June 29, 2005
OK, if you haven't figured this out yet I listen to a lot of music at work. I pop in my headphones and just crank out the code. As you probably also know I am a librarian, and as such I like to organize and categorize things. So, as I was thinking about Pink Floyd and U2 at Live 8, and U2's previous performance at Live Aid in which they played a 13 minute version of "Bad" I started to think about atmospheric music in a similar vein as this powerful song. You know, songs that have weight and power based on usually a single "motif" of music. A stanza of music, perhaps, that features a very simplistic progression of notes on a violin, or a piano, or a guitar, that transcends the entire song making it unforgettable and immediately recognizable. Don't know what what I'm talking about? Check out the list below and maybe you'll grok the boat I'm floating on:
- "Clocks" by Coldplay -- Probably the most recognizable in this category. It features that unmistakable piano motif that is impossible to get out of my head.
- "Bittersweet Symphony" by the Verve -- Those violins! To me they communicate power and majesty, even if the song itself isn't about those topics.
- "Bad" by U2 -- The song that got me thinking about this. Edge's repeating guitar chords and feedback are the featured elements in this song. This repetition gives the song weight and meaning, but also an effective sparseness.
- "Staralfur" by Sigur Ros -- This song begins with a very minimalistic piano part that immediately draws the listener in. This motif is then used throughout the song. Pretentious? Maybe. Beautiful? Yes. (Give it a listen).
- "Porcelain" by Moby -- I've talked about this before, but this song has such wonderful atmosphere and is so sparse that it just has to be on this list.
- "Walking on the Moon" by The Police -- Probably the best and most recognizable bass line in all of rock music. The bass line plus the clash of guitar are the perfect noises to represent a lunar hike.
- "Nightswimming" by REM -- One of REM's crowning achievements. Again, the minimal nature of the song and the piano motif make it immediately memorable and "clean."
Well, that's about it for me for now. If you can think of any other songs in this simililar vein, please let me know. I'm always on the lookout for songs with atmosphere.
This and that
I'm sorry if you don't care about stuff like this, but I am just fascinated by the potential partial shutdown of state government looming this Thursday. Of course, I am interested in it from a stadium standpoint (are they going to tackle that next?), but I am also interested in it because I am a state employee. Fortunately they have already passed a higher education bill, but my heart goes out to the other state employees that are about to be laid off. Dean Johnson seems to be promising that a deal will be reached in time, but I'm not so sure.
Consider this: the DFL has taken it's tax increase for the wealthiest Minnesotans off the table. They realize Pawlenty will never go for that. However, they are also demanding that the Republicans forget about any "racino" at Canterbury Park saying that the votes just aren't there in the Senate or the House. At the same time they are demanding that there be increases in money for education, LGA, and health care. Where does this money come from?
The Strib reported that the Republicans are still touting the racino idea:
House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, and Senate Minority Leader Dick Day, R-Owatonna, defended the racino proposal as the most painless way to raise revenue.
"It's voluntary. ... It creates jobs rather than kills jobs," Sviggum said. "If you raise an income tax, if you raise a statewide property tax ... a business tax, you kill jobs."
Interesting. While I am not in favor of new, state run casinos in the downtown area(s), I'm not so sure I have much opposition for expanded gambling at Canterbury Park. It is definitely voluntary, and (gasp!) we already have gambling there. The Republicans say it could raise up to $218 million per year.
So, again, how does the DFL propose to pay for the increases they are demanding if not through their tax increase proposal or a racino? According to the Pioneer Press:
Johnson said they might be able to plug the revenue gap with "corporate avoidance taxes" on foreign operating corporations, statewide property taxes and small fee increases. DFLers have already accepted Pawlenty's proposed 75 cents-a-pack cigarette "fee" hike.
Plugging the revenue gap on the "corporate avoidance taxes" may help diminish any potential deficit, but I didn't think it could actually raise revenue in the short term. Anyone have any more information? And it pains me to read that my property taxes could go up. But I am intrigued by "small fee increases." What form would these things take? A fee on haircuts? A fee on horse shoes? What other "fees" could do the trick?
Anyway, they've got two days to find more revenue. Personally, I'm now thinking they'll be able to do it, but it won't be pretty. Where is this money going to come from?
I like the T-Wolves pick of Rashad McCants. He's a proven winner, he's got a chip on his shoulder, and he is brimming with confidence. A year under KG's wing will be really good for him. I expect him to prove to be a very good lottery pick.
"Fix You" by Coldplay is a very, very good song. Do yourself a favor and give it a listen.
I've been thinking more about Pink Floyd's reunion for Live 8 and it dawned on me that they are probably only going to play 3-4 songs. My question is, then, what songs should they play? What songs will they play? Here is my list of the songs I hope and think they should play:
- "Another Brick on the Wall Part II" -- Duh.
- "Comfortably Numb" -- Really, this song is the perfect combo of Waters and Gilmour and a perfect way to celebrate their reuniting.
- "Wish You Were Here" -- Few songs in all of rock music are as beautiful as this one.
- "Time" -- I don't think they'll play this one, but I think they should. In fact, they could open their set with the clocks which could symbolize the fact that it is "time" to start playing and recording music together again.
That is all I got for now. Have a good one!
June 28, 2005
OK, just why are you here?
Mr. Cheer or Die wrote a very thought provoking piece today concerning health care expenses in the great state of Minnesota and how he thinks state employees (like myself) should have to pay more in order to reign in costs. To paraphrase Mr. COD, the fact that my co-pays are so low does not encourage me to live a healthy lifestyle and ends up costing the state of Minnesota more money. Increasing my healthcare costs, especially my Rx costs, would most likely force me to think twice about having that cheeseburger for lunch (by the way, it was yummy), get more exercise, and as a result cost the state of Minnesota less as I get older (and less fat).
Being a state employee, I am outraged with this idea. Not because it doesn't make sense, but because I can't afford it. I wrote COD a comment asking him more questions about his plan, but truthfully in the end, and even though he works in the healthcare industry and probably knows what he is talking about, I don't care what he says. You'll take away my benefits over my dead body COD! I choose not to believe your tale of doom and gloom! Now pass the cheesy fries!
Anyway, that is what I love about blogs. I love it when you get to a blog you might visit regularly expecting to read something about the Vikings and instead you get something thought provoking and unexpected. You get a glimpse into the real life of the blog author and a better understanding of the person behind the persona. Truth be told, I love it more when Aaron Gleeman shares something personal about his life than his writing about the Twins because it is unexpected and usually quite humorous. Who can write about the Twins, or the Vikings, or the stadium every single day? I would wager no one and a really hope no one does. It is boring.
COD's first comment to his post above said this:
"Seriously dude, stick to football."
This was signed by "Neil." Well, Neil, like I said above I hope COD doesn't stick to football. As much as I probably don't agree with him on a wide variety of issues I love to learn more about his views (as misguided as they are). COD will undoubtedly bring us more football news than we can shake a stick at come football season, but for now I welcome diversions such as his post above.
So, that brings you to me. As you might have noticed, I am not writing about sports or stadiums much anymore. I sincerely hope you don't mind. It was getting boring and quite frankly I was getting tired of taking a beating from people like David Wintheiser and frightwig. Of course, I was doing my share of snarky pro-stadium blathering, but I just needed a break. I can't argue the same points over and over and over again. I mean, I know I'm right about everything concerning stadiums, I've said my piece, and now I am content to just kick back for a little bit. Besides, without my pro-stadium stuff to react to Wintheiser has been writing some really good stuff lately.
Anyway, I'll be back with pro-stadium stuff once there is action on the bill. You can be rest assured of that. Until then, I hope you don't begrudge me my own "diversions." Like I said above, writing about sports all the time is boring. Boring for you, yes, but really boring for me. Let us embrace the unexpected and encourage it!
