Thursday, March 28, 2013

Passover Reminder

Passover is that reminder that the current American version of the golden calf comes with 30-round clips. This time, how many years are we going to be wandering in this wilderness?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Maybe Bree Just Wasn't That Into You

I'll take you whatever way I can get you Bree. LOL I'm drunk.

I didn't recognize the number on the text. I only get them on my work Blackberry, since they come along with what I need to use our company software on it, a plan including unlimited texting. I refuse to pay for texting on my regular cell, and long since had it disabled. As a result, I'm not all that familiar with all the customs and abbreviations the way the younger generations are. In spite of that, I've long since learned LOL, TY, YW, and other common usages. This morning when I turned on my Blackberry in my driveway, this text buzzed me.

Oh gee, happy day, my first drunk text. These, too, I had heard about. Needing to get to work, before pulling out I decided to be helpful, hopefully to both of us.

I'm not Bree. Sober up and try again.

I used the option of deleting the conversation, thinking - oh how naively - that it was over.

When I stopped at a gas station for a pit stop, I pulled the Blackberry out of my pocket and checked it. Three texts were waiting.

You're wrong and I'm right, Bree.

(Really unrepeatable suggestion about sharing our time.)

Go to bed now Bree.

Just how drunk was this clown anyway? I presumed he checked the number to see if he misdialed or transposed numbers, and discovered he hadn't. But this makes him think he knows better than I do just who I am? And what had he -or they - been doing all night to make him think that Bree would be just now getting home and heading for bed? It was several hours after bar closing time. I decided I wasn't really interested in an answer.

But I did let my imagination run with possible ways to try to set this guy straight. The first option was always to just ignore him, and with that in mind, again I deleted the conversation. I could still reply if I decided to do so, as the Blackberry keeps the number even after deleting the texts.

I could ask him if he was so drunk that he didn't write down Bree's number right. Or was Bree so drunk she didn't give it right? Heck, I've done that wide awake and sober. Or maybe - my favorite scenario - I could just text him with a reminder that he'd gotten the number wrong, and maybe Bree had done it on purpose  because she wanted it to look like she wanted further contact later while getting out of having further contact at that time.

In other words, maybe Bree just wasn't that into you, you drunken lout. Maybe you're just not as charming a drunk as you think you are, eh?

And Bree, whoever you are, if you used my number just to get away peacefully, I forgive you. Completely.

Or come over to the ranch and have some cheese

 Is that what the kids are calling it these days? I'm really out of touch! But it's clear he still thinks he's charming Miss Bree, so I decide I really need to try again to set him straight. The snark is fun to think about. I debate telling him not only am I not Bree, but none of my kids are Bree, nor is my granddaughter. Perhaps the shock of knowing he's being suggestive with a grandmother will be sobering, any puns intended. But in the end, I settle for short. And after some thought, polite.

I'm still not Bree. Go away please.

Sorry. 295

OK, I appreciate the apology, but what the heck is "295"? Anybody?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Compounding Their Error

You might recall my recent post about Sexual Harrassment.  When I last checked in with my granddaughter, it seemed to be over.

Not so fast.

Apparently there is no issue that somebody can't make worse.

Yesterday I had a nice chat with my granddaughter again. Among the news items, she updated me on this one. The day before, she'd gotten her own performance review.  She'd been written up for having been sexually harrassed!

Huh? How does that work? It's the victim's fault? They hire and promote the slimeball but his rotten behavior is her fault?

I'm proud of the girl. She basically said "F U" to her employer (not out loud) and decided it was time to go job hunting. There's an Arbys next door. When she dropped off her application there, the general manager was in, interviewed her while she was there, and hired her on the spot! Starting pay is same as she's getting now, shift is same so she can continue with college classes, hours increased to actual full time, and if she performs as they expect her to, she'll be fast-tracked into management!

She starts in two weeks.

Atta Girl!!!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Ever have one of those moments when, having promised to keep a secret, once heard, you are just bursting to share it? That's me. Somebody of my acquaintance is pregnant! Not enough people who need to be informed by the new parents-to-be have been informed yet, and it should be done by them, not me. I can't tell anybody. I'm not telling you. Wish I could. I'm just... BURSTING!

Awww, The Poor Football Players

Let's all cry some big crocodile tears for those poor players who just saw their futures taken from them for raping a sixteen-year-old in Steubenville. Boo. hoo.

Emphasis on BOOOOOOOOOO!

Is there really a single human, emphasis human, on the planet who feels something was done to these athletes? How about "not enough"? One or two years, served as juveniles, and the record is clear. The boys were shocked by the verdicts? Surely they had no delusions of innocence? Just invulnerability?

