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October 6, 2010

Biking Recap 2010

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Entering the second week of October usually means the bike riding season is soon over (well at least it is for me). Although it appears that the next week or so will be beautiful and perfect for fall rides, definitely my 2010 bike riding days are numbered. Makes sense to look back on the year and see how I did.

Goals - After riding 1,200 miles in 2009 I wanted to hit 1,500 in 2010. Although I am not quite there yet, with the promised good weather and some effort on my part, I should get to 1,500. No epic rides this year but lots of rides in the 35-45 mile range and a couple in the 65-75 range. I didn't get to ride to Duluth, which was a goal, but maybe next year. I rode in April's Iron Man race even though it was cold, rainy, and windy. Also in the Urban Assault Ride this past August in 90 degree weather. Me and my teammate Paul finished 42nd out of 250 teams, so that wasn't bad. Definitely want to hit a couple more rides next year, maybe the Itasca Iron Man in August. I rode to work a lot this summer as the weather was one of the best. Oh and I've signed up for the Ice Cycle race on the Calhoun-Lake of the Isles Lagoon, scheduled for February 5th of 2011. My first winter race.

Routes - I stayed mostly in the Twin Cities but found a few new routes to the south. I need to expand my routes next year, just to keep it fresh.

Speed and Endurance - I definitely picked up my speed this year, with an easy 15 mph on straightaways and sometimes when I felt good I could push it to 18 mph. That's an improvement over last year's 13 mph. Also my endurance is much better as I could finish a 40 mile ride with no stops, in the past I would have to take a break.

Bike - As the miles pile up the old bike is showing its age. I broke my seat of all things this summer and my derailleur is definitely in need of a complete overhaul. Rear brakes are shot and the rear bike tire has no tread. However no flat tires and no broken spokes this year, which is a first. Repair or replace will be a major decision for the off season.

The most important thing is that riding is still important to me and a great way to exercise, relieve stress, and get out and enjoy our beautiful state. I still maintain there is no greater feeling than riding over the Mississippi River at 7:00a on a cool Fall morning, trees ablaze, the University Campus on my right, downtown Minneapolis on my left, tunes blaring in my ears. That's what I was doing this morning.

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September 22, 2010

Catholic Anti-Homosexuality DVDs

You may have heard that the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis is sending out an anti-gay marriage DVD to all parishioners in the Archdiocese. It is ostensibly related to impacting this Fall's general election. Below is a copy of an e-mail I sent to the Archdiocese and our Priest.

As a faithful and active Catholic, I am disappointed in the Archdiocese sending of an Anti-gay marriage DVD to parishioners. I am saddened to say that the Church is out of step with most of its flock on this issue, especially those under 50 years of age.


I will be reducing the amount of our family giving to Annunciation Church by a one time amount of $5.00 which I feel is what it cost to produce and mail out this DVD to our family.

Given its past history related to the role of women in the Church and current stance against homosexuality, being Catholic can be hard sometimes. It is especially tough when one acknowledges that the Catholic Church has the most articulate and passionate thinking on social justice of any mainstream religion. The Church is becoming more and more isolated in its stance against homosexuality and hopefully as a younger generation becomes more entrenched in the Church, its thinking will change. Until then I guess we have to stomach anti-gay marriage DVDs from our church leaders.

September 7, 2010

It was a Labor Day Weekend!!

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I spent the Labor Day weekend (Thursday afternoon through Monday evening) demolishing my back cement stairs and rebuilding new wood stairs. It was hard but ultimately rewarding work that of course took a bit longer than I thought.

The first two and 1/2 days entailed demolishing the cement steps. Nine hours of jackhammering and I finally got the steps into a pile of rubble. Then after finishing the jack hammering Saturday morning I had to push the rubble out of the way from our project site. I wore my wedding ring during the jack hammering, which tore into my hand and finger. That'll leave a mark!. See the pile of rubble below.

The rest of Saturday meant digging holes for cement footings and then pouring the footings So I was sitting at the end of the day Saturday exhausted from moving cement and dirt and still had a steps and patio to build.

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Sunday I had a couple extra helpers and the work went fast while Monday was suppose to only take a few hours to get some of the last railing and balustrades in. Again it took longer as this work was on the step part which mean cutting lots of angles. By 6:00 Monday we were done and we had a new wooden patio and steps. It was lots of work but looks great!

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August 30, 2010

The Superior Hiking Trail

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Wilderness can be appreciated only by contrast, and solitude understood only when we have been without it -- Sigurd F. Olson

Last week I took some time off and went by myself to Lake Superior's North Shore to do some hiking, camping, and kayaking. Due to a crazy family schedule we didn't do any vacation this year and I hardly had been out of the City. I've went on numerous bike rides but all with the Twin Cities area, I needed to get out.

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The Highest Point in Minnesota

I just had a little pup tent, minimal supplies, and a reservation at a State Park. On the itinerary was the Superior Hiking Trail, Eagle Mountain (highest point in MN at a whopping 2,300 feet) and tooling around Lake Superior. I've been up and down the North Shore many times usually in State Parks so I was quite familiar with what I wanted to do and see.

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The Lowest Point in Minnesota

My only hiccup was the fact that I packed a little too light - no sleeping bag -- and it got down to 45 degrees one night. I had two thin blankets in my car and wore all my clothes but it was a rough night.

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Very Thankful for this Fire

Kayaking was also on the agenda however I had to make some plan modifications as the lake was too windy my first day up. Fortunately the next day was quite calm and I went on a nice sea kayak tour with 11 other people. One woman from California was with us and had never been to the North Shore and she was just overwhelmed. I think she was a little wacky too as she told me that she thought the area around Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet reminded her of San Francisco and that the U of MN campus reminded her of an Ivy League school - neither are quite accurate.


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Lake Superior from a Kayak

The Superior Hiking Trail is gorgeous. Rough sometimes with lots of rocks and I think I would like to cover the whole trail from Duluth to Canada. Not all in one trip but over time, knocking off segments here and there. The Gitchi GummI bike trail is also under construction and one day a person will be able to ride their bike on paved trail from Duluth to Canada as well. Could be fun.

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Cascade River

August 24, 2010

Off to the North Woods

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Tonight I am heading up to the North Shore to do some "sea kayaking" and hiking along the Superior Hiking Trail. I am bringing the bare minimum of gear and provisions and will be going solo. So in a sense it is some sort of spirit quest. Although in reality it's just a chance to get out of the City.

I am planning to go to hike to Carleton Peak after kayaking and then Eagle Mountain the next day. Eagle Mountain is the highest point in Minnesota (2,301 feet) and is the not too far from the lowest point in Minnesota -- Lake Superior (507 feet). Heady stuff for us flatlanders!

