Tag Archives: winter

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.


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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Life on Mars

25 degrees below zero.

That’s what the temperature was here at the Casa Del Sank-a-Ray this week. Fuck lake Wo-Be-Gone and that washed up old windbag Garrison Keiler, it was damned cold. How cold? Supposedly it was warmer on Mars than it was here in St. Paul.  Lame.

Journalistic hyperbole for gawds sake. First of all the average temps on Mars are around 50 degrees below zero, and that’s on a good day. Windchill is three times that. Second of all while it might have been warmer at the Martian equator, at least according to the NASA rover crawling around up there at cool million dollars a day, Minnesota is a full 45 degrees north of the equator so you can’t really compare apples to apples. Of course we’re colder, we’re further north.

Yeah so the red dirt on Mars was a tish warmer than the Minnesota for a bit, at only 25 below we were a balmy 25 degrees warmer than Mars on Monday. 25 degrees is a lot, it’s difference between long pants and shorts in Texas on any given January day.

Supposed to be 38 degrees here in Minnie on Saturday. I fully expect to see some shorts, hell days are getting longer now, it is practically spring.

But really, how cold was it? What’s 25 below feel like? For one thing your snot freezes when you go outside. For another there was ice on the front door knob. Looked like a good science fair project on conductivity.

My office on the four-season porch was 49 degrees on Monday morning. That’s uncomfy for sitting and typing. Not to mention the widows there were caked in ice. Inside the house mind you.


I took advantage of some warmer temps on Saturday and broke down and shrink wrapped the windows on the porch. Spread the 3M plastic window wrap over them, taped it down and hit it with the hair dryer. Made a big difference except for the spot where I accidently burned through the plastic, the hole made a nice jet stream of cold air blowing in so hard the dog moved out to the living room. Duct tape fixed that. It’s bad enough that we’re going to be looking through windows that look the bubble boy’s chamber for the next few months, worse is that we have a piece of duct tape slapped on the window at eye level.

“Will I have to look at that all year” someone asked.

I see we’re starting the New Year off with some keen well considered inquiries. I didn’t bother to answer that one because I’m pretty sure that the questioner will figure out that particular answer on her own.

Dog doesn’t like the cold. Opened the back door for him to step out for a turd on Monday night. Dummy froze up- wouldn’t go out. Just stood there, sniffing the air, probably trying to figure out where a good spot to crap in the basement instead might be. He’d like a spot where he wouldn’t get busted right way. Sorry dog, standing in front of an open door at 25 below zero will get you a foot in your ass every time, this is no time to dilly dally. Gentle kick to encourage him to get outside. We have about three seconds of any open door before Mrs S starts screaming from the other room “I FEEL A DRAFT!!!” Jeez. Never mind that she’s three floors away and has her bedroom door closed.

Apparently when G- d bestowed bionic hearing and a built in lie detector on my bride he also included some sort of hypersensitive atmospheric sensing mechanism which can anticipate the mere possibility of cold air in a given space, much less real cold. Women really have it all don’t they, so many gifts. Until they have to pee that is, then we dudes have the trump. Although, at these temperatures, that advantage seems to have um, “diminished” too. This is climate where you have to check driver’s licenses to figure out one’s gender after all.

So the dog… typically he’d follow his little snow trail out to Mrs S’s flowerbeds, his favorite dumping ground, and enrich the soil far from the house. Not at 25 below apparently. At these temps he takes one step out, turns around and looks at me, hunches over, pops the tail skywards and proceeds to drop a Alpo steamer right on the deck, not 8” from the damned window. Then he barks to let me know he’s done and wants to come back in. Total elapsed time, 4 seconds.

No dummy that dog. Smarter than some kids I’ve raised.

Of course Mrs S picks that time to come downstairs to watch her stories, looks out on the deck, frowns up and says “Will I have to look at that all year?”

I guess since I didn’t answer her last time I decided it best to combine my responses this time.

“The tape or the turd?”

If you could bottle sarcasm this family would have a franchise in “looks” alone.

“Tape’s gonna be there until March, 45 more days until I take down the plastic.” Or we get new windows which ever comes first, so it could be up there a couple years or so. (The shrink wrap by the way has made all the difference. Despite looking like a cheap trailer home, it is markedly warmer in my office, got up to a balmy 57 degrees by Monday, almost took my pants off)

“The turd on the other hand I will remove in a few short minutes, or just after it turns into a poopsicle”, when they’re frozen they’re easier to pick up and toss over the fence. I like snowbirds for neighbors. BTW in case you’re keeping track from this fall, the sun tea container, still out on the deck next door and now… a whole new meaning to ice tea.

“Well” she said “good to know you gotta plan” and with that she went back into hibernation.

