Archive for January 2016

How I Spent My Summer or Life on a Northern Minnesota Island

(This was supposed to be posted in the summer of 2013 but it got stuck in my Drafts folder. Actually, I want to write many many more good things about Minnesota and tighten up the writing here but I figure it’s time to just let this post fly)

How I Spent My Summer or Life on a Northern Minnesota Island 

Megan and I spent the last 2 weeks on a privately owned island with friends that may have well been family.

Located roughly between the triangle between Thunder Bay, Winnipeg, and Duluth in more ways than one, we had a tremendous vacation.

The island was formed by glaciers some twenty thousand years ago, stretching long and lean eleven hundred feet north-south and mostly 100 feet wide, but bulging out to almost 500 feet east-west at the northern proboscis.


Megan and I got in a lot of living on our trip!

  • The surprisingly glorious Mall of America
  • Sailing near Canadian waters with Don & Craig
  • Swimming in Rainy Lake
  • Kettle Falls boat trip & lunch (fried walleye and a Reuben!) & touring with Robin, Becky and Lucas
  • Working on the Review Islands with Robin & Bob, getting a tour of historic Mallard Island and Ernest Oberholtzer’s legacy
  • Playing dominoes & Set & Settlers of Catan
  • Shooting Star gazing on the dock with family
  • Being the last car in the Ranier Days parade!!
  • Getting a tour of the house & garden of Sarah & Don’s place in International Falls
  • Seeing Don Johnson’s Memoir Books of life on Rainy Lake at Coffee Landing… and then seeing the originals in the house on the island
  • Megan saw Planes with Sarah, Don & Billy
  • Great food: spaghetti with homemade sauce, tamari chicken, cold quinoa salad, pancakes, frittata….
  • Sunsets seen from the Happy Shack
  • Getting a tour of the (1,000′ x 200′) island
  • Looking for blueberries on the island and only finding sour mini cherries
  • Billy saying “there’s water on the floor in the bathroom” (uh oh!), “I’m not talking at you!”, “That’s my moon… you can look at it…”
  • Living in the “1st cabin”
  • A giant spider with egg sack living in our outhouse
  • Dockboy Lee! – cuz he’s often the first one to the dock when a boat arrives, to help bring stuff up the hill
  • Stomping trees with Chris
  • Getting 10-12 hours sleep per night!
  • Chickens doing their job with their vuvuzelas for our breakfast

Wisdom Teeth

Short form: 2/3 of wisdom teeth removals are unnecessary and dentists don’t really want you to know.tooth

In about 1999 I had a wisdom tooth removed because the gum had gotten infected, inflamed, and painful. The dentist suggested I get all of my wisdom teeth out “because it would be better in the long run.” I declined, just getting the one tooth removed.

In about 2003 I had a new dentist after moving. I remember the intake form had this on it:

Do you still have your wisdom teeth?
Yes      No
If so, why?

The answer I wrote was “because I use my teeth to chew my food“. Of course, the intake form question lead to a discussion with the dentist. I had this crazy belief that nature wouldn’t create a system where every human was better off if they had four serious dental surgeries as a matter of course.

I was incensed. This question, delivered by a board certified professional dentist practically stated that it was wrong of me to have wisdom teeth. The followup is of course, “…and you know, we can fix that problem for you.” It’s like bringing your car in for an oil change and having the mechanic tell you that your confabulator needs realigning, and if you don’t get it done soon, well, who knows what will happen! I’m allergic to professionals using Fear, uncertainty, and doubt on me. I didn’t go back. I thought about blogging about it back then but who has time for that junk?


Well, I just came across this article more-or-less confirming my suspicions. It says about 2/3 of wisdom teeth shouldn’t be removed. But don’t believe the article, believe the links the author shows us…

And here is a VERY curious article I found in the Cochrane database (Cochrane is awesome, it’s like the Consumer Reports of research, they look for and help create systematic review research because it is so much better than individual studies).


