Tuesday, February 28, 2006


"We, who are on the road,
must have a code that we can live by" -- CSNY

emerging from his laboratory world
to look about and find they are there,
the poets, musicians, who daily check
round the world, and create, and admire

tentatively joining in, uninvited, hoping
but not too sure
that the time spent
is otherwise misspent

he pulls his violin from case
tightens bow
feels the resonating
and wonders

"how are they today"
asleep, some
for it is night there
though soon they wake

can be so close

Farming Away vs. Here

Seated in the this small town at the edge of a modest metropolis amid cornfields and river in the midwestern US, I tippy-tapped along to Corante this morning to read about farmshoring. Business gets 'insourced' to these midwestern lands where labor and space welcome the interest.

Time for another cup of tea.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Built to Fall Apart

Added two silly blogs to the portfolio:

one for keeping track of food intake (several in our family are doing this in their own separate ways)

and another on a garage roof project that is long overdue.

How silly.

But, you know, if it helps me get them done...

What do you think?

Running the Bulls

Why do they do this?

Sunday, February 26, 2006


Froelich, Iowa is reportedly the birthplace of the tractor. I found a few pictures of Froelich.

Saturday, February 25, 2006


on to more organizing

heater to basement, thermometer reading 62 F, this a bit better

the piles have grown, but today they go.

beautiful sunny day outside,16 F / -9 C

Peter being Aragorn on PS2. Me messing around reading online, 'blogsploring', wasting time, washing a few dishes. Time now to focus a bit.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

A Need for Space

Good article on MySpace.com with perspective that "...youth will continue to work out identity issues, hang out and create spaces that are their own, regardless of what technologies are available."

[The article is from American Association for the Advancement of Science, which publishes the highly-regarded journal Science. The author also posts to one of the Corante blogs called Many2Many)

Blogging with Distinction

Just finished looking through a Corante blog for lawyers. (Corante seems to have a very good selection of blogs on a variety of topics). The post from a couple of days ago discusses the need for companies to have policies regarding blogging.

This blog is clearly a personal one.

Listening this morning to Radio France International (RFI). Good listening practice.

The van passed the 200000 mark last night. Somehow I notice these things.

No mosquitoes today (they were talking about mosquitoes on the radio).

Girls off to school, and time for me to head along the road with bass guitar and laptop in the well-traveled van.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Thar's Gold in Them Thar Pills

One of my favorite drug research blogs is Derek Lowe's "In the Pipeline" which yesterday commented on the use of gold nanoparticles attached to antibodies to permit direction of the gold to cancer cells, followed by selective laser irradation that can go through 4 inches of tissue and heat up the gold particles, killing the cells. Derek's post includes several links to literature references (with photos of cells).

Scott Adams is fending off criticism for a stereotype of hillbillies - a well written comment on his Feb. 18 cartoon, with artful response.

Beautiful pre-sunrise sky in the east. Great day to be on an Appalachian mountain, I'd bet.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

If the Cap Fits

The cd "If the Cap Fits" by fiddler Kevin Burke arrived today. Loaded with tunes by Burke, recorded 1972 or so, mostly solo fiddle. Great listening material. Includes some of the tunes I've been learning.

Today at work I had a poster presentation to do and had the Mark O'Connor cd on the laptop there at low volume. It made the time go by pretty fast for me and relaxed some of the people who stopped by. Good sessions overall, more tomorrow.

I do like wearing a cap. On a visit to the UK we bought one, it was since lost but a replacement was obtained and I wear it during coolish spring and fall weather.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Carnegie Haul

Recently received a copy of this now old book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Not being particularly good at either, it seems, it's time to read it again. Carnegie recommends re-reading it monthly for a while. Probably wouldn't hurt. Read each chapter twice before going on, underline, make notes.

Missed a good music listening opportunity last night - completely forgot, even though it was on the calendar at home. Simply too tired and worried about reading some patents. Imagine!

Available to help with homework. This needs to be the priority these evenings. Took Peter to piano lesson tonight, he got some special pens as a prize for practicing every day. I guess that's unusual.

Trying to eat smaller portions with a view to losing some weight. Ongoing theme. Had a good cup of Chai for lunch today. Treats abound at work, birthdays, engagement (one this past weekend), work anniversary. All good, but easy to overeat.