Here's what I would have liked to see.

First, this girl was so out of it that the kids were joking about her being dead. How about depraved indifference, not just for participants but bystanders? If she was truly drunk to that amount (questionable, as she was so completely unconscious and didn't wake vomiting) then she was in danger of actually dying from alcohol poisoning. Nobody stood watch for her nor called for EMTs. It seems more likely she was drugged, so throw in charges for that.  If alcohol, who supplied it? All these kids were under age. Another crime. Is sixteen the age of consent? If not, throw in statutory rape.

This girl was carried unconscious from party to party, placed in a car and moved without consent. Throw in several counts of kidnapping for all participants. Some of the guys urinated on her. I'm not sure how that despicable act should be charged, but something should be added. Then there were the people filming these events, then posting the video on line. Again, proof per se of depraved indifference, but lets throw in bullying charges as well.

Finally, this town tried as hard as they could to protect their sacred football team from the consequences of their actions, so I propose they be rewarded for their priorities by having their town football program cancelled for, oh, say the next five years. No football program whatsoever. None. Nada. Maybe institute fall programs of city-wide community service, mandatory for everybody. After all, it wasn't just the immediate participants but the culture which supported this crime. If football is so important, this might give everybody an incentive to prevent future crimes like this, not laugh at them, turn a blind eye, and cover them up.

Saturday, March 16, 2013


1:  It was Wednesday afternoon, I was just settling down for a nice drive listening to one of my favorite NPR/MPR programs, Talk of the Nation with the Political Junkie, and he'd just posed his riddle of the week. Usually I have no clue who was the most recent political sobebody to have done some obscure thing, but this time I came up with an answer and was waiting to hear if I was correct.

There was white smoke.

OK, nice for them, new Pope, things are gonna take a while with all the procedures and rituals he has to go through before we see who he is, blah blah balh. But what do they do? Instant cut away to go listen to the BBC.

I have come to hate the BBC news coverage. MPR gives us an hour at 2 PM every weekday. They're awful! Depending on who's doing the interview, they're frequently ignorant, obnoxious, or just plain stupid with their questioning. On many issues I already know more than they do, because, hey, I listen to MPR!

On Wednesday, they filled a whole self-important hour with "we're waiting". "we're excited", "you're excited: tell us why", "let's speculate on who it's going to be", "let's guess how long it's gonna take", "gee, the square is filling up", "how far did you come here from?", "everybody's facing the windows", "we're all still excited", "we're all still waiting", and 28 other versions of "We've got nothing to say."

A whole hour? Really? And these guys are supposed to be so good?

I have several useful buttons. Some on my cell take me right to MPR so I can voice my displeasure with their choice of vapid expectation versus interesting programming, which I did at length. Others on my radio can switch the channel to something more worth listening to, and easily back again to hear if there's any real news yet before away again.

2: I have a counter on this blog, telling me how many hits a particular posting has gotten. My record so far? 567! So while I parked this posting while going to do something else for a while, the blog flips back to that page, and in curiosity I check out the latest two, Adventure Day 1 and Day 2. It's weird. Day 2 has gotten more than twice the hits Day 1 has. What's going on with that, guys?  Who goes right to the middle of the story?

3: Yesterday morning KARE 11 was hyping some upcoming local Irish dancing, so I stuck around to watch a bit. I've been to Riverdance, picked up the VHS tape and watched it later. (Yes, it was years ago.) So you can gather I like the stuff. But KARE didn't impress me this time, no matter how many awards they've gotten in the past. So I whipped out the laptop to offer them some feedback:


Hey guys, I stayed a couple minutes late to watch your Irish dancers this morning. What I got, to my great frustration, for all but 3 seconds, was a bunch of bouncing torsos and half a screen of scrolls. Next time just pop a pack of preschoolers on a trampoline and tell us it's Irish dancing. We won't be able to tell the difference!

Your bottom screen scrolls don't make a difference when it's talking heads you're filming. I don't care how many pages Kim turns over, or who crosses their legs at the knee vs. the ankle. But, in case nobody has figured it out yet, the point of Irish dancing is the FEET!

No awards on this one, guys."

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

My Unexpected Adventure: Day 2

The journey of half a thousand miles begins with... sleep deprivation. My unusually high caffeine intake on the drive up had left me with a jangly-nerved buzz that kept me awake for two hours after checking into my Super 8 room, despite trying to relax with a book. Bed just wasn't comfortable. I mean, it was fine, but I hate hate HATE sleeping nude! Give me a sloppy t-shirt and similar fabric pants and I'm comfy as a clam in a shell without a speck of sand, but skin on sheets, no. Every time I turn over, I have to wake up that little bit extra just to keep my neck and shoulders tucked under the blankets. Though it never used to, at my age it bothers me if they get cold. Add in the complication that those are my cool-down spots for when the bedding gets too warm, and it can make for a spotty night's sleep.

