Off the Wall

February 6, 2011 – Totally Devoid of Blueberries and Pomegranates

Susan from Squash Blossom Farm alerted me to this video about Total Blueberry and Pomegranate cereal (in honor of my recent post about Dean’s Guacamole Dip that contains less than 2% avocado).  This cereal contains not a smidgen of either blueberry or pomegranate, and instead, a few food dyes to stand in place of the advertised fruit. Perhaps the box should read “Total Red 40 and Blue 2 Other Color Added Cereal.” For you fans of Monty Python or the old “Who’s on First” you’ll love this short video explaining the lack of blueberries and pomegranates from Total Blueberry and Pomegranate cereal.

For those who care, here’s the ingredient list:

Whole Grain Oats, Whole Grain Wheat, Sugar, Corn Syrup, Barley Malt Extract, Brown Sugar Syrup, Wheat Flakes, Malt Syrup, Rice Flour, Salt, Oat Flour, Whole Grain Rice, Canola Oil Natural and Artificial Flavor, Red 40, Blue 2 and Other Color Added, Soybean and Corn Oil Sucralose, Molasses, Honey, Corn Starch, Almond Flour, Nonfat Milk, Vitamin E (Mixed Tocopherols) and BHT Added to Preserve Freshness. Vitamins and Minerals: Calcium Carbonate, Vitamin C (Sodium Ascorbate), Zinc and Iron (Mineral Nutrients), Vitamin E Acetate, a B Vitamin (Niacinamide), a B Vitamin (Calcium Pantothenate), Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine Hydrochloride), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B1 (Thiamin Mononitrate), a B Vitamin (Folic Acid), Vitamin A (Palmitate), Vitamin B12, Vitamin D3.

One year ago…”Clothes Humi-Dryer”

July 21, 2008 – Red Green Alive and Well at High Hopes!

Today’s creation is inspired by Handyman’s Corner from the Red Green TV show.

To many of you, this might look like an old, tired gas grill that missed trips to the dump over the last two years. But sometimes keeping things around too long pays off. We also have an old cooktop from the kitchen remodeling that is usable, but awkward to carry and safely use. We also like to can outside in the summer – nothing like taking the hour long boil of a batch of tomatoes outside the house on a hot summer day. Sooooo, I’m thinking the two units need to be combined…

First remove the cover and all the old propane connections and tubing.

Hmm, after the cover is gone, it turns out the cooktop won’t slide inside, so I need to get the sawz-all out with the metal blade to make the frame relatively level. Then, slip a couple of boards in where the grates used to be, screw the cooktop into the boards and the unit is almost ready.

Here’s the completed unit! Note that the duct tape concealing the joint between the cooktop and old grill is for aesthetics only – it does not provide structural support in this case.  Now we have a portable unit with wheels, a self-contained and hidden propane tank and a battery of knobs that to the untrained eye, do absolutely nothing – but I’m wondering if I could wire them to the controls of a radio and use the grill knobs for tuning and volume of a hidden radio…

one year ago…”Harry Potter and the Dilly Beans”

November 6, 2007 – Prufereedarz Hard two Fynd?

A few days ago I ranted about the poor service at Menards.  Now, talk about putting a knife in the heart of an English major – check out the labels on the steel siding!

I hope Manuel can read English! I can see in his eyes, he’s ready to install!

In addition to Manuel, I’m sure the chickens that walked over this piece of siding are protesting the poor spelling and unclear verbiage!  I’m still wondering why the “hols” need to be 1/16 of a foot bigger than the screws as well!

one year ago…

September 22, 2007 – Marshall County Sheriff “Takes Out” Martin

Today was the annual Octemberfest Celebration in Marshalltown.  I forgot to bring my camera to the parade, but wished I had my video camera. 

Here’s what happened.  The sheriff’s department was marching, including the honorable Sheriff Ted Kamatchus.  Like all good county sherriffs he was throwing candy to the kids.  But Sheriff Ted really upped the candy ante for this year’s parade.  No little tootsie rolls, no small caramel chews, but fun size snickers.  He had already gone past us, but turned around and Martin has learned he’s cute and if he waves his arms, candy flies his way.  Well, the sherriff spied Martin and needed a strong throw to get the Snickers to back Martin.  The sherrif has quite an arm – the candy whizzed at Martin at MLB pitcher speed instead of church league underhand softball speed.

