Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Has anyone noticed?

Maybe I'm the only one paying attention, but when I get into this frequent-posting mode, I get awfully preachy.

I lose track of the fun I should be having and passing along. Or maybe I just lose track of passing it along, 'cuz I'm still having all the fun.

It's like that post yesterday about the quiz - I got that score, but didn't bother to record the code (other things demanded my attention: a squirrel in the neighbor's pecan tree, and then one in our live oak, then two dogs came by outside the fence... It was a busy couple of hours). Anyway, I had to go back and take the quiz again to get the code. Could I duplicate the score? Well, yes, eventually. And it wasn't the affect/effect or the pound/kilo that got me. The quiz had a couple other questions related to average this or average that, that I had had to sort of take a ballpark on, and it took me a while to make my ballparks match up. Fenway=Fenway, and you can't confuse it with Candlestick, not even when you're second-guessing and confusing yourself.

That and it takes me a long while to get used to clicking the circle to the left of the correct answer. Maybe it's just me, maybe I've been away too long from standardized anything, but I always read left to right. Consequently, I prefer to check the dot after the response rather than the one before. I realize that's counter-intuitive for most test designers, but then most test designers don't let the answers flow as if they were a paragraph - they stack 'em. Stacked answers are cool - then I can check the dot to the left. But when it's paragraph-style? Fuggedaboudit - I have to wrestle with my brain.

I used to read Kimberly over at Number Two Pencil quite a bit, because she's a psychometrician - she's an expert on test design (if you click that link, there's a very nice picture of her getting married. She ain't posted squat since then and I don't blame her. Marriage is a fine institution. So was Folsum.

Anyway, Kimberly used to discuss testing and validity, and all that stuff, and I wonder what she'd say about paragraphing the answers rather than stacking them. Just seems kinda cheap to me.

Where was I?

Oh. Frequency = preachy.

Damn. What'd I tell ya?

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007


I stopped by to visit Doug over at Borderland this afternoon, and he had the results of a quiz posted. I don't take every quiz that hops down the intertubes, but this one sounded interesting, especially after I got the results:

How smart are you? - Are you dumb?

It helps if you know the difference between a kilo and a pound, and between "affect" and "effect." Other than that, you're on your own.

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

I won the lottery

I know. If I were a true American patriot, I would be watching the football game right now. And then the second half of the double-header, and then Chicago-Dallas after dinner. But I simply can't contain myself, for I am now rich. Check out the e-mail I just got:

Ticket No: 12033
Lucky No: 425448/7785
Ref No: CHN/2551256007/11
Batch No: 14/0017/IPD
serial No: GMLA2-003
Ticket No: 12033.
Contact Claim Agent:

Attn: Lottery Winner,
We are pleased to inform you of the result of the lottery programs held on 2th of June 2007 with your e-mail address attached to one of the winning ticket numbers. You have therefore been approved for a lump sum pay out of 500,000,00 euros (Five Hundred Thousand Euros) CONGRATULATIONS!!!All participants were selected through a computer ballot system from our sponsors databases, including over 50,000 companies and 150,000 individual E-mail addresses and names submitted by our agents drawn from Asia, Africa, Europe, North And South America and around the world.

To begin your claim, do file for the release of your winning by contacting our accredited agent:
Mr. Davide Hoofdall
Foreign Transfer Manager,
Tel: 0031-626-305-301
Fax: 0031-847-249-650

NOTE: All winnings must be notarized to complete the claim process; winners will be referred to a Foreign Transfer Manager, to have their winnings notarized, all winners are to cover the legal charges not STAATSLOTERIJ. NL,Please note that you will be required to pay for the issuance of your winning certificate and all winnings must be claimed not later than 13th of October 2007,after this date all unclaimed winnings will be null and void. In Order to avoid unnecessary delays and complications remember to quote your reference number and batch numbers in all correspondence. Furthermore, should there be any change of address do inform our agents as soon as possible.
You are advised to call your claim agent and also provide him with the following information:
You Names:
Phone/Fax number:
Ref Number:
Batch Number:
Ticket Number:
Congratulations once more and thank you for being part of our promotional program.note: Anybody under the age of 18 is automatically disqualified.
Yours faithfully
Mrs.Sintia Morgan Smailar,
Contact your claims agent Mr.Davide Hoofdall at

Dit Deze mail is verzonden via Mail

Somehow, I thought all of this crap was supposed to originate in Nigeria, rather than in the pseudo-Netherlands. Of course, if there were an American scamster who actually understood or spoke a foreign language well enough to understand how they might butcher English if they didn't know it well, I might get nervous. This faker has no clue, and needs to spend some months studying under the Nigerians.