Despite that, I woke at 6. It's my usual time, so ingrained that I was up at 5 all the time I was in Arizona. The clock this morning may have said 7, but my body is still on standard time. It'll have to get used to daylight time later. It knew it was 6. End of story. I thought about staying in bed. I tried to stay in bed and get some more sleep. It wasn't going to happen. I might as well turn on the news, find out the weather and road conditions.


The scroll across the top of the screen was all about school closings, delays, schools being open if you can make it there on time, and school buses being late "if possible". I took that to mean it was possible they might not get through at all. It's always possible to be late. Perhaps they understand that clearly up there, but we seem to phrase it better down here.

Had there been a blizzard while I slept through it? A quick peek out the curtain revealed a bit of fresh snow on cars but blacktop where wind had scoured it clear. My car had a couple inches of snow with spots of ice  underneath, nothing that a couple minutes wouldn't fix.

After a wait the TV started with road conditions, starting with winds. Strong. Northwest. 83 had no travel advised from Minot to Coleharbor. That sounded familiar. 52 had no travel advised from Minot to Velva. 2 had no travel advised from Minot to ... I forget where because I had no clue where it was and the map had been left in the car.

Do you sense a pattern here? I'm in ice central with no way out. Might as well shower, dress, have coffee and breakfast. Soap and shampoo worked their usual wonders, but with no comb I had to resort to using my fingers to try to impose some sense of direction to my mess. I realized that not only did I not have my morning Rx pills, of which I only really missed the blood pressure pill, but I'd also left the ibuprofin out in the car last night. Oh well, I wasn't planning any hikes.

Breakfast was last night's planned supper, tucked in the tiny fridge Super 8 provides. I'd checked out the breakfast offerings in the lobby but it was juice, toast, muffins, English muffins, waffles, 2 cereals... in a word, nothing, not for me. I'd buy travel food when I hit the gas station later. Meanwhile the Greek yogurt with bananas and walnuts I mashed in the day before was good enough, and my freezer block was refreshed as well in case it was needed. At least coffee was free and hot. I'd grab more caffeine on the road, but today preferred a catnap to winding up with another buzz.

I thought I'd check road conditions again, see if maybe something had improved. 83 now not recommended to Bismarck, 52's problems extended to Jamestown, 94 Bismarck to Jamestown was awful, and 2 was now a problem from Montana to Minnesota. Oh goodie, it's getting worse. Oh, and now they mention drifts on top of the ice. Well, my choices are limited: bad and worse, very slow all the way. It's stacking up to be a very long day. Waiting till afternoon hardly seems an option, but the forecast offers some hope that conditions will improve the farther I drive. I'll wait until it gets light so I can at least see how bad it is. I came up in it, after all. And I can hope if I ever reach Minnesota the roads will be fine again. (Ain't ignorance bliss?)

Minot is a mining town. I already figure I was lucky finding a room. Gas is expensive. Travel food costs twice what it does in Minnesota, so I limited myself to a single meat stick and a small diet cola. Minot has plenty of oil, wind, snow, windmills, hills, and friendly people. Occasional trees actually block the snow-driving wind, but are a bit too scattered. (Hey guys, have you considered planting more windbreaks along your roads? Trees do live here. I've seen them. They work.) Salt on the roads? Not so much. I had plenty of time to reflect on that during the first leg of my trip down to the next town, Max. Did they not collect enough taxes, rich as they were in oil revenues, to buy the stuff? Would the wind just have blown it off the roads while it blew snow across to become ice? Were they just too darn landlocked to get salt shipped in from anywhere?

That 25 mile trek took an hour. Two lanes solid unremitting ice. I was the slow driver in the right lane, shaking my head at the faster vehicles in the left. The ruts in the ice were shaking my car left to right even at my speed. There might have been scenery, but I had eyes only for the road. I did manage to note the wind farm as the towers were right along the road. I also took note of the SUV in the center median, one of those huge things that's basically a van with a few dimples on the outside making enough of a design to give it pretensions of being a car. I also took note of the tanker in the median. No jackknife, at least, but I wondered how long it would take a tow to gain enough traction on the road surface to be able to pull it out. Max had a convenience store and a long pullout lane for a safe turnoff, and I took advantage to unwind. My shoulders were already in knots.

It was looking to be a brutal day.