And three days later, I just noticed, the poppsicle… is still there, waiting for the Spring Poop Harvest.


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No Time Like Snow Time

We’re on Winter Storm Watch here in Minnesota, the first snow fall of the season is eminent. Forecasters are all over themselves in a virtual orgy of forecasting prognostica.  

Prognostica is a new word that I just invented, thank you very much. Language being born, it’s a beautiful thing. It comes from the root “prognosticate” which means to forecast or predict and “euphoria” a feeling of great overwhelming joy. It describes the near blissful state that weather forecasters whip themselves into when the weather becomes actual news. 4 years of metrological sciences at St. Cloud State finally paying off when a weather dude gets to sit with the anchors at the top of the news and show concern. Prognistica- feel free to use it with attribution.

The weather dudes and dudettes are saying this evening we could see snow fall in excess of 4” in some parts of the metro.  In my house 4” is sometimes described as 8” depending on what we’re measuring.

Like Pergo flooring for example, you have to leave some space for expansion… 

They’re also say that since this is a very “skinny” storm the band of snow could be as little as 30miles wide, we could see as little as 0” in some parts of the Metro.  And since the roads are warmish, we could see snow that melts on contact which would be negative inches if you follow my logic.

So restated correctly this evening the Twin Cities is under a Winter Storm Suggestion, not sure it warrents a full on warning, meaning there is a chance that we could see anywhere from -2” to 4” of snow depending on where you live and what you’ve done to offend your God.

Personally I’ll either hunker down, fasting and repenting while watching TV or I’ll head out to my Lodge meeting. Depends on fury of the flakes.


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Thinking about Indian Summer after White Man Winter.

I love me a good Indian Summer. With all due respect to my native friends, or rather friend I think I only have one official Native American friend, official in that he’s an enrolled member of a tribe, I think he said I could still say Indian Summer. My definition of Indian Summer is a few weeks of gorgeous delightfully pleasant weather we get after the first nip of winter weather, usually in October. It’s a good thing, like the Indians are bringing us something nice before the cold sets in, aka the Thanksgiving Myth of happy Pilgrims free from the religious oppression of Europe, landed in America where they could now become the oppressors rather than the opressees enjoying a delightful meal of turkey, cornbread, garlic mash and green bean casserole with the benevolent and loving Wampanoag people who forgave them that enslavement deal for a couple days and brought them good things to eat and helped the survive the winter.

I digress. Indian Summer. Then I think about April 2013 in Minnesota. After three nice days in March we got an extra month of winter around here. Snow, and lots of it, cold temperatures, nothing thawed like it was supposed too… are there is there a name for that extra winter? Something about a people who gives promises of good times to come and then swipes them away? What COULD we call that? Hmmm.

What have we been through here in Minnesota? Local weather guy Paul Douglas pointed out that between Sunday morning and Tuesday afternoon there places in this state that experienced a 100 degree change in temperatures.

Paul Douglas is full of crap. There’s no way that it was more than 70 degrees. Childs play for the land of lakes where weather is a theatre controlled by the same unerring laws of natures that govern the movement of the planets in the orbits and rotation of our Earth around its axis, which is what really creates the unending progression of seasons which delight us so here in Minnesota, and fill our conversations with incessant whining while at the same time giving us pride and collective strength as we brag to friends and family less subject to Mother Nature’s inclemency’s that to live here takes guts and fortitude not found in more southerly climes.

To which I say, in the tenderest manner, bull<space>shit. My son, the Alabama guy, spit his McDonalds diet coke all over the front window of my car when he heard on the radio, on Sunday afternoon, a day when it didn’t get out of the 40’s, that by Tuesday we would be dealing with “extreme” heat, maybe even pushing…. 90 degrees.

We may be proud of the fact that there are times here when stepping outside in the wrong clothing could be fatal in a matter of minutes and that we survive it, but give us a little heat and we melt like fucking popsicle. Shee it.

I remember the one and only time I took by precious bride to visit my folks in Stockton California. It was August. Mid August, oven season in the Great Central Valley. We had started our journey (and this is the only appropriate use of the word friends. Your weight loss, professional development, childrearing years etc. are not Journeys, stop using that word for that stuff, it’s just gawd damned annoying.) in San Francisco, it was about 60 degrees. As we made our way over the Altamont Pass and descended into the valley, where on a clear day in winter you can easily see across the valley from the Altamont to the Sierra Nevada, a distance of about 100 miles, there was nothing but shimmering heat and haze. We pulled into Stockton the comfort of our car AC cranking away and passed the bank when Mrs S made the following comment, “It’s 1:15? I thought it was like 3:00.”

