Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve


Yule Blog - New Year's Eve



Where does the time go!?

Not only have Saga and I been here in Minnesota for three weeks now, but the year is over. It is time to start thinking about heading back to Denver.

My father is making a good recovery from his surgery and my presence here is no longer required. I am pretty sure that Flo and Dad will be able to handle things now without further assistance. (Besides, there is that old show biz adage: “Always leave them wanting more!”)

So this afternoon, I will be spending some time packing the car. Then tomorrow morning Saga and I head west again. As of this time, the predictions are still for good roads (once I hit the interstate) and though the temperatures along part of the route are slated to be sub-zero, it still looks like it will be a good day to drive. (…and that’s 0° Fahrenheit and not the wimpy 0° Celsius, which is a nice, warm spring day here in Minnesota!)

The first part of the trip is the only part that may be a bit harrowing. I went to visit my uncle up on the family homestead yesterday and the county roads where sheets of ice. I have a secondary state highway all the way to the border and then a couple county roads in South Dakota to get to the interstate, a trip that usually takes just about an hour… I’m thinking I’ll be taking that part of the trip a bit slower tomorrow.

So that’s the plan, pack the car before bed tonight (everything but what I’ll need in the morning, Saga’s bedding and food, and the thermoses), celebrate the end of the year – though not too much, and then take off whenever I get up and about in the morning.

But I have a full day with my parents left so I am going to enjoy it! Perhaps a game of scrabble or some cards would be in order!

Wherever you are this morning, I hope that you are closing-out the year with those you love!

Don Bergquist – December 31, 2009 – Kensington, Minnesota, USA

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Yule Blog - After the Storm (?)

Well, it appears as if the storm may (finally) be over. Five days of snow has transfigured the woods into what looks like a stretch of black and white tweed from where we sit in the house. The only color to be seen out the back window is the one ice house on the lake; a garish green in the midst of a black-and-white fantasy.

This morning, after bracing myself with a few cups of coffee, I set-out into the newly clear air. The smell of the morning was cold, clean, and new. If nothing else the storm was transformative in that way at least!

A walk down the drive way showed that we’d received another two-to-three inches since the neighbor had been by with his tractor to plow the drive yesterday. I shuffled through ankle-deep snow to the berm left by the county plow as it went by this morning clearing Honeysuckle Lane. Crossing that I was off down the road to the north to see what the fields at the top of the hill looked like. Well, not to put to fine a point on it, the looked like a field covered in snow and dotted here and there with the stalks of the sumac waiting for spring to dress them in leaves again.

I then headed down to the south property line to take a look at the woods between the property and the next home owner’s property. I then set across the yard braving the knee-deep snow. (Actually, it was thigh deep in places.)

It wasn’t as hard to traverse the snow-filled yard as I would have expected; but then I did have a Golden Retriever and a Canaan Dog blazing the trail ahead of me. It is amazing how much snow those to can plow!

But then, my walk and my shooting completed. I decided it was time to get back indoors and change into some dry clothing! It is still too cold to spend too much time outside… especially with the melting snow robbing you of body heat.

With this written and posted, I suppose it is time to get a cup of coffee, a tipple of something in it to fortify me, and perhaps take on my parents in Scrabble or cards or something. That is the way we pass the short winter days here in Minnesota!

Wherever you are today, I hope that you’re having a pleasant morning!

Don Bergquist - December 27, 2009 - Kensington, Minnesota, USA

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Yule Blog - Boxing Day

cabin fever

-noun

1. A state characterized by anxiety, restlessness, and boredom, arising from a prolonged stay in a remote or confined place.

2. Boredom, restlessness, or irritability that results from a lack of environmental stimulation, as from a prolonged stay in a remote, sparsely populated region or a confined indoor area.

3. Winter in Minnesota.

1915-20, Americanism


In all the years that I have been coming to Minnesota, I do not remember the weather being this bad. But we have each other, we have the internet, and we have a number of games to keep us occupied. I doubt we’ll be reenacting The Shining any time soon.

It is kind of a bummer that we didn’t get the chance to head up to the farm in Parkers Prairie, but it was not to be…

My folks and I were just saying this morning that it is unbelievable that I have been here two weeks already, but looking at the calendar, it is so! Two weeks ago Saga and I were driving here; Dad was lying in the hospital recovering from surgery; and Flo was at dad’s bedside, trying to keep his spirits up.

Flo was later told that Dad’s recovery would have been faster had she not been there keeping him awake, expending energy wondering if she was entertained. But I am sure that regardless of what the nurses say Dad was glad to have her there.

So here it is, another lovely, cold, snowy morning. The snow is predicted to end today but we’ll see… at least we have nowhere to be until Monday.

Wherever you are today, I hope that you are with the ones you love and inside, warm and safe.

Don Bergquist - December 26, 2009 - Kensington, Minnesota, USA

Boxing Day

Friday, December 25, 2009

Yule Blog - Christmas Greetings!

Dear Friends and Family,

As I write my Christmas missive, it is a wonderful, snowy day in late fall here in Lakewood, Colorado; just the kind of day that one wants to casually sip a warm cup of coffee, watch the snow fall and get into the Christmas spirit. And so, fittingly, I have popped a Christmas music rotation onto the MP3 player, poured myself a fresh cup and sat down at the computer to write my annual holiday missive. The year has been a busy one for Saga and me.

The year started at a New Year’s Eve party with friends. It was a wonderful start to an interesting year. The noteworthy news for January was the unfortunate skier who slipped partially out of the ski lift and hung mooning Vail for a while.

In February we were blessed with an early spring. But as anyone who lives here know, don’t count on spring to arrive early in the Rockies! Oh, ad I turned 47.

March, true to its nature, gave us a couple significant snowfall events (that is Coloradoan for “Blizzards”) along with the few obligatory nice days between. Professionally, the software package I have been working on since last summer finished its technical trial. We found that the software was viable. Now we just had to find the correct client.

Tax Day, Tea Parties, and Illegal Immigrants were the news of the day in April. I continued to work on the development of my software, and Saga was plagued my more snow. The worst snowfall of the season fell in April; nearly two feet of snow fell so Saga looked like a barge plying a frozen ocean of snow every time we went out for a walk.

In May the family gathered to celebrate Dad’s 75th anniversary in Minnesota. All my siblings were there; all Dad’s siblings were there, and although we didn’t take attendance, we think that there were about sixty people who turned-up to help celebrate. I scored points among my siblings and cousins of my generations by showing pictures of my grandparents and pointing out that we were now as old as they had been when the pictures were taken.

In the cliché of every small-town paper ever published: a fine time was had by all!
One other noteworthy item from the trip was that with the lovely weather on the day I left and the nearly perfect road conditions I set a personal best on the trip home. We covered the distance in just under twelve hours at an average moving time of about 78 miles-per-hour.

There is nothing much of note that happened in June. Well… except that the first of my generation turned fifty. I will not be so crass as to say which of my siblings that may be, you would have to ask my sister.

July was an interesting time... “Interesting” in that not-so-good way. The big news was that NASA had handed all the crack-pot conspiracy types who do not believe we went to the moon a boon by revealing that the “could not find” the original footage of the moon landing. Personally, it was interesting because Lakewood was hit by the first of four hailstorms. This one, as we would find out later, did about a quarter-million dollars in damage to the condo complex that I own a home in. As we would soon discover, we’d need to replace all the roofs in the complex.

August came along and brought with it more hail. Aside from that, it was a lovely month. Oh, and my brother Denis celebrated his birthday.
September was a lovely month. Fall came and it was spectacular, for the few weeks it actually lasted. We had early snowfall and a hailstorm in September. But other than that, it was a lovely month.

Doing my civic duty in September I appeared on for Jury Duty. I was not seated on a jury, but I spent the morning watching the jury selection process. It was an interesting way to pass a morning.

September also was a major milestone for me. It was my twentieth anniversary with my company. My boss had a nice party for me and prepared a bunch of factoids filling-in a timeline of the years since I was hired back in 1989. It was interesting looking back over the years to see what I had forgotten about.

