May 29, 2007
Yesterday I said something naughty
Yesterday I strung together two words in succession that I never dreamed would ever come out of my mouth.
First of all, though, sorry for my silence! You see, it has just been way to nice to sit around at a computer typing my usual drivel. In fact, it has been so nice that I have spent an inordinate amount of time in the great outdoors enjoying all that Minnesota has to offer. For example, I spent Memorial Day fishing for walleye on the majestic Lake Winnibigoshish. The fish we caught were delicious!
Then on Monday my older son, one of his friends, and I set out on our bikes on the Cedar Lake Trail from St. Louis Park into Minneapolis. According to Wikipedia, the Cedar Lake Trail is the first "bike freeway" in America, and "features two separate one-way lanes for bike traffic and one two-way lane for pedestrian traffic." Below is a portion of the trail highlighted in red. Click the image for a larger version.
We picked up the trail on Virginia Ave. in St. Louis Park and quickly found it is a relatively flat, and fast, way to get into downtown Minneapolis. You see, I had never been on the trail before and I was excited to see how close it would take me to my place of work at the University of Minnesota. Right away we were flying down the path, with the wind blowing through our hair and hardly any traffic to slow us down. All together, our route was probably 5 miles into downtown and it took us about 20 minutes since we stopped to enjoy some of the scenery such as the north side of Cedar Lake, and the historic railroad tracks lining the trail.
As we approached Minneapolis, though, we had to stop for another reason. As we got close to the Dunwoody Institute I noticed a huge "Detour" sign where, quite frankly, I didn't expect one. Up ahead the trail looked perfectly usable which made me wonder what on earth could this detour be for?
I rode up to the sign which said, "For more information contact the Minnesota Ballpark Authority at www.ballparkauthority.com."
Before I could even think, these words popped out of my mouth.
I said, "Stupid ballpark!"
Quickly my hand flew up over my mouth in hopes that no one heard me. Unfortunately my son's friend heard me quite well and said, "Yeah! We should get a whole bunch of people together and protest!"
Ack! What have I done? I tried to smooth things over by pointing out when the ballpark is opened the trail would go right to it and we could bike to every Twins game in contented happiness. This seemed to make sense to my son and his friend, but I could tell I still had to sweeten the pot lest this talk of "protest" gain footing in their fertile little minds.
So, I also suggested that we should continue on the detour (click the image above again and look at the yellow line ... that is the detour) and make our way to the Metrodome where we could maybe still catch some of the game that was currently taking place. Luckily the two boys with me thought that was a great idea, and it gave me a chance to further brainwash them into thinking the new ballpark and baseball in general are both "good ideas." All because of a slip of the tongue!
We made it to the Metrodome in time to watch the last three innings, which those jerks at the Metrodome ticket window made me pay the full $7 per ticket for! I couldn't believe it, but I was willing to pay as I felt it would also appease the baseball gods which I obviously had offended so egregiously.
So, we got into the Dome, found some decent seats, sat down, and Mike Redmond ripped a bases clearing double to put the game out of reach. Phew! If that isn't a good omen, I don't know what is.
Anyway, I solemnly swear never to utter those two words in succession again. I still can't believe it, but I believe my quick thinking averted sure disaster with my son and his friend.
Until next time!
May 23, 2007
An alternative view
First of all, let me say that Rick over at Twins Ballpark 2010 is doing just a phenomenal job keeping us all informed on the progress of the construction of the new ballpark. His photography and insight into the project is a joy to view. What I hope to do is just supplement his already incredible work.
Yesterday, Freealonzo and I walked around the site and took some "alternative view" pictures. Namely, pictures of the grounds looking in from left field. For each of these pictures, you may click the picture to get a larger view.
Again, this is a shot looking in from left field. To put it into perspective, the blue handicap parking area furthest to the right is close to where second base will be. Right now, it is hard for me to imagine a ballpark being built on this rather nondescript and, quite frankly, ugly piece of land.
This a shot further to the left of what eventually will be right field and the "plaza" we hear so much about. If you click on the image for the larger view, you will see that I have highlighted the right field foul pole in red for your convenience.
A closer shot of the plaza area. Again, click on the image for a larger one. It is hard to imagine all these roads being taken away and/or altered to make way for the plaza. It should be interesting to watch this develop.
