Flu in the flue

I told myself I wouldn’t get a flu shot this year, I typically don’t get a flu shot, feel like the folks that really want you to get them are the folks who sell flu shots, and half the time they don’t work anyway.

This year, in Minnesota anyway, the we gots the influenza raging right now. It’s everywhere, so I’m told. Mrs S tells me that on Friday 60 kids were out at the school where she’s substitute nursing.

I’d completely forgotten that she’s on the front lines of public health these days. She’s working with kids who have the flu. She need to get a new job. Either that or I need a place to stay until March or April, I’m ok either way, just have to pick one. Shockingly she wasn’t interested in quitting her job inspite the danger she’s putting us in. This isn’t ebola, this is something really contagious, FLU. I’d be quite happy to go live at the lake for several months, problem is the commute would be a little longer than I’d like but with gas at 99 cents a gallon…

So I last night, under the influence of bourbon and good company I allowed myself to be talked into getting said shot today. I really don’t want to get the flu. Sad thing is, supposedly this year’s version shot doesn’t really work vs the strain of the flu that’s going around. But, the argument goes, you should still get it because it can help to reduce some of the symptoms, make your flu experience less server.

Not sure how that works. Personally I think it’s more Glaxosmithkline executing a winning sales strategy to move a shitload of useless flu vaccine.

I’m married to a nurse so any arguments of a medical nature… I’m going to lose anyway.

Off we went.

First stop, Target. Made the mistake of showing up at Target at 1:30 in the afternoon. They close the pharmacy for a half hour at 1:30. On weekends? Lame. Headed over to Walgreens across the parking lot.

There were a couple older looking folks (like us) in sitting waiting patiently to get behind the screen to get their shots. While we were waiting the dude administrating the shots came out for his next victim.

Walgreens is an interesting place. The Pharmacy Techs have to wear surgical scrubs. Not sure why that is, guess it has something to do with trying look like medical pros instead of votech grads. Either that or those pills they pack squirt blood.

The shooter was the actual pharmacist. Here’s what you don’t want hear from a person you’re about let shove a spike in your arm “How many more do I have to do?”

Yeah, that and the filthy lab coat made Mrs S pull out and head back to Target. Which where we were inoculated. Free of charge it turns out, thanks to my health plan.

Will it work?

Remains to be seen.

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Intentional Innovation in Ice Fishing-

The Holiday Season is upon us now. Mrs. S and the US based children are heading to Tahoe next week for the annual family connect and celebrate activities. I’ll get 10 days of no one at home except for me and Mr. Giggs, which I’m looking forward to immensely. I like the quiet and the cable TV. One of the downsides of a new job is that I don’t have much vacation time, which means more time alone.

Speaking of alone time- Nothing beats ice fishing for self-isolation. So in that spirit I was out at the St Paul Ice Fishing Show over the weekend. Never made it onto the ice last year, between -25 degrees and 4′ of snow on the lake, I found other things to do, like watch binge watch

I have some observations-

People watchers, the St Paul Ice Fishing Show is the natural habitat of the Northern Redneck. If you don’t have Northern Redneck checked off on your list, please come up here in winter, they’re easier to spot when there’s no leaves on threes and the lakes are frozen.

My good friend Dr. Jeffery Roster, who is a paid thinker and Vice President of smart has coined the phrase “Intentional Innovation” to describe something or another, I forget what I don’t read much and understand less. In the Magical World of Ice Fishing I think that statement applies itself well, but I would add ‘Innovation to Drive Upselling” to the thought.

I have a theory on why there are 14 different jigging sticks, 11 different hole slushers and 42 different devices to move your rod up and down, because gawd knows how painful a wrist charlie can be after a full day of aggressive jigging. My theory is this- There’s a lot of down time on the ice. LOTS of downtime. And dudes sitting around drinking beer in huts on frozen lakes start getting really creative about ways they can improve their lives. Their lake lives, not their actual lives.

So with that, some of my favorite innovations in the grand sport of ice fishing.

Ice Castles

You can help but be impressed with the converted RV’s out there. Full on deluxe accommodations in a 2000lb trailer that you drag onto a frozen lake with your ½ ton pickup. Some features I kinda liked, leather upholstery, most had Mossy Oak canvas, but leather is nice. Unless of course you have the heater cranked up and it’s 90 degrees in there (Been there) in which case sitting on leather in your underwear is going to be gross, but you could wipe it down better than canvas I guess.

