29 November 2014

A Work in Progress

Artist on the River click here to view artist site
Follow a work in progress: "the possibilities of what our planet, and more specifically Minnesota’s Mississippi River Valley, will look like over the next 150 years. Using scientific research and historical analysis," the artist will develop "a multi-channel video installation that combines hand-drawn animations, high-definition video footage of the Minnesota landscape, and field recordings to paint a picture of what may come." 

05 September 2014

Can I call this home?

I love a room with a view. And the inside ain't so bad either.

Can I call this home?

30 June 2014

The Big Reveal: Before

We live in a house built in 1987 by some very creative people. The real-estate blurb called it "Colorado Contemporary." It was love at first sight. Rustic Colorado stone exterior in front and cedar siding all around with clear-story windows and a unique floor-plan. In addition to everything we need on one main level, the house features a solarium with full length windows.
The roof lines give that Colorado Rockies vibe, also emphasized by the steep climb up the driveway. Our vision for the interior reflects an eclectic vibe, not as rustic as the exterior.

A few years ago, we started on the kitchen renovation. We stopped with yanking out the Jenn Air stove (with only two burners) and the small wall oven. In their place we installed the cabinets and counter where the wall oven had been, and added a new inductive range with large oven, and a microwave above it. The cabinets remained white, as originally built, except the ones on top over the range/oven. Those we replaced with a wood grain that imitates the original upper cabinets over the sink that have wood-framed glass doors.
In the middle of the kitchen pictured here, you see the enormous island (interior shot after cabinet and counter were removed). An island does not need to be this large, and we wanted to have a hangover for bar stools (get it hangover for....never mind).
Yes, that's a Sub-Zero refrigerator/freezer (right of the photo), original to the 1987 house. Still works well. Since they cost more than most cars and have to be specially installed, we have learned to love it.
Stay tuned. I am not giving away the BIG reveal in this post. This week the finishing touches will be added and all in good time I'll share the photos of this 21st century make-over in another post.

Boats on the Water

The only thing more fun that one peddle kayak would be two peddle kayaks on the water. These speedy water crafts maneuver easily and defy tipping over.

Hobie Kayak with peddles, paddle, and a sail (not shown here)

26 June 2014

Stop! Don't eat that....

Organic market in Rome.
Knowing you have an interest in healthy eating, I thought you might find this article worth reading.
It's on the Internet so it MUST be true....
On the No No list you will find these US made foods, sold here, are banned in other countries. But some of the countries have changed their product make-up  to UN-ban the food to export to other countries to make it safer to consume, and they still don't change it here. Go figure!
Highlights from the article--to save time....the article lists more....

Mountain Dew --banned in Europe (MD does keep you from spontaneously bursting into flames)
Boxed foods, (Mac and Cheese) --banned in Austria, Norway, warnings in Britain, European Union
Chicken fed with Arsenic --banned by the European Union (lots of skinny chicks over there)
Bread made in the US --banned in Canada and China and the EU
Food made with Olestra --banned in UK and Canada (I never thought this stuff was a good idea)
Preservatives BHA and BHT (it's in everything) --banned in EU, Japan, UK
Milk and Dairy Products Made with rBGH  --Australia, New Zealand, Israel, EU and Canada

Read the details here    -----    http://oracletalk.com/10-foods-sold-u-s-banned-elsewhere/
Next time I have to grocery shop, I'm going to France. Well, I could go to Canada once in awhile.

Here's a mini-world tour of food I have experienced in traveling out of the USA. 

Frankfort, Germany. BOILED pork chop!

Fish in Ostia Antica, Italy.
The making of CAT POO POO Coffee--yes, cat feces, actually. The USA would probably prohibit this coffee.

On the coast of Bali, Indonesia.

Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

Vancouver, Canada.

Dessert, in Ireland.

24 March 2014

Schist Adds Beauty

When hiking along trails, creeks, and roads, I have seen more than my share of leaverite rocks. Sometimes these rocks show up back at home, in the garage or the washing machine, after they've fallen out of pockets. Such specimens should stay where God or the DOT put them--just leave-er-ite where it is.

Not so for the large slice of schist that surrounds our fireplace. While the warmth of the fire caresses my cold nose and chilly toes, I gaze upon the beauty of the fireplace surrounded by schist.

Take a look.

Set the auto-thermostat on the direct vent fireplace, sit back, read a book, sip wine, and watch the flicker of flames reflect on the sparkling gemstones in the schist hearth. A piece of art--made by God.

18 March 2014

Counting the Dead

Do you know how many dead people are buried at Bellefontaine Cemetery?

Trick question: They're all dead!

My father told me that joke when I was a child---every time we drove past a cemetery. I passed the chuckler on to my children and now to their children.

