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.