The thoughts of a writer.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Proposed State Trail Hike

Today we went hiking in the Long Meadow Lake Unit of the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. It was great weather, and even waited to rain on us until the last five minutes. Here are some of the pictures I am willing to share.

This was all that remained from a plundered turtle nest.

Spring flooding had deposited sand and silt over the landscape near the Minnesota river.

The plant growth was extensive, hiding the trail at times.

The White-tailed Deer we saw.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Rumor Has It

Rumor has it that two "Ho's" live here...


Suppose you worked at a place where those in charge wanted things that were impractical. Just suppose for instance, that "they" wanted you to use a help-desk, or tracking software that caused you to continuously need to input data into a database--in addition to actually doing the necessary work. In fact, suppose the new system caused a huge increase in your workload by virtue of its existence.
What would you do?
If this happened to me, and I'm not saying that it has, even if I had already seen this same type of micromanagement "crash and burn" when I worked for, oh... say the county, I would use the following particular course of action.

I would utilize this new system continuously. I would, whenever possible, use it to the fullest potential. Then, it would either be exposed as a bad idea, or perhaps I could find some practical benefit to using it. Regardless, if I have no say in the matter, I would use the new system as often as possible.
That is, if I was in that situation... which I'm not saying that I am.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Shutter Island

We went to see Shutter Island at the cheap theater last night. It was pretty good, even though I'm not a big Leonardo DiCaprio fan. His character had a Boston accent, and DiCaprio is not very good at it. Still, the story is good and I enjoyed the movie.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Poop Deck

Now do you know why it's called a "poop deck?"

Monday, May 24, 2010

Cutris Changes Channels

Cutris Changes Channels
UnAssociated Press
May 24, 2010

In a photo taken over the weekend, Cutris shows blatant disregard for the rules. He is seen changing channels on a TV that has a sign requesting the channels not be changed. This is the latest in a series of scandals involving the former Presidential hopeful.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Afton May Fair

Yesterday (after the morning storms) we went to the Afton May Fair. One of the highlights, was a walk down the marina to a bench where my wife and I sat and looked out at the St. Croix River. The day was hot, and the wind was strong!

Friday, May 21, 2010

My New Tiger Hat!

You know you want a hat just like it!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

That is so Tacky!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Fun Stuff About Being an Old Guy!

As I have entered "the west side" of my life, I have developed (along with the aches and pains) a new sense of confidence I never had before. It comes from experience and "knowing things." I know more things than ever before, even if I forget that one actor's name... from that movie... you know the one!

Fun Stuff About Being an Old Guy!

1. I don't worry about being bad at guitar or that my band isn't good. We've been doing whatever it is we do for so long, we're pretty good.

2. Fighting: Old guys hardly ever need to get into a physical fight. If we do and we lose, the other guy "beat-up an old guy!" If we win, we're "a tough old guy!"

3. Knowing our job: I've had so many jobs and done so many things, I know my job pretty well. In fact, I might know your job too!

4. I don't worry about how I look to women. I look pretty good for an old guy, and I have a hot wife!

5. Old guys don't need to pretend to be impressive. Most old guys are impressive already, because they've been through a lot of stuff young guys are still learning.

6. Being on time: Old guys know that you always "pad" timing. If it takes an hour, tell "them" it will take two. If you finish early, you're fast! If you run into trouble, you have an extra hour! Here's a hint, I had an outside technician come in to help me with something. Not only was I able to show him why one of his connections wasn't working (with my old guy knowledge), I also told him my quitting time was 15 minutes earlier than my actual quitting time. The result was, he left at the earlier time, and I had time to shutdown, closeup and still get off of work on time! Are old guys smart or what???

Oh there's more! I can't tell you everything right now, because I forgot some of it...

Cutris Finds Cool Glasses

Cutris Finds Cool Glasses
UnAssociated Press
May 19, 2010

Cutris went shopping for glasses today. While we approve of the pair shown, they would look better without the tag still on them.

That said, knowing Cutris, if he starts wearing them, everyone will soon want a pair.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Back Among the Living...

