Archive for August, 2002

on the ground

Friday, August 30th, 2002

My usual walk home from work is across Loring Park, past the fountain and the lake and over the bridge. Once over the bridge the pathway splits in two to allow for a small circle of grass, which most people walk across anyway.

On Monday I noticed the following, in this order: two people lying on the circle, a bicycle, also lying on the grass, a park policeman, his car, and the fact that he was standing over the two men holding a gun to them. The grass circle is quite small, maybe 20 feet across, so I was going to have to get quite near to this situation (and fresh in my mind was the fact that there had been a disturbance in North Minneapolis over the weekend after a boy was hit by a ricocheting bullet when a cop had shot an attack dog, which had been set on him during a raid of a drug house).

I tried to stay quite calm – those guys were not moving anywhere. I’m guessing that there was some drug dealing going on, so they may have been somewhat less than alert anyway. So I strolled past, trying not to be obviously looking at what was happening. Pretty soon another police car showed up and I assume cuffed and removed the men. That’s probably the nearest I have knowingly been to a loaded and wielded gun.

most satisfying

Thursday, August 29th, 2002

As you know, I got a new car about 4 months ago – opting for a Saturn VUE after a fair bit of test driving and comparison shopping. We’ve been really pleased with the car and the service, and it seems that once again Saturn have been ranked highest in a sales satisfaction survey. What’s particularly interesting is that they have come above such top brands as Lexus, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, Cadillac and Lincoln. In fact you have to go to 17th in the list to find a non-luxury brand (Ford).

any wonder?

Thursday, August 29th, 2002

Emma and I were in a bookstore a couple of nights ago leafing through baby names books. I picked up a more general pregnancy book called something like “Your Pregnancy Week By Week” and checked out what they had to say. The thing I was shocked by was that each week had a Dad Tip box – all very well except that the tips were so lightweight they were almost a complete waste of time. Things like “Make sure your wife is comfortable at night”, or “Your wife is going through many hormonal changes, so expect some mood swings”. Is this 1950?

In the Week 20 (where we are now) chapter there was information on the ultrasound, which is generally done around this time. The Dad Tip was “Seeing the ultrasound is an big deal, so if you’ll only be able to make one doctor visit, this is probably the most important”. If that’s the kind of low expectation of involement that men are reading about, is it any wonder that they end up so uninvolved in the whole adventure?

Anyway, we had a visit with the midwife yesterday, and everything’s looking good. Emma’s pleased that she has a “perfect uterus” (no-one’s told her that before) and the baby seems healthy. Here’s a couple of pictures from the ultrasound. The second picture is of the soles of the baby’s feet, which you may need to use your imagination a little due to my scanner at home – I’ll see if I can re-scan it because it’s really cute:
Scan

cards

Wednesday, August 28th, 2002

Yesterday we went down to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) offices in Bloomington, next to the Mall of America, to be interviewed for the final stage of Emma’s green card. We were slightly stressed about it, not knowing quite what to expect, but in the end it was very easy and quick – the case officer didn’t really seem to know why we even had an interview. Mine had been approved a few weeks ago, but I hadn’t gotten around to getting the final stamp so I did that yesterday also.

We’ll be getting the actual cards (which aren’t even green) in a few months but until then we each have a stamp and some handwriting in our passports, which doesn’t look very official but means that as permanent residents we don’t have to sign anything to leave or enter the country, we’re no longer linked to my job, so if anything goes wrong we don’t have to leave and can get unemployment benefits, I don’t have to stay in the same type of job, and have the same work status as any American. So a lot more security and stability. It’s taken over three years to get this far, and I’m very happy it’s finally come through.

signed, sealed

Friday, August 23rd, 2002

This morning Emma and I signed a million pieces of paper which means that now we own a small piece of America. Or at least our mortgage company does; we own a huge mortgage. But it’s kind of cool either way. We were quite nervous beforehand, not having been in the house for a few weeks but when we had the walkthrough this morning we realised again why we like it, and how much. Emma asked me if I felt proud of myself and I suppose I do, having moved here three and a half years ago with just a suitcase and backpack – the old immigrant thing. It is gratifying to know that she and I have done it all ourselves.