I got this comment from "freealonzo" yesterday:
"I disagree that the ballpark situation is bleak. The July 1 deadline is only for budget issues because that's when the State's fiscal year ends.
Once the budget stuff is taken care of Gophers stadium and Twins stadium will be considered and with speed that will leave opponents breathless and shocked."
I love that comment. It definitely brightened my day. Now that is the right attitude to have! Upward and onward people! The Twins stadium is still alive!
June 27, 2005
Books I am excited to read
As you might imagine I use the library a lot. As a result I have a lot of books on hold. These are the books I am most excited to read that are in my hold list right now:
- A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin. Good fantasy is hard to come by. The Wheel of Time is becoming so long winded even fans of the series are getting ticked off, and the Sword of Truth series is so stupid I don't understand why anyone reads it. But the Song of Ice and Fire, the series A Feast for Crows comes from is so good, so rich, so detailed ... It is THE book I am looking forward to. If you haven't read any of these do yourself a favor and pick up A Game of Thrones. You won't be disappointed. I am in position 19 of 124 on the hold list.
- Olympos by Dan Simmons. The sequel to Ilium (read my review!) which in itself was a very, very good book. Ilium combines the stories of the Trojan War and Shakespeare's The Tempest within the context of a science fiction environment. I know, it sounds pretty weird. Olympos picks up the story with Hector and Achilles joining forces to fight the gods. Man! What a good story! Position 4 of 21.
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling. Oh yes, Harry Potter books rock. By far, my favorite in the series has been The Prisoner of Azkaban but really all of them have been unbelievably wonderful. I can't wait for this one. Position 486 of 1832 (and I'll probably get it within a week of its release. The Hennepin County public libraries will probably buy at least 500 copies of this title.)
- Magic Street by Orson Scott Card. More well known for his Ender's Game series, Card is also one of the masters of speculative fiction. If this book is anywhere near as good as Enchantment was I am in for a treat. According to the book's description, Magic Street will deal with the world of faries in the modern world, specifically LA. The description immediately invokes memories of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, which incidently deals with faries and is another title you should do yourself a favor and pick up. Position 24 of 24.
- The Hallowed Hunt by Lois McMaster Bujold. Truly, I wish Bujold would return to the world of Miles Vorkosigan, but this book (the 3rd in the Chalion series) will have to do. The first book, The Curse of Chalion was very satisfactory, but the second book, The Paladin of Souls was a little bit of a let down. Hopefully Bujold can pull it together for this one. Position 9 of 23.
There you have it. If you know of any other books that you think I would enjoy based on this list or any of the other books I have read please let me know. I'm always on the lookout for a good read.
Temple of Columns
No one knows what happened to the civilization at the Temple of Columns. Perhaps they were destroyed by a neighboring village, or maybe they just sailed away. Like the ancient Maya, however, their is little doubt concerning their knowledge of astronomy and mathematics. Just look at the layout of the columns that give this civilization its distinctive name. The colunms are aligned so as to reveal the summer solstice, the vernal equinox, the first day of Spring training, and the opening of the NFL season. Genius!
If you haven't figured out already, I went to the beach this weekend. In fact, I went camping up at Baker Park Reserve out in Maple Plain. Besides swimming and building sand castles we rode bikes, jumped around at the playground, and ate smores at the campfire. A good time was had by all.
Did you see Pawlenty's suggestion for legislative leaders to lock themselves in a room at Camp Ripley until they've got a budget deal? I think there is something to be said for the fact that it is Pawlenty making the suggestion rather than Matt Entenza or Dean Johnson. The Republican leadership seem to be scrambling to find a solution and the DFL look to be content with watching Pawlenty and Sviggum squirm a little bit. Entenza has agreed to attend, but as of 8:40 Dean Johnson has still not said anything. Again, it looks to me that the DFL has the upper hand in all of this and they are milking it for all its worth.
Recently the Republicans made an offer of the 75 cents tax on packs of cigarettes and a return of the racino at Canterbury Park to conquer this budget stalemate. But I expect the DFL to keep pushing for tax increases. And, of course, the stadium is not on anyone's radar.
It should be an interesting week.
June 24, 2005
No sports today. So if you are looking for in depth Twins analysis ... well, you should never come here for that, but if you are looking for stadium news maybe another time. There just isn't anything to report. Today I'm going to write about libraries, or more specifically library catalogs.
You see, I work at a library. The University of Minnesota Libraries to be specific, so I think about library matters a lot. I am the webmaster at the University of Minnesota Libraries and it is my job to make sure faculty, staff, and students can get to the resources they need through our website. Now, there are a lot of resources that we provide access to. We provide access to well over 250 licensed indexes, over 25,000 online journals, and hundreds of online reference sources (dictionaries, encyclopedias, etc.). But any librarian will tell you that the lifeblood of any library is the catalog. Or is it?
At the University of Minnesota Libraries our catalog is called MNCAT. In our catalog we list, arrange, and make searchable everything we own including books (well over 6 million), journals and magazines (well over 35,000 subscriptions), videos, maps, archival resources (did you know the U of M Libraries have one of the largest collections of Sherlock Holmes manuscipts and ephemera?), and much, much more. Our catalog is huge and its complete contents make the U of M Libraries the 17th largest research library in America. However, I have noticed some interesting statistics that may suggest that our catalog is decreasing in importance for people doing research at the U.
Check this out. Way back in 2002 I ran some statistical analysis on our catalog. What I was trying to do was gauge how many on-campus users we have vs. off-campus users of the catalog. These are the stats I found:
Catalog use August 23, 2002 - November 1, 2002:
|Total hits to the catalog||242,375|
|Hits from on campus||180,295|
|Of on campus hits, how many from in a library?||66,176|
|Off campus hits||62,080|
|Total hits to all other licensed indexes combined||154,454|
If you'll recall, I was looking for a statistic on how many people were using the catalog from off-campus. On a whim, I decided to look at how many people were using all our other licensed electronic resources combined (indexes and databases like LexisNexis, or Academic Search Premier) for the same time period. As you can see from the bolded statistics above, I was stunned to find that people used our catalog almost twice as much as people used all our other resources combined. Of course, the people who maintain our catalog were thrilled with this news. Back in 2002, it seems, our catalog was the resource of choice for the researchers at the U of M.
Are you still with me? Good. As you might imagine, I recently decided to run these statistics again to see if the pattern still held true. And what I found was equally as stunning (at least to me):
Catalog use December 8, 2004 -- February 25, 2005
|Total hits to the catalog||201,339|
|Hits from on campus||134,451|
|Of on campus hits, how many from in a library?||35,262|
|Off campus hits||66,888|
|Total hits to all other licensed indexes combined||236,881|
See the difference? Catalog use has dropped, while licensed index use has increased by quite a large margin. This isn't so much troubling as it is interesting (For a librarian like me. Are you still with me?). Essentially this suggests, at least to me, that the nature of library research is changing to, of course, less of a reliance on our catalog, but also perhaps less of a reliance on physical materials held by the libraries. It also suggests that online journal and magazine articles (what most indexes and databases point to) are becoming more and more important for scholarly research. In essence, books are being used less, and online resources more.
Ah, but it isn't that simple. Circulation statistics for the same time periods show that we still are checking out roughly the same number of books. So, what does that tell us? Could be one of two things:
1. Back in 2002 we purchased new catalog software. It could be that our new catalog is so easy to use that people rarely have to visit it more than once to find what they are looking for. Hence the drop in catalog use. Or ...
2. People are no longer using the catalog for information discovery. They are using the catalog more to find a known item.
Personally, I am leaning more towards #2. People are no longer using the catalog (as much) to look for resources on a particular topic. They are using the catalog when they already know what items they are looking for. If a person knows what he or she is looking for, they pop into the catalog, search for the title, either find it or don't, and then leave. Where are they doing their information discovery then? How are they finding out about what items to look for?