Exhibit A
Snickers Bar With Sherriff Ted Kamatchus Fingerprints

The snickers hit him on the cheek and he bent over as if to cry – I thought he was first just bending over to pick up the candy, but he didn’t come back up.  When we got a look at him, his eyes were watering, on the verge of tears, and there was a red welt on his cheek. 

It would have been a great YouTube video of the sheriff trying to be nice, but with unintended consequences.  We made sure Martin ate his prize Snickers first!

one year ago…

March 9, 2007 – Melbournes of the World Unite!

OK, here’s a letter I can’t figure out.

The return address of this letter was from Austin, TX. The address had my city and zip code (no state). The more populous Melbournes of the world are hand written in different handwriting. And the pièce de résistance is the postage from Belgium. Now, I can make a lot of things up, but this isn’t something I could come up with!

one year ago…

March 6, 2007 – Pillow Talk

And now for something completely different.

During last week’s distracted schedule, I was able to read Bill Bryson’s “A Short History of Nearly Everything.”  Even though there is little I can do to protect myself from the next asteroid impact or explosion of the Yellowstone caldera, there was one tidbit of information in the book upon which I could take swift and decisive action – getting new pillows.

Bryson reports that 10% of the weight of a 6-yr old pillow consists of dead skin, mites, and mite dung.  That was a powerful call to action for me!

one year ago…

February 17, 2007 – Change is Hard!

I was alerted to this wonderful two minute YouTube video showing just how hard it is to introduce a new user interface. This video particularly struck my fancy as a big part of my job is to create such new interfaces with computers, and this video does a great job of showing how hard it is to bring a new kind of communication to the world!

Introducing the Book!

one year ago… 

December 11, 2006 – 27 Servings

I’ve been going to Costco for about a year now and today was the first time I brought something home that wasn’t a good purchase in the eyes of the other adult in the household. Of course, the danger in buying in bulk is that stuff goes bad before you can eat it, or it ends up being something you don’t want to eat.

I was excited to see the large can of clams this week. Linda always makes clam chowder over Christmas, and I reasoned, this will be a nice surprise to already have the clams in hand a week before they are needed. I thought he can may be a bit large, but looked at the size of the can, and remembered the stock pot that holds the soup and the can seemed not large looking at it that way.

Well, it is a bit large when I found out the cans Linda used in the past were more tuna-sized than soup sized. Then I looked at the label and realized it may be a bit large.

The serves 27 kind of jumps out at you. Guess I’ll be looking for oyster recipes soon!

one year ago…

December 3, 2006 – Festivus!

Once again the season of Festivus is upon us. Festivus is a non-religious seasonal celebration immortalized in a Seinfeld episode many years ago. Now you can buy your own Festivus Pole.

Wisconsin Governor with his Festivus Pole. (photo linked from

For those of you who need to review the principles of Festivus, or are newcomers to Festivus, watch this Festivus video. Basically, Festivus involves giving gifts you (and the recipient) don’t want, airing of grievances, and ends with feats of strength.

one year ago…

November 28, 2006 – Blast from the Past!

We were rummaging through some deep storage the other day and Claire ran across this newspaper featuring her father’s photo on the front page!

It shows me with the trophy for the “Ugliest Truck Contest” at the Central Iowa Fair in 2002. I inherited this truck many years ago from my father and it had over 200,000 miles on original engine, clutch, and transmission before it died.

Here’s what the photo caption in the paper says: ” Mark Runquist of Melbourne earned a dubious honor on Saturday afternoon at the Central Iowa Fair with his winning entry in the “ugliest truck” contest. Runquist brought his 1984 Mazda to the competition. His truck comes complete with corn stalks growing in the bed. He was awarded a trophy that looked a lot better than his vehicle.”

one year ago…no entry

November 22, 2006 – Way too Gross for Me!

Never one to pass by a better and creative way to feed animals, I was intrigued with the post on the “whizbang chicken plucker” Yahoo group – a place where many people with small flocks of chicken post questions, problems and answers.

