June 14, 2006
An Evening Walk at Minnehaha Falls
It's interesting to me how music can so strongly remind us of specific places. Or how strongly we associate music with a particular place.
This is a new video of my son and me taking a walk at Minnehaha Falls. The music in the background dictated the location, and the way the video was shot. At least to me. You might think of something else when you hear this song.
And just as an aside, it was pretty difficult to get the images to correspond to the beat, but I think I did an OK job. There is a part in the song where the tempo slightly changes which caused me no end of problems. I hope you enjoy it anyway!
Download WMV version for clearer and cleaner images.
Category "Cheesehead Craig"
Category "Stadiums 2006"
May 30, 2006
Life is good
What the heck people!?!?!? What the heck am I supposed to write about? For the past three nights I have sat down at my computer ready to lay into those morons at the legislature only to realize they have actually passed a workable stadium bill! Can you believe it? Who am I supposed to lay into now? This recent development has changed my life. You remember the Seinfeld episode where George stops having sex and becomes more intelligent? That is now happening to me. Not thinking about stadiums has freed up oodles of time and brain waves. I can feel myself getting smarter, healthier, happier. Needless to say, I am a better person because the legislature passed a workable stadium bill. In fact, the Minnesota legislature may have actually saved my life (if not my marriage). It is a strange feeling not having to think about stadiums. I kinda like it.
So, Cheesehead Craig and I were watching the Twins game on Sunday when we started talking about the players on the current Twins roster that will be around when the new stadium opens in 2010. Specifically, we asked the question, what 5 players do you want to see on the Twins roster when the new stadium opens in 2010? What five players do you want to still see in a Twins uniform in 2010? Anyway, here is the list I came up with:
Yep, that is my list and I'm sticking to it. Santana and Liriano are no brainers, Mauer is a must have, and Moreneau ... I just really like him. But more than anything, I want to see Torii Hunter in a Twins uniform in 2010. I think he has given enough of himself and his body to stick around 4 more years. Pohlad has already said he wants Torii to stick around. Torii himself has said he wants to stick around. And this isn't because I think he is the best player, or because I don't think Denard Span will be ready, it is only because seeing Torii Hunter in center field on opening day 2010 will make me feel good. It will give me the warm fuzzies all over. It will make me happy. And I like to be happy. If you've got a list of your own, put it in the comments.
So, I got an email from Jiminstpaul today. Jiminstpaul has been reading this blog almost as long as Cheesehead Craig, and more importantly Jiminstpaul is putting together the big New Ballpark Celebration going on this Thursday at the Summit Brewery Rathskellar (you are invited). Anyway, when Jim first came up with this idea last year to hold a "ballpark celebration" it was going to be just for "Greet Machiners" ... maybe 20-30 people who read this blog and who would be interested in getting together to quaff a few brews in the company of friends. Well, Jim now tells me that his little party has been advertised in the Star Tribune and on Cities 97. What was originally going to be 20-30 people may now actually be hundreds of people. So, are you coming? I'll remind you again tomorrow.
So, I got a comment today from long time reader, and stadium opponent, David Wintheiser that was just too good to not highlight:
Betty Crocker Park. Come on.
General Mills has long been a supporter of pro sports in the Cities - they had a long-standing agreement with the Vikings to purchase unsold tickets so that Vikes games wouldn't be blacked out on local TV, though that agreement finally ended some time around the start of the Red McCombs era. It's a well-known Minnesota company with strong ties, would make a nice family-friendly image, and opens up some interesting cross-marketing opportunities, since food is a big reason to go to a game (and Hormel will still be there regardless).
And those of us who aren't quite classy enough to get behind the ballpark now that it's a fait accompli can refer to the place as 'The Crock'. It's a win-win!
I'm sorry, but that is funny. "The Crock!" Genius! David! Where the heck have you been all this time? By the way, I think some Summit Brewery fans/employees have made my little poll on the ballpark's potential name a little less than "scientific." For shame! I'm of half a mind to declare Land O'Lakes Park the winner and start the negotiations for naming rights! Don't mess with the Greet Machine!
Finally, back to my opening point. What the heck am I supposed to write about now that the legislature has passed a ballpark bill? I'm sure I'll write about more ballpark stuff as the news comes out, but 2010 is four years away, and as I said above, I don't want to think about this anymore. It isn't healthy.
So, after the big New Ballpark Celebration, I may take a little break. I've got to regroup and "reinvent" this little site. I may talk more about music, or religion, or books, or libraires (I am a librarian), or maybe all of the above, including new ballparks. We'll see. Whatever the case, I am looking forward to a little vacation. Hopefully I'll see you on Thursday!
May 7, 2006
There once was a little girl. On her way to Grandma's house, she found a baby turtle struggling to cross the street. Concerned that the turtle wouldn't make it across the busy road, her dad picked it up and decided to help it out.
The turtle was small in the little girl's hands.
The girl and her dad took the turtle to the local nature center to talk with someone about what they should do. The naturalist at the center said the turtle was probably only a day old. She told the little girl she had three options. She could put the turtle in the lake, she could keep the turtle as a pet, or she could let the nature center put the turtle in an aquarium.
The little girl said she wanted to put the turtle in the lake. So, the little girl and her dad walked to a dock on the lake.
The little girl bent over on the dock until her fingers could touch the water.
And she let the turtle go.
And they watched the turtle swim away.
The little girl was very proud of her decision. "The turtle will be happier in the lake than he would be in a cage," she said.
Her dad was proud of the little girl, too, and he doubts the little girl will ever forget the time when they put the baby turtle in the lake.
It was a beautiful and memorable day.
Category "Stadiums 2006"
April 28, 2006
This is who I am
I want to explain a few things to you:
My name is Shane. It isn't too hard to figure out who I am. I am not an anonymous blogger.
I have a wife and three kids all of whom I love very much.
I volunteer at my church as a sound technician for our Sunday School program.
I teach a graduate class on Tuesday nights at the College of St. Catherine in the Dept. of Library and Information Science.
I am the Tiger Den Leader for my local Cub Scout Pack.
I just put in a brand new basketball hoop on my driveway, and I recently visited Minnehaha Falls.
I enjoy reading (right now it is Air by Geoffry Ryman), listening to music (The Soft Bulletin by the Flaming Lips is in heavy rotation), and watching movies (Wow, was V for Vendetta ever good).
I still mow my parents lawn.
I am a librarian and the webmaster at the University of Minnesota Libraries and manager of the UThink blog system.
This is who I am. I like to think I am making a positive contribution to society.
I spend most of my time as a librarian. Now, any librarian worth his or her salt will tell you one of the most important aspects of librarianship is protecting intellectual freedom and the freedom of speech. Libraries collect a lot of material, some of which is very controversial. The saying goes, if you haven't found something in a library that offends you, you haven't been looking hard enough.
