July 31, 2005
Cheesehead Craig and I finally were able to partake in another Backyard Border Battle Event this weekend. We played croquet, which after my drubbing I consider one of the stupidest sports ever invented. Fun? No. Stupid? Yes. Here is our croquet field:
CC and I played best out of 3 during the match, and CC just crushed me. He beat me 2 games to nothin' and I don't think I ever led once. It was humiliating. Who invented croquet anyway? Some idiot would be my guess. So, that brings our competition to a 2-2 tie with chess, Stratego, and mini-golf left to play. If the results of our home-run derby and croquet are any indication I may be in trouble when we play any sport that involves hitting a ball with a stick. Needless to say, I'm going to try to practice mini-golf a little bit before our next competition.
And since now the overall Border Battle competition is all tied up, CC and I are considering adding more events including bowling, bocce ball, Irish lawn darts, and Dodge ball (like they play at the Metrodome). We are going to stand on top of Craig's house and throw balls into the back of his Dodge mini-van. That should be fun. I'm not sure if we'll add these events or not. W'll keep you posted.
And as I said, this last weekend my younger son and I went on a little overnight camping trip together called "Fun With Son." Here is a picture of the campfire we had:
Here is a picture of my son "knocking" an arrow:
Here is a picture of the candle we made at the candle-making station:
Of course, we had a blast. Cub Scouts rule!
July 29, 2005
Links of the day
- Top 50 "old school" game ending songs. Some of my favorites are in here including Zelda and Castlevania.
- Free images for blogs and other web sites. Handy list of sites.
- FeedShake: merge, sort and filter RSS feeds. This looks kind of cool. There may be some good applications for this technology on UThink.
- What does your phone number spell? Unfortunately mine doesn't spell anything special...
- 20 hamburgers you must eat before you die. Sadly, I haven't eaten any of them. I guess I've got a lot of living to do!
- OfficeGuns.com. Learn how to build deadly (well, at least harmful) weaponry out of office supplies.
- Top 10 web fads. Ah, the memories: hampsterdance, Star Wars Kid, Jib Jab, etc.
- Wow. Promise.tv records all shows on all channels for an entire month. Thankfully, I don't think I like TV this much.
- Wikipedia does an even better job of listing web fads, called "Internet Phenomenon" ... even more memories: evil Bert, Limecat, Hopkin green frog, etc. Hilarious stuff.
- For me, extremely handy list of XHTML templates. Good for my Internet Design class.
- The Christian Paradox. Food for thought. America professes to be the most Christian nation on Earth. But are we the least Christian in our behavior?
July 28, 2005
As you might have noticed by my lack of postings, things have been kind of busy for me. Couple that fact with the idiots in the legislature and governor's office, and you've got a very stressed out author of the Greet Machine. So, I've been thinking about ways to relax and take all this stuff off of my mind. Or maybe even to just change my focus and rethink how I relate with the world around me. Then out of the blue, I got an email from long time Greet Machine reader "Jim in St. Paul" who gave me a great idea: why don't we try some haikus?
Now, before we try some haikus we all have to get in the mood. You know, think about gurgling brooks, chirping birds, the smell of fresh cut grass inside of a new Twins stadium ... ahhh, my mind is clear. Let's try something else. Focus on this picture for a while:
There ... how do you feel? Are you mentally ready for the relaxing atmosphere of the haiku? "Jim in St. Paul" provides the first example of bliss:
Yes ... the universal truth of Pawlenty's stupidity is like a relaxing stream trickling around my feet. Let me give it a try:
Are you with me? Because after those two haikus I am in my happy place. And in my happy place there is a unicameral legislature, a governor that cares more about the citizens of this state than the Taxpayer's league, and all the Sunkist orange pop I can drink. Shall we try another? I think we shall:
I'm almost there. I have almost achieved nirvana ... the moksha of my existence is within sight. Could you help me reach that plane? Please submit your own haiku for all of us to enjoy, and you may also attain enlightenment ...
July 27, 2005
Where have you been?
Sorry for the long absence everyone. There are only two words to describe my lack of posting: Harry Potter. Last night I finished Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince and I must say that it met with my high expectations. I couldn't put it down. Every spare moment I have had over the last couple of days has been spent reading this book. So, now that I have finished, back to the grind of daily postings for the Greet Machine, I hope. Expect something around lunch.
Back to Harry Potter, though. My favorite book is still The Prisoner of Azkaban but this one is almost as good. Just a fantastic read. And without giving too much away, I don't thing everything is as cut and dry as Rowling would have us believe. The big death in Prince is HUGE, the betrayal is shocking, but I think we will see a return of the deceased in the next (and final) book in the series. Rowling has also done an excellent job of setting that book up. We know what Harry has to do and it sure looks like some daunting tasks. The final showdown with Voldemort should be a dandy.
