Sunday, February 26, 2006

RIP Mr. Furley

It is with a heavy heart that I spread the new regarding the death of TV legend Don Knotts.

Here is a link to the obit.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Separated at Birth

Do you ever have that feeling when you know someone looks like someone else but you just can't place it? That happened to me Wednesday night.

Kristin and I were watching American Idol (yes I watch American Idol and I'm proud of it) and as we were listening to male contestant Elliott Yamin sing Stevie Wonder's "If You Really Love Me" I kept thinking that he looked like someone but I couldn't place it. Keep in mind he was actually quite good. In fact Simon even said he might be the best male vocalist they have ever had. Nonetheless, while the judges-turned-commentators were giving their feedback, Elliott made a face that forced me to scream out, "OH, MY GOD, IT'S MAD DOG VACHON!"

For those who have never heard of Mad Dog Vachon he is an old-school rasslin' star from back in the day. He rassled in the AWA for several years and was one of a colorful cast of characters that included the Da Crusher, Dick the Brusier, Larry the Ax, Kenny the Sodbuster and our former Governor Jesse the Body. Mad Dog was know for biting, kicking, spitting and all manner of jackassery, in and out of the ring.

Here are pictures of both, you decide.

Elliot Yamin

Mad Dog Vachon

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Sports Quiz

Among the four most popular professional American sports leagues (NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA) there are only two days per year when no games are scheduled. Which days are they?

Monday, February 20, 2006

Olympic Observations

Like many Americans, I am an armchair Olympian. Here are a few of my thoughts.

* Bode Miller has gone from being the Bad Boy of American skiing to just plain bad. Drink up, Shriner!

* After watching the pairs ice dancing, or more accurately ice stumbling, my money is on Bruce Jenner and Tai Babalonia.

* How the hell did skeleton get its name?

* I have a hard time feeling bad for the American Women's hockey team. Their sense of entitlement is tiring.

* Ditto for Michelle Kwan.

* Ice dancing costumes are a good thing.

* How do you learn to become a freestyle aerial skier? Those guys are nuts.

* Is it just me or do the bodysuits worn by female speedskaters have a built in camel toe? Its the Winter Olympics version of men's gymnastics uniforms.

* Dick Button is a crabby, crabby man.

Friday, February 17, 2006

One Got Fat

My friends Pam and Rich currently reside in Tanzania where they are teaching at an International School. They have been gone since late July and will likely be frightening the locals with their pasty-white legs and Midwestern accents for at least another year. Incidentally, it was after their going away party that Kristin was involved in the second of two car accidents precipitating the need for brain surgery and leaving her with this. But that is a story for another time.

I got to thinking about them recently and as my mind is want to do it drifted to food. What do Pam, Rich and food have in common, you say? Monkeys. Or more accurately, monkeys on bikes. It was Rich who first introduced me to the film One Got Fat and I haven't been the same since. Here is the story as Rich tells it:

A number of years ago, I stole a 16mm film called One Got Fat out
of the Mounds View High School media center. Along with about 150 other films.
I'm pretty sure they had switched over to more current media. Quickly I realized
that I had no way to watch a 16mm film at home, so I stole a film projector
also. Pam and I threw a party in our attic-space apartment and threaded the film
through the projector. The story that played itself out on our wall is hard to
describe, much less categorize as educational. One Got Fat turns out to be a
bicycle safety film. A bunch of young children dressed as monkeys bike from
their neighborhood cul-de-sac to the park nearby for a picnic lunch. But lo and
behold, the monkey children get picked off one by one as they fail to adhere to
the rules of bicycle safety. One monkey doesn't keep his bike in good repair,
and his brakes go out just as he crosses the path of a giant semi-truck. Another
monkey child rides up on the sidewalk and can't prevent herself from hopping the
curb into the path of a giant steamroller. One monkey child with clear Communist
tendencies tries to give another monkey child a buck on the handlebars. Buck, I
said. For some reason or another they also die a bloody, gruesome death. All the
monkey children die one-by-one until the only goody-goody-two-shoes of the bunch who follows all of the rules arrives safely at the park. Because all his friends
have died, he gets their picnic lunches -- and he is joyfully happy. He eats all
their food; hence, One Got Fat. Pam remembers watching this film when she was
just a little monkey in school. Clearly the moral of the story is: if you step
off the curb you will die.