I also like baseball. Specifically Twins baseball. As a Twins fan, I have decided to support the effort to build a new ballpark. I don't have any hidden agendas. I just want to make sure the Twins stay in Minnesota, and I am excited for the possibilty of watching outdoor baseball again. For a lot of reasons, this is controversial. It even offends some people.
I'm sorry if you don't agree with me. I really am. But I have a right to my opinion. In fact, I would argue I have a right, in fact even an obligation to get involved in the issues that matter to me. It is my right as a citizen of this state. Obviously I have gotten involved by writing on this blog.
Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing. As a librarian, I enjoy my role as a protector of this right, and as a citizen I have enjoyed taking a few minutes out of every day to write about a Twins stadium. I am a firm believer that we shouldn't be afraid to speak out on issues that matter to us, and especially on issues that could impact us.
I have recently learned, however, that this may be a naive view of this wonderful right. Freedom of speech is not so much black and white as it is gray, and it is somewhat of a two way street. Sure I can speak my mind and say what I want, but that doesn't mean there aren't consequences. My freedom of speech can get me in trouble. It can also bring me a little pain. I have learned that there are consequences to the freedom of speech that one must be willing to deal with.
For example, some people don't like the freedom of speech, especially when they hear things they don't agree with. The freedom of speech can also cause the people around you to look differently at you. It can also make people become angry with you. In essence, your freedom of speech can make you feel very uncomfortable.
Are you willing to deal with that? Can you handle it? Am I willing to deal with it? For the past three years, I have been willing to deal with it. I would write on my little blog and maybe 100 people would read my drivel. Then a funny thing happened. More people started to read my drivel, word got around, and I got on the 10:00 news.
Wow. This has caused a whole bunch of interesting things to happen to me, both good and bad. I've had some fun conversations with people. I've gotten a lot of fun phone calls from family and friends. Friends have emailed me from all over asking if I could sign some autographs. I've also been confronted by a co-worker. I had a less than pleasant meeting with my own boss and his supervisor. I've gotten a lot of problematic emails, some of them CC'd to the president of the University.
I must also clarify that the Univerisity and the University Libraries have backed me up on this issue. But I will admit to some embarrassment over them having to do so. It makes me a little upset that my blog seems to be the most controversial on the UThink system. The system I developed. It makes me upset that my supervisors have been forced to defend me. So, I have considered letting it go.
You see? Consequences. Your freedom of speech, my freedom of speech does not come without a price. For a long time I have talked a good game concerning the philosophy of freely speaking your mind. What I have recently been forced to ask myself though is can I walk the walk? Can I pay the price? Can I deal with the consequences?
I have decided the answer is yes. Bring it on. A good friend of mine recently wrote me and said, "Remember--we don't do this because it's easy, we do it because it's hard. Anybody can do little things, work the margins, and not make waves -- but where's the fun in that?"
Yes. I am proud of the impact I've had, and I'm proud of the work I've done. I have decided that I want to continue to make waves.
Anyway, I just thought you should know why I didn't post anything today. See you soon.
Category "Stadiums 2006"
March 27, 2006
Not feeling it today
I'm not feeling it today. So, here are some quick thoughts before I move on:
I'm in the Star Tribune today in an article about the wonder that is UThink. They did a pretty nice job with it.
The Gopher's men's hockey team disappointed me. I know that is an understatement, but what a phenomenal collapse these last two weeks. Like the saying goes, "That is why they play the games."
Garnett's recent locker room chat sessions are scaring me a little bit. If he ever left ... wow. I'm not sure what the NBA would mean to me anymore. And SBG probably has more to say about this than me, but is it even possible to reuinte Steph with KG on either the Knicks or the T-Wolves? Doesn't the salary cap situation of both teams make it nearly impossible?
I watched Good Night and Good Luck last night and I thought it was pretty good. Not as exciting as I thought it would be, but a good treatment of what it means to dissent without being disloyal. It surely is no coincidence that Clooney would choose to make this movie now with talk concerning what it means to be "patriotic." However, it also got me thinking about the power of the media today vs. the 1950s. In the 50s there were three major networks, and then, of course, all the major newspapers. I would wager that back then the media was much more powerful in swaying public opinion than it is now because 1) there is less to choose from and 2) so much news happens live today that we can (we should) form our own opinions before we are swayed by editorializing journalists. Concerning point number 1, though, we have so much news coming at us today from 24 hour news channels (of varying political persuasions), internet sites (like blogs and the like), and the tried and true network news and newspapers, that news today is less about finding the truth, and more about finding the angle you want to see the "truth" through.
I guess what I'm saying is that Murrow would have less impact today because people have more choice concerning the news they want to hear, and they are more entrenched in their viewpoints because of it.
I saw a lacrosse game at the Xcel Energy Center this weekend. No one was protesting outside of the arena and people seemed pretty happy inside the arena too. I guess giving "free money" to millionaires is OK in this instance.
Finally, this weekend it was announced that our esteemed legislators have come up with a new plan to build a new Gophers stadium that will cost less in yearly student fees, but retain corporate naming rights for TCF.
I am so jaded at this point that I can only think of one thing to say: I'll believe it when I see it. We haven't seen the last of the problems for this bill.
Over and out.
March 23, 2006
I've got mad skills (or is that bad skills?)
The Greet Machine is a labor of love. I write all this crap day after day without any thoughts of making tons of money or getting any recognition whatsoever for my efforts. That is the way it is and I am comfortable with that. You may think I am being paid by the Twins or people related to the Twins stadium efforts, but alas, no. I am truly stupid enough to do all this work on my own time and dime. It is really humbling to think about. However, I will say that recent events have been a nice change in my favor.
You see, all my inane ramblings about stadiums, and all my work on the Voter's Guide, has actually, for the first time, resulted in a tangible benefit for me. Yes, I have finally made "connections." I bet you didn't know this, but you are reading a blog by someone who "knows people." And one of those "people" actually came through for me in a way I didn't expect. Yesterday, I was invited to play basketball on the Final Four court set up at the Metrodome.
Let me give you some background. I was a pretty decent basketball player in high school. I was the captain of my high school team. At the time my high school (in Virginia Beach, VA) was well known as being the high school of both JR Reid (where has he gone to?) and DJ Dozier (the old Vikings RB flop). During a Lefty Dreisell camp one summer I was selected for a 15 person All-Star team. If you'll note, sometimes the top tagline of this blog states, "Internet home of the 1991 Kempsville High School slam dunk championship runner-up." I don't say all of this to brag, but only to set up how far I have fallen.
