May 29, 2013

new blog

I now have a blog on The Society Pages: Dispatches From a New Dean.

Posted by wrjacobs at 4:19 PM

September 10, 2010

end of the line

When I started this blog in November of 2004 I only expected to post a few entries as a demo for a class project. To my surprise, I ended up posting 620 entries over 6 years, and rising into the 20s on the list of blogs with the most entries (I'm now down to #34). Since discovering facebook in 2007, however, my blog postings have decreased, and they really declined this year. So, I think I'm at the end of the line for "Planet Walt." It's been fun, but other social media are now more engaging. Thanks for reading; follow me on Twitter, or find me on facebook!

Posted by wrjacobs at 4:42 PM

September 3, 2010

stadium viewing party

The first game of the University of Minnesota's 2010 football season was an away game, but there was a viewing party at TCF Bank Stadium. I watched the first half of the game on TV, then went over to "The Bank" for the second half. It was a fun experience!

Posted by wrjacobs at 6:13 PM

June 14, 2010

the 13th bleeds into the 14th

As I've noted in the past, strange things usually happen on the 13th day of the month. Yesterday, for example, the house ghost fiddled with my alarm clock: she turned the volume way down and changed the tuner to a spot in between stations, so that (a) I did not hear the alarm this morning, and (b) when I turned up the volume I got a blast of static. In a new twist, the 13th must have lingered today, as when I took loose change from the office to the coin changer at on on-campus bank, the total came to $4.99...but a penny was continually rejected for several minutes (!). Finally, though, the last penny was accepted so that I could leave with a $5 bill instead of a pocket full of change. I guess, then, that the 13th was only partially still in effect....

Posted by wrjacobs at 5:13 PM

June 13, 2010

cell phone battery

Yesterday I turned on a cell phone that had been sitting in a drawer for two years. Amazingly, it (a bare-bones Nokia) still had a charge! I doubt that I'd be able to say that about my iPhone 2 even two weeks after I upgrade to the iPhone 4 later in the summer....

Posted by wrjacobs at 2:02 PM

May 5, 2010

Lynx tickets

Last year I went to a couple of Minnesota Lynx games, inluding one where I sat courtside (that was coolio!). I agreed to buy a package deal for 10 tickets for this season after the ticket office promised that 2 of the tickets could be courtside. A few weeks ago they emailed me about selecting seats, and I responded with selections for the first 6 seats (3 games at 2 tix each), and said I'd get back to them about the last 4 seats. I requested that the courtside seats be in one of the initially selected 3 games, and then sent in selections for the last 4 seats two weeks letter. Yesterday all 10 tickets showed up, but the courtside seats were not in the first 3 games, as requested; they were for the game that will most likely have the lowest attendance (a noon game on a weekday vs. a team that does not have a following given former U of Minnesota women's bball players on the roster). I understand the business logic of this (give away seats that would probably be empty anyway vs. choosing a game for which they could sell seats at full price) and appreciate the fulfillment of the promise, but am a bit irked that they did not follow my instructions.

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:37 AM

April 3, 2010

first display board


I have a presentation next week, and was encouraged to make a display board to accompany it. This is the first time I've ever done one, thanks to help from my co-presenter. In high school I always skipped the Science Fair because of the display board requirement. Where did that resistance come from?!?

Posted by wrjacobs at 4:49 PM

February 17, 2010

transportation bad karma

On Saturday, February 13, 2010 I flew to Atlanta and returned on Tuesday the 16th. It was a good trip in terms of seeing family and friends, but not a good one re: transport. (1) The flight to Atlanta was delayed 2 hours, so by the time I got to my final destination in South Carolina it was 12:45 AM (!). (2) My rental car died at the second to last stop on the way back the airport on Tuesday (!!). That's right: the Jeep Liberty would not start after I stopped to walk around the 'hood where I lived from age 11 to leaving for college. I called roadside assistance, but had to wait an hour for the tow truck to arrive. We got to the airport 45 minutes before my flight left, but by the time I got to the Delta counter to check my bag (after Dollar advised me to settle the bill in person) I was not allowed to check in. Delta rescheduled me for the next a $50 change fee (of course). So I went back over to Dollar to argue for a credit. They gave me $50 to cover the change fee plus $10 for my troubles. Since I did not have to fill up the tank with gas ($25 or so) I guess I saved about $35 off a $105 bill, which is OK, I suppose. (3) I did not have an exit row seat on the flight back (I DID have one on the flight down and the initially booked return flight). I did get a bulkhead row seat, which is better than a normal steerage seat, but it had no room to stretch out my legs; an exit row is essential for someone who is 6'5". (4) The return flight arrived 10 minutes early, but we sat on the runway for 20 minutes while the gate was occupied by another plane.

Oh, I should add that the Jeep Liberty did not have power windows, power mirrors, or cruise control. (I was surprised that it had power steering!). Who makes cars without these items these days?!?

I should have realized that travelling on a 13th would cause problems....

Posted by wrjacobs at 12:49 PM

October 17, 2009

impossible rewards

So the other day I received mail about my rewards credit card: "earn up to 4500 Points!" The first two items (for a total of 500 points) were easy: take a 5-question quiz, and test drive the rewards search engine. The third item, though, is crazy: spend $8000 in November and December and get 4000 points (!). There's no way that's gonna happen, but maybe I'll get some prorated points....

