March 6, 2011


I have to give a quick mention to my brother Bryan (the oldest of us six siblings) for taking a photo of mine and turning it into something more. He uploaded it to Facebook where I immediately knew I had to have it for my new profile pic both there and here on my blog. A more realistic depiction of me I don't think exists.

Back to my brother for a moment. I would love to have just a smidgen of his photography knowledge and ability. He's able to find a photo opportunity where most simply can't and he's also very good at enhancing photos to create a work of art beyond what was originally there.

Rachel had no problems at all during her exposure to human cadavers at Mayo despite having had a greasy BBQ sandwich just prior to the viewing. She wrote an essay for her class about the experience and gave me the okay to post it here.

The stained glass project for our basement entertainment center is now complete. It was a little over two years ago when I finalized a design after kicking around a few ideas for the better part of a year. I spent most of yesterday putting the finishing touches on the remaining panel and took a few photos of the final phases of the process. A close-up of the detail before soldering; applying patina after it's been soldered to give it a darkened finish; setting in the frame; white plexiglass backing for an even distribution of the backlights; ready to hang; two 20W halogen backlights for each panel; and the completed project!

Here's a short video of them.

I have no idea how many hours I have into these windows (many hundreds for sure) but I do know how many pieces: 3926. I hope we'll be in our home for many more years to enjoy them because I'm quite sure that when we leave, there's no way the new owners will be able to appreciate them the way we do.

Tammy and I were in the studio at Foci both Thursday and Friday. If it weren't for Steve and his incredibly helpful guidance, I'm not sure where we'd be. He's been a God-send for us. I was telling Steve that a part of me wants to just stick to basics and continue to practice only what we've learned until I've got it down but there's another prompting I have and that's to push the limits of my abilities and learn from whatever mistakes I make while going beyond what we've been taught. Tammy feels the same. Steve offered a good compromise. He suggested using the first couple hours of our studio time to work on the basics and then using our final hour to experiment. I like that. We played around with adding color to our pieces this week. It adds a whole other dimension that I'll write about later. I hope to have some photos of our finished pieces in my next post. We're happy with them for where we're at with our limited experience.

Tammy was perusing glassblowing videos Friday night and came across one filmed at Foci. Foci is where we're taking instruction and being so challenged. I'd settle for half the talent of Michael and Andy someday but even that may be asking too much.

Glass Blowing from Travis Wermedal on Vimeo.