• Tag Archives Mark O.
  • All Ha’il

    Fall                                              Waxing Harvest Moon

    First communication back from Mark in Saudi Arabia.  He says he hasn’t set up his computer yet and that the school seems to have a good connection.  He mentions the school is in Ha’il*.  Guess that’s where he is now.  So far that’s all I know.

    Met with the Woolly’s last night at our once and forever location:  the Black Forest.  Tom Crane, Mark Odegard, Frank Broderick, Scott Simpson and Warren Wolfe showed up.  We went around the table, catching each other up on this and that.  Mark’s leaving.  Our cruise.  Tom and Roxann’s trip to Florida.  Mark O’s knee.  Warren’s upcoming article on Medicare.

    Scott and I talked about something called latency trading.  Here’s an article that explains some of it.  The part it doesn’t explain is the drive, now well established, to position large supercomputer networks as close as physically possible to stock exchanges around the world.  Why?  To capture the millisecond advantage in data transmission that results from close proximity to the data feed itself.  Each millisecond can mean tens of millions of dollars in trading advantage.  According to Scott, physical proximity can yield as much as a 3 millisecond advantage.  Do the math.

    On the drive home, the half Autumn moon hung in the night sky.  The moon roof was open and stars shone down through it.  The air was mild, with just that hint of fall.  Perfect.

    *Ha’il (Arabic: حائل‎ Ḥā’il), also spelled Hail, Ha’yel, or Hayil, is an oasis city in Nejd in northwestern Saudi Arabia. It is the capital of the Ha’il Province. The city has a population of 356,876 according to Ha’il Province.

    Ha’il is largely agricultural, with significant grain, date, and fruit production. A large percentage of the kingdom’s wheat production comes from Ha’il Province, where the area to the northeast, 60 km to 100 km away, consists of irrigated gardens. Traditionally Ha’il derived its wealth from being on the camel caravan route of the Hajj. Ha’il is well known by the generosity of its people in Saudi Arabia and the Arab world as it is the place where Hatim al-Tai lived.


  • Art and Friends

    Beltane                                                       Waning Garlic Moon

    Two meetings today.  The guides group met today to focus on continuing education.  A lot of very good ideas were thrown out and compiled.  Over the next week or so I’ll organize them and put together a mailing to go to our list, asking for more input.  After that, we will create a specific communication outlining possible avenues for dealing with the problem created by no longer having Monday’s available and declining attendance on Thursdays.  This may create a vehicle for organizing the three guide councils and for communicating our ideas further up the museum organizational chart.

    Morry was a gracious host in a lovely home.  He provided meat, cheese and crackers along with beverages while other folks brought desert.  The only oddity of the day was those chairs in the master bedroom.  Those of you who here there know what I mean.

    Woolly’s tonight.  Charlie H. has decided to retire and move out of the condo, up to the woods of Wisconsin.  Bill continued to express appreciation for his brother Pat in words and in deeds, a website and an upcoming service for Pat in Ankenny, Iowa.  Paul was back from his vision quest in the Santa Cruz mountains.  He reports that going without food for that length of time heightened his senses and made his dreams more vivid.  He wants to be a person of impeccable love and kindness, starting with himself.

    Jim was his usual bigger than life self.  He had an article in the South Dakota magazine along with several of his photographs.  He has a show opening soon in Aberdeen and has begun negotiating for one here, too, perhaps at MCAD.

    Mark’s knee has him in rehab and ahead of schedule, looking forward again.

  • A Sunshiny Day

    Beltane                                                                       Waning Last Frost Moon

    Weeding, thinning in the vegetable beds.  A soothing practice, sprucing up the rows of beets, carrots, spinach and taking young weeds out now, before they get big.  When I first went outside this morning, in a sweatshirt, I had to go back inside and put on a light jacket.  A friend told me yesterday that an acquaintance, in the BWCA on vacation, woke up to a frozen pond near their campsite.  Minnesota.  A day with sunny skies and cool temps makes gardening a joy.

    Buddy Mark Odegard has a new knee.  Here’s to his recovery and regaining the full use of his leg.

    Brother Mark has a lot of things to ponder right now.  He’s considering what might be his next move and he has a good number of options.  Making this a bit more difficult is a feeling he has, “I feel like a refugee in my own country.”  He’s been gone 22 years and the contrasting cultural mores of Southeast Asia, especially Thailand, make him a stranger in his own, native land.  A peculiar, rather poignant experience.

    When asked what the cues were, he said, “English speaking everywhere.  All the white people.  Americans are more direct, more in your face.”  Wonder if he meant me?  Could be.

    Can you believe Memorial Day weekend has arrived?  Things are buzzing back in Speedway, Indiana where the 500 will run for the 100th time.  I haven’t kept up this year though a quick review of the 33 cars shows 4 women in the race including one qualified ahead of Danica Patrick.  When a woman wins the Indy 500, it will be a huge moment in motor sports.

    By now in Indiana I would have known the results of time trials, the strategies for the new cars, the old faces and the rookies, new moves for pit crews.  Indy drivers get interviewed on TV and newspapers have separate pages devoted to the race information.  Whether you attend or not, and most don’t, the 500 takes over Indiana life for the month of May.  The May classic.  And it’s back for the 100th time.

  • Woolly’s. Again.