Posted by wrjacobs at 8:01 PM

September 25, 2009

predatory sales tactics

Yesterday I almost got suckered by a predatory sales call to me at my University of Minnesota office. The caller said that he had a deal on printer cartridges available since another department cancelled at the last minute. He said it would fit the main office printer, and specifically mentioned where in the office the printer lives, and identified who sits next to it. "OK," I thought, "this must be our usual supplier," so I told him to send over the order. Later the department office specialist told me that this company is NOT authorized to sell us stuff, and that this was a scam. Luckily they called back later to verify our address, so I referred them to the department administrator for processing. This is what I should have done in the first place, but I think they count on getting unsuspecting department chairs to agree to what appears to be a good deal and then not going through the hassle of doing a return later. Man, capitalists can be so devious!

Posted by wrjacobs at 5:13 PM

September 9, 2009

why peeps hate phone companies

I recently received a bill from Qwest about a collect call: $10.31 for a 1-minute call (!). Actually, it was more like 15 seconds, as a transcipt would read like this:

"Hey, I left my cell phone at home. Can you come and pick me up?"
"OK, be there in 5 minutes."
"Thanks. Bye."

I called Qwest and was informed that the charge was not a typo. Wow!

Posted by wrjacobs at 2:26 PM

service appointments

Today I had an 8:00-12:00 window for service on my kitchen range. I was shocked when the repair person showed up at 9:30, as they almost always show up in either the first or last 30 minutes of the window. Also shocking: $230 for 10 minutes of work to replace one little ol' part....

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:38 AM

August 12, 2009

sometimes I feel like this

Posted by wrjacobs at 2:43 PM

July 30, 2009

airline exit row seating

For the second time ever, this morning I was able to select a free exit row seat during online check in. Usually free ones have to be secured at the airport. The flight is only half full, so maybe that's the reason why the exit rows were available for free, as the airline figures that no one will pay for a good seat when there are plenty of aisles and windows available. (I can't remember what the dealeo was when I was able to book the other free exit row seat online a few years back.) Hhhmmm.

Posted by wrjacobs at 5:01 PM

July 22, 2009

Aquatennial tennis tournament

Today I watched a match in the Aquatennial Plaza Tennis Classic. One of these years I've got try to play in it!

Posted by wrjacobs at 5:43 PM

May 23, 2009

5 and 10 years ago today

On this day 5 years ago (May 23, 2004) I got married in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. On this day 10 years ago (May 23, 1999) I was reviewing notes from a research group dinner in the old Bloomington, IN Encore Cafe. I was lucky enough to be able to visit the Encore one last time before it closed in October, 2006. That was a great spot! Tonight we'll make an initial visit to what I hope becomes another favorite: the patio of the W. A. Frost restaurant in St. Paul, MN.

Posted by wrjacobs at 2:39 PM

March 17, 2009

Manny's Tortas

Oh no, one of the Manny's Tortas locations (2700 E. Lake) is now closed! The other two locations are still open, thankfully, but the closed spot was the one I went to 95% of the time. Now I'll have to head over to the Midtown Global Market.

Posted by wrjacobs at 6:24 PM

March 16, 2009

WorldPerks fees

For years, I've been stockpiling miles in Northwest Airline's WordPerks frequent flier program. I should have used some of these miles earlier, as it seems that there are some new fees associated with redeeming miles. Maybe other crazy fees like proposed European airline toliet use tolls may be the next items to show up on a Northwest bill....

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:26 PM

January 20, 2009

a new great statesman?

In the current edition of Reader's Digest is an article called "Memo to the President." I think someone made a mistake when typing up Karl Rove's advice, titled "Encourage Debate":

"A top priority will be to create a White House where forceful argument can take place. Plain speaking, straight talk, and dissent must be encouraged, with participants thoroughly prepared, ideas offered with deference for opposing views, and colleagues not subjected to self-serving leaks. The power of the Oval Office can cower critics and silence disagreement; the chief executive must labor hard to make it a place of vigorous debate."
Huh? This from the man who helped Prez #43 come up with initiatives in a "you're either with us or against us philosophy"?! Luckily, though, the 44th President is inaugurated today, and he holds a very different vision....

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:03 AM

making money on the sly

Big corporations do all sorts of crazy things to squeeze a few bucks out of customers. Take one of my utilities, for example. (This institution shall remain nameless, since they might sue me for libel or defamation [whichever one applies to a corporation vs. an individual])! Recently they changed my account number, which resulted in late fees as my automatic payment through my bank was delayed during processing due to an incorrect account number (!). Now what in the world causes a need for a new account number when no changes have been made, and the customer never had a late payment in 5 years at one address? It's crazy, I tell you!

Posted by wrjacobs at 8:52 AM

January 19, 2009

MLK Day 2009

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day! Today is doubly significant given tomorrow's historic Presidential Inauguration.

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:54 AM

December 7, 2008

online exit row seat selection

In the past, I have written about airline exit row seating. Before departing on the trip home from Thanksgiving 2008 down South I was able to get a free exit row seat during online check-in...only the second time this has ever happened (the first time was on a flight back from San Francisco three years ago). I've got to figure out the trick that allows this to happen....

Posted by wrjacobs at 3:01 PM

September 13, 2008

goodbye to a clothing staple

For as long as I can remember I've worn Levi's Silver Tab jeans. Last August, however, they switched the stitch pattern and produced a very crappy fall 2007 line. So I bought stuff from another brand and hoped that the fall 2008 Silver Tab lineup would return to form. A trip to the Levi's store in the Mall of America, however, revealed a shocking development: the Silver Tab line has been discontinued. What the frak?!?!?!

Posted by wrjacobs at 4:45 PM

September 10, 2008

U of M parking

It seems that the U will sell a parking lot to a student housing developer. I think that the parking lot in question is my lot (C55), one that I waited 6 years to get in, and have only been using for 3 years. Damn!!