I can maybe save some time, though.

First, pick a name that might actually show up in an Amsterdam phone book. "Hoofdall" doesn't cut it. Let me suggest "Geldopsturen Alstublieft." See? That took very little imagination, and at least I had the sense to butcher the language while I was at it.

And maybe this person should learn how to punctuate monetary units, too. 500,000,00 is wrong everywhere: one of those commas should be a decimal point; which one is arguable, depending on your culture. Unless, of course, we're talking half a billion Euros instead of half a million. In that case, it's missing a 0.

Oh, well. They say we shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth. Maybe I'm being too picky.

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Good to be home

We stopped at Lenny's Bar and Grill and Swapmeet this afternoon, on our way back from the barbeque cook-off and airshow that was held here locally. This combination event is held annually, with baked beans and sausage and ribs and brisket and helicopter rides and vintage warplanes all sort of rolled into one. It's a good time for the whole family, but (perhaps because there are so many family members of the underage persuasion running around) there is no where there to get a bowl of beer.

So we adjourned to Lenny's.

Now, I don't expect, when I go into Lenny's and grab my spot by the door, to see a man of the cloth, much less a woman of the cloth, but sitting at the bar, plain as the nose on my face, was the Reverend Miz Olivia.

Keep in mind that Lenny's isn't just a bar, and when we got there, Rev. Olivia was having an early dinner: chicken-fried steak, mashed potatoes, and white gravy. With steamed baby carrots on the side. And a Coke. I think it says something about the food at Lenny's that some folks will ignore the bar part and come for the grill part. And it's not just preachers who do so. Which is not to say that I don't enjoy a bowl of beer once in a while.

Anyway, Rev. Olivia was sharing conversation over dinner with a young person whose name I never did catch, but it seemed she was telling of her struggles as a young preacher.

"As a young minister," she said, "I was asked by a funeral director to hold a grave-side service for a homeless man, with no family or friends. The funeral was supposed to be at Pilgrims' Rest cemetery, way back in the country the other side of Georgetown, and this man would be the first to be laid to rest there.

"I wasn't familiar with the area, and you know how MapQuest isn't always spot on, so of course I got lost, and by then there was no where to stop for directions. I finally arrived an hour late, and spotted the backhoe and the crew. They were eating lunch, but the hearse was nowhere in sight.

"I apologized for being so very late, and walked over to the still-open grave, where I could see the vault lid already laid in place. I assured the workers I wouldn't hold them up too long, but this was something that had to be done. They gathered around, still working on their lunches. I have to tell you, I poured out my heart and soul.

"As I warmed to the task, the workers began to chime in with 'Amen,' and 'Praise! the Lord,' and 'Glory!' in all the appropriate places. I preached, and I preached, and I preached like I'd never preached before, from Genesis all the way to Revelations.

"I wrapped things up with a prayer and headed back over to my car. I was opening the door and taking off my vestments, when I overheard the backhoe operator saying half under his breath to one of the other guys, 'I ain't never seen anything like that before and it's twenty years now I've been putting in septic tanks!'"

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Think I've got it

That didn't seem horribly difficult, and I think I have it working the way I want it to: the curious among you can see how we spent July and August.

The siding is cement composition board. The windows are vinyl. The trim is composite. The roof is steel. We were after low-maintenance on this one, for very good reason.

This is a recreational structure, not a year-'round dwelling (for us. It certainly could be for someone else if he/she wanted to make it so). But we've lived pretty-much year-round in recreational areas before, and felt bad for those who came on weekends or for a couple weeks in the summer, and spent all their relaxation time catching up with what the weather had done in their absence. We've watched people buy a place, spend a couple years of weekends pulling maintenance, then selling. We don't want to do that here.