On we go through the end of February. It goes so fast.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Midnight on the Water

Got Mark O'Connor CD of this name today. Fabulous. Also put in order for Kevin Burke "If the Cap Fits" which is collector item, a bit difficult to find.

Had an hour-long fiddle lesson today. Resolved to get those Irish tunes memorized - it takes time. From there to coffee house where Beam Reach was finishing up their last set, sat in on a couple of their original numbers (Thanks Richard!).

Time to engage more in the fiddle. Tomorrow at Columbia Grounds there is a Bluegrass Jam running 10:30 to 2:00 PM. Sunday evening at Keegan's there is an Irish music session from 6 PM until close, recommended by my teacher.

List of Irish tunes to be located and posted here later.

Stopped over at Natalie's dorm, her laptop evidently has a dead hard drive. Left a copy of Knoppix 4.0 which boots up the Linux operating system and helps tide her over for a while.

Home now, pile to sort through in 'in box' to keep that part of the work up to date, and then on to the violin stuff. Looking forward to it.

Oh yes, also was asked for contact info today at the coffeehouse by someone interested in having violin on some of the songs that their group does (original composition). Good start.

All for 5:43 PM. About 11 F outside.

Great Django/Grappelli video here.

Friday, February 17, 2006


It was Friday evening of a long week and I'd had about all the caffeine I could drink. My eyes were sore from staring at the screen and my legs were numb from sitting too long. I pondered the motion of this planet turning on its slow trip around the sun. My usual blog checks were dry. I wondered whether it was foolish to even try. It wouldn't be the only foolish thing.

Mid February and we must be pretty far from the sun's warmth. Too many seconds and the skin starts to freeze. Breathe in and gasp down cold air. Run for the door, or at least trot. Where are my gloves? Through the doors and in. Impressive cold.

Lonely cold. Life gets lonely sometimes. "Tell me about it!" you say. Yes. I'm sorry. Should visit. Make it a priority. Moons come and go.

Listen hard
to the wafting
and raving voice
calling years ago:

"How much longer,
How much very longer
Can I stand firm
or stand at all?

I give all,
I fall,
I rest,
I did my best.

Did you hear
what I said?
It was for you -
It was
for you."

But I didn't know, and couldn't know, and maybe even wouldn't know.

It was Friday evening, and I wandered to my room, and laid down, and slept.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

A Fine Man

No, it's not Charlie Brown this time. It's Richard P. Feynman, who I've mentioned earlier under "Inside Out" January, 4, and especially regarding his 1959 lecture at Cal Tech on nanotechnology. Do take a break sometime and read this through.

Wits End Close

I love the names of the little passageways in Edinburgh - 'Closes' - I think there's one called World's End Close. The title here seems like it would fit right in somewhere along the Royal Mile.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Good morning. Chilly again, 7 F and some windchill. Several wood screws in the back walkway popped as I walk out to drive Cara to school for an early morning make-up test. She attended Steve's funeral yesterday (see post from a few days ago regarding Steve). It's good that the school makes allowance for things like this, seems like there has been quite a bit this school year.

Daughter #1 just called re needing new contacts. She's had some temporary contact lenses and it's time to get fresh ones. Fresh contacts. Amazing.

Sky a bright crisp blues, sparse bright yellow clouds, sun just up.

Got a nice valentine from Rose, saying that it's nice when I help her with algebra. Very sweet.

Conference with Peter's teachers yesterday, saw some of his writing and drawings. Seems to be doing real well.

Work stays interesting, research and otherwise. Sure feels good to have the organizing going into place, there's far too much going on to not have a serious organization effort.

Need to get to the Y during the week somehow, maybe early mornings. Music with Noisy Withdrawal tonight, with music team tomorrow night, violin lesson Saturday morning.

And that's life for today. Cup of tea done, a cup of coffee later, finish working on a presentation today, and try to spend some time in the lab.





Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Christo and Jeanne-Claude

A hallmark of much of the work of Christo and Jeanne-Claude is things wrapped up. The wrapped buildings, the blocked street, the Pont Neuf, the islands. Attention is drawn by covering the things up. The current project is to cover a section of the Arkansas River. They're self-funded projects, intentionally so to keep the art pure. I have a small piece of fabric somewhere that was part of the project to cover the Reichstag, it was a gift from a foreign exchange student who stayed with us for a short while. It's really amazing that these people can pull it off, it takes years to get all the permission and planning done.

