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Archive for 2007

The wife’s aunt responds…

…to my inaccurate story about her father:

My father, Johannes Wang Dalgaard (Elvi’s grandfather), was born in 1897 on the west coast of Denmark. At the age of 15, his father died, devastating the family of eight children. Some 50 years later, my aunt described to me the deathbed scene. My grandmother, who had been the wife of a man of influence, suddenly became a widow, struggling to raise the children by herself.

My father was apprenticed to a carpenter and made the chest which is still in the family and I hope his great-grandson, Child Three, will claim it someday. Johannes soon had it with carpentry and wanted to be an engineer. His uncle said he would pay for his education if he would became a Lutheran minister, but Johannes declined the offer and the financial burden fell on his mother.

Since he had already missed two years of high school, he wanted to catch up. He worked very hard and finished the four years in two. This made history in the city. My cousin (his sister’s son) asked me if I knew what my father had accomplished with this feat… 50+ years later.

In 1919, Johannes left his home town of Lemvig, and entered the Polytechnique of the University of Copenhagen to study civil engineering. One summer there was a seamen’s strike and students were hired to take a ship to Rio. I have the “document” given when Johannes passed the equator the first time. One of his teachers was Nils Bohr. My father studied engineering for three years – then he emigrated to Canada. So why didn’t he stay one more year and finish his degree? I don’t know.

In 1923, he landed in Quebec and went straight to Winnipeg. I just found a letter which may give further details. He sent money to his mother every month, duly recorded in a notebook.

Eventually, he came to Montreal and joined the Danish community. He found a Norwegian girlfriend, Alphid Hoeg, who became his fiancee. Somehow, they both ended up working in Arvida, Que. My father was in charge of cutting the stone for the Sun Life building.

Alphid gave Johannes many gifts: a ring; a pair of leather gloves, worn by my mother and now by me; a large heavy silk scarf; a pair of sterling silver and enameled art deco cuff links; and a diamond stick pin in the original Birk’s box. She also gave him an embroidered pillow… after he was married… to my mother. What I would like to know is what he gave to Alphid.

In 1929, my father lost his investments in the stock-market crash and became a poor man with ulcers. That’s the condition he was in when he met my mother, Ida Augusta Jensen, through mutual friends in the Danish community. She had emigrated from Copenhagen three years before, had movie star looks and the mind of a philosopher.

At the time of their meeting, Alphid was visiting her family in Norway. Her father owned an engineering firm there and she wanted Johannes to come settle in Norway, and work at her father’s firm. Ida was well aware of Johannes and Alphid’s engagement to be married and told Johannes thet she wished to be friends and nothing more. But my father was truly smitten and the Danish community could see it. They wrote to Alphid, urging her to return as soon as possible to reclaim her man. My father, an honourable man, could not bring himself to break his engagement – so, after a time, Alphid did it for him. He was grateful and free. In 1933, he and my mother married. Alphid continued to send gifts for years afterward, such as the pillow, until she herself was married.

My mother cured my father’s ulcers. He seldom bought her gifts. He said she had the bankbook and she could buy what she wanted. When my mother was pregnant with her first child (me), he went back to work in Arvida which resulted in eight months of correspondence which is being translated into English. He wrote then that he would never leave her again.

They bought the house I live in in 1942.

The mystery remains. Was the pin in the house already? We’ll never know.

Halloween 2007

To satiate popular demand, may I present Child One:

Child Two:

And Child Three:

And a warning: there’s a rant on the horizon….

Bonus Web site of the hour:

At Scott Wade’s Dirty Car Art Gallery, Scott Wade displays the awesome art he creates on dirty automobiles, using the dirt as his medium.

Quick post-Halloween hit

A gun ammo site has used the sales of silver bullets to determine the spread of lycanthropy in the US.

This is the sort of thing I’d have put in the annual Netsurfer Digest Halloween issues, alas.

Networking at work

So my dad has a cousin in Israel, whose daughter knows some people, and word filtered through the mishpochah that I should send a book back up that chain.

Today comes word that my book is in the possession of Uzi Dayan – yes, son of Moshe – and is bound for the hands of the commander of the Israeli Air Force, Maj. Gen. Eliezer Shkedy.

That’s something, I suppose. I hope one of them buys a book from me.

In other writing news, a wannabe producer wants me to write a script on spec for him. I’m a wannabe writer not making any money writing for myself, so I figure at worst it’ll improve my writing and give me an impetus to write. I’ve been finding it hard to put fictional words down between school and work.

I’m not at liberty to discuss the topic of this spec publicly, but it’s the story of an American artist of sorts in the ’30s. I have a box of books on my subject to tackle before I start outlining. Wish me luck.

Bonus thoughts on the power of illuminated pumpkins:

I’m home while the wife and children go trick or treating in Pointe Claire. Usually, they all go out and I stay home and man the candy bowl. Normally, we get dozens of kids. This year, we’re still in the single digits as of this post.

Our front of our house is well decorated with cobwebs (real and fake), pumpkins, and plastic decorations – but we didn’t carve any pumpkins. I wonder if the lack of that singular symbol is keeping kids away.

Nazi memorabilium

The wife’s aunt found an interesting doodad in her house:

The AGW Hive Mind (grumpy old men who used to beat each other to virtual hell in a flight sim and now do so over eveything else) helped me find out what it is.

I was able to decipher the German myself. A Landrat is the district administrator, sort of the mayor of a county, and des Kreisses Euskirchen means the district of Euskirchen, which is on the border with Belgium. The hive mind helped me find out what this was, however.

