Bob Owen

Friday, May 31, 2002

The skies are safe! From common sense.

Channel 4000/AP -- Army Lt. Greg Miller was awarded a Purple Heart after he was shot in the jaw in Afghanistan. Doctors wired his jaw shut to let it heal.

They gave the GI a small pair of wire cutters and told him to always keep them with him. They would be used to cut the wires in case he was choking.

The wire cutters were confiscated at a security checkpoint at SFO Thursday because of fears they could have been used as a weapon. Miller was heading home to College Station after visiting his mother in Millbrae.

Airport spokesman Mike McCarron said it was just a misunderstanding. He said Miller could have had a crew member carry the tool for him.

Miller called it a lack of common sense. He said the blades are less than an inch long. He also said security at his local airport told him he could carry the clippers onboard -- and gave him a sticker to prove it.

Deaths make bigger news than injuries. But whether it's an accident or an assault, injuries are a big part of the picture. The following article is about Israeli victims. Check out the pictures that accompany the story.

WorldNetDaily -- Reports of people being injured in suicide bombings are not rare. Since September 2000, 498 Israelis have been killed and 4,021 injured in acts of Palestinian violence. In suicide bombings alone, 208 Israelis have died. On Monday, there were several reports on the suicide bomber who killed an 18-month-old baby girl and her grandmother and left 27 people injured. The reports, however, rarely go into the medical details to explain just what is meant by "injured."

Thursday, May 30, 2002

The Onion: Congress Threatens to Leave D.C. Unless New Capitol is Built.

The leading candidates for a possible congressional relocation are Charlotte and Memphis, both of which have long sought a major organization to raise their national profile. San Francisco civic leaders have also lobbied hard, offering to finance a $4 billion Pac Bell Capitol Building using a combination of private corporate funds (40 percent), a county sales tax (35 percent), and a local cigarette tax (25 percent). Dallas, Seattle, and Toronto have also been mentioned as long shots.

Demonstrating its commitment to "stay in Washington if at all possible," Congress has invited more than a dozen architectural firms to submit proposals for a new D.C. capitol. Among the early favorites is the ambitiously titled "Halls Of Power," a retro-futuristic design by the Kansas City architectural firm of Hellmuth, Obata, and Kassabaum. The Halls Of Power would feature a retractable rotunda for daytime sessions, a Dancing Waters fountain in the front courtyard, and 55 more luxury boxes than the current building.
This would be funny if it didn't hit so close to home.

Other son's baseball game was tonight. The five- and six-year-olds. He was 0 for 3. Again. But he made a play while he was the third baseman. He was happy after the game. He wasn't the worst player out there tonight. We may be in Minnesota but this ain't Lake Wobegon. Some of the children definitely aren't above average. But as long as mine makes an honest attempt (and let's be honest, as long as he's not the absolute worst player) everything's okay.

Baseball last night (it really seems like every night). Older son's team - 21, other team - 9. I'm lucky: he really gets excited with a win yet he's not too upset with a loss.

Wednesday, May 29, 2002

MODESTO, Calif. (AP) - Chandra Levy's family and 1,200 well-wishers honored the slain intern Tuesday with a memorial service recalling her as a bubbly, compassionate young woman eager to explore the world.
Quite a turnout for someone who wouldn't be in the public spotlight (alive or dead) if she hadn't had an affair with her married boss.

NY Times -- Brian Williams, who was officially designated yesterday to be the heir to Tom Brokaw as the NBC News anchor, acknowledges that friends he grew up with in Elmira, N.Y., and Middletown, N.J., found him "a little odd."

He did, after all, decide that he wanted to be a news anchor at a pretty tender age. "At about the age of 6 is the first family memory of me indicating this is what I wanted to do," Mr. Williams, 43, said yesterday. "I was the child who grew up in front of that glow."
Think back to when you were six years old. What was your idea of a news anchor? Here's mine: A celebrity who gets paid to sit in a chair at a desk for a few hours (at most) a day and read out loud. What kid wouldn't want that kind of job?
Few question Mr. William's abilities to handle most of the duties required of an anchor — reading headlines, interviewing people in the news and dealing with breaking news with aplomb. But some critics have questioned whether he has that hard-to-define quality known as gravitas in large part because Mr. Williams, unlike the anchor triumvirate currently ensconced at NBC, ABC and CBS, does not have extensive in-the-field reporting experience.
Nothing against Williams but that's about what I expect from someone who's wanted to be a news anchor since age six. Perhaps critics put way to much stock in what makes a good news anchor anyway.

I had to take a break for a few days.

Saw the Memorial Day special on NBC. The interviews with WWII soldiers were moving. Why were interviews with Japanese soldiers and survivors of Hiroshima part of the program?

"Regents implore Yudof to stay put" is the StarTribune headline today. University of Minnesota President Mark Yudof is a finalist for the University of Texas chancellor position. Implore = "We'll throw lots of money your way." The U gave disgraced basketball coach Clem Haskins $1.5 million to quit. Just think what it will have to pay Yufof to stay.

The last beam standing from the World Trade Center was taken down yesterday. It's been just eight months and two of the world's largest buildings are completely gone. Eight months and it's gone. 220 floors, not including the other nearby buildings that were also destroyed. North Korea has a tall building, the 105 story Ryugyong Hotel. Construction started in 1987 but the hotel still isn't (and most likely never will be) finished. Go axis of evil.

Minnesota is dealing with its own little evil axis that wants to destroy a building. Carl Pohlad, Sid Hartman and Bud Selig want to abandon the HHH Metrodome where the Minnesota Twins play. They want a new stadium. With a roof, without a roof or "roof-ready" depending on what day you're listening. Pohlad is a greedy billionaire who's doing his best to make sure no one wants to give him a dime. Hartman pushed to have the HHH Metrodome built. The winds of ballparks change direction, I guess. Seilg's team, the Milwaukee Brewers, got a new, very expensive stadium. The roof doesn't work right and the team still can't fill the stadium. We can't wait to have the same thing in Minnesota.

