Getting the hang of Snowbizz again

In recent years I only rarely have gone back to my original website which I started back in 1999. I all but abandoned it after seven years in 2006 when I started this blog which I started to promote my quixotic race for Congress. I was already writing a column for the local Duluth tabloid the Duluth Reader and had just stepped of the Duluth School Board a few years before.

I’ve kept paying for the Snowbizz domain name as its an archive of many of my eccentric interests. It was built with Microsoft’s webpage software which has changed routinely. I didn’t often change with it. Even now I’m using a ten year old version of the software which I’ve hated from the beginning because it had changed from what I was familiar with. I’m still not used to it.

With my resumption of the Not Eudora column in the Reader it makes sense to me again to go back to puttering about with the webpage. I spent long hours a couple days in a row trying to remember how to add pages to Snowbizz and figure out the software I never got accustomed to.

Back in 1999 before the first blogs I wanted to be a blogger. I just didn’t have a term for it. I wrote entries about 20 times a month in a portion of the website called School Board Diary for a couple years to explain what I saw as a Duluth School Board member. They were meant to make the school board’s mysterious ways clear. It was, as is my blog, completely self serving. I share my opinions and viewpoint.

Somehow all those original diary entries have been lost at some point as I was wrestling with webpage maintenance. I think it happened when I finally knuckled under to the local newspaper’s insistence that I remove their stories about the Duluth School District. I ignored their request for several years until I was off the Board. I think in removing those stories I mistakenly removed the diary entries that I had linked to the stories.

It was a complicated excision because I had hundreds of pages to remove. I botched the operation but the Duluth News Trib’s attorneys no longer have just cause to sue me for copyright violations.

You can read my first return column for the Duluth Reader here. As I wrote earlier it has the six other paragraph breaks which I think are necessary to help the reader thread through my convoluted analysis.

Between the blog and any reader willing to spend years at it can roughly figure out my STATED motivations. Whether anyone sacrificing their life to figure me out believes any of my drivel is up to them.

Before I forget it

One of the reasons I like good old John Adams, second President of the United States, is that he reminds me a bit of myself. Even though he sort of thought of a guy who was a loser, hidden behind Washington’s looming shaddow and overpowered by his successor Jefferson’s political machinations he was determined to make sure it wasn’t just the “winners” of history that wrote his.

My kids would say that comment was random. It was. I woke up with a crowded head and that was the straw that got my back out of bed. I’ll jot some of the other things down elsewhere so as not to forget them either.

Six Paragraphs

My return to the Reader Weekly, Duluth’s largest tabloid, was a little awkward. Although its publisher had kind words for me as he introduced five new columnists – “Harry is a terrific writer” – its hard not to wonder if that isn’t a promotion of the Reader rather than its returned writer.

My column was submitted and as far as I could tell languished unacknowledged for two weeks before publication. I got home late this afternoon and found that it was indeed in this week’s Reader if not in the Reader’s new website. A picture I’d submitted was not included. My dozen paragraphs were pared down to half that. To the extent that the breaks helped refocus my narative the elimination of them seemed to make it a little breathless. I suspect I’m in part to blame for the mis-communication about what I wanted published. I was on vacation and gloriously distracted until the last two days when I called and found out that another column was wanted forthwith. Yesterday I spent four hours in the car heading home and racing through North Dakota’s stretch of I-94 busily editing a rough draft down from 1100 words to 650 or so. when it shows up a week from now it will be titled “…illions.”

I’m exhausted from a long day and have valiently but incompetantly attempted to stick it into my old website. I’m too tired to correct the mistakes tonight. I need sleep. but for those of you who can’t wait here it is as I would have preferred it to have appeared in print. Tomorrow and henceforth I’ll put it in the proper place and this link will take you to the parent webpage.

Not finishing books

I recently discovered the good reads site before Amazon bought it. It will be a regular place of perusal for me.

I happened to be thinking about writing a Not Eudora column on the subject of not finishing my books. Just now I found that Great Reads had beat me to the punch.