My Scientific Image

James Schnepf is a highly creative photographer who handles jobs for business publications (among a variety of other assignments). One day several years ago he had me posed in front of a drying rack, with eyes alternately opened or closed. This image features on the cover of a portfolio book that he uses, model release signed, etc. Thought I'd give him some extra publicity here. Coincidentally I was wearing a black shirt that day - although it was clearly Jim's creative eye that recognized how this would all look. I was indeed thinking scientific thoughts here, like how to keep my hands steady during the twenty minutes or so of these shots being taken. I've had practice, though, growing up in a family that had a photography business. It was fun, and I'd do it again.

Monday, February 13, 2006


Such an odd word. Means taking joy in others' misfortunes. Very human thing to do at times, though I doubt many would condone if questioned. But maybe even then, unfortunately.

Scott Adams' 'Dilbert' comic strip makes pretty good use of this concept.


Trust takes a long time to earn, and only a moment to damage.

Sometimes we're constrained. Only have so much to give.

Choices. Choices to love, to give up, to try again, to trust. To forgive.

Fair. Unfair. Sometimes not enough to go around. Not just money. Energy, time, attention, patience. Choose, plan, flex, sacrifice. In a word: Give.

It's been interesting reading Martin Seligman's 'Authentic Happiness' - still pretty skeptical about the ability to simply choose to be happy though. My loss, probably. Reading continued through Peter's piano lesson, he's got a good ear, the teacher asked if he gets it from me. She's so encouraging, deliberately so. Lots of students, and manages to keep a positive focus for them. Deliberate choice to do so. A lot like Seligman's book.

Need to put together a presentation for work. Perfectionism looms, need to put it aside - again - and tell the simple story. It's a good story, doesn't need to be complicated or hidden in complex terminology. Simple is good, more substantial.

Getting late. I have index cards that stick to the wall, can be repositioned. Maybe some day these will be useful.

I pray every night. Got a list of people, some I know, some I only know a little about. You're probably one of them, at some point anyway. Thought you'd like to know.

Off to bed. Valentine's Day tomorrow. First Valentine sent in 1415 from the Tower of London - heard that on the radio this morning. Guess it's on display there. Have a good night.

Fiddler on the Rock

July 2005. Irish folk music made it across the lake to a fox in the woods who set up barking. I don't think there were other campers within earshot other than our own crew - 6 of us, 3 canoes, good weather.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Steve's Life

Different Steve. Ex-husband of a former neighbor. Daughter #2 spent many, many hours at their house. Steve was frequently there, helping with a house project usually, more than most husbands, I think. He had one of the loudest voices I've heard, booming across the neighborhood. He would go to his daughter's soccer games and didn't need a megaphone to be heard above the crowd. Yesterday he had a heart attack and died. It's so final, and doesn't seem real yet.

There are several boys at the high school who are friends and have lost their not-so-old dads in the past year (I think this is the 5th one). They each have sisters who my daughter knows. What a hard year for them all.

Cara said I should eat cheerios.

Friday, February 10, 2006

No Comments

Somehow I don't get comments. It's bothering me. So post a comment and have a great day!

[I had assistance from Peter to compose this. He noticed that I don't get many comments]

Crunchy Numbers

I enjoy working on math with my kids - I get to learn again and it's really good for the mental exercise. Thanks, guys.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Banding together

At various times we had the whole band together tonight. Good practice. Very tired now. Very. Time to just put this head down for a while. So good to have a warm bed and a home. Simple things are good. Glass of water, fade out.

Good night, friends.

(Good night, moon.)


This photo of me and my uncle Stan dates from 1972.

My dad is the photographer and he printed this in his own darkroom. Sometimes I was there in the darkroom too, watching in the dim yellow safelight and helping to rock the prints in the trays of developer, stop bath, and fixer. I liked those times. This was before dad launched into photography as a second career for him. Gutsy move, I have to say, with five young kids (me the oldest in about 9th grade). We must have been in the back yard of the house out in the country, before we moved into town the next year to get a better business location.

Stan was a wonderful, gentle man with a love for golf, I still have a pitching wedge that he gave me. Good memories of him. Excuse the open shirt here, there isn't much to see. And I don't smoke.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


Turning things around. Starting over. Trying again.