If you've read the book(s) feel free to leave a comment below. If you haven't read them, what are you waiting for? Your public library has a bunch of copies, I'm sure, so do yourself a favor and check them out. You won't be disappointed. See you later...
July 25, 2005
Maybe something later!
Hello everyone. I'm pretty busy today so I probably won't be able to post anything. Luckily I don't really have much to say! Have a good one...
July 22, 2005
Suspicious package on 94!
There is a suspicious package out on I94 (close to 35W) heading west and they've sent out a robot to try to retrieve it. Traffic seems to be backed up into St. Paul. I guess you can't be too safe (or can you?).
UPDATE: I've heard they blew it up. I'm guessing it was nothing.
July 21, 2005
Tonight I shall pick up my copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince from the library. If you'll recall, I was number 484 in the waiting list of well over 2,000 library users. I actually got a note from the library that my copy of the book was ready on Monday, but I have waited a little because I was not ready to read it. Anyway, to recap, I could have picked up this book from the library only two days after it was released.
In other words, what in the world are all of you doing still buying books? The last book I bought because I just had to read it and I couldn't wait was The Lost World by Michael Crichton. It was a let down and I vowed to never buy a book again but to use the library to its fullest potential. Now, I have a big list of library holds and they trickle in about as fast as I can read them. Save yourself some money and use the library. And if you are worried about fines don't feel bad about keeping a book a few days longer. Most libraries count on a certain amount of fees and fines coming in. By keeping a library book a little longer you are just giving them a little donation that they most likely desperately need anyway.
I gotta say I am really enjoying the show "Rock Star: INXS" on CBS Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights. The talent on this show blows "American Idol" out of the water (not that I watched that show all that much). Why am I watching "Rock Star" then? I am a fairly big INXS fan and I think this is a pretty interesting way of picking a new lead singer. Although, I must also admit that I am preparing for a let down concerning whoever they pick to replace Michael Hutchence. Hutchence co-wrote most of their songs. I would be very surprised if they can re-create the magic they had when Hutchence was the lead singer. But I don't blame them for trying.
A quick list of my favorite INXS albums:
- Welcome to Wherever You Are: Highly underrated. Good from beginning to end (although I do skip the last song).
- Kick: Phenomenal album that launched them as one of the top three acts of the time. Can't get enough of it.
- Listen Like Thieves: Features their first big hit "What You Need." I like "Kiss the Dirt" too.
- X: "Bitter Tears" ... great tune. "Stairs" is good too. This album was the follow-up to Kick and it didn't really set the world on fire.
- Full Moon, Dirty Hearts : Again, highly underrated. A "dash-off" album that has definitely grown on me over the years.
I like reading the "Letters" section of the Star Tribune, especially when those letters relate to stadium issues. Honestly, I could write every day about the stupid letters I read about this issue. They are highly entertaining. Today there was a letter from a gentleman from SLP who wrote:
I fail to see what the state has to do with a stadium in downtown Minneapolis or the pension program for Minneapolis teachers. If Minneapolis wants stadiums and funded teachers' pensions, let it pay for them.
Do any of you recognize the concept at work in this letter? That's right, it is the Me First platform! Good stuff. Since a new Twins stadium and teachers' pensions in Minneapolis don't directly affect him (and most likely his wallet) then he shoudn't have to worry about them. That's the spirit! A selfish Minnesota is a strong Minnesota! I like how he deftly ties the stadium and Minneapolis educational issues together inferring unequivocally that he doesn't care about either and therefore they are unimportant. Beautiful. Makes me feel all fuzzy inside that I live in such a "progressive" state.
That's all I got time for. Talk to you later.
Links of the day
- Why are movie theater revenues declining? This guy thinks it is because of all the ads (among other factors [see comment]).
- Poetic justice? Some people are trying to build a hotel on land owned by Supreme Court Justice David Souter. They will call it "The Lost Liberty Hotel."
- Need a new alarm clock? How about one with a bacon-cooking aroma module?
- Amazing "symptom checker" from WebMD that can help you deduce your illness and whether or not you need to see a doctor.
- 40 things that only happen in movies.
- How to make an origami bowl out of paper. Handy!
- Outline summary of The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. Very nice.
- Swimming pool mosaics featuring characters from Finding Nemo. Beautiful.
- Wikipedia list of "Price is Right" games. I've been waiting for a list like this. Awesome!
- More folding ... napkin folding 101. Pick a design and learn how to do it!
- How to give a great presentation. Excellent and cogent advice.
- The world's best palindrome. Simply amazing how a person could come up with this.
That's all I got for now...
