26 October 2010

The world is full of idiots, fortunately they usually don't breed

I am on a flight from Philadelphia to Minneapolis. Seated by me is a man (I think) who flew from San Diego to Philadelphia to purchase a dog. A terrier that he transports in a small carrier. Not sure who I feel sorrier for, the dog or the man's parents.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

19 October 2010

Last smoking of the season ???

I smoked a pork shoulder and brisket this past weekend, in honor of my brother, who lives in ________, and his visit to Minnesota. I'm not allowed to say where he lives as he does not like to be on the internet and prefers to stay off the grid, as he puts it. Actually, as he reads this he is probably already irked that I have acknowledged that I have a brother, or brothers, (oops). Anyway, because we had a packed weekend I decided to smoke the meat Thursday night... all night. I planned to tend the firebox all night and set my alarm for every 2 hours, starting at 1030pm. That 230 awakening was rough, but the others were manageable.

Unfortunately in my sleep deprived state I did not keep the meat warm enough. I suspect a good part of the night was spent with a temp of around 160 or so, when it should have been at least 50 degrees higher. When I checked the taste around 6 am parts of it were ok but other sections were almost raw in texture. However, after a couple of hours in the 275 range, the shoulder came out great. The brisket was edible, though a bit tough. so what did I learn? That those less thick cuts of meat, such as ribs and brisket, take much more care to get right. Lesson learned.

Another lesson was learned again and it had to do with taking risk. In the financial markets I've made money slowly and I've made it quickly. Quick is better as you do not have time interrupt good fortune. Losing money slowly is better than losing it quickly. Slow losses eventually get your attention and cause you to make adjustments to failed strategies. With quick losses you tend to act irrationally, and think some quick act or the next trade will put things right. In reality events are beyond your control and you often don't have the opportunity to right them.

So, what else did we do... stopped by the local ice cream shop and had dessert prepared by Minnesota's finest ice cream artist, had one of the midwest's best breakfasts at Wampach's in Shakopee, twice did NOT drive to the Buddha in Hampton, toured the world's most worthless flea market in St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin, strolled the streets and shops of Stillwater MN, watched the SC KY football game, played 10 little indians, ate dinner at Santorini - a Greek restaurant, went to church, had hotdogs at Costco, ordered pizza, played Godfather trivia.

13 October 2010

I hate dimes

I hate dimes. It started some time after I became economically self sufficient, which was around midpoint between the birth of my first two children. I can feel those little devils in my pocket. They feel fake, like toy money. You can't do anything with them, except occasionally use them as screwdrivers. Pennies seem more valuable and more like real money. They make me a bit skittish. When I get a dime as change I always look at the receipt, as they are almost always part of some crooked transaction.

When I was a kid most things that adults told me made sense. Things like, "honey the world isn't flat, it's round. It just looks flat because it's so big". "No son, people don't get small when they walk down the street, it just looks that way". Got it, understood. When it came to money, a nickel was worth more than a penny, it's bigger. A quarter is worth more than a nickel, it's bigger. A half dollar, etc. The bigger the coin, the more it's worth, got it. What about dimes. Why are these little things worth more than pennies and nickels. I don't get it. I also don't like the fact that all my adult life I thought it was Thomas Edison on the dime instead of FDR. I don't know how I got that idea. I've never heard anyone else who thought that. Some time in my mid-40's I realized I'd been wrong about the person on the dime, and I consider myself the type who is fairly up to date on such trivia. If you were on "Who wants to be a Millionaire", I'm the person you would call on Phone a Friend. I'm the guy who would know this sort of stuff. Well forget that. Don't ever call me on any coin questions. I'm also the kid who rushed to spend all his Franklin half-dollars when the Kennedy version came out. I assumed the old ones would be worthless. I was either stupid or about 50 years ahead of my time.

So don't give me dimes as change or to repay any debts. When I become a homeless beggar my sign will say "will work for food or money, except dimes. God Bless Thomas Edison" I don't want them. I'd rather tote a wad of pennies than that little money. I don't know which gives me the creeps more, dimes or Linda Hunt, from the cast of NCIS-Los Angeles. I bet she's got a purse full of dimes, and a jar of them on her dresser.

12 October 2010

48 hours and one lousy picture in the city of lights

48 hours in Paris, 24 of which was basically free time.
7am Sunday, landed. 830am I'm at the hotel. 9-10 went for a run in the gym. 1030 - walked to the Louvre. 1115 to 1pm, toured the Louvre, mainly to see the big three, Monna Lisa, Winged Victory, Venus de Milo. Guards with machine guns outside the Louvre. If I was Greek or Eqyptian I would be very disturbed at all of my countries treasures that have been ransacked and put on display here. 1pm to 4pm mainly walked along the Seine with the obligatory side trip to Notre Dame. Back to hotel where I conked out until 7, when I met a friend from London for dinner. Had steak tar tar, which is almost impossible to get in the US anymore. Took this one photo after dinner.

Monday, Meetings and a nice dinner in the evening.
Tuesday. Got to airport way too early due to a transit strike that threatened to tie up all the cabs, so I grabbed an early one. Met a couple from Excelsior while in the Delta check in line. Had a nice talk with them off and on as we waited for our flight. Beth and Rob, did not get their last names. She is in the same large bible study group as my wife. Small world.

This is only my second trip here but as before I was struck by how much we copied the French in the early history of our country as we designed our cities and buildings. Every building here looks familiar, because you've seen a copy of it somewhere back home

08 October 2010


This is my October shot of the house. With the angle of the sun it's hard to see the colors in the back yard but there are a couple of maples back there in full color. Near the peak of color now. Last Saturday we fell below freezing for the first time. Today we hit an all time record high in the mid 80's. Same on tap for tomorrow. Ready for the cold but nice to get these little reminders of summer. Current yard project is the nurturing of the tiny burning bushes in the front and destroying the fungus that is killing parts of the lawn. Weekly grass cutting today, could have waited another week as the growth has really slowed. A boring blog entry on a somewhat boring Friday night.


San Francisco one more time

I'll never live here but I think i've written more about this city than any other. Something about it that makes me wonder why I don't visit more often. This trip was like all the others. Airport, office, nice dinner, hotel room, airport, home. Dinner at Anchor and Hope Restaurant. Not bad. Pic is from Gate 44 at the airport as I awaited my 6am flight back to Minneapolis.

01 October 2010

Quarter End

Yesterday was the end of the third quarter of the current year. My life revolves around quarter end.

When I was younger I thought about the passing of the year in terms of semesters and the Christmas, Easter, and Summer breaks. School, and the escape from its shackles, drove the cycle of the year. May 17 was a day in the second semester. July 2nd was during summer vacation. October 20th was about halfway through the first semester. Somewhere in my mid-twenties I stopped thinking about the year in terms of semesters. September became September and May became May.

Now, in my occupation, four days on the calendar jump at me. Every day of activity looks back to one or forward to another. March 31, June 30, September 30, December 31. Every communication with a client references one of these. These are the demarcation points that measure the success or failure of people in my business. We rise and fall in the esteem of our clients based on the results we delivered vs a benchmark during the most recent quarter and trailing year.

Every job is that way. We all have scorecards of some sort. Usually there is one key thing that our clients count on us to do, and do very well. If we get that right, every thing else seems to fall in to place. In my first job it was whether I got your newspaper on your doorstep by 6am. In my second job it was whether I got your groceries to your car without breaking your eggs. In my third job it was whether I could pump gas into your car without a spill and get you quickly on your way.  Now, my career is with a financial gymnasium where companies come for help in staying healthy and keeping future commitments. It's a good work and a challenging way of service.