Monday, August 29, 2005

Catherine Preus, Guiness, and Princess Kay of the Milky Way

My mother phoned tonight to inform me that my old friend Catherine Preus had a column in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Catherine and I were schoolmates in college and, by a queer twist of fate, eventually neighbors and co-workers in Jos, Nigeria.

The subject of Catherine's meditation was something near and dear to the heart of every Minnesotan: The Minnesota State Fair. This year, Catherine approached the "Great Minnesota Get Together" from a new mother's perspective:

One of our first stops (after the Tiny Tim doughnuts) was at the information booth -- a place I'd never visited. I knew there were places set aside for nursing mothers, so I told Joe to wait while I asked for directions to the "lactation stations."They'll probably just point at your chest," he said. Always bring someone helpful if you go to the fair with a baby. Actually, we made a pretty good team navigating the stroller and juggling the supplies (see box). And the lactation station ended up being wherever Baby Theron got hungry.

Read Catherine's Piece:

Catherine's writing really captures the vibe of the State Fair, and since Laurie and I will see things from a similar perspective soon, I found her writing especially poignant.

As for me, my favourite State Fair memory also involved a new addition to the family--my brother-in-law Neil. The fair was a real eye-opener for our Seattle boy.

Every year the main attraction in the Dairy Building--aside from the deep-fried cheese curds--is the Dairy Princess, resplendent in her gown and tiara, posing for photographs in a refrigerated room.

Every year, the Midwest Dairy Association holds a pageant to elect a young woman 'Princess Kay of the Milky Way'. According to the MDA...

Princess Kay of the Milky Way serves as the official goodwill ambassador for Minnesota's dairy industry. During her yearlong reign, she makes numerous media and public appearances on behalf of the Midwest Dairy Association and Minnesota's dairy producers.

You can read more about the princess here:

When Neil and I paused to pay homage to this agriculural icon, he asked me why she was in the cooler.

When I explained the annual tradition of carving a sculpture of the princess out of butter, he doubled over with irrepressible laughter, and Rudy Boschwitz purple milk dribbled out his nose.

From that day forth, I knew Neil's perception of my fair state had changed forever. No hip Lake Street urbanite could be taken seriously in light of what he'd seen that day; no monolithic downtown office tower could banish that buttery visage. In his mind, it became the quinessential,enduring symbol of Minnesota.

Image hosted by
2004 Princess Christina Rettman

My quintessential symbol of Minnesota would be that blond-haired, blue-eyed, quick-witted woman of Norweigan ancestry pushing around the baby stroller in the Star-Tribune photo...Maybe someone should carve her profile in a block of Lutefisk.

Hey Theron--here's a story momma probably hasn't told you. When we were both in Nigeria, a young Irishman named Fergal was smitten with your mother. As luck would have it, he worked at the Nigerian branch of the Guiness Brewery. In an attempt to gain her favour, he brought over case after case of the world's finest stout to your mom and her friends.

Despite the strenuous objections of myself and our Danish friend Henrik, your mother remained friends with Fergal, and eventually the waterfall of free beer came to an end.

Not long afterward, your mother returned to America and met your father and the rest, dear boy, is history.

Canadian Purgatory

Immigration Update:

As many of you know, I've been awaiting permanent resident status in Canada for over a year and a half now, and, if not for the love of a good woman, I'd be on the brink of despair.

Why is it taking so long, you may ask?

Because I've lived in five countries over the last ten years, I was required to submit a police check to immigration for each country of residence. Not surprisingly, the Nigerian authorities didn't come through for me, and with immigration insisting on the necessity of this one particular police certificate, things looked pretty grim.

Thanks to earnest pleadings on my behalf, that issue has been resolved. However, while we've waited, my immigration physical expired, and I had to have another last month. Once the physical is processed, I'll obtain a permanent resident card. With that permanent resident card I can then apply for a SIN number. After that, I can apply for Ontario College of Teachers certification. With any luck, I'll be a contributing member of society by Christmas.

Don't get me wrong, Canada...I'm not complaining. In fact, I'm glad immigration is meticulous when it comes to background checks.

Citizens of Canada: Sleep well tonight knowing that four federal governments, three states, two volunteer organizations, and one province have all found my police record to be absolutely spotless. You can't be sure about the whole "righty tighty thing", but you can be sure Steve Lindstrom has never had so much as a parking violation anywhere on this planet. I'm also kind to puppies and the elderly.

Because of my experience over the last year, my advice to intrepid world travellers is to always obtain a police clearance certificate from any country you've lived in after you leave. Immigration isn't the only institutional entity that may require it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Righty Tighty My Ass!

Today, I helped Laurie set up an oscillating fan in her classroom.
As is my custom, I assumed that I could assemble it without the manual.

As a result of my inflated sense of mechanical aptitude, I spent about 15 minutes of my life accomplishing something that a dexterous chimp could have accomplished in half the time.

My stumbling block was the circular plastic nob that screws in to connect the rotating blade to the base, which contains the motor which, in turn, rotates the aforementioned blade.

This two-inch piece of plastic shattered my faith in one of the bedrock certainties that has framed my worldview.

