Saturday, May 30, 2009

Back to basics

Saturday night. Hanging with the Mrs by the campfire again. Ah. Can't imagine playing poker at the moment. Gawd, I love the weekends.

Reflections on my walk

I was going through photos I took on my cellphone this week and found this one. This big glass building is the Gonda Building. Reflected in the windows are Plummer and Siebens buildings.

I took this during my lunch time walk at work. Would you believe I logged 450 minutes of walking this past month? Not too shabby!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Through the eye of my cell phone

Might not be as pretty as some of the others but this is the out of the building I work in. In fact, if this picture showed a few more floors, you'd see my window.

Anyone know what those purple flowers are called?

Back to work after a long holiday weekend.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Wishing every one a safe and relaxing weekend.

Ah. Cold beer. A warm fire and s'mores to fill the tummy.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Saturdays with Dad: Oxbow Park

Gonna try something different, this post should have nothing to do with the awesomely fantastic new Green Day album - 21st Century Breakdown, available in stores every where. (OK, cheap plug, but seriously, I can't stop listening - hehe)

This past Saturday, OhCountess was working at the hospital leaving me with the kids to fend for ourselves. This isn't really a problem or anything new. She's been working at least every other weekend since she started nursing. The advantage of this weekend? Well, with all the celebrating, our house was pretty much in tip top shape. Let's just call it...a FREE DAY!

On Thursday, she told me that Oxbow Park and Zollman Zoo were planning on having their spring fest. It's a family fun that they do to raise money to help fund it's operation. Sounded pretty cool and the girls haven't actually been here yet. Not sure how that happened, but it did. This needed to be changed.

I took about 350 pictures on this day. I think the pictures with a few words will tell a pretty fun story. I've posted some of the more artistic and less cute kid pictures over at my photoblog. Having shot this many pictures, I might be sifting through them for a while. Here are the highlights condensed down to a mere 15 shots.

Is it all kids or just my girls? Face painting is required for them. Surprisingly, this was free.

OhPrincess2 has gotten quite patient at sitting there waiting for someone to paint her face.

OhPrincess1 opted for the butterfly look.

I worry that my time is running out with my 9 year old when it comes to days like this. Until that time, I will be cherishing every minute!

Here's the result of OhPrincess2's patience. She was pretty excited to have the little lady bug.

I can't help but smile when I see my little girls get so happy...being a dad rocks!

This is an American Badger. Not sure I ever knew that there were badgers in other parts of the world...but rock on dude!

I just couldn't resist shooting this guy. I figured that someday, I might look this relaxed.

This, I think, is the coyote. Here's a description of the source of the animals from their website:
The Dr. Paul E. Zollman Zoo houses over 30 native Minnesota animal species, including mammals, birds of prey, and reptiles. Most of these animals are permanently injured or are surplus from other facilities, and therefore can never be released to the wild. These beautiful creatures provide countless opportunities for learning and personal enjoyment, and are utilized in Oxbow’s environmental education program. The zoo was named in honor of Dr. Paul E. Zollman, DVM, in recognition of his dedication to Olmsted County parks and his help in the care of the

These guys were just too cute. This is a prairie dog. He just looked so cute eating while sitting in the food dish. I sure hope he doesn't, you know.

There were other prairie dogs around in this little pen, I'm sure they would appreciate dry goods.

We left the small animal area at the zoo and headed over to one of my favorite parts.

There is this old farm house. Inside, there are displays of life in the first part of the last century. As you can see, the girls were pretty excited to see what was inside.

This barn has always inspired me photographically. The contrast in textures and colors is really cool.

My girls really hate posing for pictures now but I let them ham it up for this shot.

Inside this barn are a couple of rooms furnished as they were 80 years ago. There was even a stove in the room that appeared in pretty good condition. On the wall is a framed newspaper clipping showing the ad for this very same stove. $59.99 from Montgomery Wards. I wonder if they still have some of those?