Sunday, May 26, 2002

My sister-in-law is taking the boys to see Spiderman today. The boys have been clamoring to see this so they are very happy. I've gotten them dressed in nicer clothes and stuffed a little bit of money in the pockets for a treat at the theater. I gave each boy $75 which should be just enough for a small popcorn and a soda.

After getting dressed, the five-year-old boy ate breakfast. He's a bit of a neatnik, in his own odd way. He spilled milk on the table. That bothers him. So what's the best way to quickly wipe up milk? With your sleeve, of course. Yes, the table is now clean.

Saturday, May 25, 2002

Somebody "fact-checked her ass."

DENVER (AP) - U.S. Olympic Committee president Sandra Baldwin resigned Friday, a day after she admitted lying about her academic credentials.

She had claimed that she graduated from the University of Colorado in 1962 and earned a doctorate from Arizona State in 1967. Baldwin said Thursday that she actually graduated from Arizona State in 1962 after leaving Colorado three years earlier and never completed her dissertation.

Tori Peglar, a reporter for The Coloradan, was doing some background work for a profile when she found that Baldwin was not listed on the school's database nor did the registrar's office have record of her graduating. She also found that Baldwin did not receive a doctorate from Arizona State.

A China Airlines Boeing 747-209B (reg. B-18255) crashed this morning. Details are sketchy. These crashes, accidental or otherwise, fascinate me. It's interesting how much information is on the Internet:

pictures of that plane when it was in regular service
an initial accident report with detailed plane information
a database of Chinese airlines crashes
a database with fleet information for China Airlines

Friday, May 24, 2002

Ah, Friday.

Because it’s the start of a holiday weekend, my office was nearly empty today. Most of the folks took the day off to make a four-day weekend. I got a lot done. I’m all caught up. When I return Tuesday, it won’t be a rough day.

The boys and I stopped at Radio Shack. It’s been a long time since I’ve been there. I forgot how cool that place is. When I was young, I loved buying stuff there. I was no engineer but I had fun working on simple electronic projects.

My older son had a kit to make a remote control for the television. He neglected to read the instructions and damaged a resistor while trying to assemble it. That, of course, was the end of the world as far as he was concerned. It’s not possible, is it, that there are TWO 10 ohm ¼ watt resistors in the world? Oh yes, son, it’s quite possible. Let me introduce you to Radio Shack.

And there, we found what he needed. I showed him how to match the colored stripes to make sure the replacement matched the broken one. I think he picked up my love of Radio Shack. Of course, the wide selection of remote controlled toys didn’t hurt the experience. My younger son… well, I just about had to drag him out of the place. Was I not going buy him a $50 remote controlled car when we only came in for a twenty-cent resistor? Was I insane? To a five-year old – yes.

After Radio Shack, we moseyed over to the Mall of America. I had found some old ride tickets for Camp Snoopy that expire next month and figured it’s better to use them up while it’s still cold outside. The boys went on a few rides. Then we went to the food court for dinner. The place isn’t cheap but I suppose that’s what you get when a million tourists flow through there every day.

After dinner, we went home to assemble the remote control. Lo and behold, it really works.

My local phone provider is in trouble.

Channel 4000 -- Standard & Poor downgraded Qwest's bond rating to junk status on Wednesday, saying that concerns about the economy, competition and management credibility prompted the move.

S& P cited a number of other factors including shareholder lawsuits and a federal investigation into accounting practices that it said could hurt the company's ability to "re-establish management credibility."
Qwest Chief Executive Officer Joseph Nacchio "earned" $27.3 million last year. That's only six times what he got the year before. Qwest stock is at a two-year low.

The Minneapolis field office of the FBI isn't happy with the folks at FBI headquarters.

Pioneer Press -- WASHINGTON — Minneapolis FBI agents investigating terror suspect Zacarias Moussaoui last August were severely hampered by officials at FBI headquarters, who resisted seeking search warrants and admonished agents for seeking help from the CIA, according to a letter from the general counsel for the FBI's Minneapolis field office.

Coleen Rowley also wrote in a Tuesday letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller that evidence gathered in the Moussaoui case, combined with a July 10 FBI warning that al-Qaida operatives might be taking flight training in Arizona, should have prompted stronger suspicion at FBI headquarters that a terror attack was planned, according to officials familiar with Rowley's letter.

"There was a great deal of frustration expressed on the part of the Minneapolis office toward what they viewed as a less than aggressive attitude from headquarters," said one official familiar with the letter. "The bottom line is that headquarters was the problem."

The letter is the clearest sign of dissent within the FBI over whether the bureau mishandled clues to the Sept. 11 attacks last summer, an issue that has mushroomed this month amid increasingly fierce questioning from lawmakers.
Federal agents have been roundly criticized recently for not sharing intelligence information among various agencies. Here's an example where some FBI agents tried to do just that - they sought the CIA's help. Rather than showing the public that their local agents actually can play nicely with others, FBI leadership reproaches the local office. Oh my gosh, you're not supposed to go outside for help.

Often, when something bad happens, people say, "Well, at least we can learn a lesson from this." But it looks like FBI leadership doesn't even want to salvage anything from this intelligence failure.

Thursday, May 23, 2002

Tech Central Station has a piece on HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lanes and why they're not a good idea and why we won't be getting rid of them anytime soon. Part of my daily commute route is mentioned:

But HOV proponents found an even juicier fight in Minnesota.

The rapidly growing Minneapolis/St. Paul area has two primary HOV-restricted arteries, I-394 and I-35W. Only I-35W has it's HOV status directly tied to federal highway funding.

Last year, when Minnesota State Senator Dick Day recommended opening those lanes to all traffic for a short time - merely long enough to conduct a study of their efficacy, HOV advocates took up arms.

Quickly, the Federal Highway Administration's Minnesota division chief, Alan Steger, said he would "not hesitate to suspend money for current Minnesota road projects if the state goes ahead with the test."

