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Tom Foolery's

Friday, November 30, 2007

Mrs. Chris

See! I told you she's beautiful!

Dancing barefoot in the snow at midnight on New Years Eve

Evidently, Sioux City employees have their very own outdoor restrooms... who knew?


Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Big Day


Yes, Honey, it's your birthday today. Sorry.


Monday, November 26, 2007

Mondays Ain't for the Weak

Crises of Voluminous Magnitude

"Do you vant me to help you pack?" asked my beloved Austrian wife, Dagmar. "I can help you pack."

Eyes glued to the game, I thumbed the "mute" button on the remote. "What?" I replied. "Pack? Where am I going?" I truly hoped that if I was going somewhere, it would be somewhere that would let me sit on the couch in my jammies and watch the game.

"You're goink to leave, I can tell," she said, her voice quivering just a bit. "I vill help you pack. You'll need to take extra tummy pills..."

I looked up at her. "I don't have to go anywhere," I said. I looked at her, standing there in her little gray nightshirt, the one with the kitty-cats on it. Her eyes were tearing up. "Why do you think I'm going somewhere?"

"Because I'm old!" she wailed. "You're going to leave me because I'm old!" She turned and ran into the bedroom. The cat, Fruitloop, who had been, until just a few seconds ago, happily napping on the couch right next to the happily napping me, looked up at me with a "wow, dude" look on his face.

"Hey, fuzzy little buddy, what's the date today?" I asked, scratching him on the head. He didn't answer. I looked around, wondering if we had a calendar. Yep, right there on the wall by the door. Ahhhh... I see.

Dagmar's birthday is this Thursday. Ahhhh...

I hoisted my carcass to an upright position and staggered to the bedroom. I tapped on the door. "Honey? You okay in there?" I opened the door. All I could see was a Dagmar-sized bump under the blankets. "Are you okay, Snookums?"

"You're going to leave me und find a younger vife," she sniffled. "I'm going to be OLD!" I sat on the bed and politely waited for her to continue. She did. "Everyting's moving south. I'm getting saggy. I'm old."

I reassured my beloved bride best I could that aging is a natural process and of course I'm not going to move away and find another wife. We talked for a while about how we're both more comfortable with ourselves than we were when we were young, and how it's nice to be taken seriously. There's a calmness that comes with age that's reassuring and comfortable. She eventually sat up and quit sniffling. "You're right," she said. "There's a certain grace and power in aging. Ve should embrace it rather than fight it." She perked up, crisis over. Everything's back to normal again. "Can you get me a glass of vater?" she asked.

I got up and made my way to the kitchen to get her water. I paused in the bathroom to wash my hands because I'd only washed them 240 times that day and needed to get to 300 by supper time (hey, we all have our demons). As I wiped my hands off on the towel, I met my reflection in the mirror. We stared at each other for a moment, he and I. You know, I'm getting awfully gray in the beard. And those laugh lines are starting to sag a bit. Mister Reflection didn't look nearly as vibrant as I remembered. Is that a hair growing out of my ear? What the...? Mister Reflection there sorta looks kinda pudgy around the edges. This is Not Good.

You know, my birthday's coming up pretty quickly, too. I made a strangled little meeping noise.

"Vhat?" hollered Dagmar from the other room. "Vhat did you say?"

Still staring my reflection down, I hollered, "I said, 'Do you want me to help you pack?'"


Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Wistful Morning

I'm thankful for...

We have an abundance of food.

A full table for the holidays, all the chairs filled with family.

My heritage at the farm.

Having work to do, and knowing it's good.

All the roads that lead to home.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I'm thinking of you today

Good Luck, Bob

I'm sure everything will be okay.
Everything will be okay.


Monday, November 19, 2007

Memo to the World

Dear World...

To everyone:

I'm working on your job right now. Whatever it is I'm doing for you, I'll get it done just as soon as I possibly can. Your job is important to me, and is my number one priority. I promise, I'll finish it as soon as I can.

Please note, calling me every ten minutes to ask the status of your job really isn't helping. In fact, it's slowing me down considerably. I'm working on your job right now, so every minute I spend on the phone explaining that to you is just one more minute's delay in your job.