One day last week the clouds turned gray while we were driving toward the new bridge crossing the great Mississippi. The grandsons in car seats (3+ and 1+) were getting restless from the long ride. Where we can let them out for fresh air and room to explore? Bellefontaine Cemetery, of course.

I didn't know we had a couple of tomb robbers with us.
Looks like he needs help.
We'll never find them now.

A friend of mine gives tours of Bellefontaine Cemetery, and I've walked there with her a few times. Very impressive -- architecture, memorials, St. Louis history! Check it out online and plan to visit.

You can tell the joke as you pull in to the cemetery. Every time you visit.

Come across the new bridge from the east.


24 February 2014

Costco Still Unaware

Not long ago, several posts previously, I described the typo in the Costco marketing brochure. While I was at my nearby Costco for my most recent purchasing adventure, I checked the brochure. All one billion brochures in the world (one presumes they only print one since the info won't change from state to state) have the same typo, mispelling the company's name as COCTCO.

When will they notice? What will it take to change the text of brochures?

COCTCO is not even pronounceable, really. Do they get many new members, or new members who pick up their Costco members brochures to learn about joining Costco? If not, why does Costco spend money on these brochures? If they don't care about Costco's image and attention to detail (or lack thereof), what does it say about the rest of Costco's business/management practices? Or the quality of Costco's service and products?

Well, Costco, I'd like to know.

21 February 2014

Where have all the flowers gone?

The Nazis lost the war in 1945. I would like to believe that the world has changed since then.

Look around--nothing important has changed. Innocent people suffer today at the hands of those who refuse to accept their own weaknesses and their unarguable equality to everyone on the planet. They will stop at nothing to gain ultimate power, to prove (in large part to themselves, for they are the ones who really care) their unique superiority.

I remember, about 15 years ago, I flipped the television channel from a documentary on concentration camps of WWII to a channel carrying a special on the Rwanda Genocide (which occured just shy of 50 years after WWII ended). The trains and trucks carrying the dead or nearly dead into camps. Slaughtering hundreds of people by firing squad, execution style without blind-folds or last meals. The fallen bodies kicked into a ditch and covered with dirt. I flipped back to the Nazis and back again to Rwanda, back and forth. The footage so similar I could not tell the difference except for the color of the skin.

In the 21st century the world watched as footage from Darfur proclaimed genocide is alive and well. Sometimes governments argue over whether certain uprisings or internal wars can be characterized as genocide. Still, no one intervenes.

The language we use with one another, the messages of AM radio talking heads, and even religious leaders blow hatred not so gently on the sparks of genocide on every continent, in every country, and near your own home. Acceptance and tolerance are not enough. Every human being is equal. Each of us is imperfect. All of us deserve the full respect of those with whom we share this planet.

(photos care of my husband who just returned from Europe where he visited the camps)

06 February 2014

My Kingdom for a Phone

Ever been creeped out by technology? We hear the government can track our whereabouts and listen in on our phone calls, read our emails, and find out what we buy most of at the grocery store. Actually, I never heard they can or want to know about grocery habits, but I have a feeling they do know. After all, the long receipt with the items and prices on it [that I put in my pocket and lose] triggers coupons when I am checking out. I don't really care if they know how many times I buy olives, cheese, and wine, do I? What I do care about is being the trackEE and not the trackER.

We have a family wireless account to save money on service for three cell phones. One of those phones went missing over the weekend.  When we checked the usage online, we saw that they'd made several calls, including two to Mexico. We tried calling the local numbers they had called. Left messages. And then we suspended service to the phone.

Our carrier has an add-on feature to track the phones on the account--free for 30 days. The "How To" gives examples of parents tracking the phones to find out whether the child has arrived at the agreed upon destination. We signed up for the free 30 days feature, unsuspended the phone, and clicked on "Locate device." Bingo. A little red dot inside a blue-lit circle on the map indicated the phone's current whereabouts. Less than a mile from where it was last seen.

Well, not exactly. It describes the location as being "within 70 yards" of a specific address. Twenty minutes later, the estimated location is withing 253 yards of a different address around the corner. If you are familiar with iPhone's Find My Phone, this feature works the same way. The satellite's position, I think, determines the location generated and sent back to you.

Staring at the computer screen waiting for blue circle and red dot started to creep me out pretty quickly. I switched to Google-Earth for a view of the buildings on the street indicated by the red dot. Somewhere on that block, maybe in that very building the phone we were looking for sent us a message, "I'm here. Help me!" I felt like Sherlock Holmes; not the Conan Doyle original, but the Benedict Cumberbatch's contemporary version.

