Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A one-game season

This may sound like apostasy here in Twins Territory, but I won't be all torn up if the Twin lose tonight. They played some really crappy baseball in September (as did the White Sox), so one last loss would be fitting in a way.

I hope the Twins win. If they do, I will go to every post-season game they play at the Dumpty Dome. But...whatever happens happens.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Go, Tigers.

This strange baseball season is over. Almost. The Whine Sox and Tiggers play a makeup game this afternoon. If Detroit wins, the Twins are Central Division champs and will go to FL to play the Rays on Wednesday. The other scenario will not be discussed here unless needed.

I will express the same preference as most other Twins fans: Go, Tigers!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What is the plural of 'non sequitur?'

While we are on the subject of haiku, here is one from Richard Brautigan's collection of poems "June 30th, June 30th."

Strawberry Haiku

• • • • •
• • • • • • •
The twelve red berries


Other random stuff:

Are trees musical, or is that just some silly notion made up by effete sensitive artistic dreamy people?

The idea is that trees make a pleasing noise when the wind blows through the limbs and leaves. They creak. They rustle. And when trees or branches bend in the wind, they bend with a certain rhythm or cadence. Aspen leaves wiggle invitingly.

But rabbits wiggle and make noise, too. And mice. Does anybody wax poetic about the music of rabbits or mice? Trees have been so romanticized it’s almost not fair to other plants. Yes, sonnets and songs have been written about roses, but that’s because of their smell or their color or texture, not their sounds.

Oak = Sousa march
Aspen = polka (or American folk music)
Redwood = acid rock
Jackpine = country swing
Linden = lullabye
Locust = Bach fugue
Magnolia = New Orleans jazz
Live oak = delta blues

Listening to the black walnut trees out my back window, I hear Shostakovich. Or maybe that’s my neighbor’s 13-year-old daughter practicing, I don’t know. I’m just killing time tossing this metaphor into the breeze to see where it lands, how high it bounces, what pleasing noises it might make.

Two blocks from my office is a state highway, a major east-west route across the bottom third of the state. This week, there’s some work being done on that highway, and the detour takes traffic right past my window. There sure are lots of big trucks rumbling by. Some of them are kind of smelly, too. One especially noisy and pungent truck had these words stenciled on the door: “Midwest Byproducts.” This little town has more than its share of meat processing plants, so it’s not hard to imagine what might have been in that truck.

Pool cue handles are often made of exotic woods, as much for appearance as performance. But the shafts should be made of a simple straight-grained light wood (maple, usually) for better control and feel. Shaft and handle are the perfect marriage of function and decoration. The joint should allow a wood-on-wood connection even where the joint is some fancy brass fitting with cloisonné decoration. Ivory-butted handles are pretty, but the shaft and tip are what make a cue work. Likewise, a stock made of African rosewood doesn’t make the rifle shoot any better.

Someday, I would like to drive a pickup truck with flames painted on the side.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Playoff Atmosphere

The Twins host the White Sox tonight in the first of a three-game series. I will be unable to attend, but eldest son will be in our season ticket seats. This series is the season.

A few years ago, eldest son and I were lucky enough to be at US Cellular (New Comiskey) in Chicago when the Twins beat the White Sox to clinch the division. That was fun. During that off-season, Mark Buehrle, Sox starting pitcher, said something like, "Sure, the Twins were the division's best on paper..." Ummm, Mark? I distinctly remember the Twins winning it on the field. On your field.

Go, Twins.

[Update Sept. 24: Twins won last night. Mr. Buehrle starts for the White Sox tonight.] [Update Sept. 26: Twins won again. Buehrle pitched well, but the Twins managed to eke out the one-run win. The third game of the series is tonight. Twins win and they take a slim half-game lead in the division. It's kind of exciting!]

Friday, September 19, 2008


We’ve all heard quite enough about the infamous ‘bridge to nowhere’ in Alaska. And yesterday, the new I-35W bridge over the Mississippi in Minneapolis opened. So bridges are on my mind.

Italy has its own bridge controversy going. For decades, some folks have advocated a bridge between Sicily and the mainland (Reggio di Calabria), over the Straits of Messina. The project has been on-again, off-again while the merry-go-round that is the Italian government tries to finally decide. Silvio Berlusconi, the once and current Prime Minister, is all for it.

This would be a very costly proposition – 4.4 billion Euros, which is somewhere near 3.1 billion dollars. The bridge would be about 2.5 miles long, so that’s more than a billion per mile. Yikes! And a major fault line runs right under the proposed bridge route. The bridge would cut the crossing time in half – but that means saving all of 15 minutes!