July 20, 2005
Let the wondering begin
So, I was reading the paper today and an article about Pawlenty and his no new taxes pledge caught my eye. It sounds like T-Paw is done signing pledges like this. That is a wise move. But then I started to read further and I came across this snippet that quite frankly made me sick to my stomach:
"The governor also said that while he hoped to call a special session this fall to deal with, among other things, the Twins stadium proposal, that appeared improbable.
Putting the odds at 60-40 against such a session, Pawlenty said that the closely divided Legislature is too polarized to reach a preagreement on such a controversial issue and commit to a short session of less than a few days.
However, Pawlenty made it clear that he wants to keep the Twins here, and to find 'reasonable' ways to fund the arts, transit, natural resources and other amenities."
Well, there you have it. There is a 60% chance a fall special session WON'T be called. But it is nice to hear Pawlenty say that he wants to keep the Twins in Minnesota. I guess by just saying we want to keep the Twins in Minnesota over and over again for 10 years straight we can somehow assure that they do just that. Needless to say I am growing more and more pessimistic that this "strategy" will continue to be effective.
Grant had a great comment below concerning how long we can continue to talk about keeping the Twins and yet do nothing. I couldn't say it any better, so please take a look. Talk to you later...
July 19, 2005
Did you miss me? Sorry for the prolonged absence, but I was camping with my son and the Cub Scouts this weekend. Yes, this weekend. The weekend that saw the temperature rise to over 100 degrees. It was like camping in a blast furnace. But even with all the heat we still had a great time. I'll be writing more about it later, but for now I just wanted to let you know that I am alive.
More later or tomorrow.
July 14, 2005
FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY DO NOT READ THIS POST. CLICK YOUR BACK BUTTON NOW!!! PLEASE! STAY AWAY FROM THESE INCOHERENT RAMBLINGS! DON'T SAY YOU HAVEN'T BEEN WARNED!
I have seen the light. What in the world have I been doing for the past 10 years? Year after year, session after session I have been begging for a new Twins stadium but to no avail. I suddenly realize that all these years I have been fighting for the wrong cause. Allow me to introduce my new cause, my new platform, which I'm sure the vast majority of Minnesotans will quickly understand and be able to relate to. Allow me to introduce the "Me First" platform.
The "Me First" platform is based mainly on a single principle that is rapidly becoming more and more important to the average Minnesotan: what is in it for me? I have seen this principle at work in the stadium debates of the last 10 years and I gotta admit it is starting to have some appeal. Seriously, what is in it for me? You say you want to build a new light rail line? What is in it for me? I never ride the light rail. You say you want to build a new Guthrie theater? Holy crap, what the heck is in it for me? A bunch of pansies dressing up and acting like idiots, that's what. You say you want to build a new downtown library? What, so more people can surf for porn for free? What is in it for me? You know, I could really get the hang of this...
And don't give me this "community" crap. I've tried that argument before and it just doesn't work. If you don't care about the millions of Twins fans in the upper midwest, if that community doesn't matter, then I for sure don't care about you. You see, the only thing I care about from now on is my own pocketbook and how to make it fatter and sealed more air tight.
As you might imagine my new hero is Phil Krinkie. What an American hero! Phil Krinkie's tireless fight against all forms of government spending has truly been an inspiration, and he has taught me the all important concept of the "boondoggle." What a phenomenal word. Of course, this is Krinkie's favorite word. Say it with me: boondoggle. If you aren't familiar with how to spot a boondoggle then let me give you a crash course. It is essential if you want to follow the "Me first" platform:
Does the project cost money? If so, it is probably a boondoggle.
Does the project make anyone else besides me any money? If so, it is definitely a boondoggle.
Does the project require any tax money? Ding, ding, ding! It is a boondoggle.
No good can come from any projects like these! The LRT? It cost a lot of money, it definitely made some contractors a lot of money, the bulk of that money has come from taxes, and I haven't benefited from it at all. I mean, I never ride it. Yep, boondoggle all the way. Let's go back in time a little ways. The Metrodome? Back in the early 80s it cost a lot of money, it has made the Vikings and the Twins a whole lot of money (and they only paid for 9% of the building -- their locker rooms and offices -- the public the rest), and what have I gotten in return for that building? You guessed it. Not a dime. How about the Xcel Energy Center? Tax money ... check. Rich sports owners making money ... check. Have I ever set foot in the building? Nope. Boondoggle.
I think you are beginning to see the point. Gone are the concepts of sharing, community, investment, and civic pride ... what a rube I have been! These concepts do not make for a better Minnesota! What will make this state a great place to live in the future is if we all start thinking more about ourselves than our neighbors. I mean, who cares about millions of Twins fans? Not me anymore. And I don't care about schools (except the one my kids go to), roads (except for the one in front of my house), parks (except the ones I visit), etc. etc. You get the picture.
"Me First," baby. That is the only way to go. I have seen the light, and I want more of it for myself.
