Ask Dr. Babooner

Dear Dr. Babooner,

I’m happy when the Olympics come around, and also very, very sad.

I could have been on the U.S. Water Polo team at the Montreal Games in 1976. I had devoted myself to the task of becoming good enough – spending eight hours a day at the public pool in my town, pushing the other kids out of the way, taking their pool toys and throwing them out on the deck. I know it seems mean but these are the skills that lead to success.

Water polo is a surprisingly aggressive sport.

By the time the tryouts came along, I was toned and fit and fearsome. And things weren’t as systematic and regimented as they are today. There were no Water Polo Academies or WPL superstars saturating the gossip culture with their post-match escapades. It was a much simpler time when a common bully from the neighborhood pool could make the team, and I did!

I thought I was going to the Olympics! But I was wrong – our team was divided by infighting and several of the key players struggled with chlorine rashes. We didn’t make it past the qualifying round, and when the athletes marched in Montreal, I watched it on the black and white TV over the snack bar back at our local pool, crying while I took french fries off the plate of the kid next to me and dared him to complain about it.

I considered trying out for the 1980 team but my parents insisted that I get a job and then came the Moscow boycott. By the time the 1984 games came along, I had lost the kick in my legs and was useless in the pool.

I thought of offering myself as team equipment manager just to be in the arena, but water polo suits are so tiny there’s really not much there to manage. It involves carrying a suitcase, and anyone can do that. The coach had a girlfriend with a free hand, so my career was over.

Dr. Babooner, how can I learn to enjoy the Olympics, when all I can think of is What Might Have Been?

Sincerely,
Still Treading Water

I told Still Treading Water that he might be elderly, but he sure hasn’t grown up. He needs to get over himself and let go of the past. Participating in the Olympics is special exactly because not everyone gets to do it. Still’s failure to qualify actually adds to the prestige of The Games, though not in the way he expected.

But that’s just one opinion. What do YOU think, Dr. Babooner?

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75 thoughts on “Ask Dr. Babooner”

  1. Dear STW,
    I think you are missing out on a great opportunity to improve yourself, no matter how old you are. I don’t watch sports often and certainly not with the intensity I do every other year when the Olympics roll around, so I am more than ready for all the inspiring tales of hard work and dedication about how the Olympians got to where they are.

    Seeing my fellow mere humans doing crazy stuff with their bodies makes that extra pile of pounds I want to shed seem very attainable, if I just work at it every day. Sure, I’ll slack off again a few weeks after it is all over, but then there is always the New Year’s resolution to spur me on…

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  2. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    Dear STW — Maybe you can just go Cold Turkey on the Olympics and go camping, sans technology, for 2 weeks. Get your mind off the regret. Or you could participate in some grief therapy and resolve the issue, and move on. But the way you present this now, what can anyone say, except yes, you are still a failure. Now you are just an older failure. Perhaps you should find more interests and branch out your life a bit more. Move on. Become good at a Geezer interest. LIFE IS TOO SHORT FOR THIS UNREQUITED REGRET. (You might want to consider trimming back the ego a bit, too. Maybe you weren’t really all that good. Just a bully, which is a different skill with no Olympic category).

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        1. Jacque, I’m sure you wouldn’t use “in your face therapy” in a real situation, but I’ll bet there are times when you might like to do this. I know a person who has done therapy who told me many times she would have just liked to tell some of the people she saw to shape up and stop acting like fools.

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    1. One of my favorite therapy “techniques” which I dust off and employ only once in a great while is “paradoxical therapy”: agreeing with the most often repeated self-denigrating words a client says about him/herself. I once had a 16-year old client who regularly (and with great anguish) repeated how no one liked her, “Because I’m just so boring!”. Week after week, I’d push back, pump her up, and try to dispel this belief. Finally, I’d had it. She said it one more time and I responded, “You’re absolutely RIGHT!! You have to be just about the most boring human I’ve ever met! Let me tell you all the ways in which you’re boring…………….” A faint smile crept across her face, a moment of shock, and then hearty laughter. She never said “I’m boring” again. Sometimes, you have to join ‘em in order to bust up a firmly-held and self-defeating narrative.

