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Wide White: July 2010

Monday, July 19, 2010

Another innocent life taken

3/28/2011 UPDATE:

Leah Graeber has been declared "not mentally competent for trial." The prosecution is trying to get her civilly committed to the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter. More details in this Pioneer Press article.

12/7/2010 UPDATE:

The Pioneer Press is reporting that Graeber was traveling at speeds of up to 86 MPH. "A criminal complaint charges Graeber with criminal vehicular homicide by gross negligence, causing bodily harm by operating a vehicle and possession of cocaine. Authorities say a blood test showed Graeber was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash."

The Star Tribune is reporting that Graeber hit 100 MPH just before impact. "Troopers found an open container of beer, two pipes with residue and a plastic tube in Graeber's vehicle. Tests on those items revealed trace amounts of cocaine and THC, the active ingredient in marijuana." "A blood test revealed that Graeber was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the crash."

Last night I found out about a car accident less than 2 miles from my house. A car had crossed the median into oncoming traffic. Someone was dead.

My heart sank and I just hoped (selfishly, I suppose) that I didn't know anyone involved. I know that area well and it's a wide median. There's no reason for anyone in their right mind to be crossing it.

As it turns out, the driver wasn't in her right mind.
The driver who crossed into oncoming traffic on a Burnsville highway, killing an 11-year-old boy in an oncoming SUV, was drinking, the State Patrol said Monday.

Shortly after 8 p.m. Sunday, 27-year-old Leah Graeber was driving her car south on Hwy. 13, when she crossed the median, vaulted into northbound traffic and struck an SUV, the patrol said. Graeber's car then struck another passenger vehicle.

Graeber, of Savage, was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center and is expected to survive, according to the patrol.

An open alcohol container and drug paraphernalia were found in Graeber's car, said Patrol Lt. Eric Roeske.

The boy who died was identified by his hockey coach Monday as Joel (Joey) Balistreri, of Burnsville. Coach Steve Wedan said Joey attended St. John the Baptist School.

His father, Geoffrey Balistreri, 43, was driving. His mother, Pamela Balistreri, 38, and sister Megan also were in the vehicle. All three suffered non-life threatening injuries, the patrol said.

The driver of the second vehicle struck was uninjured.
I guess the fact that it happened so close to where I live and the fact that the kid whose life was just taken happens to have the same unusual birth name/nickname combo as I have made this even more meaningful to me than other similar accidents.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: we need stiffer drunk driving penalties!!

I don't just mean instances where someone dies. I mean huge, life-changing penalties the first time someone is caught driving under the influence.

There's just no excuse for this.

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Friday, July 16, 2010

How to improve your Twilight movie experience

One of my favorite blogs that I recently stumbled across is GraphJam. They come out with gems like this.

Abraham Piper had a pretty good take on how to watch Twilight Saga: Eclipse.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Talking to your spouse through your kids

Do all parents do this?

Jamie and I often speak to one another by talking either to our kids or as if we actually were our kids.

Here's an example.

Jamie to Keira: When do you think Daddy's going to finish that blog post and come to dinner?
Joey to Carson: Your mom doesn't understand "5 minutes" very well, does she?

Or this.

Joey in a voice meant to portray Carson: Mom, when you gonna change my butt?
Jamie in a voice meant to portray Keira: Hey Cowson, you should twy asking Dad, he knows how to change diapews too!

We both laugh at the other and it's fun to have a new, lighthearted way to communicate to one another, especially when it's about things that may otherwise have frustrated us. Putting a fun new voice on it makes it seem a little less significant than it used to be.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Advice if you're writing to your kids

As soon as I found out I was going to be a dad I started a blog of letters to my kids. The posts started out, "Hey kid,..." Of course, they quickly changed to, "Hey kids,..."

I've tried to be very intentional with what I write to them. I want my kids to feel like they were loved when they read these letters. I don't want them to feel like they were just a screw-up.

There are a few principles I try to apply to everything I write to them. Some of these principles are based on my thoughts on things my parents wrote to me. Others I guess I'm just picking up as I go.

1. Tell my kids I love them.
2. Tell my kids WHY I love them.
3. Give my kids tangible examples of things they do that make me proud of them.
4. Don't tell my kids shameful childhood stories about themselves. They don't want to remember their foolishness anymore than I want to remember mine.
5. Try not to compare my kids to one another, at least not in terms of "better/worse."
6. Don't write everyday. My kids likely won't read these until at least 18 years of posts have been written. They don't need to read every single detail.
7. Write at least once a month, even if my creative/reflective juices aren't flowing. It's not helpful for them to have gaps left in their story.
8. Tell them about the friends in your and their life. Experience says these relationships will likely change and evolve. It's fun to look back and remember them as they were.
9. Speak to each child directly. I often start my posts with, "Hey kids," but try to make a point of speaking to them individually. They're individuals, not just twins.
10. Never say too much in one post. Rambling is annoying to read.

How about you? What sort of principles have you tried to apply with writing to your kid(s)? If you don't write, why not?

Friday, July 02, 2010

How fast is your browser?

I started using Google Chrome a year and a half ago when it was still in beta. I was immediately impressed with its speed and the simplicity of its design. It's much less cluttered than Firefox and IE are with largely useless navigation options on top. The drag-and-drop function works better than any other browser. If a window crashes, the entire browser doesn't crash, only the window you're working in.

It's still relatively new and isn't perfect. I still occasionally find sites that work better in Firefox or IE, but that's really rare.

If you're looking for something faster and simpler, give Chrome a try. Download it here. And while you're at it, check out this speed demonstration.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

How do you respond to a tornado siren?

We hear the sirens once a month at noon in most cities doing their regular tests. Most people I know call it a tornado alarm or a tornado siren.

But in Dakota County, it's not used strictly for tornadoes. It's also used for thunderstorms.

The Star Tribune was looking for people to interview about alarms that went off this weekend in Dakota County. I talked to a reporter who told me that alarms in our county are used for any severe thunderstorm as well as tornadoes.

We also happen to be the only county in the Twin Cities metro (maybe the state?) that uses our sirens this way.

This seems way too confusing since it renders the alarm virtually worthless to respond to in many cases. Dakota County's feeling is that we should all check the TV or the internet for weather updates to see what to do.

Isn't the siren supposed to be telling us what to do rather than a TV or phone? The siren should mean, "Run! Find cover now!" It doesn't, which does a disservice to anyone without immediate access to a TV or the internet.

You can read their article here.

Here are the last few paragraphs:
Joey White heard the sirens at his Burnsville home Saturday night. He pulled up the radar on his cell phone, and seeing no impending danger, wondered why the siren sounded.

"It seemed a little odd to me," he said. "The expectation with most communities is that the siren means tornado."

Yet White's reaction is exactly what [Dakota County emergency preparedness coordinator Dave] Gisch and other emergency officials hope for -- a pause, a search for more information, and if conditions warrant it, a move toward emergency shelter.

"We have citizens that say [we're] crying wolf," Gisch said. "Our response is, we would rather warn you that there's a storm warning and it's up to you to decide what you want to do."
What do you think?