July 13, 2005
Misery and pessimism
DO NOT READ. IT IS NOT WORTH YOUR TIME.
I've tried to hold back. I've tried to spare you all from my words of misery and despair. All day long I have held off writing on these fine pages in the hopes that my mood would brighten a little. Well, it hasn't. I am angry. I am bitter. Why is this so hard? Why is building a stupid stadium so freaking hard? Why can 30 other communities figure this out, but we can't?
So, the legislature is finally going to pass a budget and everyone is going to go home. So what. Idiots. Morons. Slimy, bad-breathed, good-for-nothing, stupid, ugly, pea-brained, polyester wearing, pus filled, slack jawed MORONS. Gah! Why do I even waste my time on all of this. Why do I ever put even a shred of faith into this supposed body of my "representatives?"
Pawlenty is showing absolutely NO leadership on this or any other issue for that matter. Mike Opat is suggesting that the Hennepin County Board is losing interest, especially if this carries over into next year. St. Paul is trying to get Target to move onto the plot of land they had designated for the stadium, and Minneapolis will build on the Rapid Park site with or without a stadium. Peachy. Just PEACHY!!!! That means new stadium prices will go up while suitable plots of land decrease. Could someone put me in touch with a Montreal Expos fan? I'd like to know how I should start planning for the inevitable.
Pawlenty is hinting at a special session this fall. Big hairy deal. So my misery will be prolonged. Oh goody. You say Selig was optimistic after talking to Pawlenty about the issue? Pawlenty is the KING of feeding people with the crap they want to hear right before he does absolutely NOTHING. Where is Tom Ridge when we need him?
I am in pain right now. Not even the wonder that is Bret Boone can cheer me up.
Thank goodness I live in such a progressive state! I mean Wisconsin?!?! What a bunch of rubes with their refurbished Lambeau Field and their brand new Miller Park (not to mention their 80,000 seat, newly renovated Camp Randall field). What are they thinking taking care of these assets? Let em rot! Or what about Illinois with their brand new Comiskey Park and renovated Soldier Field? We must be a whole lot smarter than them. Or Michigan with their brand new Ford Field and Comerica Park? That All-Star game (not to mention the upcomng Super Bowl XL) they just had sure demonstrated what a dumb idea it was to invest in their sports teams.
What is the use. We are just way too smart. The atmosphere that made this state great during the 60s and 70s is gone. "Me first." That is the new state motto. What is in it for me? Light rail? I'll never ride it. Tear it down. School referendum? Bah! My kids don't go to school there. Health care? I've got insurance, why should I care about you? Twins stadium? Where is my return on this investment? I don't care if my neighbor, my co-worker, those senior citizens, that construction worker are all Twins fans. I've got my eye on that quarter pounder with cheese at McDonalds so you can take your new Twins stadium and shove it.
Thanks. Thanks for nothing. There is a reason we love living in the state of Minnesota. There was a time when we invested in our community, there was a time when we had something to prove and we worked hard to make Minnesota a great place to live. That attitude is gone. I sincerely hope it comes back before it is too late.
July 12, 2005
I like that the Twins have acquired Bret Boone. Some interesting facts that I've been reading about Boone:
- He is a career .271 hitter at the Dome with 4 homers and 16 RBI.
- Concerning the Dome, Boone has said: "And the Dome ... I love playing there, I really do." I am always stunned to read something like this.
- He has 25 extra base hits this year which would put him in second place concerning this statistic on the Twins.
- When the Twins acquired Shannon Stewart in 2003 they were 7.5 games back. They went on to win the division. The Twins are 9 games back now.
- Boone has won 4 Gold Gloves at second base. That is 8 more Gold Gloves than Luis Rivas has (since Rivas actually has negative Gold Gloves).
Will this be the spark the Twins need? I think the chances are good. This is an upgrade at second base no matter how you slice it.
OK, now let's talk about stadiums. Of course, you've probably heard by now that the legislature will most likely adjourn without dealing with this sticky problem. It has already been suggested that Pawlenty may call another special session to deal with the Twins' and Gopher's stadia, but even if that happens it may be as much as four months away. With this reality, Bell has already stated:
"We're going to find out if the numbers still work," Bell said. "We calculated this on beginning work in June, foolishly believing that the Legislature would end on time."
Bell hinted that the delay caused by waiting for a special session this fall may collapse the proposed deal entirely.
You know, at this point I wish Bell would just shut up. That is a stupid thing to even hint. Here we have Hennepin County raising over $1 billion dollars over 30 years for the ballpark, and Bell "hints" that a delay of 4 months may kill the deal entirely. Of course, he may be saying this to try to convince the legislature to deal with the issue now, but you know and I know that that Twins will take whatever they get whenever they can get it. 4 months shouldn't make a lick of difference and if Pohlad has to pay an extra $10 million then so be it.
