Now gluten-free!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Minnesota Barbie Dolls

Mattel recently announced the release of limited-edition Barbie Dolls for the Minnesota market:
    Minnetonka Barbie
    This princess Barbie is sold only at the Galleria. She comes with an assortment of Kate Spade Handbags, a Lexus SUV, a long-haired foreign dog named Honey, and a cookie-cutter house. Available with or without tummy tuck and face lift. Workaholic Ken sold only in conjunction with the augmented version.

    Woodbury Barbie
    The modern day homemaker Barbie is available with Ford Windstar Minivan and matching gym outfit. She gets lost easily, is always late, and has no full-time occupation or goals. Traffic jamming cell phone sold separately.

    Lake Street Barbie
    This recently paroled Barbie comes with a 9mm handgun, a Ray Lewis knife, a Chevy with dark tinted windows, and a meth lab kit. This model is only available after dark and must be paid for in cash - preferably small, untraceable bills...unless you're a cop, then we don't know what you're talking about.

    Edina Barbie
    This yuppie Barbie comes with your choice of BMW convertible or Hummer H2. Included are her own Starbucks cup, credit card, and country club membership. Also available for this set are Shallow Ken and Private School Skipper. But you won't be able to afford any of them.

    Iron Range Barbie
    This pale model comes dressed in her own Wrangler jeans two sizes too small, a NASCAR t-shirt and tweety bird tattoo on her shoulder. She has a six-pack of Bud light and a Hank Williams Jr. CD set. She can spit over 5 feet and kick mullet-haired Ken's butt when she is drunk or sober. Purchase her pickup truck separately and get a Confederate flag bumper sticker absolutely free.

    Bemidji Barbie
    This tobacco-chewing, brassy-haired Barbie has a pair of her own high-heeled sandals with one broken heel from the time she chased beer-gutted Ken out of Iron Range Barbie's house. Her ensemble includes low-rise acid-washed jeans, fake fingernails, and a see-through halter-top. Also available with a mobile home.

    Uptown Barbie
    This doll is made of actual tofu. She's stinky and has long straight brown hair, arch-less feet, hairy armpits, no makeup, and Birkenstocks with white socks. She prefers that you call her Willow. She does not want or need a Ken doll, but if you purchase two Uptown Barbies and the optional Subaru wagon, you get a rainbow flag bumper sticker for free.

    South St. Paul Barbie
    This Barbie now comes with a stroller and infant doll. Optional accessories include a GED and bus pass. Gangsta Ken and his 1979 Caddy were available, but are now very difficult to find since the addition of the infant. (Try looking in Chicago.)

    Dinkytown Barbie/Ken
    This versatile doll can be easily converted from Barbie to Ken by simply adding or subtracting the multiple snap-on parts.
- As heard on Garage Logic. Source unknown.

Rock (and Roll) of Ages

Ordinary, boring, run-of-the-mill worship songs just not cutting it? Try spicing things up with the music of U2! From a recent article:
    The Pope may have condemned rock music as "anti-religion" but the Church of England has announced it is to use the songs of a global supergroup in an effort to boost congregations.

    The first "U2-charist" in England, an adapted Holy Communion service that uses the Irish rock group's best-selling songs in place of hymns, is to be staged at a Lincoln church in May.

    A live band will play U2 classics such as "Mysterious Ways" and "Beautiful Day" as worshippers sing along with lyrics which will appear on screen at St. Swithin's parish church in the town centre.
What about classic U2 songs like "Sunday Bloody Sunday," "Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses," "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me," or "Trash, Trampoline, and the Party Girl"? Seems to me those would be perfect worship songs for any denomination. Now all that's left to do is replace the wine with J├Ągermeister and the bread with pot-laced brownies and we'll have a church any sinner can feel comfortable in!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Government-Run Snow Removal

Here's how it works here in Minnesota...

Friday, January 26, 2007

D'oh! Nuts!

Some things just shouldn't be messed with:
    Scientist Develops Caffeinated Doughnuts

    DURHAM. N.C. (AP) - That cup of coffee just not getting it done anymore? How about a Buzz Donut or a Buzzed Bagel? That's what Doctor Robert Bohannon, a Durham, North Carolina, molecular scientist, has come up with. Bohannon says he's developed a way to add caffeine to baked goods, without the bitter taste of caffeine. Each piece of pastry is the equivalent of about two cups of coffee.

    While the product is not on the market yet, Bohannon has approached some heavyweight companies, including Krispy Kreme, Dunkin' Donuts and Starbucks about carrying it.
Sorry. We won't be changing our recipe anytime soon. If you want caffeine with your Lemon Harangue Pie, you'll just have to stick with good, old-fashioned coffee or tea.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Some people's parents!