Wow, I am really a bad basketball player right now. I think the skills are still there, but I am just way too out of shape to make it work. It was embarrassing. I make Jabba the Hut look healthy. In the games I played in yesterday I literally had to stay on the defensive side of the court because I knew I wouldn't make it back if I ran all the way down. So, in other words, the humbling of Shane Nackerud continues. As Cheesehead Craig has pointed out, I have lost my pride, I have lost almost all of my hope, and now I am being humbled seemingly on a daily basis. I have really got to get back in shape!
You would think that because of my inability to run more than 10 feet I would have had a bad time. Ha! That is where you are wrong! I had a great time! How often do you get to play basketball at the Metrodome? Not often. I mean, I played on the same court Villanova will play on Friday night! It really gave me a unique perspective of what the players will see and how the court is set up from a player's point of view. And plus, I got some great pictures.
I tried to get a picture of the whole set up here. How the spectator seats are laid out, etc.
Here is another picture of the people I played b-ball with. Good people all, and in much better shape than me. I was impressed.
After the games I went down into the bowels of the Dome where I found this sign to the Vikings locker room. I asked a security guard if the locker rooms were open, and he said, "Are you a player?" I said, "No." Then he said, "I don't have a key. Sorry." So, I said, "What if I would have said I was a player?" And he said, "I guess we'll never know, heh?" That was a bummer.
Here is a picture of me trying to dunk. Pathetic. I used to be quite the dunking artist, but now I couldn't jump over a phone book.
This is where I went into the Dome, the "Loading Dock." Ever wonder what is behind this door?
Stairs and then...
A revolving door that leads to a guard desk. Now you know!
Anyway, even though I barely made it off the court alive and breathing, I had a great time. I had a blast! Special thanks to the Big D for inviting me. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am very thankful to get the chance to do this. So, thanks Bid D. Plus, you've got a pretty nice jump shot! Let me know if I can ever take part in something like this again or if I can ever do something for you!
March 20, 2006
The rumors of my pride have been greatly exaggerated
This weekend I attended a silent auction fundraiser for my kids' school, Park Spanish Immersion. The auction was at the Calhoun Beach Club which is a pretty fancy place and everyone was dressed to the nines. Now, I'm not what you would call a "heavy hitter." My pockets definitely don't "run deep." In fact, I didn't win one of the things I bid on because the bids just got way too high. But one thing I can do is give my time. So, I worked as a staff volunteer at the auction.
One of my jobs, as you can see, was to walk around this with this sign 15 minutes before the tables closed on the "Library" level of the auction. This was a job my wife had originally signed up for, but once she started she found that the task was too mortifyingly embarrassing, so she handed it off to me.
The sign was on a tall poll with bells on the bottom that rang incessantly as I walked. But did I care? No! I walked around with that sign with a huge grin. I yelled, "Fifteen minutes to get your bids in!" I gave people the "wink and the gun" as I went by. I actually had a good time doing this. I am happy to report that after getting married and having three kids, my pride is nowhere to be found. You think I look goofy? I honestly don't care. The next thing on my list is mowing the lawn in a white t-shirt and black socks. No one can stop me!
I have discovered that I am now at the age where I can really start embarrassing my kids without worrying about myself! Life is definitely good.
More when I got time.
March 2, 2006
My thoughts on various topics
Let's start with the most obvious. I have been doing a lot of updating to the Voter's Guide, the votes in the House Taxes Committee, and the votes in the House Ways and Means Committee. Right now I am pretty confident that I have them correct, and right now they all show that a Twins stadium bill will pass (sometimes barely). I had to switch a bunch of people back to no since I seem to have misunderstood some of the information I have been receiving. If anyone has any insight to these predictions, please drop me a line at email@example.com (if you'd like to remain anonymous) or leave a comment below. Things are looking good!
Speaking of which, thanks to a late night phone call from Cheesehead Craig last night I was able to catch the last half of TPT Almanac on channel 2 (PBS). They were interviewing both Dean Johnson and Steve Sviggum and asking them about various issues that might come up in this legislative session. A lot of time was spent on an amendment to the Minnesota constitution to ban gay marriage (which I find to be a ridiculous waste of time), and then they got into stadiums. Both Sviggum and Johnson said they want to vote on both a Gophers and Twins stadium, and both said they think the Hennepin County plan is a pretty good one. Sviggum said he didn't think they could get to a Vikings stadium this session, but Johnson actually said he hoped they would take care of that one too.
This isn't exactly earth shattering news, but it still puts a little bounce in my step today. Of course, nothing will happen until T-Paw and/or "legislative leadership" asks Hennepin County to begin negotiating with the Twins again, but I will let you know if that is happening as soon as I hear something.
Last week I also heard that Tony Cornish could be switching his vote from a No for a Twins stadium to a Yes. This was shocking news to me since last year in the Local Government committee Cornish made it quite clear that he would only vote for a Twins stadium if the Twins put up half. So, I wrote him an email asking him if he was now in favor of the Twins stadium, and if he was also in favor of the Vikings stadium in Anoka County since Zygi Wilf is putting up at least half. Here is the response I got:
You were given bad information. I plan to vote no on Twins Stadium.
Well, at least he isn't wishy washy about it. He also avoided my question on the Vikings stadium which I take to mean he would also vote no on that. Bummer.
Why am I telling you all of this? Please, I am begging you ... write your legislators and let me know what they say. They will write you back (most of the time) and sometimes their responses are very insightful. Plus, by writing your legislators we can put extra pressure on them to finally get this job done.
Finally, as most of you know I recently purchased an iPod Video as a gift to myself for everything I do for me. I know, how thoughtful of myself. Anyway, for the past three nights I have been pulling my hair out trying to figure out how to get a full length DVD onto it. Specifically, I've been trying to put The Matrix onto it. Well, don't you worry your pretty little head about it. Behold, my triumph:
Yes, I finally got it to work. My main problems were 1) I was using free software and sometimes that can be unreliable and 2) I couldn't get the audio and video to sync up. After trying a whole bunch of different settings on the software it finally went through. If you are interested in my process and/or settings, please let me know.
So, do you understand what this means? It means that I can now watch The Matrix on the 2.5 inch screen of my iPod! Aren't you jealous? I mean, you still have to watch The Matrix on your big screen TV with your surround sound system! I'm sorry, but that is truly pathetic! Get with the times, man.
February 27, 2006
So, as we gear up for the upcoming legislative session, I've been getting some notes from people concerning my Voter's Guide and changes that should be made to it. Here is what I've heard so far:
Maxine Penas (1A): changed from a No to a Yes.
Pete Nelson (17B): changed from a No to a Yes.
Scott Newman (18A): changed from an Unknown to a No.
Greg Davids (31B): changed from a No to a Yes.
Tom Emmer (19B): changed from an Unknown to a No.
Dan Larson (63B): changed from an Unknown to a Yes.
