Wednesday, November 30, 2005


Jambo reminds us of the horror in . Please read the piece, and write to your representatives. Thanks.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


The first big winter storm of the year is passing through, and this morning, the weather guys at KELO-TV could hardly contain themselves. They really enjoy storms. They're like little kids.

When I was in about the third grade or so, I remember the first snow of the year. We were in school, sitting at our desks, and some kid happened to look out the window. He yelled out "Snow!" and everybody rushed the window to look. I remember thinking "What's the big deal? It's just snow, and we're in class here, people! You can't just get up and... You know, the teacher didn't say... Oh, OK..." I followed the crowd to the window, all the time wondering why. Resistance to peer pressure wasn't my long suit.

Meanwhile, back in the present, the worst of the storm missed us. The 8 to 12 inches of snow in the forecast turned out to be about an inch. It's blowing like crazy, though, and I'm happy to be indoors.

Monday, November 07, 2005

The Picture-takingest Place on Earth

We spent the day at Disneyland with cousins Andrew, Eric, and Paul, and Uncle Joel & Aunt Patricia, too. It was a long day, but the kids had tons of fun.

We were there for around nine hours, and saw a small fraction of the park. That place just goes on and on and on. I can see why they offer multi-day passes.

It was a big advantage having the locals along with us, since they knew all of the good stuff.

We were a little worried that our little kids and their older cousins wouldn't find things to do that would please them all, but Andrew, Eric, and Paul were very patient with us.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Mission Beach pics

Our hotel in San Diego is about one mile from Mission Beach. We walked there this morning, and spent most of our time just playing at the edge of the water. There were several surfers taking turns videotaping one another.

Johanna slipped and fell into the water and was drenched. She seemed pretty pleased about it!

Ava was covered in sand from head to toe. Is there anything little kids like more than sand?

After supper, we walked back over towards Mission Beach, and played in a park for a while.

It's a Small World (no, wait -- that's Disneyland on Sunday)

We missed the shuttle van back to the hotel from Sea World yesterday. (We later found out we weren't two minutes late; we were 58 minutes early.) It wasn't a long walk, but with three little ones, no stroller, one really busy street to cross, and the cool, dark night closing in fast, we took a cab.

We struck up a conversation with the cab driver, and it turns out he was originally from Yankton, SD.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Road race: 2005 Jack 15

On Saturday, for the sixth year in a row, I ran the Jack 15 road race on a relay team. The conditions were almost perfect -- cool temps and low wind. It had rained earlier in the day, but the rain stopped shortly before the start.

Our team managed to win our division (co-ed 5x3 relay), which we hadn't done before, except for the crazy 15x1 in 2002. That year we had only one team to beat, and they were walkers. We also had our best time this year (again, except for 2002).

Thursday, September 15, 2005


I couldn't get this photo to upload for last night's post. Looks like the problem is fixed.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


We spent a few hours this evening on the periphery of the entertainment business. The TV show Three Wishes came to town. I don't really know much about it other than it's some kind of "reality show" (we called them "game shows" when I was a youth). Apparently they go from town to town granting three wishes to the locals. It's hosted by pop singer Amy Grant.

There was to be a concert by Grant, but the children & I left before the music started. Besides the concert, there was a small carnival with about five rides, a few games, and food. The food lines were prohibitively long, and most of the ride lines were pretty long, too. As with most carnivals, the merry-go-round had short lines, which is just fine with us -- our kids are still young enough to enjoy it.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Another movie list

Jambo's at it again. This time, he's making a list of the best movie scenes ever. Make your nominations now; there will be a poll after a while.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Company picnic

Our company picnic was yesterday. We had a terrific time. The weather was perfect, and the organizers did a good job. The rec center staff did their usual outstanding work with the activities for kids, and there were several of those large inflatable whatchamacallits - slides and obstacle courses, and a trampoline-like room. One large slide was shaped like the half-sunk Titanic, which was appropriate. A couple of times something went wrong (tripped circuit breaker or something) and it deflated.

We even won some good door prizes: a big umbrella and a 12x18 screen house. We could have used that screen house last month, when the mosquitoes had taken over.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Road bike

I dusted off the old Trek 2000 bicycle today for the first time in several years. I bought it in 1987 for the Seattle to Portland ride. I see now it's the "Group Health Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic." Back then it was just the STP. Anyway, I'd been thinking of getting a fairly serious road bike, and that ride was my excuse. By today's standards, I suppose the down-tube shifters and six-speed freewheel would be considered quaint, but back then it was nearly a full-out racing machine. I made one concession to my less-than-race-ready self: my spindly little legs couldn't handle the standard gearing. I had the corncob-like rear gears replaced with something a little more forgiving.