Fake fireplace. Yup, right there in the wall. You could set the mood with some ambient dimmers on the track lighting, a fake fire.. Hmm set the mood with 4 guys in winter gear drinking beer and eating pickled eggs all day.. Does no one thing this shit through? That space would have been better used for an industrial fart fat based on my experiences with dudes in fish houses. “But Sir, with some of these amenities your wife might want to join you out there.” OK.. let’s think that through, stuck in an 8×16 hermetically sealed box on a frozen lake a mile from the nearest restroom, with nothing to do but fish and talk for two days with my wife… again, what could possible go wrong with that scenario. Better to go a little Spartan if you ask me.

Still think the fart fan trumps the fireplace.

Price tag on these things is around $15K or for me, $7.5 per use. Me thinks some things are better rented. Maybe after Mrs. moves to California.

Portable Shanties

Ice fishing is the grown man equivalent of playing fort. And there’s a lot of fort options out there. (Actually was told in confidence that more than one of the stalwart names in ice fishing gear around here got started they wanted a place to get away from people to smoke pot. I have no doubt about that given the dudes I see at the show)

Lots of canvas options out there for the shelters. I have a couple myself. We got portable shacks with LED lights imbedded in the poles, cell phone chargers, sonar units, underwater cameras, cushy seats and in one of them, a 15,000 BTU forced air heater that runs on a 50lb propane tank. The unit had micro ductwork that channeled hot air right under the fisherpersons seat. It would have to be 130 degrees in that seat. What could go wrong with that? 15K BTU’s

What came to my mind? Fisherman bent over a table in the ER, pants around his ankles with a puzzled doctor behind him asking “tell me again how this happened?”

BTW $1500.

ATV

More than a few ATV’s equipped with tank like snowmobile treads. They look really tough, and while I would like to have one, top speed has to be about 20mph. faster than that I’m convinced supports tread integrity. I see the tread flying off the front axle and smacking me in the face. And that’s where they’d find you, dead on the ice next to an idling ATV with tread marks on your forehead. Bright side only around here.

But if ATV’s aren’t your thing they had something that was essentially a john boat with skies, treads and a canvas tent. A self-propelled fish house. Best thing is, it would work in the summer as a super heavy, super slow boat. It also would work on days in the spring when you really shouldn’t be out on the lake because the ice is not safe. Downside is if you did break through in the middle, I’m pretty sure you’d have to wait a few days for the lake to open up before you could get back to shore. At least you wouldn’t die, but you’d have to talk friends into tossing food out to you with a water balloon launcher or something, and that would get old.

Moving fish house- $12K

And if you really wanna go large, the full on Bombardier dealie. Basically a minivan looking thing on skis and treads. Holes in the floor to fish through, more electronics than a battleship, cushy seats and vinyl upholstery. This thing was the bomb. $85K however. For that kind of money I think you could customize an Audi A6, which if I purchased something like that I’d be driving it to work anyway… actually I’d be living in it also.

Bottom line, we’re a long away from a bucket, chisel and jiggle stick.

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Demise of the Big 10 = Rise of the Minnesota Gophers.

Tempered congratulations to Jerry Kill, Gophers football coach on winning the Big 10 coach of the year. Personally I don’t agree with the selection, I would begrudgingly give it to Urban Meyer.

WHAAAAT?

I’m not on board with the idea that Gophers had such a fantastic year. True, they went from 4th to 2nd in the Big 10 west this year, but I’m going to suggest that had more to do with the continued decline of the Big 10 than anything else. I’m sorry, ONE additional win over last year does not demonstrate anything other than marginal improvement. And beating Michigan at home in 2014, frankly, not that big a deal.

Beating Nebraska on the other had was a great win, and why I would suggest that things are certainly going in the right direction, but to say that they’ve made great strides…. Not so much. Great strides vs the Brewster years? For sure. Great strides vs last year? No. Great strides into becoming a great team? Nope. They’ve been down for so long (Last great season was 1960, last great dynasty? Before WWII) that fans around here have a Chicago Cubs like mentality, success is relative.

BTW I did have to chuckle this week, the University has announced pretty significant increases in Season Ticket prices for Gophers Fans. The cost of “success”. According to the University the Gophers have been undercharging for football for a years. I would contrast this story with one from August (Pre-Success) where students were complaining that in order to by hockey or basketball tickets, they were required to also buy football tickets. Why? Students weren’t going to the games. For that matter neither were fans. Product on the field was keeping folks away. Be curious to see if this helps.

Now before I get assailed for being anti-Gopher let me temper-

It’s not that they didn’t have success, it’s just that the hype doesn’t match performance…

The Gophers had that one great win on the road in Nebraska a few weeks ago. Jerry and the lads deserve tremendous praise for that game, the way they came back, the tough environment in Lincoln, lots of good stuff there. Not exactly Tom Osborne’s Semi-Pro Cornhuskers of old, but a good team to beat twice in a row. Nice.