I did take note in the restroom, now that my hair had fully dried, that  finger combing left it fluffier and more curly, not slicked down my usual way. It had been blown around plenty while scraping windows, filling the tank, and just walking into this store. I couldn't tell. Ain't natural curls grand? I may have to try this again.

It was at this stop that I earned the need to apologize to Steve, the following day when I had some sense again. I'd told him of my lack of progress to this point, and he looked Max up to see for himself. He then started to give me the name of the next town, and I simply cut him off with, " irrelevant." My mind was only fixated on the ice and Bismarck as the next goal. Who cared about the bits between? Not me, not then.

The first few miles out of Max were a big improvement, actual bits of pavement in parallel stripes at tire widths, occasional patches of clear. Somebody had thrown a big switch! It continued getting better, and well before Coleharbor was completely ice free. I didn't trust it for a bit, but soon noticed the speedometer sitting at 70! It only took until 11:00 to roll into Bismarck. And hooray! A Wendys! A little more caffeine, a small chili with onions for lunch right there, and my favorite apple chicken pecan salad in the cooler for afternoon. I was set. With any luck, the way the roads looked, I could hit Alexandria for an evening snack of KFC hot wings. All my favorite fast foods, carbs within my limits, to help make the day a bit easier.

I also checked in with dispatch. He checked road conditions. 94 was now supposed to be bad all the way to the border. It was fine here, so I filed that away under grain of salt. I finally asked what the run paid, since we don't get that information at the time. The total would make three good days, and should still take me just two. Good news. I won't say just how much less I still would have been happy with, just in case somebody rethinks the charges on a future jaunt. He also asked me to check in when I reached St. Cloud, if he was still there (before 7:00 PM) just in case something came up along, say, the 95 corridor late in the day. I agreed, with the stipulation that roads needed to be good enough for me to make that kind of time, and he'd just finished telling me they weren't.

Enough. Now eastbound.

There comes a time during a long haul when I start holding mental conversations with cars and drivers, even things all around me. It's a way of keeping alert as well as entertained. This became one of those times. There was nothing else to do for a while, and it became habit. I noticed, for example, that the first bridge I drove under after hitting the freeway had ice patches under it just where my tires had to roll. These tend to give my car a small sideways jerk, and I need to watch for them and plan according to hold the car steady. But there was no snow, either blowing or falling, and no more icy patches. For a while.

No snow, eh? Dry roads? I wonder who comes up with those road condition forecasts, just what kind of grandma drivers they're making them for. Oh wait, I'm one of those grandmas. Well, maybe not one of those grandmas, but still, who are they making the warnings for? At least, there's no snow.

Oh wait, there are a few flakes. At least it's just a few flakes, not like it's covering the road. Oh, there it goes, blowing across the road. At least it's not sticking. Ohhh, there you go, sticking on the road.

At least the blowing snow is staying low. I recall last winter when I scored a run to New Ulm and had to drive through a blowing snow whiteout. Thank goodness I'm not doing that again. Well, except for here... but it's mostly low. Vision isn't really blocked. And the accumulating snow isn't really bad. I can still do 65. 60. 55. Sigh.

I'm mostly pacing those of us who choose the right lane. The left is worse, but still some decide to pass using it anyway. We're mostly scattered. Traffic overall is light, at least half are big rigs. They kick up a lot of crap. my wipers are in great shape, keeping the windshield clear. Oh wait, a few white streaks: finally evidence of some minimal salt use in this state! But why can't  you guys put it down all over? It's a patch here, nothing, a patch there, nothing, a patch.

Well, at least it's still just snow. Nothing like the ice buildup earlier. Oh wait, the spray from that passing semi just froze all over the windshield. Hit the squirters, fast! Whew! Hey, at least the road is snow, not that louder noise the bumpy ice makes. Oh, what's that noise? Dang! 45. 40.

I've had the time and leisure to notice that thus far the worst snow is accumulating on the northern, westbound two lanes. What's left dumps more in the median, with a bit left for the northern eastbound lane. Mine is least affected. Suddenly, however, there are flashing lights up ahead. The turn out to be on the right shoulder. I've been keeping an eagle eye on the rearviews, keeping prepared for semis spraying me and possible wind interruption causing sideways motion, so I know I'm clear to move over left. But really gradually, and slowing down meanwhile. Why are you there, squad? Are you warning about ice?

I catch a flash of the reason just as I pass. Oh my, Buddy, that is a long way down there, especially for a state as flat as North Dakota. And you chose here to drive off the road? It wouldn't have been my first pick. Not even in my first ten. But hey, at least the rubber side landed down. And now you have an answer to the question where's a cop when you really need one? He's probably getting ready to climb down there through all that snow to tell you how stupid you were, since being down there instead of up here getting where you were heading just wasn't a good enough clue! Good luck, buddy.

