Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve

A New Year's Resolution Is Something That Goes In One Year And Out The Other.

As 2010 comes to a close, I would like to share with everyone, my annual holiday missive with everyone. Here is the card that I sent my family and my extended family this holiday. There has been one chance since this was issued. Please see the Editor's Note At The End.

-1° On New Year's Eve!

The thermometer as Saga and I went out for our walk at 05:00 read -1°. (That would be -18.3333 for those of you who use the Celsius scale!) Yesterday it seemed that they might have been wrong about the storm. Perhaps yet another storm might miss us. Then the temperatures started falling and so did the snow! By the time I got home at lunchtime I had 3" in my snow gauge. By sundown there was a good 6" in there!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

Happy birthday to my cousin Elizabeth

Happy birthday to my cousin Abigail

A Christmas Eve Story

There are a few things that are more-or-less given at the holiday season. One is that you will get socks and underwear from your grandparents (if you are lucky enough to still have them around to give you gifts), another is that someone is bound to wax nostalgic for the movie A Christmas Story, and one is that every theater guild in the world, and television station will insist on totting out the Dickens in one or more of its incarnations. To that short, but inevitable, list I wish to add the perennial return of The Bergquist Christmas Eve Story. Perhaps one day this will be as loved/reviled (take your pick) as any other holiday classic.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Fairy Dust (Continued)

“Magical” was just the word!

Fairy Dust

The morning will (finally!) dawn crisp and cold here in Colorado. It is, after all, nearly the end of December and it has been unusually warm here for this late in the fall!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Happy birthday to my friend Jacqueline

Return

I see in the news today that the storm was a pretty bad one in the Midwest. All weekend I have been hearing from friends and relatives back in Minnesota that the storm was bad. This morning I read in the news that the Metrodome had collapsed. I guess that means my leaving on Friday was a good thing.

Granted, I really had little input into the choice of departure, I was flying on free tickets, but this makes me feel a bit better about the way things worked out. Though on Friday morning I had wondered if I had waited too long!

The plan was to leave for the airport around 08:30 or 09:00. The morning dawned bright and clear and the prediction was for snow to start around noon. So, when I looked out the window at a heavy snowfall at a quarter-to-nine, I feared I had left the departure too long.

I finished my coffee, bid a good day to my parents, and beat a hasty retreat. Minnesota State Highway 27 was a mess! The conditions were not quite white-out, but they were bad! Snow was drifting across the road so that the lane markings were hard to see, the only saving grace was that there was nobody else on the road.

By the time I had gotten onto Interstate 94 (about ten-miles east of the Bergquist home) the conditions had improved greatly! The skies had cleared to the point that the sun shone down on a lovely, dry roadbed. The snow reduced to flurries, and then stopped altogether.

As a matter of fact, except for an inexplicable stoppage about Rogers, Minnesota, the drive was a quite pleasant one! Even that was no biggie, the GPS warned me of the problem with sufficient time to get off the interstate and head around the blockage.

The start of the storm didn't reach The Cities by the time we took off, the white on the ground as we took off was the result of a week of daily flurries after the previous weekend's storms. But this truly was the calm before the storm. I now know that the flight crew had reason to worry.

While waiting to board, the flight attendants were sitting near me in the boarding area discussing the impending storm. One worried that they may be late on the return flight and wondered if they would have to stay at the hotel by the airport. due to weather conditions that evening.

But I returned to a lovely weekend here in Denver. I got to stare out the window at lovely days as I worked to get my PC back to its optimal working condition. Okay, I didn't spend the entire weekend working on my PC. I actually did get out for a few walks in the park. All-in-all, for me it was a lovely weekend!

Wherever you are today, I hope that your weekend was a good one!

Don Bergquist - December 13, 2010 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Hanukkah Begins

C-C-C Come-on!

I had to shake my head, reach for the remote, and hit rewind. I was sure that I had misheard it!

Granted, I had my back to the television. I was listening to the TV while getting things reloaded on my PC. It is amazing what a HUGE amount of work it is even if you have full backups of everything! So I really wasn’t listening all that closely when I heard the familiar perennial commercial jingle come on.

(music playing) “Ch-ch-ch Chia!”

But then the text and music changed to talk of American history and how proud you’ll be, collecting the US Presidential Chia Pets. I am still laughing thinking of it. These things were tacky in the seventies, laughable in the eighties, dated in the nineties, now they are once again the source of derision for the 2010 Christmas season!

If you want to give someone a gift that is patriotic and educational, the commercial promises you cannot go wrong with Chia Washington, or any of the Chia Presidents! (…or the Chia Statue of Liberty with the glowing torch of freedom!)

I hope that wherever you are today, you’ll come across something that makes you chuckle!

Don Bergquist – December 11, 2010 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Friday, December 10, 2010

Travelling Weather

The forecast for my return trip is certainly nicer than the forecast was for my trip down here. Even though the forecast is still in flux, it looks nothing like the Blizzard of last Friday!

The temperatures are due to be in the low thirties when I take off, and even though there is a slight forecast for snow today, it is all predicted to be well east of the cities and therefore, completely off my radar, so to speak.

I am certain that Saga will be excited to see her Daddy come and rescue her from the doggy hotel. Though I have to say, they did something really cool. I received an email from Saga last weekend telling me she was enjoying her stay. It contained a picture of her taking a walk with one of the care-givers at the kennels I used. She sounded happy!

Wherever you are today, I hope that you're having wonderful weather for whatever it is you have planned!

Don Bergquist - December 10, 2010 - Kensington, Minnesota, USA

Thursday, December 09, 2010

GCs and PC Experts

Right about now, my dad must be thinking that it is nice to have PC Experts, Geniuses and General Contractors for offspring. My brothers and sister are brilliant people - smart enough to solve 99.99% of the issues that arise.

I'm creative enough (when I put myself into my analysis mindset) to discover the underlying cause of a number of things that Dad has happen and either know how to resolve it, or know which of my siblings to contact.

So it must be considered ironic that today's issue was one of a construction nature. (It's alright, Mary. I've got this one...)

Dad had a doorknob that was constantly locking them out of a room and he wanted to replace it. Looking at the doorknob to be replaced, I saw that it was the kind where you screwed together the hardware, then snapped on the face plate, and then locked the doorknob onto the post. Not too hard to replace, as long as you know the correct steps and know to remove the doorknob in the reverse order it was installed.

Now they will no longer be getting locked out of the bathroom. The doorknob is installed, the door looks good and the whole thing will make life a little better for my parents. So, for my last day in Kensington, I did a little light construction... not too bad for a computer guy!

Wherever you are today, I hope you've been able to make a contribution to the quality of someone's life.

Don Bergquist - December 09, 2010 - Kensington, Minnesota, USA

Happy birthday to my step-mother Florence

More Busy Times

It has been a busy week and I have been kept hopping!

My parents had a number of doctor's appointments whilst I was up here in Minnesota, and I have gotten the opportunity to spend some time visiting cousins, aunts, uncles, and assorted relatives. In-between, there have been the obligatory games of whist and cribbage.

It is hard to believe that it is Thursday morning already! Where has the time gone!?

My dad has one more appointment at the hospital for an endoscopy of the esophagus and stomach cancers. Just to see how the treatments are going. After that, I believe the plan is to return here, take it easy, and play some more cards. There is an Alberta Clipper that has been predicted to be coming through here today and dumping a bit of snow and/or freezing drizzle on us, but looking at the lovely, deep blue of the sky above the blaze orange sun as it peeps through the woods to the east of the house, I cannot believe the predictions are correct.

I think today is going to be a lovely day, for my last day of spent with my parents this trip. Tomorrow morning I have to make my way back down to The Cities (Minneapolis/St. Paul) to catch my flight home.

Wherever you are today, I hope that your day is dawning with a promise of being a lovely day!

Don Bergquist - December 09, 2010 - Kensington, Minnesota, USA

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Happy birthday to my friend Zack

Happy birthday to my cousin Victoria

New Lessons About Old Things

It is amazing the things you find out about when you start looking. For instance, my family is from a region of Minnesota currently located in Otter Tail County. I have never known until today that the town had any name other than Parkers Prairie. (The oldest building in town, the State Bank of Parkers Prairie even had it permanently etched in stone, so how could it ever have had a different name?

But no! I came across this old picture of my Great-Great-Grandfather August and when looking him up on the internet I came across some fascinating things about the town he lived in. Parkers was founded under the name "Jasper." It was renamed when the county was being surveyed.

The "Parker" for whom the town was re-christened, was one of the survey team. He was the first to spot the town as they were making their way through the newly mapped county. He later drowned while fording a river and the town was renamed in his honor.

I was telling this story to my step-mom who wondered what lessons we were teaching our children by naming things after people who were uncoordinated or stupid enough to get themselves killed doing dangerous things. (I imagine the conversation one day: "What school do you go to, Billy?" "Dumb-ass memorial senior high." But I digress...)