The best shot the Twins have at even being heard in a special session is the fact that the Gophers stadium bill will also need to be dealt with. The Gophers stadium lobbyists are working hard right now to try to convince the legislature to deal with their bill now. If they are successful, if the legislature decides to take up the Gophers stadium bill in the waning moments of this special session, then the Twins stadium bill is dead.
In other words, I can see the governor calling a special session to talk about stadiums if the Gophers are part of the mix, but if it is just the Twins (and Vikings)? Forget about it.
What are the chances then of a special session being called for stadium discussion? I would say they are pretty good. The Gophers deal with TCF hinges on a financing plan being in place by this December to build their stadium. Since the next legisaltive regular session doesn't begin until after that another special session will need to be called this fall to pass the Gophers stadium bill.
In addition, I was listening to Mike Max last night on WCCO and he had former Senate Minority Leader Duane Benson as his guest. Benson said the chances for a special session to deal with stadiums is very good. He would not give the same chances to a Twins stadium bill actually passing in a special session, but the bill will be heard. He also said that part of a Vikings stadium plan could also be dealt with. The Twins, the Vikings, and the Gophers ... the legislature would indeed have a lot to discuss.
Here is hoping that Pawlenty does the right thing and calls another special session to deal with the stadia issue in Minnesota once and for all. It is all in his hands now. I know, this is a scary thought.
July 10, 2005
Well, I'm back from vacation. And as you might imagine, I was none too pleased to see these signs in my windows as I drove up:
Yep, Cheesehead Craig has struck again, but this time he got me where it really counts. CC put these signs up the day after I left, which means they were up for at least 3 days. The thought that my house could have persuaded someone to be anti-stadium is almost too much to bear. I must admit CC got me, and he got me good. If anyone has any ideas of how I can get a cheesehead back for this, please email me separately.
Can you believe it? "No Stadium Funding" was in front of MY house for three days! I would be really, really upset if I didn't think it was so funny! Man!
The rest of my mini-vacation was wonderful. If you are interested in all I did and saw in the Black Hills of South Dakota, click on the link below. If you aren't interested, see you later!
First we drove to DeSmet, SD to stay at my wife's sister's house before heading out to Mt. Rushmore the next day. I was impressed with all the windmills we saw generating power in western Minnesota.
We also stopped by the Ingalls Homestead historical site and took a ton of pictures. This is a picture of my daughter in prairie garb. More on the Ingalls Homestead later.
The next day we headed west for the Black Hills. Before we got there, of course, we went through the Badlands. Truth be told, I think my kids enjoyed this more than anything. We got out and hiked around and I think they were impressed by how different the landscape was than what they are used to in Minnesota. In fact, we enjoyed the Badlands so much we came back the next day!
Of course, we stopped in Wall for our free ice water at Wall Drug!
We got to Mt. Rushmore in the early afternoon. Here is the obligatory picture of this marvel of art. While at the monument we walked the Presidential Trail, we watched the explanatory movie, walked through the museum, and shopped at the gift store. The kids, especially my oldest (10 years old), were highly impressed.
Next we went to Bear Country USA. If you've never heard of this place, it is a nature park where the animals roam freely and you just drive through. The highlight of the drive is going through the bear area, where bears are literally walking next to your car. The kids had a blast screaming and moving from window to window trying to get the bears' attention. I got more video of this part of the excursion than pictures.
After this, we went back to the hotel to swim. After dinner, my two sons and I went back to Mt. Rushmore to see the light show (which was very, very good) and then we went to bed.
The next day we got up early and headed south for Needles highway and Custer State Park. That was an amazing drive with great views, and as you can see, sometimes very narrow roads!
We also saw a ton of bison, prairie dogs, donkeys, and antelope. This bison my kids lovingly named "Big Butt."
After lunch we drove down to Wind Cave National Park, but we were unable to take a tour of the cave as the tour started 2 hours after we got there. So, we drove down a little further until we got to Hot Springs where we swam at Evan's Plunge. This place is truly amazing. You literally swim in a huge pool filled with the hot springs. The water is transferred out at 5,000 gallons a minute which means that the water in the entire pool is replaced 16 times a day. This means that you are always swimming in clean water. And if you believe in the medicinal qualities of the springs, I should be healthier for taking the plunge! Obviously, my kids loved it.
That evening we made our journey back towards DeSmet. We stopped at the Badlands to see the sunset. Again, this was amazing and the picture above simply does not do the scenery justice.
The next day we got up early and drove through Pierre where we saw the state capitol of South Dakota. Nifty!
That afternoon we toured the Ingalls Homestead in DeSmet (again). This area was more impressive than you might imagine. It really brought home what it was like to be a prairie settler, and the hardships they went through. Fascinating stuff. My kids enjoyed it more than I thought they would, even though it was easily over 100 degrees.
