December 9, 2007

Getting wet is still a winter sport

Part of being MN nice is admitting when someone else has the upper hand. The Star Tribune did a feature on the different indoor waterparks in Wisconsin Dells. The waterpark capital of the world has some incredible hotel/waterpaks, including the largest indoor waterpark, and creative integration of adult and kid fun.

The Great Wolf lodge is definitely on the higher end of hotels in the Dells, But besides its lavish suites, conference rooms and gigantic outdoor waterpark, the GWL also boasts a very popular indoor waterpark.

Complete with a 12-level children's play area and "a water tower that dumps 1,000 gallons of water every few minutes on anyone below." Besides the 78,000 squarefoot indoor park, the GWL has an arcade for the kids and the Loose Moose restaurant and bar for the adults.

The Kalihari, also famous for its waterpark, integrates the adult watering hole with the kiddy pool. The Kalihari has fancy cafes, a large bar, and in-suite jacuzzi rooms, perfect for the kid with a credit card and a B mer. The Kalihari has the largest indoor waterpark in the United States, 125,000 square feet.

I recently stayed at the Kalihari and loved it. This feature really interested me, because the Strib wasn't biased toward waterparks in this area, but gave a good, news-true description.

December 8, 2007

Hug it, or chop it?

Environmentalists are having difficulty determining the most enviro-friendly way to bring a tree into their homes. It has always been thought before that fake trees were better for the environment because then another tree is saved. However, this has been brought into question because these trees are made of plastic, which is petroleum based, and nonbiodegradable., according to the Star Tribune.

The Strib reported, "For every tree harvested, two or three are planted, according to the Minnesota Christmas Tree Association. The trees provide wildlife habitat and control soil erosion."

This debate is taken on every year as the University of Minnesota forestry club fundraises by chopping and selling their x-mas trees.

The Daily reported, '"Most tree farmers in general are very conservation-minded, and most replant more than they harvest,' Carl Vogt, an extension specialist for the University of Minnesota forestry club said."

'"Buying a natural Christmas tree is actually better for the environment than buying a fake tree, because most fake trees are petroleum-based,' Vogt said."

One acre of trees provides enough oxygen for 18 people each year, and the University of Minnesota forrestry club owns 25 acres, so they supply enough oxygen for 450 people a year.

December 2, 2007

Cheesy Sports Writing

Do you want to be told that the Gophers let a storm loose on the Highlanders, or do you want to know exactly how the Minnesota Men's basketball team effectively re-energized their game and soundly defeated UC-Riverside 75-38 to extend their record to 4-1?

After reading William Zinsser's "On Writing Well" I agree with his description of bad sports writing, "The ego of the modern athlete has in turn rubbed off on the modern sportswritter. I'm struck by how many sportswriters now think they are the story, their thoughts are more interesting than the game they were sent to cover."1

The question I proposed above could be asked of the sports desk at the Star Tribune. The article covering the latest Gopher basketball game tries to integrate cute parallels between the excellent three-point shooting of the Gophers and the blizzard happening ou
tside of the arena. the piece's title is "On chilly day, Gophers heat up from outside" and the article later reports, "They kept the blizzard from the three-point line going well into the second half," and "The storm started early in the first half after a personnel change," in reference to the three-point shooting streak.

This is not reporting, this is compensating for not having reported.

In a more fresh and simple manner, the MN Daily wrote about the game in light of the Tuesday loss the Gophers suffered to Florida State, 75-61. The Daily reported, fter the senior trio of guard Lawrence McKenzie, forward Dan Coleman and center Spencer Tollackson went a combined 8-of-31 in the Gophers' 75-61 loss to Florida State on Tuesday, Minnesota's big three came to a mutual conclusion: "We must be more productive." The college newspaper later commented on a meeting in the locker room held by the players, and that this match-up between UC-Riverside and the Gophers was the first ever.

That is sports reporting. It gets to the point.