We're comfortable with the fact that there will be dust to get rid of when we get back each year, but none of us wants to paint or stain or repair much of anything, and the exterior is one place we can minimize it. Plus, it's pretty much squirrel- and woodpecker-proof. I'd much rather chase squirrels up one of those oaks than around the living room.

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Working hard at not working

I'm supposed to be chasing squirrels about now, but instead I'm playing with Flickr, trying to get things linked here the way I want them. I think I've got some progress on the button/badge dohickey. Now all I need is more pics in the album. I appreciate your patience.

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Here's the setup

From free videos at

And here's the payoff:

Lantern Battery Trick Fails - Watch more free videos

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Friday, September 14, 2007

That was before

And this is after:

It made for an interesting summer - level ground to what you see here in about six weeks. The garage door is due to arrive next Monday for installation a day or two later.

Of course, working construction after a 30-year layoff wore me out some, so I'll use that as an excuse for the non-existent posting since however long it's been. Well, that and the dial-up connection, which I'll hereafter not mention unless and until I start rambling about infrastructure in this country.

Of course, it wasn't all work and no play. We had the boat on the lake most of the time every weekend afternoon and evening, just putzing around and enjoying the company of each other and friends. Most of the friends haven't yet joined the retired ranks, so they didn't want to drive nails or move dirt, and we were happy to oblige.

During the week, we were mostly too tired to do much of anything - even cook, so we ate out with disturbing frequency, at least to us. There's nothing in this neighborhood even close to Lenny's Bar and Grill and Swapmeet, but there are places to get a beer and a burger. Or a steak. Or some walleye, either pan- or batter-fried. For steaks or walleye, either one, I have to recommend The Bergen Bar & Grill. They don't have a website, so that link is to the phonebook so you'll have the phone number and the addy if you're ever in that neck of the cornfields. Of course, even the phonebook info is wrong, that's how far out in the middle of nowhere this place is. It's not in Windom, at all: it's in Bergen (d'uh).

Keep in mind that when strangers utter the words "small town" I tend to think of places like Bergen: under 20 residents, only two businesses (three, max), and maybe a stop sign. Streching it some, I could allow up to maybe 500 before it loses the "small" label and becomes an ordinary town. You get over 10,000 and I figure that to be a small city.

But let's not sweat labels, shall we? It's all relative, and it depends entirely on where and how you grew up.

Regardless, the Bergen Bar & Grill serves up some excellent food. I don't know anyone who lauds the atmosphere, but the place is always packed. Part of that is that they can only squeeze sixty people in the place, but most of it is the food. Friday and Saturday nights, when they're serving prime rib, it's not at all uncommon to see forty or fifty people waiting as much as ninety minutes to get in. No, you can't get a reservation. You can call for take-out, though, which speeds things up for the locals.

And it's not actually a bar, at least in the sense that most of us interpret the term. In the Minnesota vernacular, it's a three-two joint with a setup license. So the beer is 3.2% alcohol instead of 4% or 6% (depending on whether it's measured by weight or by volume), and you can't get a Morgan and Coke unless you bring the Morgan yourself. If you want a Marguerita, just fill a Thermos and bring your own.

All right. I have too many details getting in the way of a perfectly good story:

We ate at Bergen one night mid-August, and on the way home stopped at the bar that Bruce runs in Ormsby. It's a real bar, with mixed drinks and high-test beer on tap or in bottles, and sitting at the end of the bar farthest from the TV was Norb. Now I've known Norb for a kazillion years, since grade-school, I think, certainly since before he had all those incidences, his wife, and all those kids. Norb works at the grain elevator across the road from Bruce's place, and does a fine job, by all accounts. But this night he seemed patiently morose. He'd finish a beer, peer into his shirt pocket, and order another. Three times he did that, and never ordered one of Bruce's boneless chicken dinners. Like I said, he seemed morose.

Finally, Bruce (setting yet another beer in front of him) asked, "Norb? How come you keep looking in your pocket before you order the next beer?"

Norb said, "Bruce, that's a picture of my wife in that pocket, and I keep thinking 'one more beer and she'll be pretty enough to go home to.'"

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