I also learned that my ancestor's middle name was Samuel. A fact I had never before known. Finally, I discovered that Parkers Prairie was the first town in that part of the state founded by a non-homogeneous group of people. No single ethnicity, religion, or political bent was the core of the community when founded; Parkers was founded by a group of people unified only in the desire to get rich farmland on the route of a planned state road.

Wherever you are today, I hope that you've learned something interesting today as well!

Don Bergquist - December 08, 2010 - Kensington, Minnesota, USA

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Pearl Harbor Day

Time To Get Moving

It is so lovely this morning.

My sister called and chatted early this morning, and now I am sitting watching the snow fall on the frozen lake. The sun is up and shining through the frosty woods to the east of the house and the morning is just lovely!

I'm sitting here enjoying my second cup of coffee and running through my day in my mind. We're running down to the nearest city of any size (St. Cloud) which is about ninety miles away a bit later on today. We have a couple errands to run and I want to stop in and see some relatives while we are there.

Tonight is the Kensington Whist Club meeting... I am hoping everyone feels up to it. It has been so long since I have gotten a few good hands of whist in!

Tomorrow I am chauffeuring again. Flo has optical appointments and then Dad has a doctor's appointment tomorrow. It seems my vacation has already started and it seems it is almost over!

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

Don Bergquist - December 07, 2010 - Kensington, Minnesota, USA

Monday, December 06, 2010

Happy Birthday to the Encyclopædia Britannica!

1768 – The first edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica is published.

A Busy Morning!

Already this morning I have been to town once.

My nephew had to make his plane in the cities at one, so he had to catch a shuttle at seven - well, seven-thirty really, but who's counting! We were sitting at the restaurant when a shuttle pulled up at six-thirty, but it was for the hospital in St. Cloud.

Our waitress asked if we were waiting on a shuttle and when my nephew explained which shuttle he was going to be catching, she told us that it had been there at six. Well, it is actually there every ninety-minutes, so we had a bit more of a wait than we thought, but it was okay... we just had a bit longer to have coffee and chat before he headed south.

Then it was back here to make coffee, make sure the parents were up and ready, and raring to go at nine when we had to get in for his doctor's appointment. When all that is done, perhaps I will FINALLY have a chance to play some cards with my parents! What is Minnesota in the winter without cards, coffee, and company?

Wherever you are today, I hope your day has been going well!

Don Bergquist - December 06, 2010 - Kensington, Minnesota, USA

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Birthday Luncheon At St. Anna's

It is a family tradition to get together to celebrate birthdays in one big gathering. So today we had the birthday luncheon for the December group. My step-mom and a bunch of cousins all have birthdays today.

IT was great seeing all the cousins and my aunts and uncles this afternoon. I do not get to see the family often enough and it is a shame. But it is not worth moving to Minnesota for. (Sorry, gang!)

It has snowed most of the day, but the temperatures have been kept low (low teens) and the winds have kept up, so the snows have been basically just a blowing flurry all day. There has been no additional accumulation.


Tomorrow is going to be a busy day. My nephew leaves for Florida, then I have to get right back here to the house to take my folks into town. I think (at last count) there are three trips for different purposes at different times tomorrow.

Then it will be time to relax with a toddy, a good blanket, and a bit of time spent gazing out at the snow falling in the woods behind the house.

Wherever you are today, I hope that your day has been a pleasant one spent in the company of Friends and Family.

Don Bergquist - December 05, 2010 - Kensington, Minnesota, USA

Happy birthday to my aunt Cecelia

Irony

In Dave Barry's The Only Travel Guide you'll ever need By Dave Barry, the observation is made that "A hundred years ago, it could take you the better part of a year to get from New York to California; whereas today, because of equipment problems at O’Hare, you can't get there at all."

This little piece of irony came back to me last night when I arrived at my folks' place in Kensington. It was almost exactly twenty-four-hours after I had left my home in Lakewood, and basically it was a couple hours more than it would have been (usually) had I driven it.

Of course, as Dad pointed out, due to the weather I would not have made it driving and the whole irony falls down. But it still seems to me that in these days of modern travel conveniences we still are at the mercy of the weather. So as Will Rogers observed: Everyone talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it!

Wherever you are today, I hope that your day will be lovely and Irony-Free!

Don Berguist - December 05, 2010 - Kensington, Minnesota, USA

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

There is a slight difference between the famous poem of the same title by Robert Frost and the fact that I stopped this afternoon near Albany, Minnesota. The difference is that I am stopping to stretch my legs, use the rest area, and walk a bit to wake-up.

I have been driving all day, the roads were, on the whole good once I left Minneapolis, but then, outside St. Augusta, the road was shut. (I would find out later that this was due to an accident involving a state highway patrolman.) I have sat for over an hour between two exits before I could jump off and go through the back roads and rejoin the interstate a few miles down.

It was a lovely evening, the sun is starting to go down and even though it is starting to go down. There was a lovely sight a few miles back. I watched a buck go bounding across the interstate a couple hundred yards ahead of where I was. He just missed getting himself hit by a semi, but it was lovely watching him bound his way across the interstate and over the safety fence at the side of the road.

Now I am stretching my legs and enjoying the quiet of the woods and the snow. But like the narrator of the poem, I have miles to go before I sleep. So I had best get back to driving!

Wherever you are, I hope that you're making progress toward your goals.

Don Bergquist - December 04, 2010 - Albany, Minnesota, USA
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sounds the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Happy birthday to my sister in-law Helen

Murphy's Law - An interlude

There is a corollary to Murphy's Law that states that not only with whatever can go wrong will go wrong, but that it will happen at the worst possible time. I suppose that this is an example of that corollary.

I have known for a few weeks now that I needed to replace my PC. It has been acting strangely for a few weeks. But my goal has been to get past the holidays before seriously attempting to replace it. I have too much on my mind, too many projects to complete, I really cannot stand to be without my computer right now.

So of course, NOW is when my motherboard decides that it is finished. I picture the chip tossing its connectors into the air and screaming "That's it! Finished! I'm outta here!"

I was sitting at the hotel last night and trying to get my blog posted when all of the sudden my PC stopped responding. The screen went dark, the system would not respond. It just died. A couple seconds later, the screen went dark, and there was nothing that could be done. It would not restart. Aahhhh....

I guess that my laptop decided that I had waited long enough. It wanted nothing more than to be sent to a server farm somewhere where it can chase variables and play in the field equations.

It was time to replace it... Good thing I had anticipated this and was ready with a budget to do so. Good thing I have an aunt locally who just happened to send me to a store that was having a sale. I now have a new core i7 machine for less then the core i5 machine I had been considering as a replacement for my old machine. Yeah!

Wherever you are today, I hope that you're running dependably.

Don Bergquist - December 04, 2010 - Kensington, Minnesota, USA

Arrival II

When we left our intrepid traveller last night (well, this morning, really) he was standing at the check-in desk for his hotel in Mendota Heights, Minnesota. The trip from the airport to the hotel, just under five miles, took me almost half an hour. It was a mess out there and the roads were not worth driving fast on.

The receptionist was busily turning away potential guests, there was no room at the inn. They were full-up for the night, and she was harried at the prospect that the snowstorm was to shunt even more weary travellers into her lobby only to be turned out into the storm in search of other accommodation. (Doesn't it sound like a cross between the nativity story and an adventure film!)

I reached the front of the line and handed my credit card, driver's license, and Marriott club card to her. She took them, held-up one finger and grabbed a phone that was shrilly alerting her to the fact that someone was trying to get her attention. After a bit of a wait while she listened, the part of the conversation I could hear went something like this.

"Yes, sir. We do have a shuttle, but it stopped running at eleven."

(Pause while she listened.)

"Yes, I'm sorry to say, sir, that the driver has already left for the evening. We will not have a drive until six in the morning."

(Pauses while she listened.)

"No, sir. We have no shuttle drive to pick you up, I'm sorry."

(The person on the other end of the phone apparently was shouting, not because I could almost make-out his words.)

"Sir, I am sorry. But we have no shuttle at this hour."

(The shouting is almost but not quite distinct now.)

"Sir, we have a shuttle service from six a.m. until eleven p.m. I am sorry that you have missed it. "

(More shouting.)

"Yes, sir, I know you plane must have been late. We're in the middle of a blizzard. -- Then I suppose you had better rent a car or flag a cab!" she concluded with only a burst of shouting coming from the phone to interrupt her.

Turning to me, she pasted a smile on her face, apparently ready for me to shout at her for keeping her waiting. I simply smiled at her warmly, pushed my cards across the desk toward her, and said "Busy night, eh? Is there a storm or something." I smiled my most infectious smile and spoke with a slight chuckle in my voice.

He looked at my cards and got a horrified look on her face. "I'm sorry, Mr. Bergquist, but the room you have reserved is not available. We've been a bit busy this evening. If it is alright with you, may I put you into our standard king suite."

I agreed that the type of room didn't really matter to me, as long as there was a bed and it was warm. I really hadn't paid close attention, once she had confirmed there was a room, whatever it was would be better than sleeping in the car.