I’m able to pick up a few things here and there on this group – but the posting describing “free feed” went over the edge for our operation. It described growing maggots for chicken feed. I think maggots would be a great chicken food – however the growing method described – get beaver guts (or other dead animal) and hang in a plastic bucket over the chicken yard and let the maggots fall down to the ground. According to the author, it wasn’t bad unless the wind was blowing toward the house. Don’t think I’ll risk it!

one year ago…

October 17, 2006 – You Think You Had (Have) Trouble Dating?

Today I heard about poor soul – Brian. He is mostly a regular guy looking to settle down. Unable to find any dates, he resigned himself to an online dating service. He chose eHarmony, because he was interested in finding someone with similar values. After filling out the 200+ questionnaire, he clicked submit to find matches in his area. Not only were there no matches in his area (New York City), but he was informed there were no matches for him in the nation! Now it’s one thing to be rejected by women one at a time, the ultimate insult was to be rejected by 6 million at a time!

Not to be discouraged, he started a web site where he posted pros and cons about dating him. I hope it works for him.

one year ago…

September 12, 2006 – Say What?

Here’s a picture of the modem cord from an IBM laptop.

A “Do Not Open” warning is on the plastic bag containing the modem cord. I guess IBM does not want me to use this cord!

An explanation may be that the “Please do not open” and “ferrite cord case” on separate lines may be meant to be one complete sentence “Please do not open ferrite core case.” But this leads to more questions – why make part of the “sentence” a larger type face? Or better yet – why not put the warning directly on the ferrite case instead of the throwaway plastic bag?

September 5, 2006 – Show Us Your Fridge

A recent post at Sugar Creek Farm’s blog showing the inside of their refrigerator has inspired me. So without further ado, here is the fridge at high hopes.

The fridge cam has so inpired me, that I hope it may someday become on the list of everyone’s useless web sites. Things that separate this fridge from other people’s fridges:

1) 2nd shelf from top – mason jar with goat milk
2) 2nd door shelf from top – opened jar of 1/4 full home canned tomatoes (waiting to meet the compost pile
3) 4th shelf from top – plastic grocery bag with grapes from farmer’s market getting pre-crushed.

I have created a secondary blog, just to record the inside of people’s fridges. Please visit If a guy can make thousands of dollars by selling a pixel of his screen at a time, the sky is the limit with the fridge pics.

August 19, 2006 – Unnatural Fruit of the Garden

You’ve all seen the unnaturally shaped garden vegetables – misshapen potatoes and squash seem particularly amenable to be Rorschach Test subjects. Some are even purposely grown in uncommon shapes in special vegetable molds.

We have a tomato entry (unmodified) in the non-standard tomato shape contest.

I will let the readers jump to their own conclusions regarding the particular resemblance of this tomato to other natural forms. Suffice to say that many drug companies will no doubt want the genes from this tomato!

August 15, 2006 – State Fair Grooming

Livestock grooming is serious business at the fair. I thought this might be good for Thingamajig Thursday, but the name is written on it!

This is a blow dryer for cows! This was a common appliance down this row of calf contestants.

The handlers are spraying, blowing, and trimming this calf before the judging. If farming doesn’t work out for these lads, they could always start a salon!
After the downpour, we found ourselves in the DNR building and Linda found this new accessory.

It’s a small fox snake.

August 13, 2006 – At the Fair

Today was our day at the State Fair. I’ve got more than one day’s pictures, so I’ll spread them out over the next few days.

One of the most startling revelations was that sheep culture so closely mirrors human history. Bear with me, for this quick tour of “sheep through the ages.”

Practicing the orthodoxy of the Spanish Inquisition, these two crusaders scan the sheep barn for heresy.

The grand imperial wizard of the sheep barn, keeps an eye out for Suffolk sheep taking their place in the barn.

These laid-back California sheep have started their own sheep commune where the motto is “Ewe Don’t Give it up to the Man.”

Finally, we reach the modern era, where the pride wing of the sheep barn allows same-sex sheep to live in the same pen.

May 13, 2006 – Farm Editors Needed!

This is a copy of a page from one of Martin’s coloring books. Can you spot the inaccuracy?