My thanks to the Timberjay

My friend who keeps me directed to the ever informative Timberjay sent me this link this morning. It made it clear that the Duluth Schools will have some relief from its own remarkable alienation of local voters. Sen. Bakk saw to it that every school District in the state will be given additional levy authority without having to go to voters”

As part of the education package approved in the 2013 session, the state Legislature gave school districts the ability to levy up to $300 per student without voter approval. Districts already had the ability to seek additional funds through an excess operating levy, but voters had to okay the tax increase.

The Duluth School Board will surely use this as it has almost no ability to win voter approval of excess levies after the Red Plan debacle. I must admit that if I bother to run and then get elected I would certainly put this new authority to use.

The Jay also exposed the terrible decision of a few of the St. Louis County School District’s senior teachers to gift themselves unreasonably generous insurance benefits over the needs of their entire membership and the needs of the community. I guess their leaders bear a strong resemblance to our own Frank Wanner.

Shalom to my Israeli readers

The month is not quite half over but once again I’ve got readers from a surprising quarter. Today there were over a thousand readers (four times the usual daily readership) and so far this month Israeli visits outnumber those of folks in the good old US of A. I have no idea what gives but I don’t mind.

Israel……… 3,581…3,586…42.88 MB
United States…2,634…3,121…48.12 MB
Japan………..1,370…1,370…9.78 MB
Thailand……..693…….693…2.16 MB
India………..641…….641…2.00 MB
Philippines…..522…….526…1.72 MB

I haven’t bad mouthed the Red Plan for a couple months despite ample opportunity. I still haven’t raised the unpleasant suggestion to Claudia that I run for the School Board. Maybe I’ll let this arsenic tinged opportunity slip through my fingers. Or maybe I won’t.

The Reader and our Black Hills vacation nears its end

We egressed the Black Hills early last evening through the Spearfish Canyon Road. It was lovely but the sun was so low that only the very top of the Eastern canyon lay in sunlight. We had tarried too long in Lead, South Dakota after our last in the day tour of the Homestake Mine. I easily took a thousand pictures on my digital camera and have already removed 400 of the lesser ones while cropping and tending to the remaining before a second culling. No one needs 600 pictures of the Black Hills even with your grandchildren in them.

I was curious about the absence of my column to the Reader Weekly for the past couple weeks. I called the publisher who told me it would be in the Reader this weekend. That means it should be on their website by tomorrow. I’ll believe it when I see it. He also gave me orders on a one time basis to submit another column by tomorrow for two successive issues. I roughed out something this morning and I’ll putz around with it tonight after watching the Spielberg film Lincoln. Sadly, I had two small boys who disported through most of its first half so that a third viewing will be necessary sans boys.

We had planted ourselves in the Black Hills for seven evenings. The first two nights were in Rapid City on its eastern flank. Four nights were spent in Custer, named after the one and only followed by the last night in Spearfish. We visited Rushmore twice, the second time to make up for being chased out by rain on the earliest visit. We traveled most of the best known highways with Claudia at the wheel. She insisted because she is terrified by my gawking at every precipitous hairpin turn instead of keeping my eye on the wheel. We spent an hour and a half on a tour of Jewel Cave a similar time in Hot Springs at the site of a huge mammoth burial site. We petted donkeys and stood amid prairie dogs in custer State Park while seeing the Buffalo we had promised the boys.

I had to be glaciered a couple of times by claudia when I passed on too much historical information to our 3 and 5-year-old companions. “Glacier” had been the watchword twenty years ago with my children when I yammered on about something they were tired of hearing about.

Tomorrow we drive to Fargo. We’ve promised the littlest traveler a half year birthday at Chuck E Cheese when we get there. Hopefully I’ll be sufficiently primed to finish my second column for next week’s Reader Weekly. Every one is trying to sleep but I’ve got this bright computer on while choral music plays in my headphones. The Hotel’s water was shut off by the City an hour ago so we are all crossing our legs and brushing our teeth with bottled water. Such hardship.