Bravo to AirTran Airways for sticking to their guns. This story reprinted from the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

AirTran Airways defends decision to remove family due to toddler's actions
AirTran Airways on Tuesday defended its decision to remove a Massachusetts couple from a flight after their crying 3-year-old daughter refused to take her seat before takeoff.
By JIM ELLIS, Associated Press Writer

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - AirTran Airways on Tuesday defended its decision to remove a Massachusetts couple from a flight after their crying 3-year-old daughter refused to take her seat before takeoff.

AirTran officials said they followed Federal Aviation Administration rules that children age 2 and above must have their own seat and be wearing a seat belt upon takeoff.

"The flight was already delayed 15 minutes and in fairness to the other 112 passengers on the plane, the crew made an operational decision to remove the family,'' AirTran spokeswoman Judy Graham-Weaver said.

Julie and Gerry Kulesza, who were headed home to Boston on Jan. 14 from Fort Myers, said they just needed a little more time to calm their daughter, Elly.

"We weren't given an opportunity to hold her, console her or anything,'' Julie Kulesza said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

The Kuleszas said they told a flight attendant they had paid for their daughter's seat, but asked whether she could sit in her mother's lap. The request was denied.

She was removed because "she was climbing under the seat and hitting the parents and wouldn't get in her seat'' during boarding, Graham-Weaver said.

The Orlando-based carrier reimbursed the family $595.80, the cost of the three tickets, and the Kuleszas flew home the next day.

They also were offered three roundtrip tickets anywhere the airline flies, Graham-Weaver said.

The father said his family would never fly AirTran again.

Good! I hope they never fly any other airline again either! Not while I'm on it! Now, don't get me wrong, I know how toddlers can be. I'm the father of a very well-behaved little girl who we've flown with numerous times (well-behaved partly because we're lucky, but also partly because she's been raised with some discipline.) Nevertheless, when she was between one and four years old, we knew she was not even-tempered enough to be trusted on a plane. So, we did not fly with her during those years! And, when she acted up in any other environment, we removed her from that environment. (And a good bit more disciplinary action would have been taken if she'd ever physically hit her own parents.) It ticks me off when parents expect everyone else to coddle their misbehaving children, and won't voluntarily remove them from the restaurant, church sanctuary, grocery store, livestock auction, whatever, when they get out of hand (as even the best-behaved children will, at least once in a while). Then the airline actually gave these parents a full refund and offered additional free flights at another time, and they have the guts to complain about it! Sheesh!

Perseverance of the Saints

Though they lost the NFC championship,
the Saints have every reason
to feel good about their Chicago trip
and their most illustrious season.

For four decades the team has fought
against great odds and shame.
And for too long, it seems, they've sought
to win just one big game.

So never in our wildest dreams
did we ever think we'd see
the Saints among the best of teams -
number two in the NFC!

No, the Saints won't go marching in.
There'll be no Super Bowl.
But loyal fans have cause to grin:
Their team has found its soul.

Now let this thought quell the urge
to feel down and shed a tear.
Don't groan or sing a mournful dirge,
'cause they're going all the way next year!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Rainy Days and Mondays...

I was perfectly happy today unil I found out that, mathematically, I'm supposed to be depressed. That's because today is Blue Monday: The Unhappiest Day of the Year:
    Today, say experts, is the unhappiest day in the entire year.

    Unpaid Christmas bills, nasty weather, and failed New Year's resolutions combine to make January 22 the gloomiest in the calendar. ...

    ... Dr. Cliff Arnall, a Cardiff University psychologist, devised the formula that shows today is the most depressing.

    His equation takes into account six factors: weather, debt, time since Christmas, time since failing our new year's resolutions, low motivational levels and the feeling of a need to take action.

    Taken together they pinpoint today as 'Blue Monday'.

    Dr. Arnall said that by understanding the main factors for depression we can prevent becoming unhappy next year.
Dang. I was never any good at math. Now what?
    All is not doom and gloom, however, as a survey of 85 per cent of people in Britain expect to be happier in the future than they are now, a psychological study for Standard Life Bank found.

    Scots were the most optimistic, followed by people in the South West, while people from London and the West Midlands had the least positive outlook on life, researchers discovered.

    Taking up a new hobby is the most favoured tactic by Britons to become happier in 2007, amid a general trend for people wanting to make work less of a focus in 2007.
I feel better now. I knew my Scottish ancestry was good for something!

And speaking of taking up new hobbies... Haggis, anyone?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

A Multicultural Experience

An American blogger, who is adopting from China, presents a Japanese group singing Italian opera on a mountaintop in Peru:

Now that's diversity!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Beautiful People Need Not Apply

PeTA chicks protesting fur in Hong Kong.