35. 30. Oh heck, just pull off at the upcoming rest stop. Catch 40 winks, set the timer for 15, lock the doors, put the seat back.... DING!

Refreshed, I spend the next 40 miles or so observing that every time I have thought about how bad it hasn't gotten, it gets that bad. Ask and ye shall be answered. In the worst way. I've got to stop that!  At least so far the ice hadn't turned into the kind that builds up all  under the car, filling wheel wells until a bump in the road pushes it against the tire with a grinding noise.

Bump. Grind. Dang!

It can still get worse. I mean, at least there hadn't been more than the one accident... Oh shit, there's another, westbound. That U-Haul trailer didn't stabilize your ride at all, did it? How's that move gong for you? But the truckers are doing OK... Dang it! That one's a jackknife plus an SUV, blocking all but one lane's worth of a passing gap on the shoulder. Cut it out! Start thinking ... daffodils. That's it. If they start springing up, no biggie. Won't happen, but... Daffodils.

Whew! No rollovers at least. Shit shit shit!  Well, the right kind of crane or something can get it upright and it's as good as new. Still intact, looks like... Oh no! Now cut that out, Heather! That one used to be a house trailer. Now why would you take one of those out on a road like this? I mean, it's not like you didn't used to have a place to stay, right? On the bright side, that blue upholstery was really ugly, didn't go with your walls at all.  I'm not sure they'll get all the pieces packed onto that trailer thing. A whole lotta folks are backed up watching them try, though.

I'm not going to think about injuries. Nope. Won't do it. Not gonna go there. At least nobody burned.

You hear that? NOBODY BURNED!


I kept waiting for it to improve. Eventually it did, with the whole city of Fargo to act as windbreak. Gas stop. Salad break. Phone check-in. Steve worries. He also is feeling chatty all day. I just want to reassure him and get on with it. This day I'm stopping driving to use the cell phone.

The optimist, the prideful Minnesotan in me thinks that hitting the border means better roads. Even if the weather doesn't stop at the border, surely plowing improves? The second I'm past Moorhead city structures, I hit the worst snow-drifted roads of the trip. There's a plow just now getting to them. My right lane is still passable, going slowly. The real good luck comes a few miles farther, when the road turns from straight east to southeast. With the wind at my back, no snow is crossing the road. Of course, every time it curves a bit, snow goes across, either covering westbound lanes or eastbound lanes, depending on which side it presents. Light traffic means long following distances and plenty of warning, time to drop from 70 to 40 safely.

Alexandria means a wait for hot wings, but fresh is better anyway. After that roads are clear. I can relax and eat on the road, at my leisure, in safety.

St. Cloud is timely, and dispatch hands me a run from Cambridge to Isanti, a hospice drugs run he can't cover. It will technically be a bit late, but that's fine. I leave the pharmacy just as the sun is setting. There's a teeny glorious band of gold on the horizon, just the smallest break in the clouds, and not enough of one for me to be able to see comet Pan Starrs, visible only this week, they say. Steve caught it last night, will again this night, maybe every night it's around. It's his first comet, and last night he was describing it for me, glowing in sunset colors. I'm just a bit jealous.

As I come in the door, finally home, Koda greets me as if his tail is going to wag itself off. With only Paul in the house the last two days, away working 12 hour shifts, his outside breaks have been severely limited. He's also used to lots more attention from a variety of people. Allergies or not, I relent and let him sleep at the foot of my bad that night. I missed him too.

I made it through. Despite the weather and roads, the lack of preparation, the excess time, I made it through my unexpected adventure. My knees got a big break, and didn't leave me aching with hours of driving still to go before home. So the question is, would I do it again, given the chance?

Hmmmmm....  Sure! Absolutely! Maybe not this week, not this weather, and not without some advance packing. Say, undies, toiletries, and meds. And some better choices in the CD holder. But yeah.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

My Unexpected Adventure: Day 1

The journey of a thousand miles - or in this case, 1,240 - may begin with a single step, but around here you better add a couple dozen lickety split in order to make it from bed to bathroom in time when you get up. After that there's letting the dog out, making coffee, letting him back in, getting him his Milk Bone, catching up on news and weather, grabbing a shower, getting dressed, packing the lunch cooler and water jug, loading all the pockets with the items necessary for a day of work, and then walking out to the car to really start the journey. In other words, just another ordinary Monday. No inkling of what was to come. And no planning for it either.

