Wednesday, August 27, 2014

And another question

This one has nothing to do with pop culture.

In commemoration of college football beginning its season (starting the fastest 12 weeks for sports fans) I went back to some months ago in which Northwestern University players were under the media spotlight regarding their right to unionize.  A news article around that time referred to the Wildcats as one of 17 private schools playing FBS (aka Division I) football.

The light bulb flared above my head.  Could I name all 17?


Which ones could I rattle off?

I started locally, meaning the Big 12 Conference.  That's easy.  Baylor (1) and TCU (2).  Then I took the gimmee, Northwestern (3).  Heading out west I knew there were two in the PAC 12: USC (4) and Stanford (5).  SEC?  I know they have only one, Vanderbilt (6).  Then there's Notre Dame (7).  Lessee, what about some other ones with which I am familiar?  Back to my heritage state of Texas for SMU (8) and Rice (9).  How about another independent, BYU (10)?

After that it got more difficult for ol' Geoguy.

I cheated (a little) and looked up team listings for other conferences.  OK, the ACC has Duke (11), which I admit I should have known.  But that conference ain't done yet.  Besides the Blue Devils the other private institutions are Syracuse (12), Wake Forest (13), Miami (14) and Boston College (15). 

Can you guess the other two?

Neither could I.  I cheated even more to get Tulane (16) and Tulsa (17). 

If you're anything like me you probably had a few surprises along the way.

Time for pigskin!!

Monday, August 25, 2014

And the pop culture question of the week at our house is...

Driving home from church yesterday morning the 80's on 8 channel (SiriusXM) began playing "St. Elmo's Fire." 

Naturally I had to make a comment about Brat Pack movies. 

Geogal then indicated that she indeed saw every BP flick back then.  She added: "I even saw this horrible Judd Nelson movie, Blue City.  And to make matters worse I actually paid to see it in the theater!" 

Got me thinking.  What was the worst 80's movie I saw?  And to make it more of a challenge it had to be a movie where I paid for admission.  VHS, HBO, and DVD don't count. 

I thought.  And thought some more. 

Unless my memory jogging improves over the coming days I think I have two contenders:  Grease 2 and Blind Date

Both disappointing.  I saw the Grease sequel with some friends following my 10th grade year.  I can remember precisely nothing about the movie other than it wasn't nearly as fun to watch as the original.  The latter pic I saw simply because it was a dreary cold gray boring Sunday afternoon during my freshman year in college and I just wanted to get the hell away from campus for a little while.  Seeing the trailers and the TV commercials I figured I would get plenty of laughs from that one. 

I didn't. 

Ha ha!  Now I got you thinking about the very same question. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Family item

Some time ago I mentioned that Geofather gave me two of his firearms:  a Stevens/Savage 16 gauge shotgun and a Winchester Model 94 .30-30 rifle. 

The Winchester is also pre-1964 which means it has significant value.  But it has even more value to our own family.  Sorry collectors, this gun is not for sale.  Ever. 

And just within the past two weeks I got another firearm from Dad, his Winchester .22 with a scope sight.  I'm looking forward to taking that piece out to the range. 

In the meantime Geoana and I went to the gun range a few Sundays ago and put some rounds through the .30-30.  We used some old ammo Dad brought me when he gave me the gun and also used some new Remington 150-grain bullets I bought when in Minnesota.  Fires well but for some reason the kiddo and I both were shooting high.  Maybe the sight needs adjustment. 


Friday, August 22, 2014

Close Encounters

The other evening we decided to have a family movie night at home.  The flick?

See the title of this entry.

This was the first time Geoana has seen this Spielberg-directed sci-fi picture and she's at an age now where the more intense scenes won't distress her much.

We did remind her of our visit to Devil's Tower back in 2009.  I refreshed her memory in that all of us "grown-ups" in the vehicle (the group consisted of four adults and two children), once we caught a glimpse of the Tower way off in the distance proceeded to get excited and yell:  "It's Devil's Tower!!  Look, look, Devil's Tower!"

She didn't understand our excitement then.