The win in Nebraska can be contrasted with a loss in Illinois, one of the worst teams in the league. That was embarrassing. Along the way the lads whooped up on Iowa, that was pretty decent win as well. Iowa certainly played Wisconsin better than we did. Northwestern was a tougher win, not sure where the Wildcats stand in the list of football programs, somewhere down low.

I’m sorry Gopher Fans and Big 10 fans in general, Gophers are holding their own in the middle of the pack in a conference that’s in serious decline. Only Ohio State and Michigan State, at the moment, are top tier programs. Wisconsin a close second. After that the quality falls off significantly. The Gophers were embarrassed by Wisconsin last weekend. The actual game not nearly as close as the score indicated. Anyone who watched the game knew the outcome at the half, and the Gophers were actually up at the half. But the signs were there and we were not surprised. No upsets, typical story, and no Axe for Minnesota. AGAIN.

If you look at the Big 10 this year, because the entire league is in decline, it’s hard to gauge how far the conference has fallen based on inter-conference play. So, I looked at early season non-conference play. There, the story is clearer.

Zooming in on Week 2 of the season. Ohio State lost to West Virginia. That same weekend Michigan State got beat in Oregon, and Michigan got clobbered by Notre Dame, a team that has since proved to be somewhat mediocre as well. Last time OSU, MSU and MI lost on the same weekend? Um never? No idea, but highly indicative of things to come.

Wisconsin that week, took their typical three quarters to get started against mighty Western Illinois. The game was 7-0 most of the first half. Northwestern lost to Northern Illinois, Purdue lost to Central Michigan, newcomer Maryland scraped a win against Southern Florida… basically you had a lot tight non-conference games against 3rd tier teams that were a lot closer than they should have been.

The next weekend we had Indiana losing to Bowling Green at home, Maryland losing to West VA, Iowa losing to Iowa State, Illinois was destroyed by a crappy Washington Huskies team, Minnesota losing to TCU- legit loss there. TCU is damned good. Purdue losing to Notre Dame, Prude is horrible, and so is Notre Dame. The Big 10 went 3-6 that week against teams with compass points in their names.

Sad.

The entire preconference time, there was only one victory against a serious ranked team- lowly Indiana managed to upset Mizzou, other that, clean sweep.

So looking at the national bowl situation, I don’t think we’ll see a Big 10 team in contention for the playoffs. Sort of depends on how they make their picks and what OSU does against Wisconsin on Saturday. Without Braxton Miller at QB… could be interesting.

I’m hopeful the Gophers can keep the momentum going in the right direction. Kill is certainly going to use this perceived success to continue to rally for a state of the art, indoor/outdoor practice facility at the U, something I believe they need to be able to recruit talent here. But given the demise of the Big10 overall, I’m not sure I’d be the “long” on the program.

Assuming of course that Jerry doesn’t go to Michigan, which frankly I would do if I were in his shoes. Despite a couple years of crappy play, Michigan is still a huge brand in College football and they guy that turns that program around will get recognized on the national stage.

 

BTW- one last editorial here- regarding the election committee for the football playoffs… Bunch of AD’s and Condoleezza Rice. Token female in the group. I think football fans are going to be as upset with this system as they were with the previous ranking processes. Now there’s human intervention and I can’t wait for the “Rigged” and “We were screwed” cat calls. NPR who’s sports department consists of one part time reporter who occasionally watches sporting contests during the intermissions of more interesting cultural events had the best idea I’ve ever heard regarding selecting teams to do this football selection.

There’s only one group of professional sports experts in this country who are 100% divested of partisanship and loyalties that cloud judgment on game day. And who at the same time are more accurate than any AD or Sportscaster or former Secretary of State.

The College Football Playoff Selection Committee Show Live from Ceaser’s Palace. Lets the oddsmakers do it, they have demonstrated that they know best.

 

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Thanksgiving Angst

Thanksgiving

Formally my favorite holiday, this year I’m just not feeling
it. Probably the empty nesting thing, it’ll be pretty quiet around here this
year, I don’t have a ton of cooking to do, something I’ve enjoyed in the past.
And, some family types are already complaining about the menu. When I started
cutting stuff, I cut some of their favorites while hanging on to mine.

Had I known…

I had suggested to the Auburn kid that this might be the
year he starts looking for other things to do for the holiday, because coming
here isn’t going to be that entertaining. This didn’t make me any friends with
some of the more family oriented members of the household. He came home anyway,
and it is nice to have him around, but as far as the holiday observances, not so
much.