By 9:30 I'd finished my first run and was sitting in the midway area (St. Paul, midway between the two downtowns, the 2nd being Minneapolis) waiting for work when dispatch asked my if I wanted to run out to some little town in Wisconsin for a 1:00 PM pick coming back to Inver Grove. I thought it might be a bit early for such a jaunt, until I looked at a map and saw how far east it was. Definitely time to boogie.

There is one relevant piece of info I've neglected to this point: the weather. We'd been missed by the  snow that was still hitting the southwest corner of the state. Our weekend had been all rain, and it quit and started drying well before temperatures dropped to freezing. Roads were fine, no car doors iced shut, no scraping to see out windows. I even admired how clean and pretty my car looked after its free wash. However, as soon as I headed out past Hudson, that storm I'd been ignoring made itself impossible to ignore. Roads were bad and getting worse further east.  I stopped at the Baldwin exit for a quick pit stop, an added jolt of caffeine to help make up for the time change, and a little info from fellow drivers heading the opposite direction about what was ahead. And what the heck: Mondays tend to be lottery ticket buying days, so I thought I'd grab one here.

Before heading out again, I texted dispatch on road conditions and alerted them to the idea that the pickup might not be as timely as we'd want. Just after I passed the first Menomonie exit, they told me the run had cancelled. Turn around time. No explanation. Not my unexpected adventure. Now that's a lot of deadheading for no money, but our company makes sure we get paid on out of town runs for distance driven up to the time of cancelation. Hey, it was a nice drive and I didn't have to get out and stand around and handle a bunch of heavy stuff. No problem. Just no big paycheck.

About the time I was getting back to Hudson, Dispatch called. Would I be interested in a Brooklyn Park run going to Minot, ND? Heck, yeah. Menomonie to Brooklyn Park is a huge deadhead, but this is my kind of run!

Woo hooo! Road Trip!!!

By the way, where is Minot? Should I head up 94 to Fargo where I could pick up a state map? Dispatch checked it out, said that was the best, and I should stay on 94 to Jamestown (again I didn't know where that is, but that to-be-purchased map would answer my questions), pick up 52 and head north.

Sounded simple enough. My mental image from his description was maybe 50 miles due north or so. What did I know? He went on to say that it was a seven hour trip. Cool! So I can dump it about suppertime, turn around and maybe walk back in the door before Paul left for work the next day, factoring in a couple short naps on the way back. Of course, I do a route on Tuesdays, and I suggested to dispatch that they might want to plan on needing somebody else taking over for that day. I wasn't sure I'd get enough sleep to be out on the road again by 11:00 AM, what I'd need to start on time. He'd already planned on that, and added that the price of the run reflected the cost of an overnight stay in a motel.

Motel? Me? What kind of a wimp needs a motel? A couple snooze stops on the way back, and I'm good. Right? Besides, no toiletries, no PJs, no clean undies, not even a comb. Oh, and no meds. So, no motel.

I got the box loaded at noon. Knowing now what I do about the cost of the run, I wondered why they didn't just have it flown up? Faster and cheaper that way. The likely answer was given me as I was loading it. It was a piece of medical equipment heading up to the hospital in Minot, and couldn't be tipped. As it was relatively tall and skinny, meaning center of gravity somewhat high, it needed to be braced against sudden stops as well. No way anybody but the original driver would be able to ensure those instructions got carried out.

After getting gas, having 200 miles on the tank already for the day, I headed out. I'd gotten a different lottery ticket, amusing myself that this would be the day I'd buy lottery tickets in 3 different states.

Seven hours? Sure. Uh huh. Minot, I found out upon getting my North Dakota map, is way up in the northwest part of the state. 52 doesn't head north out of Jamestown, at least not for more than the first 40 of the 160 miles or so before it angles northwest to Minot. Or I could stay on freeway and four-lane highway, if I wanted to add 40 miles to the trip. So figure 500 or 540 total trip miles. Sure  you can do it in seven hours. If you never stop, don't eat, don't drink, don't pee, don't need to stretch your legs, and ignore all the speed limits. (We all can drive like that for seven hours, can't we?) And if your magical vehicle can last that long on a single tank of gas.

Oh yeah, and if the roads are dry. Part of the preparation I never thought to do that morning was to check North Dakota weather. After all, Fargo is as far as I've gotten inside the state for work. Who needs that kind of info? When I stopped at the information center for my map, I chatted with the fellow behind the counter about driving distances versus speeds for the two options for roads to take from Jamestown. He mentioned that roads were mostly dry, with a few slushy patches. He figured either route would take about the same time to drive.