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:19 AM

August 28, 2008

November 2008: Yes, We Can!

Posted by wrjacobs at 11:05 PM

August 18, 2008

the non-fortune cookie

Today after having lunch at a favorite Chinese restaurant I opened a fortune cookie that did not have a fortune inside (!). What does that mean?!?

Posted by wrjacobs at 8:56 PM

July 21, 2008

missing stamp machines

Earlier today I went over to my neighborhood post office to mail a letter. It was after 5:00 so I planned to get a stamp from a self-service machine, but I arrived to find that the machines were gone (!). A worker came out to the lobby so I asked him about it. "They were removed." That's it; no other explanation! I asked him for a stamp. "We're closed. We'll be open tomorrow." Wow, customer service is definitely priority #1 at the USPS.

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:17 PM

July 14, 2008

natural gas prices

Over the weekend I received a call from the gas company informing me that prices would go up due to higher costs. Today the bill arrived, and my budget plan (total is spread out in even monthly amounts) will go up almost $100 per month! Yikes!! The automated message should have said "be prepared for a shock 'cause your bill be goin' through the roof, yo!"

Posted by wrjacobs at 8:54 PM

July 4, 2008

4th of July

Happy Independence Day!

Posted by wrjacobs at 11:59 AM

June 4, 2008

Obama's St. Paul rally

Last night V and I joined 16,998 folks inside St. Paul's Xcel Arena as Senator Obama claimed the Democratic Presidential nomination (15,000 others could not get in and watched the rally outside on a JumboTron). It was a truly amazing experience! Yes We Can!

Posted by wrjacobs at 4:34 PM

May 27, 2008

not quite summer yet

When I woke up this morning it was 44 degrees outside, and 64 degrees inside, so I had to turn the heat back on. Frak! It should start to warm back up tomorrow, so let's hope that summer really arrives then....

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:45 AM

May 26, 2008

start of summer

Three years ago I wrote an entry about the unofficial start of summer. That 2005 post was on May 26. Summer 2008 also starts on a May 26 (today!), as I turned off the heat in the attic. It came on a few times last week; hopefully the weather will stay in the 70s and above from here on out through September so fans vs. heat are needed....

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:10 AM

May 14, 2008

The 40

In my last entry I noted that I would play basketball for the last time on my 40th! I played one game. My team lost, but I did OK individually: 2 for 2 shooting, a few rebounds, and held my opponent scoreless.

When I got home there was a big package left on the front door. "Maybe somebody sent me something for the b-day!" I thought. Nope, it's something for V. Oh well, I do have some stuff to open later today....

Posted by wrjacobs at 1:38 PM

May 10, 2008

end of an era

On Wednesday (May 14) I turn 40, and will play basketball one more time and then retire. I played at least once a week from age 23 until a couple of months before age 38, when a ruptured achilles tendon sidelined me for a year. I played twice in May 2007 (when I turned 39), but then over the last year I only shot occassionally. Given that I'm no longer having back problems (not to mention other nagging aches and pains) I think it's time to end an era....

Today I returned to action for the first time in a year, and played a game that included a graduating U of M women's basketball player. After the game we chatted for a few minutes. I told her that I never had a women's bball player in any of my classes, a shame since that is my second favorite sport to watch on TV, and favorite to attend live!

Posted by wrjacobs at 3:50 PM

April 19, 2008

NBA playoffs

Today while scanning TV channels I stumbled upon Cleveland vs. Washington in the first game of the NBA playoffs, which I had no clue had started! I was also shocked to find that my hometown team (the Atlanta Hawks) had made the playoffs for the first time since 1999. I guess that's fitting, since somewhere in late '90s was the last time I really paid a lot of attention to men's pro basketball.

Posted by wrjacobs at 2:19 PM

March 23, 2008

new blog/changed blog

Check out my newly created blog: AA&AS 40th Anniversary. That "revolutionary type" style is not too radical, is it?

Also, I changed the style on my AA&AS Chair's Blog to "parchment." Coolio, no?

Posted by wrjacobs at 3:42 PM

March 9, 2008

Springing forward

Daylight Saving Time started today, which usually signals that Spring is here (or just about to arrive). I couldn't say that this morning, however, while out shovelling fresh snow....

Posted by wrjacobs at 2:08 PM

March 2, 2008

Facebook Quiz

I created a quiz about Do The Right Thing, available via Facebook. Check it out if you have an account!
I originally had 10 questions in the quiz, but one was dropped somehow: "What do Radio Raheem and Buggin' Out want Sal to do just before the riot starts: a) make them some pizza, b) let them drink beer, c) put some pictures of Brothas on the wall, or d) put up flyers for a concert? What's the correct answer?

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:35 AM

February 29, 2008

Leap Day

Happy Leap Day!

Posted by wrjacobs at 7:17 PM

February 23, 2008

bad luck charm

I just got back from my second U of M Women's Basketball game, which the team lost. The Gophers also lost the first game I attended this year. I think I'll stay away from The Barn for the rest of the year....

Posted by wrjacobs at 2:09 PM

February 13, 2008

#29 and #13

Since I've not been posting as much to this blog so far in 2008 as I did in 2007, I thought that I would slip down the rankings of UThink blogs with the most entries, but I've actually climbed to #29, my highest level ever. Weird. Since today is February 13 it must be #13 in effect; tomorrow I'll drop down to #39 or something....

