Monday, November 27, 2006

Sioux City, IA--A Necropolis

It isn't really. It only seems like it.

I drove down to Sioux City for Thanksgiving to visit my Army captain son, who lives at Dakota Dunes, an Arnold Palmer-designed course in the very southeastern tip of South Dakota where it butts up against both Iowa and Nebraska. Just across the border is Sioux City, Iowa. I term this sleepy Missouri River town a necropolis because its historic sites often have something to do with dead folks.

Most famous, of course, is the Sergeant Floyd monument. Floyd, the only member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition to die during their two-year trek, was also the first U.S. soldier to die west of the Mississippi. The poor guy kept having to be buried: first when he died 20 Aug. 1804, of course. Two years later on the expedition's return, they found his gravesite had been disturbed, so buried him a second time; again in 1857, when the bluff he'd been planted in washed away; and finally (I hope) 20 Aug. 1895, with a big marble slab on top, and an obelisk on top of that. I guess you can't keep a good man down.

Then I happened to notice the First Bride's Grave monument. This was built in 1938 by the Woodbury County Pioneer Club near the grave of Rosalie Menard Leonais. The Pioneer Club called her the "first bride" because she was believed to be the first bride of a non-Native American in the area.

In 1918, during remodeling, the Hedges Block collapsed on workers, storekeepers and shoppers, killing 39. The contractors were trying to lower the first floor to ground level...and succeeded beyond their wildest expectations.

Then there were floods. The Floyd River (maybe the ol' sarge was mad) killed folks in 1892, and again in 1953.

In 1949, the Swift and Co. building exploded from a natural gas leak at 11:33 a.m., Dec. 14. Twenty-one died from that.

The city keeps bouncing back, though. They're remodeling (oh, oh) the area where the stockyards were; the aroma of money still wafts through the nearby streets when the breeze is in the right direction. There are new restaurants downtown.

Corn palaces (what else, in Iowa?) that predate the one in Mitchell, S.D., the Missouri River flowing through ("too thick to drink, too thin to plow") with casinos lining its bank, South Dakota and Nebraska buttin' up against it. Meatpacker John Morrell still maintains a strong presence making BBQ, and the local convention center is named after Tyson of chicken fame.

As for family doings, we deep-fried a turkey outdoors on Thanksgiving Day, which in the upper midwest is a Thanksgiving miracle in itself.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Working downtown in Minneapolis for the first time in years, I rely on the local bus system. It takes me half an hour to get home, and costs about $3.50 a day. Compare that to the local parking situation: $5 for the first half-hour? I don't think so.
And rush-hour traffic? Standing at the bus stop during rush hour, I watched the shimmering, sleek forms as they slipped out of parking lots and side streets onto a one-way street. Tires would squeal a complaint as they would rush a few feet to slip into a space just large enough to advance upstream. Darting from side to side, individuals would leap ahead of their slower-reacting fellows.
Channeling all this was the conductor in a blaze yellow vest, standing in harm's way like a tiny grizzly among giant salmon, gesticulating wildly as she filled the air with shrieks and squeals on her whistle. She would attempt to halt onrushing behemoths in their path by pushing the air against them. Those whose turn it was, she would pull on an invisible cord.
The object of all this franticness is to get the contents of the shiny forms to the suburbs, where they will mate, reproduce, and die. And their offspring will add to the next generation's problems.

Friday, October 06, 2006

(Pic at left near Tightwad, Mo.)

Missed the trip.

What a disappointment. I caught the first cold or flu of the season, and was out of commission for four days. So, I decided to forego the trip west.

After all, I would have had to drive for three days straight, coughing and hacking all the way, stop for a week, then drive back...and start work the day after my return. No, I don't think so. I'm getting a little mature for that.

Speaking of mature, have you watched "Last of the Summer Wine"? If not, I recommend it. No sex, no violence, no nasty words, just a gentle teasing and situations right out of England's north country. Elderly gents and ladies put into different situations that leave you feeling good when the show's over.

In Minneapolis it's on Channel 2, our public television station, so it may be on your public TV channel also. I've gotten so I like it better than the Red Green Show, our Canadian neighbor's offering. "Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati", as the saying goes.