I'm working on it right now.

Thank you for your patience and understanding in this matter.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Tagged in a good way

I've been tagged...

Hmmm... I've been tagged by Steakbellie to write about certain topics in blocks of eight. 'Tis an interesting assignment. I'll give it a try...

Eight Passions In My Life
  1. My Alpine Snowflake, beloved bride of mine, Dagmar. I've often said that I never really grew up, never really knew who I was, and never knew how to be happy until I met her. Just today I kissed her on the forehead and said, "Thanks for taking my anger away." She's my very favorite.
  2. Family. My family is getting more and more important to me every year. The older I get the more I need to spend time with the clan.
  3. Photography? To be honest, I'm not sure that any of the last six are going to be in any particular order... But I've been enjoying photography the past few years, and I'm starting to make a little money at it. It's nice to make money doing something you enjoy!
  4. Music. I don't play bass in any organized band any more (not that any of my previous bands could be called "organized," really) but I still enjoy listening to music, and when I do play in jam sessions or whatnot I truly enjoy it when I can sink into a song and forget myself for a while, floating on the notes, being timeless (often in more ways than one).
  5. Motorcycling. While I enjoy "the call of the road," the rumble of a V-twin and the wind in my hair, I enjoy the combination of solitude and brotherhood just as much. The solitude comes when you're riding -- you can't talk to anyone, and no one can talk to you. There are no cell phones, no TV's, no distractions. It's the perfect way to sort through the day's problems... And once the problems are sorted, you often find yourself in some really pretty country to enjoy. The brotherhood is something I've found relatively recently. I've found some good people to ride with the past four or five years, and it makes the whole experience seem "whole."
  6. Friends. Make 'em. Keep 'em. They're important, especially when you need bail money.
  7. Helping in the community. It's important to me to help out wherever I can. I've known that all along but never seemed to do much about it until recently. I hope to do more.
  8. Whining about my day job.

Eight Things to Do Before I Die
  1. Kiss my wife.
  2. Make a will.
  3. Buy more life insurance.
  4. See the American Tricentennial.
  5. Visit Germany and Austria and drink their beer.
  6. See a palm tree (and NOT a potted palm, a real one, like in the Corona Beer commercials).
  7. Swim in a warm ocean.
  8. Ride my motorcycle down Highway 1 from Jacksonville to the Florida Keys. (Hey, that'd get me the "palm tree" AND "the ocean" all in one if I played my cards right!)

Eight Things I Often Say
  1. "...and we'll take it from there."
  2. "Do you know what I mean? I mean, did I explain that right?"
  3. "Sure, I'll have another."
  4. "Oh for gosh sakes." (I actually do say that.)
  5. "Geeze, I didn't sleep at all last night."
  6. "What key was that supposed to be in?"
  7. "What's this button for?"
  8. "Sure, I'll have another."

Eight Books I Read Recently
  1. "Analog Science Fiction and Fact" magazine. I know, I know, it's not a book, but I read these magazines a lot. I've got a library that goes from 2005 back to the 1960's or so, with a few going back to the 50's. It's not a complete library, but it's not bad.
  2. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Robert A. Heinlein, 1966. A great treatise on political theory.
  3. Mission of Gravity, Hal Clement, 1953. Imagine how a planet with wildly varying gravitational fields (an oblong, spindle shaped planet with a large mascon could do the trick) could mold not only a species, but a society.
  4. Man of Earth, Algis Budrys, 1958. Give a sick old man a healthy body and a new start in a foreign army and see what happens.
  5. Cat's Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., 1963. I don't think I understood this book. I probably should read it again...
  6. Esperanto: A Complete Grammar. This book had the weakest plot I've ever read, and I've read winners like "Fish Men from Pluto." I got to page 30 and lost the book. Now I'll never know if Rikardo donis libron al Maria.
  7. The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, Robert A. Heinlein, 1985. A fun action/adventure story set in outer space. A bit too cheeky for my taste at times, but fun to read.
  8. Old Man's War, John Scalzi, 2005. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Science fiction (of course) -- rejuvenation with a twist.
  9. I know, there's only supposed to be eight. But go out and read Spider Robinson's stuff. Intelligent humor wrapped around a love of wordplay mixed with dabs of science with a dollop of cool ideas.