Posted by wrjacobs at 8:13 PM

February 4, 2008

strange thieves

I just returned home from a four-day trip out of town. I was able to stop delivery of my snail mail, but suspected that a couple of packages from would show up via UPS, so I asked a homie to roll over to the crib to pick them up on Saturday. She was not able to get over here, and sure enough, there were packages on the front porch today (three of them). What was missing, however, was the Sunday paper, which has always showed up each week for almost four years. So some theives stole the paper but left three boxes alone? Weird....

Posted by wrjacobs at 6:54 PM

January 7, 2008

the end of an era

Today I went to the campus bookstore to pick up some notebooks for the spring semester. I wanted to get the same type I've bought for the last 8.5 years, but couldn't find them at first. In the slot where they normally appear were some of similar size, but they were college ruled vs my preferred narrow rule, and also had perforated sheets that too easily tear off and fall out. I dug down into the bin and found five old ones, of which I grabbed the three I'll need for the semester. When the fall semester rolls around I fear that I'll have to switch to another type of notebook....

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:08 PM

December 16, 2007

car wash change

Ever since I arrived in MN (1999) I've been using the touchless automatic car wash at Bobby and Steve's Auto World during the winters. Today I made my first visit of the 07-08 winter, and discovered that the touchless system was removed! While the pads on the new system looked soft, they made a lot of noise on contact. The car came out cleaner than usual, but there was at least one new scratch I hadn't seen before, so I might have to find a new place to take the car....

Posted by wrjacobs at 3:33 PM

November 28, 2007

why Obama should be Prez

The December issue of The Atlantic Monthly has an interesting story about why Barak Obama should win the presidency in 2008. Check it out!

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:08 AM

November 25, 2007

Thanksgiving 2007

As usual, I went down south for Thanksgiving. This year was not so fun, though:

  • The 2-hour drive from the ATL to my grandmother's house in South Carolina took almost 4 hours.

  • I caught a bug from my 2 year-old niece and was in bed all day Friday, after a night of being mostly in the bathroom.

  • I had recovered enough on Saturday to make the drive back to Atlanta, but V is now sick.
Hopefully Thanksgiving 2008 will be much less eventful....

Posted by wrjacobs at 4:55 PM

November 17, 2007

4:00AM adventures

This morning V and I left the house at 4:00AM so that she could catch a 5:20AM flight. Along the way back a few interesting things happened:

  • For the first time ever, I drove on a road for 5+ miles and did not see another car.

  • I drove past the new Midtown Greenway bridge. I walked across it last weekend, but this was my first time seeing it in the dark. It has very cool blue lights.

  • Close to home I made a right turn despite a new "No Turn On Red" sign and heard sirens(!). Luckily it was a fire truck....

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:30 AM

November 4, 2007

falling back

Back on March 11 we "sprung forward" to start Daylight Saving Time. Today DST ended, and we "fell back." I've replaced one of the old clocks with one that has an automatic DST setting, so that's one less clock to manually reset....

Posted by wrjacobs at 6:19 PM

October 22, 2007


This is my 346th entry, which moves "Planet Walt" into a tie for #31 on the list of blogs with the most entries. The AA&AS chair's blog, on the other hand, has 37 entries, so it has a long way to go before it hits the Top 50 list, if ever.

Posted by wrjacobs at 5:28 PM

October 21, 2007

using an old name plate

In the summer of 1986 I worked as an engineering intern, and received a sliding metal name plate for my cubicle. None of the other cubes and offices I've had since then have used a similar system...until now, as the door to my current office has a slot for metal name plates, and that very first one fits! So after 21 years of sitting in a box it lives again!

Posted by wrjacobs at 3:59 PM

October 19, 2007

first deleted entry

I just had to delete a 2005 post because it somehow got "infected," i.e., attracted tons of junk comments. Hopefully the junk that went to that particular post won't be re-directed to other postings!

Posted by wrjacobs at 3:01 PM

October 14, 2007


This is my 341st blog entry, which puts me at #33 on the list of blogs with the most entries. Wow! I never would have imagined that a November 2004 demo for a class project would still be going 3 years later....

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:10 PM

October 7, 2007

power tools

Three years ago V and I bought a 1912 house and have been doing renovations every summer. Usually I use power tools my contractor brings over, in addition to a drill he bought us as a wedding present. Today I bought some more stuff of my own -- the Ryobi lithium combo -- and (a) used the Sawz-All to cut off some rusty bolts, and (b) used the circular saw to turn plywood into drawer inserts. Bring on the next project, baby!

Posted by wrjacobs at 6:37 PM

August 18, 2007



Artist Morgan Williams created this sketch using a photo as a guide. Didn't he do an outstanding job?!

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:45 AM

August 16, 2007

new blog

Check out my new blog.

Posted by wrjacobs at 2:00 PM

August 11, 2007

a nightmare

Last night I dreamed that my computer and TV were on a lightly-screened front porch and got drenched by a sudden summer rain storm. I became irate and started screaming and throwing stuff all over the place. V laughed, which made me angrier. Was this a nightmare or what?!

Posted by wrjacobs at 4:20 PM

August 3, 2007


I just finished a creative writing class in the university's Split Rock Arts program. One assignment was on 50-word Microfiction. Each poem below in my "Jimmy's Corner Store" series is exactly 50 words long (including the title).

Posted by wrjacobs at 2:30 PM


Jimmy’s corner store. Aisles narrow as a snake hole.
But crammed with such delights! Now or Laters, Snickers, Funions aisle 1. M&Ms, Kisses, Crunch aisle 2. Coke in the cooler.
Why candy in two places, Jimmy never said. But it was all good, though.
Man, to be 7 again!

