Friday, December 17, 2010


I have put my last payment for student loans associated with my PhD into the e-pay account. As soon as the credit union can write the check, I'm done with the loans! It 's a very good feeling to be done with this. But I'm glad I did it, for having the PhD rather changed my life and gave me lots of adventures.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Last Day Adventures

I went to bed really tired on Monday evening after the office party here. It was held downstairs in the party room, but still turned out to be a good bit of work for me beyond writing the check to use the room. Do you have --- four serving spoons, after that trip up to my apartment and back -- Do you have a creamer and sugar bowl -- after that trip -- do you have a serving bowl we can use? And of course, that wasn't the end of the list -- and took care of the trash runs and taking boxes down to recycling, etc.

I woke up with sunshine on Tuesday morning thinking it was about 7 AM., but in this season of the year, sunrise is more like 8 AM. The buildings across on the bluff were a gorgeous color.

I started in on writing more questions for a quiz for courses next semester. When one does online courses, everything has to be done the first day of the classes, or for the last time this coming semester, one week before the start of classes.

I happened to look out the window and saw the snow geyser.
Snow was being cleared and it was being dumped over the bluff down on the railroad tracks. Rather dramatic. By the way the buildings across the way are a convent and hospice for persons without insurance coverage operated by the Little Sisters of the Poor. Later in the day I saw the snow plow on the railroad tracks. Don't think I've ever seen that before.

In the afternoon I went to campus for a a bit of a surprise farewell party for a colleague who is taking early retirement. Then I wandered back to my neighborhood to meet a student at a nearby coffee shop. This appointment I had obviously made before knowing I was going to a surprise farewell party. I met the student and then tried to start back to campus to get a bus to the graduation ceremony.  It took me nearly 30 minutes to go four blocks. Finally figured out the slow down was due to a car illegally parked which meant that 2 lanes of traffic had to squeeze into one lane made even more narrow than usual by the huge piles of snow along the street.

I knew I'd never make the bus so turned off as soon as I could and decided to drive to the Minneapolis Convention Center. I knew better than to try the freeway. I was doing well on side streets. Then all of a sudden on River Road while heading north I found myself two seconds later heading south. I couldn't believe in that skid that I'd not hit anything. There was not another car around, no mailbox, nothing. I was really lucky.

It took me about 70 minutes to drive 10 miles. I had the job of carrying the college banner in the graduate procession so it would be real obvious if I wasn't there. Ended up being seated way off to the right so far I couldn't really even see the stage. But one good thing-- the time the parking ramp attendants were collecting money when people arrive, so we didn't have the one hour post-graduation slow down while everyone paid to get out. The trip home was quick and uneventful. (I've only done the 180 skid one other time and hope it never happens again. It is a long two seconds while it's happening.)

Today I bestirred my body to go do some shopping. A store that I like had a good sale going and I really wanted a new winter coat. Found one for $30.00 -- well actually $29.97 --  marked down from $120! While I was trying on coats, a woman stopped and told me the color was wonderful for me. That gift from the universe rather evened out some of the stress from yesterday.

Plenty of work still left on my lists to do during the break. People think faculty/teachers don't work, but we do -- it really feels like it never ends. I relate to about 70 students next semester, and in today's world, that means relate 24/7.

Monday, December 13, 2010

It Was Big!

The snow fall over the weekend now ranks as the 5th largest snow storm ever and the largest one for December. My daughter and kids didn't realize school was called off. My granddaughter waited for a bus a long time and then went back home and called me. Her mom had gone to work at a school and taken her brother to his school. I tried to get my granddaughter to spend the day with me, but after it took me nearly an hour to drive one mile, I turned around and came back home. The problem was that the downtown streets are down to one lane and can carry much less traffic. We couldn't get a turn off left from Shepard Road because the people who could turn right kept the uphill lane totally clogged up. I've learned in future after storms to try a different route.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Great Dig Out

The snow has ended, and yes, it's the biggest snow fall at one time since 1991, so there are great many in Minnesota who have never seen anything like this. The snow falls range across the Metro area from 15 - 20 inches depending upon one's location.

The Vikings were to play the Giants today, but the New York team got diverted to the Kansas City airport. The game was re-scheduled for Monday evening to give them time for travel. However, last night the roof on the MetroDome collapsed due to the weight of the snow. This is the first time that has happened since the early 1980s. So the game will be on Monday, but in Detroit.

Last evening the snow emergency started and our area did get plowing on the north-south streets as expected. That doesn't help this area much because the north-south streets are only one block long. Everything here runs on east-west streets, which are plowed secondly.In the afternoon plows came to do the east-west street, and we got cleaned up very well.

Cars on east-west streets have to be moved today. This photo shows just how much fun this is. I saw something truly amazing. One guy waited until most everyone had moved their cars, and then managed to get his car out of drifted snowbank and moved away using only his hands and feet to dig, supplemented by a window brush. He wasn't the only one who had only a window brush as a tool. I expect there will be a few shoppers for snow shovels in the next few days.

About once a week the 911 folks show up to go to the building at the end of the street. They appeared this morning and I wondered what they would do. Well, the first rule obviously is: "Don't get the ambulance stuck." The ambulance was left on the corner and the EMS personnel walked down the street.

This photo was taken about 9 AM this morning. That is morning sun shining between the buildings.

