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.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Election Day 2007

The first Tuesday in November is the traditional time to vote in this country. I heard some explanation today about why November and why Tuesday were selected for the day to vote. Apparently the choice was made in the 1840's when most of the people in the country were engaged in agriculture. There could be no voting during times when the agrarian economy required labor. Thus November. Tuesday was chosen because it was far enough from the Sabbath, when good Christian farmers couldn't travel to town to do anything including to vote. Also Tuesday was good because then everyone had enough time after Sunday to travel to the polling place by horse and buggy. No one has seen fit to change the standard election day since then, so voter turnout is always low compared to civilized countries. This may explain our current political leadership.

This is my polling place, Linwood Community Center. I walked there this afternoon in about five minutes.

This is the door to the building with the sign indicating that I had arrived at the right location.

The voting area, a gymnasium, was devoid of other active voters when I arrived. There were five or six poll workers to make sure that my franchise was not compromised.

There was a race for city council, Ward 2, for which a single vote was expected, and the school board race in which I could have voted for up to four aspirants. I voted for three, all minorities in one way or another. I guess, in the larger sense,we all belong to one minority or another. I, for instance, belong to the geezer minority.

I expect to report results when they become available, unless I forget, or it seems just not important enough.

Monday, November 5, 2007


My email provider contained a brief message from the Kagami Sensei this morning. She sent it using her cell phone, a common practice in the Land of the Rising Sun. I knew it was from her cell phone because of the subject line, "don't reply to this address!". This is a necessary warning because her cell phone input queue will only receive about 30 characters of text before it overflows and causes great consternation. (I have, in the past, negligently replied to a cell phone message and caused consternation and a possibly higher cell phone bill for KS.) The short message, "i have another request: picture of me skating if u have one. ASAP!", also was evidence that she was on her cell and didn't want a photo file arriving on her underpowered phone. I was able to round up six photos from the 7 or so years that she figure skated and participated in the Roseville Ice Show, "Everything is Coming Up Roses". I scanned them in and mailed them off to her yahoo email site and then decided to include one of them on this blog. This is from April of 1998 and shows her doing a spin while weearing her costume for that year. You may notice in the background, her "baby cousin" doing a similar manuver.

There were snow flurries today as I ventured out to the Parc de Comeau to get some walking around time. The wind was fierce and the omens seem to point to an old fashioned Minnesota winter.

There was geezer tennis tonight at Wooddale. We had a sub for one of the regulars and it made for an interesting and strategic match. I had Tennis Dennis as my partner for both sets and we won both by very skimpy margins, 7-6, 6-4. We had to rescue two set points against us in the first set and the tiebreaker was nip and tuck. (I think we were nip!) There was much good natured taunting and guffawing, and at the end of the evening the turkey trophy for lowest score went home with someone else - Bill, I think.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Central Standard Time Arrives

The first day of CST - Central Standard Time. I awoke early to chat with Kagami Sensei from Ogaki City in Japan. The normal 8 am time here moved back to 7 am, so I pretended that the clock hadn't changed until after the chatting concluded. She's been having some trouble with one of the Japanese teachers she's trying to help. He makes up lessons for the English classes and tends to use wrong English expressions without checking for authenticity with KS. He made up a song in English and used the word "clothes", but pronounced it like it had two syllables "clothe - es", and then taught it to several classes. KS objected, but he wouldn't change it because it changed the rhythm of the song. Americans are not the only nationality with obstinate old men.

In any case KS is still doing well.

The photo is a lovely oak tree on Summit Avenue that still owns its leaves.

I took an afternoon walk in the late fall sun with Herb. The evidence of the just passed Halloween holiday is still around. There are lots of sunken cheeked jack o'lanterns, many that have been gnawed by the herds of squirrels who are getting ready for winter.

I'll be playing tennis tomorrow and voting on Tuesday.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Bright Saturday

It's a bright enough Saturday and the temperature is hovering around 50 degrees. After playing some tennis at Wooddale this morning and eating some lunch, Herb and I had a stroll around the neighborhood. The tennis, I'd just as soon forget, an off day, and get on with the blog.