Throughout the vicissitudes of cruel fate, despite life's ups and downs, I always took comfort in the notion that you could always depend on this time-honored expression: "Righty tighty, lefty loosie".

Not if you're putting together a fan, my dear naive readers.

Because the blade rotates clockwise, the screw has to flout conventional wisdom and damn humanity to a lifetime of existential trepidation.

...Or maybe I'm reading too much into this.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Laurie's Astute Consumer Observations

Sure, she bought a twenty dollar tube of product that claims to be a "soul-soothing body rinse", but that doesn't mean she isn't a savvy consumer...Consider my wife's following observations...

"They're advertising a product on T.V. for a new drug. They're saying it's for 'pre-menopausal and menopausal women'...Am I missing something here? What other kinds of women are there?"

"You can't buy any brand of raisin cereal without extra raisins".

Furthermore, who can doubt the judgement of a woman who marries a man like this?

Mali and I in Shakespeare, Ontario

Monday, August 15, 2005

We Don't Care

The Shameless Antagonist is my usual forum for venting my objections to U.S. Foreign Policy, but as of late, I'm so incensed that I have no alternative but to interrupt the regularly scheduled broadcast in order to express my outrage.

The new official slogan of Neocons in regard to the human suffering unleashed by the Iraq War is now "We Don't Care"; We don't care about thousands of dead Iraqi civilians (we don't count them), we don't care about the lies that led to the conflict (old news), and furthermore, we don't care if you lost your son in the war. It's empire at all costs.

At first I was furious, but after further reflection, a modicum of sincerity is refreshing. Finally their words coincide with their actions.

From Bob Geiger's Yellow Dog Blog:

As Ms. Sheehan and the "Camp Casey" protesters sang America The Beautiful or stood quietly, the right-wing group chanted "we don't care" at the mother who lost her son, Casey, to Bush's war in Iraq.

Read It:

Why should they care? After all, Cindy Sheehan's protest "borders on treason" according to O'Reilly on The Factor:

So I mean, I think Mrs. Sheehan bears some responsibility for this and also for the responsibility of other American families who have lost sons and daughters in Iraq, who feel that this kind of behavior borders on treasonous.

...But wait, there's more! Everyone hogpile on the grieving mother!

As quoted by Digby:

So, really, how much exactly are we supposed to grieve over this guy? Isn't a certain amount of disapproval in order for the guy-and by extension his mom, for making such a fuss over a person who was, in the last analysis, by definition, a loser?

So shouldn't Mrs. Sheehan be showing a little more shame about the situation and maybe not wanting to get her son and his shortcoming splashed all over the media?

Read It:

Of course, proponents of the war still claim, it's all worth it despite the lies, despite the casualties, and despite the expense (200 billion and couting), if we establish a free and democratic Iraq.

What if that's no longer possible? Here's what the Government--not some disaffected liberal--has to say about our Glorious Leader's noble effort:

The United States no longer expects to see a model new democracy, a self-supporting oil industry or a society where the majority of people are free from serious security or economic challenges, U.S. officials say.

Read It:

So let me get this straight. We no longer expect to see a democracy, a self-supporting oil industry, or a free citizenry, and there are no WMDs and never were.

Don't you think Cindy Sheehan deserves to have an answer to the question "What 'noble cause' did my son die for"?

My question for my Canadian friends is this...How does this war effect you? Are you watching this slow-motion disaster with Schadenfreude, or do you expect problems for Canada as a result of the folly of your neighbors to the south? What should the Canadian response be?

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Why Americans Believe Stupid Shit

As the town's resident Gringo, I'm often asked to explain the psychology of my countrymen.

At the time being, it seems to me that most Canadians view their neighbors to the south as sort of an anthropological puzzle. How can people who otherwise seem so sane and rational believe in things like "intelligent design"? How could people possibly believe that WMD claim? Why do the condom machines in Michigan sell an item known as a "freedom tickler"?

Despite my best efforts, I get the feeling that my friends and neighbors aren't quite convinced that Americans are cut from the same psychological cloth as they are. We're seen as rash, crude, and primitive. I feel as though I'm the stereotypical Amazon village chief trying to explain to tourists why his people think photographs can steal one's soul. Even if my explanation is reasonable on a certain level, the evidence before them suggests a more rudimentary psychology on our part. No national health care, crazy gun nuts, Dubya...It's embarrassing.

Why do we believe such stupid shit? David Brock's Media Matters For America gets to the heart of the matter, I believe. We've being lied to so often and so well that we don't know which end is up.

Case in Point: The trashing of Cindy Sheehan.

Read It:

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


Every day, the alarm on my watch goes off at 2:18. I could reset it any time, but it always seems I'm in the midst of doing something that requires my undivided attention, so I simply tap the little button and carry on with my day.

I can't remember why, exactly, I originally set the watch for 2:18. Most likely, I had to be somewhere at 2:30, and I wanted to have 15 minutes of prep time beforehand (my watch is three minutes fast).

As a result, there's something very comforting about 2:18. It reminds me that I'm not supposed to be somewhere doing something. It's an unalarm reminding me of an impending non-appointment.
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