Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The man's got Faith!

I guess I can tell this story now.

A little over a year ago, I was tagged with one of those pesky memes. When asked to pass it on to three others, one person I mentioned was “that gal who calls herself the Mall Diva”. In parentheses I then asked “What’s her real name, Ben?”

A few hours later, I received an e-mail from the guy named Ben politely asking me to remove the inquiry. His concern was that some unwanted rumors might start about he and MD being a couple. Not wanting to alienate one of my few regular commenters, I was more than happy to oblige Ben’s request. Now I must confess I had no idea the depth of their relationship. I just knew that Ben was a friend of the Mall Diva’s family and thus I was merely curious of her real first name.

Anyhow, MD did indeed take me up on the meme request. So when it came to the question of ”Unknown fact about Me”, she replied “I've got a boyfriend....don't tell my dad (or Kevin!).” It was then that I put it all together!! It was as if I was let in on some sort of secret, even if Mall Diva cued me in unwittingly.

So at the end of ’07, Ben and Mall DivaFaith let everyone in on the secret. They had begun a courtship.

And now they’re officially engaged to be married!!

Congrats, Ben & Faith! May God continue to bless you on what is bound to be a joyful existence together!


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Golden celebration.

I was remiss in not mentioning the soiree I attended on Saturday. My Aunt Dorothy & Uncle Richard were thrown a 50th wedding anniversary celebration in their hometown in northwest Wisconsin. And they literally had people from all across the continent of North America join in on the festivities.

Uncle Rich has gone on many a fishing trip to Canada over his 71 years on this earth, cultivating many friendships in the process. And while their kids were in school in the 70s & 80s, the family welcomed four Mexican exchange students into their home. And to the surprise of my Aunt & Uncle, three of the four came all the way from Mexico to join in the fun!

While Aunt Dorothy and Uncle Rich are personally two of my favorite relatives, I guess I never realized the impact they’ve had (and continue to have) on the lives of others. The fact they had people come from literally other countries to share in a life milestone is truly a resounding statement of how much they’re loved. I feel truly blessed to have known them and for the example they have set on how to live a selfless existence.

I left NW Wisconsin that day feeling like I have a lot to live up to.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

New York trip: A synopsis.

My brother and I recently returned from a quick trip to New York City!

General impressions? New York is one big friggin’ city!!! In fact, one of the locals was telling us that there are so many people trying to get so many places that it’s not unusual for a 20 mile drive (i.e. Uptown Manhattan to Brooklyn) to take 2 ½ hours.

There’s also been the perpetual rumor of New Yorkers being rude and obnoxious. However, the folks we dealt with couldn’t have been more hospitable. It’s safe to say that it was pretty obvious my brother and I weren’t from the area (the fact we were constantly looking skyward in awe of the tall buildings made that even more apparent). Nevertheless, more than a few people introduced themselves, asked us where we were from, how we liked the city, etc.

The main reason for our visit was to see historic Yankee Stadium in this its final season. We picked the Wednesday afternoon game where the Yanks were playing host to our Minnesota Twins. Yeah, the Twins lost but the fact we were able to visit that famous baseball cathedral in the Bronx made the entire trip worthwhile. And we dodged the torrential rain that had been forecast for the day.

Once the baseball game ended at about 4:00 pm, we hopped on the Subway and just went to as many tourist sites as we could get to before it rained. We were fortunate enough that the rain held out until about 10:30 when we were near our hotel. We ended up seeing The Dakota, which is the apartment building where John Lennon lived. We then went directly across the street to The Strawberry Fields memorial (laid out in memory of Lennon) in Central Park West. We also made the rounds to Ground Zero (site of the 9/11/01 attacks), The Empire State Building and Times Square.

One full day isn’t nearly long enough to see everything. But what we were able to accomplish in one day made the excursion all worthwhile!


New York trip: Yankee Stadium

Just off the Subway, we're headed towards Yankee Stadium!!

Here I am anticipating the start of the game. We had box seats a mere ten rows behind the third base dugout!

My bro Eric

A shot of the new Yankee Stadium, slated to open in 2009.


New York trip: The Dakota

The Dakota, a world famous apartment building. John Lennon lived there from 1973 until his death in 1980.

My brother stands in front of the area where Lennon was assassinated in 1980.

The Strawberry Fields memorial, located in Central Park west


New York trip: Ground Zero at World Trade Center.


New York trip: The Empire State Building.

A shot of the Chrysler Building from the Observation deck on the 86th floor.

Here I am on the Observation deck with the Chrysler Building in the background.

A shot of the Empire State Building as it lights up the night sky.


New York trip: Times Square


Monday, July 21, 2008

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Forward in faith.

Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, "Why couldn't we drive it out?"

He replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."