October came and with it the annual family gathering to make horseradish. Saga and I drove up and spent time with the family. All my siblings made it in for the gathering. A sudden change in the weather at the end of the trip caused Saga and I to beat a precipitous exit the weekend after the gathering. What looked to be a bear of a drive turned-out not being so bad. We dodged between two fronts and aside from a bit of fog and a little freezing rain in Nebraska, we had no problem getting home.

I had a couple friends over to my place for Thanksgiving dinner. Aside from that, November is noteworthy only because of the news that the first paying client for my new software was in the last stages of negotiations.

And that brings us to today. Here is sit, listening to a Christmas playlist. I have a client that I will be supporting remotely from my parents’ home in Minnesota where I will be heading at the end of the week. Why?

Well, Dad is going into the hospital this week for surgery to correct an aneurism and I am headed up there to help out during his recuperation.

The New Year promises to be one of new and exciting adventures as my new product gets released and grows. Our first client goes live January 20th in The Netherlands.

That is about it for me. I hope my annual holiday missive finds you and your family well this year! With the snow continuing to fall outside, the only fitting Christmas song quote I could think of was from White Christmas!



May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Don and Saga

Christmas Day

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Yule Blog - Christmas Eve

The stocking are all hung by the chimney with care…

Well, except that there are no stockings and no chimney! We've strung lights festively outside in the tree, and they are winking prettily through the snow… the little tree in the living room is sitting atop a pile of gifts that have been sent by friends and relatives and are awaiting whatever additions Santa has to make this evening.

It is a cold and snowy start to winter here in Minnesota but Saga and I are bundled up snug and warm with family and all is well.

I hope that wherever you are today you are with the ones you love!

Don Bergquist – December 24, 2009 – Kensington, Minnesota, USA

Six Inches By Morning?

This too is Minnesota...

As of six this morning, the snow was still the light, dusting, powder fall that we have been getting since yesterday afternoon. it is still pretty dark out, but from what I can see it appears we might have had a inch of new accumulation overnight.

This morning's weather reports are still calling for a major winter storm, but right now I am happy just watching the snow gently falling; as it slowly erases the tracks of the cars in the driveway. I imagine the frosting of new snow on the woods across the street will be quite nice, when I can finally see it.

Wherever you are this morning, I hope it is a lovely morning!

Don Bergquist - December 24, 2009 - Kensington, Minnesota, USA

Christmas Eve

Happy birthday to my cousin Elizabeth

Happy birthday to my cousin Abigail

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Six Inches By Morning

The predictions have been changing all day (so what's new?) but as I am headed off to bed, the prediction was that by the morning there would be six inches of snow on the ground. Add that to the four that are still there and the two days of snow predicted to follow, and it does not appear that I will be going to the family homestead for Christmas.

That is too bad, but this is Minnesota and it is winter. What did I expect?

Saga is going to hate life when she has to go outside tomorrow – we have record-breaking snowfall for Christmas Eve predicted; bitter cold temperatures, and more snow predicted for the rest of the holiday weekend. But on the bright side, it does not sound like the weather back in Denver is any better!

At least I am here with my folks; we are all safe and sound in the warmth of the home. The Christmas tree is lit and festive, and we have all the provisions we need to make it through a cold and snowy weekend.

Wherever you are this evening, I hope you are warm and safely with the ones you love!

Don Bergquist – December 23, 2009 – Kensington. Minnesota, USA

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Life Is A Bitch

Shhhh!

I have to be quiet. Daddy is sleeping and I am using his glowing box while he is in the other room. I need to get this done quick.

You've got to help me! Daddy spends his day looking at this thing when he could be spending it playing with me and petting me. He brought me to a place that is cold and snowy when I could be at home. A place that doesn't smell like another dog.

It started a week ago; he put me into my kennel in the car. That was pretty cool! I love going for rides in the car. Well, unless they end at the vet or the groomer. But nice long rides in the car? Those are great! Daddy often gives me carrots while we're driving; and I get to get out of the car occasionally to smell new things… and pee on them! Why can't we do that all that time!?

But then we arrived here. And Daddy brought me to this place where there a big dog who has to be herded or she will think she owns the place. And what's up with that! She eats the food that Daddy puts out; she tries to make Daddy pet her; and she comes along after me and pees right over where I have just peed! the nerve!

Something has to be done! Please, magic glowing box, help me! I've seen Daddy stare at you for long periods of time and lake the clacking noise that I can here when I hit this thingy with the letters on it and then he will suddenly get all happy and pet me. So if you are some magic box or something… get Daddy to take me home. It's too damn cold here.

Get to work on it magic glowing box!

Saga – December 20, 2009 – Someplace cold and snowy with a big mean dog!

Happy birthday to my friend Christine

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The skies have cleared, but of course, that means the cold has really set in! Winter in Minnesota... Need I say more?

The mornings have been lovely, though. And since I sit at my PC by the kitchen window that faces east from before sunrise until it is time to shut-down (with occasional breaks to get coffee or tea) I get a great show as the sun paints the sky behind the woods first grayish blue, then red, orange, and yellow in turns.

I pop some music in the player, and get down to testing, looking-up over the monitor while waiting for a test to finish or a screen to paint and taking in the beauty of the morning.

Wherever you are this morning, I hope you're having a lovely one in your neck of the woods!

Don Bergquist - December 16, 2009 - Kensington, Minnesota, USA

Happy birthday to my friend Janine

Happy birthday to my cousin Craig

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Torn Between Two B!tches

I sprang Sunshine from the big house yesterday afternoon. Poor thing, she'd been sent to the kennel when Dad and Flo went down to St. Cloud for Dad's hospital stay. Was she ever happy to see me! She was thrilled to sniff me and catch the unmistakable whiff of another dog. (Score! A Playmate!!) She was even more ecstatic to see that I was there to pet her and talk to her and give her cookies! And when it then transpired that we were going for a ride in the car (!!!), well! Ecstasy was no longer sufficient and she found herself practically pissing herself with pure pleasure.

It didn't even matter that the back windscreen de-foggers couldn't keep-up with the fog she exuded onto the windows… I couldn't see out the back anyway as Sunshine kept repositioning herself so as to take up the entire surface of the rear-view mirror anyway! She kept peeking over the seat to see if I was still there and would occasionally poke a

So imagine how pleased I was to get home and have the two of them realize they had to share me! Sure, Saga owns me and knows that I will always be there for her, but ya can't jut ignore poor Sunshine who has been set-up in a kennel for days! Trying to play with both of them in such a way as to let them both know that they are loved and not make either of them too jealous is walking a fine line. When we got home last night and Saga saw that Sunshine was with me she immediately ran out to the garage to sniff around my car – er her car – to make sure it was still hers.

As I checked my email for one last time before bed I had a dog nose poked under each arm… do you know how hard it is to type with TWO bitches vying for your attention!? Oh well, I guess there are worse problems one could have.

Wherever you are today, I hope that you are having a good day.

Don Bergquist – December 15, 2009 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy birthday to my friend Becky

Monday, December 14, 2009

Snowfall

The snow started as I was driving home from the hospital last night.

This morning there is a light frosting across the entire lawn and on all the trees. The temperatures are still below zero and I am lucky. Nothing more to do today than stay inside and do some testing…

I brought my computers with me so that I could work between the times that I am needed by my folks. I've set-up at the kitchen table in front of the window that overlooks the woods. It is lovely, but I have testing to do.

So I guess I had best get this posted and get back to work.

Wherever you are today, I hope it is lovely out!

Don Bergquist – December 14, 2009 – Kensington, Minnesota, USA

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Burrrrr Is Right!

According to the thermometer outside the back window, it is fifteen below zero this morning! Burrrrr! For those of you who wonder how people can live up here in the "frozen north" with the temperatures so often below zero… Remember, it is not normal to be outside, well, not often or for long periods of time.

For instance, I am off to St. Cloud this morning to see my dad and see how he is doing. So at least I will be going from the warmth of the house to the warmth of a car, to the warmth of a hospital. In the cities, it is even better… there is no reason to ever leave the building if you live in downtown Minneapolis. Practically every thing in Minnesota is close to the network of skywalks that attach the buildings.