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  3. I think STW should just ignore the Olympics and concentrate on being a Minnesota Twins fan instead. Last night, for instance, while everybody was watching the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, the Twins beat Cleveland 11-0. Scott Diamond pitched a complete game shutout, allowing only 3 hits, and both the Hammer and Morneau hit 3-run bombs. The cool thing about a loser like STW being a Twins fan is that the Twins team is made up of a bunch of losers kinda like him except they aren’t bullies and they aren’t elderly (unless you count Jamie Carroll). The great thing about being a Twins fan right now is you appreciate every win a lot because it is so rare. And they usually have at least a few great moments in a game, even if they lose a lot more often than they win. Most importantly, it would distract STW from the pain of watching the Olympics and open his eyes to the fact that there are other people in sports who are losers.

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    1. did you see all those fantastic defensive plays. i was fixing the garbage disposal and watching the twins. i like the olympic ceremonies but 3 hours of watching waving costumes carrying flags and queen elizabeth jumping out of airplanes is not my cup of tea. i think jamie carroll could be said to be still treading water too.

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      1. tim, unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) I don’t have cable tv so I can’t watch the Twinkies very often…and I was mentally and physically exhausted from having just returned from a trip to (try to) help my packrat mother clear out her garage & organize one closet, and help my sister do some post-flood sorting of her stuff, so I didn’t even listen to the game on the radio. I wish I could have been at the game, it would have been a perfect night for it, but since I arrived home close to 8 pm, that wasn’t possible. I do try to watch the highlights of the game on the internet, but I could only find Dozier’s play for defense, the rest was offense.

        I’m not much into watching the olympic ceremonies either…I did catch Paul McCartney singing Hey Jude and that was cool, but enough for me.

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        1. lexi castillia was in because plouffee declared himself out at the last minute and lexi made an unbeievable play too. they are bringing danny valenticia back up today and he may disappear forever more if he doesnt make the most out the opportunity he didnt earn (my kids are big anti valentcia fans) . i was thinking of lou gehrig and wally pipp, obviously plouffee wasnt.
          by the way if you go to the game after the game starts and buy a ticket on the street for 10 bucks you can walk up to section 106 and sit on the first base foul line in great seats. if you prefer the third base line, those seats are available too.
          if you want to come over and help me organize my closet and garage when youre done i could give you a couple weeks work.

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        2. Thanks for the tip on the tickets, tim. I might try that someday.

          Not sure about the “offer” to help you organize closet and garage…I am singularly unsuccessful in helping my mom. The thing is, one of the big secrets to organizing stuff is to get rid of a lot of stuff…and if a person keeps lots of stuff just in case she might need it someday or thinks 40+ year-old tubes of zinc oxide are still good because they haven’t hardened, I just end up shuffling junk around. I really wish I could stand in the middle of her apartment or garage and yell, “Get rid of this Crap!!!!” but that wouldn’t work. I would love to have her really be serious about getting rid of the junk and organizing what’s left, because then it would be fun to help her and I would see progress in this project. She is 86 and has macular degeneration so her eyesight will be deteriorating and I worry that things will be unsafe or she won’t be able to find things like important papers when they are strewn all around the apartment in piles…but she doesn’t see the problem with the way she lives. So, tim, I can’t work miracles, although maybe I could help someone who was sincere about wanting to “get organized.” And if that person wasn’t a packrat, it could be fun. Well, that’s probably way more than you want to know about helping my mom.

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        3. Edith, I sort of have the same problem that your mother has on getting rid of junk and I am only a little more than a year away from moving. I know that I should dispose of a lot of stuff that I shouldn’t take with me when I move. I will try to get that junk our of here, but I’m sure I will pack up and moved some of it because I just will not be able to get around to throwing it out.

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        4. Well, Jim, if you want me to come and stand in the middle of your house/garage/shed/whatever and scream “Get Rid of This Stuff!!!” to motivate you, let me know.

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        5. Jacque, looks like it will be a great night weater-wise for a trip to the ballpark. It is no comparison to the dome. Here’s hoping the twinkies have a few runs left in their bats after last night’s rout.

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        6. Edith – how’s your mom’s memory? I have “disappeared” a lot of stuff that I knew for sure she would not be needing, and might have taken a while for her to come to that same conclusion. :) Not entirely ethical, but I can honestly say she’s never asked for any of the disappeared items… yet.

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        7. BiR, I’m very doubtful that would work. She’s still too sharp mentally for me to pull the wool over her eyes.

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        8. For what it is worth, Edith, I am using the technique of getting very specific with my aunt when it comes to getting rid of stuff. I’ll bring the stack of 2003 phone bills out and ask her if she still wants them or should I just shred them. After she checks the front of her newspaper to see that it is 2012, she laughs and tells me to go ahead and shred them.