Friday, September 29, 2006

California Bound with a stopover in Carson City
This earthbound life in Minnesota is going to come to a halt for awhile, as I gather myself for a trip to Carson City, Nev., to go to the Golf Today tournament.
I'll start by making my way down to Sioux City, Iowa, to visit my son and his family for a few days. Then I'll make the long trek by auto toward the west. Who knows, while I'm out there, perhaps I'll bump into Tioga and George. George travels around in a secondhand motorhome, summers north, winters in Baja, and as of this writing he's in Santa Cruz, Calif., where I went to high school in the late '50s.
I won't be able to really use this blogsite for my golf and rv writing for another couple of years, God willing. (I own the website as well, but haven't begun to develop it yet.)
When my appointed stint in the workaday world ends, I plan to go on the road, visit strange and unusual courses and people, and write about them.
For now, it's the infrequent article for different publications, such as the ones I've done for Golf Today: Siren National, for instance, where a town recovers from a tornado touchdown; Voyager Village, where I scored a hole in one on an airplane (maybe); and the Governor's Golf Opener at Braemar in Edina, MN.
We'll see what happens in Carson City.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Sep. 12, 2006--Bored!
At least, that's how I'm feeling now. I've been working at a temp job for the last week for a pittance, entering a couple thousand records a day. (Yes, I type that fast: I was production manager at a magazine, and can hit 100 words per minute.) These entries, however, are dull: addresses and zips and amounts--four lines, one after the other. Dullsville.
And because of my palsy from last year, I've gotten into the habit of taking a nap: at 2pm last Thursday I found a screen full of Es after I woke from a 2-second nap. I should have had my hand rest on the ZZZZZZZZZZZZzz if I'm going to do that.
Early retirement beckons, but I'll lose a couple of hundred dollars a month in Social Security if I stop working now. So I can go on the road and start writing about golf and travel, if I want to give up that extra $$.
(Look at my post of May 25 to see what happened)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Keller Golf Course, Maplewood, MN
This is a classic course, just off Bob Dylan's Highway 61. It was a favorite of the gangsters of the 1930s who stayed at resorts outside the gangster haven of St. Paul, including such dark luminaries as John Dillinger (who it's said once hopped a freight on the old third hole to escape federal agents) and Ma Barker and her boys.
I talked with one of the old caddies years ago, and he recalled the high-rollers settling their bets in the men's locker room, with thousands of dollars changing hands. He said that the gangsters were always friendly, and good tippers.
Sam Snead won here, early in his career, as did Patty Berg. Jimmy Demaret and Raymond Floyd were winners. The St. Paul Open was held a year after the course opened in 1929, and continued until 1968. The PGA Championship was played here in 1932, again in 1954. The ladies came to town for the Patty Berg Classic in the 70’s, too.
Everything has changed over the years. John Dillinger was betrayed by the Lady in Red, while Ma Barker was apparently demonized by the FBI, perhaps to justify the killing of an old lady when they tried to arrest her son Fred in Florida in 1935.
Number 12 at Keller (Dillinger's old number three) is a 475 yard par 5. You leave the antique clubhouse and go down a path to the tee box. Your tee shot, unless you're a big boomer, will leave you with a second uphill shot. At the top of the hill, you're faced with a steep downhill shot to a green protected by a water hazard on the left, sand trap and trees to the right.
The course is in splendid shape. The fairways are lush and green even in 2006, a drought year. The greens are fast and tricky. You should really try to stay under the hole, because if you're above, you'll need cement to stay anywhere near it on a downward putt.
When you're finished, plan to spend some time wandering through the clubhouse to enjoy all the memorabilia. This course is highly recommended for anyone who visits the Twin Cities.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Biwabik Golf: The Quarry at Giant's Ridge
It wasn't a quarry, I'm told. This splendid course just outside the little Iron Range town of Biwabik originated as a gravel pit that was shuttered in the early 1960s. Of course, I suppose gravel could be considered boulders that had nervous breakdowns. After all, gravel has to start somewhere.
There are two courses here. In addition to The Quarry, there is The Legend. They get superb ratings from golfers and golf writers alike; and I'm no different.
Oh, it had its down side: the course was bent grass, and after a week or so of rain, it was very soft. Divots were the size of muskrat skins (after all, this was the North woods), and it was impossible to get backspin.
I visited with a friend from the Twin Cities, Jim W. He had been one of a trio of us that had visited Branson a couple of years ago, and had since retired. He leads an idyllic life: lives in the town of Hoyt Lakes, Minn., where he grew up, next to a beautiful lake. He hunts and fishes, traps and most of all, plays golf. In the winters, he heads down to Texas and plays (when he's not picking grapefruit off his trees).
Jim's a bear of a man, down from 300 pounds to about 270. When he connects, the ball takes off. We were paired that day with two Canadian women, a golf writer and a photographer. We played from the blues, while they played from the reds. Big difference.
Even when we hit well (which I can do on occasion, with the Big Bertha 454 Bob Koczor of Golf Today Magazine gave me), the ladies outdrove us anywhere from 20 to 40 or more yards. We couldn't buy a putt, however, in the scramble format, so ended up with our foursome right at par: the winners were 13 under!
There were many pleasing vistas at Giant's Ridge, and the course is beautiful. I'm told, however, that the lodge lacks insulation: you could hear the people in the next room talking, at the very least. If you're in the North country, however, and want to take a turn at a nice course, Giant's Ridge might be a good choice.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Best Three Out of Four

