Thursday, May 31, 2007
After hitting a plateau the past couple of months, I am down 1 ½ pounds since the end of April, putting me at 205.5!!
Since I normally weigh in every week, I can tell you I put on a pound or two at the beginning of May. That means I finished the month strongly by losing a few pounds the past couple of weeks. I would attribute that to more exercising (including going on some strenuous bike rides for the first time in two years) and better eating. My wife recently joined Weight Watchers so she unwittingly helped me drop weight. Given the fact she scrutinizes every food item she purchases for our household (it takes twice as long to grocery shop now) I am eating as healthy as she is.
My ultimate goal was reset last month, which means I have 5 ½ weeks to drop 10 lbs. I am hoping to be 195 by our wedding anniversary on July 7. I realize that’s quite a stretch but I am confident I can at least get below 200 for the first time in about eight years.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon. That evening I was going to attend a youth banquet sponsored by our church. Since we didn’t have to be to the downtown St Paul Radisson until 6:30 (and dinner wouldn’t be served until 7:30), a few us decided to meet at the Red Lobster in Maplewood. After enjoying a couple hours of food and fellowship we then got ready to head downtown. My buddy Scott had gotten a ride to the restaurant so he needed a lift to the Radisson. I was more than happy to oblige. My mom had lent me her 1985 Honda Accord for the evening. Since I was set to graduate from high school in less than a week I already had my official cap and gown. I took my “Class of 1987” tassel off of the cap and hung it on the rear view mirror of my Mom’s car (Of course, I didn’t do that until after I pulled out of the garage). Yes, I was looking forward to a fun evening.
I was following my friend, Todd, to the Radisson since I had never driven there on my own. As we were on 35E South a black, jacked-up Chevy Impala came flying up next to us. Since I didn’t want to let Todd out of my sight, I sped up so the Impala could get behind me. I didn’t want the guy to cut in front of me for fear I would lose sight of my friend. It was at that time that Scott started laughing at these guys in the Impala. Since Scott was a guy who knew so many people, I assumed the three guys in the big, black car were acquaintances. After a couple more minutes passed, I looked to my right to see three agitated occupants of the Impala, screaming obscenities and challenging us to fight. The guy in the back seat even showed us a baseball bat. At this point the driver was looking to plow us into the cement barrier which separated 35E North and South. I no longer worried about keeping up with Todd and starting concerning myself with ditching these lunatics. I deliberately did not exit off 10th Street since these guys would have easily caught us in the midst of downtown traffic. Instead, I veered off 35E South onto 94 West in an effort to ditch these guys. Seeing that, the Impala driver swerved over a couple lanes to get off the same exit and continue following us. Since I was not interested in causing an accident on the freeway, I got off the Rice St exit. As I drove north on Rice Street, I slowly pulled up to a green light figuring I would gun it through the intersection as soon as the light turned red. That way, the Impala would get caught in the traffic coming east-west through the intersection. No such luck, since there were no cars at this light.
As we continued north on Rice, we suddenly spotted a cop car in front of a café. Seeing the cop about to enter the café, I honked vigorously in an effort to get his attention but to no avail. This particular member of St Paul’s finest was safely inside. Within seconds after failing to flag down the cop, I heard a loud crash in the backseat of my car. The guy with the bat had just smashed in the rear windshield!! They then pulled up beside us with all three guys now challenging us to fight. They all had maniacal looks on their faces and were literally frothing at the mouth. I quickly took a right turn off of Rice and started heading east toward 35E. At some point, I exclaimed to Scott “What did you say to tick ‘em off??!!!” Scott said he was merely laughing at the guys. Since Scott was one of your more mischievous characters, I knew I wasn’t getting the whole story. Nevertheless, that wasn’t my immediate concern.
I was going dangerously close to 60 MPH down a side street but was still unsuccessful in shaking the Impala. In all of the chaos I came to my senses for a brief moment and told Scott to get the license plate number of the car that was again riding our bumper. Since we didn’t have a pen, he repeated it to himself over and over (“ABC 123”, “ABC 123”, “ABC 123…). That’s not the real plate number but I do in fact remember what it was, amazingly enough.