I suffered a nasty bout of food poisoning Sunday night and Monday. I'm still feeling it, though I'm much better. It is very hard on the body.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Central Wilkie Hike

My wife and I took off work for personal business today. After we finished our personal business, we went hiking in the Wilkie Unit of the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge.

The wood ticks were out. This ruined the hike for my wife. I don't mind the little buggers if I can get them off before they dig in.

A fine place to contemplate life.

Something killed a duck here.

A view of the Minnesota River from the woods.

The huge trees have a lot of character.

Graffiti under the bridge. I like this one.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The BP Oil Disaster

I've avoided it long enough. It's time to comment on the BP oil rig spill.
So, what can one say that we don't already know? A gigantic corporation that feeds on our addiction to petroleum products, has neglected its equipment to the point where it malfunctioned, killed people, and created a huge ecological disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

When one thinks about it, how can offshore oil drilling be "safe?" Working at great depths with high pressure and darkness, how can we expect to avoid disasters? When we already know that oil consumption is responsible for much of the human-made degradation of our planet, why do we continue to use oil--instead of using less harmful, renewable energy sources? I don't buy the argument that we can't "switch-over too quickly." I believe the culprit is corporate greed, and government leaders who come from, and/or profit from the corporate sector.

All we need to do is look at our computer, audio and video technology, to see that we have format changes going on rapidly and continuously. We all converted from VHS tapes to DVD's and analog TV to digital and cassette tapes to CD's, but we can't seem to find a way to stop using gas! We have electric cars, solar and wind power, and still we run almost exclusively on fossil fuels. As these commodities run low, we are forced to buy foreign oil and drill in our wetlands and pristine wilderness areas.

I like my car and I like to travel. That said, we need more and better public transit and more environmentally friendly systems for heating, powering engines and producing electricity. Our lives depend on it. Our economy is being drained by the "drug called oil," that we are forced to be addicted to. While the tour guides, fishermen, shrimpers, etc. are suing BP oil, the wildlife is dying and stinking on the oil covered beaches and in the oil soaked water. The human caused disaster has killed them and they don't "get to" sue anyone.

This problem is not over until we stop using oil.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

More Publish America Bull-Crap!

I traded emails with Kristin (last time it was Hannah) from Publish America. I got the exact same (as last time), copy-and-pasted response regarding my book being over-priced. I wanted to put the Publish America responses here, but they were just so long! They were filled with links directed toward the Publish America site that try to legitimize their business.

In all fairness, you can get your book published by Publish America, no matter if it is good or not. They will edit it (and by that I mean add errors), and you can see your book and hold it and it won't cost you anything.

The downside is that they over-price the (softcover) books and only print-on-demand. That means when the order comes in and is paid, they will then print the books. This makes it virtually impossible to sell any beyond your friends and family. Publish America is aware of this, and your friends and family are their target sales--though they pretend to be global. The author pushes their book on friends and family and Publish America keeps 92% of the sales.

My book is currently $19.95 for a softcover. It has gone on sale for as low as $3.99. This is why I have asked them to simply sell it at a reasonable price. That is when the cut-and-paste responses come.

By-the-way, their website wouldn't accept the sale price last time my book was on sale. It said $3.99, but came up as $19.95 on the online order form.

After reading their misinformation and considering the massive quantity of it, I decided not to show it all here after all. Instead, I'll leave you with my last words to them. They had cited several unreliable sources (i.e. from their own website) about how "great" Publish America is.

I ended my correspondence with this...
Since you were sending (hearsay) URL's (linked to Publish America), I've sent you one that shows Publish America has an "F" rating from the Better Business Bureau. Ever heard of that organization?


Monday, May 10, 2010

The "Funny Man" in the SUV

There I was, driving along 94 west, winding past downtown St. Paul. Behind me, about six feet from my rear bumper was an SUV. I was traveling along slightly over the posted 55 MPH speed limit. I also happened to be traveling in the left lane; because I had to use this lane to connect to my interchanges (otherwise I would have moved to the right). When I reached 35E south, I had to slow slightly, to merge left, into traffic.