Though the story written for the Strib does exhibit the signs of good reporting, quotes, facts, etc., it relies on the weather to tell a sports story. The sports should be the news.

William Zinsser, On Writing Well, p. 184. Harper-Collins, New York.

Snow is like armpits, everybody has a complaint

Both of these well-written stories focus on the consequences of heavy snowfall. The Star Tribune one is more of a public service anouncement about what the local government will be doing to keep the streets snow-free and the Journal-Sentinel article is more about the damage recap and the effects of heavy snowfall on the Milwaukee area.

The article from the Strib taps into state and local government agencies and gets information about road closings and which plows will be running when and where. This is very informative and helpful to the average reader, but very dry.

The JS article is completely different. Though the Milwaukee area got two less inches of snow than MN (six instead of MN's eight) the three reporters that worked on this story examined the storms effects at grocery counters, police headquarters and the General Mitchel airport. Though their story says little about specific government plans for shoveling or snow plowing, the article is extremely entertaining and captivates the reader who is sick of hearing about how many inches it snowed.

November 23, 2007

Holiday horror

Black Friday indeed.

My friend who works at Victoria Secret calls it "Pink Friday" because of how much revenue the store pulls in from its sales today. This means great sales for store owners, great deals for shoppers, and stress and anxiety for both.

Black Friday brought me out at 2:30 a.m. to stand in line at Best Buy for a ticket, redeemable for a rebate on a limited item set, a $100 camera and digital picture frame. But after standing outside for an hour in the cold, and going elsewhere to shop, I lost the ticket in the bustle and we were unable to claim the prize we got up so early for. I realize that this is nothing compared to some of the horror stories surrounding this two-faced Friday.

A security gaurd was fatally shot today in the robbery of a southeast Chicago Store. The owner of Get M Girlz Apparel has been robbed before, but he said he was just hoping for good numbers today, and what he got was a dead friend and ruined business. The robbers only stole clothes; they killed a man for clothes.,0,6555089.story?coll=chi_tab01_layout

THe shoppers didn't have much more luck this morning. I was in line at Best Buy and everyone I tlaked to said that they didn't receive the ticket they wanted because the store wasn't handing out one to everyone in line. So, they got at 1 am for nothing. According to the Star Tribune, lines in some stores were an hour and a half from the back to the checkout counter. Another thing that the Startrib points out is that there are no new must-have items, no new video game counsels and that because of inflation people will be buying less.

THe Strib reported that Holiday sales rose 4.6 percent in 2006 and growth has averaged 4.8 percent over the last decade. And, Black Friday is only 10% of the sales for the season, only a tone-setting begining.

Either way, I was happy to be spending my day after Thanks Giving with my family in New Berlin, WI, and not working at the Mall of America for American Eagle. I visited an AE store in my hometown today and saw what havok the employees were trying to fix. Yikes...

Me, I'm just glad to take a nap, and eat some left-over turkey.

November 19, 2007

The North Side, and the Other Side

This article by my favorite writter, Jim Stingle must be read. Period.

On a similar note CQ Press just released a list that ranked over 300 U.S. cities based on their danger. According to the New York Times, "The report ''helps concerned Americans learn how their communities fare in the fight against crime,'' CQ Press said in a statement. ''The first step in making our cities and states safer is to understand the true magnitude of their crime problems. This will only be achieved through straightforward data that all of us can use and understand.''

Many government agaencies complained about this kind of report saying"

''These rough rankings provide no insight into the numerous variables that mold crime in a particular town, city, county, state, or region,'' the FBI said.

''You're not comparing apples and oranges; you're comparing watermelons and grapes,'' said Rob Casey, who heads the FBI section that puts out the Uniform Crime Report that provides the data for the Quitno report.

'What I take exception to is the use of these statistics and the damage they inflict on a number of these cities,'' said Mayor Robert Duffy, chairman of the Criminal and Social Justice Committee for the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

The NYTimes has gathered several other quotes, but this is my favorite. Doug Goldenberg-Hart, acquisitions editor at CQ Press, said, "''The idea that people oppose it, it's kind of blaming the messenger. It's not coming to terms with the idea that crime is a persistent problem in our society.''

