Winter Fail

April 15, 2011

And lo, life bursts forth from lingering naught

escaping the winter’s long draining draught.

For blight and white can not for long withhold

the force that slips from the creative fold.

From both the thin places and dry places

it seeps with yellowy smiling faces

shaking off the drips of vernal slumber

to replicate without heed to number

and sow the seed, thrusts of generations,

the oft coughing cause from seminations.

It cannot be denied its inspiring

the fruit and figs of our youth’s deriving.

Spring forth and shout in utter glee

for winter has lost another fight with thee.


How to make ice globe luminaries

December 17, 2010

Update, here’s a newer video with some updated tricks and techniques.

Here’s how to make these cool candle lit ice globes.

1. Live in MN or somewhere unreasonably cold.

2. Get some 12″ balloons and fill them with water. Put them out on the deck to freeze.

usually takes 2 nights to freeze completely

I had better luck putting them on a hard surface than in the snow.  The snow gives it a little rounder shape but also insulates the bottom part, making the freeing uneven.

3. Peel off the balloon. Take a drill and a 1″ bit and drill one hole straight down the middle. Then place the edge of the bit on the edge of the whole and mover around the edges widening the hole. (See video)

Drill out the hole

4. Use a propane torch to melt away the scratches or other scuff marks on the outside and in the hole.

use a propane torch to smooth the surface

5. Lite a candle and put it in the globe for guaranteed winter fun. Use small candles without a metal base rather than tea lights.  The metal tends to melt the globe and make the hole longer or completely through.

be a light in the darkness

Here’s a rough vlog on how to do it.

Take pictures of your globes and send them to

Have a great winter.  In 4 more days the nights get shorter and the days longer!!

Rob Barrett, Jr.

remember, more is more

mounting idea number 1 – pyramid

Why I returned my Iphone 4.

August 24, 2010

It was with great excitement that I upgraded my Iphone 3g to an Iphone 4.  Even thought there may have been some phone problems, I was mainly excited about being able to shoot and edit HD video on my phone. always having a good camera was also a plus, especially now that there was a flash.

But after shooting just a small amount of video, my smile started to lessen. It seemed no matter how still I head the camera, the video came out jerky and seemed a little wishy washy.  But it wasn’t until I did some editing on a bigger computer and could see what was happening frame by frame that I was able to understand the depth of the problem.

My Iphone 4 was distorting and warping images in some sort of unadvertised effort at EIS, or electronic image stabilization.

Take a look at the following frames.  See how the potato is elongated and blurred in the second picture, and then shortened in the next one?

I noticed this in all the videos I had shot up to this point.  So like any good Apple nut I sent the pics to Steve Jobs.  Two days later I got a call back from Heather A. at corporate communications and she asked for the original video file because the engineers wanted to see what was going on.  Cool, someone from Apple actually read my email.

After quite a few phone calls, the engineers said, there was nothing they could do, and there was no software fix.  The distortion was here to stay due to the cmos chip they were using.

Rats! The main reason I upgraded was so I could avoid getting  Flip camera and always have a video camera with me.  The pone part was good and I enjoyed the speed bump over my Iphone 3g but was it worth another 2 years with AT&T?  Eventually I decided no and returned it.  My 3g is just fine and I have other options for cameras and video.

Here’s hoping Verizon comes out with an Iphone 5 in January and they can fix this problem.

Here are some other videos I shot with it, you can see the watery effects of the Iphone 4 video.

Strangers on a plane

August 9, 2010

Nothing brings strangers together
like a crying, screaming child
on a plane:
The smirky glances,
the craned necks,
the shared smiles,
all bonding people with a similar plight –
making light of a loud situation.

For a recording of the experience click here.
Roles are assumed:
The Rogue in 25E laments his lack of duct tape.
(General, muffled, laughter)
Reveling in his triumph he tries again falling flat,
his reign as group comedian is over.
The compassionate grandmotherly type wanting to help,
straining against restraint to see over the rows of seats
her calming hands lonely to sooth.
The irritated business man wishing for a different seat
looks in vain at the full rows.
The attendant with her annoyed smile offering,
distracting, but wanting to be home.
The baseball capped youths laughing,
elbowing, poking. ear buds dripping
down their hooded sweatshirts.
All are reacting differently to
the insistent child who,
has just discovered,
and is now proclaiming
this world to be a place
that isn’t fair.
Welcome, young brat.
The indulgent mother, finally paying her dues,
finding herself doing the hard parenting
best done in private,
now done in public
before this group,
this group of strangers
brought together
if only for a short while.

For takeoff will come
and the bell will chime
allowing the child
freedom from his belt
his constrained yelp
now free to fade.
Lesson not learned,
It will return.

To hear a clip of the experience click here

How to be a good dad, (or so I’ve heard.)

July 13, 2010

1. Spend time with your kids. the earlier in their life the better

2. Be the disciplinarian. It takes effort but shows them you love them.

3. When possible be fair. Again, it takes effort.

4. Only have one hobby. Don’t golf and fish and play softball and something else.  Do one thing, and only do it one day a week.  Any more than that on a regular basis and you’re spending too much time away. Ask your wife.

5. Read to your kids.

6. Every night, ask your kids their high point and low point of the day. Tell them yours.

7. Don’t play Playstation or Xbox, unless you’re playing with your kids and even then don’t do it too often.

8. Be a grown up, and not a kid. Be a father not their friend.  They will have many friends in their life but only one father.