          The other thing my cousin has used when there is a lot of a saved item is to ask her how many of that item she actually thinks she needs to have. Sometimes, I’ve found it helps to suggest we “donate” unused items-this is especially good with “perfectly good” clothing she no longer wants to wear. It’s not so much that she really wants to keep things, but rather, it seems wasteful to just throw them away.

          If nothing else, this gives me some psychology to use on myself :).

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        9. Thanks, everybody, for the tips for dealing with my mom’s stuff. I think part of the problem – besides the fact that she has too much stuff and that it is a Big Mess – is that she is mentally still all there and she wants to retain control. I can’t blame her for that, because I’m sure it’s a pain in the neck to realize that you are losing autonomy as you grow old, slow down, and your eyesight deteriorates. I’ve gone through some papers (which are a huge mess and there’s an unbelievable number of them) with her before as well as some other things, such as grocery bags…when I ask her if she needs to keep all of this particular stack or how many she wants to keep – she explodes. Yes, she needs to keep them!!!! The implication is that I’m a total idiot for not seeing that. I’ve been working on the garage with her because that seemed like a good, non-emotional place to work, but i can’t help but wonder why she needs 3 big shelves full of empty 3-ring binders that she might need someday (I’m trying to be low-key and have her be in control). She likes to donate things, MIG – but it has to be to a specific person or charity, so she has piles of stuff for various people and charities all over waiting for someone to come pick them up…I might have to just wait for my mother to decide for herself that she needs to change and that she is willing to accept help even if I would do things like throw things away or just dump things at Goodwill instead off finding the perfect person/charity to donate the stuff to. Or wait until she dies and rent a dumpster.

          I ALWAYS come back from there super-motivated to clear out the clutter in my own life. Maybe I should take pictures, Jim, and show you what can happen if you don’t get rid of stuff.

          If I go up there soon, I can try to take some pictures and sho

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        10. I guess I was too wordy…

          should say “and show them to you, Jim, so you can see how bad things can get if you don’t get rid of stuff. Guaranteed to motivate you.”

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        11. Edith we might need both you and MIG to visit us and keep us from packing up any junk we really don’t need next year when we start packing. You need to be there when they take away the dumpsters with junk in them because I know someone who will run over to the dumpsters and start pulling out things out to save if they aren’t watched closely.

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      2. The game last night was really fun–12 to 5 was the final score. It was a beautiful evening so a great day to attend. Then Willingham hit a homer which fired up the crowd. I’ll bet it had been 20 years since I attended a game–our kids were tweens. In the dome it was such a bad experience we never went again. Now I am all fired up to go more often.

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        1. See, I told you target field was no comparison to the dome. Glad you caught a fun game. Willingham has been super for the twins this year.

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  4. i love the olympics and the non stop action with all the weird sports that i have no concept how to judge. i am watching keifer do her fencing and i have no idea as to how she is scoring her points. in 96 i went to atlanta and bought and sold tickets on the streets and got to see all sorts of odd events that i didnt understand. they come up with all sorts of variations of balls and jumping and pushing and the wonderful variations are endless. i think you just blew it stw. you could have done anything with your life and now you simply lurk about the blog site of dr baboon reliving the past. what kind of loser would sit around remembering the past long after the day had become history. geeze get a life. enough about you. i remember when the bob dylan concert in atlanta was in full swing some poor guy came in with a ten gallon hat on and he was big as a house. the rest of the crown was able to move around a little and jockey for position but this poor guy was like a totem pole trying to hide in a
    toothpicks. he turned tail and ran after about 10 minutes of trying to be inconspicious and failing miserably. now the team handball match where they play hockey wth no skates and carry a ball to try to get it past the goalie is being played. its like dodgeball as an olympic sport. water polo… who cares. get involved in a real sport bozo. feel bad about something that would have mattered if it even happened instead of wasting our time. if it had happened who would have cared. lets talk about something really important like shot put or wrestling or breast stroke. these are the real sports we all should honor and follow not some sissy sport like water polo. i hear they are adding golf next olympics. why dont you go knock someone down and steal their clubs. it could remind you of your glory days. whoops sorry pj i just heard denark is a powerhouse at team handball. best int he world at a weird sport is funny but i love watching it for 17 days every 4 years.
    where else will you hear the danish national anthem?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYu0umIwYrw

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    1. I’m overwhelmed, tim, can’t remember the last time I heard all the verses. Unfortunately, that rendition so clearly shows how the Danish language, to my ears, has deteriorated (evolved may be a less judgmental statement) over the past forty or so years. Ugh! I do love team handball though, a very fast and physical game that’s very fun to watch.

