Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Surprises on the Way to Work

This morning I woke at 5 AM and started work at home. I had a 10 AM appointment in my office, so left the house to make that appointment about 9:30. My usual drive is along Shepard Road; on one side is the Mississippi River and on the other side is a railroad track. When one approaches downtown St. Paul it is usual to see a steam plume from the District Heating Plant, but there was a huge amount of white steam this morning. I couldn't figure out what it was; the steam was clear white so this clearly wasn't smoke from a fire, and it the plume was right on the railroad track. Then I saw it -- a steam engine pulling a series of antique passenger cars. There were people around everywhere taking pictures, so quite obviously this was planned. I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time.

No photo. It is not a good practice to talk on a cell phone while driving. It strikes me as even a poorer practice to try to take a photo with a cell phone while driving!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Memories of Summer Adventures

The days are getting shorter and the light is changing. Fall is coming in. Summer seems far away. But the pictures help me remember summer days in Torun. Here are two pictures of churches in Torun. After the churches of Warsaw and Krakow, these seemed so "plain." The difference seems to be that the walls are not as decorative as churches elsewhere in Poland.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Retirement Adventures

I'm not retired! But it seems the world thinks I am. In late August I started receiving a number of phone calls about the fact that I had retired. The phone calls were all in a panic from my daughter's social worker saying I had messed up my daughter's disability Social Security due to my retirment. It took me awhile to straighten the rumors of my retirement.

Then on Thursday I met a former Minnesota Department of Health colleague. He asked me how I was liking retirement. Again I had to explain I wasn't retired. Today at a neighborhood restaurant I met another former Minnesota Department of Health colleague. Same question. I'm working 60-70 hours per week. Why does everyone outside my work setting think I'm retired?!?

Retirement Adventures

I'm not retired! But it seem the world thinks I am. In late August I started receiving a number of phone calls about the fact that I had retired. The phone calls were all in a panic from my daughter's social worker saying I had messed up my daughter's disability Social Security due to my retirment. It took me awhile to straighten the rumors of my retirement.

Then on Thursday I met a former Minnesota Department of Health colleague. He asked me how I was liking retirement. Again I had to explain I wasn't retired. Today at a neighborhood restaurant I met another former Minnesota Department of Health colleague. Same question. I'm working 60-70 hours per week. Why does everyone outside my work setting think I'm retired?!?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Adventures in Perception or maybe Misperception

This evening I was at a reception given by the School of Public Health, University of Minnesota. I saw a colleague I had not seen since leaving the Minnesota Department of Health 6 years ago. He said, "How do you like retirement?" I laughed and told him that "for other than the 60-70 hours per week I'm working for another employer, retirement is great."

Then in the car I opened my wallet to get out some change to pay the parking ramp toll, and found the parking ramp lights making my Nordstrom silver-colored credit card glow in shades of red and green. I've had this credit card for years and this is the very time I learned there are dancers embedded into the card. Under those parking ramp lights, they were way cool!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Another Funny Moment

This morning I was in the nearby neighborhood cafe for breakfast. There is a round table in the back occupied by the men who solve or debate all the problems of the world. It's very much like one finds in any small town.

I overheard first: "Of course Minnesota votes for Republicans. We have a Republican govenor and a Republican Senator." Then I heard a woman say, "But's when is the last time Minnesota voted Republican for a President?" There was a long pause and then came the answer with a male voice, "Abe Lincoln?"

Monday, September 22, 2008

Funny Adventure

This past few days have been very stressful in my private life. This afternoon I went up to the laudromat. I noticed a man, who almost looked as if he was homeless, come into the front of the laundromat apparently only to play a video game. When he turned, I saw his T-shirt which is priceless. It said, "The Bible says a lot about Saint Paul, but nothing about Minneapolis."

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Adventures with Wildlife

Coming home today along the road by the Mississippi River, I had to slow down for turkeys! We are used to geese everywhere. This is the second time I've seen groups of turkeys, the first time being almost 18 months ago now. When I see articles or exhibits about making habitat for animals, I think if we have more habitat for animals, they will have to start making habitats for the people. Yesterday I scared a rabbit out the flower bed. And there is a chipmuck that lives in the flowerbed by the front door.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Adventues with Good Fortune

After a bit of a stressful time thinking my purse was stolen on Thursday, and the efforts I took to protect my banking account, it was good news this afternoon to received an e-mail this afternoon saying the University Security staff and located it. They say they believe there is nothing missing. I had a strong feeling when I got stopped on Thursday evening by the young woman needing help, that the universe was making a deal with me.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Adventures with Technology

We have all heard that we are on video cameras more than we know. After I reported to the safety officer that I had a missing purse, he asked for my schedule yesterday. He found video pictures showing I had it when entering the office in the early morning, had it when I went to a meeting in the library, but didn't have it when I was walking back to our office area. Thus, I had left it in the meeting room, which was supposed to be locked as soon as we left, and it disappeared before I made the trip back 2 hours later to locked room to see if it was there.

