Bob Owen

Friday, February 28, 2003

After a long day of training at my second job, I headed home and straight to the ice garden near my house. My older son had hockey practice. I was very tired. After I got his skates laced and helmet snapped I left the locker room to go watch the Zamboni do its thing.

I find the process of a Zamboni resurfacing the ice relaxing, seeing the rough ice disappear beneath a cold layer of water. When I play bandy I love those first few moments on the ice after the Zamboni has exited the rink. You can see the water freeze. The puddles disappear. You're skating on glass.

I've always wanted to drive a Zamboni. A good driver can resurface the ice in a way that his last swipe of the ice leads right past the doors and into the garage. The drivers at the ice garden by my house haven't figured this out. When the last bit of rough ice has been tamed, the Zamboni and it's clueless driver are at the opposite end of the rink from the garage.

What's the key to doing it right? After cleaning the perimeter, the driver should make the dissecting path away from the garage door, not toward the garage door. If you've ever watched ice resurfacing you know what I mean.

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

The governor says we can't spend more than we have. Heavens! The sky is certainly falling. Here's a letter to the editor of the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

As a child, I remember public libraries being open on weekday evenings, but bookstores having normal business hours. Today, it is the bookstores that have the extended hours and the libraries that are closed. Maybe we should rethink our priorities.
The writer lives in Edina.

The publicly funded Southdale Library in Edina is open these hours: Monday through Thursday 10-9, Friday 10-5, Saturday 10-5 and Sunday 12-5. This is 63 hours per week.

Two blocks away sits a Barnes & Noble bookstore. It's open for business these hours: Monday through Friday 10 - 9, Saturday 10 - 6 and Sunday 12 - 5 for a whopping 68 hours per week. (Oh, and it has to turn a profit to stay in business.) Barnes & Noble generates revenue for the state and city by way of property and sales taxes.

Where does the letter writer think operating funds for the library come from?

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

I'm enjoying a beer right now. At my advanced age, this could mean three trips to the can tonight. That never happened in college. Of course, one doesn't need to get up to pee if one is passed out.

At least I never wet the bed.

Like my younger son did two nights in a row last week.

Why he did that, I don't know. Washing linen nightly isn't fun. Fortunately, I don't think he's having any "issues." Not that that after school special about the kid who wet his bed and his mom hung the wet sheets out the window to embarrass him didn’t go through my mind once or twice.

If you don't remember that show, the kid was cured of his problem when he fell asleep in a bed in a department store. And he woke up dry. It turns out he was sleeping in a tiny little bed and his bladder was rebelling. Once he told his parents what happened they rushed out and bought him a big boy bed. Problem solved in 30 minutes (including commercials).

I didn’t have to have my son spend the night at Dayton’s. Instead, I made sure he made a final trip to the bathroom before going to bed.

And, in the “two birds with one stone” department, I’ve also taken care of another problem at the same time.

“Will you tuck me in?”

Yes. Good night.

“Will you get me a drink?”

Remember what happened the other night?

“Oh, yeah. I’m not thirsty anyway.”

I thought so. Love you. Good night.

This writer's glass is never even close to half full. Or half empty. It's not even bone dry - it's smashed to pieces all over the floor. A letter to the editor in the Minneapolis Star Tribune

Cutting taxes based on state ranking, pursued to its logical conclusion by all states, would cause a frenzied downward spiral to mediocrity, then failure, then, ultimately, to zero government spending as each state, elevated in turn to a high ranking by other states' tax and spending cuts, would then seek to lower its own ranking by leapfrogging down the scale, and so on until all states are tied for first -- and last -- place.

This may well be the conservatives' goal; if so, I ask only that they not insult me by attempting to advance their agenda through the lifeless, simplistic ranking argument.
Here's another way to look at it: Minnesota could spend less and Mississippi could spend more. It doesn't have to ultimately lead to the cellar.

Sunday, February 23, 2003

Take drugs. Get paid. Or: Take drugs, get naked, attack a cop, try to get his gun, say you were just "asking for help" and then get paid.

The always interesting Smarter Harper's Index has its March edition up now.

NPR had a sad report on the air this morning. It seems that women over age 65 are the least represented segment of people using the Internet. This is the "gray gap" of the "digital divide." Something like only 14 percent of women over 65 use the Internet.

Somehow, the report failed to use the word "disenfranchised." But the reporter did manage to find some old Russian woman (with a thick accent) who said she just wasn't brought up to use something like the Web.

No word on what percentage of this victim group use library cards, snowboards or shotguns.

Maybe someone should start a collection (better yet - a new tax) so that these ladies can learn what the rest of us all know: where to find porn, the secrets of instant wealth and how to add three inches to... Yes, a mind without access to the Internet is a terrible thing to waste.

Friday, February 21, 2003

Do grown ups write this stuff? No wonder they think they can just "imagine peace."

(Star Tribune) President Bush has been having a spot of trouble with Turkey, it seems; Ankara has stalled on inviting the U.S. Fourth Infantry Division to use the country as a staging ground for a possible war with Iraq. Apparently the Turks want more than the $32 billion in aid the United States has offered in an effort to buy the invitation; they're holding out for more. Some experts say having Turkey aboard for the war is critical; others say it would be helpful but is not essential. We have another idea.