Now, this weekend is the kind I like: golf three out of the four days (OK, Monday isn't the weekend; so sue me).
Friday May 19, 2006, my pal and I played Voyager Village near Spooner, Wis.
Saturday we played Siren National, Siren Wis.
Monday I was at the Minnesota Golf Opener at Braemar G.C. in upscale Edina, Minn.
The full articles will run next month in Golf Today.
I don't have an RV yet, so can't look at the weekend from that aspect. Instead, Doug and I stayed at his "cabin" (actually a lake home two hours northeast of the TC), watched hummingbirds flash up to the feeder (the storekeeper advised they don't like red koolaid, only sugar water tinted with red food coloring), listened to loons, ate steak and drank beer. Doug paddled his kayak around the lake while I sat and listened to the quiet.
More later.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Golfing Wisconsin

The golf scene in the Upper Midwest is rather like the crops: get up and grow fast, because there isn't much time. Actually, I've been out once already this year, at the "Country Club of the Army."
That's the name that was hung on the Fort Snelling golf course on Minneapolis's Fort Snelling. This fort, glowering on the bluffs above the meeting of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers, controlled river traffic. It was established the year after the last war between England and the U.S., i.e., 1813, and yet never saw a shot fired in anger.
Men came to Fort Snelling from around the territory and state to go off to war, from the Civil War (Minnesota was the first state to volunteer troops) through the Spanish-American, WWI, and II. It had a polo field, and a huge parade ground.
Today the large brick buildings where young men trained and slept before going away to die are withering away, neglected, given over to the elements and nature. It's heartbreaking, really: they could be sheltering homeless, perhaps.
At any rate, Fort Snelling is a little 9-holer that's run by the Minneapolis Park Department, after it dislodged long-time leasor Curt Walker years back. I used to edit his Golf Association newsletter for him; we've been friends for a long time.
The course is flat and wide open, the first par-4 hole running in a dogleg toward the airport, then alongside it for the approach shot. There's a little sand, not much, and a stagnant little pond near the 7th. Six out of the nine holes are doglegs.
I tried a new technique. For years, I've believed that when you keep your left arm straight, that meant "stiff." Then last fall, a speaker on TV explained that "straight" meant that at the time of impact, your arm should be straightened out. The stiffness, of course, meant I never got that extra bit of distance. Instead, I would have to twist myself into a pretzel with that stiff left arm, and then really try to whale through the ball.
When I'd forget and just swing easy, I could nail it.
This year I just tried to relax and swing back, allow my arms to bend, then come back through the ball. My goodness, what a difference. I hit it much longer than last year, and much closer to the pin as well.
So there's my tip: don't keep your left arm stiff. Allow it to bend on your takeaway, then come back to straight just before you hit. See what you think.
This Saturday I'm off to Wisconsin to a pal's cabin. His wife and daughter are tied up, and my girlfriend has things to do, so we're off together for two days of golf. I'll see how my "new swing" holds up.
Oh, and I'm in the market for a little fiberglass trailer, if anyone has one for sale. 13 feet or 16: I want to get this RVGolfer business established. If you know of one, leave me a Comment, or email me as Dale at

Monday, April 17, 2006

I was bled twice April 15!
Once was when I went in to have a blood test as part of my annual physical at the VA. The second was when I finished my taxes at and realized what I was going to have to pay in income taxes.
It's ironic. When I got hit with Bell's Palsy a year ago last April, I was afraid I would go bankrupt. Instead, I made enough doing tech writing that I have to pay a hefty chunk to Uncle Sugar. As a writer, I can find little jobs that need done. If I were a factory worker, it would be much harder.
Of course, I do technical subjects. I just finished two books on Voice over IP, one of 450 pages, the other of 950. I didn't write them, per se, simply edited, copyread, did the layouts, and output them using Framemaker.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The New Orifice
I've used a room in my house for years as an office to write from. For a long time, however, it has been a shambles. I had mismatched bookcases, an old dresser, two file cabinets of differing sizes, as well as bits and pieces of flotsam and jetsam from all over.
That has changed. I have a newly-designed office that isn't fancy, but is certainly a lot more open and inviting to write in. In place of all the bookcases, dressers and file cabinets, friends helped me bring up a massive set of kitchen cabinets from my basement that are probably original to my house (built in 1935). It has four sets of shelves on top, seven drawers and a potato bin on the bottom (I'm using that for recycling). Between them I installed a piece of granite, shoulder-level in this photo.
I plan to add some sort of boxes that will lift the upper set of shelves about a foot, so the granite wll be more visible and accessible. I'll also replace the doors to all the cabinets. Only the middle two are visible in this photo.
The typing table I'm working at here is going to be supplanted by an old library carrel I found somewhere. It's served in my basement as a workbench, but it is made of oak and--although the top is ragged and paintsplotched--will make a dandy desk. I have to replace the tattered top veneer, but I'm hopeful that won't be too hard.
I have drapes from Ikea on the windows, and two chairs in the office, all on a cast-off rug someone threw away. It all looks very good together, and I'm excited about the changes.
Not just the changes to my office, either.
  • The doctors opened my left eye all the way, since my palsy has receded to about 10 percent.
  • My son has moved to Iowa from Massachusetts, which means I'll get to see him and his family more often.
  • I've got a technical writing contract that will last until Sep. 1.
Next job: fix up the upstairs bedroom so my son's family can visit often.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Daydream RVer