But here I am in the sticks. I need to head to the hospital. That actually involves my leaving the house and getting in the car.

Wherever you are today, I hope that you're having a good day.

Don Bergquist – December 13, 2009 – Kensington, Minnesota, USA

Happy birthday to my friend Jacqueline

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tales From The Road

As is her practice, Saga winged in the backseat in her kennel until it became clear that we were not headed to the kennel, the groomer, the vet, or any other horrible place that Daddy so often takes her.

The roads were great. I did decide to change my route around North Platte, Nebraska. I noticed a number of the trucks I saw at the gas station which had come in from the north looked suspiciously snow-covered. It was then that I decided to stay on the interstate.

The only real areas of concern today were a bit of icing in the bridges in northern Iowa, and a bit of fog while making my way north through South Dakota. Other than that, we made good time.

It is not a record breaker or anything. At fifteen hours door-to-door, and an average moving speed of around 77MPH, it was still a respectable try. We're here. It is freezing, the car is unpacked, and I am going straight to bed once Saga and I have gone out to inspect Dad's property.

On a night like tonight, the poem Stopping By A Woods On A Snowy Evening by Robert Frost comes to mind.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep…
Luckily, there is nothing left to do before I sleep!

I hope wherever you are this evening, you've had a good day!

Don Bergquist – December 12, 2009 – Kensington, Minnesota, USA

Driving East

It is a lovely morning. It's cold to be sure, but it is lovely out. The sunrise is a brilliant confusion of reds and oranges. Saga was not too ambitious about our morning walk, poor thing; I hate to tell her that no matter how cold it is here, it will be even colder tomorrow morning in Minnesota!

On last check, the weather reports still looked favorable for the drive. According to the weather reports on Weather.com, the only iffy spot is going to be around Sioux Falls, SD. The temperatures are likely to be hovering right around freezing the entire way and plunging well below zero tonight in Kensington. Decem-Burrrrr in Minnesota: just the thing Saga loves!

But now is the time for me to be getting on the road. The car has been packed-up since yesterday and all there is to do is get Saga in her kennel and my foot on the gas so here we go!

Wherever we are today, I hope your day is perfect for whatever you've got scheduled.

Don Bergquist – December 12, 2009 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy birthday to my nephew Eric

Happy birthday to my cousin Emily

Happy birthday to my cousin Chantell

Monday, December 07, 2009

Eco-Pushover?

According to a news report I heard this morning one of the free benefits that the delegates to the Copenhagen Environmental Conference will receive with their conference credentials is a free "date" from one of the many "professionals" available to the residents and visitors of Copenhagen.

This may be the most environmentally friendly benefit of the summit; given that the delegates have traveled there (largely on private planes and in limousine motorcades) and are being shuttled around the down in what is likely the least eco-friendly transportation available. They are being fed caviar and other delicacies being flown in at great cost (both monetarily and to the environment) so why not offer them something that won't kill the planet? In Copenhagen, this is completely legal, ya just knew someone would think of it!

My personal qualm with the Environmental Summit is why don’t they start by being environmentally responsible themselves? I'd like to propose that the next time someone wants to get together to talk about a way to be environmentally responsibly, the start by planning the conference via Tele-Presence. In this world of computers and the internet, is there any real reason for a face-to-face?

Oops! I need top step down off that soap box. That was not what this particular rant was about – it was about something that Tele-Presence cannot do as well as actual presence. At least not yet!

Wherever you are today, I hope that you will do something good for the environment today!

Don Bergquist – December 07, 2009 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Musings On A Snowy Morning

It is a cold and snowy morning in Lakewood, Colorado; the kind of morning that makes Saga try to walk without three of her feet hitting the ground. It was ten degrees out when we went for our walk at five-thirty. The snow was coming down in heavy flurries; the flakes light and downy, the kind you get when it is this cold.

The water-to-snow ratio is really low. The three inches of snow in the meter gave me only a tenth of an inch of water. There is a lot of the snow, though! And walking through the heavy snowfall in Saga's park, the noises were muffled by the falling crystals.

It is a lovely morning to sit at my computer and try to get my Christmas mailing finished. I would usually have a couple more weeks to finish it, but as Saga and I are headed to Minnesota to help-out while Dad recovers from surgery, I am under the gun to get the mailing out by the end of the week.

But with the snow falling, it is such a nice morning to be sitting in my warm office, sipping my coffee, and writing. Every once-in-a-while, Saga comes up to check-up on her daddy who is, once again, staring at that glowing panel on his desk which has apparently nothing to do with providing her food... and wouldn't it be better if he petted her and gave her a "good girl" now-and-then? That would make him happy! I think she just appreciates the occasional attention.

Wherever you are today, I hope you are with someone who appreciates you and that your day is conducive to doing what needs to be done.

Don Bergquist - December 06, 2009 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Monday, November 30, 2009

Cyber Monday

St. Andrew's Day

Good Speculative Fiction Author/Bad Futurist!

My light entertainment reading for the weekend was The Terminal Experiment by Robert J. Sawyer. The story is pretty good; I am nearly finished and have really enjoyed it so far.

In short, the story is about Dr. Peter Hobson, who invents a machine that detects a brain pattern that leaves the body after death, a pattern many believe is a soul. There is also a company that is selling immortality by way of nano-technology.

In order to test his theories on immortality and life after death, Dr. Peter Hobson, with his friend Sarkar Muhammed, create three electronic simulations of Hobson's own personality. When people Hobson had a grudge against begin to die, he and Sarkar must try to find out which is responsible. But all three, two modified, one a "control", escape Sarkar's computer, into a worldwide electronic matrix.

As an adventure in speculative fiction, it is pretty good. (Though I think that I have figured-out the ending and thing that I knew the “who-dunnit” of the story from a pretty early point in the book.) As a predictive work, it leaves something to be desired.

Sawyer is a good story teller, but he is no George Orwell. 1984 was scary in its accuracy of what was to come; the use of the media to control the opinion of the masses, two-way video conferencing, widespread usage of video surveillance, a government spying on its own people. As a predictive work, it shone in the number of things that would be possible in the 36 years between its creation and the year it was set in.

By contrast, The Terminal Experiment, is set in 2011 and was released in 1995 – a difference of 16 years. (Though, to be fair, the idea was first serialized as Hobson’s Choice in Analog magazine a few months earlier.

While he predicts that by next year the web will be everywhere, that people will spend inordinate amounts of time in virtual reality locales on the web (Can you say World of Warcraft and Second Life?), and that computers will be in every home, taking-on a number of the basic tasks for automating the minutia of running a home.

The things he misses, however are so obvious that they are laughable. Hobson and his wife are often depicted reading things that look suspiciously like the Kindle which is good! But, they have to load the books and magazines they read on them by inserting a disc.

They watch television via time shifting, but they still do it on a video-tape recorder. Does anyone still use video tape? Sure, I time shift everything, but I have a DVR and On-Demand.

The email programs they use would have been more likely to have been set in the mid-nineties; they are clunky and completely text-based. (They refer at one point to having to fax a picture to someone that was referred to in an email. Why not just embed the picture?)

There is one cool idea, it never happened, though it could have easily been done years ago. The papers that Dr. Hobson reads while waiting for a meeting to start were bought at a smart box vendor. He puts in a couple loonies (Canadian Dollars – the book is set in Ontario) and the paper prints-out with up-to-date news on-demand.

Of course, the time for this is passed and gone, but had something like this been in place years ago, the newspapers may have staved off their eventual deaths a while longer.

On the whole, though, despite the humorously short-sited view of the future, it is still a good read and I recommend it! It was a nice way to pass a couple days of a nice long holiday weekend.

Wherever you are today, I hope that you’ve had a nice weekend!

Don Bergquist – November 30, 2009 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Editor's Note:

Having finished the book, I have to add to my original post. The author (while still telling a good story - I do not mean to detract from the story!) has missed the point (or displayed a lack of knowledge of) Moore's Law. The basic premise is that that computer hardware gets twice as fast every two years.

