Sunday, March 29, 2009

Fargo/Moorhead Flood

Friday morning Jared and I drove to Moorhead to help our mother with the flood. She lives on a river lot turned to lake property. We left the Twin Cities at about 7:30 am and arrived in Moorhead just before noon. We helped a couple of neighbors add sand bags to their dikes and assessed the needs at mom's. The only volunteers in the neighborhood were fire fighters and national guard troops. Seeing national guard troops in full gear and Kevlar helmets driving by in a Hummer highlighted the gravity of the situation. A crest of 43 ft as predicted would not be something we could have withstood. The Red was at 40.8ft and rising. We assessed needs and watched what would happen next. Being offered a ham sandwich by disaster service workers also let me know this was an extraordinary event.

Our plan for Saturday was to add height to one part of the dike and to move essential items from the basement in case of a worst case collapse. With the help of several volunteer fire fighters from small towns around the state we made quick work of our levy reinforcement. We also checked back-up pumps and their frozen discharge hoses. I felt our main job was to anticipate problems and take steps to solve them before they became disasters. The swimming pool in the dike protected ring started to rise as hydraulic pressure forced ground water down and under the dike. This never caused more than a trickle. Another potential problem is a huge pump to pull storm sewer water out and pump it over and next to our dike. We feared vibrations and erosion would cause a collapse. After expressing our concerns the city decided to wait til Sunday when they could do the job properly.

Sunday we waited until the huge pump was placed. 40 fire fighters including 4 in the water with dry suits did what looks like a quality job. With the water dropping, pumps in place and the dike reinforced we felt good about heading home. Still 3 Coast Guard rescue helicopters flew over head as we were loading up the truck to return.

This picture would be titled "Hope"

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Chinese Acrobats in Red Wing

We drove to Red Wing to the historic Sheldon Theatre to see the Golden Dragon Acrobats of China.

Amazing feats of strength, balance and flexibility were the hallmarks of each performance. Yao Ming and Circus de Soleil have nothing on these athletic artists.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Spring's Here Family Ride

This chimney rises from the ruins of an old WPA work camp site. Workers in the 30's lived at this site while doing infrastructure improvement projects to stimulate the economy

Cool ice falls behind the kids.

Claire and Harris are searching for Ordovician fossils. We found one not so great brachiopod.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Rite of Passage

Claire helped Harris move to a new phase in his life. One tooth loosening kick to the face led to the boy's first date with the Tooth Fairy. He couldn't wait to show me the resulting gap.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

My Day and The 18th Annual Traditional 3D Shoot

A bit of a dull day. Spent time being dad in the morning and cleaned winter grit out of the basement. I was hoping to get a bike ride in, but I'm still sick. I think I need a new drug.

I did do a little ride around the neighborhood in the Sidis and new pedals. The shoes are amazing; they have an out of the box custom fit. Like Jared says, "I want a couch made of Lorica." The pedals work well too, but I'm not sure I like a cleat with float. The old Fuji felt a bit like "the stranger" after riding the Trek exclusively this winter.

For dinner I grilled up some ribs to take advantage of today's weather. 50 is welcome. Pulled out the bow and shot a few arrows with confidence at my small target without a backstop. It's funny how I can shoot well after not releasing an arrow for months. Of course, sucking comes easily too at times.

The day led me to think of the traditional shoot. I looked it up. The 18th Annual Traditional 3D Shoot is on June 20 and 21, 2009. It is an event that I look forward each year.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Cereal Killer

Who planted the Freakies tree? Where did these go? Are they still made.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

My Favorite Molecule

I'm still f-ing sick. Turns out my common cold was a pilot fish for the man eating shark that's got me down. (See previous post if confused) I went to the doctor on Monday where I was bled, asked to pay heaps of money and was exposed to x-rays. The doctor concluded from this time and expense that I'm sick, but he isn't sure why.

Finally, today, after being sick for two more days, I am prescribed Zithromax, pictured above in molecular form, to treat pneumonia. I needed to be sick long enough to prove what the costly tests couldn't. I did better treating myself in Taiwan with Web MD in English and my local pharmacy in Chinese. As for antibiotic resistance, much of the world buys these meds without a prescription while we are forced to wait.

Where's our health care reform? Something like Canada's system can't be worse. Bad care would be cheaper under their system anyway. $1,600 per month plus co-pays for this?

Sunday, March 8, 2009


I'm down with a chest cold this weekend. Sucks! It makes me appreciate the times when I'm not sick.

Last summer, I got a similar cold; it turned out to be pneumonia. I'm not anticipating such a development with this case.

I found this poster on the web. It was printed through a W.P.A art project, I'd guess in the early thirties. Makes me think of the current stimulus package and health-care reform work that is going on.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Change is good but changing sucks

One of my life’s themes entails meshing old stuff with new stuff. I appreciate new things, and value upgraded convenience. However, I have come to loath trying to retrofit things.

Case in point, last week the old dishwasher died. No problem, I have the cash to just go buy a new one. Removing the old one entailed about 6 screws, a water line and two wire nuts. Easy.

The new dishwasher is quite similar to the old. I didn’t even upgrade to the stainless front, because it’s a 100 dollar splash of make-up. I learned from my reading that even a stainless tub is largely cosmetic as plastic tubs fails years after the motors quit working. I was told dishwashers had a life span of 7-10 years regardless of price. I digress.

The new stuff causing me problems was a braided stainless, bendy, fill hose I picked up to replace the old “flexible” copper fill line. The old fill line was hard to work with, as it didn’t seem to want to bend where required.

After picking up the new hose, I needed to return to the hardware store for a new elbow to go from the dishwasher to the hose, trip two. Then I needed an adapter to go from the hose to the feed valve, trip three. Damn! I Picked up pipe thread instead of compression thread, trip three. Returned to get proper thread, trip four. Still didn’t fit cursed a lot. I learned there is not a fitting that goes from my old shut off valve to the right size. I purchased a new valve, trip five. Once the valve was installed the new hose was easy as promised. But, what did it take to benefit from the new hose’s flexibility.

Hardware upgrades at home become metaphor for epistemological, behavioral, relational and ideological change. I value the improvement, but sometimes procrastinate because change is a pain in the ass.