In this part of the country, we use combines to harvest. I’m not sure what they do in New York, where the coloring book was from. So there is a job just for me – a farm coloring book editor!

As a part-time technical writer/editor and part-time farmer, it would be great! According to Money magazine, a technical writer is the 13th best job in America. A college professor is 2nd on the list, so Linda beats me (but not every day, as she will attest). Sadly, farmer was not on the top 50 jobs.

May 9, 2006 – Piano

Today was a day we had been putting off for some time – replacing the family piano with a new one. The piano we have was handed down from Linda’s grandmother. It was the first piece of furniture she got after being married. It had followed her from Des Moines, to Phoenix, to Minneapolis and finally back near home, some 80 or so years later.

Every time the tuner came he warned us that the tuning pegs were not holding and that it would not stay in tune very long. He was right, but we just kept getting it tuned, hoping that perhaps after years of “untuned” a few repetitions of tuning would convince it to remember to hold a tune.

Eventually, though, the cost of tuning and perpetual out-of tune notes, led us down the road to a new digital piano.
We did not just want to “throw it away” so I disassembled it.

Here is the picture of inquisitiveness as Martin becomes fascinated by discovering the linkage between striking the key and watching the hammers move.

I was surprised to see the hammer mechanism lift out in one piece.

We have some plans for the salvaged pieces. The keys are all removed, the front piece that holds the music and the keyboard cover with the logo will all be re-purposed into something new. Stay tuned to see what becomes of its new life. Our neighborhood lover of antiquities/artist has taken the rest and will repurpose the parts into new creations as well. Losing a piece of family history is somewhat lessened by keeping part of it and giving parts to others who appreciate them. Much like the bison and American Indian.

The following pictures speak for themselves. I’m struck by the intricacies of the details of the piano – the hand-penciled numbers of the keys, the texture of the felt, and the symmetry of the strings.

One of the most stirring sounds is that of the strings and soundboard, unfettered of the dampers. The sound of the resonance of the strings being struck in sequence sounded like the end of the universe – a perfect sound of all sounds of the audible music range, with the low vibrating sounds lasting longest and vibrating imperceptibly into nothingness.

March 28, 2006 – Off-Topic

Every day at High Hopes cannot be about the farm. Many news services have picked up on the story today of a Drake student who hung out in a Des Moines Wal-Mart for 41 hours without being detected over spring break.

I don’t think it’s THAT big of a story to warrant Letterman, Good Morning America, etc. For my money the story is Nathan Bush. On his “amazing” web site, Nathan documents with grainy photos and appropriate commentary the Wal-Marts, K-Marts, Pamidas, and Fareway stores of Iowa – all while he dreams of the day he becomes a supervisor at Wal-Mart. Nathan confides in us that he snuck out of town to make a pilgrimage to a new Pamida store over 50 miles away from his house without his parent’s permission!

In addition, I learned that Nathan has posted photos of himself at “” and invites readers to rate him. I’m adventurous on the web, but just cannot take that jump!

March 16, 2006 – Happy St. Urho’s Day!

Today honors the legendary patron saint of Finland, St. Urho. Not many people know that long before the last ice age, a nasty invasion of grasshoppers threatened the Finnish Grape Crop. In desperation, St. Urho shouted out those immortal words “Heinasirkka, heinaasirkka, mene taalta hiiteen” which politely translated means “Grasshopper, Grasshopper Go Away.”

Here’s a picture of one of the many statues of St Urho, this one from Menagha, Minnesota courtesy and courtesy of Tim Winker at

This photo shows one of the vanquished grasshoppers on St Urho’s pitchfork.

Some of the cynics among you may think that this is a fabricated holiday cleverly placed the day before St. Patrick’s day. Legends have to start some time!

February 21, 2006 – On the Olympic Podium

Not many people know that I have stood on the Olympic podium!

Here I am with daughter Claire and mother-in-law Joanne in Park City, UT, which hosted the downhill, bobsled, and ski jumping for the 2002 Olympics. Our medals were stripped once it was discovered we did not train, nor did we appear in any events. Evidently our ties to the governing body were not strong enough to maintain the medals.