Next the plaza will be this parking garage, and although we have heard the walls on top of this garage are eight feet high, I think it is a guarantee there will be some birds-eye view seating options up there once the ballpark is opened.
Finally we have the first hole dug in the concrete and dirt, a tangible example of actually construction taking place. This is known as a "hot spot" and it is where they have decided to first dig to test the soils and all that mumbo jumbo. There will be some other "hot spots" dug in the coming weeks as they clear the land. Freealonzo and I also noticed some construction or maintenance on the sewer lines surrounding the ballpark which is alluded to in this article posted on the Twins web site.
It is difficult to imagine or fathom the myriad of details and potential (and real!) problems that must be dealt with concerning a construction project of this size and magnitude. Luckily the County and the Ballpark Authority only had to deal with a handful of land owners to get this far. I've been told that to construct the ballpark in San Diego between 30-40 land owners had to be appeased. Hopefully this will give these entities more time to worry about everything else, and there will definitely be more to worry about as time goes on.
So, that is my contribution to the monitoring of the construction so far. I expect though that Rick at Twins Ballpark 2010 will continue to wow us all with his postings over the next 3 years. I must admit, I am very short-sighted when it comes to the ballpark and especially the surrounding area. Will there be a field where the Twins can play ball? Check. Will there be some stands where I can watch the Twins play ball? Check. OK, I am good to go.
If any of you are taking pictures of the construction, I am considering putting together a page that will document the progress. So, send me your pictures! Together we might be able to put together a pretty slick little site. Until later!
May 21, 2007
Our trip to Milwaukee
As many of you know, last weekend Cheesehead Craig, Freealonzo and I ventured into the great state of Wisconsin to witness first hand the wasteland that is Milwaukee. Sure, we went primarily to see the Twins play the Brewers, but I was also interested in seeing the devastation that Miller Park has brought to that once great city. You see, the taxpayers of the five county area around Milwaukee are paying for Miller Park out of their own pockets, and from what I've read from commenters here on this blog I was expecting to see a lawless cesspool of decay and hopelessness. All because of Miller Park! Oh the humanity! Why, Bud Selig, why?
The devastation was worse than I imagined. You see, I found out the people of Milwaukee actually don't care about paying for Miller Park anymore! That's right, they have actually moved on, and some would say they may even be proud of it! I know! Have they forgotten about the children? Or the puppies? Puppies are dying, and yet they have the audacity to enjoy baseball! Miller Park has turned Milwaukee into a bunch of happy people that enjoy spending a summer afternoon watching baseball! Democracy is dead!
Freealonzo, Gabe (our wonderful host), and Cheesehead Craig all enjoy some free beer after the Miller Brewery tour. Me? I did not enjoy the free beer. In fact, I gave my free beer to Craig. I must say it is very upsetting to me. I know I'm supposed to like beer, but I absolutely do not. It is like when someone squeezes a lemon wedge into my water. I can taste a little of the lemon, but it mostly tastes like an extremely watery, and horrible, lemonade. That is what beer tastes like to me. I know I am supposed to taste hops and malt and alcohol, but mostly I just taste an incomprehensible swill. Go figure.
Here is a picture of some of the history of the Miller Brewery, the "Girl in the Moon." The tour was decent, but I would have liked more history. For example, where did this logo come from? I mean, the tour guides spent about 90% of the tour explaining how beer is made. Who cares how that vile concoction is made? Tell me more about prohibition when it was banned!
This is a picture of the Pabst Mansion (thanks Freealonzo!). I apologize for the bird crap on the window, but ever since Miller Park opened birds have started crapping everywhere with impunity! We didn't actually get a tour of the Pabst Mansion, much to my unhappiness, because my comrades thought it might be "boring." They wanted to go to Miller Park. As you might imagine, it was not lost on me that Miller Park has obviously turned Milwaukeeans into uncultured swine. When will the devastation end?!?!
Ah, Miller Park. We had some great seats along the first baseline. This is a picture of Torii Hunter's home run blast in the game on Saturday. After this shot all 15,000 Twins fans rose to cheer and mock our gracious hosts. It was fun.
