Friday, October 30, 2009

IKEA assembly cure: Lock dowels

I received a message on the blog a while ago from Bryan who has discovered the cure for IKEA assembly frustrations. (Refer to my previous posts about my frustrations: I Kan't Envision Assembly. As you might recall, I brought back the IKEA item–in its original box–and immediately went upstairs to enjoy some good IKEA Swedish meatballs. A much better experience.

Bryan writes that most people purchasing flat box furniture have frustrating moments. That was reassuring to me as I really did lose it, my wife tells me. Bryan has an answer to this common dilemma: "I've been working on a way to provide the easiest way to assemble furniture, and have succeeded. They're called lock dowels. All you have to do is push the pieces of wood together and your assembly is done. No tools required for assembly. Best of all, once snapped together, the hardware is invisible. Structural strength is also better because lock dowels can never come loose. To get a true visual go to No tools needed, no more complicated instructions. Let me know what you think."

Thanks, Bryan, it's a great idea. I did check out that site and it is amazing. I've got to give it a bit more analysis though to determine if drilling the holes and setting up the lock dowels and mechanisms will pass my skill and stress level thermometer. Of course, if IKEA decides to use Lock Dowels for assembly of their products, I'm returning there to give it one more try.  I hate to keep a good thing to myself so check out and let us all know what you think. Great ideas need to be shared. In the meantime, it's Swedish meatballs for me.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Einstein, Mozart, Shakespeare and I...

By Jim Heffernan

I’m no Einstein, but it doesn’t take one to figure out that those “Baby Einstein” videos weren’t going to turn all of the babies and toddlers who watched them into Albert Einsteins.

And a good thing, too. Have you seen his hair?

The Walt Disney Company has announced it is offering refunds to people who purchased the Baby Einstein videos designed to turn small children into geniuses, admitting that the videos did not increase infant intellect. All this (except the part about Einstein’s hair) was reported in the Saturday, Oct. 24, New York Times.

Disney has also marketed DVDs such as “Baby Mozart,” “Baby Shakespeare” and “Baby Galileo,” the Times reported. No mention was made of a “Baby Michael Jackson.” I suppose it’s a little soon. Even to show up on a postage stamp you have to be dead a number of years, sometimes referred to as “gone postal.”

I don’t know about Baby Mozart, though. Have you seen “Amadeus”? And Baby Shakespeare? I love Shakespeare, although I’m not sure I’d want him toddling around the house “mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.”

Galileo, of course, noticed that the sun almost always rises in the east, except in Fargo.

I am happy to say that my life overlaps that of Albert Einstein, the great genius who discovered the atomic bomb in the desert near Roswell, New Mexico, not far from the first landing of aliens from outer space, naming it “Fat Boy” after the then-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Or something like that.

When I was a child, I used to see Einstein in movie newsreels (this was before TV ruined everything). He looked so much like my Aunt Ida from Superior that I thought she’d finally made it in Hollywood, where she went every winter on a widow’s free railroad pass.

Vaguely aware of the Baby Einstein videos in recent years, I had been wondering if I missed out on something because they weren’t around when I was a baby, or even when my own children were babies and toddlers.

My kids are doing fine, but to tell you the truth, I could have used his hair.

Footnote: The Disney Company will refund the purchase price of up to four Baby Einstein videos. To take advantage of this offer, consumers are instructed to call Walt c/o Cryogenics Unlimited, Tarzana, Calif. (ask for Mickey M.).

Friday, October 23, 2009

Lazy boy DWI and sleepy pilots prove truth is stranger than fiction

Read about the "Lazy Boy" DWI in Proctor in today's Duluth New Tribune and while you're at it, check out the story about the airline pilots who slept through their Minneapolis destination on the DNT site as well. The latest news certainly proves that "truth is stranger than fiction." How could a column I write ever duplicate the outrageous nonsense that actually happens right in our own backyard. It's got me thinking....

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Duluth Minnesota, the Movie....

The "leaf people" who saturated our area are heading back down the highways and all the other fall visitors have noticed that it snowed today in Duluth. But.... keep Duluth as your travel destination. We have mystery, adventure... and, yes, romance. Watch this video to find out why Duluth is everyone's dream destination.  Visit Duluth, the Movie (circa 2007)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Need diapers? It Depends...

The young, female worker stocking shelves at Target could tell I had a question as I approached her along a wide aisle. She could also see she would be dealing with someone of mature years, perhaps the kindest euphemism for geezer.

I was searching for diapers for my grandchildren. Make note of that: grandchildren. Some people in the last stages of the “Seven Ages of Man” find themselves in need of such products themselves when they are “sans everything,” as Shakespeare put it.

Putting my question oddly by pure happenstance, instead of asking, “where’s the diapers?” I said, “Am I anywhere near diapers?”

She looked me over for a moment, and then sent me to another part of the store where baby items are located. As I walked away, I was thinking of her missed opportunity. Surely the answer to an older man asking, “Am I anywhere near diapers?” should have been, “That Depends.”