It’s a licence plate tag, which would allow the Landrat to park anywhere, sort of like a New York City doctor. The Hive Mind found two other examples out there.

I’m still left with a few puzzles. How was it attached to the licence plate? Who took it from the Landrat’s car? What was it doing in the house my wife’s grandfather built – he didn’t serve in the war and he certainly didn’t hoard Nazi goodies out of pride.

Book page

I finally made a Web page for my book. I can’t figure out how to put a PayPal auto-pay link, mostly because I haven’t tried. I’ve received no news from the Jewish Public Library yet on whether or not I’ll hold a launch there.

While steeped in that particular cultural theme, allow me to present some haiku:

The months I carried you.
Vomiting, headaches, nausea.
But never mind.

Lacking fins or tail
The gefilte fish swims with
Great difficulty.

Beyond Valium,
Peace is knowing one’s child
Is an internist.

On Passover we
Opened the door for Elijah
Now our cat is gone.

After the warm rain
The sweet smell of camellias
Did you wipe your feet?

Her lips near my ear,
Aunt Sadie whispers the name
Of her friend’s disease.

Today I am a man.
Tomorrow I will return
To the seventh grade.

Testing the warm milk
On her wrist, she sighs softly.
But her son is forty.

The sparkling blue sea
Reminds me to wait an hour
After my sandwich.

Like a bonsai tree,
Is your terrible posture
At my dinner table.

Jews on safari:
Map, compass, elephant gun,
Hard sucking candies.

The same kimono
The top geishas are wearing:
I got it at Loehmann’s.

Mom, please! There is no
Need to put that dinner roll
In your pocketbook.

Seven-foot Jews in
The NBA slam-dunking!
My alarm clock rings.

Sorry I’m not home
To take your call. At the tone
Please state your bad news.

Is one Nobel Prize
So much to ask from a child
After all I’ve done?

Today, mild shvitzing.
Tomorrow, so hot you’ll plotz.
Five-day forecast: feh

Yenta. Shmeer. Gevalt.
Shlemiel. Shlimazl. Meshuganah
Oy! To be fluent!

Quietly murmured
At Saturday Synagogue services,
Yanks 5, Red Sox 3.

A lovely nose ring,
Excuse me while I put my
Head in the oven.

Hard to tell under the lights.
White Yarmulke or
Male-pattern baldness.

Mission accomplished

See “Bonus unit of fame for Child Three”, in my last post.

Just another sari Sunday

I woke with a headache Sunday morning. It was not a migraine, but it was located where migraine would be. I took a Dilaudid around noon in anticipation of the potential for escalation to migraine and headed off with the family to an Indian tea party and sari fashion show.

I still had the same headache at 2:00, so I popped two oxycodone, or maybe they are hydroxycodone – I’m too lazy to go check. They had the usual effect: I became chatterbox and the inside of my nose itched. But they did nothing for the pain.

We had some wonderful homemade Indian finger food, desserts, and spiced tea. I chatted with the old Indian ladies about Indian recipes, which I used to make often.

After that adventure, we headed to our friends Carol and Charles to make supper. I took another two Dilaudid around 4:00. I laid down on the couch while Elvi whipped up two Alton Brown-inspired meatloaves.

Before supper, I took two extra-strength Tylenol, or maybe it was ibuprofen. On the way home, around 8:00, I took three more Dilaudid.

Yeah, that’s a lot of drugs, but they have little narcotic effect on me. That last batch did the trick. My headache faded by 9:00. I even slept reasonably soundly – I normally don’t on Dilaudid – at least until I spontaneously awoke at 5:00 am.

Bonus annoyance:

Firefox upgraded itself on my Windows laptop and now whenever that browser is open, my laptop freezes for a fifth of a second or so every two seconds or so. Among other inconveniences, it makes typing a blog post an exercise in frustration – about two letters in every 15 just don’t show up.

Bonus unit of fame for Child Three:

Apparently, the West End Chronicle ran a photo of Child Three at goalie clinic, in his red #41 sweater. We haven’t seen the paper, so save a copy for us if you have one.

That Seinfeld commercial

Here’s the “Bee Movie” ad I discussed a few days ago.

I’ll watch it again, but if I see that goths-in-the swamp Kia Sportage ad again, I’m going to kill something.

More random thoughts

Courtesy of Slashdot, here’s a link to Rob Brown’s insightful analysis of how the wisdom of crowds helps illuminate the process of natural selection and the consequent evolution of populations.

Rob uses Wikipedia to illustrate how the open-content encyclopedia has become a source about as accurate as any other despite the observation that at smaller scales (i.e. individuals), its model breaks down. It’s a fascinating read, and won’t help me make my case for Wikipedia as a valid source with the editors of certain magazines I work for.

That’s odd, since last year I checked an article on Wikipedia and how it’s as accurate as any other encyclopedia for that same certain magazine.

Also on Slashdot I found the heartwarming tale of outlaw Mona “The Hammer” Shaw, who escalated customer dissatisfaction to a level most of us only dream about.

Have I mentioned that I’m still waiting for Dell to replace the power cord it recalled, nearly nine months after asking for one?

Bonus rumination on casting:

What if Lee Pace (“Pushing Daisies”) and Jimmy Fallon Zach Levi (“Chuck”) had switched roles? Both shows would have improved, I think. Levi slots better into the quirkier role of “Pushing Daisies” and Pace seems a tad lost, which would work better in “Chuck”. How about a little Peterson/Kekich action here?

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