I promise pics and video next week!

December 10, 2009

Big G Reduces Cereal Sugar

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General Mills announced yesterday that it was reducing the amount of sugar in its most popular cereals that are marketed to kids under 12 years old. Once implemented, these cereals will have less than 10 grams of sugar per serving. As my kid eats Cinnamon Toast Crunch by the bucket, I am very happy with this decision and think this is another sign that consumers are taking a closer look at what they are eating and putting into their bodies.

However I was amused by information from the story:

Boo Berry or Franken Berry, which have 12 grams of sugar per serving, aren't included because they aren't advertised on TV shows marketed to those under 12. Nor does the reduction cover Chocolate Lucky Charms, which is 43 percent sugar by weight, down from 50 percent two years ago.

First if Boo Berry and Franken Berry aren't marketed to those under 12, who's buying the stuff? Are there hipster-like 20-somethings who eat Boo Berry to be ironic? Do goth chicks eat Frankenberry as part of their lifestyle? Also Chocolate Lucky Charms? I didn't know it existed but it sounds disgusting. But 43 percent of its weight is sugar? And that is down by 14 percent from 2 years ago? Wholly crap I wonder if you get a free insulin shot with every box of Chocolate Lucky Charms. Some pharma company should look into the cross marketing possibilities - they could lock up the pre-diabetes segment of the population at an early age of their soon to be shortened life.

December 8, 2009

It' Coming!!!!

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TV Weather men/women are checking their radar, tweaking the dials. Snow plow drivers are making sure the heat works in their rigs and filling up their thermoses. Those who threw out that old shovel last year are flocking to the hardware store to get the latest model. Grocery stores are stocking up on beer, milk, and other staples. Kids are dreaming of snow days and wondering if they should do their homework tonight. It's snow-mageddon 2009 and it's bearing down hard on the Upper Midwest!!!!!!!!!!!!

The TV weather folks are in full Defcon 1 over this. We had a relatively mild November with not even a whisper of precipitation that could be blown up as a nuisance snow. So these guys are chomping at the bit. They need this, it completes them. We are getting hourly updates on the snow and reporters are scattered throughout the area to report on how much, how cold, and what it means for traffic. Even if we end up with one or two inches, we will hear about this for the next four days.

Me, I am ready. After 2 years of sitting inoperable in the garage, I spent some coin to tune up the snow-blower. I have two new shovels. I get some milk on the way home. Heck we are even going to get the Christmas tree tonight so that we don't have to deal with the snow on Wednesday. We are ready, bring it on.

Update: Apparently the storm has a name (just like a hurricane) Ladies and gentlemen may I introduce Billybluster!

October 19, 2009

Bike Riding 2009 Wrap-up

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The Dakota Trail near Spring Park

Today I rode my bike to work and given the 5 day weather forecast and late date, it is probably the last time I ride my bike to work or anywhere for that matter so let's look back at 6 months of bike riding.....

First I will have over 1100 miles on my bike from mid-April (plus 50 miles on a tandem) which is about 200 miles a month. While a big increase from years past, there is room for improvement. One thing I want to do next year is to have more later evening rides, even short 10-15 mile rides, during the week. I have purchased a light in anticipation of later rides. If October hadn't been so crappy I probably could have broken the 1200 mile mark but I still refuse to ride in the cold and rain and don't have anything to cover my legs. (I do however have a biking jacket, a long sleeve shirt, and ear warmers).

As documented in this blog, I really increased my longer rides. Prior to this year, the furthest I ever rode was probably about 40 miles. Beside my 97 mile trip to Siren Wisconsin, I had a ride of 71 miles, a couple of about 60 miles, and a 50 mile ride in addition to the numerous 35-45 mile rides that I have done in the past. I definitely increased my routes and went out to Lake Minnetonka a couple of times and out to Stillwater. Next year I will have to go south more often.

I try to set a goal for myself each biking season with last year making it up the hill at Fort Snelling and this year the ride out to Siren. Next year I want to ride the Willard Munger Trail from Hinkley to Duluth with an overnight stay at Jay Cooke State Park and then onward to Two Harbors. Mileage may be similar to Siren but the camping will add a complication. I also hope to have more rides in the 70-80 mile range. It would be nice if I could approach 1500 miles but that may be tough as I have lots of other things going on and an old house to take care of. I had fun at the Urban Assault Ride and definitely plan to do that next year as well. I think I may check out other bike races as well. It might be kind of fun to see where I stack up.

Finally my bike. I ride a Marin hybrid which is good for the bike trails around the metro area. It's 5 years old now but is still holding up. While not a touring bike, it serves me quite well. Unfortunately I don't have the coin to buy a new $1000 or more bike so I'm going to stick with the bike I have for a while. I do think I am going to invest in new wheels however. I have had trouble with broken spokes which I think speaks to a general cheapness of the existing wheels. Also hopefully with new, higher quality wheels I will be able to add a mile or two per hour to my average speed. Even that slight improvement would be a big help. Also a tandem may be in our future so more bike rides with the wife may be a bigger part of the summer.

Finally besides the health benefits, the main reason I ride is because it is a blast chugging along at around 20 miles per hour under your own power, music screaming in your ears. Sure the scenery is sometimes gorgeous and there is nothing like riding by or over snarled car traffic but the thrill of going fast is what keeps me motivated to keep going. This year was a success, hopefully next year will be even better.

September 29, 2009

2009 Minneapolis Urban Assault Ride

On Sunday, my friend Paul and I teamed up and took part in the Urban Assault Ride. This is a fun bike race, sponsored by New Belgium Brewing (think Fat Tire Beer) and is a 30 mile race through the City with 7 different check points. The check points have different tasks that need to be completed before you move on to the next check point. You can do the check points in any order and besides being fast on a bike, knowing the City is key to doing well. Five hundred bikers competed in total and we survived, finished in the middle of the pack (see below), but more importantly had a blast.

As you can expect, the race was dominated by tattooed, beer loving 20-somethings and the whole thing has a groovy, eco-friendly, peace and sustainability vibe. Sponsors include the requisite bike shops, Cliff Bar, Peace Coffee, and bike apparel companies. All of whom are very funky, and tout sustainability and bike/earth-friendly policies on their web sites.

Besides the known check points, there were two "mystery check points" one of which was given as a clue in the form of an anagram a couple of days before the race. The second mystery clue would be given out at the first mystery check point. I was able to figure out the anagram and we felt pretty good going into the race. We had a route figured out that gave us ample flexibility for the second mystery spot -- hopefully without any backtracking.