Don’t have a really good reason for my malaise.

Must be my attachment disorder. With the kids gone and the
house quiet I’m not inclined to want to do anything special.

This came up when Mrs S started to pulling out decorations
for the holidays yesterday. Don’t bother is my council, which I shared with
her.

Mistake on my part.

What can I say I’m a curmudgeon.

Part of it is the whole black Friday thing. In the past I’ve
been out in the stores on Black Friday looking for deals and fighting crowds.
Now I look at the whole experience; stores opening on Thanksgiving, standing in
line for a deal shit no one needs, retailers driving business with crappy
offers on garbage products.

NPR did a piece on the impact of Black Friday on American
families and their debt load. According to the report the Middle Class are
absolutely hammered by Black Friday.

The scenario is, this group is extended tons of cheap credit
by stores and credit card companies. This, along with the increasingly
sophisticated marketing techniques out there and complete ignorance on the part
of most consumers when it comes to understanding debt and discerning the
difference between a “need” and a “want” create this toxic mix of financial
ruin for many families.

I started my morning by getting the paper, 2/3 of which were
ads and tossing, with out looking,
every insert, booklet, advert, circular and tabloid into the trash. Unread and
unseen. My small consolation, a lot of companies spent a fortune sending me
this shit, so I’m not going to look at it. Most energizing thing I’ve done in
three days.

I also announced to the skeleton crew here for the holiday,
anyone who is interested in going out shopping Thanksgiving evening should
leave first thing this morning, because you’re not invited to dinner. You have
to pick between getting a deal or spending time with family.

I felt so empowered. I now have two well communicated edicts
on the board for Team Sankary

1)  
Shop on Thanksgiving

2)  
Get a tattoo

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Either if these things tell me you choose a different
lifestyle which I find incompatible with our families values and will get you
uninvited to family functions. Any questions? Good. Happy Thanksgiving.

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The Long Winter Ahead

When it’s 0 degrees outside on November 16, I can’t help but wonder to myself, where do we go from here?

Narnia I suspect. Certainly what it feels like around here these days. The .375 inches of snow that slick-coated the grass and sidewalks on November 10 is still there, perfectly intact. Testament to the 10 day stretch below freezing we’ve had since then. A stretch BTW that shows no sign of abating until after Thanksgiving sometime. Seriously, about 30 minutes of sun at 30 degrees would have melted what amounted to a sort of heavy frost, but apparently that doesn’t happen in Narnia.

At least we’re upstate New York, 5′ of snow up there.

My Narnia comparison BTW is pretty accurate given that I don’t think we’ve had a minute in the last couple weeks where there wasn’t at least a trace of snow in the air.

My only complaint in this deal, if it’s full on winter here in the middle of November, how long is winter going to be? Last year snow and ice lasted in the middle of May. Not that I’m counting but that’s full on 6 months. Which feels long to me.

It more than feels long to Mrs S, I’m sincerely worried about my mental health should winter last through the entire NBA season. Even with her newfound snowshoeing hobby, there’s only so much she can take before she starts looking for connections between being housebound due to bad weather and the overall performance of her lazy overweight husband binge watching old TV series on the sofa weekends at a time. See where I’m going with this? That’s a lot of “us” time and now that we’re starting to run out kids to fight with our attentions are turning more towards each other and that exposes a serious Venus/Mars issue.

Being male I can’t multitask. Proven well documented fact. Mrs S has binders of data on this subject in her mental memory castle, just ask her for a few examples. Which means when I’m binge watching Orange is the New Black for the third time for the steamy shower scenes, I’m not thinking about anything else. I’m not worried about where anyone else in the house is or what they’re doing. Good and bad there frankly.

Womenfolk in general, and Mrs S in particular are blessed (if you can call it that) to have several thought streams running through their heads simultaneously, including one that says, “why is he watching TV when the bathroom is filthy?” Or, “how does a guy who claims to want to eat right justify sitting on the sofa with a spoon and carton of ice cream?”

All valid concerns that when the weather is nice are easily solved by my simply getting up and going outside, outta site, outta mind as they say.

This year I do plan to get out and snowshoe with the Lil Ms. That might help decompress the angst of running into each other in kitchen every 10 minutes for the next 6 months. We’ll see.

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Minnesota’s Bid for the Final Four- another bad idea.

Apparently Minnesota is in the final running for the NCAA Final Four, which will be held at the brand spankin’ new Vikings Stadium brought to you by taxpayers of Minnesota.