In the same area as this old farm house are large fenced in areas for much larger roaming animals. They've got some bison and elk, but the girls absolute fav was the whitetail deer.

This girl had stood next to the fence and let anyone feed her. What my smart kids figured out was that one of her favorite foods were dandelions. Good to know! I might have a job for her later this summer.

Before we left for the day, the girls enjoyed the music stylings of Brother Music, Sister Rhythm. A folky couple that would play all kinds of old folky and country songs.

If you check out Sister Rhythm with the suitcase in front of her, she was demonstrating the ingenuity of days gone by. She had a drum pedal behind it and was using the now empty suitcase as a drum. OhPrincess1 just thought that was the coolest thing.

They even played a few songs I remembered from my youth from the K-Tel Looney Tunes album. Man that one rocked! I believe we wore it smooth.

We were wrapping up for the day after listening to the music. The girls had been really good all day and since this was a fund raiser, they were selling these little stuffed animals.

OhPrincess2 picked the fox. She thought he was just the cutest. After watching in horror as a Webkinz got rung up for $15 (those are just little ones! DAMN!) I was pleasantly surprised that these were a mere $5.

OhPrincess1 is a big fun of huskies and wolves. I think it was seeing the movie 'Eight Below'. She picked the wolf for a stuffed animal, but before we could leave, she really wanted her picture taken with the real wolf.

Living in the city like do, it's hard to tell her that unless we move, there is probably no hope of ever getting a husky type dog. Those are dogs that need lots of space to run, unleashed. It's sad to see them on a chain.

The people that run this park have such a great sense of humor. They planned a wolf howling contest, and the kids were supposed to get their parents to do it too. The kids thought this was a brilliant idea, well, mine didn't. They knew that I wouldn't have a problem with doing it :-)

This guy is one of the staff at the zoo. What a card! He spent probably 10 minutes giving the demo on how to do a perfect wolf howl.

Even without prizes, most of the kids raced to get in line, I'm pretty sure not everyone got a chance. Who wouldn't want to howl like a wolf? I mean really?

OhPrincess1 had been asking questions all day about why this place needed to do fundraising. It's hard to explain places like this just don't exist. With an economy in the pooper, I worry about these places keeping their county funding. This day was organized by the Friends of Oxbow, the volunteers that make the extra effort to keep this place running above and beyond what the county pays for. So, on our way out, we each took turns depositing in the collection boxes. OhPrincess1 was glad to help, "Dad, can we come back?"


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Rollover runs?

Can we roll these runs over into some future games?

I picked a bad day not to play hooky and head to Chicago to watch a game with Lightning36.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Through the eye of my camera

I always have my phone with me when I go for my lunch time walk at work. The hill behind the hospital I work at is full of historic homes built by the ounding docs. It's affectionately known as 'Pill Hill'.

I walk past this home almost every day. It's no longer a residence but owned by the foundation that runs everything. It's Dr. William Mayo's last house. The foundation does an amazing job keeping it beautiful. Don't you think?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Definitely Spring - Peace Plaza

Downtown Rochester in all it's springly beauty. Time for lunch!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Through my camera's eye

Monday morning and I'm back to work. Most days, I take a bus to work that picks up by the Walmart near where I live. Looks like today's ridership is pretty light.

Last night OhCountess and I watched the movie Fireproof. This was definitely a laptop closed movie. Watching a movie about being a better spouse probably means you should pay attention while watching it WITH your spouse.

I took around 450 pictures this weekend. A 'Saturdays with daddy' post
is on the way. And yes, I'm listening to the new Green Day as I write

How was your weekend? Mine rawked!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

That's the ticket!

I feel like a teenager!!! I'll try to write a full review of the new Green Day album but let's just, it ROCKS! I should probably state that I'm also quite a large fan...any who...

This morning, OhCountess agreed  to go to the July 11th concert at Target Center in Minneapolis! Tickets have been ordered!

W00T! W00T!

Now...where are my skinny ties and eye liner???