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Paul and I before the race

We completed a quiz that actually gave us (and about 100 other bikers) a 150 second head start and we were off. The first checkpoint was close and entailed throwing wet sponges at our partners who had a bucket on their head. Three sponges in the bucket and you were done. The second checkpoint was the first mystery spot and when we got there this is what we found:

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Find This

Of course we were stumped. Now knowing that something like this was going to happen we had an I-phone with us. We tried to google the pic to no avail. (most everyone else was stumped too) We decided to head to the next check point which was at REI in Bloomington, a good 7 mile trek away. Now the trip to REI is where the speed demons separate themselves from the pack. From the second check point at 34th and Lyndale to REI at 84th and Lyndale then back downtown, we are talking 130 blocks or nearly 18 miles. Even someone who on average is even 2 miles an hour faster is going to leave everyone else in their wake.

The REI task was the toughest. Both team members got on a skateboard, using no hands or feet and just a toilet plunger, had to navigate a course. We did ok and we spent more time on the I-phone and found the second mystery spot. Even better, it was very close to our known third checkpoint in the Warehouse District so we were on course with no backtracking.

From the Warehouse District to Dinkytown to the Seward Neighborhood back to Peace Coffee we were going as fast as we could. The final checkpoint was where we started and you had to do a big wheel race and then go through an inflated obstacle course and then turn in the seven beads you received at all the check points before you could be officially counted as finished. Even though we finished in the middle of the pack, if there had been an over-45 category, we would have definitely been near the winner's circle as I said above, the race was dominated by people much younger than us.

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Paul and I immediately after the race

Afterwards is the big party, we got two free beer tickets and I scored a 3rd ticket for being in a mustache contest. There was some other contests and we tried to score some swag to no avail. After some fun people watching we gathered our bikes and slowly aching bodies back to the car and we were done. I am definitely making this an annual event with the goal of bettering our time and showing those younger dudes that we 40 year olds can still throw down on a bike.

Check back I may update with more photos if we show up on the UAR photo page.

Results Update: We finished 32nd out of 78 in the Male Category and 58th total out of about 240 teams. That's in the top 25%!!!

September 2, 2009

The Raft

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When I was growing up we lived a short distance from Dutch Lake and one of our friends had a raft on the lake that was basically open for anyone to use. This was in simpler times obviously: no worries about insurance or someone getting sued. No need for permission slips or parental waivers. Just a raft out in the lake for kids to enjoy.

We used to spend hours on that raft, which was probably in water 12-15 feet deep. We'd play king of the raft, throw footballs off the raft and try to catch them before you hit the water, etc. There was a little welcome and unwelcome groping of the opposite sex under the raft from time to time too. All-in-all good old fashioned teenage summertime fun.

I remember a particularly fun afternoon on the raft one late summer afternoon only a couple of days before I was off to college for the first time. We'd been on the lake for a few hours and a couple of us were just hanging on the raft soaking up the sun. I was thinking that that moment was probably the last time I would be able to be so carefree with little to worry about, no responsibilities. Soon I would be at college, school, jobs all beckoned. Who knows what happens after that: a career, family, bills. It wasn't like I wanted to cling to that moment forever and delay my foray into the future, and it wasn't like "bring it on, let's see what's next!" It was more just an acknowledgement that a threshold loomed and that I was soon crossing over into someplace new, without the ability to really come back.

I was right, a threshold soon had been crossed. If I ever went back to that raft the following summers I don't remember it and I am sure it was only 1 or 2 other times if I had. Summer jobs, school, new friends, punk rock, a general disdain for "childish" activities kept me away from the raft. But I still remember that day even 28 years later and I tell myself that if you think about it, we aren't really headed for any particular destination, that we get some ultimate place and then it's all over. Actually we are on a journey. With many thresholds to cross and how and when you cross them depends on a hundred little things. I think back to that day and sometime wish everything was so carefree as it was soaking up the sun on that raft but realize that it can't be. I also look back and am glad I was able to move on, have thousands of new experiences - even the sad and painful ones - and await what's next.

August 24, 2009

Bike Ride to Siren, WI

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On Friday I rode my bike 97.4 miles to a friend's cabin a couple of miles outside of Siren, Wisconsin. I had been planning this trip all summer and in fact was thinking of taking it in early June. I wasn't ready and spent the last couple of months training by going on rides ranging from 30 to 70 miles. The training definitely helped as I had plenty of energy as I finished the ride. My ass was (is) sore from sitting on a bike for 9 hours, but I definitely had enough gas to go even further. Here are some other thoughts as I spent nearly 11 hours going from Minneapolis to Siren on a bike:

There is a huge shift in the neighborhoods around the state capitol. One moment one is riding by mansions of former railroad, lumber, and milling barons and then next riding by tired old single family homes, public housing barrack-style housing, and rough looking bars. All in less than 10 minutes on a bike.

The ride took about 45 minutes longer than I had conservatively hoped. There were a couple of reasons for this: 1) My calves started cramping early in the trip. In fact after only 12 miles or so. I did lots of stretching but was never able to fully shake the cramps. I will need to talk to a doctor about how I can overcome this issue. 2) I was going against a steady head wind the whole trip. Look at the map above, it is primarily a north-east route and the wind was coming out of the north the whole day. 3) The Gandy Dancer Trail which I took from St. Croix Falls to Siren was crushed limestone, which I knew, and it slowed me down more than I thought. Also it was primarily uphill for 24 of the 32 miles on the trail.

Of the 97 miles. I would say less than 30 was not on a designated trail and a lot of that was on back country roads with wide shoulders so I felt pretty safe as far as car-bike relations went. The Gateway Trail from St. Paul to north of Stillwater is a very nice trail and quite interesting as one moves from inner city to suburban sprawl, to exurban development, to farmland. The Gandy Dancer Trail in Wisconsin is mostly through farmland and woods and is adequately maintained and quite empty. I saw no other bikers on the Gandy Dancer. Since it was Wisconsin, every time the trail entered a town, there were helpful signs letting me know where to find the local tavern.

When one is on a back country road and with no one else in sight with an I-Pod blaring in one's ears, it is natural to start singing out loud like one does alone in their car. If the woman who was getting her mail south of Scandia is reading this, I was singing the Talking Heads Building on Fire as I rode by, just in case you were wondering.

For the second year in a row I was able to accomplish a goal I set out early in the year for my bike. Which means I need a new and tougher goal for next year. Right now I am thinking of a bike trip to Duluth or Two Harbors, maybe with an overnight stay. I am open for suggestions however.

