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March 19, 2008

Gentrification

I've been neglecting this blog for about a year now, but recently have been doing a bit of online thought at a different site, the gentrifiwiki I'm building with other people for an EXCO class we created. Check it out.

March 4, 2007

Name's gone, I'm back

I've been neglecting my blog most awfully. The original idea was not to have a space to write, because I have pretty much a journal for every mood/topic, but to have a place to write publicly, to exchange ideas with other people and to really figure out where I stand on issues I'm working through. And of course the whole point of the secchi disk: to measure how "awake" I am. I think the fact that I haven't been writing actually is a sign that I've been somewhat asleep all winter. I always have had a tendency towards hibernation, but I feel like I've allowed myself to get distracted from my pursuit of knowledge about the things that are really important to me.

The main reason my writing fell off last fall is that most of my organizing/political thinking has been moving toward anarchism, and I was uncomfortable posting those thoughts to this site. I probably still would be, if I hadn't figured out how to get my name off the posts. I was hunting for a "professional" job, and then hired for a "professional" job, and I was worried that it would reflect negatively on me. I'm still feeling cautious about it, but I'll probably be over that in another couple months. It's the old confusion of personal identity with job/career, and I should have learned my lesson on that by now.

More on anarchism later... What's really important to me right now is weather. The weather in February just about did me in, as it does every February. However, I think that being on a bike actually mediated the negative effects. I really feel I got what I wanted to out of switching to biking year-round. I wanted to be forced to notice the weather, I wanted it to influence my daily activities. And it did, but not to the extent that it was very disruptive. I don't make it down to Longfellow or Uptown much anymore, but that's fine, it'll be a nice treat over the summer. It's forced me to shop locally, which was a big part of the point.

So the problem with late winter is that I'm just finally worn out from battling the elements for so long. I got through the cold stuff and decided spring was officially here because it wasn't in the negative degrees anymore, and then we go and get two blizzards in a row. I can't even walk around (an inefficient way to travel if there ever was one) because it's so slippery. We were talking in my Bicycle Feminism class about how bicycles contributed to women's lib because of the increased mobility... Women could escape to secret trysts in the countryside and have more control over their relationships. (And this is still a powerful freedom that bikes provide for young kids!) I never realized how important mobility is to me. Right now I'm really feeling disempowered by the difficulty of getting anyplace.

December 2, 2006

Fall update: biking and cooking

Some friends have complained that I haven’t written anything on my blog in a while, so here’s an update… on the entire fall I guess.

I’ve been pretty busy, with finding a job and some lifestyle changes. Not much to say on the former at the moment, as I’m still a bit paranoid about the interplay between work self and free self, but I really like my new job, it’s something I believe in, and is only 30 hours/week. It’s also downtown, which is a fun commute: 20 minutes by bus with headphones on, or 15 minutes by bike, almost all in bike lanes.

The largest of the lifestyle changes was giving up my car at the end of the summer. I think “giving up? is the right term because it really did feel like a sacrifice. I agonized over it for a month or more and then when I knew I was going to do it, I spent the last few weeks driving around like crazy spending oodles of money on all the things that would be difficult to transport without a car. I’d just spent most of the summer cleaning out my cupboards, and then I got freaked out that there would be a blizzard and I’d starve over the winter, so I went and stocked them all up again.

Back then, I’d thought I’d write about the complexities of being carless, but then I realized that:

a.) most of my friends don’t own cars, and I was just being a wimp.

b.) there’s plenty of information already online about going car-free.

I used to only drive my car once a week anyways, but still there was some sort of security in having it parked on the street outside. Security, but also a burden. I’m the type of person who likes to be busy all the time and I tend to overschedule. If there are 3 really neat events going on in one night, I’ll have to hit them all. Well, traveling by bike, I’m a lot more limited (at least until I become super fit). I now have to pick and choose what I’ll attend based on distance from home/where I already am, and this is actually nice. I like having a better sense of how things relate to each other in my urban landscape. Like the Cub Foods on Lake Street seems really far, because Lake Street is such a different neighborhood, but if you’re already at North Country Co-op (near home), it isn’t that far at all.

I’m not sure how this relates to the biking, but I also found that I’m spending way more time cooking that I used to. Some days I don’t cook, but most days I do, and on those I spend about 2 hours cooking and doing dishes. This is a lot of time! I think while I was in school I was more lax with my expenses, so I probably ate out more, and that accounts for the change. All this time in the kitchen is part of what’s prompting me to consider sharing housing with friends again, as it’s much more fun to cook in a group. Some friends and I got together for a bunch of cooking the day after Thanksgiving, and delicious dishes just kept materializing out of the kitchen with very little effort. The potlucks I’ve been having with my Empire 101 class since it officially ended have been great too.