Matthew 17:19-20

There are many things I have learned from my gal in the ten years I have known her. But one that stands out is how to be so unabashed and unashamed of our Christian faith.

Since about early April, we have been working on building a home which would allow us to move my mother-in law in with us. Given the current housing market, we knew selling a home would be a daunting task. But trying to sell two homes? Many friends, relatives and colleagues scoffed at such a notion in what was (and still is) a strong buyer's market. In fact, one of my wife’s co-workers (a professed atheist, by the way) was downright incredulous regarding our plans. Without hesitation, my gal replied ”If God can create the Universe, certainly he can help us sell two homes.” How exactly does a non-believer respond to such a proclamation?

During this entire process, our philosophy has been simple: “If faith the size of a mustard seed can move a mountain, surely the faith we have can move two homes.”

And today, it became official! A little over a week after we sold our house, Mom signed a purchase agreement for the sale of her home!!

Praise the Lord!


Friday, July 18, 2008

Heartland tour.

Blogging has been lite lately due to my traveling for work this week.

I left my office Wednesday afternoon to travel to our facility in Aberdeen, SD. I worked there until Noon on Thursday then traveled 1 ½ hours south to our facility in Huron. My work was complete by 4:30 and thus it was time to hit the road again. I had a six hour drive ahead of me to our plant in Fairmont, NE. In that particular leg of my travels, I passed through the hometowns of Tom Brokaw (Yankton, SD) and Johnny Carson (Norfolk, NE).

I also took photos of an ominous thunderstorm in Northern Nebraska.

I was done with my work in Nebraska by 11:30 this morning and I arrived back home by 7:15 this evening.

And I was excited to see the work being done at the site of our future home!!


Monday, July 14, 2008

Twins: Giant killers

The pitching matchup for the mid-Summer classic has been set.

The Milwaukee Brewers' Ben Sheets and Cleveland Indians' Cliff Lee were chosen Monday for their first All-Star Game starts.

Sheets and Lee have certainly earned this honor given their combined record of 22-5. However, they’re 0-2 against my Minnesota Twins!!

Cross posted at Brad's Baseball Blog


Sunday, July 13, 2008

One size does not fit all.

If you’re an NFL fan like I am, there can be an endless debate about which team should be considered the all-time greatest.

The 1972 Miami Dolphins are often named and for good reason. They are the only team to have gone undefeated (14-0 regular season; 3-0 postseason) for an entire football season.

The 1984 San Francisco 49ers with their prolific offensive machine went 18-1. The Chicago Bears turned that trick the very next season, riding the wave of one of the best defenses of the modern era. Both clubs, of course, were Super Bowl champions.

But why is it the 2007 New England Patriots are rarely mentioned as the greatest of all time? Like the ’84 Niners and ’85 Bears, the ’07 Pats also went 18-1.

”Uh, it’s because the one loss the Patriots suffered was actually in the Super Bowl. No team can be considered the greatest if they didn’t even win it all.”

So the prevailing theory is that a loss in the Super Bowl is weighted much heavier than a regular season loss, even though it’s still only one loss. I think we can all agree on that.

Said theory is analogous to the thought process employed by many Minnesota GOP voters in not endorsing the “Override Six.”

In March, when six GOP House members voted to override Gov. Pawlenty’s veto of the mass transit subsidy Transportation Bill, three of those members (Ron Erhardt, Neil Peterson and Kathy Tingelstad) were denied party endorsements at their respective BPOU conventions. Many DFL stooges became very indignant over such action, claiming the six reps were being treated unfairly and that they were being unjustifiably ousted over merely one vote.

This fallacy was parroted again recently as it was rumored Erhardt is considering leaving the GOP.

A reliable source at the Capitol tells MN Publius that Ron Erhardt will file as an Independent candidate for the State House in 41A shortly before the filing deadline next week. Erhardt was denied the Republican endorsement for reelection after he voted to override the Governor’s veto of the transportation bill despite decades of service to the MN GOP.

Yes, the denial of endorsements was the result of the votes on the transportation bill. However, much more weight can be attached to that vote simply because Minnesotans were already woefully overtaxed. It would have been one thing if an effort had been made to trim excessive spending in other areas. After all, we expect our GOP lawmakers to hold up the mantle of fiscal responsibility. But no such concessions were made, and the Minnesota Republicans responded accordingly.

While we respect the years of service put in by our representatives, we also have the right to send them packing if we feel they made a decision that could be damaging to us long-term. And that damage can be inflicted with just one vote.


Did Obama know something we didn't?

When I first saw the above photo, I figured Barack Obama was merely being the typical unpatriotic, elitist snob by not putting his hand on his heart during the National Anthem.