I did live in Park City for a very fun summer back in the 80’s when it was still a sleepy little ski town. It was at a very upscale (cough, cough) ski lodge called “Chateau Apres“. I cannot, believe it is still standing on the high-priced real estate that surrounds it. I was there for geology summer field camp and we started mapping the ground around there, starting in the Heber Valley and up to the tops of Alta and Snowbird by the end of the summer.

February 1, 2006 – Architects with a Sense of Humor

Many of you have not had the pleasure of viewing the downtown Des Moines skyline from the south at night. The EMC Insurance building looks like there is a 20 story bottle of Absolut Vodka embedded in the building. The architects claimed they never intended or anticipated the likeness. This is a bad picture, but “live” it looks very much like a bottle of Absolut Vodka.

January 31, 2006 – Firestarter

I just purchased a new package of firestarters to help get the corn stove lit. Here’s the front of the package.

When I turned the package over, there was the following warning on the package of firestarter:

Evidently there is some chance that the firestarters may actually combust as intended and start a fire!

I’m signed up to do online surveys for cash with an online survey company. Tonight I was selected for an instant survey to the State of the Union Address. So after the speech, before the commentary and Democratic response, my answers were combined with 700 or so others in the nationwide poll gauging the immediate reaction to the speech. I even got 10 bucks for watching it and responding.

January 25, 2006 – More Success and Home Spelunking

The good news today is that Linda got another $15,000 grant today for the SEA program! That makes $40,000 this week! You go Girl!

On the home front – I temporarily got the two computers networked together, sharing an internet connection, and connected one to the home stereo so I could stream Sirius, shoutcast stations, or songs stored on the PC to the home stereo. But in running the cables permanently through the house, problems began.

Claire first crawled in a crawl space to help connect the two computers via ethernet. Here she is at the back of the crawl space looking for the ethernet cable to drag out.
claire spelunk

This is not a fun space to be in – after I put the insulation under the floor years ago, I swore I wouldn’t go back in there. Now that I have three kids of various sizes, it thought it would be good to use them! I thought Martin would be a good size to squeeze in, but Claire volunteered for the “home spelunking.”

claire spelunk

Here she is after completing the mission. Notice the cobwebs, headlamp, flushed cheeks (and yellow cable dangling from crawl space)!

After all this, things started to fall apart – we found that the cable was damaged in pulling through and ripped open and some of the wires severed, and the cable to connect the the computer to the stereo was still not long enough! So we went from a functioning network and music server to nothing.

On top of it all, my new digital camera stopped working. Evidently, all the reviews that highly recommended it, neglected to mention the E18 error that is evidently so prevalent that a couple of law firms are considering class-action suits against Canon. I just can’t win. My Nikon digital camera (both of them) and now my Canon, both had the problem where the lens retract/extend breaks. I sent it back as it is still under warranty. I’ll have to rely on the kindness of Claire and use hers until the camera is returned/I get a new one.

January 3, 2006 – 2005 in Review

Ok, I’m behind a bit on my “best of” lists. At any rate, here is a month-by-month selection of my favorite entries from each month in 2005.

February – The blog began this month. The mismatched socks and comments show all that a blog can be!

March – Hopeful signs of spring. I treasure the days when Martin and Daddy both have fun!

April – One of the things I most associate with Iowa’s natural landscape is prairies. This is a mini-pictorial of a controlled prairie burn. Ok, I have to sneak in two this month, so here’s the May – Goats and all their quirks were a notable addition to the farm this year.

June – The gardens and fruit trees begin in earnest in June.

July – Emma’s search and rescue added to my greying hair.

August – If there’s one event that capture’s the nation’s attention on Iowa, it’s the annual state fair.

September – The school tour and filming for “Market to Market” was a fun day.

October – Lots of good choices, but how can you beat graveside on Halloween?

November – Big storms in November – love the home footage of tornado ripping through amateur video taker dude’s town.

December – Early December was crisp and cold – great for a hike to a very local historical site.

December 30, 2005 – ICE MONSTER!

Martin received a DVD of very old Superman cartoons. The quality is reminiscent of Ed Wood low-budget “b grade” horror movies. But the stories are simple (monsters vs Superman) and the outcome predictable – perfect for a 4 year old.