So as I said above, there’s enough online already about getting around by bike, but seriously, figuring that out is what I feel like I’ve been doing all fall. I finally managed to get to enough thrift shops to find clothes that: a.) are comfortable on a bike, b.) are warm enough for winter biking, and c.) I like

… and then I had to go and get a job that requires me to wear “business casual?! That almost made me have to start all over again. So there’s enough of an update for now. I’m still reading and philosophizing of course, so I’ll have to get some of that up here eventually.

My bike, small.jpg

September 17, 2006

Mushrooming to the mailbox

A few weeks ago I was up at the cabin (Breezy Point) with the folks and family. I was eager to go on the traditional walk to the mailbox/mushroom hunt. I can usually find more than ten species on what would be a 3 minute walk... without the hunt, that is. Last year I went from the A-frame to pick up a waffle iron and didn't return for a good hour. (But I did run into a porcupine that time as well as the mushrooms.) I didn't put much effort into identifying our finds this time 'round, as there was lots else to do, but I've made some guesses and would appreciate any help, especially with the last one, which is just really neat.

Here's what we deemed worthy of collection:

Mailbox haul.jpg

Laura taking a look.
Laura mush hunting.jpg

And Katie with Tremella foliacea?
Tremella foliacea maybe.jpg

This was one of the most interesting. I actually found this the weekend after. It was growing with two others out of a fallen log. The stipe was really fuzzy and bruised bright bright yellow where I'd held it. I think this was one of the ones that smelled like marmelade, but I'm not sure.
Fuzzy Stiped Mush.jpg

Fuzzy Stipe.jpg

This is what it looked like the week before:
Fuzzy Stipe week earlier.jpg

Some Marasmius androsaceus?
Marasmius androsaceus maybe.jpg

Some LBMs ("Little Brown Mushrooms"). Identifying these is way beyond me.
Some LBMs.jpg

These were some neat ones. Sorry the photo's so blurry. Lucky I'm immune to poison ivy.
White mush with ivy.jpg

Some sort of Stereum? I usually am not too excited by brackets.
Stereum maybe.jpg

Lepista flaccida? Hard to tell. Pretty!
Lepista flaccida maybe.jpg

This is the really neat one. Again, bad photo. Blewit? Cort? I have no idea. Notice the margin. It's even cooler underneath.
Bad photo of neat mushroom.jpg

Unfortunately, I discovered what a stinging nettle was when I picked this one. Man, they hurt! The pain didn't go away for a good two hours.
Stinging nettle maybe.jpg

Now look at that margin! I've never seen anything like it and couldn't find it in my books. I don't think it was decaying or anything, although it may have been a mutant.
Sniffing neat mush.jpg

Even Grandma June helped with the identification.
G. June smells mushroom.jpg

September 5, 2006

Mystical lake experiences


This weekend at the lake has been filled with animals. There's the silver fox that eats the bird seed under the feeder. The red squirrel imitates the piliated woodpecker from a neighboring tree. Then last night there were two mule deer in the yard who really sounded like people, the way they walked and breathed in the dark.

But the most amazing was the fish from the sky. A bald eagle flew over the house and dropped a fish in our lawn, directly in front of us. I know this is some kind of a sign, but all I could figure out was that I must eat that fish. I haven't had any special visions yet or anything. If anyone could help me interpret the occurence, I'd appreciate it.

Eagle fish 1.jpg

Eagle fish 2.jpg

Eagle fish 3.jpg

Eagle fish 4.jpg

Eagle fish eaten.jpg


We also had quite a nice sunset...

Lake sunset.jpg

August 12, 2006

Mix Tapes

My Saturday morning bed-reading today consisted of the mix tape book Todd gave me. It wasn’t so much the extolling of mix tape culture in the book that got me, but the reproductions of hand-made cover art and song lists. I got out of bed and actually saw my cassette collection sitting on my desk, for the first time in months. I’ve been on the CD-and-online music wagon for two years now, and I think it’s time to reconsider.

I must mention that I am listening to Rock #50 as I write this. When I was in about second grade I started recording my favorite songs off Philadelphia’s top 40 stations onto old psych lecture tapes that my dad gave me. These were normal bias, 60 min, and often the lecture breaks through in spots. I called the first tape Rock #1, and the very first song on it happens to be “We Built This City on Rock and Roll?… how perfect is that? I kept it up, with a few hiatuses, eventually switching to CrO2 and 90 min, switching to local stations, and writing down track listings (often of my own rendition of the song’s title) so I don’t record the same song 5 times.

This brings me to the most important difference between getting your music from the radio and getting it from the internet or from reading about music. I STILL DO NOT KNOW WHO SINGS “We Built This City?. I know it’s famous, and everyone else probably knows the name of the band, but I don’t, and I don’t care. I can probably sing it better than you can anyway. Maybe some would argue that I’m not respecting the artist or the art form by not caring, but for me music is simply about listening, nothing else is required.