9. Keep your sense of wonder, explore with them, find out how things work.

10.  Cook, and do it with your kids.

11. Say “I love you” a lot, and sometimes even use words. (Thanks Sarah B.)

12. Love your wife (Thanks Nina)

13. Listen, especially dads with teenage girls, try and understand their drama.  (Thanks Mike H,)

14. Try as much as possible to say yes, saying no comes too easily. (Thanks Brian M.)

15. Lead by example, hypocrisy undermines all other efforts. (Thanks Brad S.)

Any other ideas, put it in the comments.

Rob Barrett, Jr. Father of Two.

How to Throw a Fun 8th Grade Party

June 12, 2010

Number 1 – Confiscate all Cell Phones at the door. Send out an email before hand to the parents telling them this is going to happen, then have a bin where they can pick them up at the end of the night. Very, very important.

2. Have everyone bring something, girls food to share, guys drink to share.  Good snacks are key to a good party.

3. Have a few different activities. Kids want to mill around, but it’s good to have at least one or two planned, structured games to get things started.

4. Take a group photo to show the parents.

5. Two words: Bon fire. ’nuff said.

No blood, no foul. It was a fun night.  The key is to take the cell phones away and make them interact with each other and not text their friends who aren’t there.

My Exes

June 8, 2010
I always try to live at peace with my exes,
to stay on friendly terms.
We don’t have to be friends,
just respect each other.
But, I don’t want to see them again.
They’ve done a lot for/to me:
the successes, the failures
the skins and the bruises,
the wins, the loses.
Each made me stronger, longer suffering.
But I’m glad they’re gone.
I’m glad they’re ex’s and not my nows.
For before my final bows
I’ll have many more. (I hope)
Every year a new breakup.
Some ugly, some fine
It’s how we learn from our time,
from what we’ve done to what we do.
I just look them in the eye and say,
It’s not me, it’s you.

So You Think You Can Dance, season 7

June 4, 2010

There was a rare opportunity last night (and for the next couple weeks) to see a side of art not normally broadcast to the American public. While we get our fill of accessible music and dance (American Idol, Dancing with the Stars) we rarely get to see the hoity-toity side of art. The people that parse the top 2-3% of the form and use terms not in the public lexicon.  It’s like going to the Art Building at the State Fair, “Why did this one win, why is this better?” That top part of art is above the heads of most of us (I lived in the music part of that world at Eastman) and is almost never available for public consumption on TV.

But last night was the first episode of So You Think You Can Dance, season 7 and I have to admit I was impressed, entranced and inspired.  While any of us can tell which celebrity does better on DWTS, this dancing was on the very edge of the art form.  The show works because it doesn’t coddle to the masses.  Sometimes there are up to 6 judges, all nationally known choreographers who see things in these performers, that personally I didn’t or couldn’t.  While I’ve judged my fair share of dancing at the MN State Fair Talent contest, this was a whole ‘nother enchilada.

At one point one of the judges commented to a lithe 18-year-old that she was the kind of talent that only comes around once in one hundred years. (But no pressure) I thought she was good, but didn’t she in here what that judge did as far as century special talent. That’s what I liked about the show.

Check it out if you can. Thursday nights on Fox.

How to Grow a Majestic Palm in Minnesota

May 17, 2010

Majestic Palm

Like many minnesotans, I left Home Depot this weekend with some new family members, 3 wonderful and on sale Majestic palm trees.  But we aren’t a big palm tree climate, so how does one keep them alive. They need a big base to keep them from getting blown over and our climate is a little cool for palm trees.

here are some tips.

1. Buy a big pot, I got this 19 inch planter at HD for only $34 bucks.

2.  Place a layer of rocks on the bottom of the pot to keep the roots from sitting in water, Just in case one of your kids over-waters it.

3.  Place palm in pot and cut one side of plastic bucket with a sharp knife or strong scissors.

4. Remove bucket and fill with potting soil.  Most MN soil will have too much clay for the normally sandy palms.

5. Water, pack down the sides and fill with more soil.

6. Brush the extra soil into your neighbors yard and enjoy.

7. Palms like a lot of moisture so spray with water every couple days and water every other day.

8.  They won’t survive outside once it gets too much below 65 so enjoy them while you can. Unless you plan to move them inside, they are like a big annual.  Hopefully you got them on sale like I did.

Rob Barrett, Jr.


May 17, 2010

They were right to be afraid.
Though they stood with spiny edge
and momentary pain to inflict,
their end was sure.
Their fathers had failed.
Their grandfathers had failed
and they too would succumb to spade and hale
and lay withering in the sun
like Sherman’s wake or the Five Hundred.
Torn from their safety,
pale and naked for all to see,
they had lost the battle,
but not the war
O, not the war.
For in the depths, out of reach
lay their revenge, their seed.
Their children would rise in their stead,
and spring forth again with thorny head
and raise edged spear.
With a snarl they would cry,
We are thus, and thus from God
to stab and prick on hand and sod
for His pleasure is ripe
when we do our acts.
Deny us not our right
to be reveled in His sight.

But to the fire they too will go
for as beautiful in their way
and as passing as the pain …

well, they’re just annoying.