Now she does.

And when the closing credits began to roll she turned toward us and said, "I'm not sure what I'm feeling right now."

I get it.  She wanted (just like all of us) to know more about the aliens rather than have the movie end with Roy Neary getting on board.  However she still acknowledged that it's a rather fun movie to watch.

Since I'm thinking about the '09 trip I decided to let a few of our pictures do the rest of the talking.

Thursday, August 21, 2014


Given that I've detailed our Mayo Clinic trips from July I did last night ponder about which subject should be the focus of today's entry.

Then on my Blogger dashboard I noticed I had just posted entry number 499.

Made the title of this one a no-brainer.

Wow.  500 posts on this blog.  Given that I'm not a writer by profession and lately have suffered from both lack of time and some loss of creative energy I think hitting this mark deserves mention.

Which then gives me the true subject of today's post.  This blog isn't dying, nor is it going anywhere.

I will keep writing until I die or unless I suffer a life change which prevents further entries.  Can't say the same for so many blogs that had their genesis around the same time as this one.

Why the drop-off in blogging for so many?  Several reasons.

1)  Lack of drive.  I sometimes am guilty of this myself and one has to be self-disciplined in order to keep any blog going for the long haul.

2)  Creative energy goes bye-bye.  I hope that's never the case here although I certainly give myself breathers.  That might tie in to reason number three:

3)  Lose passion.  Some people blog around very specific things and sometimes we lose interest in a hobby, cause, or interest.  Since I've kept this blog very much around the happenings of my life (and including my family) I don't lack for material or suffer from waning interest.  Plus I've engaged in a couple of new interests in the last few years and these are making more of an impact here in my corner of the Internet.

4)  Social media.  I don't know how many casual bloggers allowed their sites to go fallow when they got a Facebook account.  But I figure it's a lot.  I can't blame a lot of them, after all Facebook makes it much easier to do things and one doesn't have to put in quite so much of one's own creativity.  Adding a post where you like the latest viral video is much less difficult then sitting at the keyboard and generating prose.  Plus the obvious (and quick) feedback from others far outweighs any comments seen on a blog such as this.

And this last one leads to another subject.  I do not have a Facebook account, nor will I ever have one.  My wife does have one and my conclusion after all these years is that the advantages of a Facebook presence are minimal compared to the downfalls.  Advertising aside I find it annoying that some people's incessant postings are comparable to the annoying idiot who talks nearly non-stop and has no filter.

Here's a reality check for the aforementioned:  I don't care what you think about this political issue or that candidate for office.  I don't care about what online game you are playing.  I don't care which restaurant you patronized for lunch yesterday.  I don't care to see the latest YouTube video meant to evoke pathos.  I don't give a rip about your mental anguish over national and international issues over which you have not one iota of control.  Shut up already!

While that last paragraph sounds harsh I think it's something that certainly needs to be said.  A few folks reading this might privately agree.  And remember I'm not projecting the above on all Facebook members, just those who see it as in end in itself.

As one last point I also enjoy the control I have over this blog.  I have the ability to weed out comments that are not legit.  I have the power to decide whether or not I will let Google advertise on this page.  (Guess which way I went on that one??)  I have latitude to decide how this site overall will appear on the 'Net.  And I like all of these things.  Can't say that for a Facebook wall.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Now For The Second One

(Dear readers:  I intended to have this entry ready last night as I wish to post an item every day this week.  However Geoana took a tumble in the shower and wound up at the E.R.  I stayed at home but obviously couldn't concentrate on writing at that time.  The good news is nothing is broken, she just has scrapes and contusions.  Ibuprofen does her a lot of good.)


Since we had a few days to prepare and since we knew what we were facing I had hopes this next trip would hold fewer surprises.  Or none at all.

I ripped several movies off of DVD and imported them into my iPod Touch.  (It's actually my old iPhone 4 but since I've upgraded the device I decided to make good use of the 32 gigs therein.)  I also got a book from the library (a C.J. Box standalone novel I have not yet read) and filled the backpack with it and several magazines.