We finally got onto 35E North, and by this time we were going over 90 MPH…..in a Honda Accord!!! Unfortunately, we were no match for a muscle car with a V-8 engine. We were in the far left lane when the Impala pulled up beside us then in front of us. The Impala completely stopped (on the freeway, mind you), parked and the driver got out of his car and started running towards us. Absolutely petrified (good thing I was wearing a dark suit that night), I did what any scared-out-of-his-mind 18-year old would do: I put the car in reverse and started driving backwards….ON THE FRIGGIN’ FREEWAY!!! I was literally going 25-30 MPH in reverse with cars swerving to avoid me as they were driving north. After going in reverse for about 50 yards, I pulled onto the shoulder. I told Scott “We are not moving one inch until they drive away. If they want a piece of us they’ll have to come get us.”
After evading the lunatic driver, he and his two cohorts got back in the car and got off the Larpenteur Ave exit. I then got back on 35E north and went home to St Paul via 694. I didn’t want to take the chance of those maniacs finding us again driving on a side street.
I arrived back home trying to explain to my Mom what had happened. We then called the police, who came to our house to take our statement. Thankfully they were able to track down the perpetrators with the license plate number we gave to them. As it turned out, the three guys were brothers. Interesting gene pool, to say the least.
The following Monday, Scott was in school when one of his fellow students informed him that John Doe wanted to kick his butt. Scott was perplexed since he didn’t know John Doe. The other kid told Scott that Doe was looking for him because Scott was messing with him on the freeway over the weekend. Totally freaked out, Scott proceeded to run to the student parking lot and what do you suppose he found when he got there? You guessed it. That same black Chevy Impala. Since graduation was to take place at Scott’s school that week, he left that day and never went back. Scott even went so far to call “John” on the phone to try to reason with him. Apparently, John still hadn’t cooled down. Combine that with the fact that John’s old man came down pretty hard on him since he had to foot the bill for the broken windshield. Thankfully, Scott was able to avoid John and the certain retribution that was to come.
Out of curiosity, I decided to do a Google search on “John Doe” since I remembered his real name. Turns out, he’s married with two kids and is successful in the business world. Since he was merely a hot-headed dumb punk twenty years ago, I won’t reveal his real name.
As for Scott, I haven’t seen him since the summer of 1999, shortly after the birth of his son. In his teens and 20s, Scott was one of those tragic figures. While he was the life of everyone’s party, a funny, talented showman, he could never avoid certain temptations in life. Things like drugs and sex always seemed to overtake Scott to the point where he would disappear from church for months at a time. I’d like to think that the birth of his son has caused him to walk the straight and narrow.
Despite the fact Scott and I didn’t hang out a whole lot in our younger years, we will be inextricably linked to a May evening in 1987.
Monday, May 28, 2007
It was July 2001 when I first heard the story of Bob Kalsu. William Nack of Sports Illustrated had just written about Kalsu’s remarkable story for that week’s edition of the magazine. Nack was being interviewed about his article on a local sports radio station, detailing the accounts of Kalsu’s young life. I found myself mesmerized by the story.
An All-American offensive tackle at the University of Oklahoma, Kalsu completed a stellar rookie season with the Buffalo Bills in 1968. He would leave professional football in 1969 to join the conflict in Vietnam. Bob would leave behind pregnant wife Jan, whom he had been married to less than two years, and a one-year old daughter named Jill. Bob would see his family one last time in May 1970 while on leave. He would return to Vietnam where he eagerly awaited the news of the arrival of his second child, due in July.
The most heart-wrenching part of the story was Bob would not live to find out he would have a son. On July 23, 1970, just two days after Bob was killed, James Robert Kalsu, Jr. was born. Initially the boy was named Robert Todd Kalsu. Upon learning of her husband’s death just hours later, Jan renamed the boy. She had recalled the silent prayer she conveyed to God prior to Bob leaving for Vietnam: “If you need him more than I do, please give me a son to carry on his name.”
There are so many other wonderful attributes to this story, that I highly encourage you to find a copy of the July 23, 2001 edition of Sports Illustrated.