Eight Songs that Mean Something To Me
  1. "Cat's in the Cradle" by Harry Chapin.
  2. "For What It's Worth," by Buffalo Springfield. (For years I thought the name of the song was "Stop Children, What's That Sound".)
  3. "Scarborough Fair/Canticle" by Simon and Garfunkle. The intricacies of the song fascinated me when I was a kid. I loved the opposing themes, both musical and lyrical, though it was the music that truly intrigued me. They pulled this trick off again with a version of "Silent Night" an album or two later, incidentally. I haven't heard the song in years. I wonder if I still enjoy it? Mayhap.
  4. Gosh, there are so many. I cry sometimes when I hear "Walk Don't Run" by the three-piece band The Ventures. The simple elegance and sheer coolness of the song was years ahead of its time. I think they influenced rock and roll more than people realize.
  5. "Fugue for Organ in G Minor" by Bach. Just plain cool.
  6. "Moondance" by Van Morrison.
  7. "Third Stone from the Sun" by Hendrix. You can do that with a guitar? Whoa...
  8. "Kiko and the Lavender Moon" by Los Lobos. Nice memories of dancing in the living room at midnight.

Eight Qualities I Look For in a Friend
  1. Kindness.
  2. Respect.
  3. Must treat old ladies, small children and dogs as human beings.
  4. Honesty.
  5. Trustworthiness.
  6. Responsibility.
  7. Dignity.
  8. The ability to communicate clearly.

Eight People I'm Passing This On To
  1. Pistols at Dawn
  2. The Guv'nor
  3. Dad Andersen
  4. Leoness (shoot, she's already been tagged)
  5. Kat (dagnabbit, Steakbellie tagged her too)
  6. Pixie
  7. I'm running out of people. I'm only listing people I think would participate -- no use picking on someone who hates this sort of thing... Um... The Lady Who Doesn't Lunch
  8. Aunt V?

Monday, November 12, 2007


It Should Oughta Be a Law

Sitting here just now, I was thinking of all my friends who are veterans. (It is Veterans' Day, after all.) Oddly enough, I can only think of two of them who don't have to work today. All the rest of them are at work right now. Isn't this supposed to be their day? Why are they working while the mailman is sitting at home?

Shouldn't it be a law that veterans get a paid holiday on Veterans' Day? My employer doesn't honor Veterans' Day, even though it's a federal holiday, but wouldn't it be great if they gave our delivery guy (a Vietnam Vet) the day off with pay? Hasn't he earned it?

Chilly Morning

I got home after work yesterday (I know, yesterday was both a Sunday and a holiday, but it's been a long weekend) just in time to see one of the local homeless guys park his grocery cart beside a bush and sit down on the neighbor's porch steps for a few minutes. He saw me and waved. "Sure is a nice day!" he said. I waved back. "Yep!"

This morning I left the house at ten after six to head to work. I stood quietly on my front porch for a minute or two to let my other neighbor finish going through the trash can across the street in privacy. He pulled an empty pop can out of the garbage, looked around to see if anyone caught him, and walked up the street to his pickup truck, dropping the can in the back. He lived in the same house, just two houses up the street from me, for over fifty years, faithfully paying his homeowners' insurance. Sadly, an arsonist hit his house a week or two ago. His family is scattered about the neighborhood now, living wherever they can -- they won't let the family move back into their home until the damage is repaired. Unfortunately his homeowners' insurance is only covering a third of the cost, so no one's sure if they can get the house repaired before the city condemns the property and tears it down. Just one more homeless family... Hopefully it's not a permanent situation for them. There aren't enough empty pop cans in the neighborhood any more.

Dagmar and I are participating in a charity event for the local homeless population on Friday -- we're taking pledges and sleeping out in the park with a bunch of other people. If anyone wants to donate a few dollars, that'd be great! Just click on the button below to e-send a donation if you want. To learn more about the Siouxland Sleepout, please visit their Web site -- www.siouxlandsleepout.com.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A Chill in the Air

Frosty Pumpkins

"Yep, it's November," I told the man at the motorcycle shop as I blew on my hands to warm them. "It's a bit chilly out there."