We're into day 38 of getting organized to get things done. Parts of it are working, I think. I'm a little obsessed with the laptop, taking it to most meetings and tapping away at notes or looking up data as somebody's talking about it, or sending a note to ask a question that could be helpful for the meeting in progress. Kind of fun, but I worry about it being annoying to others. I have a hard time sitting still if the meeting drags at all.

Started re-reading 'Getting Things Done' - now that I've actually put a lot of it in place, time to retrace and see what I missed/didn't understand. Need to start hitting some of the projects now that foundations are laid better.

Violin has really fallen off the map. It's hard to practice when I feel like it's a pain for everybody else in the house. But really I can practice with a heavy mute and it's not so loud, and once I get warmed up (takes about half an hour) the playing sounds better. I love to play once it gets going.

Brought home a little booklet in Spanish about '150 ways to show children that you care about them' - told daughter #3 to pick out five of them for me to do. We should have some time this evening to work on math - she can do it fine but sometimes the tests get to be a challenge, I know she can do well and I want to help her study and do whatever to help build her self-confidence. It's so important (the self-confidence part - although math can be pretty useful sometimes too).

A couple of sickies at home, they just need lots of rest. Peter is fine and just brought in a long strip of tape to show me how the static electricity makes it come towards his other hand.

I guess that's all for now. I'm encouraged by hearing about mending relationships. Guess I better work on mine too.


This evening listening to "Story in Your Eyes" by Moody Blues - I need to learn the bass part for tomorrow night - very cool song and we are going to do it! Lots of vocal work, and I know the guitarists are excited about their parts at the beginning.

Monday, February 06, 2006

What's All This About Hedgehogs?

From Jim Collins on hedgehogs behavior:

1. What you can be the best in the world at (and, equally important, what you cannot be the best in the world at)?

2. What drives your economic engine?

3. What you are deeply passionate about?

I'm sorry, none of this connects very well at the moment. It certainly doesn't fit with "Look, I'm just trying to survive, OK?" But that's also not so great.

What is it to be 'great'?

Some would say it involves being the least. Being a servant. Putting others first. Giving others credit. Acknowledging mistakes. Forgiving. And still being able to laugh and feel good about life.

Hey, good morning. We're up and about, one or two feeling kind of sick but some rest should take care of that. The day is kicked off and it looks pretty good outside.


Afternoon toast with Nutella which is a treat.


Sunday, February 05, 2006


Back to the old-style title.

Listening to public radio, classical music. Just took the violin music stand back upstairs, it is too cold to practice down here in the basement. Dryer is running. The usual. Labeling a few more folders to keep the organizing effort moving along. Long, slow, gradual process.

Went to the Y yesterday with Peter - racquetball, basketball (I stopped counting freethrows), swimming, beautiful late afternoon sun coming in on the pool, which we had to ourselves for some time.

Today, company came for lunch and afternoon. Very pleasant with the kids playing upstairs and the grown-ups sitting around talking. We don't do so much of that any more, it was good today.

Listened to more of Jim Collins Good to Great on CD while driving - section on brutal honesty, with Winston Churchill as example, he set up a function whose job was to give him unfiltered data about what was going on during the war, this separate from advisors who might/would be influenced by his charisma. He needed the facts.

'Just the facts, ma'am.'

There hasn't been enough laughing lately.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Clean Up in February

Continuing with attempt to organize. Many e-mails purged - they have outlived the need to hang on to them - and so there there is less to wade through.

Daily overload comes so easily.

Going from good to great. It sounds kind of presumptuous. Just not making a mess sounds pretty good most days. I do enjoy trying to help others grow and learn, it's wonderful when it works.

Continuing to listen to Jim Collins. Here are micro snippets from his recent monograph Good to Great and the Social Sectors: Whys Business Thinking Is Not the Answer -

"During my first year on the Stanford faculty in 1988, I sought out professor John Gardner for guidance on how I might become a better teacher. Gardner, former Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, founder of Common Cause, and author of the classic text Self-Renewal, stung me with a comment that changed my life.