The obvious answers are Google and Amazon. And in the case of books, especially Amazon. This is even true of me. Whenever I am looking for a new book to read, I go straight to Amazon. I look for a book I've enjoyed before and then I look for other books that people have purchased along with it. Or I look at the Listmania lists that include a book I've enjoyed and I look at the other books listed with it. The method is foolproof for finding a new book to read. Once I've found one, I then go to the library catalog to see if we own it. Do you see what this means? It means, at least in the case of books, that libraries are being used less for discovery and more as warehouses.
Amazon and Google are kicking our butts in terms of information discovery, and especially serendipitous information discovery. Does this spell doom and gloom for libraries? No, not necessarily. There is more to the information seeking process than discovery. There is still access and retrieval, and of course, Amazon and Google still do not give access to copyrighted and licensed material (the good stuff) that is so vital for scholarly research. As the statistics show above, people are using our licensed indexes and databases a lot more to find information. However, in the face of this competition from search engines and online bookstores, how can libraries reinvent themselves to account for this shift in information seeking behavior, and not just in terms of the resources we pour into our catalog? What kinds of new services and added value can we offer to make the entire process of finding information easier for our patrons and users? I expect we'll see some subtle changes in the coming months here at the University of Minnesota that try to answer these questions.
UPDATE: Now that I think about it, I messed this post up. The focus should have been on the increase in index usage, not the decrease in catalog usage. I'm going to run these stats again in August to see if they still hold true. The fact of the matter is, however, research strategies are changing. We'll see what August's statistics suggest.
June 23, 2005
Links of the day
- IQ game from Ripley's Believe It Or Not. Surprisingly addictive. I can get it down to two balls.
- It looks like people still steal more online music than they actually buy, even with the ease of iPods and iTunes.
- Shame on me for considering this, but I am very fearful of my daughter's teenage years...
- See the evolution of the Starbucks logo, and get a little history on sirens and mermaids.
- Learn how to speak Ewokese (and Huttese for that matter).
- Great list of reasons to fear Canada: "Seems not to mind that one of its provinces has turned almost entirely French."
- Stunning display of drawings by children from Korea showing their complete hatred of all things Japan. Wow.
- Spin Magazine's top albums of the last 20 years. Can't argue with OK Computer by Radiohead.
That's all I've got time for! See you later...
June 22, 2005
Like watching a train wreck
I'd be surprised if you haven't seen this news yet, but apparently the projected state budget deficit is about to get larger. To the tune of between $250 to $300 million due to a state Supreme Court decision that will allow corporations in Minnesota to claim tax breaks for foreign operations. The state, it seems, expects a lot of corporations to begin claiming these tax breaks which could add up to a lot of money in a hurry. According to some lawmakers, this deficit won't be dealt with until the next legislative session and until after the state's budget forecast in November, but that didn't stop both sides of the aisle from taking turns pointing fingers (DFLers) and discounting the severity of this problem (Republicans).
What a mess. And after reading about the DFLers reaction to this fiasco, and the Republican's vigil outside the door of Dean Johnson's office, I'm beginning to sense a government shutdown is almost a given. Look at this from the DFL point of view. By standing firm on their desire to raise taxes for the wealthiest Minnesotans to fund programs like MinnesotaCare they effectively have the high ground in this battle. Especially when you factor in this growing deficit. Many Minnesotans are beginning to see the raising of taxes as an inevitability and they are starting to look at Pawlenty and Sviggum as too inflexible. If Pawlenty capitulates he will need to break his no new taxes pledge, and in political-speak that will be a "gift that keeps on giving" for the DFL come the next elections. However, if Pawlenty does not give in, his budget cuts will look/be so extreme that I don't know how he will survive.
My prediction: The DFL stands firm, the government shuts down, and Pawlenty ends up taking the heat. What do you think Oracle?
And what does all of this mean for a new Twins stadium? Stick a fork in it, as Douglas has already said. I can't even see them getting to the Gopher's stadium in this climate. Of course, I continue to pray that I am wrong about all of this.
Secondly, check out Mr. Cheer or Die today as he continues his series on advice for Zygi with a discussion about the stadium. In his post he writes convincingly that the new Vikings stadium needs some kind of signature attraction, ala the pirate ship at Raymond James. I made some suggestions in the comments focusing on Norse mythology. Please add some more!
Finally, as many of you know, I am big on trying to find the "signs from God" in everyday things. For example, a while back I wrote about "whatever song comes on next ..." and how I play that game to determine the outcome of the future or my present course of action. Well, as many of you know I also subscribe to Netflix, and out of the blue Netflix sent me a movie that wasn't even on my queue. In fact, I already had three movies at home so to get a fourth for no reason was totally unexpected. What movie did they send me? It was Dumb and Dumberer, the sequel to Dumb and Dumber.
At first I thought, why did they send me this? Do they think I will enjoy this based on the other selections in my queue? I was offended! I was outraged! But then I thought, well, I do have both The Ladies Man and Hot Chick in my queue so I guess I should keep my moral indignation to a minimum.
Then it dawned on me, this is a sign from God! He is trying to tell me something through Dumb and Dumberer! I mean, what other explanation is there for getting this random movie, one that isn't even in my queue, and especially when I already have three movies at home? So, I watched the movie last night, and I watched it very closely as I tried to decipher the message meant only for me.
Unfortunately, the only message I could get out of this movie is that I have somehow offended God in a most egregious manner. What a bad movie. It is so bad it might have to go on The List. Last night I lost two hours of my life that I can never get back for a movie that Gitmo is probably using as a torture device. What have I done to offend thee, Lord? Well, fortunately it seems my punishment is over. Believe me, I am trying to think of the offense that caused my punishment so as to avoid this in the future.
If anyone else has seen this movie and can think of what other kind of message God is trying to send me, I would be grateful for any ideas you have. Otherwise, I will continue to think I have been chastised.
June 21, 2005
Off the cuff
Just had my Chipotle burrito. As you might expect it was delicious. Now on Friday, I'll get one for free. To some, two Chipotle burritos in one week might seem excessive or even impossible to stomach. If you are that type of person I'm sorry to tell you that you are a pansy.
Now for a little Father's Day weekend news. On Saturday I marched in the Parktacular parade with my two boys in our Cub Scout pack. That is more fun than you might expect. Then on Saturday night Cheesehead Craig and I went to Batman Begins at the MOA. That is a good movie. Exactly what I would expect out of a Batman film, and it looks like the old Batman movies didn't even happen in this Batman universe. Should be good. The rest of the weekend I spent swimming at the beach and teaching my son how to ride his bike. It was the perfect weekend.
And speaking of super-hero movies, Batman Begins put me in the mood for more of the same, so I watched Hellboy last night. Ugh. That was stupid. Luckily I rented it and didn't spend full price to see it on the big screen. It was bad, to be sure, but it wasn't the worst movie I have ever seen. And if you are wondering, here is my list of the worst movies I have ever seen.
- Tomb Raider -- the worst, most boring, most anti-climactic movie I have ever seen. Bar none.
- Igby Goes Down -- Made me want to blind myself with an ice pick. What a piece of crap.
- League of Extraordinary Gentlemen -- Holy cow, it would take me forever to list all the flaws of this epicly bad movie.
- Leaving Las Vegas -- A real pick-me-up type of movie. I still haven't recovered.
- Son of Sam -- Spike Lee should never be allowed to make another movie again.
There you have it.
And speaking of movies, I was talking with a friend about Revenge of the Sith a couple of days ago and we got to talking about the scene where Darth Vader is re-awakened as the villain we all know and love. If you'll recall, Vader is strapped to the table and it is slowly being lifted into an upright position. Emperor Palpatine is behind him looking menacingly over his creation and you can just see the evil glee on his face. Then, when the moment is just right Palpatine speaks his first words to his new and improved apprentice:
"Lord Vader, can you hear me?"