Day's bill wasn't HOV lanes down permanently, just to conduct a test to see if they work. But the Federal Highway Administration would have none of it. What if Minnesotans followed their brethren in New Jersey, and enjoyed the temporary freedom a little too much?
I love using the HOV lane. I have a carpooler with me in the mornings and we fly down the highway with the greatest of ease. Am I reducing traffic congestion? Nope. My carpooler would be taking the bus if he wasn't riding with me. His car sits at home no matter how he gets to work.

I'm more than happy to take advantage of the HOV lanes but I'll be one of the first to admit that they're a silly idea.

Wednesday, May 22, 2002

Second ballgame of the season for my older son. He hit three for four.

The mother ship will be calling someone home. Captain Kirk's command chair from the USS Enterprise of Star Trek fame is going up for auction next month. The dealer estimates the chair's value between $100,000 and $150,000.

This is amazing.

MADISON, Wis. (Reuters) - Another massive iceberg has broken off the Ross Ice Shelf, reducing the Antarctic formation to about the size it was in 1911 when explorer Robert Scott's team first mapped it, scientists said on Monday. (picture)

Scientists at the University of Wisconsin said the breakage is part of the normal iceberg formation or "calving" that comes as thick layers of ice gradually slide down from the high Antarctic plateau, and is not related to climate changes or global warming.
The amazing part? That Reuters and the University of Wisconsin were able to report that global warming didn't cause the event.

And what's this? The ice shelf has gone back down to the size it was in 1911. By definition then, the ice shelf had grown sometime after 1911.
The calving at Ross ice shelf follows the collapse in March of the so-called Larsen B ice shelf in the Weddell Sea near Chile, also in Antarctica. That ice shelf was the size of a small European country.

Chris Doake, a glaciologist with the British survey, told Reuters last week that the Larsen B break up was climate-related, unlike what's happening with the Ross shelf. Scientists, however, have not determined exactly why antarctic temperatures have risen over the past half century.
The Jeep, arguably the first SUV, was created just over a half-century ago. Maybe that explains it.

Tuesday, May 21, 2002

The first baseball game of the season for my older son was last night. I could only watch the first inning, as I had to get the other son over to a different field for his team picture.

I didn't leave until I saw my son get up to bat one time. Please, just one hit.

First pitch... a swing and miss.

Here comes the second pitch... foul ball; O and 2 count. It's really okay if he strikes out. It doesn't matter what happens. No one gets a hit every time.

PLEASE get a hit.

The pitch... a swing... the ding of the bat (hey, it's aluminum)... a line drive between first and second bases. He's running... the throw... he's safe.

Later, my wife told me he had one more hit (a double, actually). His team didn't win but he was happy with his effort.

My other son's team is made up of five- and six-year-old boys. While the photographer was setting up for the team picture the boys did their best to make it look like they had just finished a long game. Apparently their uniforms were just too clean. So the boys wrestled and rolled around on the ground as they waited. When the photographer was ready there was only time to tuck in jerseys. Dirty faces and dusty hats would stay that way.

At least my son smiled for the team photo. What more can I ask for?

PLEASE get a hit in your first game tonight.

Monday, May 20, 2002

Letter to the editor of the Minneapolis StarTribune:

Still a deal

On March 23 the Star Tribune ran a chart showing the price of a stamp. In 1885 it was 2 cents. One hundred seventeen years later it will be 37 cents. I would also like to see a chart that shows what the price was for a bottle of pop, a newspaper, a pair of shoes, etc.

I just bought an 8-ounce bag of potato chips for $2.19. For that price I could have used 37-cent stamps to send letters to my grandma in Florida, my parents in Arizona, and friends in New York, Washington and Texas and still had 34 cents left. Plus, they all would have had it delivered to their doorstep in one to three days.

-- Dave Strenglein, Ramsey; letter carrier.
Actually Dave, the cost of a first class stamp right now is 34 cents (it doesn't go to 37 cents until the end of June). So you could've sent six letters and had 15 cents left. Just enough to buy a clue.

Mark Cuban, obnoxious owner of the Dallas Mavericks, is a real cut-up.

Sunday, May 19, 2002

I went boating today. May 19. In Minnesota. I didn't remove the Thinsulate liner in my Gore-Tex jacket. I wore gloves. I had on wool socks. Yet I needed sunscreen on my extra-large forehead. This just doesn't make sense.

Minnesota allows 12-year-olds to drive a boat (under 25 HP) by themselves. This, too, just doesn't make sense.

Saturday, May 18, 2002

Well, here's a warning. Now the president can say, "Don't say I didn't warn you." So, tell me folks, what are you going to do different now that you've been warned?

NY Times WASHINGTON, May 18 -- American intelligence agencies have intercepted a vague yet troubling series of communications among Al Qaeda operatives over the last few months indicating that the terrorist organization is trying to carry out an operation as big as or bigger than the Sept. 11 attacks, according to intelligence and law enforcement officials.

Friday, May 17, 2002

Every other week there's a new "study" telling us something is bad for us. Remember the one where someone thought margarine is worse for you than butter? Maybe it is. Maybe it isn't. I will buy whichever is cheaper.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Hold the cheese!

That's the advice for pizza lovers from a consumer group that says just one slice of a meat-covered pizza stuffed with cheese contains as much fat and calories as a McDonald's Quarter Pounder.

"While most people wouldn't unwrap and eat a second Quarter Pounder or Big Mac, many people reach for a second, third or even a fourth slice of their favorite pizza," the Center for Science in the Public Interest said Friday, issuing a survey of popular pies.
So sue Dominos. Or not. Because next week another study is going to point out the benefits of consuming large amounts of dairy products and grains.

Actually, the worst aspect of this story has been the tiresome TV news coverage of it.

Coming up at ten! Only on channel four. We'll go live to a pizza parlor and tell you why you might want to hold off on that second slice! Back to you, Diana.

Thanks, Jim! I'm waiting with baited breath, because pizza is my favorite food. I wonder what could it be that we'll be warned about?