That night we stayed for the Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant, a yearly play put on by the citizens of DeSmet. The play starts at 9:00 and lasts until around 11:30. It was very enjoyable and it was attended by people from all over the country and from as far away as Alaska! I was not a big fan of "Little House on the Prairie" while I was growing up, but I couldn't help get into the spirit of the festivities. The play, the acting, the "ambiance" ... it was such an overwhelming piece of small town Americana that I had a smile on my face the whole time.
Anyway, that was my five day vacation. It was a whirlwind, but we had a blast!
July 6, 2005
See you next week everyone.
July 5, 2005
Food for thought
I'm reading a fascinating book right now called Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen. Throughout the book, Loewen decries the shoddy job American history textbooks are doing in not just teaching our students about the history of our country, but also enabling students to reach their own conclusions concerning how our past is affecting our present and future. I will be writing more about this later, but today I read this excerpt below which quite frankly blew me away in its brutal honesty.
If we consider that around the world humans owned ten times as many cars in 1990 as in 1950, no sane observer would predict that such a proportional increase could or should continue for another 40 years. Quantitatively, the average U.S. citizen consumes the same resources as ten average world citizens or twenty-five residents of India. Our continued economic development coexists in some tension with a corollary of the archetype of progress: the notion that America's cause is the cause of all humankind. Thus our economic leadership is very different than our political leadership. Politically, we can hope other nations will put in place our forms of democracy and respect for civil liberties. Economically, we can only hope other nations will never achieve our standard of living, for it they did, the earth would become a desert. Economically, we are the bane, not the hope of the world. Since the planet is finite, as we expand our economy we make it less likely that less developed nations can expand theirs.
I know this statement is in itself controversial, but what isn't controversial is how good we as Americans have it, and how much of the world's natural resources we use because of it. If everyone lived as good on average as we do, the earth would indeed become a desert. Or would it? Again, the author would have us see both sides of the issue and reach our own conclusions, but he makes this convincing argument: what harm is it if we strive towards a more sustainable model of economic growth and usage of our natural resources? If the doom and gloom prophets are right, then we have saved ourselves from destruction, but if they are wrong we have still made the earth a better place to live.
Backyard Border Battle
This weekend saw the beginning of what should prove to be a battle of epic proportions, the Backyard Border Battle between me and Cheesehead Craig. As you probably know, Chessehead Craig and I are neighbors. We share a backyard. You probably also know that recently the University of Minnesota and the University of Wisconsin competed for the Border Battle Cup, an award that Wisconsin miraculously won. Well, given the fact that Cheesehead Craig and I live on our own border of sorts we have decided to partake in our own battle for backyard supremacy. Our battle will consist of these competitions:
- Wiffle ball home run derby (already won by Craig)
- Game of Horse on Craig's driveway (already won by me)
- Trivial Pursuit (already won by me)
- Croquet in the backyard
- Game of Stratego
- Game of Chess
- 18 holes of mini-golf
As you can see, the competition has already begun. Craig simply crushed me in the home run derby portion of the events. It wasn't even close. But I can't be too upset by that given Craig plays softball on a weekly basis. Next we played Horse and truth be told I handily beat Craig in that. I belive I had "O" before beating him with a long distance shot. Craig tried to beat me with trick shots, but fortunately for me he missed more than he made.
And yesterday we played Trivial Pursuit. This was a game for the ages. Craig jumped out to a 4-1 pie piece lead before I stormed back to tie him and eventually take the lead. I was the first to enter the middle but I could not close the deal. Craig then tied me and entered the middle but neither of us could answer the final question. Finally, on I believe my fourth try, I got the question, "What psychiatrist was rumored to have quipped after 30 years of research and theorizing about the human psyche, 'The great question that has never been answered ... What does a woman want?'"? Of course I answered "Sigmund Freud" and the game was over.
Craig was visibly shaken, especially considering he is two years older than me (and therefore has two more years of "book learnin'"). Truly though, given our back and forth during the game and the fact that both of us had numerous opportunities to win, it was quite possibly the greatest game of Trivial Pursuit ever played. I can say that because, of course, I won the match. If I had lost I would probably not be so enthusiastic.
Anyway, that is where we stand. I am up 2-1 in my efforts to vindicate the great state of Minnesota. You might be wondering what we are playing for. Well, like the border battle between our two universities, we will also be playing for a cup, or a goblet, or a stein of some sort. The winner will get this yet to be determined cup (most likely decorated with the winner's name and other "crunkified" paraphenalia) and upon receiving it the winner will be able to demand the loser fills it with whatever the winner desires. This could be anything from a Sunffy's milkshake, to a cup full of "Tahitian Treat" or Crush Grape soda.
