Went for a nice long run on the Lake Minnetonka LRT Trail last Saturday.

Very pretty even with the leaves all gone. I’ll definitely head back over whenever possible. It was also kind of fun to think about the fact that I ran almost completely through three different cities (OK, towns) and part of a fourth. Started in Minnetonka and ran into Deephaven, then Greenwood and then through Excelsior.

Would have been a little faster but near the end I looked up the path and saw a deer nibbling grass at the side of the trail. 


She looked up and I stopped and fished out my phone to take a picture. She’d go back to her snack and I would ease forward a few steps until she looked up again. This went on until I got maybe as close as 60 feet away and then she darted off down into the gully where it turned out there was a second one.


They kept their eyes on me as I continued on my way.


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Views from the Guthrie Theatre


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Protect Nearby Monument!


“Protect nearby monument.” I looked across the road and thought, “Why are they concerned about this?”


It doesn’t look to me to be in any danger. It’s far enough back from the river it isn’t likely to fall in. Are they worried about vandals? I looked at the sign again and saw the bottom line “Monument is 6 feet No.” Well, that means they aren’t talking about that one. It’s a lot further than 6 feet away and it isn’t anywhere close to north. I look around and about 2 paces north of the sign I see this in the ground.


Finally my brain processes the first part of the sign completely “Protect nearby survey monument.” The stone in the ground for surveyors to use as a reference point. “Monument” made my mind go immediately to something big and grand. Nope. We’re talking about this plain and unassuming stone in the ground.

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To my wife on the occasion of our Anniversary:


(This sounded more eloquent in my head as I thought about it, but it was more important to me to say it clumsily than not at all.)

I am extremely happy and proud to have been married to you for these last 22 years. Without you my life would not be the joy it is.

You indulge my dreams. When I express interest in opening my own restaurant or starting up a food truck your immediate response is not to think it is silly. Instead you ask what we would need to make it happen. I think of writing a book and am met with nothing but encouragement.

You have put up with what we like to call my mid-life crisis. When I wanted to teach myself to play guitar, you helped find one along with music to start with. I didn’t just start running but chose to do it in those funky “toe-shoes” and your only concern was that I not hurt myself. Even letting my hair grow out was met with little more than a questioning look.

I love going on our dates which I often like to think of as adventures. We have been going new places and trying new things and every one of them has been more fun with you there to share them and talk about them afterward.

Hearkening back to “our song” that I sang  to you at our wedding—I’m still trying to save time in a bottle, but my box of wishes remains empty.

I am thrilled that I get to grow old with you.

I love you with all my heart.

Your Adoring Husband

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Unemployment Absurdity


I heard on the radio earlier today a report (one of the almost weekly reports) on the latest unemployment figures. The thing that struck me the most was the statement that for unemployment rates to go down there needs to be a decrease in new claims. That seems a little like saying to someone “To cure your pneumonia we need to stop your cough.” It is looking at a symptom not the actual problem.

Of course it is always easier to look at symptoms and not problems. We do it all the time. It feels like the quick fix. We don’t feel well and go to the doctor so they can prescribe a pill. We get overwhelmed by debt and take out a loan to “consolidate”. Instead of solving the actual problem, we try to just cover things up. We fix what feels the worst right now and ignore the rest.

As far as unemployment goes, the problem isn’t how many people are filing unemployment claims. It doesn’t matter how many people are collecting unemployment. The unemployment rate is a number created to try to make a complicated issue easy to understand. But by doing that we are completely breaking the actual understanding of the issue. It only figures out the number of people who are filing unemployment claims against the calculated total “eligible workforce”.

As has been mentioned many times in many places, it doesn’t take into account the person who has gone past the end of eligibility for unemployment benefits. It doesn’t take into account the people who have given up looking for work. It doesn’t take into account the person working a part time job because it is the only thing they could find and they figure part-time is better than no-time. It doesn’t account for the person who sees collecting unemployment as accepting charity or admitting they failed. It doesn’t account for the person who was self-employed but is now looking for work because their business failed. It doesn’t account for the person who doesn’t file simply because they assume they won’t qualify. It doesn’t account for the person who was unemployed and got a job but at a huge cut in pay from their previous job. It doesn’t account for the person working two or even three full-time jobs because one just doesn’t bring in enough money to support their household. It doesn’t take into account the people outside of the “eligible workforce” who either have or need jobs.

Should a 17 year old looking for a job count as unemployed? If they are still living at home it is not likely that they really need the job to survive, but there are 17 year olds that for one reason or another have moved out from home. Or if they are still at home their parents aren’t making enough money so them having a job is a matter of survival. Then you have the 25 year old that has moved back in with their parents or never has left. When do you count them as “unemployed”?

Some might argue that looking at the “employment rate” is a better measure. It might be better but not by much. It has many of the same issues. Do you count the 17 year old living at home student with a 20 hour per week, minimum wage job as a full employed person, half because of the hours, three-quarters because of the pay compared to the poverty level, one-sixth compared to US median income, or zero because they don’t really need the job? Similarly does a CEO job count as just one, two because they are actually working 80 hour weeks, 100 because they make that much more than the median income or 440 compared to poverty guidelines. Counting the number of jobs by “full-time equivalents” would put a minimum wage job (that few could survive on) on a par with the CEO of a major corporation. Do you count by salary? You can’t really break the CEO’s job into 440 (or even 100) pieces. And if you say the 17 year old should not count because they do not need the job, but the CEO probably has a 401(k) and other investments worth millions of dollars so does he really need the job either? Do you count the 75 year old who wants to work to feel useful as “unemployed”? Is he part of the “eligible workforce”? Does it make a difference if he needs the money because Social Security is not enough? What if his child is that CEO that could afford to take care of him? What if they had a fight 25 years ago and haven’t even spoken since then?

Our continued attempts to put a simple number on unemployment just cheapens the issue and pushes us further from finding a real solution. Or to be more precise solutions. I am not an economic expert, but I am sure that there will not be one solution that will fix everything.

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