Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year's Eve

I went to the city zoo to check out for myself the Siberian Tiger's enclosure. It was about 19 degrees and the tiger was out pacing around his living area. He seems acclimated to his environment and I feel pretty confident that he's not going to climb out of his place. The lowest fence segment is 15 feet high with in-facing fence extensions at the top. The few other people who braved the elements seemed sure of their safety, too. On my way back to the warm areas of the park, I stopped to visit the two polar bears in their concrete enclosure. I'm less sure of the security of their area. They don't have the in-facing extensions to the top of the walls that the tiger pen has. The bears seem well fed and reasonably content, but they are slightly higher on the food chain than my favorite primate, so I didn't stay long. And it was cold.

I had a nice brisk walk past the golf course and over to the lake and back to where my car was parked, maybe a couple of miles total. I burned some calories walking and more trying to keep my toes from freezing. Tomorrow is expected to dip below zero. January begins.

Google map street view of the McNeeley Conservatory at Como Park. It's a nice tool to see what things looked like sometime last summer. Credit to Google.

Is there a blog theme for January first?

Happy New Year, 2008.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Pie Party

The year is sliding to an end here in the Saintly City. We have had a near record amount of snow fall and the usual lack of sunlight. We could use some fireworks. My photo is the snow loaded evergreen in my neighbor's back yard. It demonstrates the snow depth that we've been "enjoying."

We had the sib's pie party last night with the usual suspects, ten in all. The pies came from Papa Murphy's and Baker's Square. We had a salad and beverages, and then set about opening white elephant presents. We mainly had adults bringing joke and castoff gifts for fun and a chance to be rid of unwanted things. The most popular objects were the battery powered singing and dancing "dolls" including a chicken dancer, and a Vikings attired bulldog. Not so popular was the booble head snowman that I contributed. There was laughing and good natured ribbing. I was able to acquire a "nice" Christmas centerpiece and I plan to use it next year some time.

There was tennis at Wooddale in the morning yesterday, but in the true geezer tradition, I have forgotten who won and what the scores were. I do remember the participants, and thank them for their persistence in continuing to show up for these tennis sessions at their advanced ages. No one got hurt.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Tigers and White Elephants

Sib's Pie Party at Tousan's tomorrow. White elephants expected. no tigers welcomed.

The deadly tiger incident at the San Francisco Zoo has been of interest the last few days. This interest comes naturally, because I occasionally visit the Como Zoo in the Saintly City, which has a few Siberian Tigers of the size of Tatiana, the tiger that killed the guy in San Francisco. Our Siberian Tigers are used to the cold and snow, which is their natural habitat and have a decent size pen in which to romp. Also it is pretty plain that the walls around the enclosure at Como are more than 12 feet 5 inches in height. You don't get the up close and personal view that must have had some appeal in California, but it seems highly unlikely that the St Paul tigers could scale their fences. I'm going to check it out again the next time I feel a need to view wildlife, but it seems safe enough. This is a photo of one of the Siberian tigers in repose, not agitated by taunting or hungry for revenge or (shudder) primate meat. In any case, I'm not as likely to feel completely comfortable in the presence of tigers for a few weeks.

George Miller came to America on the ship Parachute, which I find today, while roaming the internet, was a sailing ship built in 1826, two years before the journey of the old boy to these shores. The Marquis de Lafayette, for whom G.L. was named, was in the U.S. in 1824 for the dedication of George Washington University. Isn't there some story about one of our ancestors being Napoleon's tailor? Does anyone remember? Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo on June 18, 1815 and was exiled and died in St Helena on May 5, 1921. The story may be credible.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

George, Where Were you?

The photo is a well known old family photo from about 1910 or so. It's the four generations of George Miller's: Grossfather, G.L, G.E., and Bob. I think that it was taken at the family homestead at Gaslyn, Wisconsin.

The story of Grossfather's early(?) years follows.
George Miller was born in France (probably the Alsace region) in February, 1823.
He came to America on the ship, Parachute, leaving from Havre, France, and arriving in New York on May 14, 1828. He was five. The ship's passenger list shows a family group that included Jean Miller 35 (farmer), Jacon Miller 40, Marie Elis Miller 18, Marie Roni Miller 11, and George Miller 5.
He married Harriet C. Bowen (or Brown) from New York in Steuben County, Indiana, on March 13, 1844. The marriage was performed by Hannibel Frink J. P. (I think this means Justice of the Peace) [from Steuben County records]. Harriet was born November 30, 1824, in New York and thus was 19 when she married George. They lived in Indiana and perhaps Ohio for a time before they moved to Wisconsin.
They had at least 6 children: Will (William W.), who was born in January, 1845, in Ohio (1910 Crawford county census) or New York (1900 Crawford county census) or Indiana (1870 Crawford county census); George Lafayette (G.L.), who was born March 28, 1848, in Steuben County, Indiana; and Emma J., who was born in Wisconsin about 1865 and who later married Edward Grant Maxwell.
From "The History of Vernon County," published 1884. Chapter 42, "The Town of Kickapoo", "George Miller came in 1853, lived in Readstown a few years, then left his family and returned to Illinois, from whence he came." page 603.
Family legend says that Grossvater deserted his family in Crawford county and that he was gone for a very long time. He returned as a old man and was taken in by his son, G. L. Miller (who had become a prominent citizen) in Prairie du Chien. The story suggests that he may have had another family somewhere else.
His return is recorded. According to the item in the "Crawford County Journal" of September 10, 1888, page 3, column 2, local district attorney, G. L. Miller, was being visited by his father, George Miller, of Missouri. It reported that his father's whereabouts were unknown for 28 years. The Crawford County Journal was published in Soldier's Grove, Wisconsin.

There is more to the story, but this establishes his credentials as a guy not to be emulated. I'm sure that he had a good explanation for his 28 year absence. I just wish that I knew what it was.

There was also some good mixed doubles tennis tonight at Wooddale with the hardcore girls. I thought that jerry and Becky would bury us,because they started so fast, winning the first set 6-1, but we rebounded, winning the next two 6-2, 7-5 and reclaiming the mythical world championship of Narnia. I was not very inspired at first and I had to wear off the Christmas cookies that I ate over the weekend, but after a while it felt like a normal tennis night, not the last match of the year. Except for men's doubles on Saturday.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Boxes and Curls

Another Christmas has passed into history. Herb and I spent much of the day with gzmoohoo and family. We had some nice vittles and some gift exchanging. It was a snowy day, another 3 or 4 inches of white fluffy clogged the streets again. Today the city fathers declared another snow emergency and sent out the plows and the tow trucks. Below you can see what the street outside my house looked like this morning after I did my shoveling. It's all white and clean looking, but it's also a little cooler than I would like it. But this is Minnesota after all.

Another picture of snow heaped on the rail at the back door. This may have looked better in black and white, because they are about the only colors still out there. It is December and the only flowers are inside heated buildings.

It's boxing day in Canada, the day that the decorations are boxed up and returned to the attic. That may happen in Canada, but I'm waiting until January, at least. One year I left the Christmas wreath on the front door in place until spring and birds started a nest in it. I have been better about getting on with the New Year since then.

It's also curling day. The first game of the evening at SPCC went south pretty fast. We lost to a team that ceded us a handicap of 2 points, but we fell behind 9-3 before capitulating. The second game was better. This was the Miller Rink and we were curling in good luck. The team we played has beaten us pretty regularly in the last couple of years, but not tonight. Mr Moohoo made some good shots, and I had a lucky carom or two and we won our third consecutive game in the league. It was a nice way to end the curling year.