Needless to say, the stakes are high. I can only imagine what obscure drink Cheesehead Craig is thinking of right now. I must win this competition not only for my honor, but for my gas tank. I wouldn't be surprised if I have to drive all over the place looking for Craig's drink. That would be humiliating! Anyway, we'll keep you posted with how the events progress.
See you later!
July 2, 2005
No, I didn't watch the whole 9 (10?) hour concert telecast today. But I did tape it! So, after swimming with my kids and spending a wonderful afternoon outside, I sat down to watch it sans commercials. My immediate reaction? Holy cow, MTV is actually an insult to music. I can't believe they can even call themselves "music" television. Throughout the entire telecast MTV seemed to be more interested in getting their idiotic VJs more face time than actually showing any music. The format seemed to be 1) VJs insipid comments 2) song by an artist I've been waiting to see 3) song cut off by VJs before the end so they can say more stupid things 4) commercials 5) repeat. Man it was aggravating. In between MTV's hack job, though, were some really good songs and stories:
- "Bittersweet Symphony" by Richard Ashcroft and Coldplay was spectacular.
- Greenday's version of "We Are the Champions" was pretty cool.
- I'm not a rap/hip hop fan, but I was blown away by Kanye West's "Diamonds are Forever." That was definitely a highlight.
- Bob Geldof's story about an Ethiopian girl positively impacted by Live Aid was extremely touching. Especially when she came out on stage. Brought a tear to my eye.
- The Who rocked the house with "Won't Get Fooled Again." Very, very good rendition.
Then, of course, there was Pink Floyd. After seeing how MTV was giving artists at most one song "on the air" I was not optimistic about being able to see Pink Floyd's entire set. Fortunately, MTV gave Pink Floyd time for 4 songs, but they still managed to screw it up. I'll get to that later. Pink Floyd played these songs:
- "Breathe/Breathe reprise" -- this was an unexpected surprise. I've always been very fond of "Breathe" and it was a nice way to begin.
- "Money" -- Duh! I should have thought of this one. "Money" was a very appropriate choice given the message Live 8 was trying to send. And although it has never been one of my favorite Floyd songs, it was still good.
- "Wish You Were Here" -- Now we are talking. Wonderful, wonderful duet by Gilmour and Waters with both of them smiling the whole time. Highlight of the entire concert, by far.
- "Comfortably Numb" -- Oh boy, I got goose bumps as they started to play this one. This is the perfect song for Waters and Gilmour to sing together as it features Waters singing the verses and Gilmour the choruses. And of course, there is the Gilmour guitar solos. This would have been the highlight of the show had MTV not decided to cut into the song right before the second verse so we could hear some more vapid commentary by the VJs!!!! I was incensed! What really ticked me off was that the VJs cut in to say "Wow! Pink Floyd is back together again! I saw some t-shirts that said "Pink Floyd is back!" No truer words have ever been spoken! We'll be right back with more great music right after these messages!" Then they cut back to Pink Floyd and played most of the rest of the song. Why couldn't they just have waited until the song was over? It boggles my mind.
To their credit, MTV did show almost 4 entire songs by Pink Floyd which was about 3.5 more songs than they gave most other artists (including U2!). They also did a nice job of highlighting the true point of the day and Live 8 in general: convincing the G8 to do more to help Africa through grants, debt cancellation, and trade policy adjustments. Fortunately Blair and Bush have already announced that they would forgive $40 billion in African debt, but Geldof wants a commitment of an additional $25 billion (in debt cancellation or aid? That wasn't clear). Truly a noble cause which I heartily support. It will definitely be interesting to see if these concerts and the signatures of so many people will have an impact on the G8 meeting next week.
Concerning the concert coverage, though, am I right or am I wrong? Did MTV totally screw this up or what? Maybe they should stick to stupid reality shows and leave music television to someone else.
July 1, 2005
Stuff I don't like
Yesterday's revelation that I actually don't care for the music of Tom Petty was very liberating. For years I have hemmed and hawed around this issue in order to appease that Canadian we all know and love, Curt in Grand Forks, but to finally come out and say what I really think was wonderful. So, it got me to thinking, what other kinds of stuff don't I like? What other revelations can I come clean about?
- While the story is great (after 10 years Glenn Williams finally gets his chance) I did not like the fact that he supplanted Cuddyer at 3rd base. Cuddyer has been jerked around so much it isn't a surprise to me AT ALL that he is struggling. He is constantly looking over his shoulder and for good reason. He needs to. Honestly, I think we need to trade Cuddyer and put him out of his misery. He needs a new start and so do the Twins. As a result of the Twins mishandling of him, he will never be able to produce consistently for us. It is time to part ways.
- I don't like the music of Queen. I love the song "Bohemian Rhapsody" but the rest of the Queen catalog is kind of fruity and sugary.