Although I doubt they brought this film all the way to Africa with them they also didn't leave it with me. Thus it has been years since I've seen it. Thanks to Google, the greatest junk discovery tool since the Radio Shack metal detector, I located a copy here. Plus since it is part of the public domain you can download a copy for free. Of course this has led to a steady search for old educational and propaganda films such Narcotics: Pit of Despair, Are You Polite, Duck and Cover, and Dining Together. I even found a copy of the much heralded Reefer Madness. Suffice it to say I have started a small collections will soon be opening a museum devoted to the viewing of these relics.

Thank God (or AL Gore) for the internet.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Sk8r Grrrrl!

Last Sunday we attended a free ice skating party sponsored by the South St. Paul Chapter of the Polish National Alliance held at the local arena. My sister was there with her daughter Abby, who was skating for the first time, when they caught the eye of a local newspaper photographer. This picture appeared in today's edition of the Sun Current Newspaper. The photographer is Scott Theisen.

What's The Big Deal?

Recently I began carrying my lunch to work in this bag. It used to belong to my daughter but she has since upgraded to a backpack that comes with an attached lunchbag. Although I anticipated a few chuckles I was surprised at just what a big deal people would make of me carrying this to work. Almost everyone has made some comment or another. The women all think it's cute and the men seem threatened. If fact one (male) colleague went so far as to question my masculinity. Clearly he was the one intimidated. What began as a lark has turned into a rather fun social experiment.

So, what do you think?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

What Do I Do With All These Boxes

Recently I have run into a dilemma for which I have yet to find and adequate solution. What to do with all those damn clementine boxes!

Kristin and I make every effort to follow the three R's (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) and thus have found uses for many of the things that would otherwise make their way to the local landfill. I have even been accused of holding onto something in hopes that a "use" for it will one day appear. I think I inherited this habit from my grandmother who is famous for such things as weaving floormats out of old breadbags. Now there is a lost art!

Nonetheless, the last few years has provided me with an abundance of seemingly well-built small wooden boxes formerly inhabited by clementines. It seems like there should be an obvious use for them but I'll be damned if I can find one. The small holes in the bottom pose a problem for storing nuts, bolts, screws or the like. The lack of a lid makes it tough to use them for anything that requires protection and I doubt they would withstand any amount of rain or other outdoor elements.

Any ideas?

Why I Love My Wife

On this Valentine's Day I'd like to list 10 reasons why I love my wife.

10. Kristin is funny!
Whether its the pursed-lips-to-avoid-being-kissed trick, the fake-booger-joke or her appreciation of Spinal Tap and Bizarro, Kristin makes me laugh more than she thinks. I'm particularly grateful that she still plays along with my stupid jokes after all these years.

9. Kristin loves her kids.
Although she originally entertained the thought of parenthood with ambivalence she quickly warmed to the idea about 5 seconds after Emma was born. She is keenly aware of their needs and showers them with affection. She loves them beyond measure and they know it.

8. Kristin is courageous.
Taking her health care into her own hands and traveling halfway across the country to allow a complete stranger to cut her head open takes a bit of courage. I am proud of her for not simply accepting the dismal opinions of local medical professionals and instead taking it upon herself to find the most qualified person possible to diagnose and treat her condition.

7. Kristin is strong.
While she does not feel so lately, her strength is more than just physical. Her spirit over the last year is the quintessential embodiment of the Serenity Prayer.

6. Kristin loves dirt.
Her passion for gardening is generational and she has done wonderful things to make our small corner of the world more green. Although she may not call it such, gardening is an avocation to which she is truly gifted.

5. Kristin is optimistic.
Even in the face of enormous medical bills and the very real possibility that her symptoms may not improve she continued to believe that everything would work out because everything always works out. From the smallest to the largest, Kristin's glass is always at least half full.