Martin has taken to the “ice monster” episode where a giant monster encased in a giant glass refrigerator at a museum predictably fails, the temperature warms, the monster escapes and wreaks havoc until Superman appears. Martin also got some sponge pills that “grow” into dinosaurs when soaked in water for a while.


Martin has taken to freezing the sponge dinosaurs in a dixie cup and waiting until the ice melts around his monster and releases it from its icy suspended animation.

December 12, 2005 – The Road to Osage

This morning I drove up to Osage to pick up a quarter beef from Sugar Creek Farm. Our usual supplier, Dick Thompson from Boone didn’t have any available until late spring.

On the way to Osage, I took Iowa’s backroads and brought the camera and found at least three items of interest:

wild turkey

Near Osage, there was a bean field next to a timber that must have had 200 wild turkeys foraging in the snow. There were groups spread out over 40 acres or so and this was all I could get in one shot.

tractor display

A farmer along the way has spent a lot of time and energy displaying his tractors – an Oliver 70 up on posts high above the ground and what looks like a Ford 8N or 9N in a greenhouse-type enclosure.


Finally, a photograph that is somehow indicative of yesterday’s news that the President’s job satisfaction rating has dropped from a percentage in the 80s immediately after 9-11 to 38% today.

November 18, 2005 – The 100s

Yesterday I introduced you to the local locker owners, today you get to hear about a great new Iowa band. I got their CD as a pledge gift for the KUNI public radio pledge drive. KUNI is my favorite radio station as they play everything – not just classical and jazz. They play progressive music in the evenings, folk music, blues, live concert broadcasts of local bands, and the usual assortment of news, talk etc. You can listen in on the internet at their streaming web link.

At any rate, the disc they sent (I said I don’t care what CD they sent as long as it was a local band). The 100s are a band with members from music hotbeds like Mt Vernon, Anamosa and Central City. Here’s a press review about the band:

“Uncle Tupelo started the movement. The 100s are keeping it alive in Eastern Iowa. The movement is “alt-country”, an amalgam of country, rock, punk, folk and blues. The 100s feature six veteran musicians who have played most styles of music throughout their careers. Their songs feature three- and four-part harmonies and a layered sound bolstered by banjo, mandolin, lap slide, dobro, and fiddle. “We play 14 instruments between the six of us, so there’s a lot of variation,” says guitarist and mandolin player Pete Raine.”

I like their sense of humor – here’s a picture of the 100s from their web site:
Here’s their commentary about another similar band:

From the “You’re-Not-Gonna-Believe-It-But” dept: Somewhere on the back gravel roads of Japan is a six-piece band called Hyaku-Shiki. (That’s “The 100s” in Japanese.) Here’s a shot of the band (you can check them out on their Toshiba/EMI label at You simply can’t make this stuff up. It’s like a parallel alternate universe of music on the other side of the big beach ball…

Listen to a sample from “Happy on the Farm

October 20, 2005 – Officer Bunn a.k.a Barney Fife?

Today’s weekly paper from a neighboring town had this photo on the front page concerning the town’s lone officer and new police cruiser:
Here’s the write up from the State Center Enterprise Record.

“According to Bunn, a call had gone out on the radio to assist an immobile vehicle somewhere in the vicinity. Approaching the intersection of Lincoln Way and Highway 330 – the Albion blacktop – Bunn noticed a forklift on the right side of the intersection, which he thought may be the immobile vehicle. Bunn then saw a lone man running up the shoulder of 330.

Turning his head to appraise the man, Bunn failed to notice the actual stalled vehicle some 50 yards further up the highway. Being perched at the crest of a slight hill, the scene was not highly visible, and a lack of officers on scene resulted in a lone officer in front of the stalled vehicle attempting to control traffic from both directions.

Consequently, Bunn rear-ended a mini van that was preparing to drive around the on-scene officer and the stalled truck. In rear-ending the van, Bunn’s cruiser was embedded in the cargo area of the van, driving both vehicles around the officer and the stalled truck.”

Officer Bunn was not cited as “there was a lack of emergency personnel on the scene to control traffic and the driver of the stalled vehicle was driving under a suspended license.” Hmmm.