This has implications in everything from how fast graphics will render to your screen to how fast and good compression of data will be for transmission. In one scene of the book the author discusses how data travels around the internet (though he does not use this term) and how the swift movement of data is hindered by the limitation of passing it over a telephone line. He totally missed the advent of high-speed data transmission via broadband, fibre optic, etc.

Ah well... it was still a good story!

editor

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday

Happy anniversary to Dad & Flo

Happy anniversary to Mary & Corey

The "Holiday Shopping Season" Begins

Today is the official beginning of the holiday shopping season! (Yeah!!!) Oh, but were there a way to express the absolute sarcasm with which that "yeah" was proffered.

It is not as if I am a total Scrooge, but I hate this time of year at many public venues but I hate it at commercial venues especially; Yule spirit does done not go over well with me when it is forced from without. The fact that Christmas decorations started appearing more than a month ago is not something that helps foster the mood.

Look: I dislike malls at the best of times; I like them even less when they are crowded with holiday shoppers. Since when has the commercial spirit been the spirit of the season? So I am staying home today to read. There is no reason for me to venture forth.

Wherever you are today, I hope your holiday season kicks off in whatever way pleases you best.

Don Bergquist – November 27, 2009 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Now That's Just Rude

No, it's not just rude it's downright anti-social!

I'm talking about a survey I heard about yesterday by the Consumer Travel Alliance which finds that over 73% or those surveyed would travel on a plane even if they thought they had the (H1N1) Swine Flu!

Having gotten the flu this season, presumably from someone who failed to stay home when they were contagious and broadcasting the virus, I have only one thing to say to those people: "Stay Home, you idiots!"

Have you not heard the news that there is a flu epidemic? Have you not heard that the flu can be spread? Have you not heard that there is a shortage of vaccine (and hence no shortage of people ripe for infection)? Do you really want to be the 2009 equivalent of Typhoid Mary?

In a related article that I found, some airlines are actively looking for people who appear to be infected and keeping them off flights, but it is not as sure a way of preventing the spread of the flu than having people act socially responsible.

Granted, that is asking people to act against their human nature, people tend to care about themselves and damn anyone that gets in their way, but what can I say? I still believe that people want to be nice to each other...

Wherever you are today, I hope you'll be socially responsible and stay home if you're sick!

Don Bergquist - November 24, 2009 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Change In Demographics

Something odd is going on here!

For years (at least while in Colorado) it has been my habit to watch the early morning news on ABC from whenever I happen to get up (usually around four) until I either leave for work or until the local news starts. Recently I have noticed that there must have been an odd change in the demographics.

When I first started watching the show the advertisers were mostly those electric wheelchairs (and scooters for people who can't walk well), hearing aids, computer learning products, and Medicare supplement programs. This morning I noticed that the commercials were all for tattoo parlors, porn shops, professional audio companies, and cell phones.

What does this say about the people who are up and around this time of the morning?

The one porn shop that advertises has the worst commercials. The guys who do the spots are obnoxious and annoying, the delivery is whiny, and that does not even touch upon the horrendous scripting. But worst of all is the lighting. The guys on the show look like they are horribly sunburned but then they lean in and they turn sort-of blackish. The color on the spot is horrible.

At least the mobility products had good production value!

Wherever you are today, I hope that you're morning is going well.

Don Bergquist – November 20, 2009 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Has Writing Really Touched A Nerve?

Wow! I really didn't think my idle and off-hand comments would elicit such response! I do believe this is more responses than I have ever had before… Well, maybe second most.

Thanks everyone for reading and commenting on my blog!

Wherever you are today, I hope that you’re having a good day!

Don Bergquist – November 19, 2009 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Cursive

I recently saw a news report (I cannot remember which of the plethora of news programs I watch it was on, sorry) about how Cursive is a dying script. The point of the story was that we learn it in third grade and then practically never read it again.


I am reading The Salmon Of Doubt, the posthumous work by Douglas Adams. It is basically a collection of essays, articles he wrote, and the start of a novel that he was in the process of writing when he died. He makes note of how handwriting was going out as far back as the nineties and offers an answer to the question “Why?”

Thinking about it, I think he is right. Handwriting is dying out because it is not conducive to computing.

With the ubiquity of the computer in daily life we are more used to seeing things in print than in cursive, and though we could make the computers write things in cursive, it is not necessary. Computer keyboards are not in cursive, handwriting input devices do not understand cursive, and don’t get me started with text recognition. It is often had to get my scanner to import a typed document correctly.


So is cursive dead? Probably. If so, it was the computer that killed it.

Except for my signature, I cannot tell you the last thing I wrote in cursive (and as with most signatures that I have seen, mine is mostly initial letters and a suggestive squiggle). What was the last thing you wrote in cursive? So, take a moment to morn the passing of cursive, then get back to work in a print world.



Don Bergquist – November 18, 2009 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy birthday to my cousin Grainne

Monday, November 16, 2009

You Can’t Have It Both Ways

If you believe what Rudy Guiliani has to say, then it is a bad thing that Khalid Sheikh Muhammad will be tried in open court. It sets a dangerous precedent and changes the “war on terrorism” from a war to a law enforcement issue. It will give the defendant what he wants – publicity.

If you believe what Rudy Guiliani has to say, then it was a good thing that Zacarias Moussaoui was tried in open court. It gave the defendant his day in court. It showed that we were a nation of laws.

Mr. Giuliani was on one of the “talking heads” shows that I watch. The former comment was said live on the show, in response to the later which was a quote of his from 2006 which the commentator asked him about. You can’t have it both ways. Is it a good thing or a bad thing to try the people who were responsible for the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001 in US criminal courts? I think that the reason for the confusion may be clear when you look at the former mayor of New York’s other comments from yesterday:

The administration has quit using the phrase the war on terror.” – Funny, but isn’t that exactly what the previous administration did when they decided to re-brand it as “The struggle against violent extremism” in July of 2005?

Trying him in open court presents the possibility of acquittal.” – But isn’t that one of the founding principles upon which our legal system is built; the concept of the presumption of innocence? Granted, this person has been tried and convicted in the media, and (if the press reports are to be believed) he has boasted about being the mastermind of the “9/11 Attacks” but he is still entitled to his day in court.

The administration has invented the possibility of military tribunals…” – Really!? The current administration invented the possibility of trying someone in a military tribunal? I suppose I must have been imagining the previous administration proposing/doing exactly that with the detainees that actually got any form of a trial.

Let’s face it. What is happening is not perfect, but then neither is our system of justice. It is, however, the only system we have. And as imperfect as it is, it is better than that present in many other places.

In some countries, a woman can be stoned to death just because her husband accuses her of infidelity. She has no right to defend herself or to present any evidence to exonerate herself. Okay, I can hear you whining that I have picked an example of a backward extremist country to make my point.

Okay, I’ll grant you that one. Let’s take a look at one of our most cherished (and maligned) rights as far as criminal proceedings is concerned. Along with the presumption of innocence, we have the right not to present self-incriminatory evidence. The fifth amendment (in case you have either not read it or do not remember it from your high school civics classes) reads as follows:
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
Why do we have this right not to testify against ourselves spelled-out in our constitution? Because no such right existed in England when we seceded from them in 1776. The system of English Common Law at the time had no assumption of innocence. It had no protection against self-incrimination.

But that’s what? 200 years ago?” I hear you ask. 233, but who is counting?

What’s more, according to discussions I had with my friends while living in London, no such assumptions or protections exist today. A prisoner in the dock of the Queen’s courtroom may be compelled to answer any question put to them regardless of the consequences. Failure to answer or to answer truthfully is an offense in itself.

Now, granted, it is an offence to lie in court, it’s called “perjury” but in an American court, if you ask me if I had committed an offense, I have the right to say nothing. You (as a juror) will be instructed by the judge that you may not draw any conclusion from the silence. And there are good and valid reasons for this right.

It keeps the power of the government in check and prevents them from arbitrarily pulling people into court on any old claim the want to make. If the government is going to pull you into court, they are going to make sure there is reason for you to be there first!

