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April 4, 2006

Announcement of Questionable Importance

Thanks to a colleague for sharing this "questionably important" announcement...

On Wednesday of this week, at exactly two minutes and three seconds past 1 am, the time & date will be
01:02:03 04/05/06.

It will never happen again.

Posted by hgroteva at 8:01 AM

April 6, 2006

Could It Be This Easy?

Massachusetts is proposing an innovative policy that requires all adults to be covered by health insurance; people not covered could be penalized (just as they are for not having car insurance). Although this may seem punitive to people with few economic resources, health insurance would be on a sliding fee scale, with those in the lowest income levels receiving free insurance.

At first glance, at least, this would solve the huge problem our country is facing with large numbers of people not having health insurance. I believe that every member of our society should have access to quality health care, and that ability to pay should not be a barrier. Currently, uninsured people are going to emergency rooms for conditions that could easily be treated in doctor's offices. But they can't get into a doctor's office without insurance or the resources to pay. Instead, they turn to the much more expensive emergency room, where (ironically) they don't have to pay. Low income people will now have access to primary and family care physicians, well-child care, and continuity of care.

I have not seen the price tag or how MA proposes to fund this, but it strikes me as both humane and sensible. When everyone is insured, everyone benefits. Could it be this easy? I'll be watching MA as a pilot test for the rest of the nation. Who knows, maybe we could solve other seemingly intractable problems while we're at it.

Posted by hgroteva at 3:36 PM

April 8, 2006

Fauré Requiem - April 14

On April 14, the centerpiece of the 7:30 pm Good Friday service at House of Hope Presbyterian Church (797 Summit Avenue, St. Paul) will be the Fauré Requiem. All are warmly invited. We will be accompanied by wonderful instrumentalists, including some from the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.

On June 11, 2005 I last heard the Fauré Requiem performed in a concert at St. Martin in the Fields (Trafalgar Square, London) . When I was listening to the concert, I was sad that I might never have the opportunity to sing it again, since the two smaller groups I was in would not be likely to sing the Fauré. A few weeks after returning to the States, I learned from a choirmate that House of Hope would be doing the Requiem on Good Friday, 2006 - that's what made my decision to return. It's been well worth it. At our 3 hour rehearsal with orchestra today, it was such a pleasure to be surrounded by and a part of such wonderful music. The Fauré is a special favorite of tenors, since there are several extended passages in which we get to shine. One of my favorites is the duet we sing with the altos (in the Offertorium). Both sections are singing in the same register, and it's a most intimate section.

Posted by hgroteva at 4:22 PM

April 11, 2006

In the Blogosphere ...What Goes Around, Comes Around

I was surprised and delighted to receive an e-mail this morning from a completely unexpected source. Sherrie, the owner of Malibu Moo's Frozen Griddle in Fish Creek Wisconsin, had run across my blog entry (08.28.2005) about our trip to Door County last summer and wrote me a note. She was pleased to see how much I enjoyed their ice cream (especially the vanilla with Door County cherries folded in), and said that hearing such wonderful things about her place made those 18 hour summer workdays worthwhile. I'm glad! Turns out we are also both musicians and love to travel, so we have struck up an e-mail correspondence about that too. I don't know if we'll make it to Door County this summer or not, but in fond memory, here's the picture I posted in August. Summer is just around the corner - and not a moment too soon!

Hal at Malibu Moos Fish Creek-b.jpg

Posted by hgroteva at 6:13 PM

April 13, 2006

Music and the Brain Co-Evolved

NPR had a fascinating segment last Saturday (hear it by clicking here) about music and the brain. McGill University neuroscientist Daniel Levitin was planning to take physiological measurements of Boston Pops conductor Keith Lockhart, along with 5 musicians and 50 audience members, to measure their responses to different types of music. I found myself very intrigued by Levitin's closing comments, which I have transcribed here:

"Music is a unique human quality. it is characterized by its ubiquity and its antiquity. [What a great line!] There is no culture that we know of that lacks music. For all of recorded history, music has been part of our species. The human brain apparently evolved along with music; music and the brain co-evolved. Learning about one can teach us something about the other."

It makes perfect sense that music touches something very primal in us and satisfies deep needs that, at times, seem inexplicable. I'm very intrigued and look forward to thinking and learning a lot more about Levitin's assertion that music and the brain co-evolved. I recently discovered a book on my shelf that's been patiently waiting to be read; I look forward to digging in after the semester winds down.
Jourdain, Robert (1997). Music, the brain, and ecstasy: How music captures our imagination. New York: Harper Collins.