About 3 ½ years after hearing Bob Kalsu’s story, my wife and I took a trip to Washington, D.C. One of the many stops on our three-day excursion was a visit to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Still moved by Kalsu’s heroics, I decided to locate his identification on “The Wall” and trace his etched name.
I still have the etching tucked away in that very Sports Illustrated issue that featured Bob on the cover.
Upon returning from my trip to Washington, I felt the urge to contact someone in the Kalsu family. Since sports and American history are two passions of mine, I had to let them know how much Bob’s story moved me.
I was able to locate Bob’s daughter, Jill Kalsu Horning.
She was gracious enough to send a reply.
It was such a wonderful surprise to receive your letter. You made my day! Usually it is my mom or my brother who are contacted about my daddy. My feelings always get hurt. I always feel left out so I feel very touched. I read your letter to my mom and my brother. They thought it was very beautiful.
I can't tell you how amazed we are by how many people are touched by the life of my dad. He truly impacted so many people by how he lived his life. Now after he has gone to be with our Lord, so many more are touched by his life. A day doesn't go by when I don't think about my dad and how much I miss him.
Now that I have my own children, I miss the fact that my children don't have a grandpa. I don't ask "why?" anymore because I know that my daddy did what was right and fulfilled his duty to his country. While doing this, he had such an impact on many soldier's lives. There are no accidents with God.
I am so into American history and sports too. I always say that if I had not become a teacher, I would have loved to have been a political science major. I am so glad that you and your wife were able to go to the Vietnam Wall. The experience there can not be put into words. I have only been to D.C. one time, and it was only for about 5 hours. My experience at The Wall is hard to put into words. I hope to one day go with my husband and children to spend more time there and also to see the many other sights there.
I pray that God will bless you and your family always. Thank you so much for taking the time to write me.
With warmest regards,
And my warmest regards to you and your family, Jill.
Thank you so much for sharing the story of James Robert Kalsu, Sr., a true American hero.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
In October 2004, about 30 PWs showed up at the Xcel Energy Center in St Paul to protest the
Finally, I have video footage of the event for your viewing pleasure!
My dear friends Greg & Ruth were kind enough to volunteer as videographers. Even more generous was Greg’s editing of a concert attendee accosting us with a loud, angry, profanity-laced tirade. To me, it’s the funniest part of the whole video.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
While Cox may be closing in on the record, as far as I’m concerned he’s not nearly as animated and colorful as was Earl Weaver. In his 17 seasons as Baltimore Orioles manager in the 70s and 80s, Weaver was ejected an American League record 99 times. I found a couple of videos on YouTube with ol’ Earl accosting umpires. However, his tirades were so profanity-laced that I didn’t feel it appropriate to post them here. Suffice to say that Weaver got his money’s worth out of his ejections.
But off the field is where Weaver solidified his reputation as one of the game’s more colorful characters. Since he smoked like he was on fire and drank like he was trying to put it out, his nights out after ball games were the stuff of folklore.
One of the more infamous stories had Weaver attempting to drive home after a night of heavy drinking. Shortly after beginning his commute, a cop pulled him over and asked him a few questions. The cop then told Weaver that he was going to administer a field sobriety test, to which he replied “Take my word for it pal. I’m drunk!!”
Yup, they don’t make ‘em like they used to.
That’s quite a contrast from other occupations when one does a fine job. For example, when I reconcile complex general ledger accounts I receive a mere “good job”…..which, come to think of it, is fine by me!!!
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Others celebrating their birthday on May 24:
Minnesota’s own Bob Dylan is 66 years old today.
Tommy Chong (of Cheech and Chong fame) is 69.
Alfred Molina (“Dr. Otto Octavius” in Spider-Man 2) is 54.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
A conservative living in San Francisco at the time, Kfir was the proverbial fish out of water. Everyday he would drive home from work he would see these slogans parroted by the anti-war crowd. Kfir would chuckle at the things he saw. “Wait a minute”, he thought. “Didn’t war effectively end terrible, oppressive things like slavery, communism, fascism, etc.?”
At that moment, Kfir had an idea. He and three of his conservative buddies decided to put these parody slogans on poster board and walk amongst the protesters.
The result? The left had the extreme nature of their ideology thrown back into their face and didn’t know how to handle it.