August 6, 2009

500 Posts and A Walk in the Woods

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This is my 500th blog post which I guess is some sort of milestone. Probably speaks more toward longevity than anything else. It does mean that I have made a post almost every other day for three years. Some of it crap, some of it well thought out. Most of it important only to me. I've long since come to grips with the fact that some of my posts that have the most critical thinking and writing get no comments, while others I blast out in 3 minutes receive a bunch of comments. I guess it's the nature of the blog beast.

I was thinking about this milestone as I finished reading A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. It's a true account of Bryson's attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail in the late 1990's (1996?). He starts off in Georgia with his friend Katz who is woefully unprepared. They don't quite get through Tennessee when they abandoned their efforts to walk the entire way and catch a ride up to Virginia to walk the Shenandoah Mountains. Later that year Bryson does some other side trips and the both of them attempt to walk the 100 Miles of Wilderness in Maine. They abandon that effort after a couple of days and call it quits.

The book is an easy read and quite amusing with some serious side notes about Forest Management, the Environment, history of the Trail, etc. Even though they walked approximately only 800 of the Trail's 2,200 miles, they feel successful. As Katz puts it, they walked in the south, they walked in the middle, they walked in the north. They walked in snow and oppressive heat. The book is somewhat credited for increasing interest in the Appalachian Trail and I have to admit there is some appeal to making an attempt myself.

For me I guess in a way one could consider blogging a little similar to hiking. You can prepare the best you can but the most important thing is to just put one foot in front of the other and go out there. Don't worry so much about you'll find go out and see what's there. That's what I did with my first 500 posts, let's see what the next 500 posts bring.

July 29, 2009

Vacation Time

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I'm off on vacation. We are renting a 26 foot RV and heading toward the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and then Sleeping Bear National Park in northern part of Lower Michigan. I've never driven anything larger than a mini-van so it should be interesting. We'll get to hang with other RVers and do some hiking and relaxing.

Little blogging while I am gone but some of the place we are heading do have wi-fi so I may check in a couple of times. The comments are still a little screwy so I think I will have to approve them. If it's been a couple of days and your comment hasn't shown up, send me an e-mail. I have scheduled a random top 10 to drop on Friday, so make sure you send your random 10.

Looks like I won't have to worry about a Brett Favre decision when I am gone but it will be interesting to see if the Twins do anything at the trading deadline. Not a lot of other news looks to be coming down the pike so not a bad time to go dark.

Until next week.

June 18, 2009

I've Got My Twins 2010 Twins Tickets

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We finally got our tickets selected for the inaugural year at Target Field. I will be in Section 324, row 4 for ten games next year and we will not only have an awesome view of the field, but also of the downtown skyline. See above for ticket location.

These are $12 seats but I am extremely happy. Ten games, now we gotta figure out who goes to what game. Should be fun! You better let me know pretty soon if you want to go to a game.

June 16, 2009

(Almost) Gorgeous Weekend

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We were in Chicago over the weekend to see the Twin-Cubs play in the friendly confines on Sunday. Even though we are less than a year away from seeing outdoor baseball here in Minneapolis we didn't want to pass up an opportunity to see baseball played how it was meant to be played: In a outdoor, urban ballpark dedicated to the game and not squeezing every last dollar out of fat cat sometime fans.

Most have seen the coverage of the weekend with Twins fans coming out in force for the three-game series. Reading some coverage of the series, Cubs fans were saying that it was one of the biggest visiting team invasions they can remember in a long time. Apparently Wrigley was 1/3 Twins fans on Saturday. Sunday probably didn't have as many Twins supporters but there were definitely a lot of us.

Sunday was one of those great days to watch a game: 75 degrees with some clouds, and a bit of a breeze blowing in. We got down to the ballpark early (someone on the EL saw us and said "Piranhas on the Train!") walked around the ballpark and had a hearty omelet and hash browns at a cool little diner on Clark Street. The scene around the ballpark was electric with people hawking tickets and t-shirts, bars open to the streets, and lots of people watching. Some of the unofficial t-shirt sellers were the best and I had to explain to my 13 year old that Fukudome was a Japanese outfielder for the Cubs and not some sort of pejorative against the Metrodome.

We had awesome seats about 15 rows behind the Twins dugout and had a few foul balls hit in our general direction. We had full view of the game and the ivy-strewn wall and after about an hour we were bathed in sun for the rest of the game. Fans were passionate but were not obnoxious to Twins fans like they would be at Comiskey Park.

The game was close and well played and in the top of the 9th all tied up at two, the Twins had 2 guys on with one out and Mauer and Morneau due up. The Twins fans were really rocking the joint but neither came through. The bottom of the 9th was a Crain-wreck for the Twins and the Cubs prevailed. No problems though, Twins took 2 of three from the Cubs, we had a wonderful time and got to take in one of the ultimate baseball experiences: A game at Wrigley on a glorious summer afternoon.

June 10, 2009

Epic Bike Ride

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Last Friday promised to be a nice day and the weekend was looking to by dicey (which ended up to be correct) so I took Friday off and decided to go on a long bike ride. My goal was to ride from my house in southwest Minneapolis to my childhood home out in Mound, all via bike trails. It is a 58 mile-round trip ride which would be the longest single ride I have ever attempted.

The impetus was a new 13-mile bike trail that recently opened between Wayzata and Mound. This trail followed abandoned railroad tracks and passed right by million dollar houses, wooded areas, Lake Minnetonka, the old Tonka Toys factory, and my old house. As a kid and teenager I spent a lot of time on various parts of those tracks and the ride promised to be nostalgic.

Getting from Minneapolis to Wayzata is relatively easy. From the lakes to Theodore Wirth Pkwy to the Luce Line trail and I was in the western suburbs in a flash. The Luce Line has not quite connected to Theodore Wirth but the base is there. That last connection should be done later this summer. The highlight was the Dakota Trail which connects Mound and Wayzata.

Boy did it bring back memories. Riding across the Arcola RR Bridge (see above before it was a bike trail), where we used to bridge jump and where one day my friend Todd was walking one way on the bridge with a case of beer in his arms and coming the other way was a Hennepin County Sheriff. He dropped the case (doh!) and jumped off the bridge into the water. The trail also goes right through the Lafayette Country Club where I spent two summers working on the grounds crew and once saw Mick Jagger up close. The trail passed by houses where kids grew up that I liked and hated. Old mailboxes that I use to destroy would catch my eye as I passed by.