A Siberian Tiger escaped from its cage in the San Francisco Zoo yesterday and killed a young man. I have been to the Como Zoo in the last few weeks, where some Siberian tigers reside, and even posted a photo of a tiger on this blog that day. It is hard for me to see how a tiger can escape from the areas that they are enclosed in. I am waiting for more info, but it makes me a little more nervous about my trips to the zoo. I wonder if the tiger wasn't released by somebody as some sort of act of terrorism. It reminds me a little of the plot from "Twelve Monkeys," a Bruce Willis, Brad Pitt movie of a couple of years ago. Life sometimes imitates fiction.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve

The snow event has passed and the city plowed the streets over night. The day was beautiful, all crystal blue sky and crisp, clean air. I spent some of my day walking, some on Summit Avenue, some on Grand. This wooden sculpture was once an elm tree before infected with the dreaded Dutch elm disease. It has existed as a sculpture for several years. In the winter, when it is cold and snowy, the figure gets a shawl for warmth. The sculpture stands almost directly across the street from the governor's mansion. I think I've used the figure on the blog for decoration on sunny, summer days. This is the cold side of being outside all year.

I have been thinking about George Miller lately. The George Miller who was known as Grossfather. He was born in France, he claimed (the Alsace-Lorraine) in 1823 and came to America via Havre in 1828 when he was 5 years old. He came on the ship "Parachute" with Jean Miller, Jacon Miller, and two Marie's - Marie Elis and Marie Roni - who may have been his sisters. I've been wondering if I may be able to track down some more information about the family in whatever French censuses there were in those years. With four names of a family group I might be able to find them, especially if my French were good enough. The internet has a lot more information now than it had when I first discovered these facts (I think Santini found the passenger list that included these French souls.) I'm still intrigued by Grossfather and his story. Not many men desert their families for 28 years and are still taken in by their sons when they reappear in their dotage. He was a crazy man or a cur, but I'd like to know more of his story, now lost to history. I may have to resume my quest on the old boy.

Anyhow, it's Christmas Eve and Santa will be looking for his cookies and milk, so I'd better get cracking. There are things too do and "miles to go before I sleep."

Merry Christmas to all.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Snow Event

The concept of "white Christmas" is overrated. We are getting a snow event the day before Christmas Eve and it's snarling the roads and causing airline delays. There is much gnashing of teeth. I have been out for a walk to Grand Avenue in the blizzard and found it populated with last minute shoppers. I was one myself. Since that adventure I have been inside waiting for the snow fall to stop and the shoveling to begin. Those are my feet waiting on the couch. The shovel is in the garage.

Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 22, 2007


The particulates that clogged the air yesterday fell out of the atmosphere as snowflake nuclei today. It was pretty enough to photograph. This particular branch belongs to a tree in my backyard. In a sense, it is my tree, unless I fail to pay my real estate taxes, in which case it will be clear who really owns the backyard.

Today is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, a full 4 seconds shorter than yesterday and also tomorrow - a good example of nature's symmetry. Thankfully the days start to lengthen, and the lengthening accelerates for a while, until the vernal equinox when the change here in the Saintly City is 3 minutes and 9 seconds each day. On the equinox the length of the day is slightly longer than the length of the night. Wikipedia will explain why. I've gone on long enough in this vein.

There was a gathering of tennis playing oldsters this morning. It was a bit of a test to drive on St Paul streets on the way over there, but only because of the ice on the pavement. The tennis was spirited. Jerry and I had a chance to redeem ourselves from the bad loss last week to our friendly rivals and played well enough to prevail. There are times when no matter what you do, the result is positive, the territory known as "the zone." Jerry and I visited the zone this morning for a while. I think that I'd like to live there. We won 6-1 and separated and each took one of the opponents as partners for the next set. The result was a more balanced 6-4.

After playing we hang around and chat. Today the subject was Jerry's hobby: buying and selling on eBay. He has been doing pretty well this Christmas season by purchasing old ugly sweaters at thrift shops and reselling them on eBay for "ugly sweater parties", which seem to be popular in some parts. He buys for a couple of bucks and sells for 15 to 20 dollars and makes a few dollars on each transaction. He says that he has a pretty good eye for ugly and hasn't had many complaints about the quality of merchandise. He says that he buys women's sweaters because they are more garish and sells them as men's sweaters. The gall of the guy. The entrepreneurial spirit.

The Christmas holiday will be cutting into my tennis addiction. No Monday night tennis for the next two weeks as we try to finish out the year. The club closes for Christmas and New Year's Eves. So it goes.

The Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Pacers last night to improve to 4-21, still the worst record in the NBA. I watched some of the action on the local sports channel, just by chance. It wasn't as ugly as it usually is, but they sure miss their recently traded superstar, Kevin Garnett.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Bad Air Day II

Merry Christmas. It's only slightly premature and I have a photo of one of the decorations on my Christmas tree to decorate the blog. This comes under the heading of "fun with photography."

It was another air alert day for the Saintly City, but the level has abated and the forecast says snow and better air. The principal pollutant is particulate matter. There is only one day of the year with less daylight than today. And that is tomorrow, which is 4 seconds shorter.

My main exercise of the day was a walk to Grand Avenue and a turn around the aisles of one of the fine emporiums of capitalism on the street. The stores are pretty busy with last minute shoppers. I spent a little time in line at Regina's Chocolates on St. Claire. It's a locally owned and operated (since 1926) candy store that seems to be having a very good sales season. It doesn't have a web site. On days that are distant from major candy holidays it is an easy place to get service, but when I left the store today the line stretched to the exit and the prospective customers blocked my way out. They were shopping locally.

There is a lot of Christmas activity in the air, and with the impending snow, the whitish Christmas that we all dream about is very likely to come to pass.

There will be another day of tennis tomorrow.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Bad Air Day

The air is bad again today. "Unhealthy for sensitive individuals" says the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Temperature inversions are rare in the winter, but we have one this week. Harbinger of things to come??

The curling teams were successful last night. The Miller Rink won its second straight game and this time it was against the Scott Rink, a team that had owned us up until last night. 8-4. Gino was the skipper for his first time of the season, so his record as skip is perfect. The game came down to the next to last shot, which curling games often do. We had the hammer, which was comforting, but not needed. Both Emmy and Curt had some good shots and the sweeping was ferocious. The skip's last shot was the shot of the game and gave us the win.

My Christmas preparations are gaining momentum. I sent out Christmas letters and did some shopping today. The stores were busy, but not yet frenzied like it will be in a couple of days. There were sales at some stores with as much as 60% off on some items that looked pretty attractive. I understand that some of the merchants are getting a little desperate, because the sub-prime crisis is causing a certain reluctance to spend in many quarters.

The hardcore girls were back tonight at mixed doubles night. We split sets 7-6, 4-6, and started a third before running out of time. We played pretty hard in the bad air, although we were inside. I wonder why the indoor air is not as polluted as that outside. The ladies are trying to organize an 8.0 women's doubles team, but are short of good 4.0 women players. Since Jerry is a big organizer, he found a contact at the club who knows some players, and he is helping to get the team going.

Today was our first day above freezing in December. The high was 33 degrees. And I repeat, we had a bad air day.

That Putin guy from Moscow and the KGB is Time magazine person of the year. An interesting choice and not too popular in some circles. Mitt Romney apparently disagreed with the choice. He wouldn't have liked it to be Al Gore either. Al has had a pretty good year already.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Tuesday and the air quality is bad again. The atmosphere is trapping the combustion products and forcing us to breathe it if we are out and about. There is plenty of those small particles floating around.