Karen, Dan, and I pooh-poohed the idea of taking two days to ride the 200 miles to Portland. We'd do it in a single day like any real cyclists would.


We made it about 50 miles, to Spanaway, WA. It's a little foggy in my memory, but we had a number of problems: there was something wrong with my bike; one of the people riding with us was throwing temper tantrums; Dan was bleeding from a crash. I'm pretty sure it was raining, too. Funny -- you'd think I'd remember that meteorological detail before the others. I know it rained at least a little.

I don't think we were all that far behind our predicted pace, but we just weren't having the fun that would normally be guaranteed by, say, 13 hours on a bike.

We bailed out. Called it quits. Went home and dried off.

I put thousands of miles on that bike over the years, but today I was still surprised at how it feels to ride it. What little riding I've done lately has been on a heavier bike with fat, slow tires and a trailer carrying two children. Switching to the 2000 was like going from a Suburban with a boat trailer to an MX-5.

It's a sweet ride.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Boo Who?

Even though Thomas hasn't caught on to the concept, he and I traded knock-knock jokes last night as I prepared supper. Of course I told the "boo" joke. Several nonsensical jokes later, he pulled this one on me:

Thomas: Knock knock!
Me: Who's there?
Thomas: Squirrel.
Me: Squirrel who?
Thomas: Don't cry!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Bike trailer

Around four years ago, we bought a used bike trailer (a Burley. Maybe this one; I'm not sure). It sat in the garage, gathering dust, until last night. We got it for Thomas; two little sisters later, and it finally saw the road. It's lucky we did it now, because Thomas is almost too big now to ride in it.

The tires were flat, of course, and we don't have the owner's manual. Still, it only took a little while to pump some air and figure out how to unfold the trailer, put on the wheels, and attach it to a bike. It seems like a really good design. The hitch in particular is ingenious.

The girls took the first ride while Thomas rode his own bike. Ava tired of it after a while (mostly the helmet, I suspect), so she went back home with Mommy, and I wedged Thomas in with Johanna. They fit, but there's not much room to spare.

I'm hoping to use it more than once every four years.


Turns out I'm older than the Pillsbury Doughboy. The Michelin Man is much older.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


Bob Roll, in his daily Tour de France report describing how Lance Armstrong crushed his main rivals today, said "The wienerschnitzel is bitter indeed."

Mad Dogs and Englishmen claims that the high temperature here yesterday was 84°F. Well, I was out running at about 1:30, and I don't believe it. I was on the fitness trail along I-29, and where the trail dips down just southeast of Rainbow Play Systems, it was an oven. I could see the flag at Rainbow flying straight out from the wind, but at the bottom of that little hill, there wasn't the slightest breeze. It had to be near 100°F. Normally, I'm pretty slow, but today I may have set a new standard.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Back on top

I was doing a little ego surfing, searching for "Thvedt" on google, and found that these pages are back in the catbird seat. The last few times I tried that search, a tattoo artist in Elgin, Illinois, named Erik Thvedt, has been the first result. I don't know how, but I've knocked him down to number two.

Update: I just came across an interesting article that describes how Google ranks pages.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Mac Classic

We switched to Mac (no, not from Windows; from FreeBSD) about 9 months ago, and only last night did I finally have occasion to run the "Classic environment." Classic is what Apple now calls their old, pre-OS X operating system. To run programs written for the old OS on the new OS, you have to have the Classic environment, which mimics the old within the new.

I bought some games for our kids, and was a little disappointed to find they weren't native OS X programs. The web site of the publisher didn't bother to mention that other than deep in their support pages. To their credit, they will give refunds or exchanges if you can't run the games because of this issue.

Being a reformed Unix guy, rather than an old Mac-head, I wasn't even sure I could run Classic on our iMac. The Apple support site doesn't go out if its way to promote anything to do with Classic. I don't blame them; it makes sense, since OS X is where it's at, and has been for some time. A little searching found some potentially helpful information, so I spent my lunch hour today getting Classic installed.

It wasn't without incident. The only docs I found were apparently for OS X discs as originally shipped, while I had upgrade discs, so I had to try several before I found the right one. For some reason, the first time I tried the installation, it told me that it wouldn't work on our model of Mac. One-year-old Ava happened to bump the power cord as I was doing all of this, so that slowed me down a bit.

But finally it worked, and now Thomas and Johanna can play I Spy at home.


