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.