Duh. We're fat, lazy Americans. What do you think it is? Someone's going to tell us we're... oh yeah, fat, lazy Americans. What were you waiting to hear? Osama has poisoned the mozzarella supply?

We often read about lawsuits. When the outcome includes big dollars for the plaintiffs, it makes the news. More often than not, when the plaintiffs lose we hear nothing. Here's one where with the opposite outcome:

AP -- SINGAPORE - Families who lost relatives in a 1997 plane crash that sparked suspicions of pilot suicide lost their final appeal in a lawsuit against the Singapore-based airline and have been ordered to pay its legal fees.

The Supreme Court, in a ruling released Thursday, also said the families forfeited the dlrs 200,000 compensation per victim originally offered by SilkAir, the regional arm of national flag carrier Singapore Airlines.

Singapore Chief Justice Yong Pung How dismissed the appeal on the grounds that the technical evidence "did not conclusively reveal the cause of the crash," according to court documents.

Media Minded has a good response to Syl Jones latest in the Minneapolis StarTribune. Sometimes I like Jones's writing, other times I hate it. This one I hated. I didn't post anything but should have.

Thursday, May 16, 2002

Minnesota Senator Mark Dayton knows that the Crusader artillery system is just what the military needs. How dare Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld say the Army doesn't need it. The Minneapolis StarTribune has this article today:

[Rumsfeld] invited Sen. Mark Dayton, D-Minn., and other critical legislators to discuss the long-range, quick-firing weapons system over breakfast today at the Pentagon, hours before Rumsfeld is due to take their questions at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

"I want to hear what his reasons are," said Dayton, who has rallied behind the Crusader system that is being designed at a United Defense plant in Fridley and provides jobs for 800 Minnesotans.

Rumsfeld contends that the high-tech howitzer, which would replace the 50-year-old Paladin system, wouldn't be a good fit in the lean, rapidly deployable Army of the future.

But Dayton said it would be "very difficult" for Rumsfeld to sway him.
Here's what Youth Vote has posted for Dayton's biography:
Mark Dayton has had a long career in public office, including one term as Minnesota's State Auditor, Commissioner of Energy and Economic Development. He worked for former Gov. Rudy Perpich and former Sen. Walter Mondale. Prior to entering public office, Dayton was a school teacher and administrator for a Boston social service agency. He was also active in the anti-Vietnam war movement.
The words "Economic Development" jump out. There's nothing about any military background. Wouldn't it save a lot of time, effort and money if someone calculated the profit United Defense could likely realize from building the unwanted Crusader system and just cut a check for the company and its employees? Rumsfeld could then cancel the Crusader program and earmark the remaining money for something someone actually needs? United Defense gets its money, Dayton gets 800 votes and Rumsfeld gets Dayton out of his hair.

No kidding.

Wired -- Cell phone earpiece pads and shields are "ineffective" in reducing the amount of radiation absorbed by the head, according to a recent study by British scientists.

After testing shields, antenna clips, hats and other devices marketed for reducing cell phone emissions, the Department of Trade and Industry in Britain found (PDF) such devices don't work. And the few devices that do work, do so at the expense of good reception.
Here are two other clues that these devices are junk: They're sold in packages with a "As Seen on TV" logo on the package and they're hawked on cheesy television commercials at odd hours.

Wednesday, May 15, 2002

Nick at Night.

A cosmopolitan martini: vodka, cranberry juice, Cointreau and lime juice, shaken, served up.

A Nickelodeon martini: vodka, Capri Sun Surfer Cooler (from a juice bag) and lemon juice, shaken, served up. Optional Gummi Bear garnish.

One is made when you have a stocked bar at home; the other when you have children. Either way, if my bartender wife has one cold and ready when I get home from the kids' baseball practice, life is good.

Every time I've brought my Volkswagen in for service I've watched the service guys hook up their computer to my car. There is a port under the dash. The VW mechanics hook up a blue box that has a single-line LCD display and a small internal printer. I've always wondered what interesting things could be accessed and analyzed through that port. I won't change my own oil but monitoring my car's computer interests me.

I read a PC Magazine article today that tells me how to do it. I can get diagnostic software and a special cable to use with my laptop from a place called Ross-Tech. The software is called VAG-COM. Software and the cable sell for under $200.

When my "check engine" light lights up, the guys at my WV dealership let me drive up and, for no charge, they will quickly tell me if I have an urgent problem or just something that can wait until the next oil change. That, or they tell you to tighten the gas cap. But some dealerships charge for the analysis.

With more and more vehicles available with a LCD display in the dash for navigation, picture the day when you access our car's computer information via the same little monitor. Instead of "error code 403A" or something like that, you'd get a user-friendly message telling you what's wrong and how urgent the problem is.

After lots of terror warnings with no hard facts behind them we now have this:

Channel 4000 -- FBI agents are looking for a white Kenworth semi-trailer out of Mexico that is carrying 96 barrels of sodium cyanide. It was hijacked on May 10 by four armed men along a route in Mexico near the Arizona border, WDIV-TV in Detroit reported. Investigators are concerned about the safety of officers coming into contact with the truck.

Bill Maher is getting censored. (That's what it's called when it happens to outspoken liberals.)

Tuesday, May 14, 2002

I wonder if detectives use this technique to identify people, in addition to fingerprints and DNA tests.

Monday, May 13, 2002

Look how far things have come in the Catholic Church sex scandal. A short time ago something like this would have been unheard of (and unthinkable to most people).

Channel 4000 -- A day after a published report said that St. John's priests who the abbey says are sequestered because of admission of, or accusation about, sexual abuse have been free to travel comes another report that 11 of those sequestered are being questioned in a pair of high profile murder and disappearance cases.
The murder case is from 1974 when two sisters were killed and the disappearance case is from 1989.

Palestinians should read the NY Post:

JERUSALEM - Israel sank a ship off the Gaza Strip that was carrying arms to the Palestinians, The Post has learned.