Jambo started a fun discussion about inanimate objects in movies on his blog.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Sheena Dauer Doubles at Independent Nationals

South Dakota State University's Sheena Dauer won the 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters at the Division I Independent Track & Field Championships. She was co-athlete of the meet. She won the 5,000 by a comfortable 3 seconds (though how comfortable can 17:31 be?), and ran away from the field in the 10,000.

The SDSU Jackrabbit women finished 4th; the men finished 3rd despite having only one first-place individual: Brad Lowery in the 1500.

I was was lucky enough to run with Sheena in last year's Jack 15 relay. Well, what she did was running; what the rest of us did was not quite the same thing.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Brookings Marathon 2005

The Brookings Marathon was yesterday, and as I have for four years, I ran the last leg, from mile 20, on a relay team. Like last year, the weather was poor, with a strong, cold wind coming out of the northwest.

The featured speaker on Friday night was Billy Mills, Oglala Lakota from Pine Ridge SD, the only American ever to win the 10,000 meters at the Olympics. He won at Tokyo in 1964 as an unknown in a huge upset over the world record holder Ron Clarke. The come-from-behind finish in the last few meters was very exciting. That was my first summer on the planet, so I obviously don't have any memories of it, but I've read about it quite a bit, have seen the race on video, saw the movie about his life, and have seen that great photo of the finish countless times. It was a real thrill to hear him speak. I was able to speak very briefly with him on Friday night. Just before the start on Saturday, I looked up and there he was walking towards me. I was a little startled, and just said "Good morning, Mr. Mills," and shook his hand. I wish I had told him how much I enjoyed his speech.

As I said, the race conditions were poor, and the cold wind was just about exactly wrong for my part of the route. My leg was about 10 km, the same distance Billy Mills ran in 1964. I was about three-quarters through, and the wind was wearing me down. I had given up hope of meeting my time goal. As I was about to turn a corner to face that wind again, there on the side of the road in a small crowd of people was Billy Mills, cheering on the runners.

If that couldn't motivate me to a strong finish for my 10,000 meters, I don't know what would. I felt like I was floating for the next kilometer or so, and ran the last quarter of my leg with a big smile on my face.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Jambo Blogs

My old pal James is now a regular blogger on Three Way News. He posts as "Jambo." Those who know James will not be surprised to find that it features lots of shots at Republicans in general, Senator Norm Coleman in particular, creationists, and just about anybody else who would never have voted for Paul Wellstone or Howard Dean.

It's a good read, and it's not all about politics. Check it out. Extra credit for finding a typo in one of his posts, and the cheap shot I took at him in the comments.

Monday, April 25, 2005


Johanna and Thomas were getting a little riotous in our hotel room on Friday evening, and I asked them to quiet down a little, and speak in their normal voices. Johanna rejoined "What do you know about normal?"

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Brookings Marathon

I'm on a relay team in the Brookings Marathon again this year, on 14 May 2005. It's a fundraiser for Easter Seals South Dakota. If you would like to sponsor our team, click on the "Donate" button on the right side of the page. Your donation will be matched by the Larson Foundation. Last year, the marathon raised $8,000.

The program this year includes a speech by Billy Mills, the only American ever to win Olympic gold at 10,000 meters. Last year's speaker was Dick Beardsley.

Here are some photos from last year.

Dad, Mary, and Mary's brother
Vern and Mary's brother (I really should ask Mary for his name. I think it's Don...)

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Of all of the wacky neighbors in all of the sitcoms in all of television...

This morning as I ironed my shirt, I thought, as I always do, of Howard Borden, alone in his apartment, ironing and singing "As Time Goes By" in an episode of The Bob Newhart Show. If there were a Wacky Neighbor Hall of Fame, surely Bill Daily would be elected in his first year of eligibility. Everything about him was funny on that show -- the way he talked, the way he walked, the odd little hand movements -- everything. He wasn't bad on I Dream Of Jeannie, either, even with all of those lousy scripts.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Making snowmen at Grandpa & Grandma's house

Click photo for more.

Visions of Johanna

The Dave Brubeck Quartet's "Time Out" has been in my car's CD player for so long that Thomas calls "Blue Rondo a la Turk" his favorite song. Finally, one of our kids or one of their cousins wanted to hear something else. I happened to have Bob Dylan's "Blonde on Blonde" handy, so I popped that in. Thinking they might be amused by hearing Johanna's name in a song, I played "Visions of Johanna." Amused they were, especially Johanna herself. "'Johanna is not here!'" she said, laughing. "That's silly!"

Now, Tami may tell you a different story, but Johanna is named after that song. Before she was born, we had endless conversations about names. As we didn't know if we were having a girl or boy, these discussions were doubly long, and most of them went like this:

Tami: How about x?