It is a really nice room. It is only steps from the pool, it truly is a suite, it has huge flat panel televisions in each room and a comfortable writing desk and office chair. It even has a free Internet connection - not that at the moment I have a computer. I am writing this using a digital writing system (that is to say I am using my digits). This is being composed on paper with a pen, I will have to transcribe it into a computer once I own a working one!

My laptop gave up the ghost last night. This morning I have taken a swim and had breakfast, so and even lounged in the hot tub for a while waiting for the snow to clear a bit off the roads, so I suppose that it is about time to pack up, get in the car and head west. The reports are that the roads are mostly open, so I guess I am headed out!

Wherever you are today, I hope that you are enjoying your morning.

Don Bergquist - December 04, 2010 - Mendota Heights, Minnesota, USA

Movie Trivia: Airport

I mentioned the movie Airport in the post earlier this morning. It reminded me of an interesting trivia point. There is a reason that the film (though set in Chicago) was filmed in Minneapolis. Apparently, the film makers knew that Minnesota winters were particularly arduous and so the opted to film there.

And let's face it, in the seventies, who really could have told you anything about Minnesota but that it is cold? Even today, that is about all I ever hear from friends and colleagues when I say that I am headed there. To be fair, there is some truth to the rumor that Minnesota is cold in the wintertime. But it is so much more. It is also snowy and lovely to look at though the picture windows from inside a warm house with a hot toddy! - But I digress...

So, it is the late sixties, and the filmmakers from California have thought to themselves "cold, snow, winter - MINNESOTA!!" and they contract to film a major motion picture in Minneapolis to feature their notoriously bad weather. So how ironic is it that the weather the entire time they were here was absolutely gorgeous!? They had to use plastic snow to film the movie because the weather was unusually clement and clear.

They might as well have used LAX!

Wherever you are today, I hope that you have enjoyed this movie trivia moment from don sees the world.

Don Bergquist - December 04, 2010 - Mendota Heights, Minnesota, USA

Departure

In The Grass Is Always Greener Over The Septic Tank Irma Bombeck has a great line about the selling of the suburbs in the fifties making the coronation of Queen Elizabeth look like an impulse. It was about as spontaneous as my trip to Minnesota.

It never ceases to amaze me that no matter how well I have planned my vacation, I have Something come up that tosses a spanner into the works! In this case it was the weather. Who knew it would be likely to be snowing in Minnesota in the late fall/early winter!?

Originally, I had planned to drive; as those of you who read my blog regularly know, I LOVE to drive and without much provocation, I will hop in behind the wheel and head-out. But I have been watching the weather with particular interest for the past fee weeks to see if I could spot conditions forming that may cause me problems. The patterns in Minnesota were looking a bit iffy, so last week I decided that perhaps this was not the best idea.

I booked a flight to Minnesota for this afternoon. As the afternoon approached, I decided that this was a good idea. I had just dropped Saga at the Kennel and was headed to the airport when dad and I chatted. "You might think of getting a hotel in the cities tonight, Don." My dad told me that the weather system that was getting bad and the prediction was that it would be problematic getting all the way to Kensington tonight. So it was time to make the call.

It was not a great sign that three times while I was on the phone with the travel agent booking my hotel room (not five miles from the airport) someone tried ringing my cell phone. On the third attempt I had the opportunity to get a look at the phone. Why was Delta calling me?

AH! That was it. The flight to Minnesota was delayed. Not cancelled, just delayed!

Once we left (late so that we wouldn't have to be circling the airport for hours waiting for a cleared landing slot) the flight was not bad. We landed in Minnesota at MSP only a couple hours late. We were supposed to get in about nine. It was after eleven when we were wheels down.

Does anyone remember the 1970 movie Airport? The film (based on the 1968 novel by Arthur Hailey)was set in a Chicago airport and talks about the dire consequences to a flight that has suffered a bomb attack when the airport is partially shut-down due to a snow storm. Though the novel and the film are set in Chicago, few may remember that the film was actually shot at the Minneapolis airport. (Anyone who had been to that airport as recently as the late seventies is likely to have recognized the distinctive architecture of the main terminal building. That architecture has now largely been obscured by multi-story parking garages and an elevated walkway that connects the newer terminals that all but obliterate the views of the terminal from the approach.)

The reason I mention it, is that I think of that movie every time I land in Minneapolis in the snow at winter time. I have expect to see lines of snowplows being driven by Mel Bakerfield's Crews desperately trying to keep the airport open. This time was no different. The weather was participially bad. I could see that the choice to stay in Minnesota was a good one.

On landing, I headed directly to the car rental agency, programmed my GPS for the hotel and headed off. The roads were horrible, but the hotel was close. So by midnight I was standing in the queue at the check-in desk. But that is a story for another time.

Wherever you are tonight (uh... this morning) I hope you are warm, safe, and dry!

Don Bergquist - December 04, 2010 - Mendota Heights, Minnestoa, USA

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Happy Birthday to the moving assembly line!

1913 – The Ford Motor Company introduces the first moving assembly line.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

American Revolutionary War Ends (1782)

Treaty of Paris — In Paris, representatives from the United States and the Kingdom of Great Britain sign preliminary peace articles (later formalized as the 1783 Treaty of Paris).

Monday, November 29, 2010

Back To Reality

At least it is a short week - I go on vacation to Minnesota on Friday.

Wherever you are, I hope you will have an excellent week!

Don Bergquist - November 29, 2010 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Still Not Shopping

I caught a news story yesterday of a woman who was shopping for a charity that buys Christmas gifts for orphans or underprivileged children, or something of that ilk. The tease and lead-in made it sound like the woman had been mugged for her Christmas money. "See how thieves stole Christmas from this woman." and "Grinch strikes at local mall."

The story made it plain though, that the actual story was far less nepharious. It was tragic, but not terribly noteworthy. The woman apparently dropped the bank bag while unloading her cart at the mall. When she went back for it an hour later, the bag was there but the cash was gone. Yes, it was tragic, but hardly an all-out attack on Christmas as they made it sound.

Yesterday was such a relaxing day, playing with the dog, doing a bit of work on a website for my sister, taking a nice long walk, and generally just chilling, that I think I may have to repeat it today. I'm going this afternoon to have Dim Sum with some friends, but other than that, I have no big plans.

How nice is that?

Wherever you are today, I hope that you're having a lovely, relaxing weekend!

Don Bergquist - November 28, 2010 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Happy anniversary to Mary & Corey

Happy anniversary to Dad & Flo

Black Friday

"Holiday Shopping Season" begins

Black Friday - I Think Not!

A disproportionately large portion of the news yesterday was dedicated to the commencement of the holiday shopping season. I hate shopping in the best of times. Holiday shopping is, in my humble opinion, a consignment to the Dantean nether regions.

The stories these days are always about how many people are willing to spend all night in line to get into a store at some ungodly hour to fight over items, that are slightly less overpriced than normal. None of that for me! No, sir!

Not only is there always at least one story of some (near if not actual) riot that breaks out over some item or other that is the "it" gift of the year, there is usually the story of the crimes at the malls (as if this were the only time of year there was crime at the malls).

Saga and I spent a relaxing day yesterday cleaning-up after the thanksgiving dinner and doing Laundry - well, I did laundry and cleaned, she mostly kept checking-up on me to see if whatever project I was doing had anything to do with feeding her.

Today, I have not a lot to do, but I can promise you this, I will be nowhere near the malls today… I may take a walk with the dog… I may just read. In short, I have no plans for the day. Blissful, isn’t it!?

Wherever you are this weekend, I hope that you're having a lovely one!

Don Bergquist - November 27, 2010 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving

Aftermath

It's all over but the cleaning!

If I may say so myself, I think, the dinner was a success. My friends came over (with a friend in tow) and we had a glass of wine while waiting for the turkey to finish roasting. The sides and accompaniments were all prepared the day before and lined-up in oven-ready dishes on the counter, ready to pop in once the turkey came out.

We had played a few games while waiting for the last of the cooking to complete and then it was time for the serving. It was a traditional five-course dinner:

Soup:
Puree of Sweet Potato and Squash

Salad:
Spinach and Herb salad with Bacon and Balsamic Vinaigrette

Main:
Roast Turkey
Wild Rice Stuffing
White or Sweet Mashed Potatoes
Gravy
Green Beans Almandine
Scalloped Corn
Cranberry-Orange Relish

Dessert:
Parfait of Pumpkin and White Chocolate Mousse garnished with Candied Pecans

Coffee:
Coffee or Tea
Cheese Board
Assorted Biscuits

As is my wont, I cooked WAY too much food. Perhaps it is just the Minnesota-Swede background that does this to me; the biggest offense a host can perpetrate is to run out or to send people off hungry. At least that is the way I was brought-up.