This brings the grand total so far to:
Pro-American (Pro-stadium) legislators: 75
Anti-American (Anti-stadium) legislators: 52
I have also been told that Tony Cornish (24B) should be changed to a Yes. This is surprising to me since last year in the Governmental Operations committee he made it quite clear that he wanted the Twins to put up at least half before he would approve. In fact, I was going to write him to ask him if he was therefore in favor of the Viking stadium bill since Zygi is putting up half. I may have to contact him and ask him what is up. Not that he'll get back to me. As David has said, I think legislators are avoiding me now.
Also, I was stunned to hear that Mary Ellen Otremba is now in the Yes column. Stunned. Curt, isn't this your former district? Can you contact Otremba and ask if this is true?
Finally, I know pro-stadium people are feeling optimistic, but let's take a moment for a little reality check here. The session starts on Wednesday and that is when the partisan politics will begin. Both sides will say, "We can't deal with stadiums until we get all our other business taken care of." Two months later they will still be arguing, the session will end with the stadium bill never reaching the floor, and we'll begin the long summer of "should we call a special session?" I'm not saying I am giving up, no no no... I am just steeling myself for this inevitability.
And on a completely different note, awhile back I alluded to the possibility that the Greet Machine would soon cease to exist and that changes in my life could be coming. Well, you'll be happy (maybe not?) to know that neither will be happening. In November I applied for a new position at the University of St. Thomas. I had an interview at the beginning of February, but in the interview I think we could both tell that it just wasn't the right fit. I found out last Friday that I didn't get the job.
This process was both painful and exiciting. After the interview, I was pretty confident that I might get offered the job. So, at that point I had to make a choice of telling my boss and his boss that I might be leaving. This was a hard decision because, obivously, I didn't know how they would react. Fortunately, they were happy for me. They understood that I wanted to take a step up in my career. But what made me even more surprised, and actually touched, is that they said they would make me a retention offer.
So, even though I didn't get the new job offer, or the retention offer, it still felt good that my work is appreciated here at the U. In fact, this whole process has really showed me how much I enjoy working here.
However, back to the fact that I got nothing for my troubles. This kind of bothered me, so I bought myself a 30GB iPod Video. Sure, I slept on the couch that night, and yes, I really can't afford it. But I justify it based on all the pain I went through, and because, quite frankly, I deserve something nice every once in a while.
Talk to you later!
February 17, 2006
Yes, it is cold
So, I was sitting at the bus stop yesterday freezing my butt off. I don't really need to tell all of you just how freakin' cold it is outside, but this is the type of cold that gives a person an understanding of just how someone could die of exposure. This is the type of cold where the tears from my eyes freeze to my face, the snot in my nose freezes, and my exposed skin feels like it has thousands of pins sticking in it. Makes me proud to be a Minnesotan.
Anyway, as I was saying, I was standing at the bus stop last night waiting over 20 minutes (!!!) for my bus to arrive. Man it was cold! To take my mind off of the cold I was listening to my iPod when suddenly the perfect song came on to brighten my mood:
"Surf Wax America" by Weezer
This brought a huge smile to my face, this song about beaches, surfing, waves, and beautiful weather. As I stood there singing along it suddenly wasn't so cold anymore. It is amazing how music can sometimes make -20 degree weather tolerable.
First of all, I've been quoted! There is a great story about the wonder that is UThink in the Minnesota Daily today. Sometimes the Daily staff really messes things up, but I must say I am very impressed with this article. No errors, and I think it concisely captures the essence of class blogging though the UThink system. Anyway, I'm pretty pleased with it.
Now, I shall answer/comment on freealonzo's suggestions for non-stadium related content for the Greet Machine:
Star Wars vs. Lord of the Rings
For me, the winner is clear: Lord of the Rings. I don't think there has ever been a better trilogy. The orginal Star Wars trilogy was a big part of my childhood, but Lucas has really screwed it up with the prequels. Revenge of the Sith was good, but not anywhere near as good as Empire Strikes Back.
Truly, I am cursed to live in a state that is so hockey crazy. Having said that, though, I must say I am warming up to Gopher hockey. For example, I know I'll be watching the game tonight. There is something about college hockey that is way, way, way more exciting than the pro game. I will never claim to be an expert on hockey in general, but I love the Golden Gophers.
Liberal v. Conservative Christians
Now you are just trying to get me in trouble. But I'll play along. Jesus was liberal. He did not follow the rules. He turned both the old covenant and the law on its head. Jesus mentioned the poor and needy hundreds of times. He did not mention anything about homosexuality, tax cuts, or assasinating foreign leaders. Love the Lord God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself. If only. The world would be a better place.
Does Jesse Ventura now like V.P. Cheney because he's hunted man?
Yes. Actually, I thought this was so hilarious I really don't know what I can add to it. Nice one, freealonzo.
Pinewood derby speed tips
You want a fast car? Focus on the wheels. Make sure the tops are angled slightly outwards, and especially make sure all the wheels are symetrically balanced with each other (are they all touching the track at the same time at all times?). Then, soak the axles in graphite. Not the white stuff either. I'm talking the real graphite. Buy some graphite during the summer because around Pinewood Derby time you won't be able to find any in the stores. Lastly, put the weight towards the front of the car. Follow my advice, and you too might be a winner.
Dumb Kevin McHale trades and/or NBA rule changes
I don't know how McHale can ever top the stupidity of Marko Jaric for Sam Cassell and a first round draft pick. That is the winner, hands down. And the NBA rule I hate the most is the defensive three second rule. Stupid. Almost makes Minnesota state legisltators look intelligent.
RSS and Movable Type 4.xxx primers
If Six Apart releases Movable Type 4 anytime soon I will fly out to San Francisco and personally open a can of whoop ass on Ben Trott. It took us forever to get MT 3.2 up, I am not overly enthused about having to go through that any time soon. And I like RSS. So, you can mark me down as being in favor of that technology.
My cat peed all over my Stratego game, so there won't be any reenactments of that game for a while.
Best concert I ever saw was U2 last September. Just marvelous. Second best would be Pink Floyd in 1995 (?). I was in the 12th row. 3rd best would have to be Page/Plant in 1996 (?). Lots of good Zeppelin songs (although I could have done without all of Page's drooling).
Worst concert I have ever been to was the Rolling Stones Bridges to Babylon tour at the Dome. Horrible sound and we were way too far away. I was just not impressed.
So, there you have it. Anything else anone wants to know about?
February 14, 2006
Cut me some slack
I am not willing to do it. In fact, I don't think I can physically do it. Try as I might, today I cannot write another entry on stadiums. I am less than enthusiastic about this topic right now, and there is nothing I can do about it. What is truly sad about this is that I probably could think of something to write about this never ending topic. You might think to yourself, "How can anyone write about stadiums as much as Shane? Is there really that much to write about?" Again, sadly, for me there is. I could probably write a PhD dissertation about the topic and keep on truckin'.