So while heading west, I dithered. Dispatch said take 52. 94 and 83 looked faster but forty miles was beginning to seem like a heck of a long way extra. I chatted with Steve about it, and he looked it up on his laptop, voting for faster but longer. Once I had gotten full realization of the actual distances involved, I was starting to question the sanity of my drive home the same night, not to mention the enormity of the task, adding more pressure to the trip and my choice. I finally decided with Steve that longer but better roads were the way to go.

I'm not sure it mattered, ultimately. I found out after reaching Minot that 83 had, well, not been closed exactly, but warnings were out for no travel being advised from Coleharbor to Minot. I could have told them that. I heard that 52 was equally bad. Whatever might have been slush at 4:00 in the afternoon was ice after dark. Bumpy, thick, solid ice. Some places showed darker where tires had worn it down in ruts, but the blowing snow was making up for it. There were about 40 miles of solid ice under the snow, and the rest of the trip was just intermittent ice under snow. Meaning, you would get a break with clear pavement for a bit, never knowing whether that bit was just till the reach of your headlights before you were back to ice again. Even the semis were down to doing 40 mph. There were few pullouts since the roads mostly bypassed the towns that the map claimed were along the route, and no shoulders safe for a break.

I was glad of an earlier decision to get caffeine again with my 3rd tank of gas. I didn't need drowsiness to add to the task. I'd planned on eating the supper I packed that morning about 7:00 pm, but by then I couldn't spare the attention from driving, and stress kept me from noticing whether I was even hungry. I did manage one pullout about half an hour from the drop - I thought - to call the person waiting to meet me to get the equipment. It turned out to take longer, mostly because he gave terrible directions and east and west were absolutely meaningless in the dark after all the turning and backtracking needed to find the right door. There was a cell number to connect with him but he left the phone home with his wife when he headed out after getting my call. Finally, at 10:00, it was dropped!

Before I let him go, I had one more question: "Where are the motels in this town?"

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

At 3:45 AM

No, it wasn't a dream. Part of the reason I know is it woke me enough to need to go hit the bathroom.

Despite my allergies, there are times I let Koda in my room for the night.  This usually means he lays on the corner at the foot of the bed nearest the door. Guarding. This time, however, he positioned himself halfway up the bed, leaning against me. I hadn't noticed until I needed to roll over and he was in my way.

I pushed from under the sheet. Nothing.

"Koda, shoo." That usually works, at least to send him to the foot of the bed, occasionally out the door. Nothing.

Oh well, I had to roll over and managed it despite him. This put my arm in the perfect spot to rest my hand on his chest, and I did, idly petting him. Nothing.

When I say nothing I mean there was so much nothing that I detected no breathing. I moved my hand to the front of his chest. Nothing. I pushed. Nothing. Tried for a pulse. Nothing. Shook him again, petted him, said his name, changed his position.


He was still warm, so I figured whatever had happened had been very recent. I wondered if something about it had been what woke me. He's only 10 1/2, still frisky, so this was unexpected. I was glad at least that he'd gone while snuggled with me rather than banished to solitude in the den, the nearest source of carpeting in the house these days.

I continued to stroke him, until finally deciding I needed to hit the bathroom. I'd seen the clock before rolling over, knew it'd still be over two hours before I'd be getting up, and wanted to be able to get back to sleep. I figured I'd deal with him then. Not now.

So I rolled back over, pulled back the covers to get out of the bed, avoiding covering him with them, sat up, and started out of the bed. By the time I hit the first corner of the bed, up he bounced and down to the floor, leading me out of the room.


He got an extra good ear rub while I sat in the bathroom. And yes, I've been double checking. I can feel him breathe and easily find his pulse when he'd laying next to or even on me. I know I'm not crazy.

At least not about this.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Responding to the Comments

Those of you who have been faithful readers of this blog may have noticed that very few comments get published, and even fewer replies to them find their way on to these pages. I've decided it was finally time to put aside all the excuses and make the time to reply.

To all of them:


Of course I was disappointed.

Oops, my bad. Thanks for the correction.

Two? Really? It took me three!

Just what planet did you grow up on, anyway?

No. Why on earth would I?

I agree, and once again you've said it much better than I could.

While I appreciate your kind offer to allow me to provide the personal details that would verify my existence and enable me to claim my rightful share of the $12 million, I am sorry to report that I am in fact dead.

Does your wife know that this is what you think?

In order: yes, no, no, 1957, twice.

I'm not sure why you're disputing this point with me when I already made it plain that I agree with you. I suggest you go back and reread paragraph 3.

Last Monday. I'm still waiting.

Just because I say that it's not my thing, it doesn't follow that I'm impugning  your morals because it is yours.

You are very discerning, and not just because we agree. Your second point is very telling.