The trail goes right into Mound, which looks completely different than when I was growing up. Past downtown Mound is my house and the trail passes within 100 yards of my old house. As a kid we spent a lot of time on those tracks and the hills surrounding them. I noticed that there were still dirt paths going up the hills so I think kids still play in those hidden areas, unseen by adults. While I was tooling around Mound my I-pod, set on shuffle, was playing Dylan’s Desolation Row. Not sure if that meant anything but it sure produced a smile.

Unfortunately I had to ride back home and by the 50 mile mark my thighs were really feeling the miles. I made it home a little sore but feeling pretty good. I will definitely take that trip again.

April 22, 2009

Outdoor Baseball

Sorry, light blogging lately. Look for a spring revamp of LFAD soon! Over the last 7 days I have been to 4 outdoor baseball games (1 college, 3 Jr. High). I have sat in 70 degree weather in shorts, eating a frozen lemonade to shivering in gloves, hats and blankets in 40 degree weather and 30 mph winds. Believe me the former is much more enjoyable.

Whether it's college kids or or 14 year olds, its pretty amazing how similar the game is played. Good pitching is key, execution in the field is a must, and timely hitting plays a big part in if you win or not.

The Gophers have a pretty decent team and games at Siebert Field are a blast. There are upcoming home games this weekend and next and I encourage anyone to go out and see Gophers play. If you can't get to the U, check out your local Babe Ruth or High School games, they really are fun, and when it's warm, a perfectly enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours.

January 27, 2009

I'm Back!!

So I'm back from Haiti and will have a post or two soon. Since I was away from U.S. news and popular culture I have a couple of questions/requests:

1. Who replaced the Minnesota Timberwolves with the 1996 Chicago Bulls?
2. Why was Dick Cheney in a wheelchair at the inauguration?
3. Don't tell me what happened in last week's BSG, I have it taped but won't get to it for a few days
4. Nixon/Frost as a best picture nominee? Really?
5. What free agents signings or trades did the Twins make?
6. Does anyone still have a job?

January 12, 2009

Yes It's Cold!

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Living in Minnesota you have two choices during January. You can either hunker down; leave the house only when necessary and try to stay warm. Or you can embrace the cold, the snow, and the ice and go outside and have some fun. I tend to hunker down but will venture out at times.

This past weekend was one of those times to get outside and what a better way than to fly some kites on a frozen lake? Our Neighborhood Association sponsors an annual January kite fest which was held on Saturday. It was a pretty good day, mid-teens, sunny, a slight breeze (could have used more for the kites but the exposed cheeks sure appreciated the lack of wind). Copious amounts of hot chocolate and malled cedar help keep people warm. Likewise watching kids on a treasure hunt, or ice fishing, or encouraging their mom and dads to get that kite up in the air will always warm the heart.

Given the fact that the weather forecast promises more snow and lows in the minus teens(!) I’ll definitely be tending toward the hunkering down over the next week. So it was good to get out, even if for a couple of hours.

How do you survive the cold January days?

January 5, 2009

California Dreamin'

Sunday Morning January 4th, I walked out my front door at 6:00a and it looked like this:

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Six hours later I walked out of the Santa Barbara Airport and this is what I saw:

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My what 6 hours can do to your body and spirit.

The Santa Barbara area is quite fetching and the UC Santa Barbara campus looks great. I should have stopped by the HR department to see if they had any openings. Alas I'm already back in Minny.

Also thanks George and Amy for a wonderful evening. I loved my swordfish and I think I might try my to pass off my "anchor steam(ed) crabs" on the expense account :o)


October 20, 2008

The Hill

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Near Fort Snelling there is a very steep hill (bad picture above) that connects a bike trail to the Mendota Bridge. The hill has a good 30+ degree slant and is long. For us flatlanders in the Midwest, it’s a pretty nasty hill for bike riders, the steepest I know of along the river. Early this summer I tried to ride up the hill but had to get off about mid-way and walk. I vowed that by the end of the summer I would be able to ride my bike all the way up that hill.

If life was a Hollywood movie, what would be seen next is a montage (with a kick-ass rock song on the sound track) of me exercising, training on other hills, working that hill and getting closer and closer to the top before I had to get off. But life isn’t a Hollywood movie with rockin’ montages. I did remember my vow and when I was riding my bike this summer I would attack any hill I came across a little harder. I hadn’t, however, been back to the Fort Snelling trail.

This being Minnesota, the bike riding season is fast coming to an end and my vow was weighing on me. Thankfully Saturday was a beautiful day and I had some time. I was going to see if I could make it up that hill. It might be my last time I had this season.

Coming up to the hill I was pretty confident, I noticed that other hills that had given me trouble earlier in the year were easily ascented but as ?The Hill? drew nearer, my mind was clouded with doubts. First among them is that the hill trail is perpendicular to the river trail, meaning I wouldn’t have a running start. But more worrisome was what if I failed? What would that do to my confidence? Would that mean the hundreds of miles I put on my bike this summer would be for naught? I approached the hill with trepidation and had further worries when I came to the hill and, due to the nice weather, found it full of other walkers and bikers – I would have to weave my way around them.

Life throws hills at us all the time. Relationships, work, finances, old houses and cars, etc., seem to constantly present some sort of obstacle that we need to overcome. Just dealing with those day-to-day obstacles can be physically and mentally tough, sometimes overwhelmingly so. But I think it’s also important challenge ourselves with hills of our own making. It doesn’t matter what it is, it can be improvements in your personal relationships, it can be that you’re finally going to learn how to play guitar, it can be stop smoking or lose weight. The important thing is to set a realistic goal and accomplish it. Just by doing that you can gain more confidence to address all those other problems that life throws at you.

So yes I made it up the hill. In fact about a third of the way up I knew I was going to make it. It was a lung buster and wasn’t easy but I made true my June vow. Even more satisfying than making it up the hill was the fact that I passed two guys probably 20 years younger than me walking their bikes. Will making it up that hill change my life? Probably not, but who knows maybe it will a little bit, and if I can make little changes for the better, maybe they will add up to bigger changes over time. Know what my next goal is? To stay in shape over the winter so that on the first nice weekend in April when I bring my bike out for the first time, I attack that hill and once again make it up without stopping.

How about you, any hills you’re trying to conquer?

August 4, 2008

NYC 2008

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So for the 2nd time in two years, the family spent over a week in Manhattan. Both times we were lucky to use someone’s apartment so that we could avoid the $250+ a night hotel room fees. We were also in some cool neighborhoods: two years ago in the heart of the West Village, this year in the East Village. Instead of giving a travel log (on Wednesday we went to….) I’m just going to give some perspectives.