A closeup of the ball leaving Torii's bat. Needless to say, I am an amazing photographer.
Another example of the debauchery caused by Miller Park: the Sausage Races. It pained me, but I actually enjoyed watching these idiots running around.
Aha! The highlight of the journey! With the victory on Friday night, and the victory I witnessed on Saturday night, I actually won the bet with Cheesehead Craig! After years of futility, I have finally won a bet with my neighbor. We bet on who would win the series, and the Twins were able to finally come through for me! As per the terms of our wager, Cheesehead Craig must now wash my car whilst I eat a Chipotle burrito purchased by him! Victory is sweet! I'm not going to wash my car for a month!
But back to the lawless wasteland caused by the construction of Miller Park. It is a sad state of affairs in Milwaukee. With the passage of the state law to build this monstrosity of a ballpark, Latrell Sprewell was finally successful in passing his "mandatory spinning rims" bill in the Wisconsin legislature. Now, all cars and trucks in Milwaukee are required by law to have spinning rims, and all that money goes straight to feeding Sprewell's family. A man's gotta eat, you know.
A closeup of this tragic "turn" of events. Unbelievable.
So often we see only pretty pictures of Miller Park, but this is a picture of the backside, or the "butt," of the ballpark. Not so pretty now, heh? And amazingly enough, the people of Milwaukee are still happy with this place.
As I walked around Miller Park on Sunday I ventured into the Twins bullpen area. Apparently this year Twins veteran pitchers are making the rookies carry around a "My Little Pony" backpack. I find that very appropriate for a trip to Wisconsin.
Our seats for Sunday's game were very, very good. These were by far the best seats I have ever had for a baseball game. It is a shame that Ortiz stunk up the joint, but quite honestly I was just plain in heaven being this close to the field. It was spectacular.
So, that is my trip to Milwaukee. Thanks to Gabe for hosting, Craig for driving, and Freealonzo for being the Twins fan I could high five. I can't wait for next year!
How do you like them apples?
To say I never thought this day would come is an understatement. The first shovel full of dirt has been dug, and monkeys have flown out of my butt. It was painful, but worth it.
Surprisingly, there are no anti-stadium types chaining themselves to the entrance of the Rapid Park site, or laying down in front of the bulldozers. I'm serious, I fully expected that. Also, where are all the lawsuits people have promised that will keep this project from happening? It doesn't seem like that plan is working out either. Quite frankly, I'm a little disappointed.
Oh well ... I plan on going down to the site this Wednesday to take in the action. I may even start a one man wave to express my jubilation. It has been a long haul. It is nice to see some dirt finally being turned.
May 16, 2007
I like ...
This album ...
This book ...
This movie ...
But most of all, I like knowing I'll be at this ballpark this Saturday ...
May 14, 2007
My 8 year old son is playing Little League baseball. Let me tell you, I have throughly enjoyed watching him play baseball (badly). Most of the boys on his team struggle to throw, catch, and hit the ball ... you know, the basics of the game. However, every once in a while one of the boys does something right and you can see a glimmer of potential. A boy will throw it to first base before the runner and miraculously the first baseman will catch it, or a pop fly will stay in someone's glove. It is at those moments that all the parents in the crowd will clap and cheer wildly, and I will decide there isn't any place I'd rather be.
In their first game against the juggernaut that is the Harmon Auto Glass team, my son got a hit and actually made it all the way around the bases for the first run of the game. I went into the dugout to congratulate him, and I'm not sure I have ever seen him with a bigger smile. He was excited, his team was excited, and all was right with the world. It is amazing how a run in a Little League baseball game can make people so happy, you know? Simple pleasures my friends.
My son and I went to a "skills night" recently and I helped out with one of the stations that had the kids batting off a tee. As we stood in line some of the kids with my son's group noticed that they would be using a wooden bat for this station, a rarity in any league but MLB.
One of the boys asked, "What if we break the bat?"
Impressed with their confidence in their own power, I answered, "There is no way any of you are going to break that bat." Then I added, "I tell you what, if any of you break that bat I will give you a special prize."
One of the boys piped up, "You mean, you'll give us a can of pop?"
"Or a doughnut?" another boy added.
I laughed and said, "If any of you break that bat, I will give you a can of pop AND a doughnut!!!"