and a Homecoming Queen. (I can't help it, I love puns. The highest form of low humor. Full wit, as opposed to the half that has become regular fare on the tube.)
I daydream about traveling all the time, visiting George and the crew at least once every day as he bumps around three countries in Ms Tioga, his motorhome. He was in Canada a year ago, now he's in Baja. Some of his income is generated via Google, some from donations. I donated because I read it so often, it was like a subscription. I fund his trip, and fuel my fantasy of doing something similar.
At the moment, I'm enmeshed in working on my house, tearing up carpets, and trying to make it appear as if someone civilized lives here. I found an old oak library carrel that I've used as a workbench, but now I want to use it as a desk. Actually someone else had mistreated it before I discovered it, and it has spilled paint in the center and several bolt holes where vises were screwed on. Plus there are a lot of gaps in the wood veneer top. Work to do.
Next day: the Bell's Palsy continues to recede, after 11 months. I had my eyelid cut open today, to allow me to use it normally. Last year, since I couldn't close or blink my left eye, the doctors sewed my lid partially shut to protect the retina. A month ago they cut it about halfway; today they finished the job.
I wasn't aware that it had closed partially after the first operation, when the raw edges healed together. So this time, I have to be careful to wash in the corners with a q-tip often. And apply ointment three or four times a day that will act as a grease, preventing the closing again.
It's nice to have peripheral vision, however.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Surfing for RVs

I have been dreaming about buying another RV. I own a Prowler 19', but it leaks, and would need a lot of work to get back out on the road. Plus, it requires a pretty heavy-duty (read gas guzzling) tow vehicle. I have a 1986 Chev Beaumarchais (is that right? I can never remember) full size van.

It has a 305 engine, and pulls a treat, but only gets about 12mpg. My brother used to say I had jacked up the radiator cap and driven a new vehicle underneath, I've repaired it so often. Tires, brakes, one point I had the front end fall off! In California rush-hour traffic. On an expressway. In the fast lane.

I went from 55 to 0--without brake lights--in about 100 feet or so. I'm lucky I didn't get rear-ended.

With 250,000 miles on it, though, the van's starting to lose its pizzazz. Going up a steep mountain road without a tow slows it down a lot; add a trailer and I'd go backwards. Plus lately it's been draining the battery, and now rain has started coming through the roof. Apparently the metal has gotten thinner over the years.

I've been eyeballing fiberglass trailers such as Scamp, Boler, Casita, etc., because I also drive a Honda CRV, and thought I might be able to tow with that. These little (as short as 13 feet) jobs are light and appear homey. Keeping an eye on what they sell for, watching on Ebay, etc., I saw one 1972 model on Ebay that sold for $3700 or so. For a 24-year-old 13-footer made in St. Cloud, MN.

However, the towing capability of a 2001 4-banger CRV is only 1000 pounds, and most of these little jobs are heavier than that. Oh, I suppose I could get a tent trailer or an A-liner, but those don't add up to something I'd like. New ones, too, sell for $12,000 plus.

Once I get back out on the road visiting farflung golf courses, I'll be happy.

Monday, February 27, 2006

A Sparkling Smile

7:10a.m. to 9a.m.--In the dentist's chair. A bunch of x-rays and a cleaning. There are a couple of spots of decay that will need looking after eventually, plus a number of fault lines from old fillings and other reasons. By fault lines I mean cracks in the enamel. Over time, the stresses on teeth around fillings can cause the teeth to crack. So they need to be watched. If you've ever had a tooth break off, this is probably the reason.

My lady dentist in Minneapolis is one of the best. I had a friend who worked in the dentistry business making fillings and false teeth, and he swore by her, saying privately the majority of other dentists he did business with were "butchers".

In fact, she is on the board to check other professionals in her field. She was also listed near the top in a recent magazine article poll by patients. So she must be good.

Plus, the Bell's Palsy makes things a little more difficult, as the cheek on my left side sags. It's harder to brush well, and I'll admit I'm not good at flossing. So, they gave me an implement that looks like a Y: I have to wrap the floss around it and work it around my teeth. I have one of those Butterfly flossing gadgets, but it doesn't seem to do as good a job, and the little plastic heads are expensive.