Posted by wrjacobs at 2:23 PM


Jimmy’s corner store. Aisles narrow as a snake hole.
“Yo, you stepped on my sneakers, man!? Gold tooth flashing. Other teeth locked.
“So, what you gone do!? Feeling froggy? Jump, fool!? A hand darts to baggy Silver Tabs.
“My bad, yo. Wasn’t you.?
Both walk out to cool air.

Posted by wrjacobs at 2:22 PM


Jimmy’s corner store. Aisles narrow as a snake hole.
That twists and twists and twists. How was I ever able to squeeze up in here?
“Hey Jimmy, y’all remodel? I can’t turn around!?
“Na’ll, you just got growed. Got yo’self a spare tire too. Heh Heh.?
Everyone has jokes.

Posted by wrjacobs at 2:22 PM


Jimmy’s corner store. Aisles narrow as a snake hole.
But another hole appeared, and swallowed the store whole. Now just a field of dirt, debris, disgust.
“Where’d Jimmy go?? I asked an old man.
“Jimmy B? Gone. Dead and buried. Store followed close behind.?
Damn, yet another institution dusted.

Posted by wrjacobs at 2:21 PM


Jimmy’s corner store. Aisles narrow as a snake hole.
New store, but same old style. Jimmy Junior did it up correct, yo! Right down to treats in two rows.
“JJ, why candy in two places??
“That’s how it was. That’s the way it will be.?
Damn skippy it be.

Posted by wrjacobs at 2:20 PM

June 25, 2007


This is my 300th blog entry. To celebrate, I just added the movie 300 to my Netflix queue.

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:13 AM

May 15, 2007

end of the 30s

Yesterday I turned 39, so one more year before the big 4-0! I have enjoyed years 30-38; hopefully the 39th will be a good one too....

Posted by wrjacobs at 2:07 PM

May 8, 2007

first letter

Today a letter arrived from my oldest niece (who is 8), the first snail mail she's ever sent! Before the age of email I enjoyed sending and receiving postal mail, so hopefully today's letter is the first of many....

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:43 PM

May 2, 2007

custom stamps

Yesterday I received an invite to my brother-in-law's wedding, one which featured a custom stamp made from a photo. Wow, I didn't know that one could do this!

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:46 AM

April 19, 2007

bomb threats and video recruiting

Yesterday several University of Minnesota buildings were evacuated due to a bomb threat. As I left Appleby Hall a big Girls Gone Wild tour bus was slowly rolling through campus. What a crazy juxtaposition....

Posted by wrjacobs at 12:37 PM

VT tragedy: crime and ethnicity

"Why did he have to be a ... ?"

Posted by wrjacobs at 12:27 PM

March 30, 2007

forever stamps

So the new forever stamps go on sale April 12, and the price of first class stamps goes up to 41 cents on May 14. Man, I wish I had known this before buying a book of 39-cent stamps a couple of weeks ago. Oh well, at least I got a cool design: Gee's Bend Quilt stamps.

Posted by wrjacobs at 5:21 PM

March 11, 2007

springing forward

Daylight Saving Time began today, so I have to manually adjust most of my clocks. In all, 14 devices need to be adjusted by hand: 4 clock radios, 2 TVs, 2 thermostats, 2 appliances, 1 wall clock, 1 car clock, 1 office desk clock, and 1 Palm Pilot. I've got too many time pieces!

Posted by wrjacobs at 11:03 AM

March 7, 2007

history lesson

After watching Flyboys last night I tried to remember what incident caused (more or less) the U.S. to enter World War I. Today one of my colleagues -- a historian -- provided the answer: the sinking of the Lusitania.

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:35 AM

March 2, 2007

too much snow

While I enjoy shovelling my sidewalk and driveway, yesterday's storm that dumped a foot of snow was a bit extreme. I went out to shovel four times yesterday, and have been out once today. I'll have to go out at least one more time after the plow comes through and creates a big ridge in front of the driveway. Also, two more inches of snow are expected! I think I'll be happy if this is the last time we get snow this season....

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:08 AM

February 28, 2007

one year ago today...

...I had surgery to repair a torn achilles tendon, then I spent three months in a cast. Hopefully that will never happen again....

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:20 AM

February 26, 2007

southern adventures 2

As I noted in the entry below, I made it to Nashville with no problems, but had no such luck getting out yesterday: my connecting flight in Chicago was cancelled because of weekend snowstorms, and no other open seats to MSP were available that day on any other airline. So for the first time ever I had to extend a trip because of bad weather! This was the first time I've had a connection in Chicago, so maybe I should not schedule that again....

Posted by wrjacobs at 4:27 PM

southern adventures 1

Over the weekend I had several adventures while attending the NCTEAR conference in Nashville. First up: a 30-minute window to make a connecting flight in St. Louis to get there. Given the possibility of missing the connection on a delayed first leg, I packed some clothes in my carry-on bag to make sure I had some clean underwear for the next day! "How in the world does the booking system allow such a short layover?" I wondered. The answer: the plane for the second leg was the one I was on for the first segment! So even though I had to get off briefly for the plane to be cleaned, no mad sprint down the concourse would be required. Nice!

Posted by wrjacobs at 4:19 PM

February 19, 2007

hiking around San Francisco

From Thursday through Sunday I was in San Francisco to attend the San Francisco Writers Conference at a hotel on top of Nob Hill. Each morning I hiked up the hill from the Powell Street BART station, and each day for lunch I roamed up and down other hills. I think I did more walking in four days than I usually do in four weeks!

Posted by wrjacobs at 5:02 PM

February 5, 2007


This morning my car displayed a temp of -17 degrees, and a radio announcer said that windchills were 20 to 30 degrees below zero. Bbbbbrrrrrr!!! I have had one colder experience, though: in late December of 1989 I woke to a 20 below/40 below windchill day here in Minnesota, one that froze the car's gas filter. I had to climb under with a hair dryer to thaw it. Now THAT was a cold day!