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Such a sucker for pretty packaging

How long did anyone think I could hold out for the latest Green Day album? Thank goodness it was seriously on sale and I had some rewards bucks to spend...

Friday, May 15, 2009

My walk into work

I used to do this a lot. Let me know if you like or hate these.
Posting random pictures of the world around me with my cell phone is

This is the old main entrance to the hospital I work at. Seriously,
this campus is always beautiful.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Vaccinating your daughter

This was something I had originally written for the Stark Raving Dads blog. Unfortunately, Mr. Lady and BusyDad have been, um, busy. They never found another Dad to also answer. I had fun writing and researching the topic and didn't really want to see it languishing in the bottom of my gmail any more.

Without further adieu - (as submitted to Mr. Lady)
Here's the email I received:
To: OhCaptain
From: Mr. Lady

HPV vaccine. For or against?
To: Mr. Lady
From: OhCaptain

I remember thinking to myself. "Lord I hope this is about the human papillomavirus. I've heard of this one. Otherwise I'm totally busted as a bad dad for having no idea what she's talking about. I was quite impressed with our complete lack of filler words, like verbs.
From: Mr. Lady
To: OhCaptain

Maybe do you want to field a question on SRD dads about it?
Look! It's a verb! I'm still hoping this conversation is about the vaccine I've heard of.

I asked her for the actual text of the question for SRD's, This could be a way for me to get the details of the question without giving away the fact that there are about three vaccines that I will recognize from their abbreviations. Besides, I'd love to share my thoughts, I'll share my thoughts with anyone at any time whether they want to hear them or not.
From: Mr. Lady
To: OhCaptain

Yep, the whole question is "there's a lot of controversy about it. What are your thoughts?" In Canada, ever girl gets it in 6th grade. It's not an issue at all. The issue, I've found, is predominately American.
That sounds like the HPV I've heard of. It's had the lion's share of controversy. If it's a problem with controversy in the US, it's probably got something to with sex. Nobody does sex controversy like we Americans.

I think I know why she's asking me too! BusyDad doesn't have to deal with this, Fury doesn't have a cervix. They are looking for a dad with daughters not in those crazy mixed up teenage years...but a dad staring down the barrel of a needle in a couple of years and guess what, that's me. Our oldest daughter is 9. Oh, and I live U.S., I'm north of Toronto in a state commonly confused with Canada, but technically, we are Americans.

Something Mr. Lady may not have known is my wife, OhCountess, is a registered nurse currently in grad school working on a masters degree in nursing eduction (have you thanked a nurse today?). Which is great, cause she can help me answer this, except for the fact that she's in grad school and barely has the free time to breath.

In her typical busy fashion, she showed me a paper she wrote on this subject (how handy is that!). It's a place to start. Here are facts about HPV (taken from US Center for Disease Control):
  • Genital human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI).
  • Genital warts. About 1% of sexually active adults in the U.S. have genital warts at any one time.
  • Approximately 20 million Americans are currently infected with HPV, and another 6.2 million people become newly infected each year. (There are roughly 200 million people in the US)
  • The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2008, 11,070 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer in the U.S.
  • According to the U.S. Cancer Statistics: 2004 Incidence and Mortality report, 11,892 women in the U.S. were told that they had cervical cancer in 2004,* and 3,850 women died from the disease. It is estimated that more than $2 billion† is spent on the treatment of cervical cancer per year in the U.S. (32% fatality rate)
So why wouldn't you want to immunize your daughter against this absolutely horrible virus? I did a little research and found 3 groups of people who refuse to vaccinate their daughters:
  1. Freaked out conspiracy crackpots.
  2. Religious anti-sex people who want no one having sex.
  3. Parents that fear for the safety of their child.
Now, for the sake of brevity, let's just assume that no matter what the issue, Group 1 will exist. Conspiracy crackpots are every where. No use really wasting our breath on them.