But not today. Today my mind is using its non-stadium related synapses and neurons for thinking about an entirely different topic. A topic that has a great deal of impact on me and my family. A topic that is keeping me up at nights thinking and thinking and thinking. I'm sorry I can't be more specific, maybe tomorrow.
But don't worry about me. No, no, no, no ... it is nothing to worry about. Changes could be coming though.
What would life be like without the Greet Machine?
February 3, 2006
A couple of things
This will be completely stream of consciousness ... please forgive me.
A little birdy tells me that the meeting that was supposed to happen a couple of weeks ago will actually happen this Monday (2/6). The same people are rumored to attend: Opat, Bell, T-Paw, Day, Sviggum, Johnson, and Entenza. And like I said before, my focus will be on Entenza. He is the only one of these people that I still would consider anti-stadium. If he comes out of this meeting even remotely favorable towards a new Twins stadium I will consider it a victory. For example, if he comes out of this meeting and says, "The plan doesn't suck as much as I thought it would," I will take that as a positive.
Speaking of Entenza, I heard that he was on WCCO radio today talking about the stadium. According to my sources he said that he wanted to study any new plan in detail before making any judgements. A step in the right direction, I think.
Again, if T-Paw can get Entenza on board that would mean he would have the Speaker of the House, the Minority Leader of the House, the Majority Leader of the Senate, and the Minority Leader of the Senate all in favor of the Hennepin County plan. That would be a nice little coalition. Right now T-Paw has 3 out of 4.
T-Paw was on WCCO radio last week again touting St. Paul as a better location for a new Twins ballpark. I have no problem with St. Paul being the new home of the Twins, but Governor ... they have no plan. And any plan they do promote will have to include state money. The 3% stadium tax Kelly promoted would not be able to raise the same amount of money a .01% tax would be able to raise in Hennepin County.
Is Coleman even that gung ho about a new stadium in St. Paul? My impression is no. Jim in St. Paul, if you are reading this, help me out with this. Would you take a stadium in Hennepin County right now over the possibilty of the Twins giving up and packing it in? Or do you prefer waiting for another chance for St. Paul?
Unfortunately, however, as we all know any chance we have relies on T-Paw taking a stand. In fact, it would probably come down to T-Paw playing the bonding bill card ala Arne Carlson and saying, "I won't sign until a Twins stadium bill is approved." How likely is that? Not very.
I was talking with another stadium expert today when I asked him, "What chances do we really have this year? Less than 50?" And he looked at me and said, "The chances are better in 2006 than 2007." What he means by this is that the Hennepin County plan, the Twins desire to try again, the governor's even tepid support ... none of these will probably be the same in 2007.
However, it seems we do have some reason for optimism. I have heard that stadium supporters might be happy with the outcome of Monday's meeting, for whatever reason. We'll see.
And I can't believe I didn't write about this before, but last week was our Cub Scout Pack's Pinewood Derby. As you can see below, my son came in second out of about 40 cars! We both were thrilled, especially my son, but I was really happy too because I worked really hard on that car! It was a nice way for my son to end his Cub Scout career. He gets the Arrow of Light later this month.
February 2, 2006
What the heck is going on? I think winter is getting to me. Nothing is exciting. Nothing is worth writing about. It is all the same: get up, go to work, slave away, go home, do something else, go to bed, repeat. Where is the fire? Where is the life? Nothing. Just mundane monotony.
Quite frankly, I think my pessimism over this year's stadium bill chances is really bumming me out. And the goofy thing about that is, why? Why should this year be any different? It never works out! I should be used to it by now, but I guess I'm not.
My only hope to bring me out of these doldrums is winning the $180 million Powerball jackpot this weekend. That is the only thing that will make me happier. If I don't win, there is no telling what depths of depression I will enter. Wish me luck.
January 30, 2006
Now that is an interesting plan
I'll cut right to the chase, someone tell me how this isn't a good plan:
Published estimates are that Pohlad has a net worth of $2.8 billion. Assume conservatively that only half that amount would be subject to the estate tax. If he remained a Minnesota resident, the state would collect 16 percent, or about $224 million. But there would be no such windfall if he moved.
The state, the Twins, and its owner should consider an arrangement whereby the owner would agree to remain a Minnesota resident and expose his estate to a tax of at least the amount of the state contribution to the cost of a new Twins ballpark. The state would then lend that amount to the Hennepin County project. Along with the $125 million the Twins have already pledged, and the expected infrastructure contribution of local government, the state loan would get the job done. The state loan would be fully secured by the expected Pohlad estate tax, from which the loan would be repaid.
Did you understand that? Pohlad will be paying an estate tax anyway when he dies. This gentleman, William Brody, estimates that it will be $224 million. Assuming that Pohlad dies while a Minnesota resident, why don't we take that money and use it to build a new Twins stadium? How does this plan not work? Someone please inform me because I think it is a fantastic plan (if not a little morbid). Combine that $224 million with Pohlad's already agreed contribution of $125 million, and you've got $349 million: the cost of the ballpark itself. That way, much like the Mall of America, the county would only have to pay for infrastructure around the faciltiy.
Any lawyers in the house? Any reason why this wouldn't work? Under this plan you've suddenly got Pohlad paying for well over half of the total cost, which is something a lot of representatives and senators want.
OK. Now for reality. As much as I'd love this plan to work, I would be very surprised if it went anywhere. Why? We are governed by morons, plain and simple. So, I'll let you know if anything comes of this. I will certainly be monitoring the situation.
Lastly, if you have multiple children like me, you know how sibling rivalries can develop. Well, my family's most outrageous sibling rivalry is between my middle son and my youngest child, my daughter. I say outrageous because it seems that no matter what my daughter says, my son has got to disagree with her. My daughter will say anything, and my son will point out where she is wrong. For example, my daughter will say, "This peanut butter is crunchy," and my son will say, "No, this peanut butter has peanuts in it which makes it less smooth." Or my daughter will say, "The sky is blue," and my son will say, "No, the sky is blue." Do you see what I mean? It drives me nuts.
So, yesterday while going to church, my kids started to talk about the topic of frogs. My daughter, who is only 5, chimes in and says, "Frogs eat bugs with their tongues." And my son says, "No, that is actually a myth that frogs eat bugs with their tongues. Actually, frogs tackle bugs and then eat them." Can you believe this guy? Of course, my wife and I had to correct him, but where does he come up with this stuff? And all so he can disagree with his sister. It is amazing to me.
January 20, 2006
Random musings, odds, and ends
I don't have anything coherent to say today, so I'm just going to write and write until I have nothing to write about anymore.
