Monday, June 20, 2005

Create Your Own Reality: A Case Study

On June 9, in regards to Guantanamo, Bush said: "Well, you know, we're exploring all alternatives as to how best to do the main objective, which is to protect America. What we don't want to do is let somebody out that comes back and harms us."

Today, he said: "Make no mistake, however, that many of those folks being detained -- in humane conditions, I might add -- are dangerous people. Some have been released to their previous countries, and they got out and they went on to the battlefield again."

So, in the span of 11 days, we've gone from "We don't want this to happen" to "OMFG this has happened!!!1!" And we've managed to do it without a single news report of a single prisoner released from Guantanamo being found fighting against U.S. forces -- at least, I defy you to find me such a news report.

I won't even stoop to argue the "humane conditions" point, but I will point out this news story, which everybody should read. (Of course, you needn't take it seriously; after all, Bush never said we treated our own soldiers humanely.)


It's a bitch.

We went out for lunch. Calm, sunny, gorgeous.

Two hours later, it's black as night outside, trees are bending over sideways, and it's raining so hard that water is literally shooting up around the edges of the manhole cover outside my window. ( It's like a geyser, every five seconds or so, and you can here the cover ring as it rises and drops.) They still haven't sounded the severe weather warning here in the building; exactly what does it require?

Blame Canada

It's all Kirby's fault. "Make Me A Porn Star"? Thank jeebus I don't have cable.

Father's Day

Kristi was working. Emma woke up, took a quick bath, and told me we were taking a walk. So we walked (actually, she rode her scooter) down to the St. Clair Broiler, last year's winner of "Best Breakfast" in the CityPages. (This year's winner, Hell's Kitchen, looks a little too nontraditional. For me, a hearty breakfast is an omelette and hash browns, not "Bison Benedict" or "Mahnomin Porridge". Besides, Hell's Kitchen is hardly walking -- or scootering -- distance.)

After breakfast, a break for cartoons and the Sunday Strib, and then a bike ride to one of our neighborhood parks. All good so far.

The afternoon plan was to go get Kristi's new bike before she got home. The plans got slightly complicated by the presence of the Grandchildren from Two Doors Down, who wanted to play with Emma. It's Father's Day, they're with their father and their grandfather, and they want to play with Emma. (And Emma wants to play with them.) So it was a battle to get Em to come with me for the bike -- but damn it, it was Father's Day, and her mom's birthday present. So yeah, she came. Reluctantly.

In order to go get the bike, though, I had to put the bike rack on the back of the RAV. It's a hitch mount. I already knew it wouldn't fit with the spare tire mounted on the door, so the spare came off and went behind the rear seats. But then the rack wouldn't fit fully into the receiver. I got some grease -- helped a bit, but not nearly enough. I got a couple of files and tried to clean up the rust inside the receiver as best I could, put the rack back in, walloped the thing numerous times with a hammer (with a 2x4 in between hammer and pricey rack), and got it in far enough to secure the pin. I never expected to need ear protection to put the rack on.

Getting it back out was fun, too. More loud hammering. At least I don't need to worry much about somebody stealing it while it's attached to the car.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Kristi's Birthday

It was yesterday. I baked a cake. I can't show it to you with candles; that would just be mean.

Emma was kind of beastly yesterday. Really beastly. So beastly that she screwed up an opportunity to go to Dairy Queen -- twice. So beastly that, when confined to her room, she actually conked out and napped for an hour. Yeah, it was fatigue beastliness; she woke me up at 6:30 am, which is an ungodly hour for her. After the nap she was much less beastly (translation: moderately beastly).

To celebrate, Kristi set up the fountain that her mom had bought her last year. She'd originally planned it for the back yard, but realized that marauding kids would destroy it quickly. So it's on our front porch, where it's actually a pretty nice fit. Here, Smudge considers the new arrangement.

We took Kristi out to Tucci Benucch. Yeah, it's at the MegaMall; so what? The food is solid (with a number of delicious vegetarian options), the service is excellent, the prices aren't out of line.

Kristi didn't get her big birthday present until today. Yesterday we sold her old bike, a Schwinn Searcher, at the Hub's used bike sale, and received $150 in store credit. (We should have asked for more. Sigh.) Today I went back and picked her up a lovely Giant Cypress ST. They had one remaining of last year's model, so $20 less than expected -- with kickstand and bottle cage, the net cost after store credit was under $80. With a little luck, it won't thrash her knee the way the Schwinn did. And the green front end will match her helmet (which she'd picked out to match the Schwinn), so that's all good too.

Zoo Story

So on Friday morning (as kind of a pre-Father's-Day thingie), Emma and I went to the zoo with Klund and his brood, Scooter and his daughter, and Scooter's wife Jen, who was presumably along to make sure the whole pre-Father's-Day thing didn't end up as a drunken poker game. (She did a very effective job.)

Here you can see most of the gang, waiting for the dolphin show to start. Notice that Kevin has rather pronounced circles under his eyes. This is either the result of (a) bad lighting, (b) Kevin's longstanding crack addiction, or (c) being stay-at-home dad to four young children. You be the judge:

Emma and Koleman wait patiently -- and then it's time for Semo and Chinook to strut their stuff.

After the show, we went below to Discovery Bay. There Koleman attempted to touch a pufferfish. Never touch a pufferfish, Koleman. (Fortunately, there was an invisible force field in the way.)

Then we headed out for the Tropics Trail. Scooter, Jen and Eryn are in the background, Kevin and Koleman (and the top of Emma's head) in the foreground, and two Very Mysterious People have somehow become the center of attention.