Email glitches – Dammit – and pedophile priests

Before sneaking back to the room I decided, on a whim, to see if the Reader Weekly had acknowledged the receipt of my column. Nope. So, as a precaution I checked out my email “sent” file to make sure it had been sent. Nope. So I checked the “drafts” folder. There it was sans attachments (pictures that the publisher requested I include). Dammit!

Its not safe to take things for granted. I put it all together and pushed “send” last Friday. I do have trouble with my internet connections every so often. Maybe they went glitchy last Friday without bothering to tell me that they couldn’t send my email.

Its too early to say “whew!” I’ll be checking my cell phone for emails today from the Reader to see what they say……if anything.

I also checked the Duluth News Tribune to see if there was anything intersting happening in Duluth……..Didn’t look like it although their story on Wisconsin’s protected pedophile priests was depressingly interesting. Andrew Sullivan had already covered it a couple days ago when he beat up Cardinal Dolan who hid the Church’s money from potential plaintiffs. That was prudent if not penitential of him. What was it that Jesus said? Something about suffer the little children. The Catholic Church seems to have a long tradition of this.

3:44 Hotel Lobby, 2nd day of trip

I hope I didn’t wake anyone up when I tried to sneak out of our hotel room twenty minutes ago. Not a very propitious way to begin the second day of a road trip with the grand kids.

A few years ago when I was fighting the Duluth School Board I often got up at odd hours to write when my head was full up and I needed to empty it out. I’ve been out of that habit for a couple years now. My good health would prefer to get a good night’s sleep.

I found myself on the edge of cranky yesterday morning. We hadn’t packed anything in advance and that meant we had to pack everything with two giddy little ones underfoot. We didn’t get out of town until 10 AM which left me plenty of time to file for the School Board. I didn’t because I hadn’t forewarned Claudia that I was once again thinking seriously of making a spectacle of myself. I’ll still have a couple days to file upon my return in about ten days.

If you are wondering that I would post this here there is a simple explanation. Claudia has never read my blog. She has never read my Not Eudora columns. I have read a couple of them to her. That’s about it. Its probably not that ignorance is bliss…..but then again maybe it is at least peace of mind – for both of us.

That reminds me I haven’t read my recent submission to the Reader for my Not Eudora column. I better reread it to see if its still cogent a couple days after the submission……wait just a moment please! Gosh. Its OK. No obvious edits seem to be needed. I hope the Readers staff member I emailed it to got it.

Despite the late packing our trip is not disorganized. I did buy a fancy box to store our clothes in and had roof racks put on the top of our Chevy traverse the day before we left. There had been a mix up at the dealership about ordering the racks so that was a bit of a last minute hiccup but I held my breath and the hiccups stopped. The only thing I hadn’t managed was ordering travel books for me to read out loud. I did a last minute google exploration and had three I proposed to buy to my fellow adults – Blue Highways, Travels with Charley and Little House on the Prairie.

After we had a rollicking time eating pizza at Sioux Falls Chuck E Cheese I had the family drop me off at a Barnes and Nobles a little way from our hotel and bought all three before walking back. I even had time to jump in the pool with the boys and splash around before bed. The littlest fellow at 3 and a half was a little to young and pre-bedtime squirrely to read the first chapter of Little House without constant interruptions. I did tell the boys that my Grandfather lived in a sod house (its almost true) and that his Grandmother Claudia’s Grandmother crossed the plains in a covered wagon when she was four. I had thought the book was about the Author’s family traveling to South Dakota but it turned out to be Kansas. That’s OK. The Great Plains is all flat and dry.