What the ?!??!? That is the best he could do? "Can you hear me?" I half expected him to say, "Lord Vader, can you hear me? This suit is a new design and might have a couple of bugs. Why don't you just give me the old thumbs-down sign if you see my lips moving but you can't hear a word I'm saying." Man! When you think about it, that line is weak. It should have been something like:
"Rise Lord Vader, and join me in ruling our new empire of fear and despair!"
Or something to that effect. I tell you what, give me $100 million and a few cameras and I'll give you a blockbuster you wouldn't soon forget!
That's about all for now. And if you are going to Twins blogger night, have a good time! I will be going to my son's soccer game instead. Some things just take precedence over the Twins.
June 20, 2005
Buy a Chipotle burrito tomorrow
Buy a Chipotle burrito tomorrow (the first day of summer), keep your receipt, and bring it back for a free burrito anytime before June 26th!
They are calling this promotion the Summer Soulstice.
Click the link for more info! I know where I'll be eating lunch tomorrow.
Painful to read the newspapers
There must be some hint of action on the Twins stadium bill at the capitol since both TC dailies are coming out fast and furious with stadium news. This could slightly be corroborated by something I heard cadidate-for-governor Steve Kelley say at the Parktacular parade this last Saturday. When asked if the budget stalemate is nearing an end Kelley responded, "I expect we'll get our work done before June 30." Of course, we've heard these "expectations" before. Let's hope our legislators can get the job done, especially for for the sake all those people about to be laid off.
Even with all this stadium news, though, it is still painful for me to open the newspaper. I read the paper with one eye shut and a cringe on my face since it seems the anti-stadium forces are gathering a pretty impressive amount of steam. In the Pioneer Press today, the four biggest opponents are outlined, including "rookie of the year" candidate John Knight. Does anyone know what law firm he works for? I'd like to avoid it if I ever need a lawyer. Nothing personal, I just don't like his vehement opposition to something I would give almost anything to have.
And even though the Strib had an article in today's paper that seemingly discussed the virtues of the St. Louis Cardinals plan for a new ballpark, I still found some interesting tidbits that we could look at a little closer. First of all, you'll recall that last Friday I discussed how I thought that the history of the team, their nostlagia, and the time the Cardinals have spent in St. Louis could actually work against them in their efforts to get a new ballpark. This idea was reiterated in the article, but this time with a focus on their success:
Jim Baker, St. Louis County's director of administration, said it quickly became clear that the team's relatively good financial standing in fact hurt the Cardinals' chances for public money. "I think it was a real shock to the Cardinals to realize the more successful you are as a sports franchise, the less leverage you have," he said.
Again, the Cardinals have far less leverage than the Twins in that they make a ton of money, the team is worth at least two times more than the Twins, and their fan base and local media revenue is also twice as large. Given all this success, the Cardinals threats to move, even across the river into Illinois, were probably met with a chuckle.
Even with these differences, and even though our situations are hardly the same, most anti-stadium people around here still look at the Cardinals plan as the way to go. I am of the opinion, though, that it still wouldn't matter if the Twins did agree to put up $300 million of their own money. People around here would still be against the plan. According to the article above, people are ticked off with the $85 million the Cardinals are getting from the city and state:
"When I was younger, the sun rose and set on whether the Cardinals won or lost," said Fred Lindecke, a retired St. Louis newspaper reporter and a leading critic of public subsidies for professional sports. "I'm never going into that new ballpark."
The team, Lindecke said, is getting $310 million through naming rights, public seat licenses and other revenue -- giving the Cardinals what Lindecke calls a "free ballpark."
Stunning, isn't it? Even with the $300 million pledge, there is still sizable opposition. I am convinced this would also happen in the Twin Cities. During the Local Government committee hearing just last month Tony Cornish make the statement that if the Twins agreed to put up half that we wouldn't even be having this conversation. It would be a done deal. Given the difficulties the Cardinals have had, I just can't agree with this sentiment. Some people will always be against any plan and determined to see the Twins wave goodbye. (Another example of this just happened in Florida, with the Marlins agreeing to put up almost $200 million of their own money and the rest coming from Miami and the state. They, of course, were turned down).
Something the article does not discuss that definitely needs to be mentioned is the fact that even though the Cardinals are one of the most successful franchises in baseball, even though they make more money than most teams, even though they have a higher payroll than most teams, with a new stadium their revenue streams are about to get even better. Recent success aside, the Twins cannot continue to compete at this level, either financially or on the field, without a new ballpark.
June 17, 2005
Have a great weekend!
That's all I've got for today, folks! Thanks for stopping by. And I think this did the trick. I think my writer's block is somewhat healed. Now I just need to come up with a remedy for writing crappy posts. Until next week!
Issue 6: What is the Vikings stadium situation?
I will admit that I was very depressed to read this statement in the Strib today concerning Zygi Wilf:
Wilf said he hopes to persuade the Legislature to form a stadium authority in Anoka County to centralize stadium planning. He said he has pledged to pay one-third of the stadium cost, in addition to buying the land for a multi-use development.
Shoot! That is a little bit of a let down. I had heard so many rumors that Zygi would be more willing to pay for the stadium himself. Maybe he has changed his mind? It also appears he has changed his mind on a roofless stadium saying:
Wilf hedged on his previous insistence on building an outdoor stadium, saying he is amenable to "elements of a controlled environment."
Shoot again! I was so looking forward to outdoor football. Maybe Zygi was told in no uncertain terms that if he wants an outdoor stadium, he would have to pay for it himself. I still have hope for this, but it is dwindling fast. Man!
What a rube I am. Obviously I have way too much hope when it comes to all of this stadium nonsense. Truthfully, here is what I really think. I am almost certain that the only way the Vikings will get a stadium is if the Twins leave or are contracted. The fear of God has to be put in the legislature to do anything, and the Twins leaving would definitely put the fear of God in them. It is a high price to pay, but at least we'll still have the Vikings.
Having said that, Zygi has made some very refreshing statements concerning the Vikings long term viabilty in the state of Minnesota including, "If we're stuck in the Metrodome, then we'll be stuck in the Metrodome." How long he keeps singing this tune is anyone's guess, but it is sure nice while it lasts. I just hope he keeps talking like this until LA gets its own football team.
Issue 5: Which version of U2's "Elevation" is better: the album version, the Tomb Raider mix, or the Influx mix?
This is a tough one. On the one hand I am usually partial to original, album released recordings. However in this case I may have to give both mixes the nod over the album version of "Elevation." The Tomb Raider mix absolutely rocks, and the Influx mix is so different and refreshing that I find myself wishing they had used that version on All That You Can't Leave Behind. In the end, though, the rankings break down as such:
- Elevation Tomb Raider mix
- Elevation Influx mix
- Elevation (album version)
The Greet Machine has spoken.
Issue 4: Why can't the Twins pay for the stadium themselves ala the Yankees or the San Francisco Giants?
This will be "off the cuff." The Strib had an interesting editorial that mentioned this topic a while back that I will quote from now:
As we've said numerous times, it would have been wonderful for teams to have built new ballparks on their own. The Giants were actually able to do that by riding the Bay Area's dot-com bubble of the late 1990s, but they couldn't do it today. The Yankees can do it because of their huge local TV contract. The Cardinals can finance most of their new digs because they own development rights on the adjacent real estate. Other teams lack those advantages.
SBG also points out that the Yankees can deduct the cost of the stadium against their total revenues, thereby reducing their payment to the other teams. It actually makes financial sense for them to do this.
What it all comes down to though is money. The Twins don't have a lot compared to these other teams and Pohlad has already made it plainly clear that he won't use his personal fortune. The Cardinals and the Yankees have huge cable TV packages that roll in the cash, and they have huge, rabid fan bases that also increase their revenue. The Twins, quite frankly, have neither. According to the Twins, if they built their own stadium they would not increase their revenue enough to stay competitive over the long term. We can argue that point until we're blue in the face, but that is what they are telling us.