So now the serious business begins: Paul and I are going to the hardware stores tomorrow to get paint, gardening tools etc. I’ve also been calling the million businesses which I have to deal with to get my address changed. A couple of bizarre ones – our phone company were very helpful but once I’d gone through the process, the guy said, “So I notice that you only have basic service – what’s up with that?” Then he went through a list of options, such as call waiting, caller ID etc and basically told me that I needed them all and was mad to be turning them down. Not quite as pushy as the mad marketer a few days ago, but close. Then this afternoon I called the bank to let them know. We went through a whole bunch of things, only to find that the assistant wouldn’t let me change my address because they had the wrong birthdate for me. Apparently I need to go into a branch to get it changed and to get my birthdate corrected. Seeing as the last time I went to a branch to get something done I had all my accounts taken away from me I decided to do the address change online which took 10 seconds, and no funny questions asked either.

millions

Thursday, August 22nd, 2002

We had a nice night out at the pub yesterday with some of our friends from the cathedral. I wasn’t sure if it would be really sad or not to take along the pictures of the baby’s ultrasound (which was on Tuesday) but everyone seemed to want to see them. Our friend Julie shouted at Emma, “You have a head inside you!”.

Obviously I’ve been thinking a lot about how the little guy/girl (we decided not to find out at the scan) is developing and all the amazing things which are going on. A particularly cool thing I read yesterday is that if it’s a girl it already has around 6 million egg cells. Although I know that most of these don’t last it’s quite the thought that half the DNA of our grandchildren could already be in existence.

mostly relaxed

Monday, August 19th, 2002

The weekend was excellent. A nice two hour drive down the bank of the Mississippi led us to the Tritsch House B&B in Alma, Wisconsin. The accommodation was fantastic, a big Victorian house up on the hill overlooking the river. I think we had the best room – when they renovated, the owners put two rooms together so our bathroom was almost bigger than our bedroom. Two things we were looking for in our place to stay were a jacuzzi and good food, and mission was accomplished on both of those. We were given excellent food – three delicious courses each morning. The first day was fruit followed by smoked turkey and mushroom quiche, followed by blueberry pie; the second day we also started with fruit, then had a kind of striata/French toast thing – blueberry muffins with blueberry cream cheese and fresh, er, blueberries baked in eggy batter, with sausage and cheese puffs on the side, followed by a kind of triple-decker chocolate-cookie-with-bananas-and-cream dessert. Wow.

So back to real life today and on work breaks I’m getting in touch with all the people I need to call for the upcoming move – electricity, gas, cable, etc etc. With that and work it was a very productive morning.

weekend escape

Friday, August 16th, 2002

Hoping to get away from work earlyish this afternoon, about 4pm. It’s been a really busy week but good, made very good progress on our rather intense but exciting project. Emma and I decided that what with busy work, house, baby and all kinds of other things we really need a break, so we’ve booked a couple of nights in a B&B in south western Wisconsin. I can’t wait, it’s a very nice part of the country along the Mississippi and there are lots of cute little towns with craft shops and restaurants. I expect to be thoroughly soothed by the time we get home.

see, fix

Friday, August 16th, 2002

Got a mad telemarketer yesterday evening from American Express, trying to get me to take up their credit protection facility. I told him that I wasn’t interested and he just went berserk, almost shouting at me: “I don’t understand why you don’t want this! There is no reason for not taking this!” He also told me that he would answer any of my questions, of which one was “Why aren’t you listening to me?”

So afterwards I went to the American Express website to find out their privacy policy, and got the number to call so that I could opt out of telemarketing and direct mail from them. The associate was very polite and it sounds like I’ve been taken off the list. Identify a problem, take action, get it fixed.

let them use cream

Thursday, August 15th, 2002

There is a pledge drive on this evening for our local public TV station, and between the pledge spots they are showing old clips of the TV cook Julia Child. I had never seen her before and she is completely fab (I think it was her 90th birthday yesterday) – quite akin to the Two Fat Ladies.

Case in point: they showed a clip of a live show she did about six years ago where the recipe called for a ton of butter. She said “Many people are afraid of butter these days, so if you don’t wish to use it … cream will do instead”.