Category Archives: Life

The Dude’s Homecoming

The Lad is home from Israel. Very nice to have him around the house.
He’s not the kid we sent to Israel 18 months ago. That kid had never voted, didn’t know a think about politics, did’t really talk much about world affairs.. and now? All he does is talk politics. Somehow he’s become a pretty staunch republican, certainly no fan of the president, who he keeps referring too as Oh-bammy. He’s also got a very conherent view on the Middle East and Israeli politics in general.
He also works all the time, don’t know where he got that from. He’s been quite busy doing something with an optimization model that apparently requires a PC and a Mac to be running at the same time. This evening I think the project even went out to his mom’s iMac as well. Three comupters cranking away on something to me look liked a drunk spirograph.
He’s optmizing, running a bunch of math and spinning processors and hard drives. Three computers, that’s a lotta optimizing. He does a lot of some some pretty advanced mathematics, you might say hes fluent at math.  Enough that he’s become something of a math snob if you can believe that. Now I’m certainly no math genius, more of a math moron truth be told. but I’m not so dumb that I didn’t get laugh when I suggested that his brother was also quite the math wiz and he replyed with the following:  
But he’s biologist and biologists don’t do real math. 
<<quizical look from me>>
They don’t? You never did organic chemistry? That’s a lot of math n’est pas?
Clincher- Biology math is “there are 5 ants on a stick and one falls off, how many ants are left?” 

I found it funny. 
It is nice to have him home, even it’s only for a short time. 
The lad brought home a few food items from Israel that I love; halavah, tehina, Arabic coffee. Mmmm. I’ve learned a couple things about the lad. For one thing he eats a ton of halavah. As a matter of fact I think that’s where most of his nutrients come from. 
Halavah.. I don’t quite understand how he’s can be 6’0 and 120 pounds eating stuff that’s as dense as rock. 
The tehina has been the base for the salad dressings he’s been making for his breakfast salads. 
We’ve certainly been burning through the tomatoes around here. 
And cucumbers. 

And beer. Which is partially my fault. 
Mmmm beer. Homer Simpson

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Boredom Ahead

This a NASCAR year that the Casa Del Sankary. If you look at my viewing pattern over the last several years I like to watch NASCAR in odd numbered years. I take the even numbered years off because frankly the season’s too damn long. I need a break.

I also need to be motivated because, and I’m dropping the f-word again here, frankly NASCAR is one of those things that I really want to like. But unfortunately the actual activity of watching NASCAR doesn’t live up to the hype of the idea of watching NASCAR. And unfortunately for NASCAR, my sentiments are very common. Their fan base has been dropping faster than a Tony Stewart Pole start.

But what the hell, I was bored and this is the week before the Super Bowl of Racing, the Daytona 500 so, I thought I check in on the qualifying on Sunday. Now typically, as in every other year, qualifying for the 500 involves a 20 lap race with some forced pit stops, followed by two lap solo qualifying runs later in the week, and wrapping up with a Thursday night race for last spots in the grid. Complicated? Sort of but the basic rules are the winners of the first race get the pole and first few spots, the solo runs fill out the rest of the field, and I’m not sure what the last couple races are for. Fill the stands for another day I think.

This year however the qualifying process changed dramatically. Now they’re doing “group qualifying”. Jeff Gordon won the pole. I couldn’t tell you how, I have no idea how it worked. Apparently neither did anyone else including the other drivers, the whole process got ripped in the press. They’re really trying everything to add interest to the sport. Good luck.

So for all my muted excitement about NASCAR, fact is I’m really only good for about 10 races or until our first 60 degree day happens on a Sunday in Minnesota. After that I find better things to do than watch for 4 hours every weekend. If you follow NASCAR at all you know their ratings have been plummeting year over year to what Neilson calls “historic lows” as “rating before we were on national TV” lows. Attendee at races, also down. Most tracks are removing seats, installed during the glory days in the mid 2000’s to keep prices up and now show masses of empty seats on race day.

Boredom.

That is the problem with golf too. I used to play a lot of golf back in the day. Even had some idea that I enjoyed it. But really.. it was a lot of long afternoons chasing a ball around course that typically left me feeling worse about myself after putting out on 18 than before I teed off on the first hole. Who needs that, not to mention I was usually about $100 lighter. Golf is dead if you ask me. The bearded hipsters I see all over the place have no interest in the game. It certainly doesn’t help that when they get to the golf course they find themselves on the home turf of the very people they despise, the country club set that gave them shit all through high school. But they do like a nice walk in the park on a sunny day, so, bless the little bitter beer swilling underachievers, they created a golf alternative, Disc Golf. I would have called it frisbee golf, but apparently that dates me more than my wristwatch. But truth be told Disc Golf is a handy little sport for those kids. You can typically play for free, you can certainly carry a beer or a dube with you while your out there, and the difference between great and mediocre is much narrower than it is in real golf. Not that the hipsters haven’t allowed themselves to be sucked in to merchandising, as one guy I work with tried to explain to me the differences between a “driver” and a “putter” when it comes to what are essentially plastic plates. Me thinks the differences are in his mind and he probably throws the discs differently because the name stamped on them, but that’s just me.

The other appeal to frisbee golf is you can complete a round or two in 20 minutes (give or take an hour) get back to your LARP League or your magic cards. It’s better that way given that they all have vaccine induced ADD/ADHD anyway.

All this collective ADD in society has also killed baseball, one my favorite sports. Baseball today actually is killing me as well. Seems to me that when I was a kid a baseball game was about 25 minutes long. Seemed like that anyway. OK so really it was about 2 hours long, plenty of time to have a beer and take in some sun with 20K other office slackers on a Wednesday afternoon.