So, is it a good or a bad thing that we are going to try the architect of the 9/11 attacks in a US court. The answer is, quite frankly, both. It shows the world that we are not afraid to do so, that our justice system is capable of withstanding the attacks he is accused of launching against it. It is bad because it does give him a platform to spread his propaganda from. But that is the cost of freedom.

If you want the right to speak your mind, you have to extend that to others. Even others you disagree with. (I know that people on both ends of the political spectrums have just cringed, but it cannot be helped.)

Wherever you are today, I hope that you will exercise the freedom of speech you have.

Don Bergquist – November 16, 2009 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy anniversary to DeeAnn & Michael

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day

Rememberance Day

Happy birthday to my friend John

Armistice Day

Flander's Fields
by
John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Product Placement

A brilliant new show on ABC, Castle, (well, at least a show I really like) has done something I have never heard of happening before. The program spent the entire first season with the author character "writing" a novel, Heat Wave. We heard about his process, saw how he researched the character, etc.

There is nothing new in this, what is (I believe) new, is that they had someone actually ghost-write the book and they introduced it in the season 01 season finale. An interesting move, but I wonder what the ramifications of this might be aboard.

In the US, the FCC (the regulatory body that regulates broadcast television) has adopted the Children's Television Act of 1990. This act mandated that in children's television programming, the broadcaster may not present more than 06:00 advertising time in any given half-hour of children's television programming. (Slightly more on the weekends.) Additionally, no character from the program may appear in any ad within that program as that makes the entire program a commercial for the product.

These rules were adopted because ACT (Action for Children's Television) successfully argued that children have a problem telling the difference between the commercials and the programming. If you can remember the '80s, you may remember how programs like He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe program tended to consist of 22 minutes of program content, five minutes of commercials for He-Man toys, and a minute or two of other content.

In Canada, for instance, the Canadian Radio and Television Commission (CRTC) is much more stringent in controlling what happens on the air. They have limits on commercialization around the clock. It was something like 7.5 minutes per half hour last time I checked. …or something like that.

The reason I bring this up, is something has been bothering me. If we apply the same argument to Castle that ACT applied to He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe do we now have a problem? Is the entire season 1 of Castle not just a commercial for Heat Wave?

Okay, perhaps this is just interesting to those of us who make our living with broadcasting and broadcast-related business.

Wherever you are today, I hope that you will have a good day!

Don Bergquist – November 07, 2009 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Guy Fawkes Night

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.

Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t'was his intent
To blow up the King and Parli'ment.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England's overthrow;
By God's providence he was catch'd (or by God's mercy)
With a dark lantern and burning match.

The Gunpowder Treason

There was a movie that a friend of mine lent to me while I was living in London that had some really interesting things to say politically, morally, and ethically. The movie, V for Vendetta is made from a graphic novel (an adult comic book) and is very much in the style of movies made from such sources, it is dark, highly stylized, and does not follow normal rules of physical motion (people appear and disappear without moving, return from the dead, seem to fly across great distances in no time at all, etc.).

The movie is set in a modern day London which is ruled by a harsh, authoritarian government which comes to power through questionable means and which maintains power through the use of fear and brutal enforcement of draconian laws. Personal freedoms and human rights have all but disappeared in the wake of the horrible events that gave rise to a highly nationalist and xenophobic government.

Into this hellish world comes an avenger. V, as he is known, is a crusader who has come to remind his fellow countrymen what they have surrendered to the powers that be and to let them know that no government has the right to rule through fear and oppression. V is only ever seen in the guise of Guy Fawkes and the British Celebration of Guy Fawkes night features prominently throughout.

There are shades of Thomas Jefferson in the quote most people remember from the movie:
"People should not fear the government. The government should fear its people."
Now, I was living over in the UK during the later years of the Bush-Cheney administration so I saw this not so much as an indictment of the the British, but more as a general warning about letting your government take away from you the rights that we have fought against those in power for so many years to win! I was constantly being asked how I could countenance the erosion of personal freedoms that were being foisted upon the American people.

We were being spied upon by the government, we were being lied to to induce us to allow the administration to start two ill-conceived and unpopular wars. (Okay, there was general consent that we should attack Afghanistan after 09/11, but the reasons and the support for invading Iraq was never as clear.)

The result of the November elections of last year should have been a turning point. It seemed to be. "Change" was what we were promised. Unfortunately, that change has been neither as copious nor as rapid as one might have hoped. I do not in any condone or support violent revolution, but a revolution is what is needed nonetheless!

A revolution of fed-up Americans who do the unthinkable: that get active in local affairs, an American public who take a genuine and active interest in politics, an American public who can be bothered to show-up at the polls and voice their opinion.

As Thomas Jefferson said:
"When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty."
Wherever you are today, I hope that you will find some peaceful way to at least give your government a brief pause for thought!

Don Bergquist - November 05, 2009 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Guy Fawkes


Happy birthday to my friend Gayla

Monday, November 02, 2009

ADOLAT

This weekend I stopped into a shop to pick-up a couple things I needed and there was this cool little doo-hickey on the counter that caught my attention.

It was a disk made of cardboard with a swirl pattern printed on it. On top of that was a sheet of some sort of Lucite or plastic or something that had a different kind of a swirl pattern printed on it. Set in the middle, serving as a pivot for the two was a faceted piece of plastic or Lucite or something that you could look through to get a sort-of bug’s eye view of the things around you.

Or you could spin the two discs relative to each other and get psychedelic patterns to show. It was pretty cool looking and I played with it a while and then put it down. Then while waiting for the clerk to finish ringing-up my order, I picked it up again and played with it some more…

My reverie was interrupted (when I had picked it up for the third time) by the voice of the clerk. “Ohh! Shiny. You want me to ring that up? You obviously want it!”

“No, just looking at it.” Was the lame response I gave.

“Yeah, I have been doing that all day myself.” he confided. “It must be my ADOLAT.”

“Excuse me?” I asked puzzled.

“You know: Attention Deficit” at which point he turned and looked suddenly at the back of the store as if I had been forgotten “Ooh! Look At That!”

I have to admit. It was one that I had not heard before. We chuckled, finished the transaction and I left; a new thing to snicker at occasionally in my bag one-liners.

Wherever you are today, I hope that you have something to chuckle at!

Don Bergquist – November 02, 2009 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy birthday to my cousin Michael

Happy birthday to my uncle Richard

All Souls Day

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Halloween Costume

Every year I try to make my Halloween costume something humorous; a visual pun, a political statement, something unexpected. This year in planning my costume I had thought about going as Sarah Palin’s speech writer.

The gag was that I was going to go with a bag full of slips of paper, each with a random comment on them: “I don’t want to talk about that let’s talk about energy,” “I can see Russia from my house,” “Lipstick,” “I’m a maverick…” that sort of thing. Then when ever anyone asked me anything I would reach into the bag and grab a handful of them and read them off as my answer.

Unfortunately, it was pointed out to me that with speeches as rambling and poorly constructed as he has there was no way she used a speech writer so the gag kind of fell apart.

Then, talking to my sister on afternoon, we hit upon a new idea. Off to my scanner and PhotoShop I went. After scanning and altering some Monopoly® money with pictures of myself (and Saga for the Million-Dollar Bill) I printed off stacks and stacks of money which I gave out freely at the party I went to.

“Buy yourself something nice, like a car company.” Was one of my lines I used. “Here’s your bailout fund. Pay it back when you are back on your feed. (Nudge. Nudge. Wink. Wink.)” Was another.

My costume? Timothy Geithner.

For the people who knew who that is, it was a pretty funny costume. Oddly, it was the children who liked it most! One little girl kept coming back asking if she could have some more money. A future CEO, no doubt!

Perhaps I went a little overboard, though. I am not at all sure that I needed to print a full ream of paper into money. I still have a good portion of it left over. (And when have you ever heard that about a government program!?)

Wherever you are today, I hope that you’re having a lovely day!

Don Bergquist – November 01, 2009 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy birthday to my friend Heather

Happy birthday to my friend Terry

All Saints Day

Fall Back

I hope you remembered to set your clocks back! (Unless you live in a portion of the world that didn't go to Daylight Savings Time back in the spring.)

