Archive - 2003


November 25th

Contemplating servitude

Went out skiing today. The big swamp behind the main building site at the nursery is unaccessible until it freezes over, so thick are the woods around it. So, today I skied on the swamp and found the perfect place to build a little house! I would make a little drive through the woods, clear a little spot next to an oak grove, and build with a view towards the open water where a couple of trumpeter swans have spent some time the past couple of springs. This would, of course, require me to abandon the philosophy I smugly outlined below of not hustling myself deeper into debt.

I wasn't going to talk about Michael Jackson!

But good grief. I turned on the tube tonight, and there it was, the Michael Jackson story splashed all over cable. Legal experts pontificating. The hosts of news shows, furs borrowed, digging into the minutia. The stream of text running on the bottom...Jackson was injected with a sedative to get him on the plane...Jackson demanded that the plane go to South America...Jackson was quoted as saying "It's not fair!"...Jackson was forced to his seat by his bodyguards...blah, blah, blah.

I make more money on this weblog than United Airlines made all last year

This weblog is just like having my own daily newspaper, but without the start-up costs! In fact, it is a break-even venture--no income, no expenses--making it more profitable than most daily newspapers. And yesterday, according to the statistics, which aren't entirely accurate, about 100 people visited the site. I am getting to old to say this, but I will anyway: Cool! Thanks.

A view from the moon...

Astronauts aren't introspective sorts. In fact, most of them were hard-driving, hard-drinking hyper-achievers. But even that bunch returned from space with broad observations about earth and its inhabitants, inspired by their view of our blue globe from an unprecedented distance. Many of them said their first reaction was: there are no borders!


I was introduced to the poem below in Mr. Hasler's English class in high school. The first two lines stuck.

Wordsworth was an English eccentric. No surprise there; England breeds them. But he was really the first English poet to observe nature for nature's sake, something the Asians had been doing for many centuries. We have him to thank or to blame for our present tendency to equate poets with flowery descriptions of nature. "The flowers in the field, blooming in profusion..."

November 24th

The World is Too Much With Us

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon,
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. –Great God! I'd rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;

Just enough snow to ski

Yesterday's dusting of snow gathered together in sufficient drifts at the edges of the field and in the yard to allow me to cross country ski this afternoon. It is quite still, a little breeze from the west, and perfectly clear. Quite beautiful! Stopped still for a while in the woods. A plane droned overhead. A tractor growled on a nearby farmstead. Sounds travel so far on quiet winter days.

Pounding on the door

I have spent this morning trying to get a real person at two large companies. No luck. Once I got a real operator, but she gleefully sent me down the road of another phone menu. I went down the whole "please press one" road until I hit a dead end. To expedite your phone call, the message said, you will have to use our email line. Huh? Then it listed an email address. This is expediting? Hardly. For them, not me, anyway. And then the computer voice said "bye!" and hung up. Message: You will reach no human. You won't be wasting any of our time with your stupid questions. We won.

November 23rd

This week's newspaper column

As a kid, I was bored by the notion of Thanksgiving. The Elders sometimes made us list the things we were thankful for before they let us dig into the turkey. I viewed the exercise as punishment. Let’s get it over with and dish up.

Perhaps I sensed there was some guilt involved. What I thought they were saying was, “You really should be more thankful, you ungrateful little brat. Do you know how good you have it? Don’t you appreciate everything we’ve done for you?”

A night at the symphony

About six last night I discovered that the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony had a concert at 8 o'clock featuring a 21-year-old pianist doing the Brahms piano concerto in D minor. So, I jumped in the pickup and went down.

Got a good seat at the Reineke Fine Arts Center at NDSU, a fine little concert hall. The concert started with a Mozart symphony. I wasn't in the mood for forty minutes of Mozart. Found out afterwards that the conductor could have cut the time in half simply by not taking all the repeats.