However, I may have leapt to the wrong conclusion. Perhaps Obama knew of Jesse Jackson’s desire to…um…”castrate” the junior Senator from Illinois.


Friday, July 11, 2008

#4 in purple?




(Minnesota) is the perfect landing spot for Favre. The Vikings are the best team in need of a quarterback. The addition of Favre would make Minnesota an instant Super Bowl contender.
-Bill Williamson,

OK, I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t want to see Brett Favre in a Vikings uniform. As much as I’ve hammered the Packers over the years, I have always held Favre in the highest esteem. I mean, never missing a start at QB in 275 games (including playoffs)? Unbelievable!! Not to mention he holds practically every key quarterbacking record (all-time wins, yardage, touchdown passes, etc).

With the QB position being the only uncertainty for the Vikes going into 2008, signing Favre would be an ideal move.

I realize that Favre’s one and only reason for returning for an 18th season would be to win another Super Bowl. But like all elite athletes he has an ego. Fair or unfair, Favre would love to stick it to the organization that didn’t welcome him back with open arms.

There has also been discussion that the Packers will grant Favre his release so he can scratch the proverbial “itch” to play football, but only on one condition: that he does not sign with a rival NFC North team. However, according to an agreement between the NFL players union and the owners, no such conditional releases can be proposed. In fact, team management can not even broach the subject.

So if Favre wants to play but the Packers insist on moving ahead with the Aaron Rodgers era, then the organization has only two options: trade Favre or release him.

Either way, this makes for an untenable public relations situation come training camp.


Who knew what the future held?

We agreed to an offer on our house yesterday!! We will be signing the paperwork tonight.

As I wrote this morning, today marks the 10th anniversary of mine and the gal’s first date! I also alluded to the fact that on 7/11/98 we played miniature golf at a little course in Coon Rapids, which happens to be ½ mile from where we currently live.

In my wildest imagination I would have never conjured up a scenario where the woman with whom I was golfing that evening (and meeting in person for the first time) would one day be my wife and we would be selling a home less than a mile from that mini golf course.

I can’t wait to see what the next ten years may bring!


July 11, 1998: Our first date.

I was living in Crystal at the time in about a 500 sq foot apartment. It was the time of year where I would sleep on the couch in the living room since that is where the only air conditioning unit was located. This particular afternoon was no exception, as the temperature was in the 90s with very high humidity.

Later that evening I was slated to meet Jen for our first date! After exchanging voice mail messages, we spoke over the phone for the first time the previous Tuesday. We decided to meet for dinner that Saturday at the Chili’s restaurant near her place in Brooklyn Park.

I arrived early, as I always do, and sat in the waiting area. As I was watching a baseball game on the TV in the bar area, I heard a nice, sweet voice behind me say “Brad?” I turned around to meet my date for the evening. I was struck by how she looked like a girl I had known for years and even had a crush on when I was in my late teens. So far, so good! As we were about to be seated, I motioned for her to walk ahead of me. You may surmise that I was being a gentleman. But I have to confess I merely made such a gesture so I could check her out from the back (Forgive me, but I was still in the process of being chipped out of an ice block at that point in my life).

We were seated and began the process of getting to know each other better. I was an old pro at this blind date stuff so I wasn’t the least bit nervous. However, I could tell she was somewhat apprehensive.

As we continued talking after our entrees arrived, we determined that we could have crossed paths any number of times. She and her family moved from Chicago to River Falls, WI in the early 90s, the exact same time period when I was attending UW-River Falls. I also found out her mother obtained an accounting job with S&T Office Products in Vadnais Heights, MN. As it turned out, I was in the same interview pool for that exact job in 1993!

After spending about an hour at Chili’s, I was having such a wonderful time that I didn’t want the evening to end. I suggested maybe we do something outdoors since it was such a pleasant evening. I then came up with the idea of miniature golf. She happened to know of a place called “Lilli Putt” on Coon Rapids Blvd. She then had me follow her to her condo so she could drop off her car and we could ride together. I figured she must have thought I was OK since she wanted the evening to continue and allowed me to know where she lived.

We arrived at Lilli Putt for a round of mini golf. As we got started, I joked “loser buys pie at Baker’s Square afterwards.” I then assured her that I didn’t have one of those fragile male egos that is easily shattered if I lose to a woman in a silly game. We then continued to talk about anything and everything as went through our round. As we went to turn in our clubs at the end of the game, I tallied up the scores and determined that I won by two strokes. She then chuckled and said “Do you want to go to the Baker’s Square on Brooklyn Blvd?” I assured her I was only kidding about the pie thing. But she too wanted the evening to continue. So we indulged in some pie and more conversation until close to Midnight.

I drove her home and walked her to her front door. As we said goodnight, we made tentative plans to get together the following week.