Last night's tennis was the closest set in many a week. It went to a tie-breaker which finished at 12-10. We ran out of time for a second set. There were some controversial calls and a little jawing back in forth between a couple of us, but we got over it as soon as the set was over. These guys are nearly as competitive as I am, but we all, thankfully, are blessed with short memories. We sat and chatted for a while before we left the club. The Vikings game was in progress, so we had things to complain about. In the end the Purple won the game, beating "da Bears" 20-13. It was an ugly game.

I ran into my old Hamline tennis coach pretty randomly today at the dentist. He was only the coach one year, my senior year, but he was a nice guy, and his wife was the real estate agent when I bought this house 32 years ago. She was there today, too, and remarked that she was glad that she hadn't counted on real estate deals from me to keep her career on track. They are retired and living in Edina and Arizona depending on the season.

Today was 8 hours 46 minutes and 25 seconds, just 29 seconds longer than the shortest day, the solstice. I can hold my breath for 29 seconds.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Two Hundred

Christmas is just 9 days away. Herb and I went on a trek on Grand Avenue to find a few items. We were looking for the new LED lights that are purported to use less than 10% of the electricity of conventional bulbs. We scored two strings at Ace Hardware near Dale. They were a little more expensive than other lights, but they were made in China, like the other lights, so the cost wasn't painful. The photo below shows Herb and the tree with the lights strung over its branches. They are bright enough and the colors are good, but the photo doesn't do them much justice. Herb looks okay, however.

It was a nice day for a walk on Grand. There were a lot of people out, most carrying brightly colored bags with Christmas goodies inside. We stopped at Evla Pottery on the way and did some shopping. It's run by the potter owner and his family. He makes some nice vases, bowls, and mugs in his shop in Stillwater. Herb found some stuff to buy there, too. I think that we have left the bone chilling temperatures for a while, and that is a nice thing. There are rumors of a possible temperature above freezing in the next few days.

This is my 200th post. I wish that I had a photo of a lot of posts so that I could have a pictorial pun. Sadly, I am without that resource. So it goes.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

W00t, w00t!

The three straight days of tennis are done. The best result was the USTA mixed doubles match last night. We had a nice match and managed a win, 6-2, 7-6. Our opponents were young, but inconsistent enough so we were able to win enough points for the victory. They seemed a little upset that they had been struck down by a geezer and a grandma, but life is like that sometimes. The 8.0 team as a whole managed to win all three matches and are now 2-2 after four clashes. I went back to Wooddale for some geezer doubles this morning. It was fun, but these old guys were hard to get points from. Tennis Dennis was giving me a hard time about being old, even though he is about 2 years older than me. But, because Bill C was there, TD was only the next to oldest. I reminded TD that at least I was doing my part to lower the average age of the geezer dudes. All this is mainly interesting to me, but it's what I have to say today.

Christmas is 10 days away. I am posting another poinsettia photo in the spirit of the season and to add some color to the day.

The temperature was 3 degrees here this morning. Too cold. Minneapolis was temperatureless at zero. A warming trend is predicted, but December remains a totally frozen month. Not a moment above 32 degrees since November 26.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Cold Como

It was about ten degrees and I was walking around the lake at Como Park. This is what the frozen lake and pavilion look like on a cold December Day. The ice is no longer thin. It will support large humans walking across it. Not this large human however. I don't walk on water, not even when it's frozen. There is not much time left until the solstice arrives and the dark is winning at the moment. Today had 2 minutes and 15 seconds more light than the day of the solstice. Not much.

The tennis last night went pretty late and I didn't get around to blogging. I had a sub for my half of the hardcore girl duet, and we went down in two straight sets to Jerry and Becky. It was fun, but not as much fun as winning. I relearned the lesson that doubles must be played at the net. No matter how good your ground strokes appear to be, you are easily beaten by a team that volleys well at the net. That's what happened last night.

I have a USTA 8.0 mixed doubles match tonight at Wooddale. It's an eight o'clock match so I'm writing here first. I'll report later what happens, especially if we manage a win.

This video was pretty freaky. It's Andre and Roger playing tennis on a court on top of a skyscraper in Dubai.
Tennis Video

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Wednesday Curling

It is still Wednesday. This morning Herb and I chatted over the internet with Kagami Sensei who is still in Ogaki, Japan. This picture was taken in Hokkaido about a year and a half ago, but it's still representative and it's nice to have her picture on the blog. KS is expected to return to the USA in April and May. Then we'll have some fresh photos of her.

There was curling tonight. The geezer rink - the really old guys - lost in the seventh end after being tied at the end of six. It was a game we should have won, but they scored a miracle shot in the fourth end that got them back into the game. Then we lost our edge and lost the lead and the game. The nine o'clock game - the Miller Rink - managed a six end victory. It was a good game, even if the score doesn't show it. We won 9-3. W00t! W00t!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Zoo Story

For a Tuesday in December it was a pretty nice day. I needed my exercise and the required quota of full spectrum photons, so I went to the zoo to see some animals. Going to the zoo in December is decidedly different than going in the summer. There are not many visitors and virtually no children. Plus there are not many animals that are acclimated to the cold, so most of them are inside. Today in the cold I saw two polar bears, a bison, some sort of goat, the tiger you see below, a cougar and the two timber wolves, Denali and Cheyenne. It was also an interesting time because the staff and whatever volunteers that are there are bored and/or lonely and will talk to odd strangers trekking through. I had a nice conversation with the wolf keeper. She was feeding the two wolves their afternoon snack. It looked like raw animal organs, but meat for sure. She said that it was horse meat. The female wolf doesn't like people and shies away from contact (thus the name Cheyenne or Shy Anne?). The male, however, is cooperative and will allow medical exams and even allows blood sample to be drawn. He' seems to be named after the US national park in Alaska of the same name. The wolf worker said that the male weighs about 125 pounds, but they aren't sure what Cheyenne weighs because she won't get close enough for anyone to weigh her. It was a pleasant chat uninterrupted by any other visitors. When the pieces of meat had all been tossed over the fence piecemeal to the canines, she went back to her chores. I thanked her and went to find the gorillas.

In the primate house, I chatted with a zoo volunteer and a zoo keeper. They were not busy and were willing to share some info about the big apes. The zoo has been bringing in quite a bit of money since they instituted the practice of asking for a two dollar donation at the gate. They have collected so much money that they are building new quarters for the polar bears and after that a better place to house the monkeys and apes. They have three mature gorillas and a couple of orangutans who seem to need more sunlight and some video games to keep them active. Apparently they have enrichment activities for the apes on Thursday mornings to try to keep them entertained and healthy. Last week a woman brought a harp to play for them, and they seemed to really like the music. They were jockeying with each other to get closer to the harpist, who was safely on the other side of a barred door. It must have been an odd sight.

The zoo is an interesting place to visit, even in December. I could get used to retirement.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Flooding a Rink

It's December and it's been below freezing this whole month in the Saintly City. In my walk to gather full spectrum photons as part of my quest to ward off Seasonal Affective Disorder, I came across an employee of the City of St Paul engaged in an activity foreign to much of the country. This dude is flooding a skating rink. It's a new rink at Linwood. I haven't seen skaters there yet, but after the ice is well established there will be cheerful youngsters blading around on the surface. There is an art to creating a good skating surface in the great out of doors. There are quite a few people on the Iron Range who can do it, and I think that Mr Moohoo has some familiarity with the skill.