First New York is extremely busy. Late July is the high tourist season and many New Yorkers don’t leave town until August. So the streets were absolutely packed. Crazily so. Also since the dollar is so low compared to other currencies, there are a lot of foreign tourists too, taking advantage of a cheap vacation. It was much more crowded this year than in 2006.

Even though (because of?) the streets are so busy, in two visits and nearly 20 days of visiting, we have never felt threatened, seen a crime, or been subject to anything that would be considered even mildly threatening. Of course we are in touristy areas, but we are out late at night sometimes. I went to NYC a number of times in the mid-1980’s and there is a big difference. Also some parks that were open drug areas (Thompkin Square Park, Union Square, Bryant Park) are open, safe places to spend time with your family.

Some highlights include the Museum of Modern Art and the Salvador Dali exhibit, Rockaway Beach in Brooklyn, Bryant Park in mid-town, and a David Letterman taping. We saw Wicked on Times Square. There were a lot of teenage girls at the show and the story definitely was geared to that age group. It was a classic big Broadway show with over the top sets and huge songs. I was a little disappointed that the Wicked story intruded on the original Wizard of Oz story a little more than my liking, but still it was a fun time.

Now for the quiz. The photo above is a current picture of something very (kinda?) famous. In fact any male over the age of 35 should know exactly why that building is well known. Shane, this is your surprise and you should especially know what it is. Just a hint, you may know this image from something in the past so it won’t be exactly how you remember it. Know what it is? Use the comments section. This image was a few blocks from where we were staying in the East Village and is indicative of the architecture found throughout that part of the City.

July 30, 2008

New York City

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We've been in NYC since Sunday (actually early Monday due to Sun Country's 4 hour delay!) It's hot and muggy which leads to interesting smells but you learn to live with it. As you can see from the picture above we got into a David Letterman show. It was pretty interesting. It's Friday night's show actually and Richard Simmons and Mary Louise Parker are the guests.

Wicked is on the agenda and today is MOMA and the Dali exhibit. Coney Island, the beach, and Harlem too. And George, we are right around the corener from D.B.A so I'll try to check it out (have to get by the Hells Angels who live between me and the bar).

East Village is very busy and lots of people out at all times of the day. Place is changing though as yesterday I went to a Whole Foods Grocery at a place was a nototrious open air drug market in the 80's.

Below is a pic of one of the temporary waterfalls you can see on the East River

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July 27, 2008

Off to NYC!!

I'll be in NYC for the next week and actually hope to include a post or two from the City. See you from Gotham!

July 1, 2008

Sailing on Lake Pepin

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Take a beautiful Saturday afternoon with a stiff breeze, throw in a 31-foot sailboat, and a super cool captain, and you've got yourself a wonderful afternoon.

A couple of weeks ago we went sailing on Lake Pepin and experienced all of the above. The captain, Dave Sheridan, is a great guy and regaled us with stories about sailing, Pep(p)ie the Lake Pepin Sea Monster and life on the eastern shore of Lake Pepin/Mississippi River. Plus it was relatively cheap! $50.00 a person for a couple of hours on the lake. Plus we got to steer the ship.

If interested, I highly recommend checking it out. Say hi to Captain Dave for us if you go.

P.S. I hope the two other women in the picture above aren't too upset I included them in this post without their permission. Consider this an apology in the remote chance you come across this blog!

March 28, 2008

New Car

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Today I picked up a new Honda Civic Hybrid. $4.00 gasoline? I'm ready. Plus it has an auxiliary outlet for my I-Pod so I don't have to worry about CD's anymore.

It's definitely smaller than my Accord so I'll have to get used to that, but otherwise it looks, good.

March 10, 2008

The Apple Orchard

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When I was growing up I lived practically kiddy corner from a 50-tree apple orchard. The orchard really wasn’t tended and the neighborhood kids had free reign over the orchard, its trees, and, most importantly, the apples.

In the summer we would spend hours in the orchard playing games and eating apples. Although the trees weren’t really taken care of, they still produced some pretty good apples and it was nice to be able to pick off an apple from a tree and bury your teeth into that juicy, crunchy fruit. Birds would also enjoy the fallen fruit and it was funny seeing drunk birds who had imbibed on too many apples fermenting in the sun. Being boys, apples also made perfect missiles and there is nothing better than hitting someone with a rotten, soft apple that’s been baking in the sun for months. Firecrackers put into apples and tossed also make quite an effective weapon. In the fall we would have epic apple wars which would leave the entire neighborhood covered in smelly, smashed rotten apples. If it was warm enough, the apple stench would last for days.

That apple orchard really represented the carefree days of youth and after my brother died, I found myself walking through the apple orchard once again. I was 23 at the time and it had probably been 5 years since I was last in the orchard. I was inextricably drawn to the orchard, probably trying to recapture that youthful innocence that had been shattered that terrible day. I didn’t know what I would find there but it was a comforting place, even if it was for a moment.

Today the apple orchard is gone. A fence has gone up around it and houses sit where apple trees used to dislodge their fruit. I don’t know exactly when it happened and glad that I wasn’t around to see them go. Living in the city, my kids and their friends don’t have a place like an apple orchard to spend countless hours and I am not sure their mothers would let them if they did. Which is too bad. Kids need a place where they can go without adult supervision, where fruit, and all that it represents, is just there for the picking.

February 18, 2008

The Great Abyss

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We are mired in the great abyss right now. It’s great that Spring Training is starting but that’s more like a tease, a marker that we have to hit before it can actually be Spring. In the meantime we wait for the NHL and NBA playoffs (and then wait forever until they end); March Madness is a couple of weeks away; nothing happening in football. In Minnesota it’s even worse as the T-Wolves, Gopher hoops, and Gopher Hockey should all end in a whimper, not a bang. The Wild will be going to the playoffs but no one thinks they are in the league of Detroit, Dallas, or Anaheim. Is English Premier League soccer is going on?

These last two weeks of February can really be a chore. Too cold to do anything outside. Not much happening inside as this is also the dead zone for movies and albums. Also most musical acts stay clear of Minnesota during this time too so good luck finding a concert to hit up. Heck, after Tuesday there isn’t a presidential primary until March 4th, so we’ll be going over the same stale political issues for the next two weeks as well.

What are you doing to stay sane? I’m torn between converting old home videos to DVD and taking a lot of naps. Got any ideas?

January 13, 2008

Winter Kite Fest

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Living in Minnesota you have to embrace Winter or go insane. Now how you embrace Winter can range from curling up with a book and blanket to going ice fishing. I tend to settle toward the former but have been known to participate in the latter as well.