Group 2. This is where we Americans really shine. America has a long tradition of believing that sex is the root of all evil. Now, I'm not going to be the one that's actively encouraging my daughters to have sex, they know that they aren't even allowed to look at boys until they've finished their 2nd PhD or turn 35, which ever comes later (boys are evil, I was one, I know). The argument about not vaccinating women is about control. If you prevent a woman from contracting this nasty disease, you've taken away one more reason why she should not have sex. If a woman doesn't fear cervical cancer, they are going to be having all kinds of steamy, nasty Spice channel sex every where.

I call bull shit. I just can never understand why you'd chose death over sex. You need to teach your kids valid reasons that they understand for not having sex early. Scaring kids doesn't work. Hell, I knew better then to ski straight down a black diamond trail because I could die. Um, maybe. But DAMN! That was fun. Kids try to cheat death. Deal with it.

Group 3. These are people whose hearts are in the right place. They are just worried that the risks associated with the vaccine are too great.

There is more then one blog in my blog empire. I have a daddy blog but I also have a poker blog. I love poker. Some of you may think of poker as just another casino tax on the statistically impaired, like the slot machines. Poker is actually a fantastic game that teaches you the skills of risk management and statistics. Poker winnings and losings are all about making good decisions. Over time, the person that makes the most correct decisions, wins.

So, how does this relate to HPV? Like many vaccines on the market today, there are risks. These risks range from tenderness around the injection site to possible death. I, for one, am not in favor of killing my children. They have their bad days, and despite what I might say, I love my kids more then life itself and want to make sure they way out live me.

According to the CDC, 6% of the approximate 10,000 adverse reaction that have been reported about Gardasil (the brand name for the vaccine) have been considered severe. Now, not all of these reports have been validated. So if we do the math, there have been about 20,000,000 doses delivered, that's 3 doses per person, for roughly 6.7 million people. So of those 6.7 million girls that got the vaccine,0.15% have reported a serious adverse reaction. That's in tenths of a percent.

Probably the most widely publicized side effect is the belief that this vaccine will trigger the onset of Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS). The likelihood that someone has the predisposition of this disease is 1-2 people out of 100,000. So if we look at those numbers, 200 of the people treated have a predisposition to this disease, not everyone of those people will actually have the disease triggered.

So, by refusing the vaccine, you believe that the 50% chance of contracting HPV is not nearly as significant as the .0001% chance of contracting GBS. In poker terms, you are making a bad bet. You are 5,000,000 times more likely to catch HPV then to get GBS. I just don't understand this thinking.

HPV is a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Are we really treating our kids for a sexually transmitted disease? Well, yes. But when we vaccinate our kids for chicken pox or polio, we usually don't sit down with them explain how those diseases work or how you get them. In Canada, this is a required vaccine. Had the whole topic of how HPV spreads not been highlighted, no one would have really cared. It prevents one of the leading causes of death in women.

Personally, I say get your head out of your ass. I love my daughters. I hope that they never know what it's like to have cancer. This is just one step in that direction.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Saying goodbye to old friends

Imelda Marcos is a woman I have little in common with. I'm not a head of state. I've never been to the Philippines and I rarely own more then a handful of shoes at any given time. I think of shoes in a very utilitarian fashion. I have shoes for specific purposes.

I have work boots I use when I'm working around the yard, garage, mud, dirt, debris. These boots serve the purpose of taking the abuse. They are sturdy and I've been told, quite ugly.

I also own 2 pairs of athletic shoes. One pair because the gym here at work requires us to have dedicated shoes for their facility, bastages. My other pair is at home, in closet, waiting for me to wear them. I wear them in casual situations with jeans, shorts. They are white and comfortable. My wife tells me, well, they are plain.

I have 2 pairs of sandals. I know, I know, I might be a hippy. But one is leather. They are comfortable for walking, but I can't get them wet. The other pair are made of rubber, they can get wet but they suck for walking father then to the pool or the mailbox.