A few days ago, Tim M. asked me what kinds of story lines I would like to see in a Serenity sequel. I think the story of Book is a given. He was a mysterious character, and we definitely didn't get the truth about him. I would also love to see more about the bounty hunter "Jubal" that showed up in the last Firefly episode. He was a very interesting dude. But more than anything, I would like to know more about the Independence movement and the Browncoats. What were they really fighting for? I know "independence" but what else? I'm sure there were other grievances. I would also like to know what happens now that Mal and his crew unleashed the truth about the Reevers. Does this create another revolution attempt? I would think some people would be kind of upset with the Alliance.
So, there you have it. I think there is a lot of story left to tell. I hope Joss Whedon gets the green light.
If I was to have another child, and that child turned out to be a boy, I would name him "Augustus Octavius." You know, to boost his confidence. And I would force everyone to call him by his complete name, "Is Augustus Octavius present?" That would be awesome. Of course, I would call him by his nickname: Skippy.
I was listening to KFAN a couple of days ago when Dan Barreiro said something that made me chuckle, and think. He said one of the biggest mysteries in the whole sporting world is how Matt Millen still has any kind of position of authority within the Lions organization. I used to think Mike Tice had some sort of blackmail working against Zygi to keep his job (ticket scalping, whizzinator, sex boat, 2-5 start, etc.), but Millen must have some naked pictures or something that are working to keep him employed. Yikes.
So, if you are a stadium fanatic like me, you would have to have been blind to miss this snippet from Sid Hartman yesterday:
Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson, DFL-Willmar, reports Gov. Tim Pawlenty has called a meeting Monday at the governor's estate to talk about how to solve the stadium proposals for the Twins and Gophers football.
Attending the meeting will be House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon; House Minority Leader Matt Entenza, DFL-St. Paul; and Senate Minority Leader Dick Day, R-Owatonna.
Also attending will be Brad Finstad, R-New Ulm, author of the house ballpark bill, and Sen. Steve Kelley, DFL-Hopkins.
"I hope that Hennepin County will continue to stay with the bill they proposed to build the Twins baseball stadium," Johnson said.
What is most interesting about this is that T-Paw is inviting Matt Entenza, an anti-stadium legislator and House Minority Leader. I honestly think that coming out of this meeting Entenza will be the barometer of possible stadium action. If Entenza comes out of the meeting even remotely optimistic towards the possibilty of a new Twins stadium I think we can all breathe a sigh of relief. If he comes out of the meeting with his typical anti-stadium rhetoric, though, that means the opposition is still there and isn't budging much. That probably means we should all keep our hopes in check.
I know Sid thinks Dick Day is also somewhat anti-stadium, but I disagree. He just wanted to vote for stadiums in the regular session. If push comes to shove he will vote for the Hennepin County plan.
Sid also alludes to the fact that inviting Entenza and Day takes T-Paw off the hook if a stadium bill isn't supported. That may be true. I think Sid is pessimistic that Entenza will come out of the meeting in favor of the plan. I would have to agree with him. We'll see on Monday though.
Yesterday I linked to the Prejudice Map that uses Google to unveil the prejudices we have towards the people of various countries. I found this map, and the technique to build it, to be highly entertaining. So, I decided to try it on myself. In Google I type "Shane is known for" and this is what I get out:
"Shane is known for taking that extra time to assure that everything is done to the level of his high standards."
So true, so true...
"Shane is known for his boisterous personality and fun-loving attitude."
Again, how do they know me so well?
"Shane is known for pulling rabbits out of hats in competition."
I am a pretty crafty guy. And now that I've mentioned "rabbits" again on this site I'll get even more hits from search engines for this word.
"Shane is known for an aggressive drumming style and in the interest of crowd safety; we have recently been forced to put him in a Plexiglas cage."
Needless to say, I ROCK! The crowd must be protected from ME because I go crazy on those skins! And do they really think Plexiglas can hold me? I'm gonna go Incredible Hulk on that Plexiglas!
"If there's one thing Shane is known for, it's perserverance."
If you fail, try, try again I always say.
Is there anything you are known for? Put it in the comments below...
Lastly, a few weeks ago something I dearly love was taken away from me. At first I was very upset about this. And then I became very saddened. "Why are they doing this to me?" I thought. "What have I done to deserve this?" I was promised something even better, but I didn't believe it. How could something new be as good as what I had come to love so much. Well, I am happy to say I was wrong.
Black Cherry Vanilla Coke ... oh how I love thee. I must say Coke is forgiven for dropping Vanilla Coke in favor of this taste sensation. I am satisfied.
January 17, 2006
Happy Birthday to Me (and SBG)
Greetings and salutations, loyal reader! I'm not sure that anyone out there cares, but today is my birthday. Now, last year was an interesting birthday because I found out that January 17 is also Stick and Ball Guy's birthday. So, after you stop by here go over to his site and wish him a happy birthday from me! And just for your edification, here is a list of other people who were also born on January 17th:
Benjamin Franklin, 1706
Al Capone, 1899
Rock Hudson, 1925
James Earl Jones, 1931
Muhammad Ali, 1942
Jim Carrey, 1962
Good company for me and SBG, heh? Drop me a comment for my birthday! You can even do it anonymously! In fact, I command you to leave me a comment! It is my birthday wish!
If you are looking for stadium news today, there isn't much to report. In case you missed it, you should check out Andy Brehm's commentary, Replace the Dome or Lose the Twins. A little sleight of hand with the numbers, but overall a good and well written effort.
UPDATE: Of course, just when I think there isn't any stadium news, the Vikings go ahead and create some. My initial impression of this turn of events is that the Vikings are wasting a whole lot of money by trying to ram their plans through this year. Unless this firm is going to start promoting a Twins stadium too, I don't see the legislature giving the Vikings the time of day. And that is a shame because in many ways the Vikings stadium bill is better than the Twins stadium bill. Well, I guess in one big way: it includes a bigger chunk of change from the owner. We'll watch this situation closely, I can guarantee you that, but I don't think much will come from it. I wish Zygi the best though. If we can get one of these stupid stadium bills out of the way that would be a good thing.
I must admit that I hate the song "Does Anyone Really Know What Time It Is" by Chicago with a burning passion that rivals the Sun. It may even rival my hatred for Tom Petty songs. I heard it yesterday while I was enjoying a delicious Snuffy's malt and it just about ruined everything. I'm still humming that stupid song.
I just gotta ask, does this man deserve the money the T-Wolves gave him? I know he is a great guy and all, but what does he play, maybe 10 minutes a game? What does he average, a little over 1 point a game? I can't help but think that Mad Dog is the poster child for the ineptness of Kevin McHale as VP.
Well, I watched all the Firefly episodes. Loved 'em. Couldn't get enough of them. And that Wash character! Such a funny guy. Then I watched the movie Serenity and I was loving it. It had action, suspense, comic relief ... it answered questions and had an awsome plot. And then the unthinkable happened! Why did Joss Whedon do what he did? Why? Both my wife and I sat there stunned. Very upsetting. If you've watched it, you know what I'm talking about.