Today I got my driver's license replaced and renewed -- it was due to expire next month anyway.

So I'll keep watching my bank statement and make sure no checks are sneeking through.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Adventures in an Alternate Universe

Today will go down as one of the craziest. Well, certainly better than another September 11, but I felt like I spent all the day in alternate universe. The story starts a bit before today. I was really in need of something better to sleep on, and anticipating the move I want to make, decided to get a small sleeper couch with a very good mattress, so I'd have something to sleep on until I could buy a new bed. The couch was delivered yesterday and I was very pleased. My eye was right. It is the right color to go with a painting that will always be part of my living room.

Last evening I went to Ikea and found a duvet and what they call a quilt cover, and then made up a bed the Polish way with a sheet on the bottom and simply the duvet on the top.

I woke up this morning thinking I had rested very well. Then I realized I had overslept. I have been using my Ipod for an alarm clock. Looked and realized it had not gone off because somehow it was now measuring time in Central Standard time while we are still on daylight time. I could not make the Ipod control do anything.

I grabbed a yogurt and ran out of the house. On the way to work I stopped at a coffee shop and got coffee.

Then I was in a meeting all morning, had a short time to eat some lunch, a sandwich I had packed, and then was off to another meeting. At 3:30 I had a hair appointment. I was watching the time click off on the computer task bar, and about 3:10 started to pick things up to get out to the hair salon. Where's my purse? Maybe I left in the car and carried in only the tote bag. No, that wasn't it. I looked again and again in my office, no purse. I went to security and had them open a room in which I had the second meeting in case I had left it there. No purse there either. I ran back to my office and left a voice mail message for my hair dresser. Then I went to the coffee shop where I had stopped about 8 AM asking if I had walked out and left my purse. No, it wasn't there. My next stop then was my credit union where we cancelled my credit and debit cards, and put a big watch on my checking account.

Next I drove to the hair salong and found my hair dresser just heading home. We made a new appointment for tomorrow.

Nine days out of ten I leave my cell phone home, but somehow this morning I managed to take it with me.

I found when I hooked the Ipod up to my computer it got right with the universe again.

I located a public phone at the nearby community center building and phoned CREDO and have a new phone on order. While at the community center I went into the library and go a new library card. On the walk back from home I was stopped by young woman who appeared to be from Sri Lanka or southern India asking for help in finding the library. Obviously I could tell her. I thought perhaps this was a way to balance out the crazy universe today.

Tomorrow the first task is to take the bus to a driver's license center and get my license replaced. Then when I'm legal again, a stop at the insurance office to get my car insurance cards replaced. Wonder what else I need to attend to?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

New Teaching Adventure

My university has the first program for Peace Corps volunteers who wish to complete their BS or BA degree. I will be working with one of these students during this acadmeic year, helping her to demonstrate the learning and competencies she developed through her Peace Corp experience in Uganda. This student lives in another state so all our interaction will be at a distance. I'm doing this because her course work all relate to public health. It's nice at this stage of a career to have a new activity.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Adventures of RNC Volunteers

Anyone who has read my blog knows I'm not a fan of the Republican Party nor was highly enthusiastic about having the RNC convention here. To add a bit of balance, and I'm not sure why I think balance is needed, but to be fair, at least one participant in the RNC actually did something for the community. See what happened at the nearby Salvation Army headquarters building, about 5 blocks from the convention site:


I'm actually more pleased that I can recognize the Salvation Army captain than the Republican political figure that is prominent in these photographs.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

More adventures at the nail salon

Today the conversation started somewhere about wine, and I told how much I liked the Georgian Wine that we had at the wine shop in Zakopane. (The winoteka is pictured here.) One of the Ukrainian ladies told me a liquor store she was certain had Georgian wine.

This exchange led the other client to ask about my being in Poland. Then she began to tell me about being in Warsaw in 1979 on a faculty exchange. It was fascinating to hear what life was like as an American in Warsaw then. She went on to tell me the Polish director to whom she reported during this time gave her the standard party speeches about what she could and could not do. She said that she did some things on the not to do list such as exchange money on the black market. She also told me she smuggled in paper and ink wrapped as Christmas gifts to be used for underground newspapers. She said after Poland gained its freedom the Polish director wrote her and thanked her for all she had done for Poland.

What a blessing it was for me to be at the nail shop at just the right time! I think I have more fun at the nail shop than anyone -- this may also serve as a commentary to the blog entry from David in Poznan about women seem to have a different hair cut experience than men.