So last night, after a lovely time with conversation, wine, and friends, I spent a while getting the leftovers arranged into the 'fridge. I hate to say this, but realized that nobody looking into my refrigerator would have any problem guessing my gender even if they didn’t know whose house they were in. I may not be the stereotypical guy; I cook for myself, I don't watch sports on TV, I rarely order a pizza. But the 'fridge is clearly a guy's 'fridge: a disproportionately large percentage of it is taken-up with beer. I'm not even that big a fan of beer! I have one every now and again, but people bring it over when I have parties and leave the leftovers. It accumulates faster than it is consumed! But I digress…

With the food put away, I loaded the dishwasher for the first (of what would clearly be many) load and then sat down with a glass of wine and watched the news. Saga came up to sit next to me (presumably on the off-chance that I had something to feed her) and we watched the news before going for one last walk and then turning in.

It was a lovely evening and I still have three days of the weekend ahead of me. Yeah!

Wherever you are, I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with friends and family.

Don Bergquist - November 26, 2010 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving

It's a very busy day today! Granted, almost everything is prepared. I still have to make the dessert and roast the turkey, but still it is going to be a busy day. I'm sure you know how it is when you have a big plan coming together, you run through the checklist two-or-three times to make sure nothing is forgotten.

Last year, I was putting away the leftovers when I discovered that I had not served one of the vegetables that I had made for the meal. I really don't want to forget anything again this year. But I had best get to it… time is a-wasting.

Wherever you are today, I hope that you will have an excellent Thanksgiving Holiday!

Don Bergquist - November 25, 2010 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Lee Harvey Oswald is murdered by Jack Ruby in the basement of Dallas police department headquarters. The shooting is broadcast live on television. (1963)

Oyster Creativity

They should so let us design our own Oyster Cards.

I mean, credit card companies let us put pictures of our cats on their cards, wouldn't it be cool if the Transport for London allowed people to create their own images for their card?

This is a collage of some pictures I have taken over the years merged onto an Oyster Card. (Can you tell I am avoiding spending more time in the kitchen cooking the big Thanksgiving Dinner?)

Wherever you are today, I hope you're getting the things done that need doing!

Don Bergquist - November 24, 2010 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Iran-Contra Affair (1986)

Ronald Reagan signs the top secret National Security Decision Directive 17 (NSDD-17), giving the Central Intelligence Agency the authority to recruit and support Contra rebels in Nicaragua.

The Benefits of Jetlag

Three days before Thanksgiving is not really the day to be doing a major grocery-shopping trip. Driving past the stores last evening the lots were packed. The inside must be a mob-scene.

It's a good thing I am still suffering a bit of jetlag! I have been up each morning at three. So this morning, before getting ready for work, I dressed quickly and headed down to the grocery store to get the things I would need for Thanksgiving dinner. It was a bit strange getting all those groceries through the self-check but as I explained to the woman giving me the fish-eye as I pushed a full cart through, I am up, they are open… I'd rather be here doing this now than when they are packed later.

Do you remember the bad old days when the stores were open nine-to-nine six days a week? Argh! How did we live! The bags are un packed, the perishables are put away. I guess there is nothing left but to post this, walk Saga, and head into town. I love being this productive this early!

Wherever you are today, I hope your morning is starting out as a productive one.

Don Bergquist - November 23, 2010 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Monday, November 22, 2010

Denver, Colorado Founded (1858)

Back To The Office

After two weeks of being at the head office in Wembley, it is time to get back into the normal day's routine. It will seem strange, even after such a short time not walking down to the tube (or the Midlands London Overground) to head into the office.

But luckily, there should be no problem making it into the office on time. I have been up since three. So getting things packed and heading into the office on time should be no problem. Now, will Saga let me out the door carrying what might, to her, seem like a suitcase? Time will tell.

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

Don Bergquist - November 22, 2010 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Happy Anniversary To…

Me! Well, my blog actually - Today is the sixth anniversary of don sees the world.

I hope you are enjoying it and that you will continue to read and comment on my posts.

Wherever you are today, thank you for being a part of don sees the world.

Don Bergquist - November 21, 2010 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Errands

As with any time one goes away for a while, there are a number of things that need to be done upon return. For me, the day will be spent doing laundry, running out for a few things (there is no food in the house, I cleared out the 'fridge before leaving), take a trip to the library, and do a few things I want to get done before returning to work tomorrow.

Yesterday was pretty much a write-off. Apart from the fact that Saga got nervous any time I picked-up the keys yesterday, I really didn't feel like doing a bunch of chores yesterday. To tell the truth, other than a walk in the park and a few things that I had to get done, I spent most of the day on the couch, Saga nestling under my arm, and catching-up on the shows that my DVR recorded while I was away.

That is now done and it is time to get into the business of getting back into the normal swing of things. So today I am running errands, stocking-up, and getting things done. Yeah!

Wherever you are today, I hope you'll have a productive day!

Don Bergquist - November 21, 2010 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy birthday to my friend Col

Happy birthday to my cousin Christopher

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Saga Forgives

You hear people talk about the unconditional love that pets show you. Who but a dog would let you pack her up, ship her off to a stranger's house, and leave her there for two weeks? While she pines away for you, you're off god knows where, doing who knows what. You drive away while she stares at you at the door and you're
NEVER
COMING
BACK!
!!!!!!

But then you drive up and walk through the door and, aside from a little residual pique, there is no repercussion. You deserve worse; you went off and left her where they fed her, walked her, let her sleep in the sun in the back garden. You've come back smelling like somewhere foreign. And did you really think that cookie was going to patch things up?

But you're back, she's so thrilled she doesn't know whether to whimper and tell you her troubles or jump in your lap and kiss you! The tail is whipping so fiercely that it is in danger of falling off. She doesn't even want to let you out of her sight long enough for you to carry her bed and food back out to the car.

Daddy's Home!

Wherever you are today, I hope that you're with someone who loves you like that!

Don Bergquist - November 20, 2010 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Foggy Morning/Empty House

It's after one in the morning; it is a cold and foggy morning. Standing on the island at the airport arrivals side, waiting for the shuttle to the parking area, the near end of the parking structure was only just barely discernable in the orange glow of the sodium vapor lamps.

Making my way around the armory on my way home, in one of the few remaining wild areas on the route, I pulled over to enjoy the unreal calm and silence of the foggy morning. An eerie peace comes over one on a dark foggy morning. Standing there, the first sound that I heard was the whistle of the train at the crossing over on Colorado Highway 2. It was time to go.

Perhaps part of the reason that I didn't want to come directly home was that I knew the house would be cold and empty when I got here. The car is unpacked, the luggage is waiting to be emptied, time to head off to bed.

Wherever you are this morning, I hope your day is starting out well.

Don Bergquist - November 20, 2010 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Friday, November 19, 2010

A Capital Idea

Here's a thought: People travelling together might want to pass through the Passport Control and Customs process together. Unfortunately, this is not something that (apparently) occurred to the designers of the Washington Dulles International Airport.

The hallways between the airplane and the Customs Hall are too narrow for people to walk two-abreast, let alone for someone to wait for a colleague to come off the plane so they can walk together. Add to that the TSA Agents who, if you try to wait for someone usher you along and tell you to keep moving.

I write this as I am waiting for my colleague to emerge from the Customs area. She and I were separated because we were sitting in different areas of the plane. I've been here long enough to call my family and let them know I was in town, call a friend who lives in DC, and have my colleague paged a couple times. (As if she could respond in the Customs Area.)

It is frustrating sitting here with nothing to do, so I have pulled out my laptop to jot a few notes. I guess I should really stow this back in my bag and head toward the gate. The flight to Denver will be leaving in about an hour.

Wherever you are today, I hope your day is progressing well!

Don Bergquist - November 19, 2010 - Outside Customs - C Concourse, Washington Dulles International Airport - Washington, DC, USA

Headed Home - Part II

Come On! Really!?

So, I packed my cases last night - and this morning!

Apparently, you should remove from your pockets the things that you will need in the morning BEFORE you pack the trousers you wore that evening for your trip home. No big problem? It is a simple matter of picking out that pair of trousers and pulling the item out of the pocket. You'd think so, wouldn't you! But nothing could be that simple.

What if you can't remember what you wore last evening? (What if what you are looking for is a small plastic card that is easily missed the first time you search for it?) No. It took dumping out the bag and doing a thorough search.

Perhaps the problem with my Oyster card (needing to first find it and then to add funds to it) were subtle indications that I didn't really want to leave? Was it just the flight I was dreading? Well, yes… but I also just dig it over there. That is the only reason I can think of for repeatedly putting things I would need for the trip home into pockets of my case and then forgetting which one so that I had to dig for my documentation, tickets, passport, etc.

At least the flight was not too full. None of the movies interested me, so I have been reading most of the trip. I have also had a nice conversation with a couple of the other passengers and flight staff while standing up to stretch my legs. We just passed over the first city we came to in Canada (I am fairly sure it was Fredericton, New Brunswick) a little while ago; the guy I was chatting with pointed out that he could see lights below us. It wasn't too large a city. It had a river looping through the center of the town. (At least I assume the dark ribbon looping across the otherwise regular grid of lit streets was a river.)