There were no serious injuries which is a good thing!

August 23, 2005 – Subliminal Obese America?

Take a look at this ad from Vonage and tell me you don’t see a woman with abnormally large shoulders or an abnormally small head!
This is not an original thought from me – I’ve stolen it from a web site called “This is Broken” a web site primarily for technical writers who expound on confusing instructions, bad designs and so forth. Here’s the best comment posted concerning this ad:

“Look, let’s not get all up in arms about this, okay? I think Vonage should be applauded for going out on a limb like this. Clearly they are trying to elbow out the competition, but in doing so they’ve shouldered a lot of advertising expenses. It’s no wonder, then, that they’ve resorted to such strong-arm tactics in their ads.
Posted by: Michael McWatters at Aug 21, 2005 4:55:15 PM”

August 21, 2005 – Televac 62000

As today is the last day of the state fair I’ve been waiting to show you all my favorite vendor exhibit from the fair – the Televac 620000 Personality Analyzer.
As an information technology professional, one who works flawlessly from creating content for black screen mainframes to a web browsers, the Televac 62000 caught my eye.

The Televac only costs $2.00 for a complete personality profile. A bargain considering a guinea grinder is $5.50 at the fair. The Televac is obviously a powerful computer. You can tell it is powerful because of all the flashing yellow AND red lights. You can tell it is powerful because it is very large. You can tell it is powerful because of the name: Televac 620000, “Tele” meaning it communicates via telephone lines, and “vac” telling you it runs on powerful vacuum tubes instead of silicon chips, and 62000, which is a very high number. You can tell it is powerful because it has a huge floppy drive on the bottom. All these factors tell you how powerful it is.

August 9, 2005 – Religious Personal Care Items?

Today, I had a bit of an unusual experience – a pocket comb broke in half. These are usually advertised as “unbreakable.” As I was getting ready to toss it in the garbage bin, I noticed there was a slogan on the comb:
jesus saves
Hmmm. “Jesus Saves” on a plastic hair comb. It sounds like a good story for “This American Life” one of my favorite radio shows. What would prompt someone to set up their comb factory to embed this on a comb? Why did I not notice the slogan until after the comb had broken? Does the slogan weaken the comb and make it more likely to break? What does Jesus think getting his name dragged through people’s hair countless times a day? How many other products have religious slogans on them of which I am unaware. If you remember some, leave a comment for all to see.

July 29, 2005 – Only in Iowa?

This week, I’ve been fighting the internet service. It’s been slower than dialup, fails to load web pages, refuses to send attachments in e-mail, or upload photos. I updated my spyware, anti-virus, and did a full system scan all to no avail. Called my internet provider to see if they were having problems on their end. Said, he could not “see” my connection on the tower and was surprised I had service at all. I’ve got a wireless connection from a small antenna on the first floor roof to the tower in Melbourne, three miles away.

He asked if the antenna had moved. It looked like it was in the same place. Then he asked if I could see the tower, and my answer was this week – no. We had been commenting how walled in we felt with the tall corn across the road and we could no longer see the Melbourne skyline (water tower and grain elevator) from the yard. The corn is so tall, we no longer have a line of sight to the tower and thus the degraded internet service. So, how many people can blame their poor internet service on corn? So, my options are to wait it out until the corn starts to die back, or pay them 95 dollars to move the tower to the 2nd story. That is complicated by the fact that we want to re-roof and build a dormer this fall and there is a big tree that would need branches cut. So, if there is inconsistent entries and a lack of photos for a while, you can blame the corn.

June 29, 2005 – 8-Track Repair

Today we take a break from the events at High Hopes and give some love to a friend with a unique sideline. “Paul” (his real name) recently sent me this picture of his newly created “State-of-the-art 8-track repair facility” he has set up in one room of his house. 8-track
In addition to this now “ready for business” repair facility, we have been brainstorming via e-mail corollary services he could provide. One is to provide aftermarket 8-track accessories.

grandtorinoLet’s say you’ve got this screaming piece of Detroit from 1974. This Grand Torino is mint and you don’t want to mess with the original equipment. To you, messing with the original equipment would be like painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel beige. The Torino comes equipped with an in-dash 8-track player. The trouble is, you’ve got your 10,000 favorite songs loaded on your ipod.
grandtorinoWhat you need is an 8-track adapter that lets you plug your ipod into the 8-track deck. Paul is your man.
If you ever find yourself in this situation, or just can’t throw away that malfunctioning ABBA, Herb Alpert, or Bread 8-track that you played when you proposed (or were proposed to), Paul is your man. Contact me privately for his contact info as I don’t want to flood his mailbox.