When we stopped and opened the door to the car, she realized her mistake. It was 3:00 and it was every bit of 115. Brutal. But not like I didn’t go out and do things back in the day, after all it’s a dry heat eh? We must not have invented dehydration before about 1980 because I can’t ever remember anyone ever worrying about it, or about us kids paying out side in the heat. Hell they MADE us play in the heat, and told us not to drink water to avoid cramping up.

Strange times we live in, why I hear nowadays parents’ chain smoking in cars with the widows closed is bad for the children in some way. That was a game even Granndma got into. Smoking that is.

So where in Minnesota we’ve passed the season where a can of beer in your gloved hand starts freezing in about 5 minutes and finally, FINALLY seems to have reached a point where the snow, at least sticking snow, is behind us for 4 or 5 months. Not saying we won’t have another frost yet, but snow is probably gone. Today I smelled my first cut lawn, neighbors are starting to get out there with their mowers and hacking away. The raking is in fill swing. Street sweepers came along today to harvest as much of the winters sand and gravel as they could, streets are clean, flowers are budding, things are looking up.

Ooo Morels will be here soon, now THAT is good news.

And then you realize the days get shorter in 4 short weeks. Happy Summer everyone.


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My Best Face Forward

Wisconsin fishing opener this weekend. Traditionally I’d be out on the lake, at least I’d consider it an option. But this year that won’t be happening,  I have another responsibility. Team Sank is  off to Houghton Michigan this instead. Yay us. Crazy to think that I’m old enough to have a college graduate. Crazier still, that on May 3rd I have to think about a gawd damned snow storm.

The snow that falleth in May, doth smite my hope in the promise of spring.

In otherwords I continue to grow weary of this fucking weather.

Here’s a picture of lake, taken this morning by the nice folks at Sherrard’s Resort who I’m sure would like to be open and running a resort the first weekend in May, fishing opener in Wisconsin and all, as opposed to whatever it is they are doing at the moment up there. Sure ain’t boating or fishing.



See that white stuff out there? That’s ice. We’re still frozen.  We got 12 inches of snow at Blake Lake last night. Fairbault, just south of us, 18 inches. Previous record for the entire month of May… 3 inches.

Looking at the picture I can’t help but feel a little down. I’d like to be out there on the boat about now.


Cold is a small price to pay to live in paradise.

Keeps down on the riff raff.

I don’t have to worry about mowing the lawn, or doing any yard work.

No mosquito’s. I don’t have to worry about malaria or dengue.

I haven’t re-strung my fishing reels yet, have more time to do that.

I get to take my first annual May cross country skiing trip.

The local ski resort can reopen, for the 3rd time.

I don’t have to overload my refrigerator, nature is providing a free one.

I get one last snow cocktail- root beer schnapps and snow.

Summer sledding party.

Don’t need to buy sunscreen yet.

The more I think the more I can enjoy this weather.

Yay me.


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Has G-d forsaken his people the Minnesotans?

April 17, 2013- St. Paul Minnesota, state of Narnia.

I have dudes in my backyard with goat hooves now. Looking for a bunch of kids in a wardrobe somewhere.

4 more inches of snow tonight. More snow tomorrow. More snow Friday. Windchills in the teens, highs in the 30’s… blah blah blah.

I’ve lost rational thought about the winter that will not end.


I swear to G-d, I may take Punxsutawney Phil to court and sue him for, for um.. hell I’m going to find something. Breech of freaking trust. Stupid woodchuck said early spring. You know, even if the little rat had seen his gawddamned shadow and even if we had six more weeks of winter it still would have ended on March 16, that’s 6 freaking weeks ago.

Fucking rat is dead next time I see’m. Jus say’n.

In conversation with a highly regarded consultant, a fellow who knows all there is to know about everything explained the weather issues to me this way:

G-d has forsaken us.

Not sure there are any other explanations for this, we’ve tried everything else.

I’m thinking that I’m going to go on a fast until this weather breaks. Actually, pretty brilliant idea if I don’t say so myself. If summer ever does come, I’ll be in thong form.

Question is why? I think it’s because we re-elected Michelle Bachmann. She’s about as anti-God as they come. This is a little dire people. It means, and this is going to be hard to accept, but until Michelle steps down, winter will continue.

Hope you like sledding in July.


This morning I was reading local meteorologist Paul Douglas’s column in the Star Tribune. He’s worried that when summer does come, and he still thinks it will, I’m skeptical, ti will come fast and furious, like in one afternoon. Temps will go from 20’s overnight to 108 in the afternoon.

According to Douglas, that means we’re going to be due for a particularly violent tornado season. Something about gradients and temperature variances.

Sheez, Endless snow, followed by cataclysmic storms… I think then its frogs, boils, blood and death of the first born.

Quit Michelle, for the benefit of all of us. 