It has been a pretty good flight. The seats around me were empty and I was able to stretch out - well, at least I didn't have to actively defend my knees all flight.

Wherever you are this evening, I hope that you're having a pleasant evening.

Don Bergquist - 19 November 2010 - United Airlines Flight 925 - Somewhere over New Brunswick, Canada

Bonnie Parker & Clyde Barrow Begin Their Crime Spree (1930)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Heading Home

It has been a good trip and I have gotten a lot done but now it is time for heading home.

This evening I took the tube into town with one of my colleagues. He had a couple stops he wanted to make and the places he was going sounded interesting so I asked if I could tag along. It was an interesting trip. The Bakerloo tube line was shut down while we were on it for signaling problems. Luckily, a quick glance at the map told me that we were only a short walk to the nearest tube station on another line. It would be a circuitous route, but we could still make it. …famous this words.

We made it from Marylebone to Edgware Road without too much problem. I was even able (without too much problem) to suss-out where we were and where we needed to be to get back on route. The train came and it was a sardine tin! My colleague and I made it on the train (just) by heading onto separate cars. We made it into town and found the first shop only to find that it had just closed. Peering through the windows, we were able to determine that the prices at the shop were not as good as he could have gotten back at home.

It was then off in search of the second shop. This one for something he had to get. (His girlfriend had made one request. This would not be the one to miss!) Unfortunately, after a bit of walking along the high street, we had not found the shop he was looking for.

I offered that I knew of one in the Waterloo train station and that would put us on the right path to getting back to our hotel. (Right path, wrong direction…) So, it was back to the tube and onto a southbound train. As we entered the tube station at Leicester Square, I prodded my colleague and indicated that he should listen. They were announcing the partial shutdown of the Bakerloo line still.

Now, I am not sure if it was the hour, or my growing readiness to head home, or what, but we sat on the train right past the stop we needed and had to double back. It was a wasted trip anyway. The shop was out of the item he wanted. So it was back on the tube and off to another branch of that particular shop. There was one in Euston Station, on our route back to Maida Vale.

The shop was also out of the item he wanted; he said he would check the branch by the hotel. It was a small branch, but perhaps. I asked a stocker in the shop if there was another, larger, shop anywhere around. She suggested I try the one on the other side of the booking hall.

And success! My colleague was able to find the sought-after item and we were headed back to the hotel. Well, we were headed back by way of a curry from the take-away.

This task for me this evening was to pack my cases. Cases packed, I am finally enjoying my curry and a beer. Soon it is off to bed. Tomorrow we head home.

Wherever you are today, I hope your quests have met with successful endings!

Don Bergquist - 18 November 2010 - London, Middlesex, UK

Happy birthday to my cousin Grainne

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Rainy Day In London

It's a cold, miserable, overcast, dark, rainy day in London. One of my colleagues and I took a nice, long walk along the high street this morning after breakfast, but even then it was "a bit crap out," as they would say here.

True to form, the day has been heavily overcast all day. The rain has gone from a light sprinkle to pissing down and has pretty much caused me to stay indoors all day, reading, looking at the pictures that I have been taking, and finally updating my blog.

I've had a cup of coffee, a walk, a swim, and have been staring out at the wet London skyline. I guess there is nothing more to do but to curl-up and take a nap. What better pastime for a rainy day!

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

Don Bergquist - 14 November 2010 - London, Middlesex, United Kingdom

Happy birthday to my friend Russ

Happy birthday to my friend Howard

Saturday, November 13, 2010

At The British Museum

It has been a busy and, generally ugly week. The weather has been cold and rainy, but then, that is what you expect from London in the autumn! The winds kicked up about Monday afternoon and the rains have been more-or-less constant since.

Today, it was fairly nice out but chilly and overcast. So one of my colleagues and I decided to take the tube down to Russell Square and headed over to the British Museum. It was lovely! We saw the Rosetta Stone, a lovely display of artifacts from Islamic countries, the pottery and crockery were so intricate and lovely! There were lovely glass mosque lamps that had intricately painted verses on them, and some very ornate tile work.

We went to the Chinese room, to look at the artifacts there, and I spent some time studying the map of the museum layout. There were only a few things I really wanted to see; I wanted to make sure to hit them before I was defeated. The floors of the museum are that hard concrete type that made walking after a while a bit painful.

A helpful Canadian volunteer from the museum staff came over and helped me decipher the map (which had no discernible pattern to the numbering/labeling. We made it to the rooms dedicated to Egypt and Mesopotamia. There were a number of interesting artifacts there. I really wanted to take a picture of this tiny golden dog from the Egypt room, it had the bearing and shape of a Canaan Dog, and being that it is approximately the right part of the world, I assumed this may have been modeled on one of Saga's fore-bearers. Unfortunately, a combination of the tiny size of the figurine, and the motion of the people behind it, my camera could not determine what it was I was asking it to focus on. Oh well!

My day at the museum ended with the Rosetta Stone and the adjoining gallery of statuary. It ended for me there. My feet and knees could no longer take the pounding that the hard concrete were giving them.

A quick trip back to the hotel for a swim, and a nap and I was ready for a trip to a place I know over in Islington. It was a good evening. Due to planned engineering works on a number the tube lines, however, the trip back to the hotel took much longer than I expected. So it was a take-away curry and a beer in the hotel room for diner while looking at the pictures I'd taken yesterday. All in all, it was a lovely day!



I hope that wherever you are today, you've had a lovely day!

Don Bergquist - 13 November 2010 - London, Middlesex, United Kingdom

Monday, November 08, 2010

Maida Vale

Well, I will say this for Maida Vale: it is certainly prettier than Wembley.

The flight (mercifully) came in early. We were about an hour early getting in and that meant we had to wait for the rooms to be ready at the hotel. Luckily, we're on the Kilburn High Road in Maida Vale and there are tons of pubs and restaurants around. My traveling companion and I checked in, checked our baggage with the Concierge, and headed out to have lunch at a local pub.

I am going to try and stay-up until it is bed time, but that is going to be a push. It is a lovely fall day, the Plane trees are swaying in a gentle breeze and, having been up since about this time yesterday, I may be lulled to sleep just by writing about the serenity outside. The forecast is for today to be the last really nice day this week, so I suppose I should go ahead and get ready to take a walk and keep myself up!

Wherever you are today, I hope your day is even half as lovely as mine is!

Don Bergquist - 08 November 2010 - London, Middlesex, United Kingdom

Happy birthday to my friend Srini

Happy birthday to my friend Doug

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Living To See Tomorrow

By now, I suppose it is almost cliché to say that there was no leg room on a light. Even the person sitting next to me (who is, I noticed when he stood up to grab something from his stowed luggage, a good half-head shorter than I am) squashed into his allotted space now than the man in front of him has put back his seat. He has it easy, though. The person ahead of him has been asleep and relatively motionless since shortly after we reached cruising altitude.

The man ahead of me, by comparison, is a total tosser who may not live to see morning! He sat down and immediately reclined. Before the guy against the window in my row was seated, the guy had already reclined, thus obstructing entry to our row. The flight attendant mentioned to him that the seat had to be up during the boarding progress so he put it up.

I sat down and was immediately encroached upon by this wanker reclining his seat. At the conclusion of the announcements, the flight attendant (who had just announced that you had to have your seat back in the full upright position) came by to again ask him to put his seat forward.

When the announcement came on that he was allowed to put his seat back, he reclined. No, not "reclined," exactly… slammed into the reclined position is more accurate. Without checking to see if there was anything in the way, he slammed the seat back; when he encountered an obstruction (in the form of my knees) he just put the seat back in the upward position, and slammed back a little harder.

Again, none of this would have been inexcusable, but for the fact that for the last couple hours he has repeatedly put his seat forward, waited just long enough for me to wonder what he was doing, and then he slams it back again.

To type this, I have the screen of the laptop laying on the tray table, and the keyboard resting against my body… it is the only position I can get it into so that I can still see the screen and still type - sort of, at least.

I wonder, in these days of heightened airline security if it is possible to cook-up some knock-out drops to use on this guy from the things I have available to me. He will not live to see morning if he doesn't stop moving around so violently!

Wherever you are today, I hope that you're safe, warm, and happy in your surroundings.

Don Bergquist - 07 November 2010 - United Airlines Flight 938, Somewhere Over Northern Canada

Happy birthday to my friend Lisa

Daylight Saving Time Begins (North America)

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Election Day

It's Election Day; the day those bumper stickers become more of an embarrassment. They instantly convert from telegraphing your lack of ability to think for yourself to telegraphing your lack of ability to pick a winner. Or, they instantly change from indicating that you have a political bent to indicating that your car value has been depreciated by a dated political statement that - try as you might - cannot be expunged from your bumper.