June 9, 2005 – A Father’s Touch

Yesterday I began the painful process (especially when a tack goes into a foot!) of “assisting” Claire to clean her room. We started strong in the closet, whipping out a garbage bag in no time. The cleaning was called because of the late hour. Today, to her credit, she spent another 4 hours cleaning while I was at work. To her eye, it was clean! However, a father’s eagle eye discovered yet unclean parts of the room.

This was the scene behind the dresser. A similar scene was repeated behind a wicker storage unit. Perhaps some time, we’ll have an “eye-spy” contest to see who can name the most objects in the picture! All told, 5 bags of garbage were hauled out. For all the garbologists out there, the contents of the garbage included old candy, many school papers, old tins, tissues, broken hair clips, and old greeting cards. The best find was the cell phone that Claire “lost” the last week of school. At any rate, Claire is to be commended for making room for a whole new crop of detritus in the future.

April 28, 2005 – Goose Egg

Our “guard geese” have been laying lately. Opening the egg is like trying to crack a bowling ball. Although it is hard to see via this photo, here’s one egg filling up a frying pan with a knife for scale.

We got the geese after we started losing a chicken or so every other night. After the geese arrived, we have not lost a chicken to night predation.

Had a humorous e-mail at work. It was from an EVP to the sales force. Here’s a sample line: “You might think I’m a numb nuts” In addition there were references to “moving this puppy” (not talking about young dogs). And “This will P.O. (HR wouldn’t let me write this out) a lot of people” I wondered how “pissed off” wasn’t ok but “Numb nuts” was? So we thought we perhaps needed to change the tone of the writing we do to match. Here’s what we came up with for a standard “How To” in a new, less formal style.

OK numb nuts, I know you want to check the latest mortgage rates, so just shut up and listen. This puppy is a picky beast and one wrong click and you’re liable to refinance the loans of over 2 million Wells Fargo customers instead of just the Joe Blow in your office. When this mother of a screen opens, ignore most of the b.s. and just type in their name and social security number. When you click “Refinance Now,” this bad boy may take a while to chug, just chill and start reading all the legal mumbo-jumbo while the mother updates.

February 28, 2005 – In Remembrance

On this day in 1979, one of the most beloved character actors of all time died. Mr. Ed was an inspiration to thousands of horses world-wide. His wildly popular talking horse TV show is what “Ed” was most well-known for, but to his death, he refused to believe that was his defining moment.

But like Kramer on Seinfeld, the Palomino and his role were never to be eclipsed. Sure, there were the attempts to branch out – he tried to introduce talking horses into Westerns, but at the time, Westerns were in decline, although Mel Brooks wished Ed was alive when Blazing Saddles was filmed. Ed’s role as a Lassie replacement was a failure as he could not master a barking sound, and his stint as the original Meathead on “All in the Family” ended prematurely when Ed was horsing around and made an off the hoof remark about Sally Struther’s weight.

Yesterday, I heard Killdeer calling in the back pasture. So spring is near, although, today’s strong north winds tell us not to get too excited.

February 23, 2005 – Guiness Book Socks?

We finally had a sunny, calm day. I managed to get one chain saw gas tank of wood cut up but not hauled and piled. Also worked some more on surveys of on-farm stores and local consumers.

Today I finally attacked the mismatched sock pile. Is there a world record for mismatched socks for a household? I managed to reunite 54 pairs of socks with partners. How does a family manage to accumulate 108 socks with partners that are not matched up? Is it matter of good fortune? Dumb Luck? Neglect? And how can the family function with 54 pairs of socks out of the rotation? Indeed, it appears the age of miracles is still with us.