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This weekend I participated in our Neighborhood's annual Winter Kite Festival. Yes that's right we flew kites on a frozen-over lake. The weather cooperated to the hilt (25 degrees and sunny) and there were tons of people out.

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Besides kites there was ice fishing, hay rides, treasure hunts, marshmallows over fires, and a ton of neighbors. It really was a lot of fun. There wasn't a whole lot of wind but enough to get some kites up in the air.

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Now I'm not going to argue that Minnesotans are somehow tougher because we do stuff in freezing weather. Actually I think it's more of a coping mechanism. During these cold months those four walls can close in pretty tight. Throw in too many gray days with a few hours of sunshine and no wonder we dispose of our enemies via the woodchipper.

How do you cope with Winter?

December 13, 2007

Christmas Shopping Sucks!!!!

I tried to go Christmas Shopping last night. What a frackin' disaster. Stores have no sales help. A middle age guy roaming uncertianly through the women's clothes department should be a shining beacon for help (and an easy sale). But no. There's no floor help, just a couple of people manning the cash registers. Prices may be cheap due to sales, but there is very little variety, sizes, colors, etc. And if you do happen upon a store that is busy, everyone is rude, getting in your way, acting stupid.

No wonder internet sales are becoming more and more popular every year. After my disappointing experience at the stores, I came home went on the web and ordered what I wanted in the size and colors I wanted. I swear, no more stores for me.

How's your shopping experience?

September 20, 2007

Senseless Murder

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Last week Mark Loesch had the audacity to get on his bike at 10:30 at night and ride it to a friend’s house in South Minneapolis. Mark never made it as some apparent punk smashed his head in instead. Just for riding his bike at night.

Mark lived about two blocks from me and although I didn’t know him, my kids played with his kids occasionally and I’m pretty sure I’ve seen his oldest son in my basement playing Madden on the Playstation. From all the stories I heard Mark seemed like a pretty good guy and I’m saddened that we never got to know each other better.

Sometimes we are able to create something good out of senseless, tragic crimes and last night in Southwest Minneapolis, something good did come out of Mark’s murder. To honor Mark, over 500 of his friends, family, and neighbors came out to walk or bike the route that Mark took on his last night. We gathered at King Field park, signed a banner, and then took to the street. It was amazing to see a steady stream of people stretching over 5 blocks long and then to entirely fill one City block candles in hand in honor of this man. The mood was solemn, not sad, and people from 4 to 84, some with dogs, some on bikes, some with flowers stood shoulder to shoulder and hand in hand.

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In true Minnesota fashion, we were not an angry vengeful mob, but a saddened, confused group of neighbors. Saddened that someone just like us could be cut down so senselessly, saddened that his 4 children will have no father, saddened that the City we love still has so much hate that someone would kill so randomly and confused because we don’t know what we can do to change what happened or what to do next.

It was a fitting tribute, one that that I will always remember but something that I hope I never have to do again.

August 21, 2007

Glacier National Park

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Earlier this month, we packed up the family, headed for the train station, and spent nearly a week at Glacier National Park in Montana. As you can see from the pictures below (which don't do the park justice), Glacier is a beautiful place.

The main reason one goes to Glacier National Park is to see glaciers, and that's what we did. In the pictures below, (click on pic to see larger version) the snowy regions on the mountains are glaciers. Unfortunately the glaciers are retreating and breaking up. One hundred years ago, there were over 130 glaciers in the park, now there is less than 30 and those remaining are small remnants of themselves.

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In the photo above, the glacier use to fill the whole basin and now is just a slash of ice across the side of the mountain. However to get a sense of how large these glaciers still are, the fat ice part on the left is nearly 300 yards wide.

Natural beauty abounds, the picture below shows what we saw from the window of our small cabin. The park is really geared for all ages. If you're elderly and like your creature comforts, you can stay in a lodge and view the park through red buses that travel extensively through the park. If you're a healthy 20-something looking for adventure, there are many back country trails (and campsites) that bring you right to the glaciers. If you're a family with kids, you can stay in a cabin, and take easier hikes to mountain lakes, waterfalls, and breathtaking scenery. That's what we did.

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Wild life is also abundant. We were close to Mountain Goats, Deer, Eagles, Big Horn Sheep, and Bears. The bear moved back into the woods before we were able to snap a picture (don't worry we were in our car). Below is a Big Horn Sheep and Mountain Goat upclose.

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All in all it was a great time and would suggest a similar trip for anyone who is interested. We went to Rocky Mountain National Park 2 years ago and our campsite was at 9,000 feet and a lot of hiking was at 10,000 to 11,000 feet. Glacier is at a more modest 5,000 feet and I don't we ever got above 7,000 feet so it was a little easier on the lungs.

Below, the Man and the Mountain....

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July 17, 2007

Ted Hartwell

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My brother-in-law, Ted Hartwell, died and was buried last week. As you can see from obituaries here, here, and here, Ted was a world-renowned curator of photography for the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. I could never do justice to his career and what it meant for professional photographers so I’ll let those links stand on their own.

I mostly knew Ted outside of his professional life as a husband and father. He was married to my wife’s sister and I spent many holidays and family get-togethers with Ted. One of the favorites was the annual 4th of July party at their house on a bluff overlooking Lake Pepin. They had recently purchased a boat and Ted was giving boat rides all afternoon. I was lucky enough to get a ride on the last trip and you could tell Ted was as happy as a little kid as we motored up and down the Pepin shoreline. It seems odd that a mere 18 hours later he would be stricken down by a heart attack.

Reading the obituaries and listening to the art luminaries at his funeral felt at times strange. They’re talking about Ted Hartwell? The guy who, like me, would steal a little nap after Thanksgiving dinner? The guy who was just fascinated by his kids and how fast they learned to talk? That Ted Hartwell? When I was growing up, I knew a kid who’s dad played for the Vikings (Rip Hawkins). We asked him what it was like to have a dad who was a professional football player. He said that he didn’t know. His dad seemed like everyone else’s: he cut the grass in the summer, yelled at his kids to clean up after themselves, sat in the living room drinking beer and watching sports. It seems that sometimes we forget that celebrities are people too; that really they are just like me and you only their work is better known.

So I’ll miss Ted, he was a kind soul. I will appreciate all he did for the art of photography but I will cherish all that he did for his friends and family.