I've never understood the thinking behind bumper stickers. I mean, nobody has ever found themselves thinking, "That jerk just cut me off, I think I would like to vote for his candidate." Or "Candidate X must be right! His followers don’t even know how to use their turn signals!" Nowadays, they seem to make even less sense, as the bumper sticker will last far longer than the popularity of the candidate, party, or issue it advertises.

The important thing is not what you put on your bumper; it's what you do on Election Day that counts. Please get out there and vote today. People who don't vote get the government they deserve. Besides, if you do vote and your candidate loses, you have a right to be smug when everyone else realizes that the person elected has turned-out to be every bit as horrible as you thought.

Wherever you are today, please, do your civic duty and get out there to vote! I have.

Don Bergquist - November 02, 2010 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy birthday to my uncle Richard

Happy birthday to my cousin Michael

Monday, November 01, 2010

OCD Much?

It was like watching an episode of Monk, well, except that she was a young black girl instead of a middle-aged white guy. It happened yesterday while I was running errands. I had a list of things to do so I got started early. Around nine-thirty, I realized I was feeling a bit peckish so I stopped into a fast food restaurant for a bit of breakfast.

I walked in and placed my order. (There was not a crowd at that time so there was no line.) Standing, waiting for my order to be filled, I witnessed a strange behavior from the woman who had taken my order.

She walked over to the end of the counter, grabbed the bin containing the catchup packets, and commenced to iron out each packet with the side of her hand and place them in back in the bin all facing the same way. I watched this for a while, not realizing my order had been filled and was sitting under the heat lamps until the manager walked up and handed it to me and then went off to talk to the cashier.

With one last look, I turned and left with my breakfast. I have no idea what that was all about, but what a strange thing to see! I can understand doing that to the cash in the till; I used to do that myself, I still face the bills in my wallet - but there is a reason to doing it to money, it makes recognition of the bills easier and makes it less likely to spend the wrong ones or make the wrong change. But why would anyone do this to catchup packets‽

I guess she had nothing better to do, but when you're resigned to facing catchup packets, you're really scraping the bottom of the barrel - or the plastic sachet, as it were. If that was the case, I can only hope her day got better.

Wherever you were this weekend, I hope that your weekend was full of fun and exciting things to do!

Don Bergquist - November 01, 2010 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy birthday to my friend Terry

Happy birthday to my friend Heather

Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Shout-Out To Carolina Cousins

Today I have a special, personal (if somewhat open), missive. I understand from a very reliable source that greetings, kudos, and great felicitations are due to my dear young cousins from South Carolina.

Eric, Christopher:

Congratulations on your achievement! I understand that all your hard work this past semester has paid off and that you have both been placed on the Honor Roll!

Now you're so smart… figure-out who told me! (One hint: I assure you is my aunt, even though you both once corrected me on that point.)

Keep up the good work guys!

And wherever you are today, congratulations on your latest achievements!

Don Bergquist - October 31, 2010 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy birthday to my friend Rene

Halloween

Daylight Saving Time Begins (Europe)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Can Dogs Pout?

Saga sure can!

She is not at all happy with me today! You see I played a mean trick on her… "You want to go for a ride in the car?" I said to her excitedly early this morning. We piled into the car and headed out. I had a stop to make dropping a few books at the library, so it was more than the short trip that she associates with the evil place.

So when we pulled up to the vet, she looked at me with a look of disbelief. They poked her with pins, and cut her nails. ¡Pobrecita!

When we got home, she curled up on the couch and sulked. Then, when she decided that she was not sulking effectively (being that I immediately left the room and went to the office). She followed me upstairs, and sulked on the easy chair. Then on the futon, and finally, curled-up on the floor beside my feet. Where finally, I noticed she was sulking.

Wherever you are today, I hope that whatever trespasses you have suffered, your sulking is more productive than hers!

Don Bergquist - October 30, 2010 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Mischief Night

Monday, October 25, 2010

Would It Have Killed You To Take Five More Steps‽

Yesterday I ran down to the King Soopers to do my weekly shopping and saw something that I could not believe I witnessed. I am glad that I did! Because without my having seen it, I would not have believed it!

As I approached my car, a woman started pushing an empty cart away from her car, at the corner of the lot. She went nearly half-way down the aisle and pushed the cart up against the planter that I was parked against. I was not sure, but I thought I heard it bang against my driver's door as she walked away. Either way, it was entirely too close to my car. I would have to move it to get into the car, let alone to leave the space.

"Excuse me," I said to her as she walked past me. "If you leave your cart there I will not be able to open my driver's side door. The cart corral is just the other side of the next car down the row... I think that's where you meant to leave it."

She looked at me brazenly, rolled her eyes, and walked back to her cart. Without a word to me, she retrieved it (this time, I definitely heard the ding against the side of the car) and deposited it in the cart corral. She walked back past me, averting her gaze.

"Thank you. Have a great day!" I said as she passed.

I had thought that was it. But then, as I was unloading my groceries into the trunk, a car pulled up beside me. It was the car that she had gotten into. The window wound down and the woman's husband leaned out. "You owe my wife an apology." He growled at me.

Really‽ That's the way he wanted to play it? Okay!

Two could play that game, but my decision was to go for understated. I pulled my grocery list out of my pocket, stepped to the front of the car, and made note of the license plate number.

All the while, the man was yelling at me. "What are you doing? Did you hear me? Are you going to apologize to my wife?" demanded the man.

Tucking the pad back into my pocket, I answered the guy's questions. "Let's answer the last one first. No. I do not intend to apologize to your wife. What is there to apologize for? 'I'm sorry I caught you hitting my car with your cart, perhaps?' No. I don’t think so.

"As to whether or not I heard you, sir, I am sure that there are cashiers inside the store that heard you. The fact that I am answering your questions should make the answer to your second question self-evident.

"Now, to your first question. I am making note of your license number because your wife neglected to tell me how to get in touch with you should I need to settle the bill for the damage she did to my car with her cart. Thank you for stopping by and rectifying that. When I finish getting my groceries in the car, I will go look at the side of my car. Do you want to wait or shall I find you with the bill later?"

The man looked at his wife. "It was just a tap." She whined.

"Try and find us!" then man said and with that, he drove off with a completely unnecessary squealing of tires.

It is so nice when Karma catches-up with some jerk who desperately deserves it! Here's a word of warning: Allison Parkway (in Lakewood) is a bad place to be speeding. There are lots of cops around because of the Courthouse and the Police Station, and they usually park and watch for people speeding past the Park-N-Ride.

There was no damage to my car, but he and his wife had been so staggeringly rude, that it felt good to see their car pulled over just in front of the police car with the lights flashing!

Wherever you are today, I hope that you will remember: everything you put out there eventually comes back to you! Make sure what you're sending out into the universe is something you'll want to see again.

Don Bergquist - October 25, 2010 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy birthday to my friend Michelle

Happy birthday to my cousin Jacob

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

It's National Retirement Planning Week!

This is a week set aside to remind Americans to plan for their retirement.

Regardless of what you think may happen with the Social Security Trust Fund (there are those who believe they will never see a dime of that money), you cannot plan all you expenses to be covered by the Social Security Administration payments. Have you seen the projected payments? On the latest worksheet that SSA sent me the projected monthly payment is less than my current weekly take-home pay.

There was a long piece this weekend in papers I read at the coffee shop. The numbers are staggering! An overwhelming majority of Americans have no retirement plan. The number was somewhere in the sixty-percentile. Of the people planning for their retirement, over half have less than $25,000 set aside. That's fine if you're young...

Thankfully, I have relatives who whipped me into shape at an early age to join my company's 401(k) plan as soon as I could. What's my plan for retirement? I want to travel and NOT have to meet with clients to pay for it!

Wherever you are this week, I hope you'll take a moment this week and look at your retirement plans!

Don Bergquist - October 19, 2010 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy birthday to my friend Sarah

Armilustrium

Monday, October 18, 2010

Home Improvement

It was a busy time at home this past weekend. After Comcast decided to more than double my rate for cable (and then add insult to injury by sending me a letter telling me that I had been charged less than I should have been for years and my bill would be going up again next month) I decided to dump them.

The installation of my new DirecTV was part of the reason behind my deciding to pull the Television in the living room down off the wall and run some more cables. The other reason was that I was tired of having to swap the cables available between the various devices I have.

When the television was installed a couple years ago, I asked that the installers run a cable for every connection on the back while they were doing the set-up. I cannot remember what the winning argument was (it was possibly the expense of the cables - they were horribly expensive at the time, it was possible that they claimed not to have enough cabling with them…) but for some reason, they installed only a few of the connections; just what I needed at the time. It was okay back then, but as I have bought more A/V Equipment, I have noticed the fact that I don't have enough cables run!

Therefore, I decided to go out and get all the cables to connect all the terminals on the back of the set and run them while I had the set off the wall anyway. Whatever the proffered excuse for not running all the cables at the time of the install, I have the feeling that part of the reason they weren't run was that it was a pain to do! There are more than a dozen different connections on the back of the TV, component, composite, HDMI, Network Cables, etc.