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:03 AM

January 30, 2007

evil smoke alarm

A couple of years ago I posted an entry about a smoke alarm battery expiring in the middle of the night. Well, last night the chirping of another dead smoke alarm battery woke me out of a sound sleep at 1:30 AM, then I slept fitfully until it was time to get up. I think that smoke alarms worldwide have decided to deliberately kill their batteries at the most inappropriate times in order to piss off their owners; they know that we can't really do anything besides gripe a little. It's a big conspiracy, I tell you!

Posted by wrjacobs at 4:15 PM

January 23, 2007

new glasses

Back in August I bought a new pair of eyeglasses, my first new pair in 7 years. I wanted to keep the same style I had, but the staff convinced me to go with something that (I admit) looks better. The problem, though, is that my new style is very trendy, and I'm an anti-trend cat. I eventually made my peace with this, but it was disturbed last night while watching 24: one of the bad guys -- Jack's brother (!) -- had on the same pair! At least that's what I thought at first, but a close-up revealed that there are a few minor differences. What a relief, as for a minute I thought that I'd have to dump my glasses and eat $600....

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:31 AM

January 8, 2007

secret adventures

Today at lunch I received a fortune cookie that said, "a secret adventure is in store for you." The fortune does not, however, tell if this adventure will be good or bad....

Posted by wrjacobs at 12:21 PM

December 22, 2006

Happy to get a rejection

Earlier this year I finished a memoir, and I'm trying to get it published. Yesterday I got a rejection letter from a publisher, but it was one I was happy about (!). Why? (1) The letter was a photocopy of a typewritten original (who uses typewriters these days!?), and (2) it had several typos: two that were corrected before the copy was made, and two more made in fresh blue ink! Whoa, the letter was most definitely not from a quality press.

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:01 AM

December 12, 2006

Target karma

After a Target run last month I discovered that the clerk had not charged me for one of my items, a box of Kleenex or something. I thought about going back to report the omission (seriously!) but figured that things would even out in the long run. Sure enough, my receipt from yesterday revealed that I was charged twice for a pack of TP. The world is back in balance.

Posted by wrjacobs at 11:18 AM

November 10, 2006

Today is Veteran's Day?

At noon I went downtown to City Hall to get a rainleader ordinance permit, but was greeted with bemusement by the security guard: today is Veteran's Day, so everything is closed. I had NO idea that it is a holiday today.

Posted by wrjacobs at 1:06 PM

November 7, 2006

vote today!

There are lots of tools out there to inform us about the issues and candidates involved in today's election, such as at MyVote. Vote today!

Posted by wrjacobs at 11:19 AM

September 18, 2006

Entry 200

When I created this blog in November of 2004, I thought I'd only post three or four notes as a demo for students in my "Stories and Storytellers" class. Here it is almost two years later and I'm still going, with 200 posts and spot #43 on the list of UThink blogs with the most entries. Wow!

Posted by wrjacobs at 11:41 AM

July 29, 2006

signature cafe's brunch

Last Sunday morning I was surprised that the Signature Cafe was closed, as for the past couple of years we've occasionally gone to their bomb-ass Sunday brunch. I just went over to ask if they were out of town last week or something, and would brunch be back on tomorrow. I was told that they ended Sunday brunch after Father's Day last month, and might restart it in the fall. I sure hope so!

Posted by wrjacobs at 5:26 PM

June 21, 2006

giving directions

For some reason, people frequently stop me to ask for directions...even when I'm in a strange city and have no idea where they want to go! Today a woman asked me about an address on 21st Ave. S. Since we were in SE Minneapolis I asked her if she meant 21st Ave SE. (A quirk of Minneapolis street design is that there can be, say, a 2000 21st Ave S just east of downtown, and a 2000 21st Ave N close to the western rim of the city). Before I could sort out her specific destination a bus pulled up behind her (she was in a bus-only lane in front of the U of Minnesota's Coffman Union), so she rolled off with my assurance that she was going in the right direction for SE streets/avenues. I think that she probably wanted to end up across the river in the Seward neighborhod, though. Oh well....

Posted by wrjacobs at 6:49 PM

May 17, 2006

no more crutches

Three months after surgery to repair a ruptured achilles tendon, today I was given permission to walk without them! I'm still in a walking boot, and will have to keep that on for at least 3 more weeks, but it definitely feels good to have just 2 legs again....

Posted by wrjacobs at 4:59 PM

May 16, 2006

ghosts in the kitchen

This weekend one of the lights in my kitchen went out. I thought the bulb had burned out, but it was just unscrewed a little; a half-twist turned it back on. Now I know I haven't messed with this bulb, and V hasn't either. We have an old house so things constantly creak and shift, but a bulb unscrewing itself?!? I just hope the ghosts don't graduate to something more destructive....

Posted by wrjacobs at 1:22 PM

May 9, 2006

Cancun reflections

Last week I was in Cancun, Mexico for 5 days with V, who won a trip to attend her company's annual "Best of the Best" celebration. Over the next few days I'll post entries about stuff observed while there.

Posted by wrjacobs at 12:40 PM

May 1, 2006

earthworms in the rain

On several occasions I've noticed a large earthworm congregation after a storm, but today I witnessed a first: a dozen or so worms under my garage door (between the door and concrete; usually they are on the sidewalk). Weird.