And if I could, I'd like to stick with this stream of consciousness for a little bit and discuss maybe one more thing that the Twins actually have that the other teams don't that might also make all this blackmail from the team possible. The Twins have leverage. The Twins have the leverage to threaten contraction, or to threaten that they'll move away from the state if they don't get what they want. The Yankees, the Cardinals, and the Giants do not have this same leverage. At all. Can you imagine Steinbrenner threatening to move the Yankees out of New York? He would be laughed at by the state, the city, the fans, heck even MLB would snicker at something that outrageous. The Cardinals, the Giants, and the Yankees will never leave their respective areas. Everyone knows it, and therefore they have no leverage.
The Twins have this leverage, and they are using it to its maximum potential. I don't like it, you don't like it, no one likes it ... but that is the way it is. I would be interested in any comments on this point as I am sure it is full of holes. Am I on to something or am I off my rocker?
What chance does the stadium bill have to pass during this special session?
If you have been wondering let me assure you that I have definitely been paying attention to all the stadium news coming out of the Pioneer Press and the Star Tribune lately. My problem is that every time I try to write about it I end up getting so disgusted both with myself and the situation that I stop. I read about the Hines group and how they are now in charge of the Rapid Park development, and more importantly how they don't care if a stadium is built or not. I read Nick Coleman's vitrolic diatribe against the stadium using all the same idiotic anti-stadium arguments that I've read so many times before. Truth be told, I was so angry about Coleman's column that I actually wrote a response to it. It is sitting in draft mode on this site, but will probably never see the light of day. And, of course, I read the tepid and conditional support the Minneapolis City Council is giving to the stadium plan. Actually, I read it last night, after which I seriously couldn't sleep as I planned my attack against this outrageous stupidity. How could the very city that this stadium will reside in be so wishy-washy? It boggles my mind.
Every time I sit down to finish a post off about any of this, though, I just plain fall flat. I still believe passionately about the benefits a new stadium, and of course keeping the Twins, would have on our community, but deep down inside I am steeling myself for the inevitable. The anti-stadium crowd, with their twin arguments of "this money should go to education" and "no corporate welfare for billionaires," have again vanquished any hope I have of seeing outdoor baseball in this God-forsaken state any time soon. Couple this with the state budget fiasco, the fact that Sviggum's support is hanging by a thread, the apathy of your average Twins fan, this horribly rainy weather we've been having ... it all spells doom and depression for your's truly.
Back to the question at hand. Do I think the Hennepin County plan has a shot in this legislative session? Is there still a chance? Yes. But it is slim and with every passing day of the budget impasse it is getting slimmer. Too slim, actually, for me to have much hope.
And to all the anti-stadium people I have just one thing to say: I hope you are right. I sincerely hope we can keep saying "no" and still expect to keep the Twins.
Raising kids. What is the most important thing we can teach our children?
I had an interesting conversation with my parents a couple of days ago which resulted in the question above. My answer I spoke without any hesitation: work ethic. Many parents, as my mom pointed out, are satisfied with their parenting "as long as their children are happy." Happiness, of course, is important, but is a "happy" child necessarily learning how to be successful in this world? Maybe, maybe not.
A good work ethic leads to happiness. A good work ethic will serve a child forever. I don't care if my children are cleaning up toys in the family room, or picking weeds in the backyard, or working on their homework, I try to stress working hard at whatever they do, finishing the job, and trying their best.
I am a firm believer in the power of working hard, and proving you are a hard worker. In my own hiring practices I always look for the hard workers, even before a person's skill set or experience. You can teach a person to do anything, but work ethic is harder to come by.
So, in conclusion, that is what I'm stressing to my kids. Work hard, and good things will happen to you. Of course, that's not all, but I think if I can instill a good work ethic in all of them they will be off to a good start.
Given that I am suffering from a nasty case of writer's block, I'm going to try something new today. I'm going to try to update this blog a lot by writing about "issues" that I'm thinking about today. Could be politics, could be stadiums, could be the Vikings, could be music, could be books ... you get the idea. Hopefully, it will break me out of this funk.
Issue 1: The budget stalemate.
Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that the great state of Minnesota is facing a government shutdown and over 15,000 employee layoffs thanks to the budget impasse currently griping the state capitol. You may or may not care, but I definitely care since it 1) affects so many people and 2) it brought the stadium bill to a screeching halt. However, even with all this doom and gloom I had to laugh at this quote from Sen. Steve Murphy, DFL-Red Wing, who said legislators are concerned about getting through the special session "without looking like a bunch of stumblebums."
What a great word: stumblebums. I'm going to use that word all day. Of course, the ironic thing is they already look like a bunch of stumblebums so I guess you can chalk this up as yet another failure by our esteemed legislators. Anyway, I've been thinking more about this stalemate and just how to get around it. On the one hand, Dean Johnson is right in saying this is what Minnesota asked for by electing a Republican House and a Democratic Senate. On the other hand, I'd like to think that reasonable people can come to some kind of agreement or compromise before jobs are lost.
So, I guess the question is, who should cave first? Is this the Republicans fault or the Democrats? Personally, I'm beginning to think the Democrats should cave given that we have both a Republican House and Governor. I don't think they'll be able to overcome that. On the other hand, if their goal is to make Pawlenty look bad and break his no new tax pledge, they are making some good headway on that. However, in the interest of the state funcitioning properly, I am thinking the Senate should capitulate and do it soon. It is time to fold their cards and let the consequences play out.
That's all I got for now. More later...
June 15, 2005
Links of the day
- Author of the Anarchist Cookbook renounces his work and calls it "misguided" on Amazon.com
- Ever wonder how to "Prepare half a box of Kraft Mac and Cheese" or "Tune a guitar"? Visit wikiHow.
- Vader on Wheel of Fortune. Creative (audio important on this one)
- Very interesting. Laptops outsell desktops for the first time.
- 30 Things You Didn't Know You Could Do on the Web. Some things I knew, others I didn't.
- Fascinating list of strange roadside attractions (with descriptions) in Minnesota. This will be very helpful when the Twins leave and I'm looking for things to do on future summer nights.
- Yotophoto.com. Find free stock photos to use, I guess, as you see fit.
- "I am a Japanese school teacher." Hilarious and unbelievable stories from an African-American English teacher in Japan.
- Things my girlfriend and I have argued about. Another hilarious site. (from Broken Wing)
- Build a decent air conditioner for around $30. If I was a poor college student I would give this a try.
- Live 8. What I would give to get to thie London concert. Pink Floyd? U2? Sting? REM? This would be heaven on earth.
Earth to Shane
Ground control to Major Tom, your circuit's dead, there is something wrong! Can you hear me Major Tom? Can you hear me Major Tom?
Blah blah blah, stadium. Blah blah blah idiots in the legislature. Blah blah blah Krinkie, blah blah blah blah moron. Blah blah blah Nick Coleman, blah blah blah looks like Gollum.
Pink Floyd reuniting. Fantastic.
Father's day approaching. Hoping for Star Wars DVD set.
Twins game last night. Missed it.
Watched The Aviator instead. Decent.
Zygi Wilf? Optimistic.
New Coldplay album. After 10 listens sounds pretty good.
June 14, 2005
Sorry, everyone, but I just don't have it in me. I have literally stared at my computer now for a good 10 minutes trying to find my muse, but nothing is coming. I honestly don't know what to write. If you want to hear about anything let me know. Otherwise enjoy the beautiful day and hopefully I'll be cured of this writer's block soon.