I had thought the problem was going to be getting all the cables through the small hole in the junction box, but that was the easy part; getting them back out of the wall at the bottom of the drop was the hard part. Well…

The first few went relatively easily, you drop them and they slither down between the drywall - gravity does most of the work. The problem is the conduits that run horizontally thought the wall between where the cables enter and where they emerge. When the first few cables go through, they go through fairly easily. The later cables have less clear space to go through. By the last couple, I had to bounce the cable until it hit a clear spot. I found that cursing at the cables as I jiggered them helped. Well, it helped me!

I did have the help of a friend from next-door who came over to help me lift the TV off the wall and back onto its mounting bracket. I could not have accomplished it alone! I told her yesterday that I was glad that I installed more cables than I needed - all the cables I could. When telling her what I needed, I had missed one of my video recorders. Installing more than I needed was definitely the right way to go!

Wherever you are, I hope you had a productive weekend!

Don Bergquist - October 19, 2010 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

National Chocolate Cupcake Day

Sunday, October 17, 2010

I Voted

Be careful what you wish for. It's trite and obvious advice. Perhaps I should have paid closer attention to it.

I've always wished that there were a viable third party. I guess that, while technically, the TEA Party is a part of the Republican Party, it does sort-of qualify as a third party. This weekend for the first time, I noticed that a few of the candidates on the news had a "(T)" behind their name instead of a "(D)" or an "(R)." So at least the media are considering them a third party - in places.

But are they really a third party? In most the places that they are running, they ran in the Republican primaries. In most places, they are running as Republicans. If it looks like a duck, it quacks like a duck, and it runs in the duck primaries, it'd probably not a goose.

By "viable third party," I really meant one that wasn't completely composed of the extreme lunatic fringe of one of the two existing parties. What I would really love to see is a party that combines the best of both: Fiscal conservatism with Social liberalism; I want a party that realizes that they cannot hope to legislate morality so they can focus on what the government should be doing. A government is supposed to regulate the economy so that the populace can thrive financially. A government is supposed to keep the peace so that the individuals can practice the rights afforded them by the community.

Colorado is one of those "purple" states you hear so much about these days. By which is meant that the race is close. We have an interesting mix of people in Colorado. The voting pool is about as evenly split as can be. The largest voting bloc (at about 35%) is Republican; the third largest at approximately 32% is Democratic. The second largest voting bloc (if you can call a non-homogenous, unrelated group of people a "bloc") is the non-affiliated voters.

It is impossible to turn on the television these days without seeing an assault on the senses by the various parties trying to vilify their competition. The problem is that unless you actually do your own research, these ads make it appear that the opponent is Satan's own spawn. Person X supports a tax raise, Person Y kills jobs, Person X is against personal choice, Person Y wants to eliminate Medicare, Person X kicks puppies, and Person Y pushes pins into babies.

The only thing I can say is watch these things with a skeptical eye. Watch them and ask yourself who is paying for the ad. Unfortunately, since the Supreme Court ruled that corporations are "people" and have the right to give unfettered money secretly to political campaigns, it became much easier for the 800-pound gorilla to toss its weight around and disrupt the political process. It really gives new meaning to "Government for the people, by the people…"

I vote my mail-in ballot. This morning, on my way to run my other errands, I went past the Taj Mahal (the ironic nickname for the Jefferson County Administrative Center) to drop my mail-in ballot into the drive-by voting poll box. I've done my civic duty - I voted.

Wherever you are today, I hope you're exercising your rights and responsibilities and making your own decision about where you want the country to go. Remember: If you can't be bothered to vote, you really have no room to complain about the results of the election!

Don Bergquist - October 17, 2010 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Yom Kippur Begins At Sundown

Monday, October 11, 2010

This Is Service!?

This does not bode well!

I seem to have the worst luck whenever I change service providers. There must be something that keeps me changing them. Oh! Yes, that’s right! Cost and service.

This time the complaint is with DirecTV. After years of watching my cable bill grow by nickel and dime, I received a cable bill this month that had gone up by nearly 100%! Paying more than $100/month to watch nothing but commercial TV is not something I am willing to do! To add insult to injury, when I called Comcast to ask why the bill this month was so high, I was informed that there had been a billing error for the past year, they had never put in the billing increase that should have gone into affect! I asked if there was a way they could switch me to a different plan to keep me as a client.

They are running ads all over the schedule that show prices as low as $29/month. I was told that the special promotions were for new customers only. I was told that I could change my service package, return my DVR and drop the channel group that includes three of the five channels I watch with any regularity to save myself about $20/month. I think not!

So, I have decided to install DirecTV. The programming package similar to what I currently have; actually, it has far more channels but as I really only watch a few channels, hundreds of other channels I will never watch do not really impress me. (I wonder if that Pink Floyd song should be updated: “I’ve got 210 channels of shit on the TV to choose from.” Just think, back when the song One Of My Turns was new 13 channels of television was a lot. But I digress...

So, I decided to switch. My installation was scheduled for Sunday morning 08:00 – 12:00. So imagine how shocked I was to be called at 07:50 to be told that the install was not going to happen. Seems they had run out of equipment to install and decided not to tell me until Sunday morning. Now, I can understand that they might have been out of equipment, but my problem with the situation is that they had to have known this before Sunday morning!

When I called I was told that they had expected a shipment on Friday which had not come in. The installer could not seem to understand why I was upset that I was just learning about the change in plan ten minutes before they were supposed to arrive. I had cancelled plans to be available and they didn’t seem to care! To quote Arthur Dent in The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy: “If that’s their sales pitch, what must it be like in the Complaints department?”

Oh well, the install is rescheduled for next weekend… We’ll see. The good thing is that once this is done, I will have service at less than half the price I am currently paying Comcast, I will have the ability to watch shows that I have recorded from any television set, and I will have a fixed price for the next two years. After that… well, we’ll just have to jump off that bridge when we get to it.

Wherever you are today, I hope your weekend has been lovely, and (on the whole) annoyance-free.

Don Bergquist – October 11, 2010 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Columbus Day

Monday, October 04, 2010

Autumn In Colorado

This is really my favorite time of the year. Sure, the spring bulbs peeking out from under the crusty Spring snow is lovely, and yes, the frosted fields of winter are great too, but the fall has the color and still affords lovely conditions for getting our and doing what needs to be done!

And do the necessary certainly was on tap yesterday. I wanted to get out to do a few things Sunday that needed doing, local running around on errands, things that needed to be done... the kind of thing that must be done each weekend. I decided that after two lovely days in the mountains, it really would be better for me to get some errands done.

But even with a day to stay down in Bear Valley and do the drudgery that is necessary, it was a lovely weekend. Now it is back to work!

Wherever you are today, I hope that your weekend was a lovely one!

Don Bergquist - October 04, 2010 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Another Lovely Day!

Were it my goal to be a travel writer I would have to invest in maps better than the ones I have. I cannot tell you where the picture below was taken other than to say that it is outside of Leadville. The railroad tracks here are running approximately southwest, and that off in that general direction are Aspen and Crested Butte.

But I have no way of telling you what the mountains we are looking at here are. I think that they are in the San Isabel National Forrest.

All I can say with any certainty is that it was another lovely day in the Colorado Rockies! Now if you will excuse me, it's time to get out there and enjoy what promises to be another lovely weekend day!

Wherever you are today, I hope your weekend is as lovely as can be!

Don Bergquist - October 03, 2010 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Daylight Saving Time Begins (Australia)

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Only A Hint...

Today, you get just a hint of the kind of weekend I am having.

I'm loving my new job, but they do not allow us to carryover vacation from year-to-year, so I have to take 6.5 days of vacation before the end of the year. So I decided to take Friday off and get an early start on the weekend.

The news has been saying that we are in the peak of fall here in Central Colorado. So yesterday I took a few passes off the list of roads I had never driven in Colorado. The hint? You could not ask for prettier skies or more lovely conditions!

Now if you don't mind, I am going to post this up and get out and enjoy what is supposed to be another lovely morning! (There is a chance of thunderstorms this afternoon.)

Wherever you are today, I hope that your weekend is full of blue skies!

Don Bergquist - October 02, 2010 - Minturn, Colorado, USA

Phileas Fogg Begins His Journey "Around the World in Eighty Days."

Monday, September 27, 2010

In Memoriam

I received some sad news this weekend. An old friend of the family and the original Scoutmaster from my Boy Scout Troop, Newton Porter, passed away earlier this month.

Mr. Porter was the coolest Scoutmaster! Not only did he have some great stories to tell us about his work on the Miami Bomb Squad, but he had some of the most creative ways to start camp fires! My favorite was the one we all called "The Letter."

This Fire Lighting ceremony started with Mr. Porter standing in front of the unlit fire scowling at us. He fumed a bit and then took an envelope out of his pocket. Gesticulating wildly with the envelope, he spent the next couple minutes telling us how the envelope contained a letter from the parent of a scout who claimed that nothing exciting ever happened at the scout camping trips.