I’m not sure how much we’ll wind up paying for the NCAA’s, hopefully slightly less than we did for the Super Bowl. On the radio this afternoon there was a dialogue about great this stadium is going to be and how fantastic it was that were even able to get the game. And now the NCAA, imagine that.

And just when you thought it was safe to reach into your wallet, I heard today that the Stadium Commission is going after the NCAA Championship Football Game.

Next target for the sports commission, the NCAA Football Championship Game. I can’t wait to learn how much that little event is going to cost in concessions and tax nreaks…

I can only imagine.

There’s a glimmer of hope out there…

Last week the Norwegian Government informed the International Olympic Committee (IOAC) that the city of Oslo would be withdrawing their bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics. Reason cited, lack of public support. Turns out they weren’t the first city to back out of hosting the Olympics, Krakow Poland and Stockholm Sweden also pulled out due to lack of political support. Which leaves Beijing China and Almaty Kazakhstan. So, we got one city that’s 150 miles away from the nearest mountain and another that’s 5 connections from any civilized airport in the world.

Turns out, Olympic demand ain’t what it used to be. The Sochi Olympics cost Russia a cool $51B. All at public expense. St. Moritz and Munich pulled their bids early after public uproar about spending tax dollars to pay for what is essentially big business sport.

I wish we had the same public angst here in the US about this stuff.

So what exactly do we get out of these events? A little exposure for Minnesota. A few temporary jobs and that’s about it. Not many of us commoners are going to going to these games. We’ll pay for them with taxes and subsidies.

Ironic given the ad revenue and TV contracts that these leagues are pulling in.

With the NCAA it’s even more disgusting given that they don’t event pay their performers. It’s all about the dollars and the cash flow, flowing from our pockets to theirs.

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Racism Reduex

Somewhere between 3500 and 5000 Native American’s and their supporters showed up at the Gophers football stadium to protest a game between the Vikings and Washington. Protest is one that’s had a lot of press lately, the name of the Washington team.

It’s racist.

Totally, unforgivingly racist.

No ifs, ands or buts it’s flat out racist. White folks, stop try to argue otherwise, it’s not pretty.

The NFL argues that the name is supposed to “honor” Native Americans. I suppose by celebrating their bold fighting spirit? Makes no difference, natives don’t want to be a mascot, simple solution, change the name.

If the Irish want to be celebrated by the University of Notre Dame, so be it. But what if they were the Micks? What if they mascot was a drunk, what if they celebrated touchdowns by beating women (like in the NFL- oops) I’m pretty sure they’d change the name.

And if you had any doubt what so ever, go read the comments on any of the news stories online that reported the protest yesterday.

A lot of white people spent a lot of vitriol defending the undefendable. Since they really don’t have a logical argument they dropped to some of the same arguments we heard when African American’s wanted eat at the same lunch counter as Whites. Apparently the people who are racist don’t like being called racists and lash out when the truth is thrown in their face.

Some comments-

  • These people need to get a life.
  • If I say it’s not racist it’s not racist because I’m not a racist.
  • Maybe they should change the name to Welfare Alcoholics. ( Verbatim from the MSN comments)
  • This is political correctness, and that’s bullshit.

What this is my White friends who have tried to argue with me about this, is Indian people finding their voice after 400 years. As far as the political correctness argument goes, I would invite to talk to you Native friends, if you have any, and call them Redskins, see what they think. I imagine there are some who wouldn’t take offense, at least to your face, but if you don’t feel at least a little remorse in that exercise, you might as well use every other racial epithet to describe people who aren’t like you, because frankly, you’re a racist.

I’ve overheard my friends bragging about making a great deal by announcing that they “Jew’d the guy down”. Same folks then go to great length on discovering that I was within earshot, how it’s “just a term” and “didn’t mean any bad by it”. Probably celebrates the business acumen of Jews. Not that I have any.. Neighbor has told me about his father in rural Minnesota who has told him time and again that it’s “hard to do business with Jews they’re dishonest”. “Dad, have you ever met a Jew?” “No but I know they cheat Christians”.

Is he racist? Is that phrase racist? Dumb question. Your using a stereotype and label to portray people in a way they don’t want be portrayed, so stop it. For the last 100 years or so Indians have been portrayed in the media with some very specific stereotypes that have left most White people unable to understand that in fact, Indian Country is as diverse as Europe. Navajo people would have as much in common with Germans as they would with Iroquois. At least they would have in pre-contact America. Now they can share the experience of being discriminated against and ridiculed, which stings collectivley. Like they do every time the Redskins take the field. Enough is enough, change the damn name.

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