- I don't like it when popcorn kernals get stuck in my throat. I had one stuck way back in my throat a couple of days ago. I couldn't reach it with my finger and drinking stuff didn't help either. That really sucked.
- I don't like that the Vikings traded Randy Moss. I don't like it at all. I will admit that when Moss walked off the field during the Redskins game I was steaming mad at him, but enough to trade him? No way.
- I don't like hummus. I think it is disgusting. It is like eating air flavored like dirt. Yummy!
- I don't like the TV show America's Next Top Model. My wife loves this show and I watch it with her just to mock it. But invariably half way through I have to get up and leave. I just can't take it. Every show features a scene where Tyra is berating a would-be model over how hard it is to have people take pictures of you and how you've got to be "tough" to be a model. Please. And of course, there is always the end where Tyra dramatically says, "I have two pictures on my hands..." Arghhh!! What a worthless show.
- I don't like it AT ALL when people tell me their dreams. This might be because I can never remember my own, but I'm sorry, I just can't share your excitement over your dream. Not even if I am in it. How am I supposed to react? First of all, no matter how excited you are about your dream, it didn't happen! Secondly, it really isn't that interesting. Sorry. So, keep it to yourself.
- I don't like the music of the Doors. Jim Morrison was highly overrated both as a poet and a songwriter. Let's look at the lyrics of one of their most famous songs (frightwig has pointed out that the bulk of the lyrics were written by Robbie Krieger):
Come on baby, light my fire
Come on baby, light my fire
Try to set the night on fire
Sorry, "fire" and "fire" don't really rhyme or go together. Creative? No. Groundbreaking? No. Lame? Yes. And what else did the Doors write that has stood the test of time? "Break on Through" (crap), "Roadhouse Blues" (egad what a stupid song), and "Riders on the Storm" (good music, horrible lyrics). The Doors had a good mystique, yes, but they really weren't that special.
- I don't like anything about Chicago. Ever since the Bears dominated the Central Division during the mid-80s I have hated everything Chicago. I was even fond of saying I hated the Cubs even though the Twins never play them. This extreme dislike is still with me and there are few teams I enjoy beating more than the Bears and the White Sox.
- I am a huge Led Zeppelin fan, but I really don't like the song "Dancing Days." For the life of me, I cannot understand why radio stations insist on playing this horrible song. Especially when you consider there are so many other good Zeppelin songs to play!
That's about all for now. Have a good weekend everyone!
My nominees for next year's legislative leadership
I nominate Bobo (to the left) as Speaker of the House, Jojo (center) as Governor, and Spanky (right) as Senate Majority Leader. The great thing about monkeys as our legislative leaders is that they'll work for bananas, and they will pretty much be able to get the same exact thing done on the budget that the current bunch of "leaders" got done: NOTHING.
This failure of our government is nothing short of stunning. The last state that suffered this embarrassement was Tennessee in 2002. Yes Minnesota, we are now grouped in the same category with a state that considers Hooters as fine dining, cousins as suitable spouses, and where the governor's mansion is the nicest home in the trailer park.
Long time readers of this site know that I have criticized our elected officials before, usually in regards to efforts to build a new Twins stadium. This failure, though, this shocking disregard for the people they serve is so outrageous, so upsetting I honestly don't know how any of them will politically survive. Minnesotans seem to have a short memory, true, but 9,000 people are out of work right now. The state is shut down! I truly can't believe it.
The blame is easily bipartisan. Pawlenty's "no new taxes" pledge is too inflexible and just plain stupid. Does he serve the people of Minnesota or the Taxpayer's League? By immediately removing from his tool-chest an important option such as even considering tax increases he proved to be less of a leader and more of a lacky to special interests. Pawlenty's "leadership" is, quite frankly, driving Minnesota into the ground.
And the DFL, led by Dean Johnson, is playing a very dangerous political game. It is obvious, at least to me, that they are trying to make Pawlenty look bad. They are trying to get people angry in the hopes that we will blame the Republicans in control of the House and governor's mansion. So far it is working, but Dean, where is the money that you want to spend? Increased funding for MinnesotaCare and education are noble causes, but there is no more money! Pawlenty and Sviggum have made it clear that they won't raise taxes, you have made your point, now accept a compromise so we can move on!
It is time for a change. Minnesota politics have become so polarized that it appears the normal functioning of state government is an impossibility. I have never wanted a unicameral legislature more in my life than a I do right now.
As jthielman has already pointed out we need to give this bunch of "stumblebums" the pink slip. They do not deserve their jobs. They have not done their jobs. The sad thing is, even though they now truly have nothing to lose, the cherry on the top of this legislative session will be their inability to pass the Twins stadium bill. This group of do-nothings couldn't pass a budget bill to keep the state running!!! We need to vote all of them out of office. They are worthless.