June 13, 2005
A day at the races
As many of you already know, Stick and Ball Guy, Mr. Cheer or Die, Cheesehead Craig, and I all finally met for the first time this weekend. We met at the Chipotle in Hopkins for some burritos and tacos before heading off to the races at Canterbury Park (sans Cheesehead Craig who had a previous engagement). I spotted SBG right away thanks to his "Don't blame me I voted for Santana/Nathan" T-shirt, but I was a little surprised with COD's attire which happened to be a Chris Hovan jersey. When you meet someone for the first time I guess their true colors come out. (Just kidding. Both were dressed as you would expect.)
The races were a blast. It was the first time I had ever been to Canterbury Park and only the second time I had ever been to a race track. Races take place about every half an hour which gave us time to pick our horses and chat about the Twins, Vikings, blogging, and life in general. SBG has already admitted to losing $10, which sadly makes me feel like a complete idiot and the unluckiest person in the world. At the end of the day I lost over $30. In other words, given my luck I'm feeling less and less positive about a new Twins stadium everyday (more about that fiasco around lunch, I hope).
One other thing that struck me was the false impression I had of both SBG and COD before we met. Based on their blogs, I had a picture of their demeanor and attitudes that turned out to be not necessarily wrong, but definitely different. They probably felt the same thing about me. It makes me wonder about our blog personas vs. the way we really are. Which personalities are a better representation of our true selves? Do our blogs do a better job of representing our true attitudes about the world around us, or are our blogs really just a mask that allow us to have fun and spout off but don't really mirror our public personas? Perhaps.
I'm leaning more towards my blog being a better representation of my true self. In public I try to be light-hearted about all of this stadium business, but deep down I am a bona-fide freak about getting a new Twins stadium. This, of course, is evidenced by all the time I've spent writing about this issue on these hallowed pages. In other words, this blog is very theraputic for me. Without it, my wife would have gotten very sick of all my stadium talk by now. Ha!
Anyway, back to the races. At the end of the day I ended up only winning one race, and my pay-out was only a dime since I bet a four horse "extaca" (of the four horses I picked, two of them had to finish 1-2 in any order). I know, what a risk I took. We left around 4:00 after about 6 races, and COD gave me a ride home (thanks again COD!). Needless to say, we will definitely have to get together again.
That's about it for now. More later, I'm sure...
June 10, 2005
A list of inspired songs
The following is based on a conversation my brother in law and I had recently concerning inspired music. And by inspired I mean the type of music where even the band or composer would agree that they didn't write the song at all, but that it was handed to them by a higher power to create the perfect song. A song through which they were just a medium for a message from God Himself, where the song transcends all time and space to become majesty. These are only a few of these types of songs, and you are welcome to suggest more in the comments below. And please, forgive my hyperbole:
- "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen -- I'm not a really big Queen fan, but this is probably the best example of this phenomenon. You can't tell me that Freddie Mercury wrote this himself. It is the essence of "inspired." I will drop everything to listen to it when it comes on the radio.
- "Porcelain" by Moby -- What a beautiful work of art, the perfect combination of techo, lyrics, melody, and harmony. It also has a unique simplicity or minimalism that allows the message to escape. Wonderful.
- "Pictures of You (Extended version)" by The Cure -- This is the song that prompted our conversation. Again, it has a very airy quality that encourages the listener to concentrate on what the song is saying and the emotion it is encouraging. It is, quite frankly, the perfect pop song.
- "Hot for Teacher" by Van Halen -- What? You think only frilly-frou-frou songs can make the list? Here is a song that you can't help but get pumped up about. The beginning drum solo, the raunchy lyrics, the face-melting solo ... it is everything a 1980s rock song should be. It is an inspired piece of work.
- "Bittersweet Symphony" by The Verve -- Do you remember the Nike commercial? This song spoke to people. Of course, it made them buy Nike shoes, but the very fact that this ad campaign was so successful says a lot about the power of this song. I challenge anyone to listen to this song and not be completely blown away by the opening crescendo.
- "Where the Streets Have No Name" by U2 -- Curt in Grand Forks and I are going to the U2 concert at the Target Center this Sept. If they play this song (which they probably will) I will probably weep. This is an example of a song that has grown in meaning and stature since its release. When it was first written it spoke about African famine, but now it is a song of healing in the wake of 9/11. Again, just an inspired piece of work.
- "Do You Realize?" by The Flaming Lips -- More a personal selection, but I can't help but listen to this song and think of my daughter. Fantastic music and a wonderful message.
- "In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel -- This song has what quite possibly is the most perfect lyrical stanza in all of rock music, "In your eyes, I see the doorway to a thousand churches." What a brilliant example of auditory poetry! That one line evokes beauty, mystery, spirituality, reverence ... isn't that what love is all about? By far, this is Gabriel's crowning achievement.
- "Moondance" by Van Morrison -- Another personal selection, but one that I'm sure Van Morrisson would even agree is his best work. The whole "Moondance" album is really a work of art, but this song stands out as such a unique artistic breakthrough it can only be considered as inspired. And it is my wife's favorite song, for whatever that is worth.
- "Peaches" by the Presidents of the United States of America -- Yes, these guys were inspired. They were goofy, to be sure, but this song is a great example where their goofiness resulted in a song that speaks to the masses. Yes, oh yes, I want to move out into the country and eat a lot of peaches!!! There would be nothing better! Just a hilarious, fun song where everything came together. In a word, it was inspired.
That's about it from here. Have a great weekend everyone! As SBG has already written, I'll be at Canterbury Park with SBG and Cheer or Die this weekend betting on the horses and smoking some stogies. Should be fun.
In case you were wondering...
Packer fan and Viking fan
Live together as only two friends can
Side by side in our spacious backyard
Oh Lord, why can't we?
Sung to the tune of "Ebony and Ivory" by McCartney and Jackson
If we can do it, if a Viking fan and a Cheesehead can live with such harmony, then surely stadium opponents and stadium supporters can come together and rid ourselves of this monkey on our backs and reach a compromise.
So, lift your lighters and sing with me:
Na, na, na, na, na, na, na ... Na, na, na, na ... Hey Kirby!
Na, na, na, na, na, na, na ... Na, na, na, na ... Hey Kirby!
Kirby, Kirby, Kirby, Kirby, Kirby, Kirby, Kirby ... whaoaoa! whaoaoao!
Na, na, na, na, na, na, na ... Na, na, na, na ... Hey Kirby!
Do you feel the love?
June 9, 2005
The Roof: Part II
You may recall that I've written about a roof (or the lack of roof) on the new Twins stadium before. Even with all the rain we've been having I still think it is a luxury and not a necessity, but let me clarify something: I would LOVE to have a roof on the new ballpark. No doubt about it.
As you probably know, there were two articles about "the roof" in the Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press today:
Let's start with the Star Tribune story. In it we have some of the same old points that have already been made concerning the proposed ballpark. First of all, it will not have a roof and it will not be built "roof ready." This makes sense from a Hennepin County standpoint since they will be assuming all of the debt. A roof is not a necessity for a Hennepin County resident since we can all just look out the window and decide if we should go to the game or not. Truly, why should Hennepin County residents pay for a purely out-state necessity? I'm OK with that.
There were also some interesting comments from architechts concerning just how roof-ready the stadium could be made. Some suggested that it would be cost-prohibitive to even make it roof-ready, and some suggested anything is possible. Some even suggested that a roof could be put on even without it being made roof-ready. I am in the "anything is possible" camp. Given enough will-power and technical know-how, it could be done, even after the fact I should think. The main issue, as it is right now, is that no one will want to pay for it. No one wants to pay for it now, and no one will want to pay for it then. So, we probably shouldn't worry about it.
What struck me most about this article, though, was a quote by Steve Sviggum:
House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, said this week that it was his understanding that the proposal before the Legislature was for an open-air stadium capable of adding a roof in a few years if the public wanted it.
"I thought this is something that could be done incrementally. It could be my misunderstanding of the proposal. ... It makes it a little less attractive."