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      1. I see WP reverted me back to Diva of the House despite my changing back to PlainJane. Next thing I know, I’ll be joining Steve as a blue doily.

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        1. Diva is such a pretty word to say and to see. Maybe you should keep it. Or become Diva Plain Jane just for the oxymoron qualities of that.

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      2. it one of the events i had tickets to in atlanta. i was thinking last night as i was listening to lindsay whalens mom on the radio from hutchenson. she said she had the opening ceremonies on tape because she had to work the night shift. it struck me the mother of the point guard and team leader of the minnesota lynx world champion us womens basketball league has to work the night shift? do you think labron james mom works the night shift? kobe bryants mom? payton mannings mom? joe mauers mom? well you know what it may be a minnesota thing. i think joe mauers mom may work the night shift.

        http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/121292429.html?refer=y

        i guess i am thinking we all think sports is the key to fulfillment in life. get a contract and retire to greatness. alan page spoke at my high school and made a point that we all had a better chance of being hit by lightning than being a successful athlete in this world. i like alan page. and i like sports and what i like about the olympics is the fact that folks form new zealand and croatio and niger have a shot at being the best in the world at some little corner of the talent pool a dn get to listen to the natinal anthem of lower slabovia played over one of the 27 nbc cable channels 24/7 for the next 17 days.
        ah life is grand and to realize the dream is what it is all about.

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        1. Agreed, tim. I just watched Alexander Vinokurov win the men’s road bike race. He’s from Kazahkstan, which is pretty cool to begin with . . . not many great athletes are from there. And he’s so damn old he literally could be the father of a great many of the racers he beat. The Olympics are special.

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    2. I always liked watching the Olympics, but I think it has now become a big business production and isn’t really what it should be. Those extremely over the top fire works at the opening ceremony are an example of what has happened to the olympics, a big show for big business with a bigger is better approach.

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        1. She did! Well anything is possible when it comes to the British Royalty. I hope she was able to maintain her dignity as she landed from that jump and didn’t fall on her face. Okay, I would kind of like to see her fall on her face as long as she didn’t get hurt.

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        2. I didn’t see that. Did the Queen really jump out of a helicopter? She is the same age, to the day, as my mom and I can’t imagine my mom jumping out of a helicopter even though she walks at least 2 miles a day (except when there’s a Flood going on).

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      1. I dunno, Jim-granted, I have been “in the business”, so I love watching spectacle for the sheer joy of seeing someone excel at production, but even more, I cried when I saw the celebration of the NHS. Universal health care, what lovely thing for a nation to be proud of.

        It seemed very consciously inclusive to me, with doctors and nurses portraying doctors and nurses, construction workers of the venues lining the torch route and the torch itself being made of flames representing all the participating nations, lit by young people who hope to be the next generation of Olympians, and a commemoration of those killed in the terrorist attack in London around the same day they were awarded the hosting of the Olympics.

        But then, I’m all for the Queen, too. Just seeing her show up time and time again (and you just know there have to be times she would rather be at home with her feet up, petting the corgis)-it makes me sit up straighter.

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        1. Maybe I am a little over sensitive to the way big business seems to be controlling everything these days. I do think that you can see the hand of big business in some of the aspects of the Olympics and that isn’t a good thing. A butcher shop in London was required to take down a display of sausages shaped to look like the Olympic symbol because the people in charge of the Olympic are making sure they have the exclusive right to use that symbol.

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  5. Good morning. Still, I think you need a real therapist, not me. I’m not even sure a therapist can help you. However, since you have told us about your problem, you might be ready to get help. I wonder how many other people there are like you around. Is there such a thing as Post Olympic Traumatic Syndrome which happens when some one trains very hard for the Olympics and doesn’t make it? If there is a Syndrome like this, maybe you could over come your problem by become a leader in and effort to get help for people who suffer from this syndrome.

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      1. Okay, either one is fine. I’m not much of a wordsmith. Another good thing about Trail Baboon, you don’t have to be a great wordsmith to make a comment.

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        1. i disagree. i think the only requirement is that you be a wordsmith. either a down home and i tend to think of a substance rather than style or style in addition to being authentic. if you are a wordsmith without being genuine there could be a problem but not a big issue here on the trial.
          my wife happened to run across my ticket stash form the 96 olympics today.(odd cleaning detail today) and indeed i did see the team handball event. it is different if you are there seeing people put their entire body and soul into a sport i have never seen before, you get it in kind of a kinetic way where the questions you have are dwarfed by the sincerity you see in front of you. wish i was there again. tv will have to do this time around. i will report back in on my other events when i have looked over the tix (busy day) seee you all tomorrow.