The following week was when Kfir called into Rush’s show to share the anecdotes of that weekend infiltration. The stories were such a hit with Rush that he asked Kfir to e-mail the photographs of the festivities. The pictures appeared on the Rush Limbaugh web site that day, and Protest Warrior was born. In the four years since, PW has expanded into all fifty states and even a few foreign countries.
To summarize: In the past four years, Kfir Alfia has appeared on such venues as The Rush Limbaugh Show, The Savage Nation, The Dennis Prager Show, Air America, the highly rated AM 1500 show “The Straight Scoop” and Fox News. Not to mention the fact there’s now a DVD anthology and a brand new book.
And as if he wasn’t already living the charmed life, I read this in an e-mail he sent today:
I recently asked the woman who inspired me to start ProtestWarrior to marry me, and luckily she agreed.
I'm off to Italy to get married and won't be back till mid June.
We hope to see you and other PWs next year in St Paul for the GOP convention. Rumor has it there might be a few leftist protesters there.
Monday, May 21, 2007
They are all celebrating birthdays today!
However, my gal is the only one who is going to receive birthday greetings in this space.
Happy 30-something birthday, Babe!!
The best is yet to come!
Friday, May 18, 2007
He said, (Clinton impression) "I had chicken. I had fish. That's what we had."
I said, "Well, you were good. You were good."
"You gotta be good, man, gotta be good."
So I said, "Nice to meet you," got back in a car, and drove off.
It is no secret that during the Clinton presidency, Rush was definitely the most outspoken critic of that administration. In fact, many surmise that Limbaugh’s greatest success emerged after 1992 when Clinton was elected. With Clinton’s narcissism, penchant for womanizing and taxing anything that moved, Rush had an endless array of material. Limbaugh definitely revolutionized the entertainment aspect of political commentary.
So when Rush conveyed the fact that he and Clinton had a nice chat, members of his audience e-mailed or called his show to express their dismay. It was as if they expected Rush to launch a verbal assault against the man who drew the ire of many conservatives in the 90s.
There’s no doubt that we live in a divided country, now more than ever. But is the political discourse so over the top that it’s perceived as a sin when we’re cordial to someone who’s our political opposite? As I’ve said before, I don’t look at people on the left as my enemies. I think they’re fundamentally wrong about how they believe this country should be governed but I certainly don’t look at it as a character flaw.
Unfortunately, many opponents of President George W. Bush don’t see things that way.
One classic example occurred last November at a gathering where the President welcomed newly elected congressmen. Democrat James Webb had just been elected Senator of Virginia, having defeated incumbent George Allen. The President, ever an affable host, asked Webb how is son was doing.
"How's your boy?" Bush asked, referring to Webb's son, a Marine serving in Iraq.
"I'd like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President," Webb responded, echoing a campaign theme.
"That's not what I asked you," Bush said. "How's your boy?"
"That's between me and my boy, Mr. President," Webb said coldly, ending the conversation on the State Floor of the East Wing of the White House.
Despite the fact that Webb was only Senator-elect at the time, he couldn’t table the anti-war rhetoric for just one night. Come January 2007 there would have been plenty of opportunity on the Senate floor for Webb to air his displeasure over the Iraqi conflict. However, that incident was just a microcosm for the lack of decorum shown towards the office of the President these days.
I guess it’s not surprising when you consider that a certain President in the late 90s decided to treat the White House as Frat house.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
What does Cleveland Indians pitcher Fausto Carmona have in common with Carl Pohlad?
He too owns the Minnesota Twins.
In today’s 2-0 Cleveland victory over Minnesota, Carmona pitched a complete game shoutout, giving up only four hits. Combine that with an April start at the Metrodome, Carmona is 2-0 with a 1.08 ERA against the Twins this season.
The Twins now trail the first place Indians by seven games in the AL Central.
So much for the carryover effect of that 16-run, 22-hit explosion the Twins had Sunday. They’ve scored a grand total of 3 runs in the past three games when it has mattered (Sorry, but scoring seven runs last Tuesday was meaningless given the fact the Twins trailed 9-2 and 15-3 in that game).
In the motif of another Simon & Garfunkel ditty, “Where have you gone Joe Mauer?”
