Monday, December 31, 2007

Look out be-New Year!

...as I first exclaimed in childhood. Always apropos after such a fine year as 2007. We shall see what 2008 brings (hopefully an end to this dang election nonsense).

My commute takes me past Minneapolis-Saint Paul Airport. This morning as I was passing where the airport is first close on the north to I-494, I saw a flying feathered friend heading to perch on a median light. Granted, driving in 6AM darkness at 60 miles per hour (or so) makes it slightly difficult to see, but I'm 95+ percent sure it was a Snowy Owl gliding past. Size and wing shape were wrong for anything other than owl. The overall lightness of the bird stood out, even in the freeway lighting; too light for a Great Horned Owl. Any other birder types see this bird either flying or perched? Sorry, no photos while driving...

Really, I hadn't started New Year's imbibing yet. None of that tonight, I'll be working while the revelers are hopefully reveling and not driving.

Have a safe and wonderful New Year, everyone!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Friday, December 21, 2007

God Jul!

Celebrating my half-Swedeness and wishing everyone wonderful Holidays whatever you are celebrating. I will be blissfully unconnected the next few days, watching wildlife, firelight and Christmas tree at mom's. Have to enjoy these days while they are here. Yes, the wild nieces will be there too. As I said, have to enjoy these days (cringe...). And to all a good night until about a week from now!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Rejected (and OK with it)

No, not the platelets I just donated this morning. I received a rejection e-mail for a bird banding job in Pennsylvania I had applied for. This was fully expected and is only a slight disappointment. My application was going to have much competition, especially from folks with higher education and greater peer-review prowess. But it was also one that I had to apply to; who says I don't have an ego?
For an idea of what I'm talking about please go to Powdermill's superb website. I hope to visit their grounds sometime this spring. Meantime, I'm off to print the e-mail and find a good frame for it...

Stars in the east...

...and the west, north and south too. To explain:

Feeling very giving this year, I'd signed up at the Saint Paul Red Cross center for an apheresis (platelet) donation. Done this before, not a big deal. About ten minutes before the end of the process (according to those present), that peaceful queasy feeling started arising. Skin went clammy and whiter than a Scandinavian should. Sweats and chills. The need to send gastric contents across a crowded room (thankfully didn't come to that). Only after about ten minutes of almost being stood on my head did life seem normal again.

Of course, the nice part is being surrounded by hot babes in blue lab coats attending to all your needs (granted you still want to puke despite their efforts). Dear Ann mildly chided me "Did you eat a good breakfast today?" (I thought I had). "Did you get enough calcium?" (apparently not). "DON'T CLOSE YOUR EYES, THE ROOM WILL SPIN!" Delightful Theresa got me unhooked from machinery as quickly as possible (a few more arm hairs gone). Sweet Sally kept me in good humor. Man, you feel like a total doofus in the process, but they assured me everything was OK.

Once on my feet, I went to the sitting area to snack up, recuperate and depart with a Happy Holidays to all. Thanks again, folks, you are wonderful at what you do.

Despite this experience I will return and do it all again soon. I highly recommend donating whole blood, platelets, funds or whatever you can spare to your local center that does such things. I used to donate whole blood at the Hilton Building in Rochester (YUMMY cookies there!), so that comes with another personal recommendation.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Misheard (or warped) carols

Gotta love this time of year, with all the singing, the goodies, the presents and at least that momentary sense of "peace on earth, goodwill toward men". But of course with that Niles twisted sense of humor it is also fun to (sometimes deliberately) mishear or invent Christmas carol phrases.

Among my favorites from comic strips:

Pogo -

1) Deck us all with Boston Charlie,
Walla, Walla, Wash an' Kalamazoo!
Nora's freezin' on the trolley,
Swaller dollar cauliflower alley-garoo!

2) Good King Sauerkraut, LOOK OUT
on your feets uneven...


One Big Happy -

Olive, the other reindeer...

and then my own inventions -

1) Oh crazy mother Mary...

2) The King is born, oh well...

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Balsam, tinsel and all that...

In a previous post I mentioned that this period from late November to early January can be a most irritating time of year. Fortunately another more pleasing aspect exists, as I experienced this weekend. Just give me a lighted Christmas tree and I am a happy boy. If they ever need to lock me away at the funny farm (now there's a truly non-PC statement), the lights (twinkling optional), the balsamic scent and an occasional carol and I will be a model patient.

Apparently this dates back to 1959 when I spent the Yule cranky with roseola. My parents kept me relatively happy and calm by firelight and tree light.

Enjoy below, taken in 2002...

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Commuter wail

Ah, yes, the 3:30 to 7:30 evening shift. If only those were my "full benefits" working hours. Alas, that was my typical 35-minute home commute today. Unbelievable, exasperating, and a few choicer words that I shan't repeat here.

I don't doubt I'm partly to blame for this. I took my normal "heavy interstate traffic" route through the Twin Cities. When I take this route I always count on one hour, but I do so with knowledge that the normal route would take at least that long. In the past this has worked well through rain, accidents and other obstacles to home. Not today.

Just sitting in downtown Minneapolis took 45 minutes. I should have stopped at Merlins Rest to rest the car and recharge my psyche. I kept going; BIG mistake. The maximum speed for the next 10 miles was 10 miles per hour, and that was right at the end. Those 2 hours got me to the last stretch of freeway (why these towns have only four bridges across the Minnesota River is beyond me; as a birder, more swallow and peregrine habitat!). Another 20 minutes and finally home.

In that time, 10 (yes, I counted) LRT trains each direction sped along happy as clams on speed. If only the transit routing from my home to work wouldn't take until Tuesday so I could be at my Monday staff meeting, then back home Sunday to get laundry done. I've heard all the arguments about moving. Sorry folks, my place is paid for and the old mortgage payments still cover the gasoline bills (for now).

This is only a five-inch snowfall, people! We can drive better than this! Must be all of those folks who have read the Money and Fortune magazine articles about how nice it is to live here. Lies, all lies! It snows all year! We tow your cars at inopportune times! We tax you for everything! GO AWAY!

OK, I'm done now... To bed to do it all again Wednesday morning. And to the pub on Thursday for some R+R (twice in two weeks? I'm becoming a lush in my old age...).