My electric toothbrush was OKed; I just need to use it longer.

I've also been referred to Act mouthwash. The dental technician said I should begin using it to kill the bacteria that cause plaque.

I guess from now on I'll have to Act on all the good advice.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Swedish Hell's Angels Sick, Sick, Sick

According to a Swedish police investigator, "It seems to be depressing being a member of this club." According to a news report, 70% of the Stockholm biker's club have been diagnosed as depressed by the same doctor and are getting sick benefits. Sweden's welfare state seems to lead to problems: 20% of the workforce is on long-term sick leave or has taken early retirement.
Of course, if you've ever watched Swedish movies, you'd know how depressed the whole country is. Have you seen "Da Duve," the short Ingmar Bergman parody that came out years back, where the pigeon kept pooping on everyone from The Professor to Death? No wonder they're depressed.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Crisis Nursery

Around 8a.m., the telephone rang, and I was summoned to the Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery to be gatekeeper.
This has nothing to do with plants; this is where families go when they can't take care of their toddlers or infants for the short term. This nursery can care for them up to 72 hours, to take stress off the parent and to help prevent child abuse. There are two such nurseries in Minneapolis.
I worked here once before, so when their regular receptionist had a sick child, they asked for me. After all, I was experienced.
It's a quiet place, with the occasional taxi driver buzzing to be let in to drop off a family or pick one up. It's my job to make sure visitors have a reason to be on the premises. It isn't always so quiet: the lady I'm helping pointed out the panic button she can hit if she needs the police.
Occasionally the wail of a little one echoes down the halls. Most of the time there's only the sound of the aquarium's filter buzzing in the background, and the warm air blowing through the building at a child-high temperature.
They have a place where the kids can eat, and sleep. And, they accept donations of all kinds. For example, the church I go to has a quilting group that makes warm blankets and contributes them to this organization. But they can use all types of items, such as disposable diapers and training pants.
Many volunteers arrive daily to help. Today a group from UPS will help prepare lunch; a number of people in a business organization will help do dinner. Others push toddlers in strollers, comforting and cajoling.
It's a nice place to act as the guardian of the gate. I'd want someone to do the same for my granddaughter, if she were ever in need.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Animal Ethics

I'm a vegetarian one day a week. My girlfriend asked me to do so, in hopes I'd understand how hard it is for a vegetarian. Restaurant after restaurant has little or no choice for a vegetarian.

I certainly don't eat as much meat as I did when I was younger. What with Mad Cow and factory farming, it just doesn't taste as good. I eat fish a lot, but not farm-raised salmon. Farm-raised has more PCBs than any other fish. (Although salmon raised in the Shetland Islands [I think] is considered very safe, according to my local fishmonger.)

Really, if you ever listen to the folks that are concerned about animals, cut through the propaganda and ignore the occasional stupid terrorist trick, they have something to say. For example, making egglayers live in cages for the few weeks of their life, barely able to move, beaks cut off...what sort of chemicals does that impart to the egg? Then there are all the antibiotics they're dosed with.

Organic eggs are just ones where the feed given to the chickens doesn't have chemicals added. It doesn't necessarily means the chickens are happy.

So I was very pleased when I found a couple of brands in supermarkets where they proclaim the chickens are on nests, not in cages. They're a little more expensive, but it doesn't cost my conscience as much. And maybe they're healthier.

At my local co-op, eggs from free-range birds are a good alternative. At least the clucks get to chase an unwary grasshopper occasionally, and scratch around in the dirt. Hey, it's a living.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Research Guru

Writing is easy. It only requires three skills. 1. Gather information. 2. Organize information. 3. Write.


I've been writing for many years, and as a result I've learned to interview, research, photograph, file, and write. Then rewrite. Then rerewrite.

When interviewing, never ask a question that can be answered with a Yes or No. For instance, don't ask "Are your sales up this year?" Instead, ask "How much have your sales changed this year, and why?"

As a freelancer for business magazines for many years, in a small ledger book I picked up, I had a list of questions that could be used in every interview. I numbered these. When I interviewed using a tape recorder with a fresh tape and the counter set to zero, I would go through the questions in order. Sometimes a question would generate an interesting aside and I'd jump to a question out of order.

Upon transcribing the interview, I would scribble notes and put the question number next to the number on the tape counter. As a result, if the flow of the article called for information from a particular element of the interview, I could go right there because I had the tape counter number.

The internet is helpful, as well, and learning how to research on it is vital. Talking to my local librarian, he suggested I should write an e-book on how to do research, and said families are always coming into the library asking for help.