Monday, May 14, 2007
Saturday, May 12, 2007
Today? Ponson allowed 6 hits and 2 walks. So that’s eight more base runners in four innings of work.
Another “average” outing for Sid.
Prediction: Ponson does not see June with this club.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
At 4:40 every weekday afternoon, Star Tribune columnist Patrick Reusse appears on AM 1500’s Garage Logic for a 15-minute sports update. On Thursday, while discussing Dale Earnhardt, Jr. leaving his father’s racing team, the conversation switched to Dale Sr.
As Reusse’s segment wrapped up, GL host Joe Soucheray asked if Dale Sr. was widowed and then married his much younger wife. Reusse said something to the effect that Eanrhardt Sr. was the typical famous guy who dumps his first wife after making it big and then hooks up with a much younger woman. As Reusse ended his report with that remark, Soucheray said “I’ll talk to you later” and then, as usual, went straight to the weather segment. “Here now is Dave Dahl in the Channel 5 weather center.” I could tell Dahl was more tranquil than normal and I think I understood why. Dave himself divorced his first wife and married a younger woman a number of years ago. If that wasn’t enough, he then turned the trick again by marrying a much younger woman after his second divorce.
I don’t know if Reusse intended his remark to be a cut at Dave Dahl. But you have to chuckle at the irony.
I have to say, that really hit a nerve. In our household, my wife and I were the only ones who had health insurance…until earlier this week.
We decided that we no longer wanted to be another statistic so we’ve taken action. Two of our cats, Macbeth and Cleo, now have health coverage.
Take that, lefties!! We refuse to be a cog in your demagoguery machine!
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
According to his contract, Clemens will not be forced to travel with the team when he isn't scheduled to pitch. He had the same deal with the Houston Astros. David Wells, a Yankees teammate of Clemens' in 2002 and 2003, doesn't agree with that.
"I don't think I would ever do it because of the fact I personally think it would disrespect the team and your teammates," Wells said, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "You look at the other players. How are they going to respect you? What are they going to think if you're not there pulling for the team?"
So would it be better for Roger to hang around and get liquored up the night before he pitches? After all, Wells himself alleged in his autobiography that he occasionally did that very thing. How about consistently being out of shape? Does that garner a lot of respect with teammates, Dave?
But the ultimate disrespect to your teammates is not being man enough to fess up to an injury----before a crucial World Series game. With the Yankees taking on the Florida Marlins in the 2003 World Series, Wells was slated to pitch Game 5 in a series that was deadlocked 2-2. Wells had been battling a bad back (the big beer gut probably didn’t help) and as a result lasted only one inning in that pivotal game. Now had Wells mentioned his condition to the club the evening before, starter Andy Pettitte could have pitched on three days rest. Instead, Wells insisted he was fine and the Yankees sent Pettitte to New York to prepare for his Game 6 start. When Wells wasn’t effective the Yankees had to rush Jose Contreras into duty in the second inning and he was not up to the task. The Yankees would go on to lose Game 5 in Miami and eventually the series in six.
I would guess that Roger Clemens will gain more respect being around only twice per week than David Wells hanging around everyday.
Sunday, May 06, 2007
In the 5-4 Red Sox victory, the youthful hurler picked up his first major league win.
Now, 23 years and 347 wins later, the man dubbed “The Rocket” will return for yet another season.
The seventh-inning stretch was ending when the low, familiar voice of public-address announcer Bob Sheppard told fans at Yankee Stadium to direct their attention to the owner's box behind home plate.
Standing there, microphone in hand, was Roger Clemens to personally announce his return to New York.
"Well, they came and got me out of Texas, and I can tell you it's a privilege to be back," he said. "I'll be talking to y'all soon."
I have to admit that I have been a fan of the Yankees (Sorry, Ben) since they won it all in 1996. That began a stretch of four World Series titles in five seasons. And they did it with class acts like Bernie Williams, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera. In 1999, Clemens joined the club and received his first Word Series ring! He would win another in 2000, further alienating the whiny Red Sox fans. That’s the biggest reason why I was thrilled to see Clemens finally get a ring.
