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August 03, 2007

""At peace."

I stopped by my grandfather's grave this morning. It was peaceful and quiet and it was nice to see how the sun rises and will shine on his grave every day.

What I posted earlier is true: his sister in law will be parked one spot down and one to the left of him for all eternity. I told my grandmother today, when we were both laughing about their final resting places, we should see her buried with her favorite waterpot so she can still come over for tea.

My grandmother's name is on the marble, waiting for her time to come. It's a bit weird to see that and was more than a bit unsettling.

I took my grandmother to the lawyer yesterday. My aunt went along to make sure she's in the loop. The lawer is very nice and talked about probate vs. non-probate. Pretty typical stuff. We've already got clear cut "living will" papers and powers of attorney in case she's incapacitated so that's not a concern.

Lot of mortality talk today as we sat and chatted. Her own mother was 90 when she passed away so that's in the back of her mind. She misses my grandfather so dearly. They fussed and fought the way old people do but it was clear that the exercises of aggravation only came after their deep love for one another had given them so much. She's numb in so many ways but so sad in others.

That said anyone that thinks they can get anything over on her at this point in the game is fooling themselves. I pray I'm half as witty as she is when I reach her age.

Posted by Jim at 01:23 PM | Comments (0)

The Kids are Alright...

Hi, this is guest poster, Fabulous Babe. I don’t post too often, but as Jim has been dealing with his grandpa’s death in Kentucky, Jack and I have been in, unfortunately, the new media capital of the world, Minneapolis MN. Unless you have been under a rock or in solitary confinement, you know that a major, 8 lane interstate bridge collapsed here on Wednesday evening. Nearly 80 people injured, five deaths, and victims still in the River. The emergency response here has been amazing. There have been a lot of Good Samaritans around too.

Jack and I had gone to the Racetrack’s house for dinner. They have been on a nice vacation to Hawaii, so we were catching up on all the activity and the kids were playing. About 6:20, Mr. Racetrack's mother called from Fargo wanting to know if they were OK and that the ‘35W bridge fell down.’ We kind of were laughing, thinking this was insane and she was exaggerating, but turned on the TV anyway. What we saw was shocking. Our nice dinner ended with the three of us sitting slack jawed in front of the TV with the map from the phone book trying to orient ourselves to the helicopter video.

I took this bridge pretty frequently over the past three years. 35W is the easiest route from my office to downtown Minneapolis and to the Univ of MN where I did my MBA. The kind of strange thing is that the bridge is so high above the river, you don’t really feel like you are on a bridge, plus there is usually lots of traffic, so you don’t have time to look around a lot. Probably the hardest thing to get from all the video and pictures is the actual size of the structure. It is a wide, long bridge. I haven’t made it to the site, but next week I have a lunch meeting in the general area at the U so I will probably get to look at it then.

We don’t know anyone directly affected. Several of my coworkers had crossed the bridge an hour or so before on their way home. They are pretty shaken up over this. The mood here is very eerie. Since not all the victims are identified yet, many people have this feeling that they ‘are going to know someone.’ It seems to be hanging over everyone’s head. The traffic seems OK now, but I think a lot of people stayed home from work on Thurs and Friday. Monday will be the real test of the system. We are in for a long, long process of rebuilding. All of this is on top of at least four other major construction projects going on in the Metro.

Which brings me to the one closest to the house. When we moved here, a major bridge replacement project had just gotten underway – ‘Wakota Bridge Project.’ The Wakota bridge was an ancient steel four lane bridge across a wide part of the river. The replacement plan was for two new spans with six lanes each direction, started in 2002 to be completed in 2007. The project started at like $250mm and 5 years. I often wondered driving over the old bridge during the construction of the first span – ‘how does this thing handle all the huge trucks on the 494 bypass and something like 160,000 cars per day.’ Very often the traffic was bumper to bumper like on 35W. The first span was near completion and inspectors found cracks in it before a single car drove on it, so they had to go back and reinforce it before it opened because It was designed incorrectly. That delayed the opening 1 year and created such construction differences, that the company hired to complete the project backed out. Now the state is rebidding the project, adding another year to the process. (The new cost estimate is something like $400mm.) This week’s tragedy really made me think about how close the old Wakota bridge was to failure and ‘how structurally deficient was it??’

Well, I just wanted you to know that we are OK. It is really strange to see your city on wall to wall media coverage. The last time this happened was in Seattle during the WTO riots. Somehow we find ourselves in interesting situations.


Posted by Jim at 08:58 PM | Comments (0)

August 08, 2007

"You know it's bad when your local McDonalds staff ask you if you're ok."

Well I'm back in Minnesota. I started back on Sunday and got back Monday night. Lots of time to think and try to sort things out in my head.

I tried to tell a friend of mine that it's like losing one of your parents but it doesn't really seem to be the right phrase. A lot of the emotions are colliding off of each other in some sick parody of the old Atari game "Asteroids". (A game Granddaddy bought me the day it came out for my 2600. He was so proud of having found it and getting it for me.) I know I am grieving but it's hard.

In some ways I can feel myself closing up. My usual "talk to strangers / run for office" sort of personality lends itself to covering up my emotions pretty well but now I'm not even trying. The local McDonalds staff were actually concerned enough to ask me what my name was so they could ask if I was ok. When they go from calling you "Large Coke, Sausage Biscuit guy" to "Jim" thats probably a warning sign.

It's worse since I got back. Nothing seems normal anymore. I just keep looking around at stuff I've lugged around the world for 25+ years and all I can think is that I don't want Jack to have to sort through it. (Or God forbid my grandson or granddaughter.) I'm tempted to try selling it but then part of me just wants to throw it away.


Posted by Jim at 09:45 PM | Comments (1)

August 15, 2007

"I wonder if they're going to rename Judd Plaza in his honor?"

Ok. Hold on to your hats...

If you've not seen this yet then you probably want to give this a read and then start passing this around to your friends:

The Duct Tape Bandit.

Yes, it's my home town.

But wait...

He's also staying at the same facility the Kentucky Philosopher works at. I called him this morning to ask if he knew the suspect:

"Oh yeah. He's a frequent flyer."

More to come as soon as I can catch my breath. My sides hurt.

(I wonder if his homestead is going to show up on the Ashland Walking Tour?)

Posted by Jim at 09:19 AM | Comments (0)