The ship was ferrying arms from the Hezbollah terrorist organization in Lebanon.

It was sunk by the Israelis just days ago before it could reach the shores of Gaza.

The Palestinians, unaware of the ship's fate, are still looking for it.

Sunday, May 12, 2002

My brother-in-law (Dave) invited me to Twins ballgame today. He also invited my brother (Jim), my dad and my other brother-in-law (Mike).

Jim and Mike couldn’t make it. Jim had to work. Mike went to visit his mom (that was nice of him because today is mothers’ day).

I thought of you, Mike and Jim, while I watched the game. Here’s what you missed: the Twins lost to the Yankees. The Yanks hit five home runs. Too bad for the Twins.

We had good seats at the HHH Metrodome today. Good seats make even a bad game more interesting. Actually, we had a suite. So, really, I had my choice of several seats. When I got tired of sitting in one place I just moved to a different seat. There were several empty seats and I pictured you guys sitting in them. I also used those extra seats to stretch out.

When we first walked in to the suite, trays of nuts, cookies, brownies and chips greeted us. Against the back wall was a refrigerator, a microwave oven, a sink and a warming tray. The tray was loaded with hotdogs, brats and sauerkraut. Bakery fresh buns sat on the counter. Dishes with condiments covered a small table. I thought of you guys as I prepared my first brat. There was a lot of food. I’m sure there was enough left over to feed two adult men, like yourselves, when we left.

Did I mention the ‘fridge? Because when I opened it, I thought of you. There was a lot of soda in it. And beer. Yes, lots of beer. Actually, there was more beer than soda. I think I counted six different varieties of brew. I remembered that you like beer. And there was so much of it that you could have had plenty of it. But working or visiting a mom on mothers’ day is important, too.

You’re probably not big fans of wine coolers, of which there were five flavors in the ‘fridge. I know you don’t drink much wine, either. So I didn’t think of you much when my dad opened a bottle. I bet he enjoyed it every bit as much as you would have enjoyed the beer.

Oh, one more thing: what’s that one special thing that makes beer taste better? I can say it in one word. Free. As in, take all you want and don’t open your wallet. All the refreshments were free. The tickets were free. Heck, even the parking was free. Did I mention that there was a lot of beer in the ‘fridge? When we left after the game, I saw how much beer was left and I thought of you.

It was nice in the suite. We had two TVs to watch instant replays. The restroom was right across the hallway so when we had to go, we weren’t gone long. The floor was carpeted and didn’t have messy spills on it. There were no loud, obnoxious fans sitting behind us.

With each beer I enjoyed I thought of you. I hope you enjoyed your Sunday, too.

Did I mention massages and foot rubs by professional masseuers? Okay, that didn't really happen, but there sure was a lot of free food and beer.

NASA uses eBay and Yahoo to find replacement shuttle parts. The shuttle program still uses Intel 8086 chips for booster rocket testing. I don't think I'm alone when I say I picture government agencies burning up money like that alone could power the rockets. I'd like to see our astronauts and rocket scientists have the best equipment but it's refreshing that NASA doesn't reinvent the wheel every other year. The NY Times reported:

Recently, [Mike Renfroe, director of shuttle logistics planning for the United Space Alliance at the Kennedy Space CenterRenfroe] said, his team swept the Internet to find an obsolete circuit board used in testing the shuttle's master timing unit, which keeps the spaceships' computers in sync. None could be found. A promising lead turned false. Finally, a board was found. It cost $500.

"That's very inexpensive," Renfroe said. "To hire a design engineer for even one week would cost more than that."

Den Beste analysis of what's happening to thirteen Palestinians who were holed up in the Church of the Nativity.

Israel - 1
European leaders - 0.

Saturday, May 11, 2002

What's this world coming to? I had to show my driver license to make a cash deposit at the bank this morning. Not a withdrawal, a deposit.

More proof that PETA might actually be a parody of an animal-rights organization:

WCCO/AP -- An animal rights organization wants Austin High School to stop using the nickname "Packers."

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) says the southern Minnesota school's nickname is offensive and should be replaced.

Austin is the home of Hormel Foods Corp., the maker of Spam luncheon meat, Cure 81 ham and other products. The name "Packers" is short for meatpackers.

PETA recently sent a letter to the principal of Austin High School, saying that being named after slaughterhouse workers is "nothing to be proud of." The group suggests that a better name would be "Pickers," which would promote a healthier, plant-based diet.

School officials don't plan to change the nickname.
PETA would also like people to stop "meeting" for lunch and wants companies to stop referring to investors as "stakeholders" because both words are disrespectful to animals. Sure, the spelling isn't the same but when a cow hears someone utter (oops, sorry) the word "meeting," visions of friends and family getting turned into items for the grocery store meat counter fill its head. And that hurts.

The boys got up early today.

The threat of a super-duper, long-term, hard-core, deep-sleep nap this afternoon certainly didn't discourage them from leaving their nice warm beds this morning. I would’ve stayed in my nice warm bed anyway but a small black dog woke me with a "take me out now or clean up a mess soon" look.

It's cold and ugly outside so the boys will be inside most of the day. That means there's a good chance that it's going to be cold and ugly inside when naptime arrives this afternoon.

Friday, May 10, 2002

BETHLEHEM, West Bank (AP) - Several helmeted Israeli policemen entered the Church of the Nativity on Friday, and emerged a few minutes later escorting 10 foreign activists holed up inside.

The policemen entered the church several hours after the 39-day standoff at the church had largely been resolved, with 39 Palestinian militiamen walking out of the compound. Thirteen of the gunmen were deported to Cyprus and 26 were released into the Gaza Strip.

The 10 activists, who had slipped into the church last week in solidarity with the Palestinians who took refuge there, refused to come out Friday, insisting they be accompanied by a lawyer. Their refusal held up Israel's planned troop withdrawal from Bethlehem.
The Pasletinians leave but then the activists won't. What in the world was their goal? Excitement?