The days continue to shorten. Today here was 8 hours and 51 minutes. The people of Tromso, Norway near the burg of Sjovegan, where Hansine Hansen was born, have a much shorter day. It's north of the Arctic Circle. I was there on the day of the summer solstice in 2000. The sun stopped rising there on October 17th and won't be seen again until the middle of February. No sunsets either. Then in the middle of April the sun refuses to set and stays up until the middle of August. They only have about four months of the year when it is possible to see a sunrise or a sunset. We should send them photos of the beautiful sunsets we see every summer over Lake Michigan. The following link is useful in finding the length of days almost anywhere on earth.
Link to worldclock

There was tennis at Wooddale tonight. Tennis Dennis was on his game and we had some great points before he and Bill won the first set from Bob and me, 6-4. Then Dennis was my partner for the second set and we won a rare bageled set. TD's hip began to hurt him so we had to forego a third set. TD is still mobile enough to play. but he's starting to think that his hip replacement is going to happen soon.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Remember Flowers?

It's a gray Sunday and a short day at that. I'm reposting a lively orange flower with a bee attached to brighten up the post. It was taken this summer when the days were much longer and the sun brighter.

I had a walk around the neighborhood and along Grand Avenue. The shoppers were out and so were the Christmas decorations. The temperature was in the teens, too cold for much melting of the snow, but it was starting to look dirty already. Maybe it's the city air, or maybe the salt that lowers the melting point of snow so that it slushes up at a lower temp. There are a lot of Christmas decorations on houses, mostly lights, but an occasional reindeer or Santa ho-ho-ho-ing on the snowy lawn. We are actually very likely to have a white Christmas this year. I haven't seen many Christmas trees up close, but it is rumored that many more environmentally sensitive LED lights will illuminate Christmas trees this season. They are purported to use about 10% the energy of the older incandescent lights from last year.

I watched the Vikings on TV for a while and they looked to be winners again. Four in a row!

Not much else happened today. There will be some tennis tomorrow and a busy schedule for the week. The USTA 8.0 mixed doubles team league will begin on Friday, so there will be real competition to report. There are only 13 days until the winter solstice and 16 days until Christmas.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Pearl Harbor Day

It was a clear cold day. I had a plumbing problem to deal with, so I didn't get an early start on the pursuit of full spectrum solar radiation. It was probably a good idea to start later in the day. By the time I found this large pile of snow in a parking lot somewhere north of here, the temperature had rallied to 12 degrees. The sky was a pretty blue and the wind calm. My outside exercise didn't last very long, but it was easy to find the light. It is now about six above zero. I guess we are going below zero on the thermometer overnight tonight. I'll probably be inside for most of that time.

The day has shortened to 8 hours and 54 minutes at this latitude and we are 18 days from Christmas.

There was tennis last night. One of the hardcore girls, Barb, was ill so we had a sub. The scores were 6-4, 7-6, so the tennis was still competitive. I had to do a lot of running, but I think that that is one of the goals of this particular pastime. There has been a lot of conversation about USTA tennis rankings, mostly because Jerry and Becky were both promoted to level 4.0. It was expected because they went undefeated and went to the nationals, but it means that they will have to play on a different team in a higher league next year. There was some gnashing of teeth.

Nagasaki became St Paul's sister city on this date in 1956, 15 years after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Japanese Garden at Como came about because of the sister city relationship. It has now been 66 years since Pearl Harbor and our relationship with Japan is so good that my sweet daughter has spent the last 26 months there. Times have changed for the better, at least in some ways.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Curling Night in St Paul

It was a night to curl in the Saintly City. The Serier Rink sans Serier came within a point of victory. It was a competitive game, but the good shots weren't forthcoming when we needed them. There was some chatting with the old guys on the team after the game while we ate dinner in the upsatirs area of the club. Mr Moohoo and I are the youngsters on this team, if you can believe that. Harry admits to playing 56 years in a row of curling, starting in Superior, Wisconsin, in 1951 or 1952. He was explaining how curling has changed over the years. The stone size has standardized to 42 and a half pounds, and now curlers slide when they deliver the stone. They used to just slide the stone from the hack (the starting position) down the ice sheet. Now there is a controversy about the use of the stick. People are allowed to use a long stick - kind of like a shuffle board stick - to deliver the stone. It's a boon to people who have a bad back or balance problems, but the purists think that it compromises the sport. On our team (the Serier Rink) only Serier is a stick user, and he has a bad back. Nobody has complained about the stick in any of our games, so I guess at our club it has been welcomed.

It's about 7 degrees outside tonight and it looks like we may see a below zero reading in the morning. Winter is going to be with us for quite a while.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Snow Day

It snowed all day. We seem to be in the middle of the snow storm path this week. There is more coming, too. I shoveled twice to stay ahead of the buildup and it seems to have worked so far. In the middle of the day after the first shoveling episode, I walked over to Kowalski's for groceries, treats and some exercise. And any full-spectrum light available. We got about four and a half inches of snow. There will be a white Christmas.

No new photos for the day, but I have a photo of Herb at the poinsettia show from yesterday, standing next to a rack full of poinsettias that are arranged to look like a tree.

No tennis until Thursday.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Outside and Inside

Herb took the day off from work. He has comp time to burn. It was a cold day in the Saintly City, in fact, my favorite web site reports a low of 1 degree Fahrenheit above zero. But the sun was out part of the time so it warmed into the 20's. But we have been continuously below freezing for seven days, since November 27. Herb and I took a trip to the big park to walk in the full spectrum light source and to visit the Poinsettia Show. [I never know how to pronounce "poinsettia", but the on-line dictionary says there are two acceptable pronunciations, the favored is to pronounce the "ee - ah" at the end, but just "ah" is ok, too.] We parked by the lake and trudged through the snow to the big glass building with the tropical plants inside. The Conservatory.

Inside the plants were colorful and the room warm. The color for poinsettias comes from the leaves rather than flowers, and some of them are very red. Herb is in the picture, but he has his back to the camera. He is dressed for walking outside on a cold day in Minnesota.

I had Monday night tennis with the geezers at Wooddale. We only managed to finish the first set before our time expired. The tennis was close, which took a lot of time, and also, we had to take an injury timeout so that Tennis Dennis could recover from a swinging volley that hit him so that he had to bend over and wince for a while. He recovered nicely after a time and the tennis went on. 6-4, 4-5 (time up).

The length of the day in St Paul today: 8 hours 59 minutes. The actual sun was out for some of that time.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Snow Shovel

The snow shovel in this photo is not a prop. Herb and I shoveled some snow last night and again today. We had about 5 inches of snow to remove from the walking surfaces. It was recreational, in a sense, because it was the first of the year, but I know that it can get tedious as the winter progresses. I walked for a while and passed the governor's mansion on Summit. I don't think that Tim Pawlenty actually lives there, but it is lighted, including Christmas decorations. The state of Minnesota recognizes the Christmas season and tries to get into the holiday spirit. Then, later on, they raise taxes and cut services.

The city of St Paul declared a snow emergency and will thus start plowing the streets sometime tonight. They always seem a little slow to plow, but sometimes they don't plow at all. That's worse.