4. Kristin is humble.
Unlike the glory-whore that is me, Kristin is perfectly happy to quietly go about her business, always doing the right thing, always thinking of the needs of others, always going beyond the expected and rarely, if ever, seeking reward or accolade. She may call it shyness but I call it grace.

3. Kristin has wild hairs.
Not on her head, although that is certainly a true as well. Kristin quite often gets what she calls "a wild hair" and will embark on a project that more often than not, involves completely removing, replacing, of renovating some part of our house or yard. Like the proverbial snowball rolling downhill the ideas quickly pick up momentum such that I am usually swept up before I can act as the "voice of reason". Whether it's the striped breezeway, the border garden, the new patio or the kitchen makeover, most, if not all of her wild hairs turn out better than I could have imagined.

2. Kristin is beautiful.
Enough said.

1. Kristin loves me too.
And for that I am the luckiest man alive.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

La Rancherita

It’s finally here. At long last there is finally a Mexican Restaurant in South St. Paul. The place is called La Rancherita and it is located at 100 7th Av S, just a few blocks from our house. The location, although ideal, has been the center of a great deal of controversy over the last few years. For nearly 20 years the former hardware store at the intersection of 7th and Marie was home the Angelo’s Pizza, a family-owned pizza place with loyal customers a civic dedication not uncommon in SSP. Unfortunately, the owners of Angelo’s were forced to vacate the premises due to a “rent dispute” and a landlord hell bent on making room for Windy City Pizza, a deep-dish pizza shop owned by his friend. Cronyism at its finest.

However, thanks to a lazy business plan, a bit of ill-will, and a serious miscalculations of the market, the new pizza place closed before it ever got off the ground. Afterall, South St. Paul never has been a deep dish town. In the mean time, Angelo’s re-located to a strip mall, focusing on take-out and delivery with plans to take over the vacant space next door giving them a much larger dining room and an even more loyal customer base.

Once Windy City Pizza shuttered its doors the speculation as to what would replace it began. Yesterday those questions were answered as La Rancherita opened for business. Believing that this town is in dire need of a Mexican Restaurant, particularly given the growing Hispanic community I felt is was my civic duty to give it a try. After sampling several dishes I can say that it is not perfect but it shows promise.

Although the place is clean the decor is sparce. None of the people responsible for preparing the food seemed to speak English but that didn’t prove a problem since the Middle School student working the cash register was both bilingual and eager to help. The menu is fairly simple tacos, tamales, enchiladas, burritos and tortas each available with a variety of traditional meats. Kristin requested chicken enchiladas in red sauce while I had two tacos (one alpastor and one carnitas) and a chicken tamale. The enchiladas were good and the red sauce tasty with an interesting flavor that reminded me of garam masala. The tacos were served with the traditional corn tortillas, onions, lime and cilantro. I preferred the alpastor to the carnitas which wasn’t nearly crispy enough. The side of sliced radishes were a nice touch though. Since I got the meal to go I didn’t realize they forgot the tamale until I got home. When I returned a few minutes later they apologized several times and sent me home with a few extras. I only had one, saving the others for lunch tomorrow but it seemed a bit dry. My guess is that they had been made much earlier and would be better when more fresh.

As I said I think the place has promise. The staff were very friendly if not a bit disorganized. The prices were reasonable and I trust things will improve once they iron out the kinks. One good sign was the number of people who stopped in commenting on how nice it is to finally have a Mexican restaurant in town. They seem like decent people and are deserving of my business.

La Rancherita
100 7th Av S
South St. Paul

The Magic of Technology

Did anyone else think it was cool that the TV people were able to show two seperate skiers on the same image as if they skied at the same time? During the men's downhill tonight they showed the first and second places skiers in the same image so you could see at exactly which point the second place finisher fell behind. It was a very cool image indeed.

As long as I'm on the Olympics, am I the only one who is just a little bit glad to finally be rid of Michelle Kwan. To me her self-absorbed sense of entitlement has grown tiresome.

But then I'm crabby.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Go, Go, Black and Gold!