Thursday, May 09, 2002

Miss June will be... a car?!

(WSJ) -- [I]n a move that gives new meaning to the term "autoeroticism," Playboy magazine will replace its June centerfold with a fold-out picture of Bayerische Motoren Werke AG's new Mini car, bumping the real Miss June to another section. BMW paid the equivalent of six ad pages to the Playboy Enterprises Inc. publication.
Sheesh; it won't even be a sports car.

Wednesday, May 08, 2002

Who'd ever thought? Two of the most liberal U.S. Senators (Paul Wellstone and Mark Dayton, both D-MN) are expected to fight Donald Rumsfeld's decision to can the Crusader artillery project. Our military, oft criticized for wasting our money, doesn't feel the Crusader is the best weapon system for current and future applications. This is an $11 billion project.

Wow. Wellstone and Dayton really like to spend your money. Yes, there is much development for the Crusader program going on in Minnesota. But if it's not a good use of money, why force the military to spend it?

I wonder if either of these two realizes the Crusader is a really big gun?

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) - In the wake of a deadly suicide bombing in Israel, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat told Palestinians in a televised address Wednesday that he has ordered security services to prevent "terror attacks against Israeli civilians."
Uh huh.

Missing money. Lots of shredding. Is it Enron/Andersen or is it Canada's central bank?

OTTAWA (Reuters) -- It deals in billions of dollars each day but can Canada's central bank count?

That was the question being asked on Tuesday after a million dollars in C$1,000 bills that the Bank of Canada thought it had lost turned out to be just miscounted.

The bank undertook two years ago to get rid of all of its C$1,000 bills, each now worth about $640 U.S., because they were found to be just too convenient for money launderers and drug traffickers.

But during the shredding process a thousand of the bills went missing, or did they?

Charles Spencer, director of the banking operations department, said all the notes were counted before being handed over to be shredded. It was in the shredding area that an extra 1,000 notes were somehow added to the list, he said.

"The wrong number was simply put on the certificate as to how many notes were destroyed. It was out by exactly 1,000 notes and that made our books have this discrepancy that said we had, on paper, a thousand more notes than we actually had on hand," he said.

After an internal audit and external review, the central bank concluded the bills were indeed shredded by staff but inaccurately documented last June.

"The bank considers the case closed. There was simply no evidence to support any conclusion other than the accounting (discrepancy)," Spencer said.

The Bank of Canada destroys about 300 million physical notes each year as they wear out.
At least the Bank of Canada isn't bankrupt.

Tuesday, May 07, 2002

The suspect in the recent pipe bombings has been arrested in Nevada. He's from Minnesota and was a student at the University of Wisconsin-Stout in Menomonie, Wisconsin.

So what does a Twin Cities TV news crew do for the 10:00 PM news? They report LIVE from outside the guy's dorm. That's exciting. It's dark. No one is outside. And we're treated to a live report. I mean a LIVE! report.

Oooooh. Aaaaaah. Close the curtains, dim the lights. Look for a little T and A on NBC's Nightline tonight. In a stunning display of hard-hitting journalism, the crew from Nightline exposes drunken high schoold kids at spring break. Get ready to receive your journalism awards, guys. Yep, you'll be "exposing" something important tonight.

The Rolling Stones have announced a 2002-2003 world tour.

Mick Jagger turns 60 years old next year.

Proof, that if you eat your vegetables, study hard and get lots of rest you too can be elected to public office. And banging your head against a brick wall probably doesn't hurt the effort either:

(Click2Houston) BALTIMORE -- Nine Baltimore City Council members have joined a Council member's proposal to ban use of the six-letter "N" word, WBAL-TV reporter Barry Simms said.

Councilman Melvin Stukes introduced a resolution prohibiting people from using the word, which he says is derogatory and is used too often. He says the word is "defamatory, offensive and hurtful."
Words under consideration for future, proposed bans include ugly, yucky and gonorrhea.

I'm tired today. Simply out of it. Pooped. Don't even feel like reading the news.

After several necessary trips to the office coffee machine today I have just one observation: use a clean cup.

Anyone who thinks a white ceramic mug with a brown lining isn't disgusting, is, well, disgusting. There are a number of people in this office that have never washed their mugs. Never. And they seem perversely proud of that fact.

Monday, May 06, 2002

Animals have privacy rights. Or inmates are running the asylum. James V. Grimaldi writes in the Washington Post:

Thousands of people have peered in on the National Zoo's PandaCam to see Tian Tian and Mei Xiang cavorting. They have surfed to the zoo Web site's ElephantCam to watch the most intimate moments between Shanti and the pachyderm's newborn calf. And they have tuned into the Naked Mole-Rat Cam to follow the subterranean rodent's tubular meanderings.

But don't ask to see their medical records. You won't get them.

The Smithsonian Institution's National Zoo has taken the position that viewing animal medical records would violate the animal's right to privacy and be an intrusion into the zookeeper-animal relationship.

The notion that animals have a right to privacy is, from a legal standpoint, odd, because courts have long held that they don't.

It's been said before, in one form or another, but I enjoy seeing it again, in Steven Den Beste's USS Clueless this time:

Our greatest weapons in this war are blue-jeans and rock-and-roll. This war will not be won with guns and bombs, because the real battlefield is the minds of Arab youth.

We will rock you!

And the core of your culture will shatter, the new walls of Jericho will fall; not from the blare of trumpets and the beating of drums, but the sound of amplified electric guitars.

Yesterday my older son received his first communion. His class looked exactly like mine did 27 years ago: boys in white shirts with black pants and black ties, girls in white dresses.

Afterwards there was a gathering at my parents' house for lunch. My son received some cards and gifts. So now my younger son is suffering from sibling gift deficit syndrome. It's just not logical, in his eyes, that his brother received presents but he didn't get any. The two boys birthdays are very close together and we've had just one party in the past. So I guess that's why the younger one is a little miffed today.

I feel so secure.