Jim Stingle wrote about an anonymous cd that a woman on the North Side of Milwaukee sent her. This part of Milwaukee is notorious for its gun violence, and the cd was a sound clip taken from a recording inside of a North Side window in the minutes leading up to, and during a gun fight that lead to a young black man's death.

Stingle proposes a question through this anonymous woman, when will something be done to stop the violence?

I hope this list motivates the most dangerous cities in America to turn around their image with progressive crime prevention reform. But, I doubt it will.

November 17, 2007

Hybrid buses for MN a little behind

The Metro Transit will release 19 hybrid buses into Minneapolis on Monday, and for one day they will all be free. As part of the "Go Greener" program Metro Transit will run one of these buses free every day, and it will appear on different lines, giving everybody a chance to catch a free ride, according to the Pioneer Press.

The Pioneer Press said that these new buses would cut 168 tons of emmisions every year, and fossil-fuel use by 1.6 million gallons a year. Well, they are a scotch behind NYC. The New York City Metro Transit Authority has 248 hybrid buses on the road, and a total of 548 buses in operation.

The Web site, run by Damiler Crysler, the producer of these buses, cites that their bus has, "a smaller (6 liter) diesel engine runs at controlled speed and is connected to generator to produce electrical power for drive motor & batteries. These buses produce "about 4 tons of NOxreduced per bus lifetime," and "about 235 tons of CO2."

New York has got a leg up on the Twin Cities, but as the green movement gathers steam, I prophesize that Metro Transit wil be letting out a bunch more of these environmentally friendly vehicles.

November 14, 2007

The Daily Dominates

I do feel a little proud of this.
OK, I feel really proud of this.

The Daily is going to run an article tomorrow discussing why Forbes has named Minneapolis "the most affordable place to live well". I read that the story will air in tomorrows addition of the Daily, so there isn't much to talk about yet. So, I decided to go to the source. had this statement written on its most affordable places to live website,

"First among them: Minneapolis. It nabbed the top spot on our list of Most Affordable Places To Live Well. There, homes are relatively affordable, residents enjoy a high quality of life and access to choice arts, leisure and entertainment offerings."

This list is composed of the 50 largest metros in the United States, ranking them by housing affordability, the cost of commodities, and how expensive local entertainment is. Forbes ranks Minneapolis as the metro with the biggest bang for your buck.

Forbes said that Minneapolis was just under the median in cost of living, 3 in quality of living, and 9 in the arts.

Congratulations Minneapolis, and congrats MN Daily.

A very happy resident

November 10, 2007

May the Floyd be with you

It hurts me to even write about this...

Two Local Boys Try to bring the Twin Cities to the Nation

The Coen brothers are not known for their peaceful, Minnesota-nice movies. They produce graphic, explicitly violent, yet articulate films. But, their newest film is going to be filmed back home, in St. Louis Park, where they will try to capture the 70s Twin Cities vibe.

The Star Tribune reported about another time when the COen brothers paid homage to their Twin Cities routes, by placing a St. Louis Park drug store in their film, "No Country for Old Men". The Startrib reported that the Coen bros would hang out at Mike Zoss Drugs, a local pharmacy, freqently as children while their mother was grocery shopping. They were so struck by the friendliness of the owner, Mike Zoss, that they asked his son, who now owns his own Mike Zoss Drugs, to include a shot of the store in their film.

THe Coen brothers are going further into their roots with their upcoming movie, "A Serious Man". The Pioneer Press reported that unlike the other Coen films, which were filmed in the cheapest location no matter what the implied environment was, "A Serious Man" would be filmed entirely in the Twin Cities. Though more expensive a proposition, the brothers think that it is worth it to be true to their home, and capture the area's spirit through footage that not only represents it, but actually is the Twin Cities.

November 4, 2007

"Just Like Basketball!"