Luckily, it looks like there will be a Serenity sequel of some sort (probably on TV) so Whedon can redeem himself.
That's all I got time for now. See you later!
January 16, 2006
Schulz, MLK, and insensitivity
Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. I must admit that MLK is one of my favorite historical figures, and the Civil Rights Movement was my focus as an undergraduate history major. I wrote many a paper on King's efforts and I just couldn't believe that something so awful as state-sanctioned segregation, voter intimidation, lynchings, and "colored" drinking fountains happened so close to my own date of birth. King quickly became, and still is, a hero of mine.
So, today I read over King's I Have a Dream speech, and I thought about my favorite of all of King's writings, the Letter from a Birmingham Jail. Powerful, powerful stuff that (and this always amazes me) that my parents actually lived through.
Anyway, after reading over some links concercing MLK day, for some reason I picked up an old Peanuts book. It was a collection of old Peanuts comics, and it contained this particular comic that struck me as ... I don't know "appropriate" for the significance of today, and also shockingly insensitive on the part of Charles Schulz:
What do you think of this comic? What kind of message does it send? I think we can all agree that we would never see it in a newspaper today because it is insensitive at best and full of prejudice and stereotypes at the worst. I'm very surprised I saw it today. I wonder if this is an example of a comic that Charles Schulz wished he could have back.
January 1, 2006
My television debut
You know, I didn't think I would get excited about this ... maybe excited is the wrong word ... how about interested? Anyway, I will be on TV tonight on a local PBS station discussing blogs (a topic people seem to think I know something about). The TV show is Tech Talk, and it is a show filmed at the U of M discussing technology related matters. Tonight's show will be about Blogs and Wikis, and along with me Kurtis Scaletta will be discussing wikis. At first glance you may not recognize the name of Kurtis Scaletta, but let me tell you it was an honor to be on the same billing as him! Kurtis is responsible for many of the flash games found on Bat Girl, as well as being a prodigious commenter on that site too.
So, tonight at 9:00 feel free to tune into Twin Cities PBS channel 17 (channel 13 for me on digital cable) and watch me (probably) butcher the topic of blogs. Luckily I'm ony on for 6-7 minutes. I swear I'll barely be able to watch, but the entertainment value for my wife should be high.
If you watch let me know what you think!
December 26, 2005
My family's trip to Disney World
Yep, we just came back from Disney World, and we had a blast. Man, I cannot express with enough detail or justice how much fun we had! If you've never been to Disney World it is the experience of a lifetime, and I'm glad I was able to provide it to my kids. Needless to say, I hope it doesn't take me another 20 years to make it back to this magical place.
Anyway, there are a couple of details about Disney World that I have to get down before I forget. One is that Disney World teaches you patience. When you first get there and you see that the line waits are upwards of 30-40 minutes you think to yourself, "No way am I waiting that long for a ride!" But by the 4th day you consider 30 minutes to be an absolute steal and you will run into the line before it gets any longer, regardless of the ride. I believe this is the only reason I rode "It's a Small World After All."
Secondly, if Disney could put together a ride that includes 3D, a boat cruise, and a simulation they would probably be as happy as clams. Almost every place we went had at least one of each, sometimes multiple versions of each. Especially 3D movies and simulation rides, though. Sometimes they were excellent and highly entertaining ("It's Tough to Be a Bug" starring Flik from Bug's Life) and sometimes they stunk ("Star Tours," the hyped Star Wars ride, was not very good. This ticked me off.). Anyway, I'm just thinking if they could combine all three of these Disney World staples into one ride they would probably be thrilled.
Finally, if you are planning on going to Disney World, I must recommend the Disney Meal Plan as a "must have" for your trip. The plan was about $150 a day for my family, but it was worth it. I swear we did not have a "sit down" meal at Disney World for less than $130. In addition, lunch usually cost upwards of $50 for the five of us. One meal we had at the Coral Reef restaurant cost $200. One meal. But because we were on the plan we saved oodles of money.
Anyway, if you are interested, click into the extended entry for more about my family's vacation to Disney World. But be warned! There are about 20 pictures on the next page so it may take some time to load for those of you on slow connections. On with the show!
We took over 400 pictures while at Disney World. The pictures below are only the tip of the iceberg. I hope you enjoy them!
The first ride we went on was Space Mountain. Unfortunately, this was the last time we rode it, too. We went back on our last night to ride it for the last time only to be told it was having the dreaded "technical difficulties." Oh well, better luck next time!
My daughter had her picture taken with every princess we happened to come across. In the end she had her picture taken with every princess in the Disney catalog except for Ariel.
This is Splash Mountain, not your typical floom ride by any means. I usually hate flooms, but this was a very, very good, and creative, ride. I would highly recommend it. Also, because it was a little "chilly" outside (by Florida standards) the lines were very short.
We spent a lot of time at Epcot. Right after this picture was taken my kids and I went on the rocket blast simulation ride Mission Space. Wow. The ride simluates a rocket blast to outer space and then to Mars. This ride was so intense I actually got motion sickness. Fortunately I didn't blow chunks, but if we had actually taken the return trip back to Earth I may have. Yikes!
One of the more interesting rides at Epcot was called "This is the Land" where they showed you a lot of the research going on a Epcot concerning more efficient ways to produce food. This tomato plant has been turned into a tomato tree, and it has already produced almost 20,000 tomatos. And it was only planted a year ago. Yes, this is a world record, and the tree provides many of the tomatos eaten at Disney World. I thought that was cool.
While at Epcot we, of course, toured the World Showcase. This is my kids in front of the Japanese Shinto shrine. Cool stuff everywhere you looked...
Here the princess Aurora suckers me into the picture shoot with my daughter. Not that I minded (wink, wink). Note my extreme tourist appearance.
We also spent a day at Disney-MGM Studios. I must admit, we did not spend enough time here. We missed a couple of cool things, but truthfully the park may be more appropriate for adults than little kids. My kids were not as thrilled with this place as I was. Anyway, the ride above is the inside of the Rock and Roller Coaster. This ride, starring Aerosmith, starts off in this stalled postion and then blasts to 60 MPH in under 3 seconds. I don't think my oldest has forgiven me yet for putting him on this ride. It was intense. Loops, hills, and spirals. It had them all. And the ride featured the music of Aerosmith, but I couldn't hear anything over my kids' and my own screams.
Here we are after we conquered the Rock and Roller Coaster. My older son didn't talk to me for at least an hour after this ride.
My daughter walked by this sign, looked up, and said, "Hey! That looks like my god-father!" Sorry Curt. We thought that was hilarious!