When I got a computer with a CD-burner in fall 2004, things changed. I learned to find full albums online of songs that I had heard on the radio. This was good in a way, but now I’m not sure it’s worth it. It changes the way I listen to the radio. The individual song is only a vehicle to finding the album. When I do find the album, of course the DJ has picked the best song off it, and often the rest isn’t worth listening to. And I hate listening to music on my computer, and don’t want to waste CDs by burning an album before I’m sure I like it, so most of the music just sits there trapped in the computer anyways.

The other change that came with the computer was the ability to make mix CDs. I found it was quite a different experience. The ability to quickly line up songs in different orders raised the art form, in a way, because it wasn’t just about track selection and lyrical flow, but meshing the melody and dynamics of the end of one track with the beginning of the next became really important. Hours were spent switching song order. This is something I didn’t worry about too much on mix tapes. First songs and final songs, As and Bs, took thought, but a lot of the middle was just songs I liked. Maybe a true mix tape artist can do all the arranging of tracks in her head. Also, all the weird music Amy and others gave me on tape, like Bratcha Bana (Celtic?), couldn’t be included on mixes anymore.

I think part of why I, and probably other tape-lovers, switched to mix CDs is that they’re a.) easily reproducible, to share with more than one person, and b.) more permanent, as they don’t disintegrate like cassettes do. But are both of these things we want? Mixes are a very personal art form, and it’s rare for me to give the same mix to more than one person, even if it’s just a question of popping a CD in the burner. And the striving for permanence… nothing really needs to be said about that.

I miss my mix tapes. These contain music that I just never listen to anymore, not because I don’t have the equipment, just because I’m in the habit of listening to CDs, so that’s the collection I look through when I want something to listen to. So, in celebration of this revelation, I’m going to finally finish the last mix tape I started, in 2004 in Ann Arbor. It’s called Best of Minnesota College Radio, and it’s for Amy.

July 1, 2006

June Critical Mass

I took part in my first Critical Mass ride today. It was truly wonderful. At least at first. The following photos are from Scott Schumacher's blog, Holisticgeek, which has a good description of what happened. What began at Loring Park like this:

CM Loring Park.jpg

CM with towers.jpg

Turned into this at Hennepin and 7th Street:

CM Arrest.jpg

CM Cuffs.jpg

I witnessed these arrests, but did not witness the young woman being arrested for asking for the officer's badge number and reason for the arrest. As this was my first ride, I wasn't sure what the 200 of us stopped in the middle of the busiest intersection in downtown Mpls were supposed to do. From the postings I've read online, it seems that Mpls Critical Mass actually has had quite a good relationship with the city for the last 3 years, and this was just a case of two officers (who seemed to be on the Block E anti-loitering patrol) not knowing what was going on and making a bad decision. I was watching the officer in the first photo, and he seemed to quickly realize that he had made the wrong decision, but by then it was too late. Still, it was scary to watch.

More info on what happened can be found here and here. For a more pleasant description of what Critical Mass is like and all about, check out Peter S. Scholtes' article in the CityPages. I encourage everyone with an affinity for bicycling to come out to next month's Critical Mass, Friday July 28th at the fountain in Loring Park.

(More info, July 11th: I have since talked to the guy in the first picture, Sam. It turns out he was actually pulled off his bike by the officer, who first grabbed his backpack and then his hand. He was given a citation for "obstructing traffic". He will find out how much he has to pay this week. The charges against the woman who was arrested for the reason and badge number were dropped.

I am gradually coming to realize how much bikers have to put up with, in terms of harassment both from motorists and police. A motorist yelled some comment out the window at one of my friends a few days ago, for no apparent reason at all. And on Friday as a group of us were riding from the Bicycle Film Festival at the Bell to the afterparty at One-on-One downtown, a plainclothes cop in a red car backed down a street on the U campus, almost running us over, then grabbed a guy off his bike and threw him over the car, supposedly because the biker made a comment about wishing to not get run over. The rest of us left at that point, so again, I don't know what happened, but violent arrests of people for riding bicycles seems to be run-of-the-mill in Mpls.)

June 22, 2006

World Cup: Come on Tunisia!

So after two weeks of somewhat limited watching, I have a favorite team: Tunisia. I know, I know. Tunisia? Well, due to staying home sick, I ended up watching both Saudi Arabia v Ukraine and Spain v Tunisia on Monday. Maybe I was feverish, but I thought both matches were just great, the second one in particular. (To be scientific here, it could also have been due to my watching on Univision, which is pretty awesome, as Eleni commented in my last entry.)