Those fans of high school sports teams who unmercifully remember what sports their team has beat a rival in will revive them to add pain and suffering to the embarrassment of a loss. Well, for Ohio State, their win over UW Madison was just like basketball.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, UW strong safety Aubrey Pleasant said. "It doesn't matter if you're up. It matters who is up at the end of four quarters."

Ohio State is currently ranked first in the nation, a ranking they also held when they defeated the UW Badgers in the later rounds of the NCAA basketball tournament this year.

According to the New York Times, Ohio's win at home beat UW's winning streak there since 1999. It is also one of the stepping stones Ohio will take before facing Michigan on Nov 17 in a game that will determine the big ten champion and possibly the best team in the NCAA.

October 29, 2007

Using facebook as a source

I was very shocked by the news of the online ad that turned into the killing of a would-be babysitter, but I was even more shocked by Chao Xiong's excellent reporting and her use of Facebook.

I have never seen Facebook used as a source before. It is an excellent idea, especially in a case such as this, where minutes of history matter. But, why doesn't Chao Xiong use the facebook writers' identities when she quotes them? Is it because this sort of thing has never been done before? Is it because she can't find out who had written the messages because they were provided by false names?

Either way, she didn't quote the people directly, but I think this is a big step in a great direction.

October 27, 2007

Teacher is put in the workhouse for sex with student

An ex-teacher at Como Park Senior High School in St. Paul was sentenced to 3 months in a workhouse for violating a no-contact order, which was menat to keep him from one of his former band students. The teacher, Joseph A. Tucker said, "I destroyed a community that I love very much, and I betrayed a great trust that I worked very hard to establish," according to the Star Tribune.

The Pioneer Press reported, "The relationship between Tucker and the girl was revealed in May when two of her friends told school officials that the girl was having an affair with the band teacher." The Pi Press also reported that this was a fourth degree sexual crime. That makes me wonder what 3rd, 2nd, and 1st degree offenses are.

The papers didn't quote the teenage girl involved in this controvery, but a reader would infer from the stories that the relationship was consentual.

Scalping crackdown

After seeing the troubles with the "Hanna Montana" concert, and a lack of students in the stands, the University of Minnesota is cracking down on ticket scalping. They are now enorcing that only the people who bought the ticket enter with it, completely illiminating student ticket scalping. Accrding to the Daily, the Univeristy wanted a better student repepresentation, and just just allumni with a U card.

Since the U owns the rights to all of those tickets, and the students buy most of them, they can be regulated. But for a larger venue without student differentiation, scalpers have the upper hand. The Star Tribune reported that scalpers have the online advantage and softwear that helps them pick up tickets once they are released.

Since, however, the only way to get tickets is to buy them in Mariuchi, and pick them up there, I don't foresee many ticket problems for the Gopher Hockey Team.

October 20, 2007

At least the one's that are still here can play

According to the Star Tribune, 16 players from the WCHA hockey conference went pro last year. Of these, only six are playing in the NHL, while the others are playing in amateur leagues. Three of these players were gophers. This creates a large hole, both in the conference, and especially in the Gopher hockey team. The WCHA conference has 80 freshman players and 48 seniors. Because of this, coaches and players feel that they will never be the same team-they can't build on anything-from year to year and that every season is a completely new start.

The Pioneer Press reports this aspect of the Gopher performance perfectly.
"Minnesota had six freshmen in the lineup, and Okposo ( a player) noted that there will be a learning curve."
""It's all part of growing as a team," he said. "We're a young team; it's going to happen. We just need to rebound."

Taking over the air

Internet Service costs roughtly $10 no matter who the customer goes with. But, Frontier Communications is giving the people of Burnsville the option to take the Internet with them for $9.99. According to the Pioneer Press, Fontier Communications, a Burnsville based company, has made a deal with the city to privde city-wide wireless in Burnsville for a $9.99 monthly fee. This deal is a five year contract between the company and the city, who is also allowing other Internet providers to work in Burnsville, and in return for the deal gets money from the company, and several free Internet accounts.