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        2. I guess I was not very clear about the definition of wordsmith. I like to write and I like using words. I guess I think that I am a little short on wordsmith skills because I am a sloppy writer who sometimes misuses words or uses them awkwardly. I do try to do a good job of writing so I guess I have developed a little skill as a wordsmith.

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  6. Put on your Big Boy Pants and move on. You can’t change what happened 30+ years ago. What you choose to do next is entirely up to you – you can choose to become a grumpy old man that everyone avoids, or you can suck it up and make yourself useful. If nothing else, next time you want to steal someone’s fries, pause for a moment and wonder if those fries would get you back to the Olympics. I’m guessing they won’t. Then take a minute and think of something that has made you happy today. One thing. At the end of the day think of three. Write them down. Then put on your Big Boy Pants again the next day and repeat. Oh, and stay away from anything with chlorine.

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  7. I have just qualified for Olympic Weed Pulling. I earned a Gold Medal for the USA, awarded to me, by me.

    Please stand for the National Anthem.

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    1. Enjoy your bouquet of Queen Anne’s Lace, creeping charlie, and dandelions handed to you by a rosy-cheeked British lass

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    2. I’m not ready to join you on that Olympic team, Jacque. I have been doing some training and I will be doing more of that. Maybe I will have to wait to try out for the next Olympics because I don’t seem to be able to get ahead of those weeds as would be possible if I was in top Olympic form.

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    3. And today we are getting a beautiful rain, so I can sit back and enjoy the medal–or at least enjoy looking at the weeded areas that I do not need to water today.

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  8. Greetings! Sounds like he needs Evelyn Lundberg’s school of therapy. I remember being a decent athlete and wishing I could have been in the Olympics. As a dancer in college, I wished I could have been a professional. Now that I’m in karate, I wish I had the time, money and healthy joints to train fulltime, learn weapons and compete nationally. None have happened for me and likely never will. Elite athletes require the right mix of genetics, discipline and sponsorship to be successful, so I accept where I am.

    Speaking of Twins, I got 4 free tickets to Tuesday nights game from work. I don’t much care but I’ll go anyway. Jim hates most sports and even my sons aren’t that thrilled about going, except my oldest. He wants to invite somebody so that’s cool. They’re really good seats too I’m told. Anyone else going to the game Tuesday against the White Sox?

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    1. got tix to monday. little tip if its a hundred degrees see if you tix have season ticket status written on them and watch from the cub above the first base foul line in air conditioning. big deal on 90+ evenings!!!

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    2. hey joanne, i need to hook up with you on the telescope. i dropped my phone in a cup of tea and lost all my contacts both phone and email so my onk]ly way to touch base with you is via the trail. get a hold of me if you would.

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  9. I agree with everyone above who has said, basically, Get Over It, already. And if you are still pulling the same kind of shenanigans you did back then, STOP BEING MEAN.

    OT: Sister and her son arrive tonight for a 9 day visit, and I’ll only be on here sporadically for the duration… have a fine end of July, Baboons.

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  10. if any of my siblings arrived at my door it would cost me 45 seconds on the blog. whats the deal barbara? do you get along with your family?

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  11. OT – dragon boat races in Fort Dodge yesterday. My team was best in its division. I don’t have all the final times, but I think we ranked 14th overall, out of 21, and if that’s correct, it means our all-female team outpaddled a couple of the mixed-gender teams – better than we expected.

    The day was rainy, but the rain kindly let up each time we were on the water.

    One of the boats lost its head during the event, and it was determined that it had to be repaired before being replaced, so we raced headless boats for the rest of the day. As far as I know all the paddlers made it through the day with heads still attached.

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  12. Hey there again–

    STW, it’s time to let go. Move on and find new things out there.

    It wasn’t pretty but I made it back to MN very early this morning. Had a great drive and visit to Mississippi and ate catfish and coleslaw on crackers!
    Flew to PA for my brother in laws funeral. It was a nice service and party at his home afterward and it was good I was there with my family.
    Plane ride(s) home were rough and delayed and rescheduled and late enough it was an exciting run to the next gate. And I was passed by an elderly woman pulling her rolling suitcase and carrying a pillow and she outran us all!
    But I finished reading the book you gave me Steve.

    It’s good to be home.

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