This year I volunteered to coach my son's mite hockey team.
These are 12 of the cutest kids ever.

Front row: Luke S., Derek, Preston

Second row: James, Zach, Luke C., Liam, Sam

Third row: Me, Lewis, Wyatt, Logan, Brady, Mac

This is Emma's team. I ended up helping coach her team as well.

Front row: Brooke, Allison, Corbyn, Amber

Second row: Elizabeth, Milan, Emma, Megan, Abigail, Karlie

Third row: John, Tessa, Molly Taylor, Athena, Sean

The thing I particularly love about coaching kids at this level is their innocence and their eagerness. They haven't yet developed the egos that are found in high school athletes. My goal as a coach is to have fun. If we learn a little about hockey, so much the better. I plan to coach Emma's soccer team this summer as well.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

I Want It That Way

This is really, really, really funny!

I found it on Mabel's blog.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Go Around

Not long ago I began setting the cruise control at 60mph (which is the posted limit) and settling into the middle lane on my 25-minute commute along I-494 to and from work everyday. I started in response to rising gas prices, believing I could save money by using fuel more efficiently. Not only was I able get 20-40 more miles out of a tank of gas but I also felt a great deal less stress as I no longer felt the need to get around that jerk holding up traffic. I became that jerk! I soon took great delight in the glaring looks and indignant gestures I received from other drivers, disgusted with the notion that I might actually drive the speed limit. Today I saw a bumpersticker that sums up perfectly, my attitude toward these people. It said,

"I'm just driving this way to piss you off!"

I've got get me one of those.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

If it's not true it should be

This just in from The Onion.

President Creates Cabinet-Level Position To Coordinate Scandals
February 1, 2006 Issue 42•05
WASHINGTON, DC—In his State of the Union address to the nation last night, President Bush announced a new cabinet-level position to coordinate all current and future scandals facing his party.
"Tonight, by executive order, I am creating a permanent department with a vital mission: to ensure that the political scandals, underhanded dealings, and outright criminal activities of this administration are handled in a professional and orderly fashion," Bush said.
The centerpiece of Bush's plan is the Department Of Corruption, Bribery, And Incompetence, which will centralize duties now dispersed throughout the entire D.C.-area political establishment.

Read the whole article here.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Please Sign Here

Several years ago, my sister Sharyl and her husband Jason lost their 6 week old daughter, Caylin, to Epidermolysis Bullosa(EB). Since then they have hosted a golf tournament to raise money for organizations searching for a cure for this disease.

Because EB is so rare, most doctors have no knowledge of the disease and many health care facilities are unaware of how to properly treat people with EB. In addition, very few insurance companies pay for the supplies necessary to ensure proper wound care. Currently, a bill is being presented to Congress that would mandate insurance companies to provide coverage on all bandage and wound related products needed by those that suffer from EB. Below is a petition created by the Epidermolysis Bullosa Action Network(EBAN) asking congress to support this bill.

Please consider signing it.

Please Help the EB Children and all EB patients of any age! Sign the Wound Care Petition TODAY!

It is medically necessary for people with many forms of Epidermolysis Bullosa to bandage wounds and protect healthy skin from harm. Most of the time, these expenditures are not covered by insurance of any kind, and the outlay for one household can range from $1-5,000 a month just for wound care supplies! Families are in need of serious financial help now to cover the expense of costly bandages and medical supplies.

Every American should be able to participate in impartial health care coverage, regardless of their disease. The public and our legislators must understand the impact of this disease on EB patients and their families, and the inequity that subsists in today’s health care system.

Petition: Please sign and join us in our effort to invite Congress to support our Wound Care Bill which could mandate insurance companies to provide coverage on all bandage and wound related products needed by those that suffer from Epidermolysis Bullosa. Voice your support now with your signature! Please add your name to the list to help get this legislation passed!

You may access the petition 2 ways:
1. Directly through the Gopetition link at:

2. At our website! At our website there are also instructions on how to sign our petition if you do not have Internet access and/or an email address:

With everyone's help the Wound Care Bill will become a reality.