People have been crossing that narrow strip of water in boats ever since boats were invented. The huge ferries and the hydrofoils (see photo at left) are famous. And they work quite well. I have enjoyed two crossings -- admittedly as just a wide-eyed tourist.

Bridges can be beautiful, famous, iconic. But I wonder if this isn’t just a big ego thing for Mr. Berlusconi (and a power thing for mainland interests). Pyramids are passé, and Italian prime ministers don’t build palatial libraries like ex-presidents in the USA do. So maybe a big fancy bridge with his name on it is Berlusconi’s best shot at immortality.

My biggest objection: The bridge celebrates the hegemony of the automobile at the expense of everything else – history, tradition, serenity, sanity. Sicily, like most other islands, has its own languorous pace. Please, Mr. Berlusconi, don’t wreck that.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The smiling calf

Driving home from work yesterday, I saw a calf run free. It was a beautiful day, and the calf had managed to get out of the fenced field. She was running down the side of the road – skipping, if a calf can do that – enjoying her sudden freedom. She started to cross the road in front of me. I stopped, she stopped, and the few cars behind me stopped. We waited for her to make up her mind. She turned and ran on down the side of the road.

I never knew a 500 lb animal could be frisky. I never knew a dour-faced bovine could look happy. I do hope she got home all right, where she might get a good meal and a refreshing drink. Where she could tell the others of her brief adventure.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Four haiku

Just for fun, inspired by reading some classic haiku (Basho, Issa, Buson), I wrote these.

Yellow leaves floating
on the green slow-moving river;
where will they end up?


Make the dough early;
it may take longer to rise
on this cool fall day


Parking enforcement.
Can there be a job less fun?
Yes, but very few.


In baseball and life
it’s the little things that count;
wins losses ups downs


These are not the ones submitted to Issa's Untidy Hut in response to the Basho Haiku Challenge. Those are better!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Buncha unrelated junk 'n' stuff

Issa's Untidy Hut (see link at right) is sponsoring the Basho Haiku Challenge. I've already submitted four haiku. Winner gets a poem or two published in The Lilliput Review (or at least posted on IUT blog) and a new book with the complete collection of Basho's verses. Contest runs for another couple of weeks. Join in!

Twins bullpen has been bad. The clever folks at Alright Hamilton! (see link at right) have written a blues song about the bullpen. Check it out. It begs to be recorded and played on the day the Twins are eliminated.

Every September, Northfield holds a community festival commemorating the foiled bank raid by the James-Younger gang in 1876. It's over for another year. We try to avoid the crowds but do enjoy at least one greasy meal. This year the line was so long for sish kebabs that I settled for a pulled pork sandwich with some BBQ sauce. It wasn't very good. Also in September, school resumes. So the two events -- school and The Defeat of Jesse James Days (DJJD) -- always prompt me to re-read Richard Brautigan's little gem:

The Memoirs of Jesse James
I remember all those thousands of hours
that I spent in grade school watching the clock,
waiting for recess or lunch or to go home. Waiting: for anything but school.
My teachers could easily have ridden with Jesse James
for all the time they stole from me.

Primary elections were held today. The secretary of state predicted that about 15% of eligible voters will show up at the polls today, which I gather is about normal for a primary. But in Northfield, seven candidates are running for mayor. After today's primary, the two biggest vote-getters will sqaure off in the general election. The race has garnered quite a bit of interest locally for a variety of reasons.

The incumbent is running even though he was locked out of his city hall office by the city council (they can't fire him) and was found by an independent investigator to have acted improperly by trying to get the city to locate a new municipal liquor store on property owned by his son.

Anther candidate is a city council member who nearly lost his city council seat because he moved out of his district. "Moved out" is a charitable way to put it. He was evicted for not paying rent, which is the third time that has happened to him in recent years.

Another is a former mayor who did a good job the first time around. This time, one of his ideas is to give the city council the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) test. He might be kidding. I hope he's kidding.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Original Maverick

James Garner was the original Maverick, not John McCain.

My dad thinks we may be related to Sarah Palin. His mom's sister (my great aunt) married a guy named Palin. The sisters grew up in Bristol, IN, which as everyone has learned this week is also the name of one of Governor Palin's daughters. I haven't researched it yet, but if it turns out that we are related, I still probably won't vote for her.

Sorry, Guvnah.

Here's a Brautigan poem from "Rommel Drives on Deep into Egypt." For me, it captures the mood coming out of St. Paul this week.

Feasting and Drinking Went on Far into the Night

Feasting and drinking went on far into the night
but in the end we went home alone to console ourselves
which seems to be what so many things are all about
like the branches of a tree just after the wind
stops blowing.