The boys all thought that was a pretty good deal. Of course, after that all of them forgot about the fundamentals of swinging a bat in their efforts to crush the ball. The coach manning the station had to ask, "What has gotten into all of you? Don't kill the ball! Just hit it!"
The whole episode put a huge smile on my face, though. Can you remember when a can of pop or biting into a doughnut was something truly special? Or when swinging a bat at a little white ball and running around a diamond shaped playing field could make you as happy as you've ever been? Let me tell you, I am starting to remember. I am starting to remember the simple pleasures that can make a summer time evening so wonderful.
May 8, 2007
The Last Starfighter
One of the most memorable movies of my childhood, The Last Starfighter. And yes, it is the "Collector's Edition."
What other movies were memorable, but somehow forgotten?
May 7, 2007
I made strawberry milkshakes this weekend. Man, were they ever good. Mmmmmm!
May 3, 2007
Things that make me happy
- When my iPod randomly plays a Christmas song.
- Sitting on my sun porch on a beautiful Spring day.
- Seeing my son really smile. His smile lights up the world.
- The basketball hoop in my driveway was installed to perfection. It does not lean forward. At all. I take great pride in this every time I see it.
- Wisconsin Mac and Cheese at Noodles. Have I mentioned this before? Now that is a tasty dish.
- Riding the 9N out of downtown and into the neighborhoods. What an interesting group of people that ride that bus.
- Speaking of food, I love Easy Cheese and crackers. Specifically sharp cheddar Easy Cheese. It is my favorite late night snack.
- Finding a good book at my local library.
- Weird Al's "White and Nerdy" ... that is one hilarious song.
- The Nintendo Wii. What an ingenious piece of equipment.
- But right now, what makes me the most happy, is that once again the Greet Machine will fade into oblivion. Stick around if you want, but I hope (I pray!) that the show is over.
Have a good one!
May 1, 2007
I've just been informed that the Hennepin Board of Commissioners are about to meet where they almost certainly will vote to go forward with the "quick take" of the Rapid Park site.
Details should be forthcoming as the afternoon progresses.
So, all the worrying and gnashing of teeth is almost over. Of course, new worries will present themselves as the construction commences (I think someone has suggested the construction crew will almost certainly find an ancient Native American burial site) but we'll deal with those as they come up.
All I can say is I am relieved. Again, let's wait until the news makes it official, but I am happy.
More details ... the press relase:
HENNEPIN COUNTY BOARD VOTES TO EFFECTUATE QUICK-TAKE OF RAPID PARK SITE FOR NEW TWINS BALLPARK
Hennepin County will today effectuate a "quick-take" of the 8-acre Rapid Park site for the ballpark project and take title to the land, after the Board of Commissioners voted to deposit $13.755 million into a court escrow account.
The deposit will complete the County's major land acquisitions for the ballpark project.
"I am very pleased we are able to move ahead on acquiring this parcel," said Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat. "The process of purchasing this land has been too difficult and taken too long. But now we can finally begin preparing the site to construct one of the best urban ballparks in America."
The quick-take action came after the Minnesota Twins and Burlington Northern Santa Fe reached agreement on insurance and indemnification concerns for the construction and operation of the ballpark.
The County and BNSF have also reached an understanding on the financial terms for purchasing BNSF property interests.
"To this point, the County could not reach a negotiated sale with the landowners and avoid condemnation proceedings," Opat said. "With today's action, the County and the Twins will energetically engage in the condemnation process, while always leaving open the possibility that the landowners will reconsider their position and begin serious negotiations."
County Board Resolution 07-184, enacted on April 10, 2007, authorized the quick-take as soon as the County was assured that the Twins and BNSF reached agreement. The Twins have also agreed to provide an additional amount — above their $130 million payment for the ballpark — to assist in land acquisition and infrastructure. The Board voted today specifically to authorize the disbursement of $13.755 million, the value of the Rapid Park site according to a certified appraisal obtained by the County.
The condemnation action, cited as County of Hennepin v. Land Partners II, LLLP, et al., (Court File No. 27-CV-06-19732), began in 2006 under Judge Stephen Aldrich. Three court-appointed condemnation commissioners will appraise the Rapid Park site and recommend a sale price.