Maybe all this methodical passing business that most of the European teams use is good for scoring goals, but frankly it’s infuriating to watch. It’s all set-up, usually for no actual shot, and there’s no confrontation. Teams seem freaking polite to each other. When the keeper has the ball, people just wait around, no one gets in his face to make him get rid of it.

But it’s different with Group H. Both Monday games had everyone actually running, actually on the other team. I’ve been told this may be because everyone was playing particularly hard, as they had little to lose with the way the points stood. Still, I wish all matches were like this. I think all four teams played great, but I like Tunisia in particular because they played really well against Spain… and because Tunisia’s keeper, Boumnijel, is one of the most intimidating men I have ever laid eyes on. He’s awesome.

So here’s to Tunisia! I think they can make it. Ukraine is pretty good, but I’m betting they’re going down tomorrow…

(A note on today’s Ghana v USA match: Of course the US wasn’t going to win. These people play like they’re reading a soccer instruction manual. Probably one that’s written in another language, because they’re reading it awfully sloooowly. Americans never were good at second languages. And the passing issue again. Except the US is even worse because they prefer to pass backwards more than 50% of the time. And if Reyna hadn’t needed to get off the field for some Prozac, we wouldn’t even have had that stoppage time that led to the questionable penalty shot.)

June 17, 2006

The Biannual SE Flood

Se flood small.jpg

Whenever we have a fantastic rain, usually about twice a year, the street corner I live on in Marcy-Holmes floods. At its worst, I've had to take off my shoes and start wading a block away from the apartment. Last year my car was under 2 feet of water and some precious mix tapes got soaked. It's a great community-building event, though, because everyone goes out and helps people push their cars to higher ground.

June 10, 2006

The World Cup… an unbiased (read: clueless) person’s opinions:

The two or three games of the last World Cup that I caught were actually quite interesting, so I decided to give it a shot this year. We’re two days in, and I think I’m going to be an addict. So far I’ve only seen Germany v. Costa Rica and England v. Paraguay, but it’s been great! So far two different guy friends have stood me up for watching the games, so I’m going to see if female friends are any more reliable. What’s really grabbing me is the viewing atmosphere. I’m hoping to check out a bunch of different bars/coffee shops around town over the course of the month.

Since I’m new to this, and don’t know a thing about soccer, I’m having to feel out the scene as I go. So far I watched both games at Brit’s Pub in downtown Mpls. I was surprised that that the turnout today for England v. Paraguay was five times the size as the Germany v. Costa Rica game yesterday. That was the first game! I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that the English turned out in force to a pub called Brits to watch their team. But why are Americans more into England than Germany? Germans are so much cooler! Maybe not in soccer. But I found myself wishing there were a few Paraguayans there. I don’t know anything about them as a team, maybe they’re nasty folks, but I was really impressed that the replacement keeper, Bobadilla, coming in the third minute of the game, didn’t let a single goal through. The Brits didn’t seem to appreciate this.

Ok, this is embarrassing, but as of today I have a favorite football player (from the 4 teams I’ve seen so far). Crouch. And I haven’t even seen the robot dance yet! Enough said. What’s this deal with yellow cards? Is it true that if he’d gotten a third one he’d have been out for 4 games? That doesn’t make sense. Will the two he’s got be accumulated upon in future games?

One more thing: I dreamt Thursday night that Brazil’s keeper made just an idiotic mistake in the first few minutes of the game, and they never recovered from it the whole rest of the Cup. I have been known to have prophetic dreams, so those of you who have money on this, take note!

April 1, 2006

Myspace breeds homogenization

I want to record one of the highlights of the 17-hour conversation Todd and I had on the way down to Texas, if I can remember it. We were talking about this whole blog/myspace/facebook phenomena and how it will change society, particularly in terms of the evolution of the species. I think it's clear that as it catches on and more and more people get access to the internet, it will allow people with similar interests to meet each other much more frequently, after which they might well go on to mingle their genes.

Todd felt that this would benefit society, as intelligent and creative folk who in the past had to settle for who they happened to bump into in their local area can now find someone more similar to themselves. For him, I think it isn't just about productive offspring who will advance humankind, but about having a likeminded someone to support you in your creative endeavours, ... since historically the creative members of society have often been the most maligned and harassed and have therefore been unable to be productive.

As for myself, I'm afraid of the homogenization that this meeting people with similar interests will bring. We already see the same lists of favorite bands on people's myspace and facebook pages. If creative people seek out other creative people with the same list of favorite bands or authors, and then proceed to let themselves be influenced creatively by those people who already have such similar influences, soon the whole world will consist of nothing but Wolf Parade and Dave Eggers. I think I'll settle for good old bumping into people at the local coffee shop.

...and writing this blog, of course.