I made a late night trip out to the airport to pick up my sister and brother-in-law last night. I was a few minutes early. I know I can't park in front of the terminal (I'm at the charter terminal, not the main one). But after 9-11 a guy in a Saturn driving slowly in front of the terminal is now worthy of a long, cold stare from airport security.

I've always enjoyed a trip out to the airport. I love looking at the planes parked by the hangars and seeing some big jets landing or taking off. But now, I just don't like the place. I felt especially guilty because I had a fingernail clipper in my pocket. Thankfully, I managed to keep my composure and look calm while driving by the terminal.

The second time around I got another icy glare from security but I see the people I'm picking up. I pull over, pop open the trunk and imagine what security is thinking:

Why are these people in my way? Don't they know there's a war on? They should get out of the way and let me do my job, which is them. Well, they'd be safer at home than here. If only we could just close the airport down completely. We'd be so much safer and my job would be so much easier. Oops, ha ha, if the airport closed I wouldn't have a job.

Keep moving folks. Keep moving.

Saturday, May 04, 2002

Only two words are needed to describe what it was like being on a lake today: It sucked.

I spent time on two lakes today. As I arrived at each lake the temperature was almost 60 degrees and the sun was peeking out behind clouds. As I backed the trailer into the lake the sun ducked behind the clouds like a Taliban hiding in a cave.

At the same time the wind picked up and I'm certain the temperature dropped five or six degrees. And I saw something I don't usually see on small inland lakes: whitecaps. Someone was watching over me but he wasn't very happy. As I tried to exit the lake the wind picked up even more, blowing the boat into the dock as if it were trying to push me off the lake. I can take a hint. I have no desire to go boating again until July.

UPDATE: Now that I've been home a while, napped and showered, I remember another thing about today: When it's cloudy, windy, wet and cold, getting sunburned is the last thing on my mind. And now it's what's on my head.

I have less hair than my ten day old nephew. I should know better. But mother nature fooled me.

Friday, May 03, 2002

One reason I don't miss college (students). From the Daily Cardinal, a University of Wisconsin student newspaper.

Facing life after college -- Graduation begs the question 'What's next?'

No one ever told me it would be this hard. After high school graduation, most of us have somewhere to go – to college. But after college, the path is unpaved. After college, life is supposed to start. But where and doing what?

You’ve had four or five years to work on this. I went to UW–Madison, too, and I read and heard plenty as an undergraduate about what would happen when I left the UW nest.
As many of us confront graduation in two weeks, these questions that have been pushed away for so long stand immovable in our faces. In two weeks, we must do something. We no longer have the next semester to worry about – we have life to worry about.

Some people, those nonprocrastinators everyone hates who always finish papers a week ahead of time, have jobs already. They accepted jobs last September after spending summers in internships preparing for "the real world."
Don’t we all just abhor those folks who have their acts together?
And then there's the rest of us – the majority of the college population. We've spent our college careers having fun, working summer jobs in the sun and generally postponing life. And now life is here, and I personally just wish I could stay in college – well, without the classes, but still in college.
Didn’t you go to college to learn something and get a degree? (I did.) If it was all about fun and low-paying summer jobs in the sun, you should have tried a lifeguard job after high school. Then, after four years, you could still be a lifeguard and not be facing any nerve-wracking life changes.
But I don't have that option any more. Yesterday I accepted a job. It's the corporate job many promise they'll never take. But it will be OK. It's just the first tentative step into "the real world."
Oh dear, a corporate job. You poor thing. Please tell me they didn't have the audacity to offer benefits such as insurance, company matched 401k and paid vacation.
I've changed my mind so many times over the past four years in college, and I know it'll never be made for good. I first went away to college as a music major – thinking I'd play the clarinet professionally for the rest of my life. After two years, when I embraced the fact that I'd much rather listen to the Goo Goo Dolls and play the guitar than make clarinet reeds and play Beethoven excerpts all day, I left music school.
You’d rather listen to someone else’s music instead of make your own. I sense that you’re somewhat of a follower and not a leader. I can see where an “unpaved path” might be so scary for you after all.
Transferring back home to UW-Madison was the best decision I've ever made. I chose to be an economics major, honestly, because I knew it would allow me to graduate on time. But over time, I've learned that I think like an economist, and every once in a while, I actually enjoy it.
Nice to see you put so much thought into choosing your major. Too bad you didn’t hear about the “cleaning outhouses with a toothbrush program” because I hear you can finish that in only three years.
I think most students actually enjoy college. No matter how much we complain, things are really pretty good. Because we have to choose a major, most people choose one that's relatively suited to them. And though we may try to convince ourselves that UW-Madison is the worst college ever because of its advising problems and tuition increases, it isn't much different from any other school. In fact, most of us would admit that we think it's better than most other universities. Why else would we be here?
Well, in your case it appears you chose Madison because you were “transferring back home.”
Madison has helped me, and everyone I know here, grow into adults. Though most still don't know what they want to do "when they grow up," I don't think we should. It's too boring that way. Life is exciting because of the possibilities, the opportunities and the uncertainty of it all.
So you’ve grown into an adult but you still don’t know what to do. Live life for today, I say. Why worry about tomorrow. Now that’s exciting. I bet an unemployed homeless guy can tell you it’s simply a blast wondering where that next meal comes from.
So after all of the work of college, and all of the anxiety of graduating, life is pretty good. We'll all miss college – these are the best years of our lives. But we'll move on and succeed in our own way and do what we can to be happy.
If you think college is the best years of your life, why leave? Become a professor. Oops, can’t do that in just four years. Too bad your life goes downhill from graduation. Personally, my life gets better each year. I got married, have wonderful children, own my own home and earn more money each year. All are things I wanted. Sure, I’m working for a dreaded corporation that offers me security and great benefits for a job I really enjoy but somehow I still manage to get out of bed each morning to face each day of it (when I’m not using up some of my five weeks of paid vacation).
(Kate B-P, the opinion editor of The Daily Cardinal, is graduating in two weeks with a degree in economics. She would like to thank her family and friends for their support and everyone at the Cardinal for an amazing senior year.)
Good luck, Kate. Hope your family and friends thought it was all worth it.