'Nuff said.

Ugly People Need Not Apply

Get to know your national news anchors, reporters, and correspondents at Here, you will find pictures and brief bios of all your favorites.

Think you have what it takes to work in front of the camera on a national news program? Think again. That privilege is reserved for beautiful people only. Alan Colmes is the exception that proves the rule.

(Note that the beauty restriction doesn't always hold true for local news anchors or reporters. That's why we have local newscasts.)

Saturday, January 13, 2007

From the Des Moines Police Blotter

Yee-haw! There's been some big goin's on about town here lately! These stories from this morning's Des Moines Register. I suppose I can make fun of them. They're a Gannett paper (a.k.a., the publisher of "USA Today"). I used to work for Gannett. Today, though, the Des Moines paper reads more like my hometown "Dassel-Cokato Enterprise/Dispatch"! ....Ok, there were bigger stories, too, but these ones make for good blogging!

Scuffle for TV remote ends in assault

January 13, 2007

A Des Moines woman is asking police to help find and charge the man who punched and strangled her for the remote at her home Friday night.

The woman told Des Moines police the man she invited over to her apartment was her boyfriend. Police could not find any information based on the name she supplied.

According to the report, the woman said he punched her in the face when she swiped the television remote control from him. After punching her, the man choked her, threw her on the coffee table and threatened to kill her if she called the police, she said.

Kum 'n' Go robber fights for wings 'n' beer

January 13, 2007

Des Moines Police are looking for a man who fought a convenience store clerk early Saturday morning for buffalo wings, chocolate and beer.

A store clerk at Kum & Go, 2930 Hickman Road, reported that a black man wearing a hat and black coat came into the store and took two boxes of Friday’s Buffalo Wings, four Nestle Crunch Bars and two 12-packs of Corona bottles.

When the man left without paying, the clerk said he followed him to the door and touched him on the shoulder to tell him to pay. The man turned to punch the clerk, who dodged the swipe, according to the report.

The two fought before the man left. The clerk had a torn shirt, red marks and scratches on his chest from the scuffle.

Pet duck disappears without a trace

A Des Moines family fears its feathered friend, Rick James, was ducknapped.

January 13, 2007

A cardboard sign abuts Rick James' old habitat across the street from the Iowa State Fairgrounds' Grandstand.

"Do you know who stole our duck?" the sign reads.

Deborah Thornton hopes the strange and unnatural disappearance of her family's three-year-old duck - named Rick James after a skit from "Chappelle's Show" - isn't a tragedy that ends in murder most fowl.

"They stole him right out of the front yard," Thornton said, sitting on the couch as the family's three remaining pets - two black cats and a year-old English Mastiff named Brandy - cuddled around her. "I just hope nobody ate him."

Rick James was four days old when Thornton's daughter, Theresa, brought him home from Des Moines Feed Co. three years ago.

Rick James replaced the family's chicken, Nugget, who had lived peacefully in the front yard until a dog found his way inside the fence: no more Nugget.

Theresa took Rick James everywhere. She tucked him in her purse and walked him around the neighborhood. She took him to work and on camping trips to Jester Park.

He was a friendly duck who always came when called, who never strayed far from his surrogate mother, who stood tall and raised his head feathers when he wanted attention.

"He's the only duck that has a personality like those cartoon ducks you see on television," Deborah said.

The fateful Sunday-morning disappearance of Rick James one month ago went like this:

Theresa returned home at 7 a.m. after working overnight. Rick James welcomed her home with a barrage of quacks. Theresa petted him, then went in for a nap.

At 9 a.m., Deborah took Rick James breakfast: a cup of grains with raisins and a few grapes.

At 11 a.m., Theresa's boyfriend, Mike Booker Jr., went outside to play football with friends. He opened the door, but there was no quacking, no plumage of white feathers rushing toward him.

Rick James?

"All you had to do was say his name and he'd come a-running," Booker said.

No Rick James. The family looked in surrounding yards. The boy next door hopped on his bike and combed the neighborhood. No duck. No feathers. No clues.

Days turned into weeks. They called animal control; no ducks, they said. Theresa placed the cardboard sign on their chain-link front fence and adorned it with Rick James' name inside a heart.

Sure, they didn't know Rick James was stolen, exactly. He might have wandered off. But the few times he had left the yard, he never strayed beyond the driveway or the next-door neighbor's garden.

He might have been run over by a truck. But no scattered feathers indicated a quick, painless end for Rick James.

He might have flown away, right? No, Deborah points out - the ability to fly has been bred out of white domestic ducks.