A simular deal has been struck between USI Wireless and the city of Minneapolis. Wireless Minneapolis, the program's name costs between $17.95 and $29.95 a month, depending on the subscriber's bandwidth and package. This program will soon cover all of Minneapolis, an area USI Wireless said was hard to adapt a wireless system to because of the hills and curvy roads.

My question is, why is it twice as much in Minneapolis?

October 14, 2007

Light rail, a heavy cost

Well, two simultaneous projects are running for the light rail commission boards and one seems to be getting off the ground, and that other that wants to get off the ground can't.

The 40 mile Northstar line, running from Minneapolis to Big Lake got federal approval for funding. The Office of Management and Budget and the Federal Transit Adminstration approved the rail line's $156.8-million request Thursday night, according to the Star Tribune.

Another project, which would connect downtown St. Paul to downtown Minneapolis, entitiled Central COrridor, would end up costing the state of Minnesota about $900 millioin, One major cost is the retrofitting of the Washington Bridge, which would have to be closed down, halting 20,000 cars and all of the U of M students walking across it daily. According to the Pioneer Press, the light rail would be elevated on top of the bridge.

I think that this is poor planning on the state, and cities' part. Obviously the cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis should be connected in every way posible, and cities like Chicago and New York have benefitted greatly from their elevated trains, but shutting down this bridge would immobilize the University of Minnesota.

gopher's get bonked

This is a cool way to blog. Let's see how correct the newspaper columnists can be at predicting football games.

It is now common knowledge that the Gopher Football team is not having a ribbon year. The Daily points to this by nothing the injuries in the offensive running game and the two interceptions Gopher quarterback Adam Webber came off of his last match-up with. It also notes that the quarterback from Northwestern had a school record the week before with 520 yards.In other words, the Daily wasn't too optimistic.

But, even in light of all of these stats, the Gophers preformed really well on Saturday. They got up 35-14 on Northwestern even though they were the far underdogs in the match. However, the result was what the Daily had "predicted", Webber threw 4 touchdowns and ran one in himself, basically playing without a run game.

According to the Pioneer Press, Coach Tim Brewster put the weight on Webber's shoulders as he was supposed to throw the game winning two-point conversion in the second overtime. A very gutsy move considering that a fieldgoal would have tied. It seems that this would have put the season in a new perspective for the Gophers, but either way. they continue completely defeated in the Big 10.

October 4, 2007

Runner Ran Over

Tuesday, a freshman runner from Mankato MN, was taking her first run after coming back from an injury and was killed by a car, according to the Star Tribune. He teammate was biking along side but sustained only minor injuries.

The Pioneer Press reported that she was killed by a driver coming from the other direction after he crossed three lanes of traffic and jumped the curb. There was no alcohol in the driver's body.

October 1, 2007

Done with smoking... on paper

Today, the smoking ban went out across Minnesota, and according to the Star Tribune, Wisconsin bars and Minnesota bars are changing strategies for the occasion. Supposedly Minnesota bars are resorting to making patios or spare rooms either to accommodate smokers outside or to add a new way for patrons to enjoy a venue.

The Pioneer Press has stated several of the points both sides of the ban are arguing.

Those for a smoking ban believe that smoking is bad and no one should be subjected to it or second hand smoke. But, those against the ban state that it will hurt small business and that governments don't have the right to govern adults lives in this way. Also, people believe that if the public really wants smoke-free bars they will stop going to smoking locals.

Farve: King or Jester?

Coming from Wisconsin, sitting on the couch with my Frat borthers was a thrilling experience today watching my hero get the Touch Down pass record today. Brett Farve of the Green Bay Packers surpaseed Dan Marino today as the NFL's leading quarter back in touch down receptions with 421 according to the Pioneer Press.

I didn't really have to sight that, because I watched the game, but it sure is nice to be legitimate.