That is not good to hear. Not good at all. First of all it suggests that there are many legislators that probably still think the ballpark will be built roof-ready, and even worse it suggests that Sviggum's support is waning. Ouch ouch ouch. We'll have to watch this development carefully. He did suggest he will still support the bill, but his tepid support is definitely not a good thing.
Enter Rep. Loren Solberg. Today in the Pioneer Press Solberg said that he has an amendment ready to use the TIF method of financing to put a roof on the ballpark. As with any new development I try to look at it from the perspective of "does this help or hurt the chances for a ballpark to actually be built in the Twin Cities area." In this case, I am still not sure. In fact, I don't know what to think.
Let's get the obvious out of the way. Solberg's amendment suggests that he is in favor of the Hennepin County proposal. I have him marked as anti-stadium, but I may have to change that. I have written him to ask him to clarify his stance (for example, would he still support the bill even without a roof?) and I will certainly let you know if/when I hear back from him. If he is now pro-stadium, that means we'll have 66 pro-stadium legislators in the House that I can identify! That would be fantastic.
However, regardless of how many different ways you can justify using TIF money to finance a roof, it is still state money and it would bring state money back into the equation. One of the best things about this bill is that it is simple. There is one funding source with predictable revenue streams. Bringing TIF money back into the mix confuses the issue and could cost the bill some votes.
On the other hand, the votes we would probably lose the most of would be Hennepin County legislator votes, and we could never count on them anyway.
Is it conceivable that Solberg's amendment could strengthen the base of out-state votes, given the fact that they already support the bill and this amendment would probably make their constituents, especially the Twins fans, even happier.
Like I said, I am a little confused over what to think about this development. Again, hopefully we'll get a chance to see this played out.
Speaking of which I saw Pawlenty on KMSP this morning and he again said he favors the Hennepin County proposal, that he expects it to be heard after all the important business of the legislature is taken care of, and that the lack of a referendum is not a deal breaker for him. Hallelujah!
Finally, there was a point in time that the Metrodome was an outdoor ballpark. Take a look at this photographic evidence.
Pomp and Circumstance
I know, I know, there are a couple of juicy stadium articles in today's papers. I will have to comment on them around lunch. Yesterday, however, my second son graduated from kindergarten:
My son with his teacher
At first I thought a kindergarten graduation ceremony was a little silly. I mean, what are we supposed to say to the new graduates? "Congratulations! You've got at least 12 more years of school!" But as the ceremony progressed I gotta admit I got a little choked up. Seeing all these innocent little kids so proud of themselves, and seeing all the parents with their video cameras and digital cameras ... well, let's just say there was a lot of love in the room.
Then my son got his "diploma." When he walked up to the stage and shook his teachers' hand, I got a little verklempt. There is no shame in that. I have no trouble admitting it. My boy is graduating from kindergarten! For a parent, maybe even more than the child, this is a big stepping stone to "growing up." Of course, I tried not to let my emotion get the best of me, but I was all smiles and cheers for my little boy.
It got me to thinking, as I've gotten older and my kids have gotten older, I've found myself getting more emotional over a lot of things actually. Is this a troubling development, or should I just say screw it and let it all hang out?
It reminded me of a passage in a book I'm reading, The Plot Against America by Philip Roth. It is a great, great book by a Pulitzer award winning author about an alternate history that has Lindbergh defeating Roosevelt in 1940 and what that could have meant for the Jewish population in America. In the book, one of the characters is wounded in the war while fighting for Canada, and the father of the narrator of the book goes to visit the wounded soldier. When the father comes back he is pretty torn up about it and he breaks down and starts to cry in front of his family. The author writes:
It was the first time I saw my father cry. A childhood milestone, when another's tears are more unbearable than one's own.
I think that is beautiful. I love it when an author really nails an emotion, not by being too wordy, but with the most elegant turn of phrase, "A childhood mileston, when another's tears are more unbearable than one's own." It invokes so many thoughts: the macho father, the embarassment, the hero worship, the trust that your parents know everything. And, of course, the realization that your parents are human, with human emotions and feelings. Needless to say, I was touched by this simple passage.
It makes me think about my own dad and the times I've seen him emotional. I can probably only remember 4-5 times I've seen him cry. I won't get into any details, but the fact that I can remember these times so distinctly just goes to show how powerful these moments were.
I don't know where I'm going with this. It is just food for thought, I guess. How many times are my kids going to see me cry? Should I let my true emotions out, or should I keep them to myself like so many fathers before me and keep these moments powerful? Truthfully I'm leaning towards the macho man strategy, but as my kids get older I may have to abandon that because I may not be able to hold it in. I mean, I almost started crying during my son's kindergarten graduation ceremony! How pathetic!
Be sure to check out Stick and Ball Guy today as he has yet another example of the media's sickening love affair with the "Face of Baseball," Derek Jeter. And your's truly takes part in a round table discussion on Mr. Cheer or Die's Viking Underground concerning Fran Tarkenton's victory in the "Vikings Greatest Draft Pick Tournament." See you around lunch!
June 8, 2005
Bork! Bork! Bork!
Zee Tveens need a noo stedeeoom. Zee Hennepeen Cuoonty plun is a reesuneble-a vey tu feenelly get zee jub dune-a. Vetcheeng zee Tveens in un ooootduur stedeeoom is leeke-a ieteeng a vell-cuuked cheeckee. It joost duesn't get uny better.
Pheel Kreenkie-a duesn't vunt tu booeeld a Tveens stedeeoom. Vhet un ideeut! Ell stedeeoom ooppunents shuoold be-a poot intu a put a bueeled leeke-a lubsters! Zeen zeey shuoold be-a chupped up leeke-a cerruts und drooned in a stoo. Stedeeoom ooppunents ere-a ell ifeel peuple-a thet prubebly secreeffice-a nooburn keettens tu zeeur inseteeeble-a guds ooff despeur und meesery.
Iff a noo Tveens stedeeoom is booeelt zeere-a veell be-a heppeeness und dunceeng und juyuoos celebreshun. I veell prepere-a und feest ooff sooccoolent steeks und lesegna! Iff nu noo stedeeoom is booeelt zeere-a veell be-a peeen und surroo und nu feest. Zee Svedeesh Cheff needs ooootduur besebell!! Vhy du yuoo inseest oon turmenteeng zee Svedeesh Cheff?
Bork! Bork! Bork! Bork!
Time to be quiet
I'm sick of spinning my wheels. The votes are either there, or they aren't. At this point there is probably little that you or I can do to change this situation one way or the other. Whatever happens, I am looking forward to this being over.
Have a good day everyone.
"There was never much hope. Only a fool's hope." -- Gandalf, ROTK.
June 7, 2005
Bigger fish to fry
A few things about my favorite topic, Stick and Ball Guy and Frightwig have been having an interesting debate over the stadium issue again (that spilled onto the comments section of this page in yesterday's post). I encourage you to read SBG's post today which, yet again, does a wonderful job of seeing the big picture when it comes to stadium politics. Essentially, SBG builds up to the fact that the current stadium plan is "small potatoes" compared to other tax injustices the American people deal with.
The trouble, as I see it, is that this baseball stadium is easy for people to pick on rather than some of these other injustices, or even rather than getting up off of our fat butts and actually really fighting for education funding, or police funding, or health care. It appears to me that most people limit their moral indignation towards inadequate funding for education and their fight to gain more funding to a battle against a Twins stadium. The argument, "I'm against a Twins stadium because that money should go to education" quite frankly makes me very angry because 1) the two issues are mutually exclusive on a number of levels and 2) no new Twins stadium does not automatically mean more money for education. Truly, I would love it if that actually happened. No, no new Twins stadium means no new stadium and continued inadequate funding for education.