The rules of logic say that if A=B and B=C, then A=C. For example: Trying to deny the rules of logic is idiotic. You are denying the rules of logic. Therefore you are an idiot.

Silly me, I thought everybody knew how to use spell checkers these days.

Well, at least there is a learning curve, however flat.

Not since graduation. You?

Who let you out of Oz? No brain, no heart, you're the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman in one, and if what you say is true, a bit of the Cowardly Lion thrown in as well.

I will erase what you just said. I'm sure once you grow up these words will embarrass  you. Perhaps they can be proved wrong about the internet being forever.

No, I wasn't referring to you. However, you know what they say about the Foo.

I owe you an apology. I'm sorry you're so sensitive. I'm sorry you're such a jerk. And I'm sorry you keep having to prove it to the world so publicly.

I completely agree. Say, when are we getting together for lunch again? Call me.

I haven't tried that. Keep me posted on how it works for you. I'd be interested to hear.

You have an interesting point of view. By the way, I've forwarded your comments to the Secret Service. Expect a visit.

You go girl!

Thanks, I will.

I don't know what his fascination is with my pillows, but I think I should discourage his licking them for more reasons than just my allergies. Don't you?

I'd hesitate to use the term "complete idiot"in that discussion if I were you. It implies some capability to be or do anything completely, and that capacity has not yet been demonstrated.

While I know you're going for some misguided sense of glory here, there's a couple of reasons your string of failures will not qualify you for the Darwin awards, notable as they were. First, you've already reproduced, God help us all, and secondly, YOU FAILED TO DIE! Go read the rules.

I'll check it out and try to get back to you on that.


Sorry, I don't consider "F*&% You" a coherent argument. Go get a vocabulary and try it again.


Eeuuuuu! I'm never going to get that 30 seconds back.

Really? Good to know.

You are responding to points not made. Are you sure you're on the right blog site?

Of course I've thought about it. I suspect everybody at least thinks about it. But I have this annoying habit of enjoying sleeping peacefully through the night.

That is a logical extension of my point, but a bit extreme, and I'm not ready to go there.

Oh no, you didn't say that! Now that choking sound coming from the back row at the funeral will be me trying my damnedest not to laugh!

I'll have to try that. Sounds like fun.

Good point, I'll pass it on here.

Impressive! Wish I could have seen it.

OMG! Two thoughts with but a single mind. Now I'm impressed.

I thought it more tactful not to ask. Still, it does leave the imagination free to roam, eh?

I prefer "cranky". "Bitch" is just so cliche.

But you had three of them in the bed with you. Just what were your expectations?

Yes, once.

I realize the statute of limitations has run out, but there are other kinds of consequences to consider.

It's not on my bucket list, but I believe I can hook you up with someone who would enjoy that. My attorney wished me to add the disclaimer, however, that I am in no way suggesting anything about what kind of a companion this person would be. Let me know if you still want to follow through.

Yeah, I tried that too, and it didn't work out for me either. Let me know if you have more suggestions.

I have taken your request under advisement but  upon examination find that I am not anatomically equipped to do so.

I'm sorry to hear that, but you won't miss it as much as you thing you will right now.

Oh yeah. When I get in one of those "where's a cop when you need one?" moods, I imagine a cosmic flyswatter descending, swatting the car flat, and casually flicking it off the road. Then I can laugh and forget the road rage impulse.

It only took two years but they finally fixed it.

I have heard rumors to that effect. Thanks for the confirmation.

No. Never.

The hole is still there, just not so noticeable anymore.

If and when it ever becomes relevant for you to know that, I'll tell you. Go ahead, hold your breath!

I wouldn't have actually wished it on him, or anyone, but hey, if you're gonna take the diaper off and baby gets cold, there are going to be consequences, you know? I let him clean it up.

Well, we disagree, but thanks for reading.

Friday, March 1, 2013


David Koresh

Branch Davidians.


April 19th, 1993.

Even if those all mean something to you, it may not have occurred to you to wonder what's happened in the last 20 years. You probably thought it was all over, a "dead story", pardon the pun. If you wondered at all, you likely thought the compound had been sold, or perhaps sat abandoned, unsellable with it's bloody history.

Would it surprise you to know that the Branch Davidians still own the compound, that it's been rebuilt and is being repopulated? If you want, you can visit. The gates are open. You can come to gawk. You can even come to stay and join. Others have.

One of those is a grandmother who was sent away on April 19th, arrested as soon as she left, and kept nearby to see her daughter and three grandchildren murdered and burned. Yet she is there, still a true believer, just with a new leader. It's hard to believe someone can be so empty, that this can seem to fill the void.

But hey, I bet they're much better armed this time.