The fact that I will have to bring out of my own experience though, is how close Farve is to setting another, less popularized record: most career interceptions according to the Star Tribune. Farve right now is three away from also topping that list, something no one can be proud of. Or should they?

Something must be said for George Blanda, the current interception reccord holder, because he threw the ball enough times to get that record. More like, his coaches allowed him to throw the ball that many times, even after his repeated failures. And, that is what makes a hall of famer, a play who exhibits greatness for an impressive amount of time.

Will I be less proud of Farve when he tops the list of career interceptions? No. I will think him even more a human being, a great human bing.

September 29, 2007

Stick it to Sprint

Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson flied a lawsuit stating that the State of Minnesota has sued Sprint corp. for extending customer contracts without their knowledge or consent, according to the Pioneer Press. In addition to changing the policies, Swanson is looking to provide a $25,000 fine for each future incident.

"Swanson's lawsuit filed in Hennepin County District Court alleges that Sprint Nextel has violated Minnesota's Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Trade Practices Act 'by misleading and defrauding subscribers through the extension of wireless consumers' contracts without adequate notice or meaningful consent ... 'when consumers made small changes to their phone service," as reported by the Star Tribune.

September 22, 2007

Flood Relief comes in many forms

According to the Startribune, it has been a month since the President has declared Minnesota to e a disater area, and already $31million in funds toward the area's recovery, with half going to business and half to private home owners so far.

Also, the Startribune reports that Winnona is the area that sustained the most damage in Minnesota.

In one area of flood-damaged Minnesota, the citizenry are also trying to help out with a charity concert. The nonprofit organization, Root Relief, named for the root river, held a concert and silient auction on Friday to help those families who's homes were damaged, according to the Pioneer Press.

September 19, 2007

Hunger Strike

My first encounter with the hunger strike wasn't in they newspapers, but on the bridge.

At first I thought that the group was another anti-war gathering, as I have seen many of them before, but then one member handed me a flyer mentioning several students were goign to go without food until the conflict was resloved involving the union andthe University of Minnesota.

According to the Minnesota Daily, Isaac Kamola, a political science graduate student, said, " By taking this step, we can drum up visibility and moral outrage."

In response to the hunger strike University spokesman Dan Wolter said it is, "unfortunate when people choose to use their personal health to make a point in a labor dispute," according to the Star Tribune.

According to the stoy in the Daily, several hunger strikers said that this is a last resort. The University has provided a nutritionist from Boynton to explain to the hunger strikers what going without soild food will do to their bodies.

September 16, 2007

Biker is Killed

Late on Wednesday, cyclist Mark Loesch went for the last bike ride of his life. Loesch was found Thursday morning barely breathing, according to the Star Tribune, and he died before paramedics arrived. Loesch had left his cell phone and wallet at home after watching the 10:00 news.

The Pioneer Press reports that Loesch was found at 7 a.m. Tursday a mile and a half from his southern Minneapolis home. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner said that Loesch's death was a homicide caused by "multiple blunt force head impacts."

On Their Way to 0-8: Falling Apart in Florida

Gossip around campus suggests that the Gopher football team is going to have a terrible year. The Golden Gophers are projected to not win a single game in the Big Ten conference and the game on Saturday is evidence of such ineptitude.

This Saturday, the Gophers suffered an agonizing defeat to the Florida Atlantic Owls, 42-39. According to the Pioneer Press, Florida Atlantic's sophmore quarterback, Rusty Smith threw for a record 463 yards and five touchdowns against the weak Gopher secondary. Four hundred of those yards were in the first half.

The Gophers' offence didn't have a good showing either. In total, the Owls had seven take aways, another school record.

According to the Star Tribune, the Gophers' head coach Tim Brewster wanted to take the brunt of the blame for the loss, but some senior players defended their coach. "Players play the game, and the coaches can only do so much," senior linebacker John Shevlin said. "If you're going to be in this game and you're going to be successful, you have to be hard on yourself."

No matter who is at fault, they better correct themselves if the Gophers want to contiune their bowl-appearance strek of five.