The school board election is next Tuesday, so I won't have many more chances to use campaign signs as a relevant subject. This sign is an ad for the only current minority member of the St Paul school board. Kazoua Kong-Thao came to the USA as a refugee child from Laos and is a member of the St Paul Hmong community. She was elected in 2003 and is running for reelection this year. She is the Vice-chair of the school board and a strong representative of the minority community in St Paul which makes up 70% of the student bodies. I am likely to vote Tuesday and likely will vote for her, too. We are electing four members this year.

It's November and soon there will be no more flowers growing in the outdoors. These black-eyed susans are still going strong and may be the last flowers to survive. I'll be watching them, because they are near my garage, and they are native plants from the variety that KS planted in the back yard before hoofing to Japan.

I have put the tennis scores out of my memory banks.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Campaign Season

I've been thinking about the challenge to blog every day. It seems like it might be easier if there were a theme for November. After walking around the neighborhood, mostly to the west, it became clear to me that it is political season. In St Paul there is an election next Tuesday to elect school board honchos and city council members. There should be fodder in that to fill up a couple of day's blogs. There must be a campaign sign or two that is odd, or perhaps uniquely St Paul in some way. I'm posting this campaign sign for two reasons: 1. It is a blue sign and thus fits yesterday's "blue" theme. 2. I had an uncle David Peterson, but I know that it is not him running for school board. This Dave is a 60 year old Republican who has retired from printing industry consulting. I may have to cast a ballot for Uncle Dave. St Paul, a strongly Democratic city, has only one Republican on the school board.

Another of my possible schemes to fill dead space on this blog is to do some restaurant reviews of the eateries on Grand Avenue that are within walking distance of home. I'd have to do it from some odd vantage point, like maybe look into its vegetarian offerings. This is just a work in progress at the moment.

I have a two picture commentary on Halloween and wildlife, squirrels in particular. I ran across this creature eating on a jack o'lantern on a porch somewhere to the west of here. Any squirrel with a taste for pumpkin is in hog heaven this week. There are so many former jack o'lanterns in front of houses that will feed the squirrels, that I sense a population surge of these creatures in the near future. Maybe there is work for a squirrel Jenny Craig.

Another shot of the squirrel, chewing on his feast, while the damage to jack is readily apparent behind him.

Squirrels are vermin.

There was no tennis for me today. I'll be on Wooddale courts tomorrow morning with the geezers.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

November Blues

We have come up to theme day again and I have been informed that the theme is "blue" (thanks, Santini). I live close enough to an international airport to be able to get a photo of an airliner against the blue sky. And as luck would have it there was enough blue sky to make a whole nation of Dutchmen a closet full of blue trou. Thus the first photo of the day, taken a block from my house where there is a pretty good view of the heavens.

This photo was a little more effort. It's one of those Mallards over at Lake Como. (There used to be a pretty good town team baseball team in Marble, Minnesota, known as the Marble Mallards). The water wasn't blue enough after perusing it on the laptap, now resting on my lap, so I added blueing with my vanilla flavored photo shopping software, iPhoto. It is not quite natural coloring, but all will admit that it is blue. Duck for scale.

Thirdly. I will attempt to blog every day this month in response to the challenge thrown down by the youngest, and I dare say, most attractive member of my curling team (not much competition for either classification). It may be a long month, but I think I'm up to the challenge, since there are several other bloggers doing the same - Santini, gzmoohoo, and the blogging Wireless. This is the first of the thirty days of November blogging.

There was some curling last night, but as Gino said of the other team, "they are better than us at every position."

I also have tennis to report on. It was Thursday night mixed doubles at Wooddale. I'm suffering a bit from a cold that came on just after I got my 2007 flu shot, and a sore big toe on my right foot. My excuses are readily available, but I was also enthused about playing - it was the hard core girls, to be sure. The scores were close 6-4, 7-5, but we were able to win again. Our opponents are going to the USTA nationals in two weeks in 7.0 mixed doubles, and they are undefeated this year in 7.0 level league play, so they aren't exactly minced meat.

Tennis was fun, but now I have to go lie down.