June 30, 2004
"Brew-haha in the Backyard"
|The shame ... the overwhelming shame!
Click for larger image
So, as you probably know, two weeks ago the Twins played the Brewers at Miller Park. Craig and I decided to actually travel to Milwaukee to see the games. Feeling a little cocky, and looking back at the Twins usual dominance of the Brewers at Miller Park, I made some bold predictions concerning what I felt would be the scores of the games we would see. Such is my blind love for Minnesota sports teams! Surely with me there at the games they would win! So, we made a wager. If the Twins won 2 out of 3 at Miller Park Craig would mow my yard, and if the Brewers won the series I would mow his. The post above documents this ill-fated bet.
The Brewers won the first game on Friday, but my faith in the Twins didn't waver. Coming off a three game sweep of the Expos, the Twins were due for a let down. Winning the next two games would be easy. The game on Saturday started out with a lot of promise. The Twins jumped out to a 6-0 lead which was capped off by a Joe Mauer home run. Then I made a fateful mistake which surely angered the baseball gods, I told Craig that I like my grass cut about "yay high" and I showed him about 2 1/2 inches between my index finger and my thumb. Yes, I counted my chickens before they hatched. Then the hammer dropped. The Brewers stormed back and took the lead on a monstrous Geoff Jenkins home run off of the 80 year old Terry Mullholland. Yikes! What made it even worse is that Geoff Jenkins is the spitting image of Brett Favre. I swear I can't escape from that guy!
|Oh, my aching back!
Click for larger image
In all seriousness, though, I am thankful to have a neighbor like Craig. We have a great time together. And while I might wish he were a fan of Minnesota sports, his blathering about Wisconsin sports teams has added a little bit of spice to my life and created a unique relationship for both of us. The fact that he is a Packer fan, coupled with the disgrace he put me through mowing his lawn, will make the Vikings NFC North crown this year that much better. Ah, victory will be sweet. Oh yes, another wager is in the works.
June 29, 2004
Songs for a Desert Island IV
Last Sunday my wife and I attended the baptism of our new nephew, Collin Joseph, at Mount Calvary Lutheran Church in Excelsior. I like visiting churches for the first time. There is something fresh about everything, and it is always interesting listening to a new (for me) pastor's sermon style and content. However, something that almost never is different when I visit a new Lutheran church is the music. Egads. Usually it is ear bleeding organ music and an old woman behind me who thinks she is an opera singer screeching in my ear. But not this Sunday. Mount Calvary Lutheran church obviously values good music. Last Sunday they featured a choir of teenagers from their very own Mount Calvary Academy of Music that, quite frankly, sang like angels. The first song they sang was a church hymn with a beautiful new arrangement, but the second song they sang, right before the benediction, really piqued my interest. It was "Let Your Sould Be Your Pilot" by Sting off of his Mercury Falling LP. First of all, you don't usually hear Sting in church, and secondly I've never thought of "Let Your Soul" as an overly spiritual song. I mean, I suppose it is a spiritual song, but for your troubles it recommends more self reliance than assistance from a higher power. However, regardless, it was beautifully done by this choir and I suppose it could have multiple interpretations. More importantly though, for the purposes of this blog, it got me to thinking about Sting songs in general, and about songs that he has done that are spiritual or have religious themes.
Once you start thinking about Sting in this way, invariably you will start thinking about The Soul Cages, an album he released in 1991 and what I consider to be his crowning achievement as a song writer. The Soul Cages is a haunting album with beautiful music and lyrics, and it is sometimes an angry, bitter album full of regret and sadness. Once again, it is difficult to separate the singer from the subject matter of his songs. Is The Soul Cages autobiographical or not? Around the time of the recording of the album, both Sting's father and mother died. Many people have speculated that the album previous to The Soul Cages, ... Nothing Like the Sun, was a tribute to his mother. There is little doubt, though, that The Soul Cages is about his father.
Why am I telling you all of this? Today's Song for a Desert Island must be taken into context with the entire album. So without further ado, today's song is "All This Time."
The Soul Cages is about a boy who has lost his father in a ship-building accident. The accident and its aftermath is partially described in the album's first song, "The Island of Souls," and this theme of loss is also evident in other songs on the album like "Why Should I Cry For You," "Mad About You," and "When the Angels Fall." In real life Sting's father was a milkman, so, again, this begs the question of exactly how autobiographical this album is. Probably not very. But the feelings invoked by this album must have been very close to Sting's heart at the time of it's writing, especially, I think, the song "All This Time."
"All This Time" is a relatively fast paced song that fools the listener into a false sense of complacency concerning its subject matter. Sting is a master of this technique and he used it as early as the first Police album in songs like "So Lonely" (a really happy song about lonliness) and "Can't Stand Losing You" (a very popular song about suicide). "All This Time" is a song about "crisis in faith" sung in a very peppy way. It is a song about anger, anger with pointless ritual, anger with meaningless teachings, anger with God. It is also very thought provoking. Let's have a look see at the lyrics, shall we?
I looked out across
The river today,
I saw a city in the fog and an old church tower
Where the seagulls play.
I saw the sad shire horses walking home
In the sodium light
I saw two priests on the ferry
October geese on a cold winter's night
And all this time, the river flowed
Endlessly to the sea.
The song opens with Sting singing about his home town of Newcastle. In this city flows the river Tyne, a river that has been flowing through this area for probably hundreds of thousands of years, or as Sting says "endlessly." We are also introduced to two of the main characters of our song, two priests on a ferry.
Two priests came round our house tonight
One young, one old, to offer prayers for the dying
To serve the final rite,
One to learn, one to teach,
Which way the cold wind blows
Fussing and flapping in priestly black
Like a murder of crows
And all this time, the river flowed
Endlessly to the sea
If I had my way I'd take a boat from the river
And I'd bury the old man,
I'd bury him at sea
The main protagonist of this song is obviously not impressed with the ritual of the priests. They have come to serve the final rites to his dying father, but in doing so they probably argue, and the younger priest probably messes something up, and the son is left to wonder why this is so important. This time the chorus gives away his desire of simply taking his father out to the sea and leaving behind what he probably sees as a pointless ritual.
Blessed are the poor, for they shall inherit the earth
Better to be poor than a fat man in the eye of a needle
And as these words were spoken I swear I hear
The old man laughing,
'What good is a used up world, and how could it be
And all this time the river flowed
Endlessly like a silent tear
And all this time the river flowed
Father, if Jesus exists,
Then how come he never lived here.
This stanza begins with some famous sayings of Jesus. The first is from Jesus's Sermon on the Mount, or the Beatitudes, and is certainly one of the more thought provoking things Jesus ever said. What did he exactly mean by "the meek" and how or when exactly will they inherit the earth? The second saying in its entirety is actually, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God." Some have speculated that it refers to a notoriously difficult gate into Jerusalem that forced a camel on to its knees before passing through. However, there is no archaeological evidence for this gate and some have surmised that is was just a common saying during the time of Jesus. In the context of this song, these sayings are repeated during the final rites for the boy's father, and again he seems to be mystified at what exactly is the point of all of this. Furthermore, he even suggests the father would be equally perplexed at point of the ritual, especially considering he wouldn't want a "used up world" anyway. Again, the chorus is repeated, but this time it ends with a statement of pure doubt. Where is Jesus in all of this? The boy seems to be saying, "I live in Newcastle. And yet I am expected to believe in a man that lived a long ways away and a long time ago. My father has died. Where is Jesus now?" The boy is angry.
The teachers told us, the Romans built this place
They built a wall and a temple, an edge of the empire
They lived and they died, they prayed to their gods
But the stone gods did not make a sound
And their empire crumbled, 'til all that was left
Were the stones the workmen found
What is the difference between the gods of the Romans and the Christian God? At one point Newcastle was ruled by Rome, and the people that lived there prayed just as fervently to their gods as we do to ours today. The boy is asking , who is to say 1,000 years from now workers won't be digging up the rubble of our churches and statues, proof of another failed religion? Um ... yeah, the boy is definitely angry and confused. The song ends:
And all this time the river flowed
In the falling light of a northern sun
If I had my way I'd take a boat from the river
Men go crazy in congregations
But they only get better
One by one
One by one...