Last, there are the dressy shoes. Before meeting my wife, I had one pair of these. I had no idea you couldn't wear brown shoes ALL THE TIME! Now, I have 3 pair of dressier shoes. 1 brown, 1 black and one I wear every day. I'm cheap and those things are expensive. The brown ones I keep at work to wear when I have meetings. The black ones, well, I wear them with my suit, which is maybe semi-annually?
This story is about my every day shoes. They are brown, probably used to be dress, but they fit like an old pair of jeans.

Since taking this job, it's been business formal for me. Like I said, a good pair of classy dress shoes are spendy and I take public transportation to and from work. The bus stop I use in in the middle of a Wal-mart parking lot. I walk through mud, snow and rain on a regular basis.

The shoes you see on the right have been my best friends FOR YEARS.

They are pretty much waterproof, they really don't fear mud or dirt. Look at them. Would you notice if they were dirty? No.
Are they comfortable? Absolutely! Like a well worn pair of jeans. They just fit everything perfectly. My toes know their groove and the grooves know my toes. 

In the second picture, you can see where this relationship was starting to suffer. See those white spots. Not good. The edges of those holes were destroying every pair of socks I owned. This was seriously cutting into the frugality of the relationship. Buying a new pair of shoes is like giving up on an old friend. I'm a very loyal guy.

But this had to stop. Notice the heel? The hospital floors are made of polished granite and tile. Guess what happened when my shoes were wet? You got it! I slipped on my ass. My ass!

I loved these shoes. We'd been together for years. I actually don't remember buying them. It's kinda like your wife. It just seems like we've always been together. Joined at the foot.

Like I said earlier, I'm a very loyal guy. I resisted buying a new pair but choose to instead just make excuses. "They weren't all that bad," I'd tell myself. "Oh, those socks were just cheaply made." "If it wasn't raining, there's no way I slip on my ass."

I know, I needed to just be honest and admit that sometimes, shoes just wear out. Their time runs out and a new pair just has to be bought.

This past Sunday, for Mother's Day, we took OhCountess to an outlet mall north of the Twin Cities. With all this new found freedom, it's what she wanted to do. It's been a really long time since we've had time to just drive for 2 hours and go shopping.

While the Mrs. was drunk with excitement shopping at the Coach store, I stopped over to the Bass outlet, just to see. I needed a brown show that looked sort of dressy and it had to be waterproof.

As you can probably guess, I said goodbye to my old friends and put them out of their misery. We gathered around the trash bin filled with the remains of the graduation party and we said some kind words. These shoes were more then just leather and stitches. They were like an old friend that had worn out their welcome. Such melancholy filled my soul.

Below, you'll see a picture of the new shoes. My new BFF. Did I get to crazy with the style?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My wife is officially smarter then me

As I continue this journey through 2009, I'm finding time to be more precious then ever. In the last week, I apparently didn't post anything. I wanted to, I just found very little time to do much.

Let it be know that I love reading many blogs, but last week, I lost the battle. I filed for Google Reader Bankruptcy and hit the "Mark All As Read" button. I had fallen so far behind and realized that it was hopeless to delude myself that I might ever catch up. My free time has been measured in minutes lately.

About 3 years ago, my wife pitched an idea to me. "Honey, I'd like to go to grad school and get my masters, maybe my PhD." Interesting. Work will pay for most of it, so that's not much of a problem..."I will be writing a thesis and um, it's gonna be a huge time commitment."

So we'd sacrifice. It's her dream. "You wanna go back too?" she asked. "Are you insane? One stressed out parent is probably enough."

She went back to school. For the first year, it wasn't too bad. Then, it started, the thesis. Yikes. She cut her hours way back at work. Then the clinicals started. Those are hours spent working in a real world setting putting all this new knowledge to work. We missed her, but we knew there was a greater good.