We also brought paper plates and plastic cutlery in anticipation of not eating every meal at a restaurant.  The hotel in which we would stay does not have kitchenettes but does include a small refrigerator in each room.

So on Sunday morning, the 27th of July we again start out for the land of 10,000 lakes.  (During the previous trip a local told me that there are more than ten thousand lakes in Minnesota, he said they just got tired of naming them once they hit the ten-grand threshold.)  We got on the road at an early hour, stopped at Big City Burrito in Kearney for the best breakfast burrito I have had since moving from Arizona (gotta love chorizo!) and generally had a leisurely drive into the state of tall corn.  Took a brief side trip into Ames to see the Iowa State University campus.  Mighty pretty.  Much more green and reminiscent of Austin, Texas than I would have expected.

Useless Geoguy-specific trivia:  I now have been in every Big 12 school town/city save one (Morgantown, West Virginia).

Monday morning, and medical procedure takes place.  No complications, no issues.  Again, given that we've been to this area already there's a lot less desire to walk walk walk and say, "Let's see this."

Tuesday is a day of rest.  Gals go clothes shopping and I walk to a nearby gun shop.  Don't find much save for a used Bushnell scope that ought to work well for deer hunting.  I pick it up for $30.  Then I find ammunition for a very decent price at Mills Fleet Farm.

Wednesday we again rise early and make the trek back to the Land of Dorothy.  Drove straight through this time.  Took in a late lunch at Cabela's in Omaha.  It also is there that I finally pull the trigger (pun intended) and purchase a deer rifle.  I will have more on that in another entry.

So now we get to be homebodies for a while.  Just in time to ring in the month of August.

I can't help teasing Geogal and telling her that it's just for scenarios like this that I should take flying lessons.  She doesn't see the humor.

Sure would make the journey a lot faster...

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Return Trip (Volume One)

In yesterday's entry I detailed our family's venture into new territory.

So, wrap up the medical stuff at Mayo.  By this time it's the later part of Friday afternoon.  We decide to blow our inexpensive, efficient hotel in Rochester and head to the Twin Cities.

But we're not in a hurry, after all.  So instead of taking the divided but-not-quite-up-to-Interstate-standards U.S. Route 52 we instead chose the 2-lane and tranquil U.S. 63.

Past Zumbro Falls and into Lake City where we meet the fabled U.S. 61.  And see the mighty Mississippi.  Cross over into Wisconsin at the town of Red Wing (yes, where they make the shoes!).

After a short detour through the Cheese State we are back in Minnesota and not real far from St. Paul.

Hotel is nice but unremarkable.  Dinner does not take place in some fancy restaurant but rather involves rotisserie chicken and potato salad from a nearby grocery store.  No cheese curds for this family!

I do, however, get myself some Leinenkugel's beer.  I feel there's no need to quaff Shiner Bock when I'm this far north.

The next day (Saturday) finds us enjoying a scrumptious breakfast buffet at hotel.  Then we decide on a game plan.  Head to Minnehaha Park and do some walking.  A lot of walking.  Did us good but no doubt this entire family is a bit out of shape.  We did get to see Minnehaha Falls (after a significant period of walking) but after having been in vehicle and in and out of Mayo Clinic buildings for the past few days the sunshine and urban air did all of us some good.

So what's next?  What other touristy thing do we want to see?

Why not go to the largest shopping mall in the United States?

More walking, only this is of the indoor variety.  Catch a fast food lunch and attempt to find an open table in the food court.  Visit the Apple Store (of course).  Laugh at the lack of significant foot traffic at the Microsoft Store.  See Geoana get her picture taken with a couple of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Notice vinyl records are making a comeback at Urban Outfitters.  See people.  Lots of people. Enough to make me long for the openness and sparsity of the Kansas prairie.

Enough mall for us.  What is our next move?

Earlier in the day we kicked around the idea of taking in a Twins game.  However we elect instead to start making our way south and just see where the road takes us with the concept of finding a hotel when we get tired.

After brief stops at Target (seems there's one on every corner in this area) and then further south at Cabela's in Owatonna we then head west on I-90.