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Carnage and Paradise in 4 Bullets or less.

1) I have to write an outline for project at NamelessFaceless next week.

A)I love outlines.

B) I think in outlines.

Oh the humanity of it all. 14 March- Broken Bone Day in Minnesota.

The Cities were hit with a wintery mix of ice and snow overnight Wednesday. In that order, which makes a difference because.. the snow covered the ice, which resulted in people flying in all directions and not of their own accord:

–          Your favorite old fat ass fell on said ass not once, but twice on the ice. Twice in the same morning I made contact with the sidewalk in a way that I’m loathe to repeat.

Aside here- you know, I’ve lived here in the Great Del Norte Blanco for 18 years and in that time have actually never slipped on wild ice. Meaning ice that wasn’t where it was supposed to be. I have slipped on lake ice, but that’s kinda of expected. But on the street never. Twice in one morning.

Neither fall was particularly devastating.

The first one was one was a face plant where the feet went south whilst the head went north. I broke my fall with right hand, my left successfully hanging on to a cup of coffee that I’m proud to say, leaked not.
The second fall, that was more of a death spiral where the plant foot begins to rotate in a clockwise direction and, being unable to stop it, one attempts to mitigate the fall by sort of rolling to the ground in the same direction. The bad news on that kind of fall, more of my um, expansive shall we say, surface area came in contact with the street resulting in wet pants.
Wet dress pants. Which in the words of George Orwell is Doubleplusungood.
But I wasn’t alone

–          Friend of mine broke his leg falling yesterday. While he was in the emergency room his wife counted no less than 10 others in assorted arms, legs plus a couple hips for good measure.

–          Several people in my cube farm reported difficulties with traction and gravity. And these aren’t oldsters like me.

Still, it’s a small price to pay for the privilege of living in paradise. I have a rather narrow definition of paradise but it looks something like this (as long as I’m in the list making mode.)

“List making mode” you ask, “wtf is that?” Thanks for asking, it’s that thing where you lack the creativity and impetus to string more than two sentences together so you hit the “Bullet” button on your word processor and then you get a list of stuff that people mistake for coherent thoughts but really were just lazy drivel. Drivel BTW is the old English term for “blog”. You can use them interchangeably sayeth I. See what I did there? Old English, sayeth, clever eh?  

If anyone has gotten down this far, personally would have hit next on my Flipboard reader about three paragraphs ago, my definition of Paradise is a place with the following attributes:

  1. Comfortable shoes
  2. Interesting weather.
  3. Free Wifi.
  4. Warm place to shit.

Other than that I’m not sure what else you need. The Baseball package would be nice too.

So would a lake.

But that’s it.

Oh, add good coffee. What’s good coffee you ask?

  1. Dark roasted Arabica beans.
  2. Ground seconds before brewing.
  3. Made strong, like I like my women. And  my opinions.
  4. Made by someone else and brought to me.

Quiet would be nice too. No talking in Paradise. Well, no conversation anyway. I find conversation in my house to be really really difficult because everyone else won’t stop talking. F’n exhausting.

Maybe a conversation with some interesting folks. Hmm.. that would be cool for short periods of time.

As you can see Paradise is unattainable, at least in my current existence, but three out of four on these two lists ain’t bad. Notice what Paradise isn’t:

  1. Beaches and palm trees. I find beaches interesting only when storms are coming in or when cool dead things are washing up on shore. Other than that I get bored after a few nanoseconds. Palm trees BTW, dirty trees that drop things on you like coconuts and palm fronds, which in my experience can seriously kill you. Gimmie a pine tree. Looks nice and kills the grass under it. Call that “self-maintaining”.
  2. Swimsuit models at my beck and call. Unless they’re bringing me coffee I really have no use for a bunch of scantly clad babes. At some point they’re going to want to strike up a conversation with me and conversations.. this is my paradise, no talking. BTW just one reason why I’ve never embraced radical Islamic terrorism, the promise of 100 virgins to me sounds like spending eternity locked in a house with 100 teenage girls. I would seriously put that on a list with a different title if you know what I’m saying.
  3. Free Golf. Not even going to bother with that one.
  4. Bottomless glasses of 25 year old single malt.. Boy that’s a toughie but you know, but I certainly don’t to spend half my time in Paradise hung.

There you have it..

But Sank, this makes no sense whatsoever, what’s this drivel blog about? Fact is I’ve spent the last several weeks spending much of my waking hours in PowerPoint. 4 bullet point lists are the backbone of American business these days. I remember when a “deck” was something you stood on when you walked out your back window. Now it’s a way for Business Folks to measure accomplishments. The bigger the deck the more accomplished you are.

I, want to be accomplished. Four lists which are only slightly connected. I might have earned an MBA.

Now, you have it.


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