The USA won the Davis Cup for this year, beating the Russians. The team match is a best of five individual matches and the USA team won the first three. The final score was 4-1 and the Davis Cup victory was the first for the USA in 12 years.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Herb on a Bridge

The snow came as predicted. There is a theme for today, bridges, I think. I thought about posting some more photos of the 35W bridge crumpled in the water of the Mississippi, but decided that I'd like something newer. After tennis and lunch Herb and I took a hike over to Kowalski's to buy bananas and to check out the first snow of the season. The weather creatures say that we have 4-5 inches on the ground and are likely to get a couple more before it stops falling. We stopped on the bridge on Grand Avenue that spans Ayd Mill Road - the Short Line to old timers - and Herb posed with the Summit Avenue bridge in the background. It's a photo from a bridge of another bridge. The white colored stuff in the picture is the unplowed snow that has been falling since about 9 am. St Paul is notoriously slow in getting the streets plowed, but, as they probably would tell you, they didn't put the snow there, they're just trying to help out.

On the hike to the bridge we stumbled across this robin hunched over and perched in a tree. He should have flown south several weeks ago, but here he is freezing. He may have been confused by the predicted global warming trend of the last few years, or maybe he was just careless. Survival of the fittest is a cruel master.

There was tennis at Wooddale. The geezer pool was there and we had some good tennis again. Jerry told me that he and the hardcore girls have been bumped up to the 4.0 level. They won't be going back to the nationals at mixed level 7.0 again, because their rankings now total 8.0. They must play in a tougher league. I think that it often happens that whoever advances to the nationals at any level is promoted to a higher level so that someone else will get the chance to play at the highest level. It's part of the grand plan.

The solstice approaches. Today's daylight was 9 hours and 2 minutes long. On December 3, we go under 9 hours and stay there until about January 10th.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Cold Rocks

The next to the last Minnesota Rocks has been installed since my last trip to Mounds Park. It had been the object of some vandalism last spring some time, but it's back in place and all cleaned up. The wind chill when I snapped this photo was one below zero, so I was sure to keep the camera warm ahead of time. This rock was sculpted by Javier Del Cueto, a Mexican stone carver. It's called "Wave." I spent about 45 minutes outside, walking up to the the Indian Burial Grounds that dominate the park on St Paul's East Side.

The Davis Cup is going on in Portland, Oregon, as I write. The first match was won by Andy Roddick and James Blake is up two sets to one in the second of two matches today. The doubles are tomorrow.

The theme for tomorrow is "big snow storm." The weather guys are predicting at least six and maybe ten inches of cold whiteness for the day. The shovel is ready.

Today is the last day of November and I won't need to use the term "albatross" any more for a while.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Minnehaha Creek In Early Winter

This may be turning into a hiking blog some of the time, although I will still report tennis activity as it occurs. In the interests of outdoor activity and getting that life fulfilling full spectrum light to my retinas, I decided to visit the oft-visited Minnehaha Falls. Today's temperature ranged between 8 and 18 degrees, so it was a coldish trek. There has been no real snowfall yet, although that is expected to change over the weekend. The cold has performed some feats of decoration on bodies of water, and the falls are quite attractive, festooned with icicles formed as the water's mist goes over the precipice. It's a much slower flow than the summer flow and the falls a much different place.

I decided to follow Minnehaha Creek until it merges with the mighty Mississippi. I hadn't made the hike since sometime back in the sixties, but it seemed like an attractive way to spend an hour or so. The paved sidewalk ends before the creek-river merge, but the path is well worn and I knew I could find my way back. The trip was a lonely one. I saw only one other human along the way, another older guy taking a hike. The photo below is the spot where the creek flows into the river - not as dramatic as the falls, but an interesting place some distance down river from the Ford Bridge and down the hill from the Veteran's Home.

Tonight was another mixed doubles match. The hardcore girls were there and the tennis competitive. Jerry and Becky were a little off their usual game and so Barb and I won, but the tennis was pretty good. I heard some more stories about tha nationals. They started out nervous and lost the first set 6-2, mostly because they were overhitting, trying to overpower the other team. Bur soon they realized that they weren't playing super teams and settled down to win the next set and the tiebreaker and the rest of their matches in the tournament. They did well, the hardcore girl and the guy with an artificial hip.

Only 23 more days to the solstice. There were 9 hours and 5 minutes of day today, from sunrise to sunset.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Cold, Clear, Thin Ice

Yesterday was cold and calm. Today was not so cold, but windy. It felt just as cold as yesterday. Since there has been only flurries thus far this season, the ice has frozen clear, without a layer of snow for insulation. My mid day trek was a search for ice. In Minnesota this time of year it is a quest that is easily fulfilled. Thus the photo with the requisite "Thin Ice" sign for those foolhardy enough to venture onto the hardened HOH.

It was cold enough outside that I sought refuge in the Como Conservatory, and thought that I could get some photos in the flower garden. Two problems cropped up. The camera was so cold that it gathered condensation on the lens and was unusable for quite a while. And the flowers were being traded out from the fall flower show to the poinsettia show which starts December 1, this next Saturday. It was nice and warm in the Fern Room.

It is curling night. The Miller Rink will be at full strength tonight, I think. Wireless has returned from Paris and is expected back on the indoor ice at SPCC. We have a losing streak in progress that needs some inspirational curling to curtail.

It is Wednesday and Herb (UH) and I spent about an hour using iChat technology to talk with Kagami Sensei. She is studying hard for her Japanese language test which is scheduled on December 5. She's learning grammar and other idiosyncrasies, but not getting enough social interaction. She had Thanksgiving with Roberto and other assorted Americans. Miki and Roberto rounded up a turkey and roasted it in the tiny Japanese style oven, plus Roberto made some gravy. KS said that the turkey smelled wonderful, just like home cooked bird.

Only 24 more days until the solstice.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Dark Time

It was 5 degrees this morning and the wind chill was 8 below zero. I think that this is the first negative wind chill for this winter season. Pretty cold.

I walked along the river in the Saintly City for about an hour a little after noon. The temp had risen to 12 degrees and there was no discernible wind. I didn't get any photos of note, so I'm going to publish without one. Instead I'm injecting some data relating to the amount of light we get this time of year. And you wonder why we're so grouchy. We are only about 4150 miles from the north pole.

Today is November 27, 2007. The length of the period of daylight at the latitude of St Paul (45 degrees north) is 9 hours and 9 minutes (9.15 hours.) That is 38.125% of a 24 hour day. The winter solstice is scheduled for Dec 22, 2007. On that day, the shortest of the year, there will be 8 hours 45 min 56 sec or 8.767 hrs of daylight. That is 36.53% of a 24 hour day and 56.13% of the daylight on the day of the summer solstice. The days don't get shorter very fast in the next three weeks, but they do get shorter.
The summer solstice was Jun 22, 2007, and on that day at this lattitude there were 15 hour 37 min 6 sec (15.617 hrs) of possible daylight (65.07% of a 24 hour day)

News of the Day: The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has officially announced that Germany's Tommy Haas was not poisoned during the Davis Cup semi-finals in September. I'm not sure why they are so sure. I think that if he had been poisoned they would have used substances that would be undetectable by current tests.

The Davis Cup final begins Friday in Portland Oregon against Russia. Andy Roddick, James Blake, and twins Bob and Mike Bryan will be competing for USA.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Thin Ice

We are on the cusp of having ice on the lakes 24/7. The weather creatures are prognosticating most of a week wherein the temperature will remain below the freezing point of water. We'll have ice houses on the lakes in a couple of weeks at that rate. My daily walk to get enough full spectrum light on my retinas took me by the lake at La Parc de Comeau again today. It was about 37 degrees in the heat of the afternoon. The migrating waterfowl were in the lake, either swimming or strolling about on the thin ice. All of the rest of the lake was flat and iced over, except for the pool that the fowl were using. I'm not sure that I can identify all the species in the photo, but there are, for sure, geese and Mallard ducks among them. Wildlife on ice. My walk covered at least three miles, maybe more, and the geese were all over the parc, fouling the paths and the grass. They are fowl most foul. Vermin.