I proceeded to show him how second-generation search engines such as Clusty make research much easier. With an engine such as this, information is not just listed one link on top of another the way Google does it. Instead, Clusty makes clusters of sites that have the same attributes. It also can cut the number of listings to a third or less. For instance, I entered "investing" in Google and came up with 100 million sites; Clusty showed some 25 million, and brought 261 up in roughly 40 clusters, such as Funds, Mutual; Money; Socially Conscious Investing; and more.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

No Sweat

As long as I suffered only blood and tears from my eyelid slitting, I was fine. However, during the fast-paced game of volleyball last night, the sweat began to flow. After a while, it was too much for me, and I sat the rest of the night out so I didn't hurt the team.

Now, at least I have a little peripheral vision, even if it's blurry from the ointment I was given. For months I had almost none at all on the left, and phenomenal (almost to the ear) on the right. When I drive, my head goes back and forth like an ostrich's.

I finally talked Bob Koczor into publishing a blog again. He wrote once last year, but didn't maintain it. Now he's starting again, and I hope he can maintain the discipline. With all the golf trade shows in the new year, he always has a lot to talk about that wasn't suitable for Golf Today Magazine. Gossip, personality tidbits, tips...a lot.

As for me, in the midcontinent, there's no golf. It promises to dip down into the single digits this weekend, and perhaps even into minus temperatures. Ah, well, the weather keeps the soft riffraff out, anyway: we just enjoy the tough riffraff during winter here.

However, I am interested in learning about golf. I found a company that makes a golf swing game/machine for the home. You can use a wireless driver and putter, and play the course. However, I tried to check on them at some of the stores they list...and a searcj didn't show them at ToysRUs or Linen n Things. A search on eBay did turn up a few.

Then as an alternative I began to google "computer golf swing", and it turned up almost 2 million possibles. Of course, there weren't. When I used Clusty clustering software to narrow the selections down, it discovered 179 that met its criteria out of 1/3 as many sites as Google had. And it broke those down by category (clusters) to make searching easier.

As a result, I guess I'm stuck with the indoor driving ranges and indoor simulators here in the Midwest. But, hey, it's almost March. Isn't it?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

An Eyeopener
I came across OlderMusicGeek's Stupid Stuff: POLITICS: Natural Disaster and thought I'd put a link in here. I liked his jokes.
I still haven't run across any technical writing work, but I keep trying. So meanwhile I putter around with private projects, particularly some golftravel videos I'm interested in creating. I realize I've never made one, but when I started Computer User magazine I didn't have any experience either. I started that 24 years ago, and haven't worked there since about 21. Lot of fun, though.
Anyone interested, I have a book with articles and editorial from the early years. Drop me a note if you'd like one.

Monday, February 13, 2006

A Real Eyeopener

Yuk, I just got back from the VA. I had a blocked tear duct in my left eye, which had been sewn shut to protect the cornea because of the Bell's Palsy. So...the doc gave me shots of painkiller in the eyelid (which hurt like crazy and lanced the duct as well), took a pair of scissors and--snipped half the lid open. Horizontally. Eyelashes on the correct lid? Yep, I guess so. He said in a month he'd probably finish the job.

So, I have a mix of tears and blood (no sweat) in my eye now, but tomorrow I can play volleyball. How's that for fast healing? Apparently the docs don't think anything of such a simple operation. I have to use hot compresses (rice in a sock) and baby shampoo to clean the eye three times a day for the next week, and use antibiotic ointment. But I'm getting closer to being normal (or what passes for it with me).

It was April 2005 when the first symptoms appeared, followed by a May craniotomy to relieve constriction of the facial nerve #7, then eyelid sewn shut in June. At first you could only see teeth on the right half of my face when I'd smile; now you can be dazzled by almost the full set.

Apparently the titanium enrichment (screws) they used to put my skull back together after the craniotomy work exceeding well. Two weeks ago a vball teammate charged into me from that side and we met skulls: he was out cold for a second or two, while I wondered why he was laying down on the floor.

Healing is a slow process, but I'm grateful to the VA. They take good care of all us grizzled--and young--veterans. I hope Bush doesn't try to privatize that.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Will You Be My Valentine?
That's what I feel like asking my granddaughter. She'll be four on her next birthday, and she appears to have her grandpa's height (6'3" in my case), being at the 85th percentile for height, 50th for weight. I remember when I graduated from H.S. I weighed 142 pounds and stood 6'2". I joined the Navy, and when I graduated from boot camp nine weeks later I stood 6'3" and 165. 23 pounds in nine weeks?
Then I smoked for years, so my weight stayed at 165. When I quit, my taste buds returned, and so did my appetite: I went to 185.
I'm up around 193 now, many years later. I walk, golf, and play power volleyball, so that's not a bad weight. At one point, I ballooned to 215, but my lady friend and I went on the 10% solution and I dropped to 185, she lost about 40 pounds. Although you'll Google a lot of 10% solutions on the net, the one I used was from Raymond Kurzweil, inventor of the flatbed scanner and other interesting things.
Among those interesting things is a software way to keep track of information, even on the internet. Check this and this site out to see if you aren't fascinated.
Who knows, it may give you a new way to track information.
As for Valentine's Day, give your sweety a hug and a posy. And maybe a small piece of candy.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Experiments with RSS