Now, feels like games are longer than cricket matches, which I’m told can take 3 days to complete. Well in Britain no one works anyway and folks have days on end to spend at a match drinking beer, and then sobering up in order to drink even more beer. But here in US, we got shit to do. Sitting on my ass at a Twins game for 5 hours.. (and paying $20 for a a beer) games are horribly long and drawn out. These days we have to endure not one, but TWO national anthem breaks, the field guys come out every inning to groom the infield as opposed every Sunday when I was a kid, we have to stop in the middle of innings for TV breaks and character races, recognize the firefighter who rescued a cat out of a tree.. and pitchers… pitchers today take minutes between pitches. I so miss Rich Reuschel when he was pitching for the Giants games were 1:50. Almost felt like I wasn’t getting my monies worth. Big Daddy was the last of the efficient pitchers in my book. he didn’t want to be there any longer than he had too. And he threw fast, meaning he’d get the ball back from the catcher and BOOM deliver the next pitch. Part of that was Rick wasn’t overpowering per se, but I think he realized that if he threw fast and mixed it up.. batters would be confused, and it worked. For him and for me.

Now a days I couldn’t get my kids to baseball game.. the hate the game. They think only old men watch it. And no one plays it either in this country so I’m declaring it dead.

Which leaves me with a huge gaping ADD issue this summer, how to keep me interested and engaged in something longer than 15 minutes. Suggestions? Send a note to Mrs S, she’s worried.

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Little Check In

Hey all, hope you have been well while I’ve been on hiatus. I’m blaming work once again, and lots and lots of travel. Since my last post, I’ve been to Harrisburg PA, Philadelphia PA and Portland OR. 

I could live in Portland, very nice out there. Lots of great beer and better coffee. Weather wasn’t to bad either. Rain of course, but 50 degrees in February is nothing to complain about. 

When I’m home I’ve been concentrating on doing family stuff to make for all the nights I’m out. Tonight Mrs S and I had dinner with a fellow I used to work with at Target and his wife. Really nice time, think we made some new friends. 

Funny, i’ve made more new friends since my pronouncement a few years ago that “I’ve met everyone in my life I care to meet, don’t need to meet anyone else thank you”. 

Never say never I guess. 

Was supposed to head up to the cabin this weekend for some R&R and ice fishing. 5 below is making me rethink my trip. I’m feeling too old to get up on the lake at those temperatures. 

Not that I’m not motivated to get out there though. I do love some lake time in the winter. 

We’ll see, look for an update here on Sunday. 

We have talked about going to a couple youth hockey games this weekend. Neighbor kids games. Don’t want to go to too many because A) looks like we’re creepy old stalkers and B) people might think we don’t have anything to do. While I woud argue we’re not creepy old stalkers, in the most strict legal definition of the same, we do have nothing to do these days. All part of tha empty nesting bullshit that sounded good a few years ago but in reality is a tish boring. 

Tish anyway. 

One way to keep yourself busy and your mind occupied is to volunteer. Until a month or so ago I was volunteering in town a couple time a month helping folks coming out of prison or ending in patient rehab with resumes and interview skills. Very rewarding work frankly. Now they don’t want to do this deal in the afternoon and since i actually have a job and can’t be available on their schedule… I think I’m fired, but I don’t know for sure. However, as we know from life experience, nature hates a vacuum so in the mean time I’ve been meeting with several former friends and colleagues from Target who are finding themselves out of work thanks to the layoffs over there. 

I was a good person to meet with before this, and often helped folks I knew, now my dance card is filled up enough that I’ve had to create a filing system for all the people I’m talking to to make sure I have keep their info straight. Its certainly been interesting to work with those folks. Good news is, the job market seems to be pretty good right now and most people shouldn’t have any trouble finding new work. Bad news is, they’re probably going to take pay cut of some kind. Still better than the alternative. 

That’s about it for right now. Stay warm this weekend and until next time, ciao baby 

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Welcome 2015- go away now

I hate 2015. Just say’n. I’d be ready to fast forward to 2016 except at my age I don’t know how many years I have left, so I sure hate to waste them on B.S. But if my history is any indication while the year may not be wasted on skipping the next 11 months I it will be wasted on angst and workaholicism.

Peh…

On the good news side, the oldest kid is coming home for a couple week at the end of February. Bad news is with my travel schedule I won’t see much of him (cue Cat’s in the Cradle). This is his first trip home since he left for Israel in August 2013. The kid is doing amazing things at the Technion. His work is being presented at the University of Texas in Austin in May. There’s a pretty good chance they’ll send him here to present and if that that happens rumor is there will be many Sankary’s in the audience. Including my Dad’s brother whom he’s never met.

The kid at Auburn is also doing very well. He’s plugging away in his Jr. year, working on his microbiology degree. I wish I was half as smart as he is… greatness skips generations.

The girl in meantime is also doing excellent academically. Another National Honor Society candidate. Later this year we start thinking about colleges. The empty nest is fast approaching… yeah empty nests.

Not lost on me is that there seems to be a lot of academic success for one batch of children. Ironic because I certainly did have much, maybe more of an effort problem than intellect problem. Can’t help it you find everything dreadfully boring.

The other secret to success around here, let’s just say personally, if I was bringing my grades home to Mrs S… they would have been a lot better than they were. She scares me and I don’t report to her.

Much.

I’ve started about 20 blogs in the last 6 weeks, and none of them were worthy of publishing. To lame, whiney, negative.

Peh…

Alright, that’s where I’m at. Midlife blahs and long work weeks. I don’t see much changing in 2015, but you never know, I may get a grip.

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2014 in review-

Not my best year blogging. Light on posts and light on comments… BUT I’m still here!

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 17,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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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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