As for the other books I don’t know how much of them I’ll read. They are road books. I well remember reading glowing reviews of Blue Highways about ten years ago. Turns out I read them thirty years ago. That was a shock. A more recent reviewer on the great website “good reads” pointed out that the blue highways (secondary roads) found on maps had changed greatly in the last three decades. Another mentioned Travels with Charley written 30 years earlier by a sick and elderly John Steinbeck when we seemed on the verge of nuclear war. Charley was his wife’s dog. However much I read of these books, and I only plan to sample them, they will be an excellent follow up to Life on the Missippi which was a paean to changing times in the 1800’s and Warmth of Other Suns which is about the “Great migration” northward of southern Black-Americans that took place between 1915 and 1970 near the close of the Civil Right’s Era.

These aren’t all the thoughts that woke me prematurely early this morning but mentioning them will put any other entries on our own road trip in good context. I’ve also been doing a lot of imagining how nice it would be to teach again. I’ve got lots of ideas on how to make a class of 50 bored high school history students come alive. I can imagine some very fun historical navigation with Cell phones and Google in such a class.

I’ve also got Eukaryotes on the brain. A recent discovery of some fossils hints that they could go back 3 billion years on Earth and re-piqued my interest in them. They are all about sex, evolution and another billion years of road trips. Maybe I can go back to bed now.

Today, we will stop at Mitchell, South Dakota’s Corn Palace. The boys are so excited about it. Well, they are 3 and 5. We will come to rest in Badlands National Park at the end of our day. Until we get to our destination the boys will watch movies on video players. That’s a lot more engrossing than watching a sea of grass pass by your wagon every day for a month.

School Board race? Still undecided

The title says it all. Filing opens tomorrow morning when I take off for vacation. I’ll be home two days before the filings close. I’d be filing at large.

I’m not sure if I’m really a glutton for that much punishment. Its been either a mark of restraint or a tentative peace offering that has kept me silent on our Duluth Schools for much of the past three months. Oh well, the folks in Japan and the Ukraine have had plenty of opportunity to scan my past musings on the subject.

I’d only run if I thought I could help heal old wounds not to stir up more controversy. That doesn’t mean I won’t rip off old scabs if information relevent to fixing our schools has been hidden under them.

I don’t see how any incumbent school board member who presided while our high school classrooms got stuffed with 50 students would dare file for reelection. Maybe they expect that the Chamber of Commerce and the local unions will endorse them.

Because God will soon destroy the world…

…we will keep voting for Republicans who will do nothing to stop him.

That’s my shorthand take of the unsurprising poll of Americans by Newsweek that says 40 percent of us think the world will soon come to an end. And many of these people would vote against any do-gooder environmentalist to tried to stop the oceans from rising to cover the billions of us who live on the coast.

These Christians are a menace to the world. Their God is a menace to the world. Their savior is the lone horseman of the apocalypse.

I find it hard to disagree with this appraisal:

According to a Newsweek poll, 40 percent of people in the United States believe the world will end with a battle between Jesus Christ and the Antichrist. And overwhelmingly, those people also believe that natural disasters and violence are signs of the approach of the glorious battle, so much so that 22 percent of Americans believe the world will end in their lifetime. This would logically mean that concern for the world of their great-great-grandchildren makes no sense at all and should be dismissed from their minds. In fact, a recent study found that belief in the “second coming” reduces support for strong governmental action on climate change by 20 percent.

Apart from the corruption of money, whenever you have 40 percent of Americans believing something stupid, combined with the forces of gerrymandering in the House, disproportionate representation of small states in the Senate, the Senate filibuster, the winner-take-all two-party system that shuts many voices out of the media, out of debates, and off of ballots, and a communications system that mainstreams Republican beliefs, it’s almost guaranteed that the 40-percent view will control the government.

On the other hand I just did a search for the poll to link to and discovered its

over a decade old and was done just before the year 2000 when all sorts of minneniallists thought the Y2K virus or a rapture was imminent.

Still, the GOP’s leaders don’t have the ca-hones to call their rapture prone to account for their fatalism and fanaticism. Not if it would cost them votes. Perhaps that will change as young evangelical voters fall away from their blisteringly self righteous, anti-intellectual, and anti-gay churches.