So, the family stewed, if it looks like a stolen duck and acts like a stolen duck, it must be a stolen duck.

Soon, the Thorntons say, they'll take down the sign in their front yard. They'll assume Rick James migrated to a better place.

"I just want to know what happened with Rick James," Deborah said. "I just want to have closure. If someone got him and made a duck dinner out of him, I just want to know."

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Wisdom of a Useful Sort

Feeling a little badly, 24 hours later, for saying mean things about the usefulness and coolness of this blog, I've decided to post some practical words of wisdom from some of the cooler books ever written: the Winnie the Pooh books by A.A.Milne.
  1. “If the person you are talking to doesn't appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.”
  2. “People who don't Think probably don't have Brains; rather, they have grey fluff that's blown into their heads by mistake.”
  3. “Nobody can be uncheered with a balloon”
  4. “A bear, however hard he tries, grows tubby without exercise.”
  5. “"Well," said Pooh, "what I like best -- " and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called”
  6. “Those who are clever, who have a Brain, never understand anything.”
  7. “Before beginning a Hunt, it is wise to ask someone what you are looking for before you begin looking for it.”
  8. “Poetry and Hums aren't things which you get, they're things which get you. And all you can do is go where they can find you.”
  9. “Always watch where you are going. Otherwise, you may step on a piece of the Forest that was left out by mistake.”
  10. “It gets you nowhere if the other person's tail is only just in sight for the second half of the conversation.”
  11. “Don't underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering.”
  12. “When late morning rolls around and you're feeling a bit out of sorts, don't worry; you're probably just a little eleven o'clockish.”
  13. “Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.”
  14. “We can't all, and some just don't. That's all there is to it.”
  15. “Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up.”
  16. “You can't stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”
  17. “Tiggers don't like honey.”
  18. “When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.”
  19. “'Supposing a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?' 'Supposing it didn't,' said Pooh. After careful thought Piglet was comforted by this.”
  20. “It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn't use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like "What about lunch?"”
  21. “"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"
    "What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"

    "I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.

    Pooh nodded thoughtfully.

    "It's the same thing," he said.”
One good reason to have children is to give yourself an excuse to read the Winnie the Pooh series. The original Disney animated movie that drew mostly from the books was also not bad. If you don't have time for kids or books, you can at least read the collection of quotes from which I selected this list, at

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The "Best" of the Web

The Guardian recently posted its list of "the new 100 most useful sites." Not to be outdone, Time presented its selection of the "50 coolest websites."

Strangely absent from either list: Lemon Harangue Pie. What's up with that? Not even an honorable mention? I mean, Time even voted me Person of the Year, for crying out loud!

Oh, well. I suppose I can keep my day job a little while longer.

Monday, January 08, 2007

When Tiggers Attack

I was horrified when I heard that Tigger had attacked a kid at Disney World:
    WARNING: The following video contains graphic violence that should not be viewed by young children whose nurseries were decorated in a "Winnie the Pooh" theme.

I shudder now when I think how close Dawn and I came to being mauled to death in March of '05...

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Confessions of an Antibulletite

I think I have a bulletin complex.

When I walk into a church sanctuary, I do not want a church bulletin! Sometimes, in order to not offend the usher, I'll walk in first, take the bulletin, then turn and hand it to my wife. Then she already has one as she walks past the usher, and we at least cut it down to a single copy for our household. I'm not sure why I have this obsession. Perhaps it's because I'm a not only a nonconformist, but also a recycler, and a member of the paperless society. I don't see the use for bulletins anymore. All the song lyrics are up on the projection screen in most churches now, and, somewhat sadly, any need to mark the pages ahead of time in a traditional hymnal has become mostly a thing of the past. Knowing the order of service is unnecessary, so long as it's one of the majority of Sundays where I'm just a participant. Most of all, the reams of stuff that some churches print up in their bulletins are better reserved for e-mail, or some other form of distribution outside of the worship service. The Star Tribune (the paperless online version!) posted an amusing article on church bulletins today. It's fun reading, but I also think it suggests how bulletins are just one more distraction from Sunday morning worship in today's over-programmed protestant churches.

Whaddaya say? Am I just ranting about nothing? Well, then at least this is the blog for it! On the other hand, couldn't churches just try a moratorium on printed handouts, give it a few months, then see whether they really miss the expense and the mess?

Uh-oh! Here's an update! I have just offended the Coalition of Cheesy Church Photographers (CCCP). My suggestion could lead to loss of employment for photographers and graphic artists who create pastoral scenes of colonial-style churches and still-lifes of bread, wine, and ripples on water for church bulletin covers. Down with antibulletites!

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