Category Archives: flashbacks

Birthday Contest Winner

Okay, you guys are idiots — and I mean that in the kindest way! 😉

After seeing some of the guesses, I was ready to award the win to a guess that mentioned some sort of volunteer work of any kind, but none was made. The winner was a difficult choice, not because they were so close, but because they came nowhere near the mark. Okay, here’s what I did on my birthday 10 years ago, 9/11/2001:

Like I mentioned before, I didn’t want to deal with black balloons and tombstone cake at work, so I took a vacation day instead. I’m an amateur astronomer, and we were near the peak of Solar Cycle 23. There were several sunspots visible to the (protected) unaided eye, so I took my solar viewer glasses to K’s elementary school and was a guest lecturer at the science classes, giving views of the sunspots and answering questions about stars and the sun.

sunspot activity leading up to 9/11, particularly active region 9608
animated image from (a great website)

As it turns out, it was a great way to help for a moment to take my mind off the devastation happening in NYC, at the Pentagon, and in Pennsylvania. It was also a way to occupy the children with something besides the scary information that they had managed to pick up that morning, too.

Since he was the only one to make any mention of my family in his guess, I’m awarding the win to Erik L of Manupatches & Chrome Scratches. The fact that he shares my birthday (but several years after mine) is only icing on the cake — pun intended. Congrats Erik, and thanks everyone for the entertaining guesses!


Halloween, Incognito

With October 31st almost upon us, I thought I’d post a few costume photos from the past, fwiw. These are not highlights (good God, no!) but just pictures I happened to have found lying around…

Halloween 1973
Bro Al on the left and me, just about ready to take to the car and do havoc on the neighboring farm homes.

Halloween 1980
First year of college, taken in Livingstone Lord Library at Moorhead State University. Most all of 2nd floor of Nelson Hall marched through Dahl Hall and other buildings (to Jeff Lorber Fusion’s “Monster Man” blaring on the boombox) squirting anyone with squirt guns if they happened to open their doors.

Halloween 1983
Senior year at college, doing my best D.P. Gumby impression.

Halloween 1985
OMG, how embarrassing! An aluminum bat?!

Halloween 1986
This was just after US News & World Report reporter Nicholas Daniloff was held in Russia on spying charges (notice press pass tucked into hat brim). The key to all good photos is to hold an impressive pose.

Interestingly enough, the hat and trenchcoat have been my typical “costume” for the past several years, mostly because their convenient, warm, and still just as scary!

Enjoy your Halloween night, kiddos…

MN Flashback V: Back to School (MSU-style)

With K heading back to Mizzou on Sunday to start her sophmore year there, I thought it would be an opportune time to flashback to my own college dorm life at Moorhead State University.

My first three years were all in room 272 of Nelson Hall, on the second of 11 floors. It was fun living in “The Beer Can”, whose cylindrical hallway was perfect for driving golf balls, throwing a frisbee, or maybe a bowling ball. Room 272 had a clear shot across the building and the elevators in the middle, right at the top of the stairs, so we always had a view of everyone’s comings-and-goings.

Nelson Hall room 272, Fall 1980

My sophmore and junior years we had a deck in our room, with the mattresses on the floor and chairs, shelves, and stereo on top. You always had to have a track queued up when someone else let their stereo get a bit too loud; “Carry on Wayward Son” always worked well against “Another One Bites the Dust” for instance.

the desk of a freshman CompSci major — note my roommate’s quadrophonic box on the left side of the desk

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StreamingSoundtracks Contest Photos Flashback

In the past, when I was more active at StreamingSoundtracks, I participated in what was tongue-in-cheek referred to at SST as the “Sexiest Photo Contest”. The contest has been held annually since ~2001 or so. The regular listeners would send in an “anonymous” photo taken within the previous twelve months, and then two webpages would be set up to display all the photos, one for the guys and one for the gals, where the listeners could vote on the “sexiest” photo.

A limited amount of photoshopping of the photos was allowed, so I decided to use soundtrack covers as the basis for my entries. Ennio Morricone was a big topic of conversation in 2006, so I took the beautiful album of Yo-Yo Ma playing his music. The following year, I took a cover from my favorite soundtrack composer (and an SST favorite), Joe Hisaishi.