On the Tropics Trail: at the Minnesota Zoo, extinct animals are a major attraction. I don't quite understand it myself.

Lemurs! They're delicious!

Komodo Dragons! They'd eat lemurs if they could!

This is a photograph of a tree kangaroo. It's a terrible photo, probably because -- let's be honest -- there's no such thing as a tree kangaroo. This is yet another bit of fun the Aussies are having at our expense. "We already sent 'em Paul Hogan; what else can we do?" "Oh, I know! 'Tree kangaroos!'" "Snort!"

A tapir -- named for the way it gets narrower toward its nose.

Emma and Koleman see who can hold his/her breath the longest in the tropical fish pond. (Emma has brought along a balloon full of air; she's clearly cheating, but Koleman, gentleman that he is, didn't call her on it.)

Another Komodo Dragon! This is what happens to them if you seal them in an airtight exhibit. If you're ever in danger of being eaten by a Komodo Dragon (for example, if you're visiting the Lesser Sunda Islands, inexplicably dressed as a lemur), remember this little trick.

On our way to the Minnesota Trail, where we get to see living things that we normally only see as road kill.

Okay, I lied about the "living things" part.

Here's a fox. There was probably a sign advising me in no uncertain terms not to use a flash, but the room was so dark I couldn't see it. They really should illuminate those things better.

The gang stops to ponder what happened to Eli. Did anyone see him after the Komodo Dragon? Wasn't he wearing that lemur mask from the gift shop?

Beaver Kits: build your own beaver! Insert your own joke!

The State Bird of Iowa (or so I hear).

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Kidnapped Dalek Found At Wookiee Hole!

Okay, okay, it was Wookey Hole. Can I help it if they don't know how to spell 'Wookiee' in England?

I thought the Dr. Who/Star Wars synergism here demanded notice. But I will say nothing more about Wookiee holes. You can't make me.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Welcome, Unicyclists!

Personally, I think one wheel is one wheel too few, but that's probably because I'm slightly unbalanced.

I'm getting some hits from's forums, because of my Grand Old Day pics. For those interested, here are my full set of unicycle pics from the parade. These link to rather huge images (slightly jpeg-compressed to keep them under a megabyte each). Enjoy them, and see you TCUCers at the Saint Paul Classic!

I Feel Safe -- How About You?

BOSTON Jun 7, 2005 — On April 25, Gregory Despres arrived at the U.S.-Canadian border crossing at Calais, Maine, carrying a homemade sword, a hatchet, a knife, brass knuckles and a chain saw stained with what appeared to be blood. U.S. customs agents confiscated the weapons and fingerprinted Despres. Then they let him into the United States.
The following day, a gruesome scene was discovered in Despres' hometown of Minto, New Brunswick: The decapitated body of a 74-year-old country musician named Frederick Fulton was found on Fulton's kitchen floor. His head was in a pillowcase under a kitchen table. His common-law wife was discovered stabbed to death in a bedroom.
Oh, wait. It's okay. He's Canadian.

Since 9/11, of course, we're making it painfully difficult for doctors, engineers and the like to get into the country. Because, you know, they're Muslim -- they must be terrorists. And even if they're not terrorists, they're, you know, Muslim. Ew.

And we're building a wall between us and Mexico to keep out those people who mow our lawns and cook our food.

But crazy blood-soaked Canucks? Well, you know, the NHL season was cancelled; we've got to make allowances for the occasional multiple homicide. Come on down!

(For purposes of full disclosure, I love Canadians, even the homicidal ones.)

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Grand Old Day

Saint Paul's annual Grand Old Day celebration was today. Emma and I had great seats for the parade. Many pictures were taken. Sorry about that (trust me, I've edited out a whole bunch, mostly radio station vans and politicians in the backs of trucks with Real Authentic Hay Bales).

Can't have a parade without bagpipers; these are from our neighbors, Macalester College.

Walking produce, also a requirement -- not to mention enormous grocery sacks.

Horses are always a plus at parades; here they're immediately followed by the official Horse Sanitation Brigade.

First highlight of the parade: the Saint Paul Bouncing Team. 'Scuse me while I kiss the sky.

Second highlight of the parade: the Chipotle truck. No free burrito for me, though.

The Old Car: absolutely required in a parade.

Thunderbird convertibles with women (or guys in uniform) perched on back seat waving -- also absolutely required.

Stunt unicyclists. Gotta love 'em.

Clowns. Gotta endure 'em.

Dog in limo.

Segway Segway Segway!!!

And finally, the Summit Brewery float. Only could have been better had they been throwing bottles and kegs at the crowd. With Chipotle burritos. I'd pay to see that parade.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

I Hate People

Emma had her best buddy over for a sleepover last night. The deal was (supposed to be) that they'd take Emma during the day today. This was (in my eyes) going to be partial payback for last weekend, when they were supposed to pick Best Buddy™ up by 6:00 pm and instead called at 8:15 pm saying they'd be right over.

Not only did they not take Emma today, they left Best Buddy™ over here until 2:00, where she was joined by Kid Next Door™ and Grandchildren From Two Houses Down™. Instead of having no kids and several hours to work on the upstairs remodel, I had five kids and, now, a massive headache.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Bad Photoshopping

By way of Eschaton: turning a Democratic rally in Washington, D.C. into a Republican rally in New Jersey. Aside from the crappy masking and generally silly pose -- what kind of politician can't find eight people to stand behind him and look excited for a photo? Correct answer: one who's going to lose, big.