Posted by wrjacobs at 4:34 PM

April 18, 2006

soap sheets

Several months ago I received a package of "On-The-Go Soap Sheets" to be used as hand wipes. As these are dry sheets, I didn't think they'd be any good, so I dumped them in the bottom of my book bag. Today, though, I dug 'em out after a messy lunch and no napkins in sight. Surprise: they work pretty good!

Posted by wrjacobs at 4:30 PM

April 5, 2006

women's bball

Last night the University of Maryland won the women's basketball championship. Their head coach was here at the U of Minnesota for the year that started our rise to power (which now may end given that four players and an assistant coach have left the program in the past two weeks) but bolted to Maryland at the end of the year. Many Gophers, then, were rooting against the Terps last night. I say this: Brenda, your game plan is better suited for the fun-and-gun ACC than the grind-and-defend Big 10, so go 'head on, grrrl!

Posted by wrjacobs at 3:09 PM

April 2, 2006

clock adjustment

This morning it took me about 20 minutes to "spring forward" all of the clocks in my house for daylight saving time (I'm still on crutches following achilles tendon surgery). I should have flown in an Indiana high school senior to do it, who only charged $10 per house.

Posted by wrjacobs at 5:51 PM

March 13, 2006

March snow

This morning a mid-March Twin Cities snowstorm is winding down. Normally I would be getting ready to go out for my favorite winter activity: shoveling snow. Alas, I'm still in a cast so there's probably very little I can do today. V joked that I should attach a plow to my crutches and use that on the fluffy stuff (6 inches or so out front!). Hhhmmm....

Posted by wrjacobs at 11:17 AM

March 7, 2006

doctors in an era of HMOs

Yesterday I had a 1-week checkup with the surgeon about my repaired achilles tendon. I asked him how I was able to limp around for 3 weeks thinking I had a sprained ankle: "don't ruptured achilles tendons usually result in a lot of pain and the inability to walk?" His answer? "Yes, but you're a tough guy." Man, I knew that HMOs pressure doctors to keep answers short to move patients in and out as quickly as possible, but DAMN, can a Brotha get at least two sentences!?!

Posted by wrjacobs at 6:54 PM

March 1, 2006

new surgery experience

Yesterday I had surgery to repair a torn achilles tendon in my right ankle. Everything went fine, but I was a bit surprised about how the anesthesia worked this time. When I was a kid I had several operations to fix a urinary track problem, and remember a whooshing sound that got louder and louder before I went under. Yesterday, though, there was nothing! One minute I'm on my stomach in a pre-op room, the next I'm on my back in a recovery room. I wonder if (a) anesthesia works differently on kids vs adults, or (b) anesthesia medication has been improved over the years? Whatever the case, I hope I don't have to experience it again....

Posted by wrjacobs at 7:18 PM

February 17, 2006

Twin Cities Trader Joe's

For fans of the grocery store chain Trader Joe's, it appears that at least one store will be opening in St. Louis Park, and a second might be coming to St. Paul. It's about time!

Posted by wrjacobs at 11:30 AM

January 17, 2006

first day of spring classes

Today is the first day of classes at The U, and we were greeted this morning with a fresh coat of snow on the ground. I don't remember ever getting snow on the first day of spring classes while an undergrad at Georgia Tech (it rarely snows in The ATL), but I think that each start of spring classes in graduate school (Indiana U) was accompanied by fresh snow, and the trend continues here at the U of M-Twin Cities. Weird.

Posted by wrjacobs at 1:09 PM

January 14, 2006

task from Richard Pryor

Last night I had a dream in which Richard Pryor was a math teacher, and he asked me to help evaluate a new activity for his students. I had just finished it (solve an algebra equation using a designated method) when I realized that Richard Pryor is dead; I woke up just as "Richard Pryor" was starting to transmorgrify into something else. I've got to stop watching Showtime's Masters of Horror just before bedtime!

Posted by wrjacobs at 8:39 AM

January 4, 2006

Narnia in the news

Narnia is pissed off at the World Trade Organization. Hopefully the U.S. won't intervene in this dispute. Long live Aslan!

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:28 AM

December 26, 2005

holiday crime

The last few days have been rough in my old Longfellow neighborhood: on Thursday (the 22nd) the Wendy's on Lake Street was shot up in a drive-by, and then yesterday -- Christmas Day! -- some fool capped a worker at the Family Foods (a corner store I used to frequently patronize). Where's the holiday love, people?!

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:37 AM

December 15, 2005

snow emergency towing

A snow emergency is in effect here in Minneapolis, which means that there are restrictions on where/when one can engage in on-street parking. I was surprised when a tow truck pulled up next door 30 minutes ago and hauled off a late-model VW Passat, as I'd only seen a tow truck in the hood once...for a stalled car. I was also surprised that it took two dudes 8 minutes to get the car loaded; when I lived on 15th St. swarms of trucks would descend a few minutes after 9:00 PM (when emergencies go into effect) and the longest hook-up time I ever clocked was 5 minutes. Maybe these guys just got back from a lunch break and were not yet back to full operating speed....

Posted by wrjacobs at 3:04 PM

December 12, 2005

internal communication

Why can't different departments within large corporations effectively communicate with each other? Today, I got not one, but two requests that would never had been made if the requesting unit had access to info given to another unit within the company. I would think that a shareable database would be easy to implement, but maybe both companies that contacted me today are using Microsoft products....

Posted by wrjacobs at 5:51 PM

November 9, 2005

the sounds of peace

Check out the following statement by a U.S. military officer in Iraq:

"Some of you are concerned about the attack helicopters and mortar fire from the base. I will tell you this: those are the sounds of peace."

Wow! Get the full story from Nygaard Notes.