There was tennis again at Wooddale. The feat now is to avoid taking home the turkey trophy for winning the fewest number of games. The trophy was brought into the mix a few weeks back by Bill and so far, except for one exceptionally bad day, I've been able to go home without "big bird." My scores tonight were 3-6, 6-4; mediocre in the grand scheme of things, but good enough to stay turkey free. Poetically, Bill has been in possession of his own trophy most of the time.

The turkey leftovers from Thanksgiving are still haunting the fridge. I had some more of the mixture of turkey, stuffing, potatoes, and wild rice again tonight. I made it palatable by adding teriyaki sauce, olives and salsa. Yum. I'm discarding the rest of the leftovers soon, before the threat of ptomaine gets too unmanageable.

Only four more days in November. Then I'll be able to take a rest day from this blogging albatross.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Band Plays On

Sunday, the last day of the Thanksgiving weekend. In addition to continuing the eating season, I went to the hockey game with Gino. It was the Lady Gophers against the North Dakota Fighting "Native American Named" Ladies at Ridder Arena. There has been controversy about the North Dakota University nickname for quite a while and now the difficulty is to be resolved by requiring the school to get the ok to use the tribe name from the tribe itself within two or three years. The Sioux tribe is talking it over. It was a pretty good game with the local lasses winning 5-3 for a weekend sweep. The picture below is the UM pep band working the crowd. The tuba section had their own personalized jerseys and attitude to match.

The temperature reached 46 degrees today and that is apparently warm enough to do some biking. There was a nice blue sky for several hours during the day. The wind was present but Herb said it wasn't too bad. Herb managed to traverse 4 miles on his velocipede while I was spectating at Ridder Arena. Nice job, Herb.

This is an inspirational video from YouTube that I really liked. It's simple emotions touched me, and although most of you may have seen it, I'm furnishing the link. Paul Potts is, or was, a cellphone salesman in England.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Pie Are Squared

It was the evening of the family Thanksgiving pie party. We had nine adults and a dearth of under 25 year-olds. But we had a lot of pie, pizza variety from Papa Murphy and Papa John's (the two papas), and a pair of sugar free dessert pies, compliments of Andy and Tula. The salad that Mark and Peggy brought was very good and varied. There was a sampling of designer beer from Andy and also Gino and BB. We ate well. For the first time in several years we had both Adams in attendance. We talked and laughed and had a good time. This pie party is a long standing tradition and a good way to get together with a lot of the family that we don't always see very often, now that the urge to participate in the MSTRAM bike adventure has gone away.

The tennis playing continued this morning with the geezers at Wooddale, doubles as usual. I tried playing with my Wilson k Six One 95 that I restrung a few weeks back to reduce the tension in the strings from 55 to 50 pounds. I hoped to get some more power from the racket and a little more pop in the serve department. It played pretty well, and I managed to be on the winning side of the two sets we finished, but I'm still not satisfied with its play. The racket is a little too head heavy, and a little too heavy over all. I'm resolved to go back to the WILSON Hyper ProStaff 6.1 racket that I've been playing with lately, and have been for about eight years. Jerry was back from the USTA 7.0 nationals and I had a chance to listen to some of the stories from the matches. It sounded like they had a very good time. I'm looking forward to mixed doubles on Thursday with the hardcore girls to see how the balance may have shifted.

I'm signing up to be on an 8.0 Super Seniors team for the winter session. The team plays on Tuesday nights which fits my schedule nicely. It's a different set of geezers, but they are all 60 plus years old.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Out of the Red Friday

The day after Thanksgiving is the biggest shopping day of the year and the day that brings most businesses to profit for the year, or so the legend goes. I didn't manage to get to a store, but managed to spend some money on a new iBook battery for this computer. It has been losing its ability to hold a charge for quite a while, so the time to help rectify that situation and to jump start the economy coincided today. The Apple Store was happy to oblige my need to spend.

Herb and I talked to Kagami Sensei on the internet this morning. She's having Thanksgiving dinner with Roberto's family tomorrow, and was trying to think of something traditional to bring to the festivities, but the country of Japan is devoid of cranberries and the search for sweet potatoes and marshmallows for a casserole seems to be too daunting. I'm sure that they'll have good food and I'm thankful that she has good friends to spend this holiday with. She's a long way from home. Then she' planning to get back to studying for her Japanese competency test due for December 2.

Back here in River City, with the temp in the 20's and early 30's, Herb and I walked a couple of miles through the neighborhood, and then took in a movie, "Michael Clayton." It's a movie that I like but Herb thought that it was needlessly stress inducing. George Clooney was good as a lawyer-fixer.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Day

This is the turkey that we ate for Thanksgiving dinner. Thank you, Ms. Turkey.

Some members of the dinner assemblage, shortly after dinner and also after a game of Boggle. We had a good meal and a good time, and I learned how it is possible sometimes to get free color TV sets.

There was no tennis and no biking today. It was cold and the snow fell enough to remind us that we still live in the North Star State.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Large Refrigeration Unit

It's curling night and the Miller Rink will be only three strong tonight as one of the team members is traveling. It's the night before Thanksgiving, which in the past meant that the Bonnies took the night off and we curled at 7:00 pm. As it turns out, we''ll be curling at our normal time. We will be competing in what could be considered a very large refrigerator. The club makes use of that fact by storing its beer along the edge of sheet one. The kegs in the photo are full and destined to filter through the members at a later date.

We had real snow flurries today and it felt like winter is ready to make an impact on the citizens. I walked up to the Cook's store on Grand and Victoria to see what sort of skewers or sewing apparatus was available for keeping the stuffing inside a roasting turkey. They had several solutions, but I may go with some heavy twine that I have in-house. Or duct tape. ( :-) The turkey is starting to soften up on its path to being thawed out, but I may have to use the running water trick to finish the job. I am likely to photgraph the bird in its golden glory for tomorrow's blog. By that time it will be food.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Tuesday in November

It was cloudy most of the day and seasonably chilly. I walked around the neighborhood, looking for something pretty to photograph. Pretty things need good light before they get really pretty and the sun stayed mainly behind a formidable bank of clouds. Late in the afternoon - late is about 3:30 pm this month - the sun peeked out for a while and I took this picture of the sky with the roof line of my house in the foreground to ensure contrast.

The sky didn't stay sunny for long. I trekked to Como to get an open area for more sky shots, but the sky reverted to gray. I walked around the lake - 1.6 miles - and looked for pretty things. I, at least, had some exercise on this Tuesday before Thanksgiving.

I wish I would have taken a photo of the "Pie Sale" sign by the Greek Church on Lexington, because the sign was tied down with a rope to keep it from being stolen (I presume), but I was driving by in the Matrix and thought I would get a better photo by the lake. Do you think that someone would actually steal a "Pie Sale" sign? What use would it be to the thief? He'd have to make some pies and have a pie sale. I don't think that thieves often have that sort of entrepreneurial impulse. Or maybe he could drag the sign to a pawn shop and pawn it. I think not. I wish I would have taken that photo. Nope. I took a pass. Now I just have this photo of the sky.

I'm going to roast a turkey on Thursday. I think it'll be fun. I bought it yesterday at Rainbow and it's in my "fridge" thawing out. Maybe tomorrow I'll write a poem about it and give it to the long pretty girl instead of the poem about Albion that she was expecting.