At first, I would help with her homework. You know, I went to school too...but then, one day, it happened. I was proofreading her paper and there were these letters that looked like a word, but it didn't compute. Normally, I'd had enough foreign language that I could come up with some Latin equivalent and get close to the definition, but these words didn't crack so easy. It got to the point where I would just sound out the word so she would know which one and I'd ask, "Is this a verb? Cause if it is, you used it wrong, if it's an adverb your golden." I had no idea what it was she had written.

The last year of school was draining, for all of us. Seems like we could never catch our breath. But we made it through because almost 2 weeks ago, it was over. The thesis was sent to the printer and bound, the last presentation was delivered and the last paper written. She did. My wife completed her masters degree.

I was so happy. It was a day that field me happiness. I can't tell you how proud I am of her.

Last Friday, she graduated. I know there are people that think walking is silly and waste of time. We don't think so. Here's the pictures I promised last week.

That's my bride! This was at the hooding ceremony. When you get your masters degree, you wear a hood. The purple and white are the school colors.

Here's the official part. The hood is placed over my wife's head by one of the PhD's in charge of the program. This ceremony occurred before the big graduation. Each discipline has their own hooding celebration.

I got some pretty good seats for graduation, huh? You can see OhCountess. She's 3rd from us in the second row of Masters of Nursing students. Look close...she's the HAWT one!

No turning back now! They called her name and me the girls were so proud.
All week leading up to this, me and the girls were cooking up a plan. There was time between the hooding ceremony and graduation...we needed to get flowers for mom. OhPrincess1 got the honor of giving the bouquet to mom. I'm not sure who was more excited.
When it was all done, we got to stop for some pictures. Congrats honey! I'm so very proud of you!
Phase one was done. She got to walk through graduation. The next day, it was party time! I had cleaned the garage to a sparkling shine. Really, she was that clean. This picture was her cake. She wanted it to represent a party and a beginning to life after grad school. Not sure if you can read the wording in the middle. It says, "Welcome to free time". 

For the first time and 3 years, it's all about the free time. No papers. No presentations. No thesis.

Welcome back honey. Take a deep breath, kick your feet up and relax. You deserve it!

I'm so very proud of you! I love you!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Despite rumors to the contrary...

This thing does post! Sweet!

OhCountess has finished everything she required to receive her Masters degree in Nursing. Yep. I'm officially now in the club of men who's wives have proof they are smarter then them. She's got me out degreed...and I couldn't be prouder.

As awesome it is for her to suddenly have seemingly unlimited free time because the homework is missing, we are working hard to get ready for the graduation ceremony and the PARTY. Why is there so much work that leads up to a night of fun?

I haven't posted much lately. Not like there wasn't stuff on my mind...OhCaptain without words? HA! I really enjoyed watching the world wear masks and run in fear of the flu. I suppose it could have been much worse, but hey, we don't need no stinking evidence that the world is ending, we just need a cool name like swine flu. Sigh.

The great state of Minnesota is trying to stamp out online gambling in a way that should just help the rest of the world pile on to the stereotypes already assigned to us. Not only did the movies Fargo, and Grumpy Old Men make us out to be a bit slow in the head, we did elect a pro wrestler and comedian to positions of high power. Now, our state is attempting to use a law that has been soundly rejected in other venues to stop it's citizens from accessing websites that don't take their business anyways. You see, here in Minnesota, our politics are driven strictly by money. If you've got money, you get your way. We lack what others would call "principles".

Oh, that rant could go on forever. I tell you what. Over the next week, be prepared a few photo posts from my phone and quick jabs, things will be returning to normal here shortly. I have very proud husband photos to post on Friday...WAY TO GO HONEY!!! Stay tuned! In the mean time, just fill up my comments with what you are doing. Google Reader is very efficient at gathering articles I don't have time to read....sigh.

Happy Tuesday! I must be a bit frazzled, I'm listening to nothing but 80's alternative lately. Elvis Costello, The Clash, U2, The Cure. Heck, I even listened to the good B52's yesterday, you know the stuff that came out before Love Shack. Is there a song more over played? Nevermind, I just need to hit post...