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:54 AM

November 7, 2005

which punctuation mark are you?

I'm a dash:

"There's no denying that you have a certain flair. You don't mind being around others, especially your little brother, the hyphen, but you rarely emerge except when needed. You respond well to those who know how to treat you, but have only contempt for those who don't--you tend to embarass them every chance you get. Your only enemy is the colon--he will sometimes try to move in on your turf."

Take the test.

Posted by wrjacobs at 1:03 PM

October 31, 2005

Daylight Saving Time

I forgot to set my clock to "spring forward" Sunday at 2:00AM, ending daylight saving time for the year. I must have thought I was back in Indiana, which doesn't observe DST (but that will change next year).

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:39 AM

October 10, 2005

action on Arthur Ave.

Saturday nights are usually pretty quiet in Minneapolis' Prospect Park neighborhood. Two nights ago at 11:00PM, though, Arthur Ave. erupted into a blaze of lights and sirens as 8 police cars roared in to surround a car that was abandonded in the middle of the street, with all 4 doors open. I can't yet locate any info about it, but my guess is that 1 po-po was chasing a stolen car, and then s/he called in backup when the perps ditched it next to a walking path shortcut over to the next street. Hopefully this week's neighborhood email list-serv will have some more 411 on what went down....

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:24 AM

October 7, 2005

Entry 100

I can't believe that this is my 100th blog posting. I did the first one in November 2004 as a demo for an assignment I gave to my "Stories and Storytellers" class. I didn't think I'd keep going, but blogging can be addictive....

Posted by wrjacobs at 3:23 PM

September 22, 2005

entry 23, sentence 5

Here's an interesting meme posted on Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast:

1. Go into your archive.
2. Find your 23rd post (or closest to).
3. Find the fifth sentence (or closest to).
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.

On my January 31 entry, the 5th sentence was:

"For instance, would an America of 2005 be well served by the ability of its citizens to visit Lacuna, Inc.?"


Posted by wrjacobs at 4:50 PM

September 15, 2005

WNBA game microphones

The WNBA playoffs are being televised on ESPN2. In yesterday's game 1 a new gimmick was unveiled: each team had the head coach and a player "wired for sound," so the audience could hear what they were saying. For at least a year networks have wired NBA and WNBA basketball players, but until yesterday they only turned the mics on during timeouts. It was annoying to hear player/coach commentary pop up at random intervals during play...until Connecticut coach Mike Thibault started letting expletives fly! Amazingly, the person assigned to bleep out stuff was on weed or something, as twice s/he got the "bull" but NOT the "shit" of "bullshit," and then just got the "t" of "Oh, shit"! If ESPN2 uses the live game mics in tonight's game that person will surely be replaced. *&^%!

Posted by wrjacobs at 11:08 AM

July 22, 2005

exit row seating

This week I flew to/from the South -- South Carolina and The ATL (Atlanta) -- to visit family and friends. I was lucky enough to get exit row seating for both flights. On the return flight, though, two of the five people in my row were on the short side, at about 5 feet 5 inches. The main reason that those like me (at 6'4") will even willingly take the dreaded middle seat if in the exit row is to get some extra leg room, so I think that the airlines should add a height of 6'0" and above to the list of exit row seating restrictions.

Posted by wrjacobs at 1:48 PM

June 27, 2005

car gremlins

On July 16 the sixth Harry Potter book -- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince -- will be released. In it I hope that J.K. Rowling comes up with a name for creatures that live in cars and steal credit card-sized items. This past Friday I put my REI card on top of the coin holder but when I got to the store 15 minutes later it was gone! Similarly, six months ago a $10 bus pass disappeared from the same spot. In both cases my first thought was that the card got sucked out of the window by a strong gust of wind, but one would think I would notice something flying past my face. So, after thoroughly checking between seats and under rugs I must conclude that I have car gremlins. Why can't the creatures eat stuff like the moldy bits of food left over from messy take out?

Posted by wrjacobs at 12:33 PM

June 2, 2005

Murphy's Law corollary

Murphy's Law states, "If something can go wrong, it will." I wonder if there's a corollary along the lines of "If you fix the problem, something else will go wrong"? That happened this morning: I repaired a slow-refilling toilet, and then on the way to lunch my car's "check engine" light came on. Damn!

Posted by wrjacobs at 1:52 PM

April 28, 2005

no more yesterdays

I just noticed that my last four blog entries start with "Yesterday [something happened]." I promise more variety in the future....

Posted by wrjacobs at 11:00 AM

field trip to the co-op

Yesterday I witnessed an unusual sight at the Seward Co-op grocery store: elementary school children were there on a field trip! Those kids had to be pissed when the teacher announced their destination, probably screaming "why can't we go to the mall or to a Twins game!?" Once they realized that at least they would get out of normal school work, though, I'm sure that they perked up....

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:48 AM

March 28, 2005

alarm in the attic

On Sunday morning a chirping noise in the attic woke me up at 4:00. My first thought was that a bird had somehow gotten in, but after I was able to focus I realized that it was the sound made by a dying battery in a smoke alarm. The next thought, though, prevented me from getting up to yank the shits out: what if a poltergeist or something was up there playing tricks? Don't laugh; I've seen enough horror movies to know that one should not go rummaging around in basements or attics in the middle of the night. Plus, on the day before I had posted a rating of two stars (out of five) on netflix about The Ring Two; what if Samara found out and was planning something? So, I took the safe route and waited till the middle of the afternoon to fix the problem. The price I paid (an hour to get back to sleep as I slowly tuned out the chirping) was a small one to pay....

Posted by wrjacobs at 2:43 PM