For those who haven't investigated it, RSS stands for "Real Simple Syndication." At least, that's one of the bacronyms (see if you don't know what this means) used. A bloggiste can syndicate the pearls of wisdom that drop from their keyboards, and those who love their style, thoughts, or lack of same, can receive them on a daily basis.

Having read some of what passes for insight on the 'net, I would compare that to subjecting myself to the Chinese water torture at digital speed. That is, dripdripdripdripdripdripdrips to the umpteenth power. "Edginess", I realize, is a marketer's buzzword, but a lot of the blogs are only edge with not enough substance to form a blade.

Having said as much, a person can also subscribe to news feeds. I thought it might be interesting to put golf news in this blog, with links. After all, I work on the Golf Today Magazine website every month, and have a link here from there. Why not, therefore, add a little golf coverage here?

I put a listing on with a few headlines, but it didn't have the links. Perhaps it's the way I did it. I'll try again later, with more. Golf, and RVing, together. After all, that's what I want to do once I reach a grand old age. Or even not so old.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Super Bowl Party is over
And we're all suffering from overindulgence (if we're lucky).
In my case, I wandered over to a neighbor's a few blocks away. I walked, since it was so close, in temps around 18 degrees. (I walked to church yesterday morning as well, since my car doors were frozen shut after a carwash. OK, only the driver's side, but since that controlled all the automatic locks, it seemed as if they were all frozen. After church and the brisk walk, my lady friend reminded me I have manual locks--i.e., keyed--on both front doors, so I could have climbed in the passenger's side rather than through the back window on the CRV. Another Homer moment.)
At the SBP, we ate ham and turkey, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberries, and much more. I brought a salmon/cream cheese pate doused with Liquid Smoke, surrounded by Triscuits. Sort of lox and cream cheese in a tube. Very tasty: one can salmon, one brick cream cheese or neuchatel, two tbsp Liquid Smoke. Great on bagels, too.
And we drank beer and punch.
I liked some of the commercials, particularly the Dove one, the foal trying to pull the Budwagon, the modern cargo cult where the fella hiding his beer spins his frig into the next apartment only to have it rifled by the natives; and the FedEx caveman. Oh, and the Burger King Busby Berkeley spectactular, with the dancers dressed as elements of a Whopper--onions, lettuce, burger patty, etc.--stacked on a bun.
The game was ok, the commercials weren't great, and a good time was had by all. I did like the Rolling Stones. Mick Jagger may have crepey underarms, but he can still shake a leg.
I rooted for Pittsburgh, as my vote against Microsoft. The lousy service I received after I installed Windows XP Home still has me upset...and I'm not sure yet they fixed the problem.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Another inch of snow in Minneapolis

At times this January 2006, it appeared we golf fanatics might get out earlier than usual. Then again, the weather always leaves you guessing, doesn't it? They will have the Golf Show later this month, in the Metrodome. That will start the wannago juices flowing, you betcha. Long drive contests, putting, all the different should be fun.
Last night, one of my hardcharging volleyball teammates bullrushed into me and we cracked heads (on my titanium-enriched side, of course) hard enough to knock him out for a second or two. I shook it off and kept playing for another hour and a half, and danged if I didn't get hit in the head with a hard-driven spiked ball. After I had to duck when a third zipped by, I told my pal I felt like I had a target on my forehead.
I haven't noticed any ill-effects from our meeting of minds, aside from a very minimal soreness. Certainly no bruising, seizures or anything. But I thought I'd mention it to my doctor.
My friend who had a similar skull operation said his doctor told him if he ever had a fracture, it would not be where they had screwed him back together. So, I assume the same goes true for me.
At any rate, one does tend to get paranoid about such events. I keep getting this image of the doctors putting pointed screws in my skull, or nuts and bolts. I know whatever the surgeon used is an approved medical device, but my imagination keeps adding ruffles and flourishes.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