So, taking SBG's post as my inspiration, I would like to suggest that stadium opponents stop focusing on the stadium and start actually focusing on the issues they would like to rectify. Or better yet, stop focusing on the Twins stadium because there are more important issues to focus on. I know the Twins stadium is easy to pick on, but defeating this proposal will not bring your pet issue any closer to your desired solution.
And the irony is not lost on me ... I could have probably cured cancer by now with all the time I have spent fighting for a new Twins stadium. We have a proposal on the table right now where the two parties, Hennepin County and the Twins, are both satisfied. Let's get it done and move on with our lives.
Oh, and one more thing, Carl Pohlad is rich. Get over it.
June 6, 2005
Long time, no see
Hey everyone. Sorry for my extended absence. You know how it goes, though. Between travelling to Baltimore and the nice weather we've been having, it has been hard to sit in front of the computer for too long. Anywho ...
Nothing to report on the stadium front. There was the Krinkie/Marty attempt to grandstand a little by proposing that the majority of the profits from the new stadium go to the county, but other than that nothing is happening. I must admit I'm getting a little pessimistic. This is even with Shooter reporting yesterday that ,"[c]hances appear favorable for legislative approval of a new ballpark for the Twins before the end of the current special session." I wish he would give more details about why he thinks the chances are still favorable.
It seems that the state budget debate has taken a turn for the worse. The DFL Senate, the governor, and the Republican House appear to be unable to agree on anything. I am beginning to think that by the time they get a budget worked out they will be so sick of seeing each other that they may not want to even deal with the stadium issue. I suppose our best shot is by tagging along with the Gopher's stadium and hoping that after our legislators handle that piece of legislation they'll want to take care of the Twins.
Did you see the poem Dean Johnson's staff wrote after Pawlenty vetoed the state poet laureate bill? It went a little something like this:
"The governor, on promotional tour,
Education is sound-bite du jour.
To govern through press, that is his goal,
But fly-arounds will take their toll."
Why, Dean, oh why do you insist on making this debate even more acrimonious than it has to be? Sigh. If anyone has any news on the budget or the stadium please feel free to share.
As you probably know, I was in Baltimore this past Thursday and Friday to speak at Johns Hopkins University about UThink. First things first, as I said below, I promised to find out why there is an "S" at the end of "Johns" Hopkins. The trouble with blogs is that sometimes people read them. So, while I was being introduced for my presentation on Friday the gentleman introducing me told the audience that I had written about my desire to get to the bottom of this mystery. Ha! That was a little embarrassing. So, he explained (and as bjhess has already pointed out) that "Johns" is actually a family name that was given first to Johns Hopkins great-grandfather. "Johns" was the maiden name of the benefactor of Johns Hopkins University's great-grandmother. So, there you have it. Truth be told, I was just joking around about my desire to get to the bottom of this "mystery." As CC pointed out already, it is easy to find this out through their website.
Overall, my trip went very well. I got into Baltimore on Thursday afternoon and drove past both Camden Yards and the Raven's stadium on my way to the hotel. Camden Yards is just beautiful. Quite frankly, it is so beautiful I don't even want to talk about it. It made me upset just to look at it. Let's move on.
Thursday evening I went out to to dinner with some of the staff from the Johns Hopkins University libraries, as well as my co-presenter Brewster Kahle, co-founder of the Internet Archive. I guess I wouldn't be surprised if you've never heard of Brewster Kahle, but for a librarian and techy like me he is pretty famous. Kahle is an Internet pioneer and millionaire with offices at the Presidio (neighboring the new offices of George Lucas). The Internet Archive is a bi-monthly snapshot of the entirety of the WWW which allows the user to see what a specific website looked like two months ago, or five years ago. Check it out:
You get the picture. As you might imagine, the Internet Archive has a huge storage capacity and currently contains approximately 1 petabyte of data and grows at a rate of 20 terabytes per month. Yikes, that is huge.
Brewster Kahle came to speak about this project and also his new initiative to digitize the entirety of human recorded knowledge ala Google and make it all "universally accessible." His talk was awe-inspiring, important, timely, engaging, and entertaining. The scope that he is dealing with, the higher plane that his thinking currently resides in ... wow. It was awesome to meet him and talk with him. His presentation mainly dealt with different media types such as print, sound/music, video/movies, and graphics and his desire to digitize all of it. He also tried to convince everyone how relatively inexpensive it is to do so and how librairies especially are at a unique point in our history to make a huge impact in this realm. He said more than once something to the effect that right now the technology community is looking to libriaries for advice, help, and assistance in doing all of this. "We are cool to the techies right now" he kept on saying, and we need to do something before we aren't cool anymore. Of course, I'm not doing his talk justice, but needless to say it was very thought provoking and inspiring.
And then there was me. Ha! Actually, I was Brewster Kahle's warm-up band, so to speak. I presented first, and I am happy to report that my presentation on UThink went very well. I spoke about our efforts to record the cultural memory of the University of Minnesota through blogs, and our efforts to use blogs to create community on campus, give instructors another way to engage students in the classroom, and most importantly to promote intellectual freedom. Our efforts to create "communities of interest" and promote intellectual freedom seemed to resonate with the audience the most, as well as the fact that the UThink project was designed without a committee. UThink is basically just me (and the excellent work of a programmer). One audience member labled my efforts "gutsy" and extolled the virtues of taking a chance every once in a while. That was flattering.
So, I think I held my own with Brewster Kahle, and after our presentations were over we both agreed that they dovetailed nicely. Kahle is certainly working on a worldwide scale, but UThink is an example of a local based project with some of the same goals: capturing the cultural memory of a group of people and making it accessible to all. All in all, our two talks worked great together and it was a very enjoyable day.
Anyway, that is about it. If you got this far, thanks for reading. Back to our regularly scheduled programming...
June 1, 2005
Going to the game
Cheesehead Craig and I are going to the Twins game tonight. It will be only my second game of the year and I am very excited to be going. Radke is pitching, which should make for an interesting score, but that is OK. I have a feeling Radke is going to come through for us tonight. Call it a gut feeling, but I think Radke will be all right.
So, if you are going to the game tonight and you see two short, dark complexioned, mustachioed men trying to get the wave started in section 220 ... well, that won't be us. But we will be there. Skol Twins!
Watching a game that matters
So, last night was my son's first soccer game. We had a blast watching him and his team race around the field in what most parents refer to as "Bunchie ball" rather than soccer. This is due to the fact that the kids all "bunch" around the ball kicking away at whatever moves. Needless to say, shin guards come in very handy.
This is my son as he is about to kick the ball. Note the steely determination, the "eye of the tiger" daring the opposing team to get in the way of his mighty kick. Truthfully, most of the time he was chasing his teammates around pretending he was a monster (or God knows what) rather than actually concentrating on the game. But he had a smile on his face the whole time, so that was nice. And he scored a goal! He was pretty proud of himself after that.
Besides that, the highlight of the evening took place when one of my son's teammates approached me with a simple question. He asked me:
"Do you know what 9 + 20 is?"
Playing along I said, "No, what is it?"
He answered, "2081. Plus chickens." Then he ran off.
Now that is what I am talking about! 2081. Plus chickens!!! What a great answer. Not only is 2081 a great number, but chickens can be added to anything to make it extra special! I laughed and laughed after he told me that. So, today any answer I give here at work will always include chickens. For some reason it just makes sense to me.
And just so you'll know, tomorrow I am flying off to Baltimore to give another presentation on the beast that is UThink. Johns Hopkins University actually invited me, and is paying my way, to talk to them about the project. Not Baltimore Community College. Johns Hopkins University. Needless to say, while I am there I shall endeavor to find out about one of the greatest mysteries in the history of the universe: why the university is named "Johns" Hopkins rather than just "John" Hopkins. I will find this out for you, dear reader! That is my committment to you.
Anyway, my posts will be kind of erratic over the next couple of days. So, see you when I see you!