"It occurs to me, Jim, that you spend too much time trying to be interesting,” he said. “Why don’t you invest more time being interested.” "


"The pivot point in Good to Great is the Hedgehog Concept. The essence of a Hedgehog Concept is to attain piercing clarity about how to produce the best long-term results, and then exercising the relentless discipline to say, 'No thank you' to opportunities that fail the hedgehog test."

I think maybe I need to understand a bit more about hedgehogs...


Strolling on the edge of Visual Basic, able to create but very small programs that take a lot of time to write. It can be much faster to solve a problem in Perl, but VB is easier to give to others. How to help others fish vs. feeding them?


Some e-guitar today - Lincoln Brewster's "All to You" - he sounds so much like Steve Ray Vaughn on some of the tunes. We get to do some of these in a couple of weeks, so I really need to work on them!


Made it to the 'Groundhog Day' annual celebration complete with bands and some people who I only ever see there but they look familiar now. Treat to listen to Marlee MacLeod and the other local musicians. Headed over to pick up Rose, who wants the computer now. Have a good evening.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Read This Sometime

If you have yet to read any of the blog 'Baghdad Burning' , you really should. Riverbend (the name the author uses) is articulate and has a perspective that you will not likely find in the news. Somehow anything else I would say seems trivial compared to what she has lived through and written about. (Much of the blog has been published as an award-winning book).

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Le Matin

Good morning. Morning here, anyway. Snow, ice, a pile of firewood. The odd squirrel or bird. Groundhog Day. Not very shadowy at the moment.


It's later now. We had a Language Society council meeting today - I love those, such a mixed group of styles and it's a wonder we get anything done. We have nationals who speak Spanish, French, German, Japanese, and several of us who make the attempt to speak some of these, all teacher/leader types and we're trying to conduct business. It's fun - somebody manages to pull it together eventually.

There was a special visitor at work today who came to give a talk. It went pretty well, he had to use a lot of technical words that I'm guessing weren't very familiar to him and I was just cringing waiting for it go wrong - at one point stumbled on 'single compression' which really was supposed to be 'signal compression,' but overall not too bad. Cynthia got to see the motorcade on the freeway. Seems to have gone off without any problems, which is good.

Music team rehearsal tonight, somehow the social time seemed natural and relaxed, I think we were all a bit tired - we have gotten to know each other well enough to laugh and have fun with the time. I think most of us have kids so it is kind of break and time with other adults doing something enjoyable like learning new songs to play/sing.

The van has a very squealy serpentine belt, Cara was telling me off about it this morning - "Dad, this is really bad. You need to get a new car." Maybe she's right. At the least, I need to take care of the belt somehow.

Have a good evening, and don't forget to look at the sky sometimes.


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Le Soir

And another Noisy Withdrawal rehearsal is complete. We rent a practice room in what used to be a manufacturing building, shared with another group and it works out pretty well. There are nine of us and it's difficult to get everyone there at the same time, but it works out and sometimes it actually sounds ok.

Not a lot else to report this evening. Everyone is home ok and bouncing around, I've escaped to the downstairs 'office' for a few minutes. A bit brain dead after being 'on' all day. Work will do that. Listening to Jim Collins' 'Good to Great' in support of some leadership training that's going on. Kind of interesting, the leaders who take companies that extra step usually are quiet and have long term goals and focus (vs the strong ego type who may make a big impact but when they leave, things don't run so well). Lincoln cited as an example...

Lots of time at the keyboard, all day it seems. Important to take breaks, shift gears, go for a walk, talk with somebody. Did some of that today, looking back. Since my job has changed there are people that I used to supervise that still come by to chat, I like that. I guess some of them maybe read this...so I'll limit any other comments, keeping the distinction of slog2live and actually slogging to live somewhat separate.

Hello out there, art person who writes the poetry! I miss your writings...hope all is well. Life must have you somewhere else for now.

Natalie's spring semester will be starting soon, into the calculus with the same guy I had those many years ago and also continuing with the organic chemistry, again with a prof that I had - one of my favorite - there were several. What are the chances? She's getting to do a little research with goldfish, getting thermodynamic equations out of their behavior swimming from one side of the tank to the other, with a divider that has a hole for them to swim through. I don't know the details, but I think the fish are treated well. Some kind of optical measurement of when the fish swim through the hole. Brings back some memories of working with Ole.

Right, well it's chilly down here and I need to get some rest. More tomorrow, Take care.