From that day on, we seemed virtually inseparable for the next ten years!


Monday, July 07, 2008

The Other Side of the Story

July 7, 1998

He was Match # 4 from WLTE. When we talked for the first time on the telephone, I was impressed by his confidence (all you single guys out there…..confidence is attractive. FYI). I was interested in meeting him but very skittish. You see, the first guy I met through the dating service was confident too. His character however, paled in comparison to Brad’s (I would not discover this until much later however). So I was nervous when on the phone with him. Curious and guarded, I agreed to meet him at Chili’s on July 11th.

Any rational person in my position would have given up the dating service after what I had been through. Match # 4 was the last one I was going to meet. Match # 1 is only known now as ‘The Snake’. What a dirt bag. He lied. I cried. It was not pretty. After a month or two of emotional recovery, I decided to throw myself back out into the dating world. After all, it was summer, I was only 27, and I had time for an adventure . So I used the dating service once again to try and meet some interesting people.

Match # 2. This guy was a geologist. One date.

Match # 3. When this guy complained that only ‘tuna boats’ wanted to go out with him, I couldn’t believe my ears. Was he serious? He then proceeded to tell me that his family thought he was too picky. I asked him what he meant by that. He told me he only likes women with feet smaller than a size 7. Stay with me now….it gets better. He then described to me how he sleeps on a different side of his bed each night so that his sheets would be evenly worn. Two dates. I know, he didn’t deserve me after the first one but I felt sorry for him.

At this point I was wondering if using the service was worth the time and trouble. And then I met Brad….

July 7, 1998: Our first conversation

It was a Tuesday evening and I just finished an appointment near Southdale Mall in Edina.

Since I didn’t have a cellular phone at the time I stopped in to the nearest Kinko’s where they allowed free access to a phone. I needed to make a call to a gal I met over the telephone via the WLTE date line. This was a time where the internet wasn’t quite as ubiquitous as it is today. That said, I wasn’t familiar with the concept of “online dating”.

Since my work place at the time had that light-music radio station playing all day, I had heard ads for this telephone dating service. How it worked was one basically answered multiple choice questions by using the push-buttons on your phone. From there, the date line would construct a profile and match it with a mate who resembles your preferences. It was hardly the “29 dimensions of compatibility” required by E-harmony but then again I wasn’t exactly looking for a potential spouse.

Up to that point, I had gone on dates with nine different women through the WLTE date line. However, I only went on more than one date with just one of those gals (she was the one who bore an uncanny resemblance to Molly Ringwald). I guess I had no reason to think that #10 would be any different. It’s not that I had become cynical or anything. My whole thought process was to meet new people….but be open to possibilities.

After chatting with this sweet young lady for about a half hour, we decided to meet Saturday the 11th at the Chili’s restaurant near her home in Brooklyn Park. To be honest, this blind date thing had become old hat to me. I really wasn’t nervous at all leading up to it. Of course, there might have been a little more anxiety had I known that exactly two years later I would be walking down the aisle with this young lady.

So, how did the first date with the future Mrs. Carlson turn out? Check back on the 11th!!


Thursday, July 03, 2008

A reminder to be safe this 4th of July.

The following is a Public Service Announcement from comedian Ron White on the perils of fireworks usage.


Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Favre should stay retired.

Many of you may think that I’m hoping the Packers iconic QB Brett Favre stays retired so he no longer tortures my Vikings. You would be wrong. Even if Favre does not return to quarterback the Green Bay Packers, I still believe the Pack is the best team in the NFC North and in the top three of the entire conference.

That said, Favre’s alleged “itch” to return to the playing field unfairly puts the Packers organization in a precarious position. The right thing to do would be to continue to move full speed ahead with the Aaron Rodgers era while telling Favre they’re not interested in his return. Naturally, that would be a public relations disaster if the revered QB (coming off a stellar 2007 season) is not allowed back in the fold while wanting desperately to return. In the end, I don’t believe Favre would want to cause such dissention amongst Packer land and thus he will stay retired.

A source in the Packers front office concurs.

"We value Brett's legacy, we think he values it, and we'd want to protect that. Brett's a high-quality person and he's not going to push it that far. He'll do the right thing [and stay retired]. This was almost predictable, the idea that Brett would get the itch to play as we get closer to the season."

Oh, Favre will definitely be in Lambeau Field on September 8 for Green Bay’s first regular season game. However, it will merely be for the retirement of his jersey number.


Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Memo to John Hughes

To: John Hughes, movie director

From: Brad Carlson (80s mega geek)

Re: Sixteen Candles sequel

Mr. Hughes,

If you're thinking of doing a sequel to one of the 1980s greatest teen flicks, let me remind you of the follow-ups to two other 80s classics:

Caddyshack II

Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise

That is all.