Once again, we have the theme of the river, the river that has seen it all, been through it all, and has never wavered. This is something the boy can trust, he can see it with his own eyes, he can feel it, and he knows that it has always been there and probably always will be there. Finally, the song concludes with what apparently is a slam on church congregations and the people inside. One by one we can all get better, but it is still a mystery to me how this is actually done. By renouncing our faith? By finally realizing the pointless ritual of it all?
You might be wondering why a Christian like myself would like this song. Again, it is thought provoking and interesting. It makes me stop and think about the nature of my faith. How would I react if my father died? I know I would be angry, I know I would question the meaning of it all. I know I would not be happy with God at all. How would I get past that crisis in faith? Who knows, really. It is something I hope I don't have to deal with for a long time.
Songs of worship and praise certainly have their place in our churches, but what about songs that really make us think? What about songs that don't have easy answers, that make us question our belief system and possibly make it stronger? Obviously I am drawn to songs like this and that is why I like "All This Time." Sorry again for another long-winded Songs for A Desert Island. Hopefully I won't have as much to say next time.
June 28, 2004
What's good for the goose...
One of the most popular links on this here blog is an old post entitled Restaurants to Avoid. It probably gets hit at least once a day since I put it up, usually from a search on Google or another search engine (yes, there are other search engines). The page lists restaurants in St. Paul that signed a petition against a restaurant/bar tax in St. Paul to fund a Twins stadium. The list was graciously provided to the Greet Machine from long-time reader Jim in St. Paul. What usually happens is a person will see the post and either agree with my stand against these restaurants, or disagree. However, a couple of weeks ago someone left a comment. It went a little something like this:
"It seems wrong to penalize a business for a political position, would you want that to happen to you, because you support something[?]"
So let me get this straight, these buisnesses have a right to take a political position, one that severely affects my potential quality of life, but I shouldn't do anything about it because ... what was her reasoning ... oh, because if it happened to me I might feel bad? Yikes! I am swooning from her well reasoned argument. Again, apparently businesses can take a stand on a political issue, but as potential patrons of those businesses we should disregard that stand because if we disagree we might affect their business. I am dumbfounded by this reasoning. She goes on to state:
"As for the Twins, you're right that we should support them staying here - just not sure forced restaurant tax would lend to that, what about those pitiful cigarettes, alcohol, or other things that add to policing costs in our communities?"That is interesting. I don't know enough about the potential of a cigarette tax, but we all know that a state-wide alcohol tax is about to expire. I have been harping for months that this tax should be extended to pay for all of our stadium needs in the Twin Cities, even if we just extended it in the Twin Cities area. I agree that this kind of tax would see more support from metro area residents than a forced restaurant and bar tax, but I'll support either one. She goes on:
"Many of us feel that on what the Twin's make, they should be able to support their own stadium, or at least find the high-rollers to do so. It's not the citizen's job to finance activities many of us can't afford to attend. Never been to see the Twins, tickets too high. Love a good Saint's game."I agree that the Twins should be able to finance their own stadium, but as has been proven in many, many other metropolitan areas, they don't have to. This is the way the game is played. Either we pony up and prove we are a major league city, or they leave and we are left with nothing. And for those of you that would say, "Good riddens," I've got news for you. In about 10 years our state will again be desperate for baseball and it will cost us three times as much as it does right now to bring in another team. If you don't think it will happen I need only point out the Minnesota Wild. So, I've got an idea. Why don't we keep the team we have, save ourselves a lot of money in the long run, maintain our quality of life, and keep the Twins in Minnesota? I don't see Milwaukee crumbling into dust as a result of building Miller Park. In fact, I see a reviatlized and very proud city.
Finally she pointed out that Twins games are too expensive for her. Sigh. This is just plain nuts. I will agree that Saints tickets are cheaper, but you can still go to a Twins game for $6. And if you do what I do and park at the U of M's West Bank, parking is usually free. Sitting above the baggie in right field is not a bad deal. Consider that the Boston Red Sox charge upwards of $100 per ticket for the privilege of sitting above the Green Monster. Anyway, if she had said she doesn't attend Twins games because she wants to be outside, that I would have understood.
June 27, 2004
Links of the day
- I would not have passed 8th grade in 1895.
- Cool Superstitions Database.
- How accurate is the movie Hoosiers to the real life story of Milan, IN?
- Great story on the building of Miller Park from the Washington Post. Many lessons to be learned here. Username: firstname.lastname@example.org, password: bigwig
- Office Space Wars, humorous Star Wars/Office Space parody.
- Stunning flash animation of Alice and Wonderland.
June 25, 2004
I don't anything really of substance to say today, so I'll just say a little about a few things:
That's it. Stay in touch.
June 24, 2004
The Meaning of Everything
The Meaning of Everything
by Simon Winchester
The first editor of "the Dictionary" was Herbert Coleridge who began work on the project in 1860. He was a sickly man who died a year later of "consumption" but not before setting up some of the original rules for the dictionary's creation. Coleridge's plan was to have volunteers from all over the world read books, newspapers, magazines, and send in possible words for inclusion to the dictionary to his office in the form of "quotation slips." He would then file these slips into a suite pigeon holes he had constructed: 54 holes to be exact with 260 inches of linear space. Coleridge thought that this would be sufficient to hold between 60,000 and 100,000 slips. He was purported to have remarked that when all the holes were filled editorial work (actually defining the words) on the dictionary would begin. Obviously he was a little off.
The next editor, Frederick Furnivall, plays a small part in the story and only because he is an oddly entertaining character who had a great deal of energy but in the end didn't really accomplish anything on the dictionary. Realizing that he was hopelessly bad at running the project, the Philological Society sought yet another editor, but this time hired the man who would actually write the lion's share of the dictionary, James A. Murray.
Murray was a stud, there is no getting around it. He worked tirelessly on the dictionary for 36 years, from 1879 to 1915, succumbing to prostate cancer probably after finishing the word twentieth. Can you imagine defining literally hundreds of thousands of words for 36 years? Just thinking about it makes me a little crazy. Upon receiving the job of editor Murray put up an ugly building in his backyard he called the Scriptorium. In it he built another suite of pigeon holes, this time numbering 1,029.
I can't properly imagine the enourmous amount of work that James Murray had to perform on a daily basis. First he had to sift through the scads of quotation slips he would receive on a daily basis. Then he would have to write letters (many, many letters) all by hand to try reach an expert about the meaning of a problematic word. Check out what he once said was a typical day of letter writing:
"I write to the Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew about the first record of the name of an exotic plant; to a quay side merchant in Newcastle about the Keels on the Tyne; to a Jesuit father on a point of Roman Catholic Divinity; to the Secretary of the Astronomical Society about the primum-mobile or the solar constant; to the Editor of The Times about a letter of the year 1620 containing the first mention of Punch [the beverage]; to a Weslyan minister about the itineracy; to Lord Tennyson to ask where he got the word balm-cricket and what he meant by it; to the Sporting News about a term in horse-racing..."
And he goes on for another half a page. That is a typical day! On top of this letter writing he actually defined words. Of course he didn't do all of this work alone. He had numerous assistants and sub-editors, and ample help from his family (he had 11 children!). One of the more humorous parts of the book describes some difficulty he had with the word black and a rather lacking assistant:
"Murray blamed much of the enormous difficulties involved in dealing with specific words - such as the 'terrible' word black, and its scores of derivatives, which took his best assistant, the Revd C.B. Mount, fully three months of non-stop work [three months!]. As if the lexicographic trials were not enough, there was always the 'intolerable trouble about assistants'. Murray said that he kept trying to recruit suitable people, but found in almost every case that after each had worked no more than a week, that he or she (usually he) was completely useless. One of them, despite having an Oxford MA, was found to be, in Murray's uncharacteristically dyspeptic report, 'an utter numbskull .. a most lack-a-daisical, graspless fellow, born to stare at existence.'"
"Born to stare at existence" ... I love that. Pretty much describes Packer fans, don't you think? Check out how he finally defined black:
"The proper word for a certain quality practically classed among colours, but consisting optically in the total absence of color, due to the absence or total absorption of light, as its opposite white arises from the reflection of all the rays of light."
Imagine defining words like this every day for 36 years. It would take me about a week to go absolutely stark-raving mad.
Murray died in 1915, but the dictionary wasn't completed until 1928, again 71 years after it was dreamed up. And, as I'm sure you know, the trouble with something like a dictionary is that it is never finished. Every year, the OED has to add new words to the English lexicon. Shortly after the OED was finished in 1928 a supplement came out, with four supplements being added from 1972 to 1986, all of which added over 50,000 more words. In 1989 the 2nd edition of the OED came out which combined all of these supplements and now includes 615,000 words (the bulk of which is still defined by Murray). This is still the print edition we find in libraries today (of course the online version is the most up to date). Work on the 3rd edition is ongoing and they hope to complete it sometime after 2010.
You would think that a book about the creation of a dictionary would be the cure for insomnia, but The Meaning of Everything is really a fascinating book. And I haven't done it any justice with my meager scribblings above. Go out and check it out from you local library and read it if you are interested. I'll be returning it to the U of M Libraries tomorrow!
June 23, 2004
More about my trip
As you probably already know from my posts below, I went to Milwaukee this weekend to watch the Twins play at the beautiful Miller Park. Being a good Minnesota fan I decided to wear Twins shirts both days I was there, and I expected to get razzed a little bit about it. No problem though. I'm certainly not ashamed of being a fan of Minnesota sports and I was kind of looking forward to verbally duking it out with some Brewers fans.
So, anyway, Cheesehead Craig and I stopped in Madison to eat around his old stomping grounds of the U of W. After eating we visited the restroom and while we were there an older gentleman noticed my Twins shirt and asked if we were heading to Miller Park to watch the game. I said yes, and that I was very much looking forward to seeing some outdoor baseball. He then said that he would never set foot in Miller Park, and that the "criminal" Bud Selig would never get a dime of his money. He added he would never set foot in Miller Park because there should have been a referendum so that the people could have voted on whether or not to build the place. Oh! A stadium debate! My heart quickened as I began thinking of a pithy response. Lamely, I happily answered that I would love it if we could build a stadium in Minnesota without a referendum. Then I wouldn't have to be traveling to Milwaukee to watch my team play outside. He then added, "Don't we live in a democracy? The people should vote on whether or not to build a stadium." Ack! This argument is so weak I could barely contain my excitement. I replied, "We live in a representative democracy where we vote people into government positions to make these decisions for us." Now keep in mind that we were both urinating at the time so it was hard to keep on the topic of conversation, so to speak, so I couldn't really elaborate. Anway, he grumbled that "the people" should have a say on big issues and he left the restroom wishing me a good time in Milwaukee.
Should we have more of a say on "big issues?" It is no secret that I am against any referendum to build a new stadium in Minnesota. Referendums are a huge cop-out and demonstrate, at least to me, a complete unwillingness by our legislators to do the job we elected them to do. If you don't want to make tough decisions then you shouldn't have run for office. In addition, if you want to make use of referedums, then I want to vote on the "conceal and carry" law, light rail, killing morning doves, seat belts, speed limits, really anything and everything that might impact me. It appears, at least in Minnesota, that my legislators only want me to vote on issues that could cost them their jobs. That upsets me a great deal and further illustrates the do-nothing attitude that is currently permeating the state capitol right now.
Links of the day
- How much freedom of speech do students really have? This student found out and has a humorous tale to tell.
- Download the original Legend of Zelda for your computer!
- "Religious participation is negatively correlated with economic growth." Except in the U.S. That is a pretty big exception.
- Unfairenheit 9/11: The Lies of Michael Moore. If you haven't read this read it right now. Hitchens gives Moore a toungue lashing unlike I have ever read before.
- Digital bugle plays taps when GIs can't.
June 22, 2004
This is getting weird
Did all of you catch this today? Moe Hargrow may want to rejoin the Gophers next year. This shouldn't surprise us anymore, and yet I am still baffled at what kind of voodoo magic Monson has over players from Minnesota. I mean, it's almost like he has no problem seeing them go because he knows eventually they will become Gophers. And in Moe's case, he will again become a Gopher. Check out all the players that this has happened with:
- Rick Rickert committed to Arizona, but later decided to become a Gopher
- Kris Humphris committed to Duke, but later decided to become a Gopher
- Ben Johnson played for Northwestern, but later decided to transfer to Minnesota
- Aaron Boone played for North Carolina, but later decided to transfer to Minnesota
- Dan Coleman attended summer classes at Boston College before deciding to transfer to Minnesota
This is amazing. I'm sure Monson wishes he could just get them to committ to the Gophers first and stay, but the pull of Minnesota basketball is remarkable (especially for local players that have decided to play elsewhere). I can't decide what this says for Gopher basketball. On the one hand it's nice to see local players have some loyalty to their home state. On the other hand, it's almost like some of these players are finding out that they just aren't that good and that Minnesota may be the only place they'll start on the D1 level. Hopefully it is more of the former. Is it too late for Alan Anderson to transfer?
I don't know how many of you have already seen this, but it appears Virginia is primed to host the Expos. From a Twins fan point of view, this is a good thing. The D.C. area is really the only viable area left to host a team, and once it is gone we'll only have contraction to worry about. There were a couple of key lines in this article that I'd like to highlight:
"The only government action required for the Northern Virginia plan would be site plan approval from the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors. A majority of the board attended a rally Monday to express support."
Really? That is the only government action left? How did they manage that and what is their financing plan?
"The developer proposing the plan - a consortium of builders Beazer, Centex and Van Metre companies - is willing to contribute $82 million in infrastructure costs, reducing the ballpark cost from $442 million to $360 million."
So far so good. What else?
"Much of the financing for the stadium already is in place under a 1997 Virginia law that permits the state to pay two-thirds of the cost of a new stadium, using taxes generated by the ballpark to pay back the bonds."
I'm seriously about to explode. This is the exact same type of plan Pawlenty is proposing. Why is it so easy to pass in Virginia but not in Minnesota? Again, the new taxes generated by the proposed stadium do not exist right now and will not exist if not for the stadium. Virginia's government has decided that they will forgoe those new taxes for the greater good of having MLB as a part of their state and the D.C. area. Because right now they've got squat! Why is this so hard to understand for the Minnesota legislature? We could funnel the new taxes from a downtown St. Paul/Minneapolis stadium to help pay it off, or we could kiss the Twins goodbye and be left with nothing. No current taxes, no future taxes, no Twins, NOTHING. I need to calm down.
Miller Park part deux
I'm still on my Miller Park kick. Sorry. For those of you interested in some pictures I've posted a few for you to gawk at. It really is an amazing ballpark. Now for a little history for all of you concerning Miller Park. Legislators were told the ballpark would cost $250 million to build and the bill (One-tenth of 1 percent 5 county stadium sales tax) passed by one vote. The man that cast that vote, George Petak, was later recalled from office. The Brewers contributed $90 million to the effort, and it is now estimated the ballpark will cost upwards of $400 million to pay off. Recently, Wisconsin legislators unanimously passed a bill that will retire the stadium tax in 2014, I guess whether the stadium is payed for or not. There is also an effort to try to recoup 5% of the proceeds of any sale of the Brewers from the Selig family. According to some Milwaukeeans I spoke with while I was there, people are generally in favor of the ball park, but there are still some people that are really ticked off that it was ever built.
Looking at this history I think Minnesotans and the Twins can learn a few things, and I think they have. One is to tell the truth about stadium costs. No problem there. In fact, I think the Twins have been too truthful. The Twins are estimating that today a ballpark will cost $535 million to build. And I'm sure that estimate will be higher next year. Ouch. Secondly, wouldn't it be nice if we could spread the burden of the tax to pay this thing off? Miller Park is being payed off by taxing five counties. I swear it probably comes out to about $5 a person per year. I would pay $5 a year for the rest of my life just to never hear another stadium debate ever again. Thirdly, legislators are really between a rock and a hard place on this issue. Really, they are damned if they do and damned if they don't. If they don't build a stadium for the Twins and the Twins leave, people are going to come out of the woodwork condemning them. I know polls show about 50%-60% of Minnesotans are against building stadiums using tax dollars, but those same polls show over 90% of Minnesotans want the team to stick around. People are generally a fickle bunch and I am 100% positive that if the Twins ever left you would suddenly have majority support for a stadium and a few legislators feeling the heat. I fell bad for George Petak of Racine, but he made the right decision (and he doesn't regret it either). In 10 years, no one will even remember any of this, but they'll still be enjoying Miller Park and reaping the benefits of having MLB in their community and state.
Finally, the Twins have learned that you've got to give back to the community who builds the stadium. They have already agreed to give the state back a percentage of the proceeds from a sale of the team. In other words, the Twins are already willing to do what the Wisconsin legislature is trying to force the Brewers to do.
It is a tough issue. There is no arguing that. However, Wisconsin found a way to get it done and in the long run they will be better off for it. And thanks to the Brewers bumbling, the Twins and Minnesota have both learned some valuable lessons on building a stadium the right way. Now we just have to make something work. There is a buzz in Milwaukee thanks to that stadium. Everywhere I went people talked about it and were proud of it, and the two games I attended were packed with fans. Heck, I traveled 6 hours and spent some good money in Milwaukee thanks to that stadium as did about 15,000 other Minnesotans. When the dust settles, no one is going to regret building Miller Park.
June 21, 2004
What can I say that hasn't already been said about the wonder that is Miller Park? After watching baseball indoors for over 20 years I can't adequately put into words the profound joy I felt watching the game inside this beautiful park. Everything was done right from the parking, to the food, to the seats, to the dimensions, to the overall ambience. Everything. I'm sorry that I don't have more pictures up yet, that will come tonight. But suffice it to say I was deeply impressed, and also a little depressed. Those of you who know me know that I have been blathering about stadiums in Minnesota for well over 7 years now. But I've never really truly understood the importance or reasoning for building a new ballpark for the Twins. Scratch that. I've always understood the importance, but I've never been able to argue the importance from experience. Well, "mine eyes have seen the glory" and it was good. It also put the Metrodome and the state of Minnesota to shame. I'll be writing about that more later.
I went to the games on both Saturday and Sunday, and although my predictions for the scores of the game were a little off I still had a wonderful time. I went with Cheesehead Craig and his friends, and they really showed me a good time. Especially Craig's friend Gabe. A top-notch guy and a class act. Anyway, we parked a ways from the stadium to take advantage of a free parking spot. As we began our journey to the stadium, Miller Park peaked over the trees in the distance. Craig and his friends slowly walked to the park, but I couldn't help but practically sprint to get there. And once I got there it was a flurry of photographs as I tried to soak it all in. As I said above everything was done right and the stadium was just beautiful to behold in person. The grounds were packed with people, and there was a large contingent of Twins fans. The night was beautiful and everyone was happy.
We walked in the doors (and you can walk in any door you want!) to a wide open concourse. Straight ahead was the field. Honestly I couldn't help but tear up a little at seeing the Twins practicing and running around on real grass. Hold on a second ... I'm OK now. We walked up the stairs to the Loge level (how did they come up with that name?) and took our seats in Section 214 on the first base line. It was amazing. Every seat was perfectly angled to get the best view of the field, and we were right on top of the diamond. The 4 levels of Miller Park are built right on top of each other which means everyone is as close to the field as possible. And as I said, all the seats perfectly surround the field. I swear, there probably isn't a bad seat in the house. But what was most impressive was the open sky above. Cloudless and blue, birds flying around, and a gentle breeze swirling onto the field.
So, the game started and the Twins got to an early lead. There was probably about 15,000 Twins fans there so it almost felt like a home game for a while. I was so happy with the whole experience I was speechless. My head was on a swivel just looking around at everything. Then the unthinkable happened. They started to close the roof! It was a beautiful night and they decide to turn the place into the Metrodome! Needless to say, I was a little angry, but it was nice to see how the stupid thing worked. Flawlessly of course. That was when things started to go downhill for the Twins. For some reason Radke started to tank, and the Brewers started to hit some monster home runs. None more impressive, though, than Geoff Jenkins' blast in the 8th. Wow. It was like a golf swing that sent the ball well into the stands in right field. Brewers fans went into a frenzy which definitely quieted those of us cheering for the Twins. But you know what? It was still wonderful. Great home town support and good natured ribbing for all of us Twins fans. We all had a smile on our face.
The game ended and we were able to quickly exit the ballpark. Again, the wide open concourses allowed for a lot of people to move at a relatively fast pace. When we got to the doors I thought about maybe the one advantage the Metrodome has over Miller Park and maybe the one thing I'll miss about the the home of the Twins: the blast of wind that blows people out of the doors. I swear I'll never be able to exit a stadium again without thinking I need to brace myself. And it was over. I laughed, I cried, I had a good time. My first game outside in over 20 years. It was great, and the fact that the Twins lost couldn't diminish my euphoria.
And my disgust. The Metrodome ... blech. It is an abomination to baseball. We deserve better and I can't believe more Minnesotans aren't demanding better. Oh yes, the juices are flowing. Get ready for some long winded diatribes in the days ahead.
June 18, 2004
It's Miller Time
Do you know how long it has been since I've watched an outdoor baseball game? I don't remember the exact date, but I was a young boy of around 8 or 9 years of age when I went to Met Stadium for Burger King Helmet Day (and what a fine piece of merchandise that was). I sat in left field, and unfortunately I barely remember anything. I think the Twins were playing the Brewers, but I can't even say for sure. What I do remember is a home run landing in the aisle right next to me and my best friend screaming at me to "Get the ball!" The next thing I know about 10 adults dove at it, trampling everyone around them. I looked at my friend and said, "Are you nuts?" And that is my final memory of watching the Twins at Met Stadium. Pathetic isn't it?
Ah, but this weekend I will again witness outdoor baseball. Cheesehead Craig and I are taking a Father's Day road trip to Miller Park to watch the Twins play the Brewers. I am very much looking forward to this. Just imagine actually sitting in a stadium designed for baseball! Sheesh! It gets me fired up just thinking about it. I know it is hard to even fathom for most of us, especially the Minnesota legislature. Speaking of which, if there is anything that will get my stadium juices flowing again it will be this trip. I guarantee that after 18 innings at Miller Park .... Man! When I get back my legislators won't even know what hit them. I may even have to join Larry Spooner and march around the state capitol and demand that stadiums are built! Watching baseball at Miller Park will be like giving heroin to a drug addict. Stadiums are my addiction and Miller Park will fuel my unhealthy obsession. In other words, I am looking forward to this trip! Needless to say I will document with words and pictures our excursion to Milwaukee.
The Twins should easily beat the Brewers, too. After sweeping the Expos, the Twins are primed to continue their dominance of the Brewers at their own home ballpark. I mean come on, who do the Brewers even have that can compete with the Twins? Scott Posednik? Flash in the pan. Lyle Overby? The only word that comes to mind when his name is mentioned is FLUKE. Radke and Santana are going to dominate this mediocre Brewer lineup. My prediction? Saturday night Twins 9, Brewers 1 and Sunday night Twins 11, Brewers 2. A good time is guaranteed for all (Twins fans that is!).
June 17, 2004
Lew Ford: All-Star?
Besides Joe Nathan who else on the Twins has a shot at making the All-Star team? Personally I think Lew Ford has the best shot. He is currently leading the Twins in batting with a .319 average, and he only trails Jacque Jones by one RBI with 36. He also leads the team in hits and runs. He has been the most consistent Twins hitter and is right now in the midst of a nifty 9 game hitting streak. Really, what hasn't he done that he needs to do to be considered?
When you look at top All Star vote getters for outfielders in the AL, Lew's numbers are nothing to sneeze at. Vlad Guerrero's numbers are hard to touch (.345, 15, 56), but when you get to the fifth place vote getter, Hideki Matsui, you start seeing some similar numbers to Lew. Matsui is batting .284 with 11 homeruns and 37 RBI. Granted, he probably is in fifth place only because he plays in New York, but it is still hard to argue that Lew has similar numbers to All-Star caliber outfielders. And he is probably more deserving than any player on the Twins.
Truthfully, though, the All-Star game is secondary for Twins fans to the impact that Lew Ford's play could have on the long term lineup of the team. When Shannon Stewart comes back where do you put Lew? Unfortunately for Jacque Jones, probably in right field. Jacque's trouble with lefties is surfacing again this year with a vengeance and Lew isn't doing anything to warrant sitting him down. If Stewart comes back and proves that he is healthy, Jones is gone. He knows it, Terry Ryan knows it, and Twins fans know it. That must suck. Does anyone know of any trade rumors that have surfaced recently with Jones going to another team?
Did they deserve it?
I had an interesting conversation with my boss yesterday. This in itself is not a rare occurence, but yesterday we talked about the NBA Finals and how the Lakers got absolutely embarrassed by the Pistons. I mean, wow! I don't think anyone saw that one coming excpet for Ralph Wiley and my neighbor Cheesehead Craig (first time for everything). Anyway, I was saying to my boss that the only negative I could see of the Pistons beating the Lakers is that Gary Payton and Karl Malone still don't have their rings. But my boss didn't agree with that sentiment at all. According to him Gary and Karl leaving their respective teams only to win a championship shows a lack of loyalty to the fans of Seattle and Salt Lake and is disengenuous at best. He was thrilled that the Lakers got the whoopin' they got. It certainly got me to thinking, do Karl and Gary actually deserve to get their rings, or are they adding to the general disgust and apathy fans are feeling towards major sports like basketball thanks to their "mercenary for hire" attitudes? We've certainly seen this in baseball with the Yankees. I gotta admit I get a thrill every time I see the team A-Rod is on do poorly. Anyway, how does everyone feel about superstars leaving their original teams only to win a championship? Is it right or wrong?
The example that immediately comes to mind is Paul Molitor. Here is a guy that gave his best to the city of Milwaukee for years. Towards the end of his career he decided to leave the Brewers to play for a championship caliber team in Toronto. It worked out for him and he got his World Series ring. Was he wrong to leave Milwaukee, or did he deserve a little glory on the championship level? Personally, I can't think of a player that deserved it more than Paul Molitor, and I can't fault him wanting to leave Milwaukee. But I can imagine he ticked a few people off by doing so.
Looking at players closer to home, though, my tune changes ever so slightly. What if Kirby had left for greener pastures somewhere else? I would have been really ticked. And if Garnett ever left the T-Wolves I would be downright apoplectic. Players expect loyalty from fans, but it seems some don't expect the same from themselves. Luckily for us Puckett and Garnett don't fit into this category and we love them even more for it. So, anyway, Gary and Karl still don't have their rings and I can't decide if that is good or bad.
June 16, 2004
Stadium news is going to be hard to come by now that the there is little chance that the legislature will be reconvened for a special session, but that doesn't mean I won't talk about it every once in a while. And one thing I haven't talked about a lot is the idea of a new on-campus stadium for the Gophers. As you might expect, I am in favor of building a new on-campus stadium. Moving out of Memorial Stadium (the stadium at the top of this web page) was a huge mistake and probably the worst decision Paul Giel ever made. The Gophers won 5 national championships playing in Memorial Stadium, but since they've moved out they haven't even come close to going to the Rose Bowl. As always, hindsight is 20/20. It is time to bring some tradition and pride back to Gopher football.
However, much like the Twins stadium debacle, a new Minnesota Daily poll shows that although most students feel the Gophers need a new stadium, they feel they shouldn't have to pay for it. 65% of students feel the Gophers need a new stadium while another 65% feel they shouldn't have to pay for it with student fees. Obviously, Joel Maturi is pleased with the first part of these results. Also, unlike the Twins efforts at getting some tax dollars to build their new stadium, the University administration will have a much easier time "taxing" the student population to get this done. I wonder ... can the University administration just decide willy-nilly to raise student fees for this if they want to? I am inclined to say yes. If the U can get the private funding they are looking for I think it is forgone conclusion that this stadium is a done deal. For more information about the U's drive to build a new stadium visit Bringing Gopher Football Home.
June 15, 2004
Links of the day
- Are you even worthy of being a US citizen? Take this citizenship test to find out.
- The seven year old bloggers. A teacher in the UK is using weblogs in education with wild success.
- For every subject, there are only really two things you need to know...
- It was down for a while, and now its back: BugMeNot. Find username/password combos for all the sites that bug you.
- Ultra conservative editorialist "apologizes" to the Arab world. Discuss.
- Map of the Simpson's Springfield.
- Apparently every car can be stretched into a limo.
- See John Kerry in a whole new light on KerryRocks.com. "Whatever you think of his politics, Kerry is an fascinating man with a history of living life to it's fullest."
Will Christmas come early this year?
It is hard work being a fan of Minnesota sports teams. Pain? We've got our fair share of that. Suffering? Plenty of that too. Minnesota's sports history is littered with sob stories from the Lakers and the North Stars leaving town, to contraction attempts on our beloved Twins, to seven first round defeats in a row for the T-Wolves, to January 17, 1998 and the overtime defeat of the Vikings in the NFC championship game. My eyes are watering just thinking about all of this. Another black mark, though, on our illustrious sports history is the day Red McCombs bought the Vikings. I swear, it wasn't a minute after he officially bought the team that the double-speak and "shifty talking" began. One reporter asked, "Will you move the team to San Antonio?" Red answered in his Texan drawl, "The Vikings belong in Minnesota." Translation: "The Vikings belong in Minnesota, but if I don't get a new stadium then I'll have to move them to a city that wants them."
One of the the only good things that came out of the Twins contraction mess of a couple of years ago was that it showed Minnesotans, especially Minnesota judges, are pretty strict about lease agreements. Thanks to that and the infamous "Rozelle letter" Red has found out that the Vikings are stuck in the Metrodome until 2011. Even Tagliabue has gotten in on the act of thwarting Red's attempts to move. What is a poor billionaire to do?
SELL! Once again VikingUpdate is spreading the rumor that a sale of the Vikings to Glen Taylor is in the works. They've been saying this literally for years, but you know what? This time I believe them. There is no way Red will get any kind of stadium legislation passed this year, even if a special session is actually called. Red, as much as I hate to admit it, is no dummy. He knows when to walk away, and he knows when to run. It is time to run. I bet Glen will put $500 million on the table this time, and Red will jump at the chance to make a tidy little profit.
I feel it. This time the rumors are true. Skol Vikings!
June 14, 2004
Why the lack of fans?
In recent years, Twins officials (Dave St. Peter especially) have been wondering why fans are not coming out to the "ballpark" (I use that term loosely) to support the team. Every year around this time we have an article in one of the TC dailies which quotes Twins officials lamenting the fact that the Twins aren't drawing like they thought they would. This year is no exception. Of course, I have the definitive list of reasons why the Twins are not drawing fans to the Metrodome. Starting with the least important reason:
- The unbalanced schedule -- Thanks to the unbalanced schedule, the Twins play the lowly KC Royals, Detroit Tigers, and Cleveland Indians about 19 games a piece. Besides Sweeney and Pudge, these teams have no big names to bring the crowds out (and Sweeney is even a stretch). If the Twins played at least two home series against the AL East teams like the Yankees and Red Sox you would see attendance go up. That is a fact. Besides, even Sid agrees with me. And look at the attendance figures for the other AL Central teams. They aren't much different than the Twins.
- Carl Pohlad -- Pohlad has brought Minnesota two World Series championships, but Minnesotans will never forgive him for his stadium shenanigans. There is not a doubt in my mind that there is a fair number of Twins fans that boycott the games just because he owns the team. Not me, of course, but enough to make an impact.
- The Metrodome is a football stadium -- Seriously, there are only about 20,000 good seats for baseball in the Dome, and they are all encompassed between first and third base and behind home plate. There are some more decent seats in left field, but that is even stretching it. The rest of the seats, especially the seats beyond third base, are absolutely wretched for watching baseball. When I call for tickets and find out the only seats left in the lower deck are along the third base line in left field I decide to just stay home. I'm sure I'm not alone. Yesterday's Twins game drew 23,479 fans. That is really good considering how bad the seating is for baseball at the Dome.
But the number one reason is:
- Minnesotans do not like to watch baseball indoors -- Consider this: today is June 14. In exactly three months the temperature will probably be dipping into the 50s. Really, Minnesota only has about 3 months of good "summery" weather. It just isn't right that we have to watch baseball indoors under the Teflon sky when we've already spent nine months indoors waiting for summer to arrive. Given a choice of spending a beautiful summer day out on a lake, swimming at a beach, or watching the Twins play in the Metrodome, most Minnesotans will opt for staying outside. They may listen to the Twins game on the radio, but they will choose to be outside. The Twins know it, the legislature knows it, everyone knows it.
So, there you have it. My reasons for the lack of fans at Twins games. The big question now is, if we built a new stadium would fans come to the games? Or would we still see a lack of fans? Given that the two biggest reasons for poor attendance is the Metrodome seating and indoor baseball, I think we would see a huge spike in attendance if we built an outdoor stadium. In other words, if you build it we will come.
If you've got any other reasons for the poor attendance, let me hear 'em!
June 10, 2004
Links of the day
- How to seem smarter. Good tongue-in-cheek advice.
- 10 foods you should never eat as picked by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
- Transit of Venus pictures. Very beautifully done.
- Tribute to Ronald Reagan from Bush's reelection site. Full text of some of his more famous speeches.
- Interesting article on the true nature of the browser wars and how they are about to start up again. A wee bit anti-Microsoft.
Do you have a crazy spouse like me?
A little side note about my life ... My crazy wife told me to take my two older boys to a movie last night to reward them for a job well done this year at school. So, I did and had a wonderful time. But when I got back home I found out that my wife was halfway to Mitchell, SD to be with her sister who just went into labor yesterday afternoon. In other words, my wife bamboozled me, and then took off without, it seems, a care in the world. She also seems to have forgotten that I have a job, and, yes, important tasks to accomplish at that job. So, now I am at home today watching my wonderful kids, and I'm trying to come up with a plan to take care of everything I have to take care of at work. I may have to go into work on Saturday.
So, as punishment I have posted the craziest picture of my wife I could find. She won't like it, but at least I feel better.
Marshall Field no more
It was a very sad day for me yesterday. Marshall Field's was sold to a company outside of Minnesota. And I'm not sad for the normal reasons, I'm sad because I honestly thought there was a chance that the new Twins stadium could be named "Marshall Field." We all know that any new stadium will have a corporate sponsor's name attached to it, and I thought Marshall Field would be the perfect name for a variety of reasons. In fact, I have been documenting my efforts on this front on the Internet for quite a while. Now there is little chance for a Marshall Field.
So, that brings up a good discussion point. What should the name for a Twins stadium be? The best I've heard besides Marshall Field is probably Wheaties Field, you know, the "Field of Champions" or something like that. If someone has a better idea, please let me know. Now watch, General Mills will be sold to Nestle. What is happening to all our big name businesses? Honeywell? Gone. Daytons? Gone. General Mills? Soon to be gone? Slowly but surely we are turning into North Dakota.
June 9, 2004
Bad news for special session
The Star Tribune today is reporting that the chances for a special session are very remote. Apparently the DFL controlled Senate proposed the "appointment of three House-Senate negotiating groups that would meet publicly without a deadline for agreement." The GOP House rejected this rather angrily for some reason with Steve Sviggum adding,
"I'm not going to reach out one more time," said House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, adding that the Senate leadership's latest proposal for a special session "doesn't even warrant a response."
"Dean Johnson has shut the door," Sviggum said. "The Senate is unwilling to serve the interests of Minnesota. They just want to do the politics."
Sigh. I've said it before and I'll say it again, the only good idea Jesse Ventura had was to push for a unicameral legislature. I'm so sick of all of this partisan politics, it is a wonder how they get any work done at all. And what did they accomplish this year? Seriously, the only thing this legislative session will be remembered for is making a hunting season for doves. That is pathetic. I'm not sure I'll vote for any incumbents this year.
On top of all this Charley Walters had some interesing comments in his Shooter column today:
Because chances of the Minnesota Legislature having a special session appear likely, look for negotiations for a sale of the Vikings by Red McCombs to Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor to be expedited. If Taylor can buy the Vikings, chances for a Gophers-Vikings stadium partnership would increase significantly.
Insiders say the Twins have the best chance of getting a ballpark approved in a special session, followed by an on-campus stadium for the Gophers, then a Vikings-Gophers partnership. Chances for a Vikings stadium remain bleak.
Walters better check his sources again, although I am thrilled with the idea that McCombs could expedite his sale of the Vikings to Taylor. I don't know how that would increase the chances of a Gophers-Vikings stadium, but I'll take whatever good news I can get today.
Every fan counts
Good game tonight vs. the Mets. Radke was spectacular and I thought Gardy pinch hitting Cuddyer for Rivas in the ninth was a good move. Cuddyer is hitting .351 over the last 10 games and deserves to play more, especially considering the anemic batting average of Rivas. Could we be seeing the last days of Rivas as an everday player?
If you didn't see the article about the Detroit Tigers complaining about the Metrodome vents working against them in the ninth last Sunday you should definitely check it out. I gotta admit it gave me quite a laugh. According to another article (PDF) from the Star Tribune, Ivan Marusic, a professor of fluid dynamics with expertise in aerodynamics at the University of Minnesota, conducted a couple of experiments last year to see if the vents could really affect the distance traveled of the ball. In the first test he found that the vents could affect the distance by as much as 3.5 feet depending on if they were blowing in from the outfield or out from the diamond. That would be fairly substantial. However in his second test he found that the vents had no affect at all. He concluded that based on these two tests it is unlikely that the vents have much of an impact, unless someone could relplicate the exact conditions of the first test. There obviously was a little more to these tests, so check out the article above if you are interested.
So, here is the way I see it. Really, there isn't much the Twins can do regarding the airflow during the games. According to Gardy, the Metrodome vents are controlled by the same system that controls the nearby hospital and prison. This fact, coupled with the inconclusive experiments from above, means the Twins should have a field day with this. They should use it to their complete advantage. In a way they already are with their "Every fan counts" ad campaign, but I think they should take it a step further now and totally try to psych the other team out by coming out and saying they will manipulate the fans during games. I'm not saying they should do it, I'm only saying that they should use this little bit of "Metrodome mystique" to their advantage more. I mean, what if before a big series in September Gardy was talking to some reporters and he let something like "the fans will be blowing our way tonight" slip out? Or what if he said, "We've asked the fan operators to blow out during our at-bats for this series." Again, none of this would be true, but it would really get under the other teams' skin. The fireworks from the opposing manager would be fun to watch, I would think, and the other team would be more worried about air flow then the game itself.
Anyway, the Twins play in arguably the suckiest baseball stadium to ever host a baseball game. I'm just trying to think of ways to make the experience more enjoyable.
June 8, 2004
MT Educational License
Six Apart, the makers of Movable Type, have finally come out with at least an introduction to their new license for educational institutions. Before I get into my meager analysis of the email I received from them, I'll cut to the chase first and say their initial introduction is somewhat of a relief. It actually looks like this will be something we can work with here at UThink, but obviously some questions remain. Now for my longer reaction.
I'm sure this was a form email, and many of you reading this will have probably already received it, but I will print it here just for reference:
"Regarding educational licenses, we are very interested and excited to work with universities and want to encourage campus-wide installations. To that end, we have created a licensing structure specifically targeted to educational organizations that offers unlimited weblogs and unlimited authors. The pricing is based on the number of student of the department, college, or campus that will be using MT.
The prices we have for perpetual licenses for a size of up to 300 students is $299, for up to 1000 students would be $699, and up to 2000 students would be $999. For anything larger, we would be happy to put together a custom license if you could let us know the size of the department/school this would be for."
First of all, they say the "have created a licensing structure specifically targeted to educational organizations that offers unlimited weblogs and unlimited authors." This is interesting since in the next paragraph they base their pricing on the number of students that we expect to use the service. However, I can live with that since my initial estimations for users of the UThink system were between 500-1000 users. So, the fact that they have stretched their licensing to 2000 users so far gives us a little wiggle room. Good deal. Tougher questions remain, though.
Note that they are basing their prices on number of students only. Obviously there are a lot of people using UThink that aren't students. Does this mean we have to pay extra for facutly and staff use? I hope not. I hope that the 2000 users can be any affiliated user on campus, or that the 2000 "students" referred to in their email actually refers to "account holders". But we'll see. They also refer to a "perpetual license." Does this mean that we only have to pay for the license once? I read it that we won't have to pay a yearly fee or something like that.
Finally, and this is the most troubling unknown for me, are they basing their pricing per student on the number of actual students using the system, or the potential number? If it is based on potential number then we are in trouble. That would be a whopping 50,000 student potential. I'm hoping that we can purchase a license for 2000 students and then work our way up to that. If we cross the 2000 student threshold after a couple of years maybe we could then pay another $1000 for 2000 students more (?). That seems reasonable to me. I'm also wondering if their definitions of "author counts" and "weblog accounts" (right hand side of MT download page) also apply in an educational setting. Obviously we also get a lot of people that start a weblog and then abandon it. I would hate for those authors and weblogs to be used against our counts.
So, there you have it. I look forward to more clarification of this license, and hopefully there will be an actual document to refer to on the MT website in the near future. Like I said above, though, this is a good start.
June 7, 2004
A visit from stadium royalty
Those of you that have been reading my blog for a while know that around the end of March I switched the site for this blog from a server in my basement to one here at the U. As a result I stopped checking my other blog for comments and started to just focus on the one here. Big mistake. It seems that on May 16, one of my posts on stadium issues got a comment from none other than Larry Spooner. That's right, the brave individual that has been marching around the capitol building in St. Paul for the past 4 months, single-handedly demanding that stadiums get built in Minnesota. Here is his comment below:
"Larry Spooner here, my wife Lynn has shown me the articles in which you praise my stadium efforts!
I'm honored by your comments! Last week I testified 2 times, May 5th in the Senate State & Local Goverment commitee, and May 6th in the House Ways & Means commitee, The bill passsed in the first one, but a 13-13 vote in the 2nd one is considered failed, I say a tie is a "do over"!!!
But due to the stalemate over the States budget balancing failure by our Legislators, it wasn't going ahead anyway. My understanding is our only hope now is for the Gov. to call a "special session" which I'm not sure if he'll do it. I put in countless hours last week and all day Sat. and overnight Sat. untiill 7am Sun. morning walikng around the Capitol with a sign saying "Bring Back Stadium Bill, Minnesotans deserve the best, New Stadium Yes!" I'm emotionally exhausted, but I told all of them, I'll be back! anyway Thanks for your words of praise, I'm not worthy!!!! sorry for any mis-spelled words!" SPVIKES@AOL.COM
He doesn't think he is worthy??? This guy is seriously my hero! My little ramblings don't hold a candle to his Herculian efforts. Not only does he have the guts to take a stand for the stadium issue, but he also has the guts to do it alone and for all the world to see. I can't imagine what kind of negativity he had to put up with at the capitol. Anway, I'd like to take this opportunity to publicly say thanks to Larry for all his efforts. I really think he had an impact regarding this year's stadium debate. And the great thing is, I don't think he is finished! On with the special session!
Please take a moment to write and thank Larry!
This weekend the Twin Cities dailies were buzzing about the potential for a legislative special session being called:
It seems there is a very good chance one will be called, and according to the reports working groups are being created to try to map out consensus issues for the session, including a "working group [to] discuss the possibility of supporting one or as many as three new sports stadiums." Personally, I don't think the Vikings have much of a chance this session, but I hope I'm wrong. I hope that this mess just gets solved once and for all.
Secondly both Sid Hartman and Charley Walters reported on stadium issues this weekend:
Both Sid and Charley didn't really report on anything too ground breaking, but Walters did have this to say about a Vikings stadium:
"The Gophers didn't get a campus football stadium approved during this spring's legislative session, but quiet discussions involving some top dealmakers about a shared stadium with the Vikings continue to take place.
A site that would expand the university campus by several blocks, across the railroad tracks northeast of Mariucci Arena, is being discussed."
I would be shocked if something like this worked out, but I would also be thrilled. I am pretty sure, though, that the University will shun any attempt to build a dual stadium again.
All of this stadium news got me to thinking (again) at how frustrating this whole mess is. Consider this: one of the main reasons the legislature has yet pass a workable stadium bill is because they think the people of Minnesota are against building stadiums. Polls from both the Pioneer Press and the Star Tribune verify this fact with anti-stadium people sitting at about 52%. My question then is this, how in the world did the "conceal and carry" law pass? According to the Star Tribune, there was nearly two-thirds opposition to this bill and yet after 6 years of trying the legislature still passed it. Check this out:
"At least three-fifths of college graduates, DFLers, liberals, Twin Cities-area residents and those in the lowest income bracket also believe the state will become more dangerous. The view of a safer Minnesota is most prevalent among Republicans and conservatives. But even in those groups, more think it will be more dangerous than safer."
Again, how in the world did this bill pass? Regardless of your stance on the issue, the majority of the population of the state of Minnesota felt that the state would become more dangerous if this bill passed. And yet the legislature still decided it was worth doing. My point is this, obviously the majority of the legislature felt that even though the people were against it, the conceal and carry law should pass. And it did. The same is true with stadiums. It is time the legislature votes for what is best for the state as a whole regarding this issue. I'm hoping that the legislature can once again do what they were elected to do, and look at the bigger issues of a proposed bill rather than sound bites and statistics from a relatively uninformed public. In the case of the stadium bill they need to look at quality of life issues, city vitality, and state history and at least pass a workable Twins stadium bill once and for all.
Last weeked I went to the Science Museum in St. Paul with my family and father-in-law. As we were driving home my father-in-law looked at the site of the ice palace and asked, "I wonder what they are going to do with this space." I was shocked he didn't know. I mean, up until a month ago he worked for the Arch-Diocese of the Minneapolis/St. Paul Catholic Church which is right across the street from the site. In fact, the Arch-Diocese will probably have to sell their land in order for the stadium to be built. I told him St. Paul wants to build a Twins stadium there, and he was amazed. He had no idea and he worked right across the street from the site! I am convinced this is the general state of mind of the rest of the people of the state regarding this issue. You ask the average person if the state should help finance a Twins stadium and over 50% will say no. But if you ask them about anything else regarding this issue they will be clueless. If a Twins stadium bill passed it will be news for about a week, but just like the conceal and carry law people will forget about it shortly thereafter. Again, it is time for the legislature to put away their fears of re-election and start doing what is best for the state. These same polls reveal that over 90% of the respondents think it would be a bad thing if the Twins were contracted or left the state. I'm rambling a bit now, but obviously I think it is time to pass a workable stadium bill.
June 5, 2004
Links of the day
- Top 25 things you can buy on Amazon as chosen by an Amazon shopper. My favorite is the Solid Gold S.E.P. (Stop Eating Poop).
- Meta-Efficient: A Guide to the Efficient Things in the World. Good section on Bio-Diesel.
- A comic with some potential: Bolt-City's "Copper."
- I'd sell his PlayStation, too. Another reason I don't drink alcohol (reason #1 is that I don't like the taste).
- Transformers music video. Very cool.
- Viking kittens video, an Internet classic. You can even download it if you want it.
- MP3 of every Beatles song in alphabetical order in 16 minutes.
- Pop vs. Soda map. Wisconsin is just plain weird. And I'm not just saying that. It is weird that half the state says pop and the other half says soda.
June 4, 2004
You could say that I'm really getting into this blog stuff. I don't think I've reached the obsessive stage (my wife would probably disagree) but I'm getting up there. One thing I really like about blogs and blog software, in this case Movable Type, is how easy it is to add new entries, edit old entries, and just to get content up on the web. In the two months that UThink has been up, there have been almost 280 blogs created, and over 1,200 posts written. Not too shabby. There have been blogs created for research, classes, departments, newsletters, and, of course, many personal blogs have been created. While I'm not surprised with this at all (I expected the bulk to be personal blogs), I am a little surprised with the lack of photoblogs, or blogs that are primarily pictures. So, I decided to create one myself.
So, I'd like to take this opportunity to announce Super G, my photoblog. I hope to update Super G at least once a day with a picture of something I like, and sometimes a picture of something I don't like. I don't want to limit myself. There will be pictures of family, things, places, nature, etc. Probably more often than not just a picture of something I saw that day that I liked. You know, no big whoop.
To tell you the truth, I'm kind of excited about it since I think picking out one picture a day to literally illustrate the essence of that day will be sort of fun. There really is a lot to photograph and I'll probably have to buy another camera (a very cheap one) to make sure I'm always ready to take a snap shot. We'll see. Anway, sorry to bore you. On with the day!
June 3, 2004
Sorry for the lack of posting today. I had to get some work done this morning because I am going to the Twins game this afternoon. Another perk of working at the U is that I am a 10 minute walk from the Metrodome. And let me tell you, there is nothing as sweet as taking the afternoon off from work and seeing a little baseball, even if it is indoors. So, if you are going I'll see you there, and if not I'll think of you toiling away at your job as I eat my Dome dog and nachos.
We're gonna win Twins! We're gonna score...
June 2, 2004
Links of the Day
- Is Bio-Diesel fuel the gasoline of the future? It is inexpensive and you can make your own!
- The curse of great expectations. Interesting post from Seth Godin.
- Everyone is linking to it, so I will to: Spirit of America. Help Americans serving abroad assist people in need.
- Crash Testing: MINI Cooper vs Ford F150. I've seen results like these with the VW Beetle too.
- This is awesome. 80's TV show themes you can download and listen to.
- CSS Design Showcase. Cool websites designed with cascading style sheets. I wish I had this kind of creativity.
- Joe Mauer is back!
June 1, 2004
Gates of Fire
|Gates of Fire
by Steven Pressfield
I work on the second floor of Wilson Library at the University of Minnesota. Right outside my office space door are thousands of books covering all sorts of topics from history, to fiction, to science fiction. Needless to say, I spend a fair amount of time during my breaks and lunch time walking through "the stacks" for good books to read. It is one of the many perks of working at a library and I walk through the rows as much as I can. Anyway, while browsing the collection I happened across this book, Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield (Legend of Bagger Vance). Gates of Fire is an epic novel about the Spartans and their heroic stand during the battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC. During this battle a small number of Greek forces held a narrow pass called the "Hot Gates" for two days against the Persian advance until defeat looked inevitable. The Spartan king Leonidas told everyone to retreat save 300 Spartan warriors who valliantly held the pass for as long as they could, fighting with their bare hands and teeth to the bitter end, until everyone was killed. This stand allowed the safe retreat of the rest of the Greek army and is considered one of the more heroic moments in military history. Today an ancient monument still stands at the site, an unadorned stone with the inscription, "Go tell the Spartans, stranger passing by, that here obedient to their laws we lie."
As far as books go, this one was hard to put down. With epic novels it is always difficult to deduce how much liberty the author is taking with the actual story, but for me it didn't really matter. I loved the majesty and heroism of the Spartans. I lapped it all up and begged for more. What a fascinating people. Most of what we know about the Spartans is ... well .. pretty spartan, but what we do know demonstrates a very brave and courageous people who shunned art and literature in favor of war. Gates of Fire begins with this quote from the Greek historian Herodotus who wrote about the battle of Thermopylae:
"Although extraordinary valor was displayed by the entire corps of Spartans and Thespaians, yet bravest of all was declared the Spartan Dienekes. It is said that on the eve of battle, he was told by a native of Trachis that the Persian archers were so numerous that, when they fired their volleys, the mass of arrows blocked out the sun. Dienekes, however, undaunted by this prospect, remarked with a laugh, 'Good. Then we'll have our battle in the shade.'"
Dienekes features prominently in Gates of Fire but the story itself is mainly told from the viewpoint of Xeo, Dienekes' squire and the lone survivor of the battle. According to the book Xeo was saved by the royal surgeons of Xerxes, the Persian emperor, so that Xerxes could hear more about the Spartans and the secrets of their military prowess. Xeo begins with the story of his own childhood and eventually moves into the infamous training of Spartan boys as warriors. These sections were so unbelievable it prompted me to do a little research of my own on this training. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica (forgive the length):
"The Spartan government was founded on the principle that the life of every individual, from the moment of birth, belonged absolutely to the state. The elders of the city-state inspected the newborn infants and ordered the weak and unhealthy ones to be carried to a nearby chasm and left to die. By this practice Sparta hoped to ensure that only those who were physically fit would survive.
The children who were allowed to live were brought up under a severe discipline. At the age of 7, boys were removed from their parents' control and organized into small bands. The strongest and most courageous youths were made captains. The boys slept in dormitories on hard beds of rushes. They ate black broth and other coarse food. They wore the simplest and scantiest clothing. Unlike the boys of Athens, they spent little time learning music and literature. Instead they were drilled each day in gymnastics and military exercises. They were taught that retreat or surrender in battle was disgraceful. They learned to endure pain and hardship without complaint and to obey orders absolutely and without question.
They were allowed to feel the pinch of hunger and were encouraged to supplement their fare by pilfering food for themselves. This was not done to cultivate dishonesty but to develop shrewdness and enterprise. If they were caught, they were whipped for their awkwardness. It is said that a Spartan boy, who had stolen a young fox for his dinner, allowed the animal he had hidden under his cloak to gnaw out his vitals rather than betray his theft by crying out. Girls were educated in classes under a similar system, but with less rigor.
Discipline grew even more rigorous when the boys reached manhood. All male Spartan citizens between the ages of 20 and 60 served in the army and, though allowed to marry, they had to belong to a men's dining club and eat and sleep in the public barracks. They were forbidden to possess gold and silver, and their money consisted only of iron bars. War songs were their only music, and their literary education was slight. No luxury was allowed, even in the use of words. They spoke shortly and to the point�in the manner that has come to be called laconic, from Laconia, the district of which Sparta was a part. "
Fascinating isn't it? Really, the entire book Gates of Fire is a primer on Spartan culture and discipline. And if the book is even half true the Spartans were the biggest bunch of bad-asses that ever walked the Earth. Honesty, bravery, reverance, strength, speed, endurance, obedience, and leadership, it seems, were all traits of the Spartans. While Gates of Fire attempts to cover all aspects of Spartan life, the battle of Thermopylae is probably over 25% of the book, and it is a credit to the author that he found so many different ways to describe war and valor. In particular, Pressfield features Leonidas in a series of speeches to the remaining warriors who vowed to give up their lives to defend the pass:
"They will come, scholars perhaps, or travelers from beyond the sea, prompted by curiosity regarding the past or appetitie for knowledge of the ancients. They will peer out across our plain and probe among the stone and rubble of our nation. What will they learn of us? Their shovels will unearth neither brilliant palaces nor temples; their picks will prise forth no everlasting architecture or art. What will remain of the Spartans? Not monuments of marble or bronze, but this, what we do here today... Now eat a good breakfast, men. For we'll all be sharing dinner in hell."
If you found all the speeches and battle scences of Return of the King boring and anti-climactic then this is not the book for you. However, if you want something that is based on a true story and is really very awe inpspiring, then you might want to check this book out.
So, back to the stacks I go, looking for my next book. I hope it will be as good as Gates of Fire.
The More I Think About It
The more I think about it, the more painful it becomes. The greatest season in T-Wolves history is over and it was really, really fun. I had a great time this season watching the team, and I think the T-Wolves gained some more fans in the land of 10,000 lakes. However, the game last night made me think about the what-ifs and the what could-have-beens and it is just depressing. Namely, what if Sam Cassell wasn't injured? He would have lit Gary Payton up. With Sam running the inside-outside attack the Wolves would have been unstoppable. I absolutely agree with Sam on the Wolves chances with him in the game.
Secondly, what it the Wolves were hitting their shots? Really it all boils down to this, the Wolves shot 43% from the floor last night, and 22% from the 3 point line. The only thing that kept them in the game were the refs gracious calls and their 92% shooting from the free throw line. And think about this, Kareem Rush's 6 three pointers, those 6 extra points he racked up for the Lakers, were the 6 points the Lakers won by. Ouch. But hey, more power to him, he stepped up and hit the big shots, unlike Spree and Wally. Spree shot 36% from the field (8-22!) and Wally shot 38%. That ain't gonna cut it. I don't want to fault their games too much since Spree's energy was contagious for the Wolves, but without Sam in the game, Spree and Wally have got to hit the big shots. And in the fourth, they were not hitting the big shots.
Finally, what if the Wolves didn't lost game one? If they hadn't lost game one, they would be coming back to the Target Center for game 7 tomorrow night. That would have been an achievement. Hopefully this shows KG and the rest of the Wolves how important winning at home is in the NBA playoffs. I know they were tired coming off the seventh game of the Sac series, but I'm sure they all wish they could have that first game back.
Anyway, the only silver lining in all of this is that Karl Malone and Gary Payton are finally going to get their rings. I don't give the East much of a chance. And hopefully Spree comes back next year. I think he will. The Wolves can pay him more than anyone, and he has got to know this is his best shot for a title, unless he also signs with the Lakers. This was a good year for the Wolves, no doubt about it. It was just what KG needed to keep that fire going. I don't think he or Sam will be satisfied with anything less than the Finals next year. I can't wait!