Planned to stay overnight in Worthington but the hotel gods had other ideas.

Turns out that at this time of year, in this part of the country, on a Saturday night, there's hardly a hotel room to be had along the Interstate.

OK, time to regroup.  It's now getting beyond 8 in the p.m. and we're all starting to feel the effects of fatigue.  We decided to head southwest.  Geogal gets on her iPhone and secures us a room at the Holiday Inn Express in Sioux City, Iowa.  From what we were later told it was about the last room available in the immediate area.

The hotel gods were still looking out for us.

I like spontaneous but that evening was a bit much.  Before Geogal snagged the room I had a contingency plan banging around in my brain:  Stop for a brief bathroom and beverage break.  I take out my contacts and put on the regular glasses, then we just go all night until we get home.  Geogal and I split the driving and do every trick in the book to stay awake.

I still get an uneasy feeling down in my gut just writing about that.

The following day was more run-of-the-mill.  Decided to zigzag home via Nebraska's two-lane highways.  About midday the outside temperature began rising until it was nearly the century mark by the time we hit our own driveway.

Home for now.  But the following Sunday we would be, in the words of Willie Nelson, on the road again.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Month Of July

July saw the Geofamily on the road for many days.  Three trips total.

One was planned.  That was the Daisy National BB Gun Championship Match (hereafter just referred to as "Nationals").  Took place in early July.

The other two, however, were not on our radar.  These were to the same destination:  Rochester, MN.

Yes.  Mayo Clinic.

I appreciate your concern but while I won't disclose the nature of the treatment or which family member received care I will say that the condition was NOT life-threatening.  Our local doctor decided the condition was outside of his scope of practice and referred us to Mayo.

Therefore we had two impromptu road trips just shortly after arriving back from Nationals.

However we all decided to make the best of things.  First, this is a place (and state) where none of us has been.  Second, we would be close to yet another new state (Wisconsin) and could scratch that one also off our list.  Please refer back to this entry.

Second, the ladies in the family doing what females do, they decided to get in some shopping while we were away from the small burg we call home.  And third, since we were so close, hey why not visit the Twin Cities?

So on the road we went.  Four states in one day.  And since we're not in New England four states in one day tells you just what a long road trip we had.

Heading to Omaha was nothing new.  Heck, the car probably knows the way without our assistance.  Geogal did spend about a month there last year while in professional school.

Next we cross the Missouri river into Iowa.  Previously the only part of Iowa we saw was Council Bluffs so once we were out of the city limits it was all new territory.

I had something of a surprise.  I always thought of Iowa as a flat state and it certainly fits that bill in some areas.  However the stretch between Council Bluffs and Des Moines was surprisingly up-down, up-down.  Some relief in the topography, as my father would say.

Get to Des Moines and leave I-80 for I-35.  Heading north I enjoyed the view of some really tall TV and FM transmitter towers.  Heck, if the stations near where I live had towers that height I would have no trouble pulling in the signals.  But I digress…

After Ames is when fatigue sets in.  Now this is the flat Iowa I envisioned.  No towns or anything of any consequence until Clear Lake.  A good 80 miles of nothing but a lot of farms.  And corn fields.  Lots and lots of corn fields.

But then you get to Clear Lake.  If that name sounds just a little familiar, it was the setting for rock and roll's first tragedy.  The plane crash site is just a bit west of the interstate but there is no memorial or descanso along 35 itself.

Heading north from Clear Lake you then have the anticipation of another state.  Sure enough, just a short drive takes one over the Minnesota line.  A mere 10 miles and you are in Albert Lea and ready to head east on Interstate 90.

Go past Austin (Minnesota, not Texas) and about a half-hour of patience rewards you with the Rochester exit.

All in all the drive takes us around 10 hours.

However the travel time is worth it.  Mayo is impressive (and that term still seems insufficient) and the whole time I was there I kept trying to digest the fact that I was on the grounds of the best medical care provider on the whole planet.


Then we had the first return trip.  Will cover that in the next entry.