2006 Entry:
contest entry, and original cover of Yo-Yo Ma Plays the Ennio Morricone

2007 Entry:
contest entry, and original cover of Joe Hisaishi Meets Kitano Films

Even though I haven’t been a regular visitor that last several years, I guess I should keep my eyes open for the 2010 contest announcement this fall. There are plenty more great soundtrack covers out there…

Track of the Day: My favorite movie track, “The Sixth Station” from Spirited Away, by Joe Hisaishi

MN Flashback IV: Kise Commons, Moorhead State University

Okay, this photo ID is just plain scary.  I’ve blurred the important info on the image to protect the privacy of anyone who might unfortunately look like I did back then…God help them.

The primary everyday use this card got during my time at MSU was to gain access to the college cafeteria, located in Kise Commons; “Kise” as it turns out rhymes with “queazy” in a bizzare yet sometimes apropriate twist of fate.

In the mid-winter months, after hitting the shower and getting stuff together for the morning classes, we’d trek the block or so from the dorms to Kise, where we’d shake the frost out of our hair after letting the frigid air freeze-dry it.  Typical breakfast was OJ, toast, and a bowl of Captain Cocoa Jacks (Captain Crunch/Cocoa Krispies/Apple Jacks).  I forget what we’d have for lunch and dinner, but it was edible but oftentimes gristly.  The all-you-can-eat setup was a potential disaster for a kid who has grown up in a large household, but after the initial Freshman 15, I plateaued for the last three years.

Initially I thought it was neat to see my ID move up the cafeteria checklist as each year/quarter progressed, until I considered that everyone before me either graduated, moved off campus and eats elsewhere, dropped out, transferred, or died (not necessarily from the food).  I was right near the top of the first page left column when I finally graduated.  I imagine the whole process is all automated with a swipe card now (no, cards back then did not have a magnetic strip), but back in the day it kept some work study students employed.

A tip of the (Tums bottle-) cap to you, Kise.  They are pretty much good memories, whether or not it is due to the blurring of time.

Marty’s Tip for Buffets*:  if ice cream or frozen yogurt is being served, you are not required to use the tiny bowls stacked nearby — grab a cereal or salad bowl, or better yet, pile it onto a dinner plate.

* Wherever you are, Marty, you’re not forgotten. 😉

Canada Flashback – Winnipeg Total Solar Eclipse

In honor of the January 15th African annular eclipse, I thought it apropos to flashback to the only total solar eclipse I’ve seen in person, the February 26, 1979 eclipse in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

About a dozen of us, all junior and senior high school boys, and very loosely chaperoned by our Physics teacher, made the three hour drive north and spent the night in a Winnipeg hotel.  In our room, I remember Alan Parsons Project’s Pyramid and (naturally) Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon cassettes playing in the background.  Probably some cards were played, and possibly we actually slept, too.

On the big morning, we set up near the Winnipeg airport, along with a couple other cars of people also parked along the barren road there. 

Dono don’s his snow gear as others monitor the eclipse’s progress

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MN Flashback III – Christmas at Beltrami School

Forty years ago, Beltrami, MN used to have it’s own elementary school, before it completely merged with the school in Fertile, MN. I was lucky enough to have attended grades 1 through 4 there, the last four years of its existence.

One of the treats for the parents (and for the kids, I guess) was the choir concerts we would perform in the auditorium at various intervals during the school year.  Earlier this year, a good friend treated me with the following photo attached to an email.  My memory is pretty fuzzy, but I would guess that we weren’t particularly thrilled with the outfits.  And yes, that motley bunch represents Mrs. Regedahl’s entire 1st and 2nd grade classes.

Christmas concert group photo, 1969
I am front row, third from the left; AZ Bro is directly in front of the tree

Have a Merry Christmas, and a safe and healthy New Year.

AZ Flashback II: Thanksgiving in the Grand Canyon

In the fall of 1984, not long after starting work at Hughes Aircraft in LA (my first job out of college), my good friend Mark called from Phoenix and asked if I would be up for hiking the Grand Canyon, and I immediately said, “Yes!”  We chose to make a two-day hike over Thanksgiving holiday weekend (some of us didn’t have vacation days built up yet).

Bright and early the day before Thanksgiving, five of us left Phoenix and reached the South Kaibab trailhead, where a light snowfall had fallen overnight.  Mark made sure we were well supplied, and we started off on the first day of our hike.

(from Google Earth: south is at the top)  the two day hike began at [S] South Kaibab trailhead to [C] Colorado River, then up to [I] Indian Garden campgrounds, and ended at [B] Bright Angel trailhead

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