Flyers were immediately posted in that neighorhood and handed out door to door announcing a reward for the return of the phone. It's a basic phone. No big deal. Unless you try to get another basic phone to replace it. ALL phones these days with two-year contracts have to have data plans, because the only ones they sell with contracts are smart-phones. We lost a dumb-phone. Darwin's principle of evolution or Murphy's law apply. Also, economic theories tell the wireless provider that they can get more money by requiring all smart-phones to have a data plan, and only offer smart-phones to customers. All we want is a basic phone. Sorry.

The service provider rep I chatted with online [that goes by three simple letters of the alphabet, two of which are the same] told me we could get a pay by use phone and substitute it for the one we lost on our family package ($9.99 for second and third and fourth lines). We'll just pay the same additional line fee, plus $.10 every time we use it. Huh? Then, I went to a land store and asked. The service provider rep at the store said just what I said, "Huh? What? That's crazy." They will take a regular SIM card, drop it into a pay by use phone and all's well, just like having a basic phone for $9.99 a month. I won't know who's right until we try it and see the bill.

By this time, we'd already ordered a new SIM card for a basic phone, and after it arrived we dropped it into the previous phone that had been replaced by the stolen one. This recycled phone is falling apart, and we hope to find a new old phone to substitute soon. But it worked immediately.

The technology to locate phones and the people with them in less than a minute, across state lines if need be, exists and works well. It's a little creepy. Whether or not we use smart-phones or basic phones, we can't hide as long as we choose to use the phone. The satellites track our every move.

While we are being stalked by those on our family plan, we're being skinned for extra charges on our family package because they require everyone to have a smart-phone. Like they don't have the technology any longer to permit us to have basic phones on contract that work just as well (if not better) than the high priced smart-phones.

There's no going back. That only happens in Dr. Who or a Stephen King novel. Unless the future resembles the latest craze in teen-fiction (not vampires, but where mass destruction leads the human race back to primitive lifestyles), we will all have smart-phones, Google Glasses, and chips embedded under our skin for all manner of ingenuity. That time may already be here.

31 January 2014

All My Friends Have Joined

For the past few years we have had a Sam's Club membership. All my friends have joined Costco lately, and I visited Costco last week to look into becoming a member. As I waited at the Costco help and service desk, I picked up one of their brochures to get a head start on the application process.

When I unfolded the brochure, I read the following statement: "Complement your Coctco Executive membership today." That's right, Coctco--not Costco. I flipped back to the front of the brochure to check on the spelling, though I'd seen the giant letters on the building when I pulled into the parking lot: "COSTCO." And just this week I heard the President of the United States speaking about raising the minimum wage, saying, "Costco is an example of a business that is acting on its own to pay its workers a fair wage, supporting increases to the minimum wage because it helps build a strong workforce and profitability over the long run...." I had heard the president say COSTCO, not Coctco.

I immediately brought the typo to the service agent's attention. But really this is so much more than a typo--not like leaving out an article or spelling a preposition wrong. The agent shrugged at first, because a typo is no big deal--he's making a fair wage, after all. Shrugged it off, that is,

until I showed him the typo. He gasped, "Costco is misspelled? No way." I circled "Coctco" and handed him the brochure to see for himself. The service agent at the next register wanted to see it. Another gasp. I explained, too apologetically, "I'm an editor and writer. I proof-read." I did not say that I am also an English teacher, but when I circled the error everyone at the counter probably had flashbacks to grade school.

The people stocking shelves, working the registers, cleaning the floors, and answering questions at the service desk all make a "fair wage." None of them noticed their company's name misspelled in 1,000s of brochure handed out daily. No doubt, the person who wrote the marketing copy, the manager who approved the copy, and the proof-reader all make more than a "fair wage." None of them caught the error, either.

Mistakes happens. Typos happen. English teachers and editors get more worked up about typos than other "fair wage" earners. I do; especially my own (if you see one in this post, don't tell me about it). You may have noticed in the photo that the word "complement" is spelled correctly. Extra points to Costco copy-editors for that one.

Wouldn't it be nice if Coctco offered to give me a one year membership for free or a new 65" television in return for finding the error on their marketing brochures? No one offered. I doubt if the "fair wage" earners told anyone, quite honestly. Their "better morale and lower turnover rates" that President Obama applauded in his speech may not stretch that far. They are not paid to read the brochures, after all. Their jobs will be safe no matter how you spell Costco.

I returned to the store today to use my new membership American Express card (six days after I joined, the day I found the error). All the brochures looked the same as they did then. I wonder how long they'll wait to reprint the brochures and toss out the ones with the typo. Maybe Sam's Club is just easier to spell, but I never noticed a typo in any of their marketing copy.