Joseph: I don't like it.

Tami: Why?

Joseph: I don't know why, I just don't like it.

Tami: OK, how about y?

Joseph: I don't like it.

And so on.

But one day, she said "How about Johanna?"

My mind raced. I said to myself "We can name our daughter after a Bob Dylan song! Poker face! Poker face!"

Not just any Bob Dylan song, either. This one has it all. In 1966 Dylan was at the absolute height of his powers as a songwriter, singer, and bandleader. "Visions of Johanna" is about 7 1/2 minutes of opaque lyrics, backed by a killer band with all of that mid-1960s Dylan tasty goodness: Al Kooper's organ, Dylan's harmonica, etc. And the singing is fantastic, with seemingly bizarre choices working like magic. As usual, he follows the melody only when it suits him, and for some reason, he appears to sing the first couple of lines of each verse jumping up and down an octave. Why? I don't know, but it works.

So I suspect I didn't really manage a poker face as I replied "Uh... yeah, that's OK. I kinda like it. I guess. Yes. Good name. Put that on the short list."

We eventually settled on the name Johanna. After she was born, my friend Pat let the cat out of the bag. His emailed response to the birth announcement quoted the line "Jewels and binoculars" in the subject line. By that time, it was too late for Tami to back out. I had my living, breathing, beautiful Bob Dylan reference.

One day I'll tell you about Frank Sinatra's second wife, Ava Gardner...

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The Beginning of the End

Brookings is getting its first Starbucks. Reminds me of a poster put out by the Wales Tourist Board featuring a picture of Cardiff Castle and captioned "Castles 641; Starbucks 6."

Monday, February 21, 2005

Dodge, Duck, Dip, Dive, and Dodge

I played in a dodgeball tournament on Friday. It wasn't as fun as it sounds. It would have helped if our team (the Purple Cobras, naturally) weren't the worst of the field, and if I weren't the worst player on our team. Also, if a few of the other teams hadn't taken it a little too seriously and engaged in a little lax self-refereeing. But it was a little fun.

I needed a little help with one of the five Ds of dodgeball in particular: duck. I took two balls full in the face. One of them actually knocked me over. If only somebody had videotaped it.

We did manage to win a single game in pool play, but we lost in the first round of the bracket.

Next time we're going to be the Average Josephs.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

GarageBand 2

I just couldn't wait any longer, and plunked down my hard-earned 79 bucks for iLife '05, mainly for GarageBand 2. It is too much fun. After doodling around a number of times using mainly an M-Audio USB keyboard and some of the supplied loops, I finally ransacked the house to find my old microphone and headphones. It was time to find out if Bobby McFerrin is a thousand times better than me, or merely a hundred.

Well, the first try sounded terrible. Not just my voice; I expected that. The recording sounded like an old 78 that had been used as a Frisbee for several summers at the dog park. I fiddled around with the levels for a bit, with no improvement. Hmm. My mic can't be THAT bad. I ended up cranking the noise gate so high, it dropped some of the quieter bits of the vocal. This is a problem for a singer like me with such an expressive dynamic range (yeah, right...).

I unplugged the headphones, intending to fire up iTunes while I Googled for some advice. Uh-oh! Feedback! Better switch the mic off. Huh? The feedback didn't stop. Oh -- forgot to switch the audio input. It had been using that little pinhole mic on the display of the iMac -- no wonder it sounded terrible. I had expected it to switch inputs automatically when I plugged in the mic, like it does for output when I plug in phones.

Anyway, headphones back on, and back into GarageBand. I kept the lousy vocals I'd already recorded, and prepared to add some backing vocals. A little "test, test, one, two," and another head-scratcher. I cranked the level up to 11, and still the meter barely blipped. Oh well. Here goes. As I recorded, the editor window showed a flat line -- nothing. I finished up, played it back, and couldn't hear a thing. I played back just that one track, and I could hear it, but only just.

Back to the OSX audio preferences. This time, I actually took the time to read what was on the screen. Of course! It's a line-level input, not mic-level. I wouldn't have guessed that.

I'll just have to get one of these gizmos, or something, except that I'm all out of USB ports. I had hoped to avoid getting a USB hub. I see the G5 iMacs have three USB ports, the same as the G4 had. Were I the product manager at Apple, I'd push for about eight. Well, at least five.

I also thought about hooking up my old Portastudio, which would solve the mic level problem, but it's just to big. It's an old 424mkII, and more "studio" than "porta" vis-a-vis our small, cluttered office.