Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Morel of the story

It's not quite yet morel season in the tri-state area of Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin. However, that was not the case to the south, where, despite a cold and rainy season, Madame X and some relatives had a great outing in West Central Illinois during Easter weekend. (Of course, I can't disclose the exact location.)

Though I was napping while the hunting was going on, I was allowed to partake in their bountiful harvest.

Monday, April 25, 2011

After 1, the next birthday makes you ... FEE!

Lise was born two years ago today. However, when you ask her how old she is, she enthusiastically responds, "Fee!" Even when her 4-year-old sister corrects her -- "No, Lise, you are 2" -- the Birthday Girl responds, "Mo, fee!"

So, Lise is now "fee."

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Powerful exhibit at River Museum

It took me a couple of months, but I finally got down to the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium in Dubuque to take in the special traveling exhibition “Women & Spirit: Catholic Sisters in America.”

Some folks might wonder why a "river museum" would host an exhibit that has no apparent connection with waterways. The national-level museum is part of the Dubuque County Historical Society, and histories of Dubuque and women religious have been interwoven from the beginning of white settlement.

A major co-sponsor of the exhibition is Clarke University, one of countless U.S. institutions founded by women religious (in this case Mary Frances Clarke, foundress of Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary).

The museum describes the exhibition as "featuring the untold stories of the innovative, action-oriented women who played such a significant role in shaping the nation’s social and cultural landscape." It is all of that, showing how sisters were part of U.S. history, including the Civil War, the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 and the Spanish Flu epidemic to today's service in education and health care as well as peace and justice issues.

The exhibition remains in Dubuque for another month: Its last day is May 22. I recommend it.

Caption: Benedictine Sisters anticipate the completion of St Anthony’s Hospital in Bemidji, Minnesota, in 1900. Before workers’ compensation was mandated by law, most laborers went without coverage. The sisters made health care affordable by selling “Lumberjack Tickets” for $1-9 and guaranteed medical care in Benedictine hospitals. (Photo courtesy Benedictines of Duluth.)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A change of pace

Today, complying with a longstanding demand request by Madame X, I hauled out boxes -- one expandable file per year -- of financial records from a musty storage area under a staircase.

Personally, I think this could be a big mistake. I mean, what if the IRS decides to audit us for 1983?

Anyway, I saved our household calendars along with those various documents.

I retrieved the calendar for 1998, the year the oldest of the four Cooper kids graduated from high school and went off to college.

We used an extra-large calendar for several years. The photo shows May 1998. The spaces are filled with notations for sports competitions and practices, part-time job schedules, piano lessons, concerts and the like. And there were events exclusively for Mom and Dad on there, too.

It's 13 years later, and, as empty-nesters for several years, Madame X and I have downsized our calendar. A blank square is more common than not.

Those were hectic days. Many families with school-age children today are experiencing that. But they should take heart: Those days will end someday. So enjoy and make the most of them while you can.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Book review: Scorecasting an interesting read

As teammates during summer camp, Tobias Moskowitz and Jon Wertheim ignored conventional wisdom when they decided that their weakest defender should not be stuck in softball Siberia, right field.

Instead, they made him the catcher, where he would have fewer opportunities to make critical errors. Their team started winning.

Decades later, Moskowitz and Wertheim are teammates again, examining many assumptions, traditions and curiosities in the world of sports. “Scorecasting” is the product of impressive number-crunching, clear and entertaining writing and a belief that just because everybody “knows” something in sports is true, it is not necessarily the case.

The authors are eminently qualified for the task. Moskowitz is an award-winning University of Chicago finance professor and Werhteim writes for Sports Illustrated and teaches at Princeton.

Among their many topics:

• Why .299 hitters in Major League baseball are rarer than .300 hitters. (Hint: It all comes down to the last game of the season.)

• Why having the No. 1 pick in the National Football League draft is not all it’s cracked up to be.
• Home-field advantage is real, but it has nothing to do with the crowd.

• Does “icing” the free-throw shooter or field-goal kicker by calling a timeout before a critical play?
• Are the Chicago Cubs really cursed?

“Scorecasting” contains just the right blend of statistics and narrative in examining these and other sports “truism.” For anyone who likes to holler coaching instructions at the TV set, it’s a must-read.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

What the hail?

Here's evidence of the brief hailstorm that rolled across Dubuque this evening. It didn't last long, and our windows stayed intact.

Special appearance by Elsie

For the first time since Christmas, our youngest granddaughter, Elsie Rose, visited us in Dubuque.

The stay was just 24 hours or so, but it was great to have her (as well as her parents, of course) for that time, during which she got reacquainted with her two Dubuque cousins.

Elsie is 9½ months old, and the world is full of new experiences.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Eagle nest update

Have you checked out the Eagle Cam, giving a real-time 24/7 look at an eagle's nest at Decorah, Iowa? Hundreds of thousands of people have checked in on the Raptor Resource Project site to watch a pair of eagles nurture eggs in a nest.

Overnight, one of the eggs hatched. More to come.

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