A little well deserved Schadenfreude

Tammy Duckworth turns the knife very artfully. (To my overseas readers – Duckworth is a double amputee veteran of our recent wars who was elected to Congress in a middle finger salute to the nation’s self-righteous neo-cons.)

Robert Bateman says of this…

Tammy Duckworth, who lost both legs and had her arm sewn back on, mostly, lays it down. A businessman is called out. It seems his company got something like $500 million in contracts from the government, primarily because his company was a “small business, disabled veteran owned.” His disability? When he was in prep-school, he twisted his ankle playing football. The prep school was the one at Monmouth, which is the feeder for West Point, but if you come in from civilian life, it has no military obligation at all. …

Who are you all?

Two or three long winded posts this June. Almost Nuthin! Still an increase in visitors. The first three months of this year had an average of a little over 1,200 visitors back when I was actually writing on a daily basis. Then I stop writing regularly in April and get 4000 visitors followed by 5,000 in May. June saw over 6,000 visitors! I’m almost afraid to resume writing lest I drive the visitor numbers down……which reminds me of a joke:

I regularly beat my head against a brick wall. When someone asks me why I do it I explain that it feels so good when I stop.

I used to collect butterflies. My Mom helped me mount a dozen of them in a deep picture frame when I was in high school but in a few years a bug that eats dead things got in and all the wings fell off as it consumed the desiccated bodies. Now there was some damned point I was going to make…..what was it? Ah Metamorphosis……and not the Kafka kind.

I’ve always liked the metaphor for a butterfly caterpillar transforming itself into a pupa and then emerging as a butterfly. Over the years I’ve found a few and brought them home to open in our house. I’ve been stewing a lot for the last three months of relative writing inactivity. I stew less when I let my fingers fly to input blog posts. Well, I’ve done a fair amount of reading in that time as I mentions in my threadbare if ponderous June posts.

I think silence and meditation are a good way to purge oneself of too much verbiage at least until you want to take a dive back into verbosity. I did finish Twain’s Life on the Mississippi so that entry in my books page is now accurate. I got 300 pages into “The Warmth of other Suns” before I had to turn my attention to the repair and maintenance of two houses prior to our leaving on a short family vacation. I finished priming a picket fence yesterday and planting strawberries in my garden. Now I’m ready to depart with my daughter and the grandsons. Off too North Dakota.

I’ll set the marvelous Warmth aside until I return. I’m too far into it to start reading it out loud to my daughter as I have been to Claudia. It should pick up nicely when we get home again. The trip we take to the Black Hills will be very much a second decade of the new century trip with our two little boys hooked up with devices to watch movies and play games while we cross the prairies on the Interstate.

We’ve got lots of things to do in the Black Hills to make them put their gadgets away but that doesn’t mean the adults won’t want to keep their attention off the long drive. I just looked for some possible books to read along our Journey. The first that came to mind was Blue Highways. I remember reading glowing reviews of the book but was more than astonished to learn that had been 30 years ago. One of the Reviewers at the Great Reads website mentioned that it reminded her of Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley. That’s 30 years older yet. It was written in about 1963 or two years before my Dad began taking his family on marathon trips across the U.S. and Canada “to get his kids to all 50 states”. (He nearly did it but I had to get to Hawaii on my own. That was a great trip from which we returned with a little bonus who will be starting his PhD program in a month’s tiime down in St. Louis.)

The two travelogues encompass far more than the Dakota territory and I’ve also suggested “Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder. My wife’s family lived and farmed in South Dakota a few decades after “Little House” and my Mother’s father grew up on a farm in dusty central Kansas at about the same time as the book. I’ve never read Wilder’s books. They are probably too old for our grandsons aged 3 and 5 but not for me.

I’m waiting for my wife and daughter to weigh in before choosing.

I’m not expecting to document my travels on the blog. Haven’t done that since going to Denmark in 2006. Maybe I’ll post a couple of pictures if I take the computer. Too big a hassle on the Samsung phone.