The "should have said" journal of Jim Heffernan

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Red Gold Tomato Billboard on I-494

Here's a fun You Tube video that uses a time lapse over a period of three weeks to portray the construction of the huge Red Gold Tomato billboard in the Twin Cities area on I- 494 near the Mall of America. We saw the billboard last week and it's pretty amazing. You can watch the video by clicking HERE. As an aside, we harvested all our tomatoes (grown on a patio tomato plant) before the big freeze and they're ripening nicely inside.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Joan sweet the life

Hope you caught the PBS documentary about Joan Baez tonight.  Minnesota's own Bob Dylan collides with this woman of pure heart and darn good music. She's the genuine article. Check it out HERE.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Paul Shaffer book: Who's Britney Spears?

Britney Spears? Don't ask Sinatra...
By Jim Heffernan

Paul Shaffer, the bullet-headed music director on David Letterman’s show, has come a long way from his hometown in the Canadian Lakehead, Thunder Bay, just a short jaunt up the North Shore of Lake Superior from Duluth.

Shaffer has written a memoir, “We’ll Be Here For the Rest of Our Lives,” that has just come out and the other night he was Letterman’s main guest on the couch to talk about the book.

He told a story from the book that offers great insight into fleeting fame as well as the mind-set of pop diva Britney Spears. Shaffer said one time Spears was scheduled to be a “surprise” unbilled guest on Letterman – one of those guests who just walks onto the set unannounced, causing great surprise to the audience.

Talking with Spears about the upcoming appearance before the show’s taping, Shaffer said he suggested to her that since she was just going to walk on – barge in – like Bob Hope used to do on Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show,” Shaffer thought he’d have the band play Hope’s old theme song, “Thanks for the Memories.”

Asked Spears: “Who’s Bob Hope?” After which, said Shaffer describing the scene, she suddenly realized who she was talking to. “Oh, you’re David’s D.J.”

Not a good night for Bob Hope or Shaffer himself. But a worse night for Britney.

Shaffer fared better in the New York Times Book Review on Oct. 4. The review of his memoir was generally favorable, and said the book describes his parents as “an outwardly conventional middle-class Canadian couple who strove to live their lives ‘as they imagined Sinatra lived his’”…

Most Duluthians have visited Thunder Bay at one time or another. While it’s a nice place, it’s hard to imagine duplicating Frank Sinatra’s lifestyle there. Of course, Bob Hope and Sinatra are now sleeping giants.

Who’s Frank Sinatra? Don’t ask Britney Spears.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Denfeld opine...

I wrote this "letter to the editor" that appeared in today's Duluth News Tribune.
Denfeld High School should retain its name:
I see Duluth school officials, incumbent School Board members and candidates for contested board seats are discussing what Duluth’s two remaining high schools should be named after Central closes, the former Ordean Middle School becomes the eastern high school, and a refurbished Denfeld remains the western high school (“Most say residents should name new schools,” Oct. 8).

Recently, while exploring Duluth’s Forest Hill Cemetery, I came across a modest gravestone with the name “Denfeld” carved on its surface. It was the grave of Robert E. Denfeld, the long-ago superintendent of Duluth public schools after whom Denfeld High School was and is named. Superintendent Denfeld guided Duluth schools in the early decades of the 20th century when the city was burgeoning and most of its schools were built. He was a revered educator, so respected his name lives on a century after he served our city.

It’s one thing for a school to be named “Central” because it’s near the center of a city, or “East” or “West,” points on a map, or in honor of presidents like Lincoln and Grant, but quite another when the school honors a distinguished local educator.

Denfeld should remain Denfeld, not Central-Denfeld, which was suggested at a candidate forum but makes no sense, and not “West” or some variation of that, but Denfeld.

For purposes of full disclosure, I should reveal that I am a graduate of Denfeld, so therefore I’m biased.
And why not?

Jim Heffernan

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Palace Theatre in Superior, Brian Olson style...

The other day I checked out the new mural of the Palace Theatre, located on the outside back wall of Douglas County Historical Society in Superior, Wisconsin. The painting, created by Brian Olson, is an in depth image appearing to cut inside the building. It's utterly amazing and a 'must see.'

Friday, October 2, 2009

IKEA Purge...

Yet even more on IKEA...
Mel Magree did some serious research about IKEA following the account on this blog of my harrowing experience while attempting to put together an IKEA item. Realizing that I Kan't Envision Assembly might not be the correct acronym for IKEA–if indeed one exists– Mel unearthed the real story. You can read all about the real IKEA HERE on his blog. And... he also reports he still has some furniture purchased while in Sweden years ago. But I ask, did you have to put it together, Mel?

I did return the item to IKEA on Tuesday. It was nicely put together, back in its original box that is. I'm afraid I embarrassed my wife who gave me the dirtiest look as I tried to be funny with the clerk at the return desk and quipped that we were going upstairs to have some Swedish meatballs and if I threw up, I'd be back down to deal with her. We did enjoy delicious meatballs with Lingonberry preserves for lunch... without any complaints.