PS, Great thanks to the folks at The Daily Digg for putting the original article in my inbox, with the title of Wisdom Tooth Removal Is A Racket. The Daily Digg is one of my major sources of curated news right now. They practically hide the link to join their mailing list so… sign up here.

Last Academic Semester

Last Academic Semester. I’m writing this from the BART train. Today begins my last academic semester at San Jose State University, studying for my Master’s of Occupational Therapy degree. This summer and fall I’ll be doing fieldwork. Then in January I’ll take the NBCOT. Passing that, I’ll be an Occupational Therapist!

Last semester was rough. The stress of the program, lack of sleep, very long hours, and isolation took it’s toll on me and my family. I feel like I’m ducking into a long, dark tunnel for another four months. Please wish us well.

Cards Against Humanity: 8 Sensible Gifts for Hannukkah: AMAZING

I ordered eight sensible gifts from Cards Against Humanity for Abigail for Hannukkah. The gifts were AMAZING! Really. They were inspiring, thoughtful, absurd, touching… just amazing!

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, Abigail isn’t Jewish, she’s a toddler! She welcomes presents from all religious and secular sources.

The first 3 nights were, of course, socks! You can’t have Hannukkah without lots of socks. Each pair came with nice, hand-written letters from dads. I don’t know whose dads but they were obviously lovingly written. Sensible as they a gift, they were unfortunately too large for Abigail’s tiny feet.

The fourth night held a Cards Against Humanity US Treasury Inflation Protected Securities Fund and a letter about the value of being thrifty! They friggin’ sent Abigail a dollar in an interest bearing account to keep safe! It’s like they were helping her open her first bank account! Yes, it’s a real dollar in a real account. The redemption information is on the back.

And here’s a photo of the tuppence bank scene in Mary Poppins for reference :-)

Here’s a snapshot of her investment portfolio. As you can see, since investing in November, her $1 has already turned into at least $1.00024645!

Then things started getting cray-cray. For the fifth night of hannukkah, they made Abigail a supporting member of NPR through WBEZ Chicago! So many firsts! So she’s like really a member of NPR now!

Next up, they gave the Chinese workers that actually print Cards Against Humanity a week of paid vacation. This might sound a bit odd but those folks live in the kind of place where they literally didn’t have a procedure for filing for vacation. The note explained how the CAH folks had to “buy” a week of nothing and then tell the workers to go home. It was accompanied by photos and thank-you cards from the people that work there. That is such a beautiful thing. There was also an awesome letter from “Josh’s dad” about the nature of gratitude. You can read more about it here.

Day Seven: This is when shit went off the rails. Stolen from their website:

We used the money for the seventh night of Hanukkah to purchase Tête de Faune, an original 1962 Picasso. The 150,000 people who subscribed to our Eight Sensible Gifts for Hanukkah now have a chance to vote: should we donate this work to the permanent collection of the Art Institute of Chicago, or should we laser-cut it into 150,000 tiny squares and send everyone their own scrap of a real Picasso?

Again, a link. As of this writing, they haven’t gotten back to us about the fate of the Picaso. It included a hand written letter from “David M.’s Dad” about the nature of culture.

Last and greatest, they made Abigail king for a day! Well, strictly speaking, she will be king for exactly 3 minutes. They bought a castle in Ireland and are letting each of the 150,000 people that bought in have their turn at ruling it! Yes, it’s a real castle. Though it’s rather modest. No hot water, no heat… not even a roof. But it is a certifiable, verifiable castle! You can read some of the proclamations of prior kings here!
Abigail’s turn at rulership be August 4th, 2016 10:06am-10:08 Central time. Look for some big changes!

Britax Advocate Car Seat Manual

Here’s a local copy of the manual for the Britax Advocate car seat. One of ours was manufactured 8-2015, the other 10-2015. We own one for each of our cars. There are good instructions and videos on how to install it on the Britax website.

My Attempt at Hypermiling

Nerd alert: Here’s my latest attempt at hypermiling in our 2012 Prius C. I was stuck in 30-50 mph traffic on 880 North for a while on a trip in December. I went 11.8 miles averaging 80.4 mpg.