A number of governors, economists, Democrats in Congress and others have urged Bush repeatedly to help the states -- which can't run deficits -- with their enormous budget problems, the worst since World War II. Also, Bush has been criticized for not getting promised homeland-defense funding to states and cities. All of this has fallen on deaf ears.

So here's a deal Bush might not be able to refuse: Minnesota has a $4.5 billion budget problem. We haven't checked with Gov. Tim Pawlenty, but we're pretty sure he'd agree that Minnesota will take the Fourth Division off Bush's hands for a mere $5 billion, saving the federal treasury $27 billion. Surely Bush could find some way to distribute that money to America's poorest millionaires.

Some might object that Minnesota is a long way from Iraq, we realize. But there's a simple answer: Canada, sleeping giant to the north. It might wake up.
This explains why these are the same people who think "imagine peace" will give concrete results.

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

My bandy season is over. We lost both games of a double header over the weekend.

My eight-year-old son wishes his hockey season were over.

He’s an ambitious sort. He loves to play hockey. He quickly picked up on the fact that all skaters except one take turns playing. You sit in the box then you play hockey. After a few minutes, you sit in the box again while other players skate.

Except the goalie.

He stays on the ice the entire game. So my son volunteered to be goalie. He likes all the extra gear he gets to wear. Of course, I’m the one who carries it in from the car and puts it on him.

His team’s first two games went okay. The puck spent equal time in each end of the rink. The Bears tended to outscore the opponents. But this weekend was a little different. The Eagles had a few fast skaters. And there was that puck magnet buried in the ice. In the Bears’ net, obviously.

Get out the old sports pages. Find the adverbs. Defeated. Whipped. Crushed. Blanked. Take your pick.

The fun part about being the goalie is being on the ice for the entire game. This works when you’re team keeps the puck in the other end.

The bad part about being the goalie is being on the ice for the entire game. This is what happens when it seems like the other team is using more than one puck and more than five players.

Even his six-year-old brother, who normally cheers loudest for the opposing team, knew to keep his mouth shut. A sharp blow from a goalie’s blocking glove hurts, don’t you know.

But there’s nothing that can’t be made better by a hand full of coins and a trip to the vending machines after the game.

Showing unusual maturity, he now realizes that with a score of a bazillion to one, he got a bazillion times more practice than the other goalie. If you’re going to spend the whole game on the ice, it’s better to be doing something instead of watching from afar.

Tee hee hee.

(Washington Post) The Rev. Al Sharpton's presidential bid is sending shudders through the Democrats' rank and file, who fear that his fiery, racial rhetoric could divide their party and lead to defeat in 2004.

"This is not good for our party. This could take us back to the 1980s when Jesse Jackson's candidacy divided the electorate and led us down the road to defeat," said a Democratic adviser and campaign strategist who did not want to be identified.
They're going to wish Jackson was running.

Sunday, February 16, 2003

My sister started her own blog. This will force me to post more often in order to maintain some semblance of a sibling rivalry.

I know the meaning of her blog address and the title. Maybe she'll share with others?

Sunday, February 09, 2003

Heh, heh, heh. Want to see some pictures of nekkid wimmin? This is the Internet, after all. Here are two (1) (2). Judging by what they're doing in the pictures I'd say most of them have to be blond.

Saturday, February 08, 2003

Friday, February 07, 2003

Can't cut it in a Minnesota school? Why, just go to North Dakota! That's what one Minnesota principal proposes.

(Star Tribune) Richard Lundgren, [Eagle Valley Secondary School principal], refuses to take the chance that she or any struggling student might not graduate because they couldn't pass Minnesota's basic-skills tests. He is offering them an escape: a North Dakota high school diploma.

Some kids can be strong students but terrible testers, he said. Requiring that every student pass the skills tests to graduate is grossly unfair, he believes.

So rather than let his students twist in the wind over whether they passed the tests, he is encouraging them to consider taking a course or two through an independent study center in Fargo, N.D., a move that would allow them to earn a diploma there.
Maybe if Missy gets into Harvard the dean will let her take tests at a local community college.

Such a brisk day.

This morning I got in to my car which was parked in my attached garage. The temperature in the Multi-Function Indicator read 12. That's 12 above zero. As I drove down my street the temperature started dropping like a JDAM over Baghdad.

It bottomed out at -14. A twenty-six degree drop in just a few minutes.

I bundled up pretty good for the walk from the parking ramp to my office. Eddie Bauer down parka, silk long underwear and boots. I seriously wonder about the mental capacity of the guy I saw wearing a thin leather coat, dress shoes and knit gloves. I'm assuming the wind blew his hat off and he couldn't retrieve it 'cause he'd be really nuts to be outside this morning without one on purpose.

Tuesday, February 04, 2003

A long time for uncomfortable, door-facing silence.

(Wired) Long imagined by science-fiction writers but seen by others as hopelessly far-fetched, the space-elevator concept has advanced dramatically in recent years along with leaps forward in the design of carbon nanotubes. Using the lightweight, strong carbon material, it's feasible to talk of building a meter-wide "ribbon" that would start on a mobile ocean platform at the equator, west of Ecuador, and extend 62,000 miles up into space.

Saturday, February 01, 2003

Space Shuttle Columbia has broken up in flight. All on board are lost.

12,500 MPH. 200,000 foot reported altitude. Doesn't Fox news have enough sense to stop reporting that "search and rescue" teams are being activated.

And there are those who say it's Bush's fault. And No doubt disappointed that no homless person was struck by falling debris.