Walked down to the mailbox and looked out the back. There are some snow drifts out there about 4 feet high from the wind blowing the snow across the river. The building is the first thing to stop the snow and it really piled up. Looks like a good old-fashioned winter!

Updates: All three services of my church were canceled because the streets in the are were not plowed.  I can't ever remember that happening before. And St. Paul declared a 2nd day of snow emergency so that plows can go over all the streets again and try to remove snow in places the cars were not cleared simply because so many were stuck and not yet moved. I've not been out of the house for two days and won't be tomorrow either since everyone from work is to come here for a party honoring our retiring Dean. From what I've read the downtown area must be a mess with traffic down to one lane on many streets until greater snow removal can occur.

Now at 11 PM the plows are back out the door here trying to clean up some of the mess.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Snow Adventure

Is the above a black and white photo? No, but it's a very good representative of our black and white world today -- mostly white. The forecasts began yesterday for the worst snowstorm we have had since the infamous Halloween snow storm of 1991. All my extended family was up the hill last evening at Xcel Center enjoying Disney on Ice. They all got back to my younger daughter's apartment without any difficulty. I woke up at 3:30 AM and thought if this was a storm it didn't amount to what the forecast was. I went back to bed about 4 AM and when I awoke again at 10 AM the scene out my bedroom window was as if there was steam or clouds going by. The snow was so fine that it looked like a fog.

The Amtrak passenger train went by about 12:30 PM (it is supposed to go a few minutes after 8 AM). The engine and cars are a silver gray color and the train could hardly be seen through the snow in the air.

All day I've been watching cars getting stuck in the streets in front of the building. I'm wondering what part of "don't drive" people didn't understand.

I was fairly astonished to see we had mail delivery today, but felt so bad that someone struggled so much to deliver something that I moved from my mail box directly to the recycling box in the mail room. 

Well, the dig out begins tonight at 9 PM when the snow emergency kicks in. This is when I'm very glad to not only have a garage, but also to have an underground garage.

Update: About 7 PM I got an e-mail announcing that morning church services are canceled tomorrow.
Update #2 -- Official snowfall for Saint Paul from this storm is 15.2 inches. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


I have just read the news that Elizabeth Edwards has died. When John Edwards was running for Vice-President, one of my students e-mailed me and asked me to come to a rally because she was introducing John Edwards and wanted others to share this honor with her. Later she sent me a photo of she with Elizabeth Edwards with whom she spent most of the day. It was about 10 days after that when the first news came about Elizabeth's cancer. I see that smiling face in the photo and know the secret she was carrying at that time. Losing her is a loss for our country.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Parking Adventure

Today I picked up Dorota at her hotel and we went to Maplewood Mall, arriving about 9:45 or so. It was very easy at that time to find a place to park, close to a door. We agreed to meet at the door we entered at 1:00 PM. I got back about 12:45 and decided to take my packages to the car and get our coats that we had left in the car, so that they could warm up a bit. Much to my surprise, when I got to the car, there was one car in front of me, one car behind me, and one car on each side. The car behind was the problem, having parked behind me in what was really an aisle drive. I went back in to the mall and asked to have security called. After about 25 minutes we had it sorted out that there was nothing to do but wait until someone moved. The mall security said he would watch carefully. I gave him my cell phone number, and we decided to go to the food court and get some lunch since it was now about 1:30. When we were done, still no call. I said, "Let's give it 15 more minutes, " so Dorota went to check out a couple more stores. We decided to walk back and then that's when the phone rang with the news that one car had moved so I could get out.

I've surely never had anything like this happen before. Dorota later said it was funny,and I'm very glad she was good- hearted about it. Well she is going home with a new winter coat that she might not have found had we not been stranded for awhile.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Winter Arrives #2

We are in the midst of what the meteorologists around here call an Alberta Clipper. This is a fast-moving, very dry snowfall followed by cold weather. I'm so very glad I have only a 2 mile commute home from work on a day like this, and that none of that drive is on a freeway!
From my third-floor vantage point the snowfall is quite beautiful, particularly when I have an underground garage and no responsibility for shoveling the sidewalks.

I took the recycling down and then stopped at the mail room. I noticed from there the view out into the back area.

From my living room I look across the road and railroad tracks to the bluff wall. I always enjoy seeing the designs the snow makes in the blocks of the retaining wall.
Just another December day or rather night in Minnesota!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Global Volunteers Night

After the Global Volunteers symposium last year, I was asked to help put together a similar event again when the country managers are all in Minnesota. Last night was the night. We began to worry when the weather turned to rain and snow, making driving a bit more challenging than usual. But we ended up with a full room.

During our planning we came to the idea of doing name tags with symbols indicating where people may have volunteered. That made me think we needed someone to staff a registration table, so I recruited my granddaughter.
She did a great job. I am very proud of her.

We ended up with a packed room, full of great conversation. As the program moderator, I found it quite a task to shut down all the talking so the program could start. Awards were presented to volunteers who have done ten or more programs. Awards and recognition was also given to volunteer team leaders who have led many teams. Two of them have led at least 60 teams, and one said he was now at an even 50!

The country managers from Romania, the Cook Islands, and Peru gave presentations about their programs. These presentations really bring alive the programs in a way one can't get from the description on the web site.

Two local bake shops were gracious to donate some treats. What a wonderful night.