July 10, 2007

Following into the Dark - Take 2

Last August I did a post on the song I Will Follow You Into the Dark by Death Cab for Cutie and as you can see from the comments, the post has really stuck a chord with people who have faced end of life issues with family members. I am actually quite humbled that people have sought out this site and commented in their time of sorrow and loss. Now my family is going through the painful process of saying goodbye to someone who is in a coma. What is especially difficult is that on the 4th of July we are all together having blast, talking about fireworks, boats, and kids. A few hours later a heart attack leaves my brother-in-law in what is described as a “permanent vegetative state.?

Modern medicine is amazing these days, as is our medical profession. The EMT’s found my brother-in-law without a pulse and were able to re-start his heart. Unfortunately the body needs oxygen and his body shut down all functions except for the bare minimum to survive: breathing and a beating heart.

When to end a life is an extremely painful decision. In one sense you want to hold out hope, but on the other, no brain activity is not really living. In the end it comes down to what you and your loved ones believe is quality of life. What makes it harder is that there are different levels of removing life support: Do you hydrate? How much pain medication should be administered? Given these questions, and the ultimate decision that must be made, it’s actually comforting to think that you would follow your loved one into the dark. The wish that you could tell them that very fact lies heavy in the room.

So talk to your loved one about end of life issues, get a will, write up a health directive. Tell them you if you could, you would follow them into the dark. Remember it will be difficult for your family members if they find themselves in the situation where they have to make end of life decisions, but it will be easier if they know that the decisions they have to make are ones that you have allowed them to make. In other words, allow your loved ones to follow you into the dark.

August 20, 2006

Bradley James Carlson 1965-1986

Yesterday (8/20) was the 20-year anniversary of my brother Brad killing himself Download file. It was the typical concoction of depression and drug use. After 20 years the pain has subsided but the sadness will always remain. Probably the weirdest thing is that I walk by the site nearly everyday. Some days I don’t even notice, other times it weighs heavily on my mind -- although to be fair I am sure he didn’t know that I would one day be working at the University.

As a person of faith I feel quite confident that Brad is in a better place and his writings also show that he thought he was going to a better place. I have never held the belief that death means a person misses out what we experience on earth. They of course don’t experience it the same way we do, but by becoming part of the Holy Spirit, people who have died “know? that, for example, their kids graduated and had a good life, had children etc.

So I’m not sad that my brother died and he didn’t get to experience the things I have. I am sad because we can’t share those experiences together. He knows that Twins won the World Series in 1987, but we weren’t able to talk about it and share that joy. That is why we I think we grieve for the dead, we are actually grieving for ourselves.

In that vein, here is a list of things that I wish I could have shared with my brother over the last 20 years. It’s not an exhaustive list, and it obviously reflects where he was at 20 years ago, but it’s not a bad list. (also in no particular order)

Twins World Series victories in 1987 and 1991
The U2 concerts I attended in 1987 and 2002
My wedding
The adoption and birth of my children
The election and death of Paul Wellstone
Star Wars – Revenge of the Sith (last 45 minutes)
The death of Kirby Puckett
Timmy the Freak
The 3 New England Patriots Super Bowl victories in 4 years
Randy Moss “mooning? the Packer faithful
September 11, 2001
The new millennium
The Lord of the Rings Movies
Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky
Donnie Darko

Who do you miss and what events do you wish you could have shared with them?

August 16, 2006

New York City

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Well we packed up our cell phones, ipods, shampoo, and drinking water and boarded an airplane for a 9-day visit of NYC earlier this month. I had been to New York a couple of times in the mid- to late-80’s and at that time I would have never imagined that I would want to visit again on a family trip. But things have changed in the Big Apple. The short version is: the City is cleaner, safer, friendlier, and just as fun. Despite 3 plus days of very oppressive heat, we had a wonderful time.

Of course some things are missing since my last NYC visit. An obligatory stop for any NYC visitor is Ground Zero. Having seen it, I have to admit it was hard to imagine the terror that was happening among those streets nearly 5 years ago. Right now it’s just a big hole in the ground. What really hit home was that a fire station just down the street from where we were staying had pictures of 6 firemen who lost their lives that day.

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We were lucky that we were able to stay in a small apartment in the always trendy Greenwich Village neighborhood. The little alley that we stayed in has quite the literary history, but more important to me, it was within walking distance of Washington Square and a host of sites that played key rolls in the early lives of Bob Dylan, Jack Kerouac, Alan Ginsburg etc., including some of the early bars that Dylan performed in, the bar that was the setting for The Subterreaneans, and apartment where Kerouac wrote On The Road. Also we were within walking distance of the street seen on the cover of Dylan’s The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan and the Magnolia Bakery from SNL’s very funny video skit Lazy Sunday.

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("Freewheelin'" street today, trees make a big difference)

Using subways were able to see and get to everything we wanted to see including the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, Ground Zero, Battery Park, the Brooklyn Bridge, Chinatown, Little Italy, the Lower East SideTenements, the site of the Triangle Building fire, Empire State Building, Central Park, Strawberry Fields, Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Upper East Side, FAO Schwartz, Times Square, Spamalot, Yankee Stadium, Jones Beach, Rockefeller Center, and many, many subway stops. Don’t forget lots of good restaurants, none of which we could visit here in Minnesota.

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As I said above, the City is cleaner, safer, and friendlier than it was 20 years ago. We were out after dark many evenings, and never felt unsafe. Police were everywhere and not in that oppressive “I’m watching you? manner but in the comforting “we’re just cops walking the beat.? Believe me nothing gives you a safer feeling than coming out of a subway station after dark in a strange neighborhood and the first thing you see are a couple of cops just hanging out. Times Square is 180 degrees different than the seedy, peep show riven, prostitutes and drug trade place that is was 20 years ago.

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(John Lennon Memorial at Strawberry Fields, Central Park)

Finally I can’t leave without giving a shout out to my friend who let us use her apartment for our stay. Having a place to stay made all the difference in our visit. We could never thank her enough.

August 2, 2006

It's all about me

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Greetings from hotter-than-a-brick-oven New York City. Since I'm here I thought I would share two other internet-related items that I am involved in.

First check out bat-girl.com as I am an entry in the Joe Mauer Sideburn Contest. I am entry #5 and currently doing rather poorly. So please check out the site and vote for me. (Personally I think the so far winning entry is getting so many votes is because he's kinda hunky and has nothing to do with his sideburns).

Second, the Southwest Journal printed my rant about the lack of bike parking at the new midtown global marketplace. They edited out my better stuff, but it's still pretty good. Click here.

Finally this isn't about me except that it's about NYC. Christgau, who I always thought was a little too self-involved, saw 32 shows in 30 days to comemmorate his firing at the Village Voice. Here's his amazing write-up.

Tomorrow, Yankee Stadium (with photos!!)