Posted by hgroteva at 5:55 AM

April 15, 2006

Maybe It COULD Be This Easy...

On April 6, I posed the question: "Could it be this easy?" - referring to the Massachusetts plan to provide (almost) universal health care insurance by requiring that everyone carry it, but making it available at no cost or on a sliding fee scale to people in the lowest income brackets. I've been waiting for the onslaught of naysayers to pick it apart, but was pleasantly surprised to find this morning's New York Times endorsing the plan and noting its bipartisan support. They note that the most criticism has come from libertarians, who feel that this is an unwarranted intrusion on our freedom to decide what to do about our own health care. However, even good libertarians without insurance might wind up in an emergency room where tax dollars would pay for their care anyway, so this argument means little. Kudos to Massachusetts for being so bold. Minnesota - when will we tackle this?? Texas -- when??

Posted by hgroteva at 11:14 AM

April 21, 2006

Geek Prom in St. Paul

According to this morning's Star Tribune, "After four successive annual incarnations in Duluth, the only prom catering to adult [21 and older] nerds, nimrods, dorks, dweebs and other "misfits," has gone metro and arrived at its geekiest venue yet: a museum with science experiments and dinosaur bones."

"We celebrate the geekiness in all of us, and that certainly is what the Geek prom does, too," said Gail Vold Breco, the museum's director of public relations. "We needed to call our people home."

What a great concept! In the spirit of "calling my people home," especially with my blog's title, I had to take note of this important event. For more information, visit the website here. The event promises "awkward romance, cheesy music, and the dissection of a cow's eye." "For those who were too cool to properly enjoy their high school prom, it's an opportunity to finally let that inner-geek out."

Inner geek ... hmmm.... does that mean I should go? Actually, I did enjoy my high school prom. I didn't particularly enjoy high school, but I knew that the prom marked the end of something and the beginning of a big new adventure. It was 40 years ago this spring, and our country was on the cusp of a cultural sea change. The Beatles reigned, but it was still their relatively innocent stuff. (Rubber Soul was out - I think I played that record until it had a hole in it - but Magical Mystery Tour and Sgt. Pepper were yet to come.)

Strange thing about my high school class. The football players married the cheerleaders, and they all stayed in the same town. (I, on the other hand, live a comfortable 1000 miles away.) One of them is now running for city council and is sponsoring our class reunion website on the home page for his election campaign! (PS: This is not from a small town.)

But I digress.... When asked to define a geek, Paul Lundgren, organizer of the first Geek Prom, said he didn't have a hard and fast definition. "I usually go with the old saying about pornography: 'I know it when I see it.' " Hmmmmmmmm... an unfortunate association.

In any case, I predict that the Geek Prom will grow in popularity. Although I can't make it this year, maybe another time. Guess I'd better check with my potential date for the evening. It might take a year to talk her into it.

To all Geeks everywhere, inner and outer, enjoy!

Posted by hgroteva at 8:40 PM

April 25, 2006

More Geekiness

HG Geek Inside shirt-b.jpg

Posted by hgroteva at 5:42 AM

April 28, 2006

Friday Cat Blogging - Heat Seekers

3 cats in carrier-b.jpg

Things were really quiet one day last week, and I went looking for the tribe. Here's where I found Shadow, Pookie, and MacKenzie. They love being in enclosed spaces like their cat carrier and generating heat by creating their Tonkpile.

Posted by hgroteva at 12:46 AM

April 30, 2006

I Heart Craigslist.org

As our remodeling project nears its completion (just a FEW months overdue), we are left with some furniture and applicances that we have replaced and wish to sell. My thoughts first turned to eBay, but I certainly was not in a position to ship a used refrigerator across country to the highest bidder! I recently learned about craigslist.org as an internet-based classified ad (and more) service that is tailored for specific metropolitan areas around the country.

Our new refrigerator arrived Friday afternoon. I cleaned out the old one and took a few pictures, wrote up an ad and posted the ad and photos on craigslist around 9:00 Saturday morning. By noon, I had 4 inquiries, and a few others dribbled in during the course of the afternoon. Wow! The early bird can't pick it up until Sunday afternoon, but I have faith that the transaction will work as planned. Otherwise, I have at least 3 backup buyers. What a great service! I'm eager to get some of the other furniture and "stuff" prepared for sale and out the door. Nothing is going back in the basement without being scrutinized for its keep-a-bility.

Posted by hgroteva at 5:30 AM