Adventures in Reading

They're gone! Our city is returning to normal. Thank heavens! Now time is available for other things.

I stumbled into a story about Georgia (the country)on the New York Times web page and that reminded me one can read Europe news there. So I looked to see what was on the page for Poland. Much to my surprise I find the missle system heading for Poland was designed by a Polish man. Read more here:


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Signs of Gustav

About 7 PM I headed out for a few groceries. About 45 minutes later when I was in the car coming home, I saw a beautiful, beautiful sky. There was clouds in pink-orange cloud like cotton candy against the almost aqua sky we get in the fall. Sorry no camera with me.

Later I hear these clouds are the end of Gustav. Amazing!

Convention Observations

Today I had to go to work. That takes me through the convention area, so I chose to ride the bus rather than attempt to drive. The first thing I noticed is that the most reliable bus in my home area wasn't totally reliable on the schedule. One should come at least every 15 minutes, but we waited longer than that. When the bus finally arrived, one came right behind another. The bus ride was usual until we got about 3 blocks from the Xcel Center where the convention is held. Then we were on a long detour around it. That made the usual 25 minute bus ride take almost an hour.

Coming home, the bus came on schedule. I was glad I was on the bus because it was definitely bumper to bumper traffic. Going so slow allowed me to see a few things. First I was a bit puzzled about a van that said Capitol City Police Service and had a logo obviously from Washington D.C.

Near the Minnesota Capitol area I could see a lot of tents and what looked like a minor protest being organized. A bit later we went by a bus display -- the best word I can find for it for an organization called votesmart.org. Haven't looked that up. (Oh later, I did look it up and it reminded me that this is called the Voters Self Defense Bus. The web site says it was at the Democratic convention, too. You can see a picture of the bus on the web site.)

Then we went by a huge video screen being operated by something called Vote Blue Minnesota. It is displaying pictures of politicians involved in the Abrahamoff scandal as we went by. Later this evening I learned this is sponsored by two very average Minnesota Democrats who decided they wanted to create an alternate message nearly two years ago when it was announced that the RNC would here. They spent a good part of the retirement funds to do this for four years.

A slight way later I could see down a hill to the Xcel Center and noticed a lot of tents obviously not usually there. The biggest tent had the FoxNews logo on it.

Oh, I forgot the biggest hit in town. We went by the History Theater which is being used by the Daily Show. The lines to get in there rival the convention.

One more day of this and then they leave town. I suspect it will be the last time St. Paul bids on a convention for awhile. It's a lot more trouble than its worth. Readers from elsewhere may find the best source of local news to be the Minnesota Public Radio web site: www.mpr.org

I've changed the photo to the right to the Xcel Center for a few days, so that folks elsewhere can better envision this place.

I'll add that during this ride through middle class neighborhoods and then down Summitt Avenue where the houses are over the million dollar mark I didn't see a single lawn sign for the Republican candidates. I thought certainly if anyone was supporting the McCain candidate that during the RNC they would have signs up. If you don't understand about the signs, lawn signs are a big thing in Minnesota, something I really don't like about Minnesota. I don't like anyone put a lawn sign on my property.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Adventures in Life

I have to scream at the world! I just watched Cindy McCain being saluted for adopting two girls from an international orphanage Been there and done that myself. Now I see Palin being saluted for raising a child who is developmentally delayed. Been there and done that too. And they are saluting her for supporting a teen age daughter who became pregnant. Been there and done that. And not only have I done all those things, I did it alone as one of maligned "single parents."

I'm not at all impressed with the honoring of these women. There have been many of us who have done just exactly the same thing, and we don't have any political convention saluting us!!

Adventures with the weather & the RNC

The past few days have been very warm -- nearly 90 degrees and very muggy, and the air conditioner isn't working. Well, at this stage of summer one doesn't fix it, and hopefully by next summer I won't be living here anywhere. So I'm very glad we've had a 25 degree drop in the temperature in the last 22 hours. Life is much more comfortable.

The local news is that the out of hand protesters were not part of the original protest.

And now this afternoon, an intersection is closed due to a package under questions.

Monday, September 1, 2008

First Day of Convention

It is being reported that about 250 people were arrested today, more than the total in Denver. The difference -- there wasn't a huge antiwar protest in Denver. There are an estimated 10,000 participants in today's demonstraton protest, and I think they will continue during the next few days.

Things did get out of hand. Had it been a work day, and had I gone to work, I would have driven home right into the a protest in an unexpected place. But I've always thought what we needed to plan for was the unexpected would happen during these days.

I stayed home all day sorting and moving things around with the goal of moving sometime in the next few months. Meanwhile here's what happening in Saint Paul:


It is locally reported that nearly all the national media has left Saint Paul deciding instead to cover the hurricane instead. If you have a convention and no one listens, is it a convention?