At this point, the SUV continued in the lane I was previously in, and the driver extended his middle finger as he drove past. I was slightly amused, because I could not find any good reason, that this individual should be upset with me--except that I was apparently "in his way."

When I was in Providence, Rhode Island, I sometimes had people honking behind me at a red light--wanting me to drive into oncoming traffic because they wanted "to go," and my life meant nothing to them. This trait is why the smallest state has the "worst drivers" in most polls on the subject.

What is it that makes people so rude in certain situations? Why do they sometimes think that they are the only ones with the right to be on the road? Why do certain people, in certain situations, consider themselves "special?"

I really don't know why, except that I'm pretty sure that while some of them may remain rude face-to-face, a significant number of them would probably be uncomfortable extending their middle finger and shouting at you if you were standing in front of them. That said, I have worked with "at risk" people in several jobs now, and some people will tell you to "F-off" just for something to do. When two such individuals happen upon each other, whether they are in the relative safety of their SUV or not, bad things can happen. It is best to find amusement in their absurdity. I'm sure if the guy in the SUV hung around long enough to see me laugh at him, he would have gotten even madder. His morning was not off to a good start. Mine, however, was already amusing me!

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Mucking Through Blackdog

Today, my wife and I went hiking in the Black Dog Preserve of the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. I took a 45-minute side trip by myself, through some pretty wet and sinking mud.

The red arrow shows my approximate location. It is where a natural gas line runs through the preserve.

This is some of the terrain I was going through. The photo is deceiving as to how unstable the ground is in places.

If possible, I try to walk where trees or woody plants grow. These areas are less likely to sink when you walk on them.

The large gas pipe runs beneath the water filled trench visible in this photo. Along here, it can be stable in one area, and deep mud and water a few feet away.

I always find it interesting to walk into those places few people are willing (or dumb enough) to go into. Eventually, I had to backtrack and find my way out. Luckily I have a patient wife who waited for me to finish "mucking through" the slop...

Friday, May 07, 2010

Cutris Seen Lunching with Friends

Cutris Seen Lunching with Friends
UnAssociated Press
May 7, 2010

Cutris posed with friends for a photo after their luncheon get-together on Thursday afternoon.

From left to right - Stephen Hawking, Mick Jagger, Bob Ballard, Elizabeth Vargas, Jack Hanna, Cutris, John Malkovich, The Dalai Lama, Barack Obama and Kathy Ireland

Thursday, May 06, 2010

The Council Recognizes the Chair...

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Little Caesar Arrested for Solicitation

Little Caesar Arrested for Solicitation
UnAssociated Press
May 5, 2010

Little Caesar was arrested for soliciting an undercover St. Paul police officer for sex today. Neither Caesar nor his lawyer had any comment about the incident.

Officer Lars Johnson made the arrest while working undercover.

We saw Lars, and we think he looked stunning!

Sunday, May 02, 2010

How the Manhunt Ended

If you were wondering how the manhunt ended, two poor excuses for human beings killed a cop and then one died in a later altercation with police and the other turned himself in as SWAT teams closed in on him.

Bluff Trail Hike

Like last year, my wife and I were able to enjoy a hike in the wildlife refuge on our anniversary. This year we hiked the Bluff Trail, in the Long Meadow Lake Unit.

I came out with over 100 photos. I deleted a lot of them. As always, I save my best for myself--but here are three I'll share.



Saturday, May 01, 2010

Man Hunt

There is a man hunt in my neighborhood for two guys who killed a cop! There is a helicopter flying above us right now. It has been going on all morning.

Cutris Exonerated of All Charges

Cutris Exonerated of All Charges
UnAssociated Press
May 1, 2010

Cutris was exonerated today, of all charges levied against him by Stickman.

"I don't like being accused of things that aren't true," said Cutris. "I just hope that people and stick people everywhere can learn a lesson from this!"

Cutris is shown after receiving the news that all charges against him were dropped for lack of evidence.