Most of the US "Falls Back" to standard time effective this morning. Enjoy that extra hour of sleep! (I don't, personally, set my clocks back until today... that way I get my extra hour of sleep tomorrow morning and I can enjoy it on a work day!)

Don Bergquist - November 01, 2009 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Snow Abates

Well, it doesn't appear that we're going to get the two feet that they were predicting. The snow had really tapered off by sunrise. That is not to say that it has stopped falling... it is still coming down, but now it is much lighter.

But with only six inches between noon yesterday and five this morning, after getting a foot of snow in the previous twelve-or-so hours, it was evident that it had slowed greatly over night.

Now, at noon, it is basically just spitting down slowly. The current measure is just shy of twenty-two inches.

Wherever you are today, I do hope you're keeping yourself safe and warm!

Don Bergquist - October 29, 2009 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Snow Storm - Day Two

Some time around eight this morning it will have been snowing for thirty-six hours uninterrupted. The snow started falling before I went to bed on Tuesday and as of five this morning when Saga and I went out to walk in her park, it was still falling at a pretty good clip.

The snow was knee deep where it hadn't been shoveled or plowed yet. Which means that Saga didn't so much walk as plow her way through the snow to go out for our walk this morning. There were about 18" inches of snow when I measured this morning, but as she is only about 18" at the withers, she was nothing more than a white-fur-covered barge floating on a sea of snow as she made her way to her favorite sniff-spots.

Needless to say it was a short walk this morning. She practically dragged me back to the house, satisfied that she had had enough time outside for the morning, she turned and bolted for the warmth and comfort of her favorite corner of the living room.

Yeah! She gets to snuggle up, cozy in her duvet in her little cave below the end-table by the front window; I have to head up to the office and start the computer and get testing software. I really am not sure where this expression "it's a dog's life" comes from. Saga's living the Life of Reilly.

Ah well, time to post this and get upstairs and start the computer. (Such a touch commute I have today! Poor me!) I should probably grab a cuppa before I head upstairs.

Wherever you are today, I hope that you're living the Life of Reilly.

Don Bergquist - October 29, 2009 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The First Foot

As of 13:00 this afternoon (approximately) I had had my first foot of snow. I pushed a 16" ruler I have into the snow stacked on top of Saga's kennel and marked the total at a foot.

It is still coming down out there! It is messy, but right now it is so lovely!

I hope you're having a lovely day wherever you are today!

Don Bergquist - October 28, 2009 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

The Snow Starts

According to the weather reports this is going to be the first "major" snowstorm of the season.

They have been talking about it since last weekend. The snow is going to be a two-day event and the roads are going to be exceedingly dangerous. I can believe it! When Saga and I went out to her park this morning at five there was already a couple inches of snow on the ground.

The snow had actually already started to fall when Saga and I were taking our evening constitutional. It wasn't much. Rain-snow mix mostly, but there were big, ugly, sloppy, wet flakes mixed into the drizzle last night. It is surprising the roads aren't icier than they are!

It is too dark to tell what it is going to be like today, but if last night and this morning are any indication, it is going to be a brutal storm. Good thing I can telecommute! The weatherperson on the station I am listening to says that the morning rush is going to be okay, just slow. I think I will get out my computer, set-up and work from home where I am safe, warm, and dry.

Wherever you are today, I hope that you're safe, warm, and dry.

Don Bergquist - October 28, 2009 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Monday, October 26, 2009

Still Sniffling!

From what I understand, it may be another week before the sniffles abate, but that is the last remaining vestiges from last weekend's cold.

Saga and I passed a calm and relaxing weekend doing nothing much of any consequence. I caught-up on some correspondence, did a little work on my photo catalogue, and basically just took it easy.

With all the snow yesterday it was really not conducive to going out anyway.

This morning it is cold and clear. The roads are clean and dry (it was too warm yesterday for the snow to stack-up) and Saga and I have had a lovely walk in her park. The coyotes were crying earlier when we went out… Saga gets pretty tentative about going too deep into the park when the howls are too near to the border we live on.

So we walked the perimeter of the park for a while and now, I am sipping the last of my morning coffee; it will soon be time for me to head into the office. Another day – another 68¢ after taxes!

Wherever you are today, I hope that you're well and that your weather is lovely!

Don Bergquist – October 26, 2009 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy anniversary to Todd & Kristen

Happy birthday to my cousin Gwen

Friday, October 23, 2009

Much Better!

That was rough!

I am not fully recovered, but am feeling better to the point that I can get back to the office and do some work. I was actually out of bed yesterday and worked from home, but as my fever had not broken until Wednesday night, my information is that I may still be contagious. The doctor said to stay home for 24-hours after the fever broke to minimize the risk of shedding virus to the general populace.

So I waited. (Apparently, according to something I saw on the news last night...) The military academy in The Springs is suggesting upping this to 48 hours because some of their students are still showing signs of the virus after the 24-hour window. I don't have that kind of time to waste at home. Too much to do at the office.

Which is where I should be!

Wherever you are today, I hope that you are able to avoid the flu!

Don Bergquist – October 23, 2009 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy birthday to my friend David

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Yep! Flu!

I went to the doctor today and was told: "Yes... You have the seasonal flu."

It will be a couple days before I get back to work. Now I am getting back to bed.

Wherever you are today, I hope that you’re feeling well!

Don Bergquist – October 21, 2009 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Monday, October 19, 2009

FLU!

I slept the entire weekend.

Well, if not the entire weekend, enough of it that it made no difference and it may as well have been the entire weekend.

I did get up a few times a day so that Saga could take her walk. Most of these prompted by the little one jumping on the bed to wake me up. So the routine was sleep... jump (Wake up!)... walk with Saga... check Saga's food and water... return to bed... repeat.

I am taking a sick day.

Wherever you are today, I hope that you're feeling well!

Don Bergquist – October 19, 2009 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Back To Work

It’s just after four, I am up, I am sipping the first coffee of the morning, I am rested and ready to return to the office. I cannot wait to see what is up when I get there. Looking at my inbox, it is bad but not unmanageable.

What a good and restful vacation! But now that it is over, I had best get headed to the office. I had best get ready and get on the road. The morning is wearing on.

BTW: All my vacation pictures have been uploaded to my sharing site. Check them out if you get a chance.

Wherever you are today, I wish you a good one!

Don Bergquist – October 15, 2009 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Last Day

Well, it is my last day at home before returning to work.

What a foggy morning! Nice that I didn’t have to drive in! Tomorrow will be soon enough. I have a cauldron of soup bubbling happily to itself in the kitchen and there is a load of laundry spinning in the machines.

Once that is out, I think I will go down to the community center for a swim and perhaps a lounge in the hot tub. This afternoon, perhaps a nap! Work resumes tomorrow.

Wherever you are today, I wish you a casual and relaxing day!

Don Bergquist – October 14, 2009 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Relation

Gee! Why didn’t I think of this sooner!?

Yesterday, after emptying the car, and getting some things straightened up at home I organized and got ready to restock the larder. That was enough, no need to rush, I don’t need to be back at work until Thursday, but then I didn’t expect to be home until tomorrow.

I really like not having too much to do when I get back so that I have to rush to finish!

I think I will have another cup of coffee and go over the list of things I have to do today and tomorrow once more time.

Wherever you are today, I hope it is a low-stress day for you.

Don Bergquist – October 13, 2009 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Monday, October 12, 2009

Mad Dash

This is the reason I made the mad dash for home.

Well, this and as recently as this time yesterday morning they were still predicting that I would not make it home by this morning. The storm that hit the Denver area late last week was supposed to be moving through the Midwest yesterday. As late as 06:45 when I heard the last weather report in Kensington the prediction was that I would not make it to North Platte, Nebraska.

This wheel was one on which the fog the driver had gone through had frozen to the hub cap while it was in motion. That accounts for the outward frostcicles all over the outer edge of the wheel cover.

(I have to admit, both of these pictures were taken on Saturday in Minnesota, but they illustrate why I had to beat the weather.)