I'm dogsitting this weekend for my sister. In addition to the twelve-pound dog, I have a twelve-pound puppy. Of those those twelve puppy pounds, at least seven must consist of all the amphetamines my sister apparently feeds it. Last night was WWF Smackdown as the two canines put on an intense wresting match.

Go, Dog. Go.

Play, dogs. play.

One dog is black. One dog is gold.

Hyper dog. Wild dog.

Go, Dogs. Go.

Gold dog on top, black dog on bottom.

Black dog on top, gold dog on bottom.

Dogs chasing.

It's night. Sleep, dogs. Sleep.

Not for long.

It's 3:00 AM. Time to play.

Play, dogs. Play.

One dog barks. So must the other.

Go, dogs. Go.

The Minneapolis StarTribune reports: "Human Rights Watch says Israeli troops may have committed war crimes."

The Strib includes this information, which by now has been largely discredited:

Some Palestinian officials have said that hundreds of Palestinians were killed during the Israeli invasion of the camp -- which Israel denies.
But the newspaper also included this good quote:
Said Lt. Col. Olivier Rafowicz, an Israeli military spokesman: "It bears asking when a country is fighting a war against terror how is it that those who are engaged in fighting terrorists come under criticism, while the perpetrators of the terror are not subject to scrutiny."
Instapundit has this answer:
[D]on't you understand? Only Jews and Americans can commit war crimes nowadays. For everyone else, such acts are merely signs of understandable frustration.

Life imitates...The Simpsons?

Recently, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak tried, unsuccessfully, to terminate the employment contract of Minneapolis police chief Robert Olson. Now, Rybak has teamed up with Chief Olson to find the tastiest doughnuts in Minneapolis.

The two men will be at the Mel-O-Glaze Bakery & Donut Shop this morning.

Thursday, May 02, 2002

Minnesota legislators can't stand Governor Jesse Ventura. And this is going to keep Ventura in office for another term.

StarTribune -- A vetoproof majority of the House voted Wednesday to require broad new financial disclosure from Gov. Jesse Ventura and other state constitutional officers. But the legislators sidestepped an effort to apply the same rules to themselves.

Under the bill, sponsored by Rep. Matt Entenza, DFL-St. Paul, members of the State Board of Investment -- the governor, attorney general, secretary of state, auditor and treasurer -- would have to disclose all compensation they receive from private sources.
So disclosure is good enough for a governor but it's not necessary for legislators? This only works to Ventura's advantage.
Entenza described Wednesday's 94-30 vote as "a strong statement that people are tired of conflicts of interest. It's a great first step to improve our disclosure laws. We're not saying the governor can't work outside. We're following the principle of let the voters be aware."
What conflicts of interest? Appearing on the Letterman show must be a conflict because... Hold on, I'm thinking... Someone help me.

Picture this: Letterman's people call Matt Entenza and ask him to be on the show. Does Entenza say, "No, thank you, I must stay home and represent my people" or does he ask if the plane ticket will be first class or coach.

Years ago Governor Rudy Perpich disappeared for a few days and folks thought he was a little goofy. Ventura disappeared for a weekend to film a cameo part in a movie and the politicians were in an uproar. He abandoned us! The state was left without any leadership! He's making extra money! He's having fun! These are bad things! For those of you not familiar with Minnesota politics all you have to know is we have a legislature whose idea of legalizing fireworks means you can have sparklers and snakes but not firecrackers.

Wednesday, May 01, 2002

The Minnesota National Guard is being yanked out of the MSP airport. Does this mean that the threat level is changing from yellow to blue? What, really, has changed so that we no longer need the National Guard at the airport? Or did we even need the guard in the first place? (Answer: No.) I guess that's what the "appearance" of security gets you: armed troops until the cost gets prohibitive or the troops are worn out.

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The Minnesota National Guard will end its security duty at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport next week.

Armed guards will no longer be deployed to the airport after May 10, Lt. Col. Denny Shields, said on Wednesday.

Guard members already have been pulled out of the Duluth and Rochester airports. And soldiers are stationed at only three checkpoints at the Twin Cities airport, Shields said.

The National Guard was deployed to airports by President Bush shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Shields said Minnesota Guard members were at the airport merely to assist security officials.

Apparently, brains and common sense are not requirements to be a vice-principal at Rancho Bernardo High School in suburban San Diego.

PARIS (AP) - Up to a million people demonstrated peacefully throughout France on Wednesday against extreme-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, by far the largest turnout yet against the ultra-nationalist politician since he qualified for Sunday's presidential runoff.

One demonstrator, 20-year-old Abdoul Fofana, said, "If Le Pen wins there will be a world war in France." Fofana, who came to France from Ivory Coast 10 years ago, was worried about Le Pen's fiercely anti-immigrant stance.
A world war in France? Does the whole world even care about France?

The New York Post is reporting on a New York Times boycott:

Three prominent Jewish leaders are calling for a boycott of the New York Times over what they feel is biased coverage against Israel in the current Middle East crisis.

"I told my congregation at services on Friday night and again on Saturday morning that I am no longer buying the Times, and I've urged them to do the same," said Rabbi Avi Weiss at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale in the Bronx and the head of the Coalition for Jewish Concerns. Among his objections was the Times failure to cover a massive pro-Israel rally that drew 50,000 demonstrators on April 21. (The story ran on page 4 The Post on April 22).

Great moments in college life:

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) - Members of a Wake Forest University fraternity were charged with animal cruelty and abandonment after a drunk, dehydrated and sunburned pig was found unconscious in a park.
Wake Forest spokesman Kevin Cox said the university's dean of students is investigating and could impose fines or suspensions against the fraternity.
All their names should have been included in the story. They're "adults," aren't they?

By the way, Anna Kournikova isn't in Penthouse.