This, Mr. Porter claimed, was utter nonsense. The rant ended with him throwing the envelope into the fire and storming off. Without anyone touching the fire or anything further going on, the fire would then burst into flame. I have been told how this was done and the explanation sounds plausible, but I have never been able to replicate it.

Our Scoutmaster also often gave talks to other troops about how to be safe with explosives. Our troop once got the opportunity to go to the bomb squad offices on a field trip. Arrayed on the shelves along with the mock-ups of some bombs the squad had found were hands and fingers that had been amputated explosively in jars of formaldehyde. Like I said, Mr. Porter was the coolest.

It has been at least twenty years since I have seen any of the Porter family, but They are in my thoughts as I remember Newt and wish them all well.

Wherever you are this week, I hope that you are well.

Don Bergquist - September 27, 2010 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy birthday to my friend Polly

Happy birthday to my cousin Charles

Monday, September 13, 2010

Surgery And Recovery

An old roommate of mine used to be able to do “The Wave” with his eyebrows. Karl would lift one and then the other. I was able to lift my eyebrows, but only more-or-less at the same time. I was never able to show inquisitiveness by raising one eyebrow, one went up and the other followed. So all I was able to manage was an exaggerated look of surprise. This is, until last Friday…

Friday morning I went in for surgery to remove a small Basal Cell Carcinoma that had appeared on my temple over the right eye. The procedure took all morning, but that is mostly because each time they came in to slice out a bit more of the area they had to biopsy the tissue they had cut out to see if they had it all. It is a procedure called Mohs Surgery in which they slice off the carcinoma and biopsy the border to assure there are not cancerous cells left.

The surgery left me without the ability to raise my right eyebrow. I can now lift my left eyebrow and look inquisitive! My surgeon said that this may happen and that it would probably be a temporary affectation. I also have a bit of bruising and swelling around the site of the surgery. It looks like someone slugged me.

I got to change the dressing for the first time today which was nice. I had to keep the wound dry and the dressing fresh for 72 hours. Since it is right up against the hairline, I have not been able to wash my hair all weekend. This morning I washed my hair, removed the dressing and cleaned and dressed the wound. It looks a lot nicer this morning than it did right after the surgery.

My problem now is to come-up with a plausible (but more dramatic than truthful) story for explaining the scar. One of my brothers has a doosie of a scar on his ankle. Rather than telling the truth about it (he was a clutz and had an accident with a television picture tube) he used to tell people he got bit by a shark. I am not sure I can use that for my forehead; the scar will only be about 1/2" long. Perhaps a lamprey attack…

Whatever story I come up with, it will have to be a good one; plausible and outlandish simultaneously. The important thing for now is that I am on the mend and I get my stitches out on Friday.

Wherever you are this morning, I hope that you are doing well.

Don Bergquist – September 13, 2010 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Friday, September 10, 2010

Book Launch Tonight!

For any of you in Central Florida, my friend Pat has written another book:

Trailblazing Mars: NASA's Next Giant Leap

There is a talk and book signing tonight at the Brevard Community College's Cocoa, Florida campus. from 07:00 - 09:00 pm.

Checkout his facebook page for details.

Happy birthday to my cousin Michael

Monday, September 06, 2010

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Story Of The Bird

This morning, I want to share an story written by my sister. The story came to me in an email; copied to a number of family members. It chronicles an amazing thing that happened recently while my family was gathered at my uncle's home in Minnesota.

As a rule, I rarely forward inspirational stories. But having personally witnessed the events outlined in this story and having been personally moved by them, I really wanted to forward this one.

If you are not a member of my family (or a close friend with whom I have shared some of my family's stories) then you may need a few points laid out for this story to make sense. The "Jeanne" mentioned in this story is my mom. She died in a traffic accident in May of 1980.

My family recently lost my Aunt Diane (who was married to my Uncle Dick) in a traffic accident. The pictures (and part of the story) are from a family gathering at Dick's house after the funeral service for my Aunt Diane.

Family:

The story of The Bird is one that is becoming a Bergquist Family Legacy. It started in 1980 after the funeral of Jeannie Bergquist.

Dick was plowing in his fields, it was a hot May day, but Dick was thinking of Jeannie, and his brother's tragic loss. As Dick was plowing, he kept seeing a shadow, he thought it was a bird flying just out of sight, but he kept seeing the shadow of this bird, just above him, yet in and out of the field he was plowing darting in and out but never seeing the bird itself, just the shadow. As Dick told the story, this shadow continued for quite a while, Dick even stopped the tractor, got off, to see if he could find the bird.

After over fifteen minutes Dick finally saw the bird, it was small, but it lifted itself off the ground and flew away. At that single moment, Dick felt Jeannie, her presence, and knew she was in Heaven, and that all would be all right. The story was told, all nodded in agreement, and then forgotten as the Family healed from the tragic loss. Even as Dick re-told the story thirty years later, it brought tears to all of our eyes.

Nearly thirty years later, after the funeral for Diane, the family gathered at the Farm to grieve over the tragic loss of Diane Bergquist. We were all inside the house when Levi Bergquist (Dirk's son) came into the house with a tiny bird that he had found out in the yard. When we all saw the bird in his hands, it appeared dead. We all thought it was gone, but over the next several hours, Levi provided the bird with a box, padding, and love. He gave the bird food and water, and tenderness. Towards nightfall, the bird had regained his strength, and then would not leave Levi. The story of Diane Bergquist and Jeannie Bergquist and now linked.

The attached photos are of the Bird, now completely domesticated, and watching over Dick and his grandchildren: Chantell, Callista, and Levi. The Bird was hopping and sitting on the Bergquist Family, bringing hope, healing, and love to a grieving family gathering. Frequently we represent the Holy Spirit as a bird in artwork. May you all find your own inspiration in these two remarkable stories.

It is my hope that another thirty years pass before our family gathers in this manner. As part of the extended Bergquist Family, please remember and share this story and the gift that it brings to all of us.

Love to all

Mary Bergquist

Wherever you are today, I hope that you will remember to share your family stories with those you love!

Don Bergquist - August 30, 2010 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Summer Bank Holiday (UK)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

All Caught-Up

Okay, finally I have gotten the stuff out of my blog file posted-up. I have also gotten the pictures I took while I was in the UK uploaded to Frost Lake Photography. I hope that you enjoy them.

Saga was overjoyed to see me last weekend. I was so jet-lagged that I basically vegetated all weekend. I did make it to the pool a couple times and get the mail, but other than that, last weekend was passed in a more-or-less vegetative state.

This weekend has flown by. I got some writing assignments at work and was able to get through a couple of them (with the assistance of my colleagues) and submit them for approval. The first one I submitted was accepted without comments by the developer. That, I am told, is a good sign!

This weekend I have been trying to get all the stuff I have let slide since I got back from Wembley done, but it is going to be a hot day out so I may just nap after getting done with some of the stuff I need to do.

Saga has been thrilled to have her daddy back. We went to the park and walked more this week that usual. She has just wanted to explore. But perhaps this is while we ware walking she has my undivided attention.

But this is not getting all my chores done, so I had best post this and get to the next task on my to-do list.

Wherever you are this weekend, I hope you are having a relaxing (or productive, or both) one!

Don Bergquist - August 28, 2010 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

"I Have A Dream"

"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'"

- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

August 28, 1963

Race Your Mouse Around The Icons Day

Don't just sit there!

While you're waiting for a program to start or a web page to load today try racing your mouse around all the icons on your desktop!

Happy birthday to my cousin Todd

Happy birthday to my cousin Tim

Friday, August 20, 2010

Somewhere Over The Atlantic

Amazingly, the flight is not full. As we were waiting the gate agent to finish her count and exit the aircraft, the woman who had been assigned the middle seat in my row (the one right next to me) had turned to me and asked if I thought the flight was full.

"When I checked in, the seat you're sitting in was the only one on the seat map that was showing as empty." I replied. We exchanged names and chatted briefly and looked around the cabin. There were at least a dozen seats in the area we were seated in that were still vacant.

"I hope you won't be insulted," she said to me apologetically as the gate agent started the announcement that they were sealing the bulkhead. "But I am going to move up next to my colleague. We have some work to complete on the flight."

So, I had the row to myself until we had taken off and were in the air, then a guy from the row behind me came up to take the seat at the other end of the row. The dozen empty seats are now more-or-less spread evenly around the cabin, all in middle seats.

Although I will have been up for nearly twenty hours by the time I get home, it will only be about five local time and so I have decided to stay awake the entire trip. (…like I can ever sleep on a plane anyway!) So I have been watching movies and reading to pass the time. I finished my book three hours into the flight and (as it is the book I found on the plane on the way here) I have tucked it into the seat pocket ahead of me. If you find it, I hope that you enjoy it.

My battery is running low. I really need to finish this up and get it stowed. What movies are left? Perhaps they will help me pass the flight.

Wherever you are today, I hope your day is going well.

Don Bergquist - 20 August 2010 - United Airlines Flight UA939, Somewhere Over The North Atlantic