"Yeah, it's only 35 degrees right now," he said. "I'm surprised you rode today." He walked back behind his counter. "What can I do for you today? Here to put it away for the year?"

I nodded. "Yep. It's time to put it away for a while..."

Every year I take my bike to the local Kawasaki shop in the late fall and have them store my bike through the winter months. I don't have a door on my garage, and I don't like the thought of my beloved bike sitting in the cold all winter. It costs a bit for me to store the bike, but they put it in a heated garage, cover it, tend to the battery, change the oil, etc... It's worth it to me.

And I just hate the thought of my bike sitting in the cold.

The motorcycle man and I talked for a few moments about details of the bike's annual upkeep (I was sad to realize it's time for new tires already -- I had my heart set on some nice chrome doodads, but safety first I guess), then my beloved Austrian bride Dagmar pulled up in the car to give me a ride home. I kissed the bike goodbye and waved to the nice motorcycle man and got into the car.

"The end of the season is hard for you," she said. "Do you vant maybe a nice pizza or someting to get your mind off the bike?"

I shook my head no and pouted all the way home.

"Oh," said my vunderful vife as we pulled up to our house. "Look at our ferns. They're all brown and dying. It must have frozen again last night." Last summer she planted two big ferns in front of our house. They're nice.

"Yeah," I said. "Too bad we can't bring them in for the winter. I hate to see them sit in the cold like that. I hope they survive through to spring..."

I went inside and put my chaps and leather gloves away for the year, down in the basement in a plastic tub labeled "Summer Stuff." While I was in the basement, I figured I might as well get my winter coat out. It was in a plastic tub labeled "Winter Stuff." Odd how the "Summer Stuff" tub is full of fun things like frisbees, toy boomerangs, and leather chaps (if you can't have fun with leather chaps, you're not trying), while the "Winter Stuff" tub is full of naught but heavy coats and stern-looking mittens. I guess the lesson there is "summer = fun."

I went back upstairs to let kitty Fruitloop in. He's been outside long enough. It's too cold out there for little kitties who aren't used to being outside. When I opened the door the poor little fella fell flat on his face. He'd been leaning on the door from the other side, trying to push it open with his nose. I guess he must have been a bit chilly. I picked him up and plopped him down on the couch, covering him with a spare blanket.

It's not summer any more. I noticed there's frost on the two little pumpkins the nice homeless man left for us last week. (It took us a while to figure out where the two little pumpkins came from, but we eventually figured out they were a gift from the homeless guy who lives just down the alley. We leave empty pop cans for him every few days. He gets a nickel each for them.)

I thought about the homeless guy who gave us the pumpkins as I tried on my warm winter coat. I thought about how I hate to leave my motorcycle in the cold. I thought about how I make sure my cat has a blanket. I thought about dying ferns. I peeked out the window -- sure 'nuff, there were two homeless men walking up the street, heads down, hands in pockets, probably headed for the Soup Kitchen half a mile away.

I've heard estimates that over 2,500 homeless people went through Sioux City last year. Most live here, some were just passing through, but that's a BIG number no matter how you look at it. There are the modern-day equivalents to hobo camps along the railroad tracks over there by the Interstate. You can glimpse their tents through the trees if you look just right. Over a quarter of the homeless are veterans. Dagmar tells me that the social workers have noted at least one homeless Iraq War veteran in Sioux City already.

When we think of homeless people, we generally think of the men, but an alarming percentage of the homeless around here are women and children. You don't see them as much, though. The men don't hide.

In just over a week, Friday the 16th of November, roughly 350 people will be sleeping in the local ball park. Why? Well, we're taking pledges... We try to talk people into pledging a few dollars, then we go sleep outside for a night. The money all goes towards programs aimed at helping the homeless population here in Sioux City. We're hoping to raise $50,000 this year. It's a big goal, but one that's worth shooting for.