No Golf Today
The weather forecaster is predicting 2-4 inches today. For a January, we're staying warm. In Minnesota, warm is above zero this month. But you'll notice folks peering out the window at the sky. They're putting the last touches on next month's golf show here. So the saps are beginning to flow.
The big news is the new coach of the Vikings. The new ownership had to show they were in charge, so they got rid of Mike Tice. Regardless his coaching abilities--and I don't think they were that bad--he is a colorful character. He'll end up as an NFLnouncer before too long.
On other Vikings fronts, they hired a big-time PR agency to ram a stadium down people's throats. But don't talk about a referendum; heavens, no, they're pulling the Jack Abramoff ploy, trying to elbow up to the public trough without the public being consulted. Should the deal go through, it would cost an affected family of four in the neighborhood of $250 a year for increased sales tax; and that's a pretty exclusive neighborhood.
The U.S., though, can claim to be #1 in other fields: now it's torture.
As for the attack on Pakistan (a friendly nation, btw), explain the difference between attacking office towers full of defenseless people and houses full of women and children? By that reasoning, if Osama were invited to a state dinner at the White House, we would be justified in destroying it to get him.
Doing bad things for good causes leads to doing bad things for bad causes.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

No Golf in Massachusetts

Just before Thanksgiving, I received word that my son had been named an "alternate" to Iraq. This means he goes through all the training the designated hitter goes through, but if that fella gets an owie my son goes...for a second tour.
So, for about three months, he learns how to teach Iraqi soldiers how to drive armored Humvees. These are much heavier than normal ones, and have a high center of gravity. Thus, take too sharp a corner, and you're a statistic.
With that looming on the horizon, I dragged out the old checkbook and bought a roundtrip Amtrak ticket to Worcester, MA, leaving MSP on a Tuesday at 7a.m., and supposedly arriving on a Wednesday early evening at around 5.
If you check Amtrak's website, it can give you the train's status at the bottom of the front page. I saw it was running 55 minutes late from Seattle, and so got to the station an hour early as requested. Then I learned it was two hours late. So, away I went with my golf buds for an early breakfast, and back to the station, to sit and wait.
Sure enough, two hours late, we left MSP. St. Paul receded in the background as we followed the west bank of the Mississippi down towards the little river town of Winona. Almost there, the train stopped. A detector had gone off, signaling the engineer of a problem. We had a "hotbox" where the lubrication had failed on one of the wheel trucks. So, they had to take the lead engine down and leave it on a siding, then take the reversed second engine down to where they could turn it around, and come back to hook up again.
At 4p.m. (about four hours late now), we crossed over into Wisconsin and headed for Chicago.
Once in Chicago--where they had been waiting the train for the connection--we went east on the Lakeshore Limited, along the shores of the various lakes. It was nighttime, so no lakes were visible; after a little while, I realized no heat was either.
We plowed on through the night as the temperatures dropped and I burrowed deeper into my long wool coat. After a few hours, they got the heat to work again, but then the bathrooms started to freeze up. They were filthy from the first.
At 2p.m. the next afternoon, we pulled into Syracuse, NY. At that point, everything went bad. The heavy wire that carries 480V went bad, so we lost lights AND heat. For an hour, we sat there in the station while various workmen adjusted the offending item with sledgehammers and a 18" long screwdriver.
Next, they pulled us about a half-mile out of Syracuse so other trains could get through. And stopped.
We enjoyed:
*No heat
*No lights
*No bathrooms
*No ventilation
*No information, despite the conductor's promise he'd update us every 15 minutes
This went on for three hours while the search went on for someone who could make a decision as to whether to bus us or not. (This was four days before Christmas, by now.) Apparently the crew had the authority to wring their hands and shake their heads. We needed someone who had the authority to nod their head.
At last, back to Syracuse we crawled, to detrain and sit in the station for another two hours while the stationmaster worked valiantly to get transport for us. At last we left for Albany via bus coach. There, another train awaited to take us toward Boston. And gee, to make it up to us, they fed us free sandwiches and soft drinks.
The final straw was to arrive at my stop at 3:30a.m.--10 hours late--and find the station sealed tight as a drum. We were on a level a flight above the entrance, where our rides waited, if we were lucky. I carried a bag down for an elderly priest, and saw him into his taxi. And as I drove away with my patient son, I thought "All we lacked on this trip was a tattooed number on our wrists."
(Update: In late Jan., Amtrak has given me a voucher for $200 to make up for the inconvenience. Let's see, where can I go now?)
However, I had a wonderful time with my son, his wife and my granddaughter over Christmas. The little girl has me practicing Grandparent's Yoga for flexibility, she has me wrapped around her 3-year-old little finger so easily. She must have gotten my height: 3'4" at 3 (85th percentile), but gangly at 50% percentile for weight. Her favorite picture book is Gray's Anatomy? She knows a lot of the bones already.
The train trip back was uneventful, except for a two-hour delay in Albany for the NY connection; then there was some sort of screaming bearing in the car I was in they were able to stop after four hours in the wee hours; and of course the door that had to be bludgeoned to slide open. I was only a few minutes late back to MSP.
Happy New Year. Let's get out there and beat our scores from last year.