    Beltane                                                                      Full Last Frost Moon

    The meeting last night.  The note written late last night did not do this meeting justice.  The guest, Jay, told stories of his father, a Metropolitan Life Insurance Executive who hated his job, kept a print of racing sailboats gunnels in the water as they rounded a turn across from his desk and retired, in 1959 at the age of 55, picked up the family, put them in the sail boat and made their way to Ft. Lauderdale where he had bought a house.   Jay’s father, he said, attracted trouble.  He had 25 diseases, sailed through four typhoons and two hurricanes and had numerous close calls while sailing.  Jay’s openness about his relationship with his father, “We disagreed on everything, except sailing.  Sailing we could be together, often without talking.” made many of us reflect on our fathers.  Few of us in the Woollies had dad’s with whom we had a positive bond.

    Jay also spoke of two other powerful subjects.  The Gulf Stream, at points 40 miles wide and three miles deep, moving at 4 knots, keeping England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and parts of Europe temperate rather than freezing, has a vitality and strength, a magnetic pull to sailors.  His father’s ashes were cast into the Gulf Stream as, Jay says, his, too, will be someday.

    The second is his creative work which focuses on expressing the unrevealed, the dark places where we think we’ve been, but where we’ve actually only touched the surface.  Much like the ocean?

    Scott told of his opportunity, turned his way by his ex-wife, also a drummer, to play percussion in an off-broadway musical beginning its initial work in Aspen this June.  It’s a 4 and 1/2 week gig, paid, and he gets to be with his son, Corey, at the same time.  The music is a blend of jazz and rock and roll, music Scott’s always wanted to play.

    Mark O. goes under the knife today (nope, next Tuesday.  I stand corrected.) for a new knee and Jay does, too, to have a gall bladder removed.  Paul and Sarah Strickland have helped found an organization, 10,000 Friends of the Maine Coast, which has ambitions to create sustainable jobs and, perhaps, expand down the Eastern seaboard.  Frank took pot roast to a friend of Mary’s undergoing chemotherapy and plans to go back on Thursday with some more.  Tom Crane had weekend a crammed full of ex-spouse in-law’s and the ex-spouse at one point–of Roxann.  Bill spoke about Regina, the reality they have to face, the difficulties and blessings involved.  A tough place, full of paradox.  Brother Mark talked about reverse culture shock from his return, 22 years later, to the American mainland.  “America is such a virile place, bursting with energy.  Hard to absorb.  Yes.”

    It was a strong meeting, full of feeling and heartbreak and joy and confusion.  Real life.

  • Grasshopper, You Are About To Be A Grandfather

    Spring                                                                           Full Bee Hiving Moon

    Men.  Emotions surprise us, batter us into consciousness, wake us up.  Hello, grasshopper, you are about to be A GRANDFATHER. Huh?  How did that happen?  Of course, you know exactly how it happened, but it still reaches inside and turns on the amazement switch.

    Some old man, dimly known, shambles out of your past and you say, “Could that be me? That old fella?”

    “Nah, I’m too young,” you say.

    The event comes to pass and there you are with Ruth or Dave or Holly or Ava, a tiny pink wonder, yet, too, the most common event of all among us, a baby, a fledgling human, vulnerable, needy.  Somehow ours.  Somehow not ours.

    Shaken but perhaps not yet stirred a gong sounds somewhere, a genetic clang or a cultural bong, but whatever deep, resonant, compelling and there you are at the door reserved for Elders Only.  This door, this torii, guards the pathway to the future, a divided path on which your grandchild will walk as a living memory in one direction while you stride resolute toward our last great journey.

    Here’s the joy.  We can walk along this path a ways, maybe even a long ways, together.

    What’s the nature of this walk?  Who knows?  One grandparent, one grandchild.  A unique way, created by the two, reserved for them alone.  Another grandchild, another way.

    We spoke of these things tonight at Tom Crane’s house.  Mark, brother Mark, went along.  Warren, Charlie, Bill, Scott, Tom, Frank, Mark, Stefan were there.  We remembered our grandfather dying in front of us at four, of grandfather’s disappeared by distance and alcohol, of grandfather’s willing to play along with a silly joke, a grandfather who drank and drank and drank, having his last jug delivered the day after he died, of a grandfather with green flannel underwear that buttoned, puzzlingly, in the rear, who poured coffee into a cup, then a saucer and drank from the saucer, who made syrup from water and sugar, of grandfathers in the house, there to talk to, to go to, grandfathers abused by fathers.  We spoke of all these things nestled inside our own hopes, our joys, the wonders of our own journey through the torii of  generation.

    Men wonder about these things, dream about them, hope for them.  See themselves with a tiny hand in theirs, walking along, picking dragons and mermaids out of the clouds.  Whistling.

  • A Night I Needed Friends. And They Were There.

    Spring                                                      Waxing Bee Hiving Moon

    On the way back from the Red Stag, the Woolly Monday night meeting, the moon hung in the western sky, a thin crescent, a slice, almost too faint to see, a shy moon against a dark blue backdrop.

    Warren and Mark were there tonight.  We had a couple of laughs over hearing as we each turned our heads to hear what the other had said.  Aging men, old ears.  We talked about nuclear power, the Republican health and human services budget which Warren covers for the Star-Tribune.  Mark told me he and Elizabeth had learned Tai Chi from a Chinese teacher in Shanghai.  The instructor spoke no English.  We’re going to practice together at the next Woolly meeting.

    We spoke a bit about Mark (brother) and his coming to America.  Mark (Woolly) met some of the ex-pat community in Thailand.  He said they’re a bit edgy, a different group than other places.

    We each had one of Red Stag’s local food dishes.  I had a Kale gratin that was wonderful with a Limousin hamburger.

    This was a night I needed to talk to friends and I’m glad they were there.

    So, life will change, again.  As it always does.