The driveway to dad’s that had been slick (but lovely) the day before was predicted to get a pounding by noon yesterday. Once I was on the road, I had the perfect weather for driving! It was cold, but except for freezing fog that coated my car’s wing mirrors, nose, and antenna, the road was good and the drive was uneventful.

It wasn’t a personal best, but it was not far off. The mileage was longer than normal because I swung south trough Iowa instead of cutting straight across South Dakota (this because my route was supposed to be snowy and icy by noon along that route). So instead of 990 miles, the odometer showed 1058.3. Door-to-door time was 14.13 hours. (12.85 hours of moving time.) This gives me an effective average speed of 74.88 MPH overall average and 82.36 MPH moving average.

This morning I saw a weather report that the fog that I had passed through last night had frozen to the roadbed and the route I took was icy and snowy this morning. The weather forecast calls for snow this afternoon and so, it seems that it was a good move to leave when I did. I may not have been on the road until Wednesday otherwise.

Now I have the days I had planned as drive/recuperation time for cleaning and getting ready to go back to work.

How nice!

Wherever you are today, I hope that you’ll have a wonderful, relaxing day!

Don Bergquist – October 12, 2009, Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Columbus Day

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Grinding Day

Yeah, the roads were pretty bad. As a matter of fact, they’re predicted to get worse… But that is another story.

Today we had the big gathering of family and what fun it was! All of my siblings were there, we had aunts and uncles, cousins, parents, miscellaneous others… it was a packed house. And by that I do mean that the house was packed.


The weather outside was way too cold to peel and grind outside! So we turned the basement into a grinding station. We had a couple tables set-up as peeling stations and made it through the seven buckets of roots in only a few hours. Yes, I Said “few” – my aunt Judy and uncle Gene showed-up with a bucket of horseradish roots to add to those we’d already had.

We had to open the basement door and exhaust the acids from the roots we were cleaning and peeling or we would have all been bloodshot for weeks! So it was a bit brisk, but that is what the Schnapps is for!

Those of us not actively involved in peeling were actively involved in keeping the kids entertained… or doing other jobs required for getting dinner ready. There was a huge crowd to feed, you know!

My camera made the rounds and captured people cleaning, peeling, and playing. It even caught me when my Dad and I headed out to the garage for the grinding and preparing station.

Once most of the roots were ready, Dad came out and helped get the roots sliced into chunks that the processor could chop to the right consistency, and I stood over the processor most of the time grinding and pickling.

Afterward, it was a wonderful afternoon of cards, conversation, and catching-up with the family. In the end we had two huge roasting pans of horseradish to divvy-up between us. What a great day! What fun seeing the family again! What a pain that I have to leave.

If the weather report is right, I have to get moving or I will not be in Denver any time next week. There is a storm blowing out of Denver to the northeast that may be a pain to deal with. So I had best put an end to writing and get the car parked.

Wherever you are today, I hope that you’ve had a great day and that you have spent it with family.

Don Bergquist – October 11, 2009 – Kensington, Minnesota, USA

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Digging Day

It’s not all fun and games! It’s not as if all we do is sit around, play cards, have “animated discussions” (read that “arguments” if you so desire), and drink. Though enough of that goes on to make digging day worth it!

Digging day is usually the day before the grinding goes on. Though, since last year when I showed-up with my KitchenAid Food Processor it has been chopping rather than grinding… But I am getting ahead of myself.

The day before the big event we all drive out to a field in the county my uncle lives in where there is a big patch of Horseradish. It is on the farm of a friend of my uncle’s and it is where I have been to dig. If there have been other patches in other years, I’ve not been to them. So my siblings and I, my parents, my uncle and aunt, and a cousin all drove out to the field to dig on Friday afternoon.

The digging was a snap yesterday due to all the rain that Minnesota has been getting of late! The ground was nice and soft. In previous years it has been hard work. In previous years it has also been reasonably warm. This year, it was pretty cold, but once you got to turning over the soil, it was plenty warm.

My uncle had an inspired idea this year. After digging our six buckets of roots, we took them back to the farm and ran them under the power washer for a while to knock most the dirt and much of the root fibre structure off the main roots. That aught to make the cleaning tomorrow easier!

It was then off to Chet’s for chicken to celebrate the completion of the first part of the process. I dropped my brother and his wife off in town with Dad and Flo’s car. We had dropped it at the service center for repairs to the heater core on the way in. They were going to get it back to the house this morning, but then they decided to leave it at the shop and see if it can’t be fixed today. So there is no reason to have it at home. It’s not as if there is any dearth of cars around.

So I guess I should finish writing and get into town to get Denis and Helen. And the roads are going to be bad! I just know it. It snowed last night!

Wherever you are today, I wish you well and hope you’re warm and happy!

Don Bergquist – October 10, 2009 – Kensington, Minnesota, USA

Friday, October 09, 2009

Autumn Walk

What a lovely morning for a walk!

Dad and Flo and I had a great time walking down between the lakes and through the woods. Saga came along to explore; it was the first time this vacation that it was not raining.

Oh! What colors!

The woods on either side of the lake are the turning color, the skies were still overcast, but we expect that to continue all week. Oh, well!

Yesterday evening the last of my siblings arrived. My elder brother and his wife came in and the serious card playing began! A round-robin game of whist between my brothers, father, and I lasted late into the night; we played cards, caught-up on news, and swapped old stories.

Today we're headed up to my uncle's farm; the family homestead in Parkers Prairie. This afternoon we are going to be digging horseradish, tomorrow there is a big gathering to make horseradish and drink schnapps. It is always a great time!

Well, it's time for me to help dad get breakfast ready. There are a lot of people to feed. We're making a big mess of hunter's eggs, sausages, and toast.

Wherever you are today, I hope that your day is starting out well!

Don Bergquist - October 09, 2009 - Kensington, Minnesota, USA

Happy birthday to my cousin Andrea

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Point of Fact

My sister made a good point last night during a discussion. We were talking about some arcane point on how the ear works. In the middle of it, my sister grabbed her laptop and looked-up the point and the issue was settled.

What a boon for accuracy and what a damper for discussion! We will have to switch to philosophy or really arcane topics that are not easily verified by looking them up if we want to have long and involved discussions in the future. We never used to be able to do this. Mainly because the encyclopedia was not an easy source to query while we were having the discussion.

But even with the addition of the internet, our discussion last night was just like a night out of the past! We sat here talking way into the night. It was cool.

Today I am headed off with the siblings that are here and doing some things around the county that I wanted to do while I was here. Tomorrow, we're off to dig for horseradish roots. Yum!!!

Wherever you are today, I hope you're with the ones you love doing the things you enjoy!

Don Bergquist - October 08, 2009 - Kensington, Minnesota, USA

Happy anniversary to Dirk & Andrea

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Memory Lane

Being here in Minnesota is always a trip (and I am not just talking about the drive). It is interesting to see how things change and how they stay the same. The nearest city to where my parents live is Alexandria; a city known for the three-story-tall Viking that used to stand in the middle of the main road through town.

I say “used to” because a few years back someone decided that, perhaps, having a three-story-tall statue standing on a six-foot-tall concrete base in the middle of a busy state highways was not the best idea. Not that I had ever actually heard of any accidents from people hitting Big Ole, but then I don’t live here all the time, perhaps there had been. So, the city moved Big Ole off to a park a hundred yards distant at the side of the road.

But there are things that never seem to change, the diner on Broadway that has been there since my grandmother used to take me there for a patty melt and a pop for lunch when we were spending the day “in the city.” The Maid-Rite sandwich store that sells the most unusual sandwich (crumble-fried hamburger and grilled chopped onion mixed with mayo and melted American cheese - trust me, it is not as unappealing as it sounds!) is still there.

Then there are other buildings which have been put to other purposes. The old Red Owl supermarket is now an Ace Hardware, the old library, its gothic architecture making it stand-out on its street of sturdy Midwestern homes, is now a real estate office (the new library is a much larger and more modern) was built a few blocks away to house a much larger and growing collection.