Monday, November 19, 2007

One Seventy Six

It was a dark and dank day in St Paul. The Air Quality Index was 125 "Unhealthy for sensitive groups." meaning that "People with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly and children should avoid prolonged exertion." I guess there was some sort of weather inversion which traps all exhaust and particulate material in the breathing space of the populace. The weather guys wouldn't have approved my tennis plans, but at least I played inside. Curt was back from his winter digs in Arkansas for Thanksgiving and filled in for Jerry who is not yet back from the nationals. We had two hard fought sets 6-7, 6-3. The air inside Wooddale was not a problem, but it smells a little evil outside.

I finally played a whole evening with the racket I bought on eBay and restrung myself. Although supposedly identical, it plays somewhat differently from my usual racket, a little deader in the sweet spot, requiring a purer hit to get the satisfying feel of a shot well struck. I am likely to go back to the other racket for day to day action.

There wasn't much of beauty to be found outside today. There was this brave maple leaf, still hanging on. It's not the last leaf on the tree, but it's getting close to the end. I took the picture and am posting it on this blog.

This is my 176th entry on the Tennis Tousan blog. Who knew that it would go on this long?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Other Continents

Since it was a cold and dark Sunday, and because the people pictured below are on different continents tonight (and not North America), I'm posting this ten year old picture when they were just in a different state. Greetings to both of you, if you're reading this.

A very old quote to show that tennis has been around for a long time. To be sure, it was a different game in 1623, but it was nearer its beginning.

"We are merely the stars' tennis-balls, struck and bandied
Which way please them"
-John Webster (1580-1625) "The Duchess of Malfi" (1623)

John Webster was an English playwright and contemporary of Will Shakespeare.

A little Tennis History: " It was in France that the game as we know it today really came into being. During the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries it became the highly fashionable sport of kings and noblemen and was called ' Jeu de paumme' - the game of the palm. Early French players would begin a game by shouting 'tenez' i.e. 'Play!' and the game soon became known as Royal, or Real Tennis. Real tennis was actually very different to the game that we know today. It was played indoors, in large galleries with jutting roofs and points were won according to how the ball was played off of the gallery walls."

An update from the USTA 7.0 mixed doubles nationals. Jerry and the hardcore Becky won again and finished the season undefeated, 4-0 at the nationals. The rest of the team wasn't as successful, but they all had a nice trip to Nevada. I am looking forward to the next mixed doubles meeting with Jerry and Becky, a week after Thanksgiving, and a opportunity to hear some tales of the tournament. And a little competition.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Saturday tennis

Saturday tennis. We chatted about how we got started in the pursuit of tennis perfection. The other geezers all came to tennis later in life, usually in their thirties, when the other sports, like baseball, basketball and hockey, were not as easy to get organized any more. Tennis only requires two people and tennis equipment. They've all stayed with tennis for a lot of years and it's now a major source of exercise and entertainment. We played two sets and a 10 point tie breaker. Exercise and entertainment.

Jerry and Becky's tournament experience continues. All the match information is updated immediately on the USTA web site. Today the whole team won a match over a team from the Pacific Northwest, 2 matches to one. Jerry and Becky stayed undefeated. They are nearly done with their participation at the nationals, and they'll be home in time for Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Frogs and Bridges

This time of year, a clear sunny day at about 45 degrees is all one can ask for. In the "heat" of the afternoon, I went to Le Parc de Comeau to search out those large birds that have been often lately the subject of blog photos. They also can be the source of a pretty good pate (there is no accent ague(?) in this font). There were gaggles of them taking up space on the golf course and littering the fairways behind them. Apparently, when we thought up golf courses we designed the perfect dining area for Canada geese. I didn't go close enough to photograph them today, but I walked aound about ten of the holes on the course and they've been everywhere. I wonder what the strategy is to rid the course of their curse.

It was the latter part of the afternoon and the wind was calm. The lighting gets pretty interesting this time of day, too, There is a reflecting pool in front of the Conservatory that I've photographed many times before, but the late afternoon lighting made this frog pretty attractive. [I think that Santini has a collection of frogs that has one like this guy. Or is that toads? No matter]. This will be my primary photo of the day.

There is a lot of road and sidewalk work going on at the park this week. They have removed most of Kaufman Road and changed it into a parking area. They have also put in a lot of tarmac bike paths and concrete walkways. I'm not sure what the city fathers have against green areas and semi-solitude, but they have laid down about a million dollars worth of new pathways. Since I pay taxes in this fair city, and because I suspect that the full cost of these "improvements" are tax payer funded, I am ready to accept everyone's gratitude. However. I just received my estimate of next year's property tax bill, and it has gone up 9% for next year, actually a smaller increase than the last few years. I did not get a 9% raise in pay this year. It almost makes me want to vote Republican next time an election occurs.

Another photo from today. I like old bridges. This one is likely much older than the 35W bridge that fell into the Mississippi on August 1. It looks pretty steady. And of course it wouldn't take 497 million dollars to replace. With all the talk of bridge replacements and lack of maintenance of current bridges, I'm less and less confident of our current state government's competence. I think I'll be forced to vote for a Democrat next time election fever breaks out.

News from the Mixed doubles nationals in Las Vegas. Jerry's 7.0 team lost their first two matches, both scores were the same: two matches to one. In each case, the sole victory for the team was gained by Jerry and Becky. Becky is one of the hardcore girls from Thursday night dubbs. Good going, guys. They remain undefeated in 7.0 matches for the year. They have one more match tomorrow, but won't move on to the take-out part of the competition.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Gaggle

It was really a not so bad day today. It was a little chilly to ride a bike or play badminton outside, but I knew that I was scheduled for tennis at Wooddale at 6:30, and that I'd curled two games at the curling club last night. My early day exercise regimen was light at best. As I was driving past the golf course at Como, I saw a large number of large birds walking about on the otherwise unoccupied golf course. I don't know which hole this is, but it's next to Lexington Avenue, across the avenue from Lake Como. The putting green can be seen in the background. This is probably the most geese that I've ever seen at one time. A gaggle of geese, a gargantuan gaggle of ganders, geese and goslings. They also qualify as wildlife. As I walked up to take the picture I was reminded by the condition of the turf why it is that many people think that geese are vermin. They are a very messy species.

The mixed doubles event at Wooddale was somewhat different tonight because Jerry and Becky are in Las Vegas to play in the national tournament for Level 7.0 mixed doubles teams. Their first match is tomorrow, and I'll be able to follow their progress on the USTA web site. They play a round robin of three matches, sort of like World Cup Soccer format, and then the top four teams, one from each round robin, go into a knock out format tournament on Sunday.

Tonight we played without the hardcore girls, but I expected strong competition from the subs - Bob and Jan. It was good tennis and competirive, and also fun. The hardcore girls will be back next week, as will Jerry.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Curling on Wednesday

It was a long night at the curling emporium. Our once promising one game win streaks in the two leagues have ended and we are now suffering two one game losing streaks. That seems to be how the season will go. It's fun to play when you are playing well and less so when not playing so well.

The weather has turned cold and windy, so there hasn't been any biking from this house. The tennis playing season has moved indoors and the eating season begins next week when Thanksgiving arrives.

There seems to be some blogger problems with photo uploads, so this post will have to go unillustrated. I'll try to make up for it tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Outdoor Tennis Ball Smacking

When you run across guys playing tennis outside this late in November, it's always worth recording. These guys were hitting the ball pretty well and seemed to be enjoying the weather and bonus playing day. It was taken November 12 at some Minneapolis public courts. By me. Also, this is a tennis blog and needs some photos of the sport to maintain atmosphere and cred.