Dagmar participated in the First Siouxland Sleepout (I would have gone, but I misunderstood and thought she was going as part of a group from her work -- turns out anyone could participate). Both of us shivered last year in the Second Sleepout. This year marks the third time this event will be held, and we're planning to be out there again.

If anyone would like to pledge a few dollars (and trust me, every single little dollar helps!) please feel free to contact either Dagmar or myself. You can e-mail me at chris at radloffs.net (putting the @ in there). You can also PayPal a pledge to me at the same address if you choose. You can also donate directly through the Sleepout's web site -- www.siouxlandsleepout.com. The web site also has a list of which agencies benefit from the contributions, and photos from the last two events too.

I also have a few "Participant Packets" left, too, if anyone in the area would like to take pledges and come join us. We have hot chocolate and stuff. It's a pretty interesting event! Some people sleep under the stars, others in cardboard boxes. Me? I sleep in a tent. Dress warm. Just get in touch with me if you want to particpate and I'll set you up.

Again, you can learn more at www.siouxlandsleepout.com, and you can get in touch with me either through www.radloffs.net or www.hippieboydesign.com (chris at radloffs dot net).

Thanks for listening! I do appreciate it.


Sunday, November 04, 2007


Go Pack Go!

The Green Bay Packers have won 7 games and only lost one. I'm a happy hippie! Man, the game against Kansas City was close. If the Packers keep waiting till the last minute to win their games I'm gonna end up popping a vessel or something.

Friday, November 02, 2007

A Weekend Off!

I love my jammies.

"What do you want to do this weekend," I asked my happy little Austrian Snickerdoodle, Dagmar. "We could go to the park. Or we could go to Le Mars on Sunday to watch the Mighty Mighty Packers beat the woeful Kansas City Chefs. Or we could..."

"Or ve could stay home."

I looked at her in surprise. "What?"

"Quit looking at me," she said. "Stop staring."

"What do you mean, 'stay home?' We could go ride our bicycles on the trails," I continued. "Or we could go watch a band. Or we could..."

"Ve will stay home."

I looked at her again. She coughed. I put my hands on my hips and prepared to get stentorian. She coughed again, and sniffled, staring at me, waiting. You know, she looked decidedly peaked. Kinda pale, with a sniffle around the edges. I deflated. "Oh," I said. "You're not feeling well." I'm smart that way. I can tell these things.

So we're staying home.

And, you know, I'm kinda looking forward to it... There are no photos to take, no meetings to attend, no fund raisers to plan, the shopping is done. There is no reason for me to leave the house this weekend at all, unless I need to make an emergency Ny-Quill run or something. All I have to do this weekend is catch up on household errands (which translates into updating web sites and categorizing photos, along with laundry) and pay attention to my beloved vife.

You know, forget the household errands.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

How Now Brown Cow?

City Elections

For the first time in over 50 years Sioux City is going to elect a Mayor this fall. Since the 1950s we've been going with some odd system where one of the City Council members gets appointed Mayor by the other City Council members in some sort of slimy political-insider love-fest. It was a system that produced odd results from time to time. But now we get to elect someone of our very own choosing!

So who's running? Well, most of the City Council members threw their hat into the ring, feeling, evidently, that it's their birthright as City Council members to hold the Mayoral post. Eleven percent of the registered voters in the city turned out to vote in the primary, so now we're down to two finalists.

Current City Council member Brent Hoffman is going against political outsider Mike Hobart. I'm voting for Hobart. Not for any mystical political reason, but rather because I think the city has been headed the wrong direction lately. So I'm voting for the guy who wasn't there when bad decisions were made.

There is one City Council position open this election cycle as well. Incumbent Jason Geary is being challenged by Aaron Rochester. Again, I have no idea what their political leanings are, but I'm voting for Rochester -- simply because I'd like to see change in my neighborhood.

If you want change, vote for Hobart and Rochester next Tuesday.

Art at it's Finest

I doodle sometimes when I'm on the phone. The other day I started doodling a duck. But, really, it looked more like a nice horsey than a duck, so I put a tail on it and called it a horse. A few minutes later someone walked past. "Nice rocket ship," they said.

Have I mentioned I'm the Art Director at the print shop? How sad is that?

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