But even the people and the things that they do remind me of the past. Last night, for instance, I was reminded of a trip I took to Buffalo, NY many years ago. Last night I went with my parents to play whist with their whist club. It was so much fun. I don’t get to play cards as much as I would like to. So, why would this remind me of a business trip to New York? Well, it’s like this…

On that trip, my colleague and I tool a side trip on a weekend we had free. We drove up along the lakeshore to a 19th century fort that had been part of the defenses of Canada that saw action during the war of 1812. While there, the guide was giving his schpiel about one of the particular rooms. He told the group about how the officers would spend the evenings here in this room drinking and playing cards.

He then went onto say that they thought that it was cards they were playing but hadn’t been able to verify it. Their journals talked about a regular whist game. It was all I could do to restrain myself from laughing. After the tour I approached the guide on the sly and told him that, indeed, whist was a card game and that it was very popular where my people were from and would he care to, I could explain to him how it was played so that he could be more aware of what the journals meant.

Today my folks and I are working around the house. My siblings arrive today and tomorrow. Friday we’ll be digging horseradish! Yum! (By the way, the dearth of pictures today is due to the fact that it is still exceedingly wet and raining.)

Wherever you are today, I hope all your memories are pleasant ones.

Don Bergquist - October 07, 2009 - Kensington, Minnesota, USA

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Rain

It seems that this vacation is bound to be water-based.

With the fog of the day I drove here, and the rain that has been varying from a mist to a constant pounding rain that came down at sunset yesterday, to the steady drizzle of the past ten hours, we have had water since yesterday morning.

The weathercast says that the rain will continue changing to snow by Friday. It's good for the state; Minnesota is way behind where they should be for annual precipitation. It is bad for the farmers, I suppose. There are crops standing in the fields that will be there until the fields dry out enough to harvest.

Besides, this is Minnesota. The thing to do in Minnesota this time of year is to drink coffee, play cards, and generally just stay indoors. I'm comfy, I'm warm, I'm with family... what more could I want?

Wherever you are today, I hope that you're safe, warm, and with those you love.

Don Bergquist - October 06, 2009 - Kensington, Minnesota, USA

Happy birthday to my friend Elaine.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Butt-Ugly-Early O’clock, Part III

Well, that was fun!

The morning drive started early, as I had said, but the part I wasn’t to know was how much fun the ride would be.

Shortly after hopping onto the interstate, I started seeing something that I could not identify on the road surface. I sussed it just in time. It was pieces of the animal that a rather large vehicle had strewn across the road after they had collided. I realized it in time to start looking for the bulk of the carcass and miss it.

When a semi hits a dear, besides strewing pieces of it for miles, it leaves surprisingly large pieces that would do no good whatsoever to my little Honda. Later in the morning I was to see a truck that had had a similar encounter drive past me, blood still fresh on its grille.

Just before sunrise the fog set in. It was a thick, heavy, fog that was nearly impossible to see through. Thank heaven for the GPS! I slowed to about thirty and put on my flashers about the time that I heard my GPS announce that I was approaching a rest area. Saga and I spent a bit of time hanging-out, listening to the iPod, taking a few pictures, and waiting for the fog to lift.

This particular rest area has a spectacular view of an ancient glacial valley… that is when you can see it at all it would normally appear in the background. (I know, a picture of me and Saga in front of fog. Reminds me of when my friends moved here from London and they traveled across the states. They have pictures of themselves pointing out where the scenic wonders of the states would be – if you could see them through the fog.)



Shortly after the sunrise, the fog burned off. The skies were clear, the temperatures were cold, the roads were clear and the rest of the morning was a lovely drive. My parents and I passed a lovely evening playing scrabble (I won! For the first time in many, many years I beat my folks at scrabble!)

Today, I have a little work to do and then my folks and I have some chores to do before the family starts to arrive for the weekend festivities.

Wherever you are today, I hope you are close to the ones you love.

Don Bergquist – October 05, 2009 – Kensington, Minnesota, USA

Happy anniversary to Michelle & Michael

Happy anniversary to Shawn & Nancy

Happy birthday to my brother Charles

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Butt-Ugly-Early O’clock, Part II

Another thing about Butt-Ugly-Early O’clock, besides not knowing what time it is, is never being quite sure what is going to occur to you are that time of the morning, whatever time that may turn-out to be.

For instance, say you went to the office the previous day, suppose that you took your cell phone with you, suppose also that when you did you left it in the pocket of the jacket you wore. How long, do you suppose, that it would be until you realized that the cell phone was still in the pocket of that jacket, currently hanging in the closet back at home? For me, that moment of revelation came about two hours down the road.

The moment came on the road as I was approaching Ft. Morgan, Colorado. Not really wanting to drive half-way across the country without the ability to call home and give them updates, or call for help should anything get stranded, I hit the GPS looking for a cell phone store. Luckily, it was about time for me to renew my contract which means that my carrier was about to give me a free phone anyway.

An hour later, I was on my way and it was a lovely day for driving! All the way across Colorado and Nebraska, the weather could not have been nicer! I had clean, dry roads. The winds were light and breezy, and the cloud cover was broken and scattered. The traffic was fairly light and most of the way I had the road to myself.

How wonderful are all the modern conveniences!? I could call my parents any time I wanted (except for a few fairly major dead spots off the interstate), the GPS told me where to turn and what to look for. The iPod kept me entertained. The day (and the miles) flew by.



When the road starts getting dark, and the time to stop draws near, you know that it is time to end your day. (I have driven this trip in one sitting plenty of times, but today, there was no reason to push it!) So shortly after sunset, it was time to stop. Day one of my trip ended at Murdo, South Dakota.

This morning, I have less than half the trip ahead of me and a very early start of it. So I guess Saga and I will hop into the car and get rolling as early as possible. It is just now three-thirty and the road beckons.

Wherever you are, I wish you clear skies and open roads!

Don Bergquist – October 04, 2009 – Murdo, South Dakota, USA

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Butt-Ugly-Early O’clock

The thing about butt-ugly-early o’clock is that it doesn’t correspond to any specific point along the timeline. When discussing butt-ugly-early o’clock in the context of getting in the car and heading toward Minnesota, it may be as early as two-or-three in the morning. It can be as late as well, seven thirty this morning.

It has been flexible because I was having a crappy morning where nothing goes right. It has been flexible because I could not get back to sleep and so took off much earlier than I had hoped.

This morning it was flexible because of two things: the weather and the dog. I awoke at about a quarter to four. I was relaxed, rested, and ready for a nice day of driving and listening to books on my iPod as I drove to Dad’s place.

While laying there in the warmth of the duvet I turned on the weather channel to see what the roads ahead looked like I discovered that the temperature outside was below freezing. Hmm… tough call, slide out from under the warm fluffy coverlet and go out into the cold now or later. “Just five minutes…” I thought to myself.

The second event to delay me was when Saga came up to the bedroom jumped into bed next to me and snuggled close for warmth. She was almost immediately snoring happily. What could I do? I turned off the TV, tucked in and went back to sleep.

It’s now about seven thirty, I am up, ready to go. So, I suppose it is time to walk the dog, get her in the car, and get on the road. So I wish you clean and dry roads a head of you wherever you’re going.

Wherever you are today, I wish you well!

Don Bergquist – October 03, 2009 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Practice for Minnesota

Okay, perhaps the strategy of delaying my shopping was not the best idea I have had.

I do have plenty of fruit in the fridge; I am concerned that I may not get through it all. I may be taking it to Minnesota to eat in the car as a snack while I drive. And I have plenty of my homemade muesli. I did have to pop into the supermarket for some yogurt, but other than that, I am subsisting off what is here at the house.

Which explains the title of today’s post. Making do, is making me explore the cabinets more thoroughly for something to make a meal out of. Apparently Campbell’s has found a way into my cabinet.

I do not remember buying it, but I have cream of mushroom, cream of celery and cream of potato in my cabinet. I used to tell the story (way back in the day when I did stand-up comedy to pay my bar bill) about how the best thing to have ever happened to Minnesota cuisine was when Campbell's started coming out in flavors other than mushroom. Yum! Yum! Sounds like a hot dish for supper tonight.

Wherever you are today, I hope that your culinary experience is an adventure!

Don Bergquist – October 01, 2009 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA