November 30, 2004
Links of the day
Sorry for the lack of Super G pictures. I'm just not "feeling it" right now. I need a vacation.
- Wikipedia Creators Move Into News. This is very interesting.
- And here is the new Wikinews site. A little sparse right now, but it will surely get bigger.
- Should this type of thing worry newspapers? Wired says yes.
- Could stuff like EPIC and Googlecon be far behind? A fascinating 8 minute glimpse at the possible future of the 4th estate. Worth the wait (at least I thought so).
- Gotta hand it to these Yale students. This is a great prank.
- Pat Robertson? Jerry Falwell? Interesting article from the NYT concerning who is truly representative of evangelical Christians in America.
- This is odd. Sinn Fein, the political wing of the IRA, seems to be against excessive toy advertising. I'm not sure this will help their long term recruiting efforts.
- DC Council approves new ballpark, but caps spending at a whopping $630 million. Yep, that should do it.
- Meanwhile, back in Minnesota, the state budget forecast predicts a deficit of between $400 million and $1 billion. It appears to be over for stadium supporters like myself before it even began...
- Cool list of the top 1,000 books held at OCLC member libraries. I was surprised by number 1, but not number 2. And check out number 18. How did that get in there?
- Neat factoids about the above list.
And today's clue for what I got my wife for her birthday:
Oh yes, these are tough.
November 29, 2004
Not even a mention?
OK, I can understand all the hype over Favre's 200th consecutive start. It is impressive. You can't argue with that. However, what I can't understand is that with all the comparisions with other streaks in NFL history, Jim Marshall's streak of 282 consecutive games played is not even mentioned. They mention Cal Ripken's streak, they mention Jerry Rice's streak of consecutive games with a catch, but they don't mention 282 freakin' consecutive games played? To put it another way, Marshall played in every game from 1960-1979. EVERY GAME. And he started in 270 consecutive games from 1961-1979. Furthermore, Marshall wasn't some pansy QB who slides before he gets tackled or gets really hit only two or three times a game. Marshall was a DE that hit and got hit every single play. Where is the respect? Where is the sickening love-fest for Jim Marshall? Why do we have to keep hearing about Brett Favre when his streak is still 70 (70!!!!!) games away from breaking the record?
Thank goodness for the Gopher men's hockey team. Where would the U of M athletic department be without them? I've said it before, and I'll probably say it again, but the one thing the U of M will never tolerate is a mediocre hockey team. We demand excellence in hockey and we won't have it any other way. Men's basketball? We consider it a moral victory to lose to 18th ranked Alabama by six. That is pathetic. Football? Maturi is practically salivating over a trip to the Music City Bowl. No, the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl. If it was up to me, any mention of the name "Gaylord" in the Golden Gophers record books is not a reason to celebrate.
So, my hat is off to the Gopher men's hockey team. #1 in the nation and stocked with Minnesotans. If you like hockey, Minnesota is a great place to be. If you prefer basketball or football, though, all you can hope for is a fluke season where either the football team reaches the Sun Bowl or the basketball team wins the NIT. That is truly pathetic.
My TV is broken. And I didn't have the world's greatest TV to begin with, it was only a 27" regular old TV. So, I took it in to get repaired. I was expecting it to cost maybe $100 to fix. $150 tops. Nope: it will cost as much as $350, possibly more. According to the phone call I received, the circuitry is absolutely fried. And to get this great piece of news they charged me $45. So, now I will be forced to watch my 19" piece of junk TV for who knows how long. With Christmas coming around the corner, I simply cannot afford to get a new TV, even if I tried to get another 27". So, if anyone can tell me how I can get a cheap TV I am all ears. If it is cheap enough I wil buy it right away.
My wife's birthday is on December 11, and I've already bought her present. She is, of course, trying desperately to get me to tell her what it is. And, of course, I won't tell her. But I have agreed to give her some clues. They will start hard. Very hard. But they'll get easier. The first clue is:
Dan Majerle shares something in common.
I give up
I have just tried to post two articles and both times I have lost the postings due to my own stupidity. So, I give up.
I'll try again at lunch. Seriously, do you even like what I write anyway? What is the point of all of this? Grrrr ...
November 24, 2004
Since it is Thanksgiving tomorrow, I thought it would be good to think about the things I'm thankful for:
- I'm thankful to have a good job with people I enjoy working with.
- I'm thankful to have a great neighbor that I enjoy spending time with, even if he is a Green Bay Packer fan.
- I'm thankful that my best friend from college lives in Grand Forks so I can visit him from time to time.
- I'm thankful for the Rozelle letter that keeps the Vikings from moving to Los Angeles or Las Vegas until 2011.
- I'm thankful that I get to visit Grand Forks so I can get a sense of what the Twin Cities will be like after 2011.
- I'm thankful that Randy Moss is coming back this Sunday.
- I'm thankful to have a great house with a nice place to eat a family dinner, a working fire place, a big master bedroom, and a two car garage.
- I'm thankful to live in a metropolitan area that values learning and that has one of the best public library systems in the country.
- I'm thankful to be a member of a great church that challenges me and gives me much to ponder.
- I'm thankful that U2 has come out with a great new album which I have listened to non-stop for two weeks straight.
- I'm thankful that the mild weather this summer didn't kill all the grass in my front yard.
- I'm thankful for my cats, especially Trinity.
- I'm thankful for the three time Central division champion Minnesota Twins and that I still have the opportunity to cheer for them.
- I'm thankful for the blast of air that pushes you out of the Metrodome. It is, quite frankly, the Dome's only redeeming quality.
- I'm thankful the Golden Gophers can never threaten to leave because they don't have a new stadium.
- I'm thankful that the UThink project is approaching 800 blogs created. If the project had not been successful, I would have looked like a big idiot.
- I'm thankful that I'm not in college anymore. I'm thankful that I can go home at night and do whatever I want, especially if it involves sitting on my butt and not writing a 20 page paper contrasting the indecision of Hamlet with the rashness of Othello.
- I'm thankful for the CBS TV show "The Amazing Race." I really find that show entertaining.
- I'm thankful that I only need one car. Most of the time I either hitch a ride or take the bus.
- I'm thankful for Kevin Garnett and the fact that the T-Wolves finally made it out of the first round.
- I'm thankful to be involved with Cub Scouts. My son and I love it.
- I'm thankful to live in an area with four seasons, even if one of the seasons seems to last for 12 months.
- I'm thankful to live so close to all my family. My parents live down the street and to the left, my sister lives 10 minutes away, and my in-laws live 15 minutes away.
- I'm thankful that my family loves each other enough to be able to live so close together.
- I'm thankful to have three healthy, happy kids. If you would have told me when I was 18 that I would have 3 kids by the age of 31, I would have looked in the mirror and said, "You stud!"
- I'm thankful for my beautiful wife, and the fact that she puts up with me and finds me even remotely attractive. If you would have told me when I was 18 that I would eventually marry such a beautiful woman ... well let's just say it would have made all those looks of disgust I usually got a lot easier to handle. And I would have looked in the mirror and said, "You hound dog! Get on with your bad self!"
- I'm thankful to be healthy, well-fed, loved, busy, relaxed, involved, educated, insured, compensated, and happy.
That about covers it. Feel free to add your own.
November 23, 2004
No matter how you slice it
It was announced today that the Vikings will not retain the services of Mike Kelly past this season. No matter how you slice it, this is not a good development. Some people see this as a sign of an imminent sale, but I see this as a sign of Red McCombs's entrenchment. He is digging in his heels and doing whatever it takes to both save money and show Minnesotans that he sees no hope for a Vikings stadium. It is also becoming clear that McCombs expects to own the team when the season ends and possibly even next season. Bad, bad, bad, bad news. Kelly was the Vikings front man for the stadium effort and his departure signals that McCombs is doing everything he can besides what it will take to keep the Vikings in Minnesota. Besides being the stadium front man for the Vikings, Kelly is also a Minnesotan (from Edina). Without him, a stadium deal for the Vikings this year is even more unlikely than it already was. Kelly, who obviously was doing everything he could to keep his mouth shut had this to say about his departure:
"I want this to be a positive thing and not a negative thing," Kelly said. "I'll just say that ... recently there has been kind of a transition from a growth position to kind of a maintenance position ... I also think from a business perspective, there's not a whole lot more we can do. I don't think there's a lot of growth out there for us."
That is not good to hear. It sounds like more cuts are coming as the Vikings become the Twins of the NFL. Sure they can put a winning team on the field, but it will be in spite of having one of the worst owners in the league. Oh goody. Thanks for everything Mike! You will be missed. My only hope can be found in the always delicious Shooter column, who today said:
Mike Kelly's resignation Monday as executive vice president of the Vikings had been quietly in the works for weeks, and some insiders are surprised that it took so long. Kelly could end up back with the Vikings if Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor purchases the team. Vikings owner Red McCombs squeezed Kelly into resigning. Two years ago McCombs forbade him from interviewing for a top executive position with the Atlanta Falcons.
Glen Taylor is increasingly looking like our only hope. The Fowler-Hecker team looks to have already given up.
I don't know if you know this, but the great states of Wisconsin and Minnesota are right now in the midst of a competition for the "Border Battle Cup." Our two universities are right now battling for bragging rights over who has the best sports program. I recently came across this web page from the Badgers site that does a great job of showing how the two programs are faring in this epic struggle:
|Date||Sport(points available)||Site||UW Pts||UM Pts|
|Oct. 8, 2004||Volleyball (20)||UM||0||20|
|Oct. 8, 2004||Womenís Soccer (40)||UW||0||40|
|Oct. 30, 2004||Volleyball (20)||UW||20||0|
|Nov. 5, 2004||Menís Hockey (10)||UM||0||10|
|Nov. 6, 2004||Football (40)||UW||40||0|
|Nov. 6, 2004||Menís Hockey (10)||UM||0||10|
|Dec. 4, 2004||Womenís Hockey (10)||UW|| || |
|Dec. 5, 2004||Womenís Hockey (10)||UW|| || |
|Jan. 6, 2005||Womenís Basketball (20)||UW|| || |
|Jan. 29, 2005||Womenís Hockey (10)||UM|| || |
|Jan. 30, 2005||Womenís Hockey (10)||UM|| || |
|Feb. 4, 2005||Menís Hockey (10)||UW|| || |
|Feb. 5, 2005||Menís Basketball (40)||UM|| || |
|Feb. 5, 2005||Menís Hockey (10)||UW|| || |
|Feb. 18, 2005||Wrestling (40)||UW|| || |
|Feb. 20, 2005||Womenís Basketball (20)||UM|| || |
|April 8, 2005||Menís Tennis (40)||UM|| || |
|April 10, 2005||Womenís Tennis (40)||UW|| || |
|TBA||Softball (10)||UW|| || |
|TBA||Softball (10)||UW|| || |
A quick analysis shows that due to the strength of the Gophers women's sports, the U of M should be able to win the Cup. I predict that the Gophers women's hockey team will sweep the Badgers (40 pts), and that the Gophers women's basketball team will also sweep the Badgers (40 pts). In addition, the Gophers wrestling team should easily beat the Badgers (40 pts), and while I think the Gophers men's hockey team should also sweep the Badgers (as they did in Madision a few weeks ago) I predict the teams will split at Mariucci (10 pts). That is 130 points to go with the 80 points they already have for a total of 210 points.
The Badgers basketball team should easily beat the Gophers in men's basketball (40 pts.) and they should be able to win at least one hockey game (10 pts.). Add that to the 60 pts they already have and you get 110 pts.
The final 100 pts comes from softball and men's and women's tennis and I don't have a clue how good Badgers or the Gophers are in these sports. However, the Badgers only chance at the cup depends at how good they are at these sports. Otherwise, I predict the Gophers should win the cup easily and prove once again our dominance in sports vs. our neighbors to the east.
November 22, 2004
I'll take it
This post was shaping up to be a little bit different in the first three quarters of yesterday's Vikings game. Just like many of you, I thought that Mike Tice should be fired. The Vikings showed such a lack of heart, and worse a total lack of discipline, that I thought surely this is the product of poor coaching. These thoughts of Tice's imminent dismissal culminated with the Lions safety in the 3rd quarter. If you would have been watching the game with me, you would have heard some choice words for Tice, the defense, the offense, the entire coaching staff ... heck, I thought even the water boy deserved a tongue lashing. What a heartless bunch of stiffs.
Daunte must have heard all of us because he played an amazing 4th quarter. I know everyone else is saying it so I mine as well too: Daunte is becoming a better QB without Moss around. There is no doubt about it. I don't know who got the coveted game ball, but my vote would go to Daunte.
There are also some bright spots with the defense. Only 51 yards given up in the second half. Johnstone's 3 sacks. The play of Antoine Winfield. Finally benching Chris Hovan. However, the game was won when Mooch took the penalty rather than forcing Tice to make a decision on 4 and 2. Daunte lived up to the MVP talk and the Vikings squeaked by. Here is hoping they can carry this over into next week against Jacksonville. I've already heard that Moss will be back. It will be interesting to see how the Vikings react to all of this, as usual.
A couple of words about the Artest b-ball fiasco, first about the state of the game and its players. Do any of you know why they call basketball players cagers? Its because in the early days of the game they enclosed the court in chicken wire to keep the ball and the players in bounds. Basketball was known as a vicious game with players pushing each other against the cages and getting into numerous fights. Basketball has a long history of fights. I don't know how many of you remember, but one of the worst fights in college basketball history happened between Minnesota and Ohio State. Our own Dave Winfield slugged a guy five times while he was already on the ground. I guess what I am trying to say is don't tell me that the game or the players are any different than they have always been. Fights happen all the time in the heat of the moment and while this may go down as one of the worst I don't think it is unique or a sign of the times.
The only reason it will go down as one of the worst is because it was taken into the stands. This of course is inexcusable. You have to wonder what was going through Artest's head (and Jackson's) as they wailed on the fans in the stands. Not only are they going to lose most of their salaries, but they are going to get sued out the wazoo. However, just as Artest and Jackson (and O'Neal for that matter) should be blamed for their lack of composure, the fans should also take the blame, if not most of the blame. When has it ever been OK to throw your drink at another person, or verbally assault another person for 48 minutes? I go back to one of Charles Barkley's more salient points of wisdom when he said something to effect, "I think players should be able to pick one fan per game and kick his ass." Amen to that. Who else wouldn't try to defend their honor after the abuse most NBA players take every night? Quite frankly I'm surprised we don't see more of what happened with Artest.
Having said all of this, Artest got what he deserved. He is a thug with an attitude problem, and beyond what happened during this game he needed what my father-in-law calls a little "reality therapy."
The Packers really tick me off. Another game another last second field goal for the win. That kind of consistent performance will come back to haunt them. As I was saying to Cheesehead Craig last night, I have a new name for the Packers: The Green Bay Wigglers. They wiggle out of every game and I'm getting sick of it.
That's it for now.
November 19, 2004
As many of you already know, I went to Monterey California last Sunday - Wednesday to give an invited presentation about UThink. I've already kind of mentioned it below, but Monterey was amazing. Words cannot express how at peace I felt in this place. Imagine standing at the shore listening to the sea lions barking, smelling the salt water, and without a care in the world. Well, needless to say I had a really good time.
I gave my presentation on Tuesday and from what I have heard it went pretty well. Truth be told it was probably the worst presentation I have ever given. Not because it was bad material or that I presented it poorly, but because I totally misjudged how much material I could present in the time allotted to me. They pretty much had to drag me away from the podium because I just had too much to say. I think I ended my presentation by saying, "I'm out of time, aren't I?" Do'h! Luckily I decided to start with a short introduction and then a demonstration of the system. Really, that was the most important part anyway.
After the presentation I decided to take a short walk on a local bike path to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I almost didn't make it in due to the $20 admission fee, but I decided to bite the bullet and put aside my cheap ways for the afternoon. And I'm glad I did. I saw some truly amazing fish, a few of which I've highlighted over at Super G. The most spectacular fish I saw, or that anyone sees at the MBA, are the jelly fish. My meager pictures cannot do justice to how neat these creatures are. I think I took 50 pictures of the jelly fish, standing there slack jawed the whole time. I also saw some sharks, and some tuna (Have you actually ever seen a tuna fish? They are huge! And nasty.), and some sting rays. But the jelly fish ... wow ... that made it all worth it.
After that I made my way down Cannery Row and back onto the bike path for the mile walk back. Cannery Row was very interesting. To the right is a picture of some shacks the city has left up to show the horrible conditions cannery workers lived in. It was a tough and thankless life. I wish I could have spent more time learning about the history of the area. I think I will be picking up Steinbeck's Cannery Row in the near future.
Anyway, that was my trip. It was nice, and I had a good time. See you soon!
November 18, 2004
I have returned from beautiful Monterey, California! A special thanks to Cheesehead Craig for managing this blog in my absence. His interview with Dave St. Peter was an unexpected and welcome surprise. Thanks for everything Craig!
Of course, I now have work coming out of my ears so this will have to be short. I will be writing more about my trip to Monterey tonight so stay tuned for that, if you care. It is a beautiful town and area, and it again made me question the sanity of the early settlers of Minnesota. I can undersand why people decided to check this place out, but why did anyone stay? Mosquitos in the summer, snow and cold for what seems like 12 months of the year, idiot politicians that won't build any stadiums ... the list goes on and on. But Monterey! 70 degrees, no wind, the smell of the sea, not a bug in site ... I fell in love with the place.
Speaking of stadiums (I can't help it! I have to report on this stuff!) it appears that the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe have pulled their offer to help build stadiums. In a letter to Pawlenty they wrote:
"You led a political smear campaign," Benjamin wrote, "in a deliberate attempt to turn undeserved animosity toward Indian gaming and Indian people into votes for Republican candidates."
Who didn't see that coming a mile away? I mean, we had a willing party ready and able to help build stadiums in Minnesota, but instead our fine state politicians once again muck up the deal. I shouldn't get my hopes up.
With that, let me just say I've got to get back to work. There will be more later!
November 16, 2004
Songs for a Desert Island - Part VI
Back by popular demand, it's the Songs for a Desert Island! *people cheering, music playing* My lovely wife had originally thought we could put a twist on it by labelling this "Songs for a Dessert Island" and have people post their favorite songs about desserts, and I immediately thought of "Wierd Al" Yankovic's "I Love Rocky Road" (I think that he is too much for this blog to handle, so I just couldn't bring myself to do an entry on him). This theme of desserts seemed like a good idea, but I just cannot imagine that there are that many songs about desserts out there, but if you can think of some, feel free to comment.
Do you have a song that has a special meaning to you, one that brings back memories of another time or a really strong emotion? I have a couple, one is "Jump Around" by the House of Pain. This song is played between the 3rd and 4th quarters at UW Badger home football games. This song is the catalyst that brings back the whole college experience for me. However, the one that I would have to say is my favorite song of all time is "Black" by Pearl Jam. To say that it is an intensely emotional song about lost love and heartache is an understatement.
Sheets of empty canvas, untouched sheets of clay
Were laid spread out before me as her body once did
All five horizons revolved around her soul
As the earth to the sun
Now the air I tasted and breathed has taken a turn
Ooh, and all I taught her was everything
Ooh, I know she gave me all that she wore
And now my bitter hands chafe beneath the clouds
Of what was everything
Oh, the pictures have all been washed in black, tattooed everything...
I take a walk outside
I'm surrounded by some kids at play
I can feel their laughter, so why do I sear?
Oh, and twisted thoughts that spin round my head
I'm spinning, oh, I'm spinning
How quick the sun can, drop away
And now my bitter hands cradle broken glass
Of what was everything
All the pictures have all been washed in black, tattooed everything...
All the love gone bad turned my world to black
Tattooed all I see, all that I am, all I'll ever be...yeah...
Uh huh...uh huh...ooh...
I know someday you'll have a beautiful life, I know you'll be a sun
In somebody else's sky, but why
Why, why can't it be, can't it be mine?
Just reading the lyrics does not do this song justice. Eddie Vedder sings this song with how your heart sounds after a breakup. You have to listen to the song and hear the way he sings it. It is not like the fluffy lovesick songs that Air Supply sings or the smooth sadness of a Tony Bennett ballad. Eddie sings the song with emotion that is beyond agony. He starts the song off mellow and slowly throughout the song, increases the intensity of his emotion. His voice reaches the depths of despair with the last lines "I know someday you'll have a beautiful life, I know you'll be a sun in somebody else's sky, but why, why, why can't it be, can't it be mine?" and hits these lines with such force that at this point, you feel emotionally drained. This is the only song I have ever heard that has done this to me. When I hear this song in the car, I have to stop and listen and sing along. I don't care who sees me from another car, as this song stirs my soul.
There are artists out there that seem to excel at certain aspects of music: Bruce Springsteen can sing about the working man better than anyone, Bono and U2 can bring Christian themes to worldwide pop/rock music without peer, and just one line from a Frank Sinatra song can bring someone to a smoky club where everyone is dressed to the nines. For me, Eddie Vedder can tap into the raw emotion of pain and hurt and allow it come out, without it turning into sheer anger, but rather leaves you feeling a sense of relief when he is done.
November 15, 2004
Interview with Dave St. Peter
Well you are reading the headline correct here. This is my big surprise I was torturing Shane about all last week. On a lark, I just sent an email to the Twins with some stadium and general questions for this site. Lo and behold, Dave St. Peter, president of the Twins contacts me willing to talk. We had a very brief discussion, but Dave was quite pleasant and put up with my pathetic interviewing skills. You think you are going to get this type of interview on TwinsGeek? Batgirl? Aaron's Baseball Blog? Bah, not a chance. Only the Greet Machine can bring you this type of baseball and Twins stadium insight. Those bloggers may have been smart enough to score a hand-held recorder instead of writing furiously to keep up, but we believe that we need to do things old school here.
Given I had no recording device, I will put a disclaimer on this interview. I did my best to get his exact quotes on here, but I had to paraphrase and edit. So Mr. St. Peter, hopefully this is an accurate representation of our conversation. That said, here's the discussion we had, and again sir, thank you very much for your time.
1 - How much, either in a percentage or in dollar figures, would the ownership be willing to contribute to a new stadium?
Legislation that has been proposed has the ownerís contribution at approximately 1/3. Other proposals have less but in MN the threshold has been 1/3. Any deal that is done in MN will be very favorable to the public versus other markets.
2 Ė How likely is contraction, given the success of the Twins in the last 3 years and the fact they seem well poised for the next 5-6 years?
Contraction has nothing to do with the product on the field. It has to do with the long-term viability of the club. Currently the collective bargaining agreement bars this through the 2006 season. Bud Selig has said that it is not a necessary alternative. That said, the situation here is murky at best. Relocation can be an option down the road, but not with this ownership.
3 - What exactly does the Twins ownership do to attempt to get new legislation passed to help with public stadium financing?
Over the years, we have employed a number of lobbyists to converse with legislators and also have had direct meetings with them as well, whether it is a member of the Pohlad family or a representative from the ball club. We have also done a fair amount of advertising in years past. Currently the team is in a holding pattern to see how this new legislature is heading. Given that the entire House has been through elections, need to see what the stance is.
4 Ė On to the team itself, what are the main points of emphasis this off season for the Twins, from a team standpoint? Now that Johan is a Cy Young winner, is a rather hefty extension in the works to keep him a Twin for the next decade?
Obviously right now Brad Radke is the main player we are going after, given we have just offered him a 2 year contract. Guzman and Koskie are free agents and Jones is up for arbitration. Itís a great day here that Johan has won the Cy Young award. He is eligible for arbitration come January-February and we will deal with him as that comes up. Right now the outfield is deep, we have the best bullpen in the division and the starting pitching could be the best as well. The obvious questions are if Justin Morneau can play a whole season at first, and Joe Mauerís health. However, the team is very well poised for a 4th title for the upcoming season. Certainly Terry Ryan and Ron Gardenhire have done a great job with this team as well.
November 14, 2004
The Era of the Cheesehead has begun!
Now that Shane is away, this blog is mine! Bow before my power!
Ok, now that that is out of my system, on to the article!
First off, the Packers came out and squeaked out a win against the Vikings. The Packers flat out dominated this game for the better part of 3 quarters. The Pack failing the 4th down conversion instead of kicking the field goal gave the Vikings the opening they needed to get back into the game. This was a great game by both Favre and Daunte. Daunte did his best John Elway/Brett Favre comeback impression, but just fell short. Here's my one complaint about the game: Many of the Viking fans I have seen are blaming the officials lost the game for the Vikes. It's the same pathetic excuse after every loss. It's a repeating mantra I keep hearing: "We are the better team, but the refs screwed us" Sorry gang, but giving up 34 points and over 400 yards is not the refs fault, it's the defense. I realize that I'll take some heat for this, but this is 4 losses that the Viking fans have complained about the officials. This defense is bad (hey, the Packers know about bad defenses this year), that's what is to blame.
The Packers have come back from the edge of the Abyss just 4 weeks ago. This team is on a roll and in sole possession of 1st place in the division. It's a great day in Minnesota.
November 12, 2004
The time of the Cheesehead is almost upon us
Out of the comments section and onto the main page! Either tonight or tomorrow I will be instructing Cheesehead Craig on how to post to this blog. Depending on how the Vikings do on Sunday, you may see some gloating on Monday from Mr. Cheesehead. I'm sorry in advance for that. However, I think the Vikings are going to surprise some Packer fans this weekend. Before the season started I wrote some haikus on how I thought the Vikings would do this year, especially in regards to their games against the Packers. So, since the first game is almost upon us:
No Moss for Vikings
No problem, Daunte will have
Pack saying "No mas."
Or how about:
Vikings first in North
Pack? Overrated at best
Two game lead assured
Feel free to give it a try yourself in the comments section. Skol Vikings!
Believe it or not the news about the possible statewide smoking ban also brought out some news about possible stadiums in our fair state. A couple of days ago, Dean Johnson, Senate Majority Leader, and Pawlenty met to talk about the upcoming legislative session. Out of the talks appeared these little nuggest of good news:
Johnson and Pawlenty also discussed potential changes to the state's gaming laws during their Willmar discussions Wednesday.
"I know and have said to the Native American communities that in 2005-2006 gambling in Minnesota is going to change, somehow, someway," Johnson said. He said he suggested American Indian gaming communities could help the state by contributing some of their revenue to a stadium effort or to University of Minnesota medical programs.
The two leaders also said lawmakers might try to tackle public funding for sports stadiums next year after they have dealt with other more pressing matters such as the budget, education and the environment.
"I don't rule out and I understood from Sen. Johnson that he doesn't rule out at least being willing, at least later in the session, to consider a Twins stadium or other stadium proposals if we get our other work done and other priorities have been addressed," Pawlenty said.
Johnson said he believes Minnesotans are more willing to have their lawmakers address stadium issues than they had been.
Oh - my - goodness! First of all, I love the idea that Indian casino revenue could be used to fund stadiums. The tribes (well, at least one) have already suggested it. I think I would weep out of happiness if this ever happened. The second part of their comments was a little more blah, blah, blah about "priorities" and "waiting until later in the session if we've got everything else taken care of" but the possibility is definitely there. Of course, I'll be tracking the efforts and comments of our fine legislators as the session progresses. Finally, my whole week has been one of joy and harmony thanks to the new U2 album, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. What an absolute masterpiece. I'll probably write a more detailed review when the album is ... ahem ... actually released (and be rest assured that I will buy a copy), but for now I've got to say that the stand out songs are "Vertigo" (duh), "City of Blinding Lights," and "Yahweh." Particularly "Yahweh." Musically and lyrically it is as uplifting as they come, and in the same vein as "Where the Streets Have No Name" and "I Still Haven't Found." So, as I prepare to leave for California and unleash the beast that is Cheesehead Craig, I will leave you with the lyrics of this beautiful song:
Take these shoes
Take these hands
Still waiting for the dawn, the sun is coming up
Take this city
Have a good weekend everyone!
November 11, 2004
I'm feeling goofy today. I don't have much to say, or I guess that should be anything of true importance to say, but I'm going to say it anyway.
First off, my wife and I went to the YMCA a couple of nights ago to start an exercise routine. Of course, we didn't go last night, and I doubt we'll be able to go tonight, but I still feel good about starting to exercise. I ran on the treadmill for 30 minutes to get my body used to the idea that it is going to get into shape. Well, I didn't exactly run, I kind of jogged. And I didn't exactly jog for 30 minutes, it was more like 10 minutes. The rest of the time I walked briskly. My index finger also got a work out pushing the down button on the incline scale. The stupid treadmill kept on rising up like I was climbing up a hill or something! So, my finger is a little sore from trying to keep my heart from exploding. Yeah, I really pushed myself.
After I got off the tread mill I felt a very strange sensation. It felt like I was still on the treadmill and I was just gliding around the room as I walked. You know the scene in Fellowship of the Ring where the Ringwraiths glide into Frodo's room at the Prancing Pony and then proceed to vigorously stab all the bedding? That is how I felt after I got off the treadmill, only I didn't stab anybody.
As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I'll be going to a conference in California next week. Monterey to be specific. It looks like the weather will be in the 60s while I am there so that will be nice. I hope to still be able to blog while I am away, but I may not be able to. In my absence, Cheesehead Craig has graciously agreed to add some of his Wisconsin based wisdom to my meager site. Some of you may be aghast at this idea, but I say it will add a little spice to all of our lives. What is a blog if not a little goofy sometimes?
I'm sure all of you have also seen that the stadium deal in Washington DC has hit a little snag. It seems that the DC City Council Chair, Linda Cropp, wants the city to consider privately funding the stadium. I would be lying if I said I wasn't pleased to see DC have these kinds of problems. For them to come up with a plan so quickly really irked me. However, what excites me more about this development is the possibility that her idea for private financing might actually work. She claims that someone has already approached her offering $350 million. If she can make it work, hopefully that will demonstrate to the businessmen around here that a plan like this has some merits. Of course, I don't think she will actually be successful, but I don't think it is a bad idea to try. I'll be keeping an eye on this situation.
Last night I spent a fair amount of time working on a new design for Mr. Cheer or Die's Viking Underground. I think it turned out pretty good, if I do say so myself. Mr. Cheer or Die has helped me immensely in gettting the word out about the Voter's Guide so as a thank you I tried to spruce up his site a little bit. Of course, it took me a little longer than I initially thought it would, but what is time amongst the brotherhood of Viking fans? Skol Vikings!
One more thing, Michelle Malkin has a very interesting post about which states are most charitable: red or blue? A very interesting post that shows a contrast with yesterday's link about the states with the highest IQ (which has been proven to be a hoax anyway).
Gotta get to work. See you soon!
November 10, 2004
Links of the day
- UPDATE: The Wake has published their article about UThink (featuring quotes from yours truly). No link to the actual service though. Weird. Other than that a very good article. I am impressed.
- I don't know why this site made me chuckle so much, but it did. Keep on clicking the pictures.
- "Open letter to the Democratic party." This admittedly lackadaisical Christian explains why the Democrats made it so hard for her to vote for them. A very well written letter.
- Now is the time. Do yourself a favor and download Firefox 1.0. Unless you are a Mac user. Then who cares about you.
- "No Longer a Christian." Very thought provoking. Obviously this author didn't have the same disillusionment with the Democrats as the "open letter" author above.
- If you haven't seen it yet, check out the trailer for Star Wars Episode III. Lucas sure knows how to make a preview.
- These election maps are amazing. Truly shows how differently rural and urban areas vote.
- If you haven't heard of the wonder that is Chris Samp, WR for Winona State, then you should check out this site, Chris Samp for Heisman Trophy:
- According to David Brooks of the New York Times, Christians had very little to do with the results of the election last Tuesday.
- Very interesting visual representation of current events: 10x10.
- I only show this to demonstrate that the average IQ of Minnesotans is 2 points higher than our neighbors in Wisconsin. Take that Cheesehead!
- Color Scheme Generator. Handy for web designers, or if you want to repaint your bathroom, I suppose.
November 9, 2004
Off the Cuff
Hello everyone! I am feeling unusually chipper this morning, especially considering the Vikings lost last night. This is probably mainly due to the fact that 1) life is good. When you think about it, life is good, isn't it? And 2) a co-woker of mine has given me a pirated copy of U2's new album, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. This was an unexpected surprise. So, as I type this I am listening to new U2 music. Some of you may not think this is a big deal, but to me it is absolutely wonderful.
Let's talk about the Vikings. As I'm sure you are reading on other sites, it was really a tale of two halves. In the first half the Vikings play calling, defense, and clock management were all atrocious. What was Tice doing in the last seconds of the first half waiting until there was only 2-3 seconds left before calling a time out? Maybe I was being over optimistic, but I thought he could have taken another shot at the end zone before settling on a field goal. That may have won the Vikings the game.
The second half I was very impressed with the Vikings. Tolerable defense coupled with great special teams play kept the Vikings in the game. And the offense actually put together some decent drives. In fact, the offense ended up with 307 yards of total offense keeping their streak of 300 or more yards alive. I'm sure other people are talking all gloom and doom about the Vikes performance last night, but I saw some things to keep my hopes up, especially considering Randy Moss was back in Minnesota.
I think it is obvious who the MVP of the Vikings is: Randy Moss. Without Moss the Vikings offense is adequate at best. Defenses must constantly double team Moss which opens up the field for the rest of the offense. Culpepper looked lost out there without his buddy. Now, I'm not saying the Vikings' offense couldn't adjust to not having Moss around, or that Culpepper is not a good QB without Moss. What I'm saying is that right now the Vikings offense relies so much on how defenses play Moss that they are going to struggle without him. Here's hoping Moss will play at Lambeau this Sunday. Word is he won't, but I think he will.
I don't know how many of you check the Twins web site on a regular basis, but yesterday they linked to a "mailbag" article by Mark Sheldon that discussed Joe Mauer's progress:
The most recent word I received from Twins general manager Terry Ryan is that Mauer was making progress with the rehabilitation of his surgically repaired left knee and should be on track to be 100 percent behind the plate again at Spring Training. He felt some pain in the crouch last month during Instructional League games, but after seeing his doctor, learned another surgery wasn't needed. Right now, the 21-year-old is continuing his offseason workouts in the Twin Cities area.
This isn't anything new, really, but in the case of Joe's knee, no news is good news as far as I'm concerned. I personally have faith that Joe will be the everyday catcher for the Twins next year.
Just a heads up, but I'll be at a conference most of next week so I don't think I'll be able to update this blog as regularly as I would like. So, there is talk right now that Cheesehead Craig may take over my duties. Honestly, he'll probably get more readers than me, given all his friends over at the StarTrib forums, and that is fine with me.
Did all of you catch this article about the NIT suing the NCAA over anti-trust violations? This is crazy, to be sure, but also very interesting. The NIT used to be a very prestigiuos tournament before the NCAA expaned its field to 64 (and now 65) teams. What the NIT hopes for is that some lower seeded teams will opt for the NIT given that they may have a better chance of winning. This may sound good in theory, but even if the NIT prevails in this lawsuit, I can't imagine anyone turning down a chance to go to the Big Dance no matter how low they are seeded.
Stay tuned for a new "Links of the Day" today. I've got some very thought provoking articles to pass along. At least I was forced to ponder over them for a while.
November 8, 2004
Voter's Guide 2.0
Now that the elections are over we can begin the work of closely monitoring our elected officials to track and document where they truly stand when it comes to stadiums in Minnesota. Behold, the new and improved Greet Machine Voter's Guide! It now lists only the representatives for each district, and it includes icons to help people quickly see if a representative is pro-stadium or not:
-- Pro-stadium (thtat is a tiny picture of the new Twins stadium)
Of course, I'd love to specifically list whether a representative is in favor of a Twins stadium, or a Vikings stadium, or both. That, I think, will happen as the list grows, but for the most part if a person is pro-stadium for the Twins they are probably pro-stadium for the Vikings. Although, they may not think the Vikings situation needs to be addressed as quickly as the Vikings may like.
Also note that there is now a breakdown of the number of pro-stadium legislators vs. the anti-stadium legislators:
Looks like we have our work cut out for us. As always, I need all the help I can get making this list complete. And be rest assured, a list of all the Senators and their stadium stances isn't far behind. Please let me know if you think the Voter's Guide needs anything else, or if you can help out. By the way, I got a note from Jay Weiner of the Star Tribune who said he will refer to the Guide in an upcoming article about stadiums. Hopefully the tag line, "Now we'll know who to blame when the Twins and Vikings leave" will freak some legislators out. It probably won't.
And speaking of stadiums, I have a little news about Red McCombs and the Vikings. Every Sunday I do my darndest to listen to the Sports Huddle with Sid and Dave, and not because I think Sid is a great journalist or even a great interviewer. It is because he always get's the most important people for any issue to call into the show. I've heard interviews with Tim Pawlenty, Steve Sviggum, Jerry Bell, etc., etc. on his show that you can't hear anywhere else. Good stuff, especially for a stadium wacko like me (and Sid).
Anyway, today out of the blue Red McCombs called in to Sid's show. Of course, Sid made sure he complimented Red right away, and then there was the obligatory blah blah blah ... you get the picture. But then Sid asked Red about the new stadium deal in Texas. My ears tuned in as I prayed Sid would ask him the tough questions. Sid asked, and I'm paraphrasing here now, "What do you think of the deal Jerry Jones got down there in Arlington? What was the deal? Half and half?" Red answered, "Yes, Jerry is paying for half of the stadium, but he is also building a lot around the stadium." Sid said something to the effect, "Would that be something you'd be interested in? Paying half and then developing around the stadium?" Red answered, "Yes, that is the model that works now. You know, the people in Blaine had a really good idea. That would have worked." Sid said, "Do you think it would still work?" And Red answered, and this is where it got really interesting, "Yes, I expect that is how someone will do it."
Did you catch that? Someone. That usually signifies that it will not be the person that is saying someone. This isn't really ground-breaking news, but to hear Red talk like this certainly made it sound like he is itching to sell and maybe soon. Perhaps this is why he won't deal with Mike Tice's contract? This may also explain why Fowler and Hecker haven't made an offer yet. Maybe Red is so desperate that by waiting a few more weeks, in order to make him sweat it out, they can get a better deal? Who knows. All we can hope for, though, is that Red sells to an owner committed to keeping the team in Minnesota. A new owner, and an owner committed to Minnesota, is the Vikings only chance to get a stadium built.
UPDATE: Of course, Sid wrote about this himself today. His memory of the interview, as hard as this is to believe, is better than mine. Then again, he can probably go back and listen to the tapes of the show.
November 7, 2004
The Gophers: A once proud football powerhouse
Click on this image of the 1961 Minnesota Golden Gophers:
Depressing, isn't it? I listened to Glen Mason on the Sports Huddle with Sid and Dave this morning. Truthfully I was impressed with the fact that he even lived up to his obligation to call Sid this morning, especially considering how bad the Gophers played yesterday. Mason was not upbeat at all, and he shouldered much of the blame himself. He also admitted to just not knowing at all what is happening to his team. Should Mason be fired? I honestly don't know, and I honestly don't think it would matter if he was.
Consider this: given the choice between playing for the Gophers or another Big Ten team who in their right mind would play for the Gophers (unless they are from Minnesota)? The Gophers play in the heartless Metrodome in front of pathetic crowds with absolutely no tradition. Only between 8,000 - 10,000 students attend the games and they almost always leave early. Contrast this with Wisconsin. Over 83,000 people attended the game yesterday and the crowd was rabidly cheering for the Badgers. It was outdoors, and it was a beautiful atmosphere. Wisconsin puts our program to shame. Why would anyone want to play for the Gophers?
Obviously Wisconsin's superiority wasn't always the case. In fact, it wasn't until UW hired Barry Alvarez that they won their first Rose Bowl. In fact, before Barry Alvarez was hired, Wisconsin had only won one bowl game in their entire history. I think it is apparent that the right coach can make all the difference. However, before we start thinking about coaches there are a couple of other things that need to happen.
Minnesota will not rise to national prominence again until 1) they move back on campus to an outdoor stadium, and 2) the U of M administration makes it a priority to rise back to national prominence. This has happened at Wisconsin, it has happened at Purdue, and the relatively recent success of the University of Miami is a direct result of their administration taking a huge interest in the success of their football program. The U of M's current efforts to build a new, on campus stadium are a step in the right direction towards both of these criteria.
UPDATE: Jim Souhan, the new StarTrib columnist, wrote a great article about the atmosphere at the University of Wisconsin at Saturday's game. Painful. Absolutely painful. The Gophers used to have this atmosphere too. There used to be a parade every fall gameday Saturday that led fans into the Brickhouse. Cheerleading was invented at the U. Ski-U-Mah, the Minnesota Rouser, all 4 of the trophey games. All of this because the U of M used to be the envy of the college football world. I've got to stop before I get too depressed...
November 5, 2004
Texas and stadiums
Enough! Enough of this political mumbo-jumbo. Let's talk about something that is sure to bring us all together under the banner of Unity: stadiums in Minnesota! Or rather, to be more specific, stadiums in Arlington, Texas. As I'm sure all of my loyal readers have already found out, the Dallas Cowboys will be moving to a new stadium in Arlington in 2009. On Tuesday, the people of Arlington overwhelmingly voted to support raising $325 million in tax money to build the new stadium. There is so much to discuss and learn concerning this development.
First of all, I think it is important to note again that the people of Arlington voted through a referendum to make this happen. And according to the article they did so overwhelmingly and in convincing fashion. Most stadium backers in Minnesota are not confident that a referendum would pass here, but I think there is a big difference with what happened in Texas vs. what is happening here in Minnesota. In Texas, Jerry Jones, the owner of the Cowboys, agreed to put up half the money for the stadium: $325 million. Some of this money will be payed for with a 10% ticket tax and a $3 parking charge, but this deal was sold on the fact that the people of Arlington would only have to come up with the other half.
Contrast this with stadium proposals in Minnesota. Pohlad has fought tooth and nail to limit his contribution of a $500 million stadium to $120 million. And Red McCombs hasn't even agreed to anything. He's only said he will make a "sizable" contribution. Most people think he is closer to $150 million, with an extra $50 million to come from the ever decreasing NFL G3 fund. The Vikings stadium will cost upwards of $600 million. Both of these contributions pale in comparison with what other owners have agreed to pony up. Jerry Jones is just the latest example. Again, look at the deal that built Ford Field in Detroit. The Ford family agreed to put up 70% of the stadium cost and the Michigan legislature agreed to put together a deal for the rest. I think the message is clear, and I hope Pohlad and McCombs are finally taking note. In order to get a deal done, you've got to put up a huge chunk of change, and certainly more than they are offering now.
Of course, you also have to have politicians willing to make a deal. And in Arlington you had a gung ho mayor that really, really wanted the team to make it's home there. I've talked before about the economic impact a new stadium can have on a community, and why our local leaders are so interested in building a stadium in their communities. Of course, Arlington is no exception. According to the article above:
Stadium backers pointed to a city-commissioned study by Economics Research Associates projecting that the venue would pump $238 million into Arlington's economy each year...
[Opponents] said that other economists have criticized the city-commissioned report for being unreasonably optimistic.
OK, let's deal with this "unreasonably optimistic" report. $238 million is too optimistic? What if we chopped it in half? That would mean the stadium would only generate $119 million per year for Arlington's economy. So, for an investment of $325 million, the city of Arlington would receive $119 million extra per year. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me.
And again, it's not like the people of Arlington are being fooled into this, or that they are ignorant about the true impact of stadiums. Arlington is also the home of the relatively new Ameriquest Field, home of the Texas Rangers. You would think if building stadiums was such a bad deal that the people of Arlington would have said, "No way. We've been suckered before, and we ain't gonna get fooled again." But not only did they approve the new stadium, they approved it in convincing fashion! Do they know something Minnesotans don't know?
Of course, the deal itself is something we as Minnesotans can only dream of. The people of Arlington voted to approve a half-cent city sales tax, a 2% hotel occupancy tax, and a 5% car rental tax. So, most of the cost for the new facility will be raised by taxing people from outside the community.
So, like I said, there is a lot to be learned here, by everyone involved with stadium politics in Minnesota. First of all, Pohlad and McCombs should know that if they come up with a truly meaningful contribution they could finally have their precious stadiums. Secondly, even if economic impact projections are halved, communities that build stadiums should see a sizable increase in economic activity in the community. Finally, with a big contribution from the owner, and a creative tax financing plan that minimizes the contribution of the average tax payer in the community, a referendum is more likely to pass.
There is no doubt that this deal took a lot of work from everyone involved. The Dallas Morning News has a whole section devoted the Cowboy's new stadium on their web site. But the fact of the matter is that yet another community has figured out how to make a deal, and one that works for everyone. And by the way, the city of Dallas is now really ticked that they let the Cowboys get away, again. I wonder how the Twin Cities will feel when the Vikings and Twins leave.
November 4, 2004
Links of the day
Well, I'm trying to finish up changing the Voter's Guide to show who won. I'll also be using the Guide to track our fine legislators throughout the upcoming legislative session and future sessions. That way when the Twins and Vikings both leave, we'll know who we can focus all our anger on. I guess I'm feeling a little pessimistic. Until I'm done with the new guide, please enjoy these links of the day:
- [UPDATE] Take a look at this article from the student newspaper The Wake: "Letting go of the Left" -- Very, very thought provoking. I can't say I agree with it, but it is worth a read.
- Interesting article on why the Democrats keep losing to "this idiot." Boldly states that Edwards should run in 2008.
- Our own "coffee grounds" says that this election was a good one for Kerry to lose as he would have had a pretty hard time getting anything done with a Republican controlled House and Senate. Also says Edwards will not represent his party in 2008. Excellent, excellent post election analysis.
- Excellent re-post from Waxy.org concerning the need for reason, common ground, and a deep breath.
- Mario quilt. Really, really coooo-al.
- Incredible list of "Incredibles" merchandise. Cha-ching!
- Take the "Jeff Jarvis Post Election pledge."
- Blogcatalog, a new blog directory.
- As much as I think Kos is a "splittle-flecked" wacko, he's right. The Republicans did a great job of taking gays and abortion and combining these issues into "values." It may have had a big part in winning the election.
- Lots of good post-election blogging out there. Go figure. "Turn down the hate." Good advice.
What kills me about this election (besides Kerry losing), is that I am now 0-4 in electing a President. As a college student I voted for Perot (I know, what an idiot!), then I voted for Dole (still finding my way), four years ago I voted for Gore (he did win the popular vote, so I got that going for me), and now I voted for Kerry. At least Minnesota is blue.
November 3, 2004
I wish I had more time, but I don't. There is so much to to talk about. If I had more time I would talk about:
- The election last night. I fear for America's future, not necessarily because Bush won but because how divided we seem to be.
- The Minnesota House races and how the House is now almost exactly split between DFL and GOP. I will definitley be looking more closely at the results and I'll try to guess if a stadium is more likely or not. Whlie I am excited by all the changes (the old group of "do-nothings" had to change), it is still unknown, of course, if that is enough to finally solve this problem.
- The Timberwolves season starts tonight, and Latrell Sprewell is saying some really stupid things. He has played the "feed my family" card and the "they are disrespecting me" card. Please, T-Wolves, please disrespect me for $14.6 million.
- Jimmy Johnson, the FOX NFL analyst and former Cowboys coach actually suggested that Red should either sell or move the team to LA only because of how he feels some fans have poorly treated Daunte Culpepper. If I had more time I would really have some choice things to say about him.
- Please take a look at David's comment in the post below. He's got some really interesting things to say which I wish I had more time to comment on.
- As you might imagine, there is a general feel of disgust on the U of M campus. It will be an interesting day.
November 2, 2004
Got this comment
I got this comment concerning my post "The Apathy of Twins Fans" below:
"I certainly did not want to start a 'who's fans are better' discussion."
You didn't, Craig - the big guy did when he wrote this:
"I hate to say it, but I am beginning to question the quality of fan in Minnesota, or at least the number of quality fans in Minnesota."
Sorry, but I have to call BS on this one.
Go ahead and put together a voter's guide for those candidates who are pro-stadium. Go ahead and cite studies chapter and verse. Take your position and defend it as best you can, because that's how the better position wins.
But please, please, *please* don't descend to saying or even suggesting that you can't be a "quality" fan if your not pro-stadium. Saying that non-stadium-boosting fans are "apathetic". If you want a reason why anti-stadium folks tend to be so upset when they argue with you, it's because of name-calling like this.
Frankly, I don't see any necessary connection between being a fan and supporting stadium construction - after all, I was a fan long before I knew anything about how stadiums were built, and I suspect you all were, too. And I don't see how questioning the "quality" of another fan's interest gets you any closer to getting that stadium built.
First of all, thanks for writing David. I'll admit my rhetoric was very pro-stadium, but don't assume that I bulk you in with apathetic fans out there. If anything I was directing my anger more towards apathetic pro-stadium fans. I don't know exactly what kind of plan you support, but I also wrote:
"As Twins fans we can put pressure on all three of these entities [state, team, and city] and make something happen."
I've also written before that I expect a whole lot more out of Pohlad, not as much as you maybe, but certainly more than the pittance he is offering now.
I assume that you want Pohlad to pay for everything. As unrealistic as I think this is, what are you doing, besides berating me, to promote this plan? Are you writing/calling Pohlad and the Twins and demanding that they do something to solve this mess? I guess I would say stop focusing on people like me who are begging for a balanced approach to solve this mess and start hammering away at Pohlad and Bell and demand that they offer more. I would love it if this happened!
Again, as Twins fans we can all put a whole lot of pressure on everyone involved to make something happen. Anti-stadium people certainly have a part to play. In my previous post, what I was questioning is someone who complains either way, anti or pro-stadium (especially pro-stadium), and then does nothing about it. Of course, I think state financing is going to be a necessity, but that doesn't mean I don't think Pohlad isn't going to have to come up with a whole lot more himself.
Finally, I would be lying if I said it didn't pain me that as a Twins fan you aren't pro-stadium. You would risk losing the team to make a point, that billionaries should pay for their own play houses. Unfortunately, the most likely end result of your point is that Pohlad will be a whole lot richer (no matter what happens Pohlad will make money) and millions of Twins fans in the upper Midwest will be without their favorite team. This, to me at least, is not worth it, especially considering we will eventually end up with a new team and stadium anyway. Over 30 other cities have figured this out. All I'm asking is that we also put together a plan that will finally put this mess behind us. We all have a part to play.
November 1, 2004
Interview questions and answersHey everyone. I'm going to have to "phone it in today," as the TwinsGeek says, since I will be in training all day for a new product we recently purchased for the libraries. I could have written something last night, but I spent my blog writing time last night working on an email based interview regarding UThink for a student newspaper on campus called The Wake. So, if you are interested in the UThink project then read on.
- What made you want to create the Uthink site?
The short answer is I wanted to give undergraduates a way to express an opinion about the U of M and the world around them for that matter. About a year ago the University Libraries conducted a series of focus groups with undergraduates in an effort to find out how the Libraries could serve them better. We were struck with how thankful the students who participated were; they literally thanked us for giving them an opportunity to tell us what they thought. We quickly realized that it was important to find a way where students could easily share their opinions on a regular basis. Blogs seemed like a perfect fit. However, that was just the beginning of the goals we have for blogs and UThink at the U of M.
The University Libraries are using blogs to promote intellectual freedom and to help build community on campus. We also hope to encourage classes and professors on campus to consider using blogs to enhance the learning experience, and a lot of classes are already using UThink in this way. We also hope blogs will help the libraries retain the history and cultural memory of the institution. We hope that students, faculty, and staff will leave their blogs up even after they have left as a record of their time at the university. It should be noted, however, that anyone who starts a blog has complete control over it. You can even totally delete it if you so desire.
Blogs are a great and easy way to express an opinion or share an idea. As the traditional defenders of intellectual and academic freedom, the libraries are excited to offer this opportunity to all the students, faculty and staff of the U of M.
- Are there any others like it? How did you begin?
UThink is the largest academic blogging site in North America. We have more blogs and users than anyone. Harvard also has a blog site (http://blogs.law.harvard.edu), but other than that there is nothing quite like UThink in the United States. Other universities have blogging sites, but none of them have connected blogs to the main authentication system (in our case our x.500 based Central Authentication Hub) like we have. There is not a week that goes by where I don't talk with another university or college that wants to do what we have done.
We started by researching the different types of blog software out there. We knew that whatever software we picked had to be configurable and we also had to be able to connect it to the Central Authentication Hub (CAH -- your email Internet ID and password). The software also had to be able to handle a potentially large number of users on a single installation. Movable Type fit the bill.
- What was the U's initial response? Did they see a need for it?
Yes and no. Everyone at the U that we talked to were excited and actually amazed with the system that we came up with. However, blogs were, and still are, kind of unknown. Most of the people we talk to about UThink are still kind of clueless about what a blog actually is, or what blogs are capable of doing. So, we had to educate a lot of people about what blogs are, their potential, and the goals of the UThink project. Most people at the Universtity were very excited about the possibilities.
- How is it funded? is it costly to run or create?
The University Libraries fund and support UThink. There is a cost to run the project, but in the grand scheme of things it doesn't cost a lot at all. For example, the version of Movable Type that we are running was free (2.661). We will be purchasing a campus-wide site license for Movable Type 3.1 in the near future, though. What this means is students, faculty, and staff will be able to either use UThink as they do now, or they will be able to download the software from the Libraries for their own personal use.
- Do you keep a blog? if so, why do you do it? What's the real draw?
Yes, of course I have my own blog on UThink. I blog to keep my friends and family up to date on whatever is rattling around in my brain. I also blog a lot about the Twins and the Vikings (and the Gophers), and especially about stadiums in Minnesota. It is an important topic to me and I use my blog to share my opinion about that. I actually focus on that quite a bit. But my blog is really an online diary of my life. I blog about my kids and family. I have a photo blog where I share pictures. It is fun to look back and see what I was thinking about on a particular day, or what I was doing.
What is the real draw? I'm not sure what you mean. I guess I would say that I blog for myself, but I love it when what I write makes a connection with another person. I have met so many people through my blog; people at the university and around the world. It has really been a blast sharing my opinion and building a group of regular readers. I am quite amazed that anyone would value my opinion enough to read my blog on a daily basis, but people do. That has been extremely gratifying.
However, that is also one of the main misconceptions about blogs. Just because you write something does not mean someone will read it. It has taken me a good year to build my readership. When I started, my neighbor, my best friend, and my mom read my blog. That was it. If you start blogging only because you want to receive a whole bunch of comments and reader feedback, unless you have a big group of friends who promise to read your musings everyday, you may be a little disappointed. Blogging takes dilligence. Don't expect hundreds of visitors and comments just because you started a blog. It takes time to build an audience. Start a blog for yourself, to practice writing or to track an important topic you are interested in. Eventually, if you want them to, people will start coming to your blog.
- Why do you think blogs are so popular? both for the readers and the writers?
I kind of answered that above, but I think blogs are so popular because first of all, they are a very easy way to create a web page. You don't need to know a programming language, HTML, or CSS. With UThink, you can be up and running in less that 30 seconds! Log in, write your opinion, share a story, post a picture, click "Save," and the software takes care of the rest.
For readers, blogs are totally biased, sometimes offensive, and usually highly opinionated. In other words, they are a lot of fun. If you have an interest there is usually a blog out there that covers that interest in a totally biased and unique way. Blogs are a way to connect people with these similar interests.
Everyone has an opinion about something. Some people more than others. If you are one of these types of people blogging can be a whole lot of fun, and maybe even a little therapeutic.
- How do the Uthink blogs work? Is there any privacy? Can the bloggers or the readers be anonymous? Can anyone read any of the blogs?
UThink blogs can be read by anyone. There currently is no capability within UThink wo make a blog, or a blog posting, private. Readers also may not be anonymous. The initial directory after the UThink domain (http://blog.lib.umn..edu/) is always the user's U of M Internet ID. Essentially, the University Libraries will fight for your right to say anything you want, but you are going to have to stand by what you said.
- Are there any rules or regulations in Uthink? Are there any restrictions on content?
UThink is governed by the same rules that govern the free web space provided to every student, faculty, and staff member by OIT (http://www.tc.umn.edu/~internetid). The University Libraries will defend the intellectual and academic freedom of the user as defined by the Regents of the University of Minnesota (http://www1.umn.edu/regents/policies/academic/Academic_Freedom.pdf) when appropriate.
- Have there been any problems so far (technical or dealing with the users)? Do conflicting viewpoints and controversial topics ever get out of hand? Does anyone moniter the content?
As of today there are 8,195 individual posts or entries on UThink. And while there have been controversial topics posted on various blogs on UThink, and a lot of discussion (and maybe anger) based on those posts, so far there have been no official complaints or any content-based problems on the system. And no, no one "monitors the content." There is simply too much to monitor. And I am very happy to report that there also haven't really been any technical problems either. The system has really hummed since we unveiled it last April.
- How sophisticated is the system in relation to other types of blogs?
The system, Movable Type, can be as simple or as sophisticated as you want. Movable Type is quite possibly the most popular blogging software in the world. It is extremely configurable. If you know what you are doing you can make your blog look like whatever you want, and do some pretty amazing things. Movable Type also has a huge body of users that develop "plug-ins" that extend the functionality of the software. If you would like a plug-in installed just let me know and I'll see if it is compatible with UThink. If so, we will install it.
- How easy is it to use?
Well, I would say it is very easy to use, but I am a little biased. However, like I said above, with UThink you can have your own blog in less than 30 seconds. You could probably have your first post up in less than a minute. We have also developed a tool called the "Template Changer" through which you can select from over 20 different designs and change the look or your blog with a click of a button. We hope to add a lot more templates or themes in the months ahead, and we encourage anybody skilled in HTML and graphic design to submit possible designs for inclusion in the system.
- Why do you think people want to let total strangers read personal things about them? On ther other hand why do people like to read others' journals?
I don't know. Maybe there is a touch of exhibitionism or voyerism in all of us. Blogs are raw, unfettered, and written by people like you and me. The only requirement to write a blog is that you have something to say. That usually isn't a problem for any of us. Sometimes, what you write or read is total crap, but sometimes it is well written and maybe even inspired. I suppose that is what makes it fun. You never know what you will get.
- Do you read any blogs on a regular basis? What are your favorites and why?
I like the TwinsGeek (http://www.twinsgeek.com). I also like Aaron's Baseball Blog (http://aarongleeman.com). Aaron is also a student at the U of M and every once in a while he will write about his experiences at the U. Usually they are hilarious. I also like James Lileks's Bleats (http://www.lileks.com/bleats/index.html), not because I agree with his politics (or disagree) but because he is such a good writer. I am stunned by the quality of his musings, especially considering he usually writes them "off the cuff" and usually late at night. There are more, but these are pretty much the ones I check every day.
- What makes a good blog? If someone wants to start a blog, what are some
things they should keep in mind? How do you create a good blog that people
will like to read?
A good blog is usually well written and has some sort of focus. One of the problems with my blog, as I see it, is that I write about so many different topics that I'm sure I alienate a lot of people. Most well known blogs, or blogs with a lot of readers, usually focus on a particular topic, like politics or the Twins. A good blog is also usually updated regularly, preferably daily, but it doesn't have to be. However, if you are trying to build an audience, don't expect people to come back if you only write once every two weeks. And like I said above, don't expect tons of readers right away just because you started a blog. And don't get frustrated either. Again, blogging takes dilligence.
Start a blog because you have an opinion to share. Use your blog to hone that opinion and your own skills as a writer. Don't shy away from controversy, but stand up for what you believe in. Just start writing and sooner or later you will begin to trust your own opinion more and your ability to coherently express it. Blogging can be very liberating and a lot of fun.
Also, you don't have to start a blog just to get a whole bunch of readers. You could also start a blog to manage a group project, or keep track of what your friends are up to. With UThink you can also start a blog to keep track of citations from library databases, or as a record of the process you used to write a research paper, thesis, or dissertation. There are many different ways to use blogs. The UThink software is very flexible and will allow for a lot of what some people would consider atypical blogging.
- Thanks Again!
Sure thing. Let me know if you have any other questions or if you need me to elaborate or explain further any of my answers above. One extra thing I'd like to add is that for some reason Google ranks UThink blogs very highly. For example, do a Google search for "minnesota wisconsin axe." My site is the 7th on the first page and even comes before the official UW athletics web site. Google seems to rank UThink blogs much higher than other blogging sites, like LiveJournal or Diaryland. I believe this is because the UThink domain (http://blog.lib.umn.edu) denotes that the content comes from both an educational institution and a library. Anyway, I think that is pretty interesting.