But will The Rocket be enough to get the Yanks back to the proverbial Promised Land?
Only time will tell.
Saturday, May 05, 2007
The Back to the Future movie trilogy: Definitely some of my favorite films of the 80s!!
Naturally, the two teamed up for some of the more crowd-pleasing pop culture of that great decade.
Since I consider myself an 80s music
Upon completion of his opening tune, Hay decided to go into a little monologue. As he was about to speak, I anticipated hearing an accent similar to that of Croc hunter Steve Irwin. Instead, it was more like William Wallace. Yes, Hay was actually born in Scotland. His family moved to Australia when he was a teenager. Anyhow, each of Hay’s monologues between songs was worth the price of admission----and I got in for free. While I enjoyed Hay’s acoustic set, he too often relied on the f-word in his soliloquies. That’s not to say he wasn’t somewhat entertaining in the yarns he spun about life in the music biz.
Hay recounted a time a few years back where he had the opportunity to tour with Beatles legend Ringo Starr. While strumming the guitar during a gig, Hay would often become awestruck when turning around and seeing the legendary Starr on the drums. After each show, Hay would hop aboard a private jet with Ringo, eating lobster while relaxing in plush furniture. After completing that tour, Hay ventured back on his own solo expedition. He expressed his dismay at the change in venues. From playing with the legendary Beatles drummer and flying in a leer jet to just a week later fueling up his own mini van near St. Louis.
Alas, I was there for the 80s stuff and I was not disappointed. While I thoroughly enjoyed the acoustic versions of the Men at Work tunes, I’ll always have a special place in my heart for the originals. Even 25 years later, I still recall the lyrics.
Check ‘em out:
Who Can It Be Now?
Gotta love those 80s!!!!
Friday, May 04, 2007
Apparently, one group doesn’t
An Islamic advocacy group is seeking an investigation into a series of alleged anti-Muslim incidents at a Blaine middle school, in which two girls say they've been taunted and had food thrown at them for wearing headscarves.
The Minnesota chapter of the Council on AmericanIslamic Relations alleges that the staff at Westwood Middle School has under-reacted to complaints from two families that their daughters were being bullied for being Muslim.
Yes, that’s CAIR, the same group who rushed to the defense of the disruptive Imams on the US Airlines flight last year. The same Imams who were spewing anti-American sentiments as well as exhibiting strange behavior which made the other passengers feel threatened.
"I wish these were isolated incidents, but they're not," said Lori Saroya, chairwoman of the newly formed Minnesota chapter.
"And most of the time, they're not even reported."
Saroya said the parents of two Blaine girls called the group April 20 after an alleged incident in the lunchroom resulted in a Muslim girl being disciplined by an assistant principal who the girl said chastised her using the Quran.
Don Helmstetter, Spring Lake Park district superintendent, said Thursday's letter was the first he'd heard of the incidents. He opened an investigation immediately.
"All of us as parents need to feel a sense of security and justice and a sense of due process if we think something is happening to our child," he said. "Clearly these parents didn't feel that, and that's our shame. We need to work on that."
What did I tell you about the superintendents being the consummate politicians? In all honesty, I sympathize with Mr. Helmstetter. This caught him completely off guard and it took an organization like CAIR to bring it to light. Of course, CAIR realizes there is no such thing as bad publicity. Anything to gain the sympathies of the general public isn’t a bad thing.
The story also goes on to say that Ms. Saroya seeks to meet with Westwood’s principal in an effort to implement “sensitivity training” for the staff. This has to be one of the most asinine aspects of the whole incident. Because one staff member allegedly drops the ball in handling an unfortunate incident the whole staff must now undergo training.
If anything, Westwood Middle School has gone out of their way to accommodate the Muslim faith, to the point of coming dangerously close to violating the establishment clause in the First Amendment. Last fall, Westwood teachers were instructed to allow Muslim students to be excused from class to be able to pray in the media center during Ramadan. However, the Christian students are never extended that same courtesy, to the point where they can’t display signs of “Jesus is the reason for the season” in December.
I’m all for disciplinary action against bullies as well as staff members who violate punishment etiquette.
But it shouldn’t take a publicity-hungry advocacy group to ensure such protocol is followed.