There was blogging from KS today. It's always nice to hear of her doings in Ogaki City. There were some nice photos, too, from her salsa party.

Friday the thirteenth came on Tuesday this month. Today. It was an off day from tennis and also from curling. Curling resumes tomorrow and we are riding one game winning streaks on both teams - the "old timers" and the Miller Rink. Our current streaks are longer than both the Vikings and Roger Federer, who lost to Fernando Gonzalez, but is still in the hunt at the season ending tourney, the Masters in Shanghai. I guess nobody beats Fernando Gonzalez eleven straight times.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Flowers and Ducks

It's the day that is observed as Veteran's Day by several branches of the government, and a lot of people had the day off. It was a nice day for November 12. The temperature reached up into the lower 50's, and for this time of year it was very pleasant. I found this grouping of flowers, still blooming and colorful, in Minneapolis near the Rose Garden, which is near Lake Harriet. It's gratifying to know that there are flowers that hang on looking this pretty until it snows and gets really, really cold. I sing their praise, in that way I have.

Wildlife. These ducks have not yet flown south for the winter. I guess they know what they're doing, but it could be risky. They may end up frozen into a lake somewhere in the northern tier of states. They were just hanging around in Lake Harriet on a pleasant day in November.

There was geezer men's tennis tonight at Wooddale. Not much to report except that I was mediocre, but still managed to win a set and lose one, too. The third set was 4-5 and on serve, when we were forced to vacate the court. I was not the only mediocre performer tonight. But it was exercise and it was very nice to be on the courts with the other geezers. There will be more action on Thursday night.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Pretty Things

It was a nice day, especially for November 11. I went out looking for some pretty things to photograph. I came across a large bunch of native grass on the grounds of William Mitchell College of Law on Summit. It reminded me of the environmental interests of my dafter in Japan (MDIJ) and also of some months that I spent in the library at the college in 1979-80, the year that Herb was born. The sun was shining, the camera was with me, ergo, a pretty scene captured in silicon.

Not far from the law school, in fact, just north of it on Victoria, a new theater is being created in a space that used to be a church. It's going to be the home of the Stepping Stone Theater, with the grand opening to occur in December. There is a mosaic sculpture just outside the entrance called "Princess Amaradevi". Another pretty scene.

The Minnesota Vikings lost to Green Bay 34-0 in Wisconsin today.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


There's a web site on the internet that asks people to post photos of the contents of their refrigerators. Since it's a slowish news day and very gray outside, I'm posting here my fridge.

In my Wednesday discussion with the English teacher now employed in the Japanese School System (ETNEITJSS), she recounted a dispute that she was having with the Japanese teacher she sometimes assists and who fancies himself an expert on English, an assertion that is disputed by ETNEITJSS. They were disagreeing about the way to shorten the word "refrigerator" to make it easier to remember and to fit into the lyrics of a song he was making up. He wanted to use "ref" and in fact had put it in the song and used it in the rhyme scheme. ETNEITJSS was firm in her stand that he should use "fridge" as the shorthand term and that he should fix up the song to work with her word. The head teacher, the hardheaded old fart, was the winner, because he is the head teacher. Such is the way of the world. The losers are the kids who are trying to learn American English. How do you like the picture of my "ref?"

There was geezer tennis on Saturday at Woodbury. 4-6, 6-4. The ages of the gang of geezers today: 67, 65, 63, 59. Number of artificial hips: at least 2, unless Jerry had both of his replaced, then 3. I think I'll ask him. There will be another one sometime this winter when Tennis Dennis goes under the knife.

The Herbster is off to Chicago for the weekend, driving Mr Green, his trusty Corolla.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Poetry Time

There has been some poetry showing up in various blogs lately, and none, so far is original. I'm stealing the idea for today. Or at least borrowing it. My poetry selection is not original either.

This is a poem that KS took to class in high school for poetry sharing day. I admit that I led her to the poem, but she was comfortable using it and even found it quite amusing. I wonder if it made any impact on the class. Maybe KS will comment. It always makes me chortle. Its a poem by Richard Brautigan, a hippie poet from San Francisco who died in 1984. He was briefly famous and still has a following according to his Wikipedia article. He wrote this poem in 1968 and it was part of his book of poetry, "The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster."

Albion Breakfast

For Susan

Last night (here) a long pretty girl
asked me to write a poem about Albion,
so she could put it in a black folder
that has albion printed nicely
in white on the cover.

I said yes. She's at the store now
getting something for breakfast.
I'll surprise her with this poem
when she gets back.

*Albion is a quaint name for Great Britain.

Today's photo was taken yesterday and demonstrates that there are burning bushes in St Paul that have not yet surrendered to winter. We had flurries today, but they all melted immediately. The photo was taken near the St. Thomas Seminary at the western end of Summit Avenue.

**Two straight blogs containing the word "chortle."

Thursday, November 8, 2007


There were a few other things memorable about the curling adventure last night. There was a photographic exercise going on, too. It's an ongoing attempt by Wireless to place Domo-Kun, the culture maven, in lots of photos. There is a rumor that she's taking the little cutie to Paris for more pics. I have a photo of the posing of Domo-Kun, on the ice at SPCC, who is being aided by Mr. Moohoo.

There is also tennis news. There is a report that Germany's top player, Tommy Haas, was poisoned before the Davis Cup match with Russia in Moscow. The Russians won the match and moved on to the finals. If the poisoning is true, it is a very shocking incident, and something that no sport wants to be part of its events.

And another news report that I stumbled upon and which I'd like some more expert opinion. The translation from French to English in this piece is odd and resembles the fractured Engrish that sometimes emanates from Japanese translations. The quote follows:

(AFP) | Agence France-Presse, a global news agency had this quote from French tennis player, Marion Bartoli when told that Pierce Brosnan was watching her play:
"'The world's most beautiful man was here, actually taking an interest in me!,' she said. 'And I'm here playing like a spud. I thought it would be a good time to actually play some tennis.'
Brosnan risked being misunderstood if he had made his amusement known publicly, but he is said to have laughed like a drain secretly."

The last part is the perplexing part. What phrase was translated, " laughed like a drain secretly"? How did they get to something so nearly meaningless? I have a theory, but it is perhaps puny. Wireless??

There was tennis, mixed doubles with the hard core girls at Wooddale tonight. It was the last Thursday night before our opponents. Jerry and Becky, are off to the 7.0 mixed doubles national tournament in Las Vegas. We split sets tonight, 4-6, 6-4, and ran out of time before we could get very far into the third. It was a draw, and the hard core girls went home satisfied with the result.

[My theory about "laughed like a drain secretly" is that it means "chortled to himself" in some sort of Frenchy jargon.]

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Curling, Curling

It was curling night and I had to rush home to get in the daily blog and thus stay in the challenge. I curled twice tonight. The first was with the John Serier Rink. We won a tight game 6-5 by scoring two points in the 7th and last end. It boosted Harold's record for the year to 1-8. Harold was the skip tonight. He is a 75 year-old former two-time national curling champion, just slightly past his prime. Below is a shot of sheet number two when I was warming up before the first game. There are two of the 42 pound rocks on the ice.

This is a photo of the other three members of the Miller Rink before the Metro League game at 9 pm. We started about fifteen minutes late because the Bonnie's game went to O.T. We lost the coin toss and had to curl first. We didn't give up a point until the 6th end and by that time we were ahead 8-0. We finished the last end after giving up 4 points and now are 1-1 in the league. We were pretty much in the zone, a fine place to be once in a while.

It's 11:36 and the blog is done.