Another thing that is common in Disney World besides 3D, simulations, and boat tours, are the "shows." We saw so many shows it was incredible. We saw the Indiana Jones show, a great bird show (twice), Beauty and the Beast, the Little Mermaid, the Lion King, Tarzan Rocks, and this fantastic stunt spectacular, among others. The show above featured high speed car chases and stunts that I can't adequately describe. It was a very good show.
Unfortunately, my two sons also got a recurrence of strep throat while they were at Disney World. So, we had to make a pit stop at the doctor. Bummer.
We got to have breakfast with Disney characters during our visit to the Animal Kingdom. We got pictures with Goofy, Pluto, Donald, and Mickey. The kids had a blast.
This is the outside of the Dinosaur ride at Animal Kingdom. This ride was a lot of fun and again, very intense. Not because of a bunch of loops, but because of the realistic dinosaurs screaming in your face. Wow! My daughter was freaked out! But she still went on it two more times. I swear, nothing fazed this girl. She didn't refuse to go on one ride. I couldn't believe how brave she was (she is only 5).
While at Animal Kingdom we also went on the Kilamanjaro Safari. Obviously, on the safari we saw some giraffes, but also some crocodiles, hippos, elephants, lions, flamingos, gazelles, and bunch of other animals. The ride was also wrapped up into an elaborate "poaching" story where we had to stop some poachers from making off with some ivory. I was amazed. I mean the ride would have been enough with just the animals, but then they spiced it up with stopping poachers. It was very cool.
Back to Epcot for the night (Animal Kingdom closes at 5:00). Here is the Stave Church at Norway. Interestingly enough, Norway is the only country that has any wooden churches left from the middle ages. Over 1,000 of them were built in Norway and 28 survive today. I found that very interesting.
This is a picture of probably our favorite ride at Epcot, the Test Track. In this ride you go through a series of "tests" that GM would usually put a car through including bumpy roads, brake tests, extreme conditions (like hot and cold), climbing, and, of course, speed. The outside of the ride includes a speed track that has riders zip around a velodrome type track. It was very, very cool. We must have ridden this ride at least 4 times. I even video taped the entire ride.
Back at Magic Kingdom we tried to get on as many rides as possible, including this kid favorite, the Indy Speedway.
Not the best picture, I know. Please forgive me. The last night we were there we watched the firework show at Cinderella's castle. This was an emotional moment for me knowing that I was leaving the next day, but also because my family was all together enjoying this moment. I was holding my daughter as we watched the impressive display and I was seriously consumed by love. I know it sounds sappy, but I can't help it. It is a memory I will always cherish.
So, that is my trip to Disney World. I hope to get back there someday. We had a blast!
December 23, 2005
Disney vacation winding down
Well, my Disney vacation is winding down. One thing I hope I got a chance to see is the Star Wars "ride" at Disney-MGM studios. That should be fun for both me and my boys.
December 21, 2005
Still at Disney World
Hey everyone! I'm still at Disney World! And again, I'm not typing these out in my hotel room. I wrote these posts out before I even left.
One of my favorite rides as a child was Thunder Mountain. We'll see if I still like it...
December 19, 2005
In Disney World!
By the time you read this, I will have been in Disney World for two days. In fact, I am in Disney World! As a Christmas gift my wife and I are taking our three kids to Disney World. I haven't announced it here yet because it was done as a surprise. We woke our kids up on Saturday early in the morning and told them to get in the car because we are going to Florida! I'll tell you all about it when I get back.
I'm actually writing this on Friday (December 16) and I'm using the new scheduling function of Movable Type to publish this post in the future. So, you can expect something from me tomorrow too!
Until then, so long! I'm off to visit Cinderella's castle!
And don't tell me how the Pittsburgh game came out. I'm taping it so I can watch it when I get home.
By the way, Criag, your gas can for your snow blower is in my garage. Just in case you were looking for it.
November 24, 2005
I am thankful for a lot of things, much like last year:
- I am thankful that Zygi Wilf bought the Vikings. Now, I only have to worry about one team leaving the state.
- I am thankful for Brad Johnson, although I'm not sure Daunte Culpepper feels the same way.
- I am thankful for the fact that my son plays piano. I love to hear him play.
- I am thankful that I am a Den Leader for my son's Cub Scout Tiger Den. It is a big commitment, but it is definitely rewarding.
- I am thankful that freealonzo ingtroduced me to the music of Johnny Cash. I must say I had no idea I would enjoy his American Recordings so much.
- I am thankful that I got to go to a U2 concert with my best buddy in the whole world Curt in Grand Forks. What a weekend!
- I am thankful for my family vacation to the Black Hills of South Dakota. That was a whirlwind, but it was also a whole lotta fun.
- I am NOT thankful that Cheesehead Craig put anti-stadium propaganda up in my windows while I was gone. Not cool. Funny, but definitely not cool.
- I am thankful for this blog and the fact that I have met so many people through it, namely SBG and COD. It has been great getting to know you two this year, and I'm sure Cheesehead Craig will agree, we need to get together again soon!
- I am thankful that Glen Taylor refuses to trade KG. Without KG I shudder to think what the fan support would be like at the Target Center.
- I am thankful for my daughter. Nothing in particular, just that she is the way she is. I could be in the foulest mood ever, but one smile from her changes everything.
- I am thankful that today is Thanksgiving. This is without a doubt my favorite meal of the year. As my father-in-law likes to say, "I'm gonna eat until my butt sticks out."
- I am thankful for Park Spanish Immersion, the local public school I send my kids to. My oldest child speaks fluent Spanish now and I still can't believe it.
- I am thankful for my DVR. It is a strange thing to be thankful for, I know, but it has freed my wife and I from the prison of nightly TV watching (and commercials). What a wonderful invention!
- I am thankful that I got to hold the Jug. That was a lot of fun.
- I am thankful for all the readers of this blog, especially readers like bjhess, freealonzo, Jim in St. Paul, Vince, spycake, Jeff, Jx2, DEG, David Wintheiser, Andy Wink, frightiwg, Kevin in AZ, COD, SBG, Chapman, Tim, Curt in Grand Forks, Cheesehead Craig, and Cheesehead's wife. Without all of you, I would still probably write on this here site, but I would wonder even more than I do now, "What is the point?"
- I am thankful that the Twins drew over 2 million fans this year. It is yet another reason the Twins should not be contracted.
- I am thankful that my wife ran the TC 10K this year. It was a big time commitment, and it was a a big effort, but she did it and I am very proud of her.
- I am thankful for politicians like Mike Opat. Opat isn't afraid to take a stand and do what is right for Minnesota. I wish we had more like him.
- I am thankful for spring training, opening day, training camp, spring practice, pre-season, regular season, midnight madeness, march madness, super sunday, game seven, first round, wild cards, and just flat out going to the game.
- I am thankful for my home, my family, my health, my friends, my job, and my cats.
- I am thankful for my wife. Without her, life would be very lonely, and I would never clean the house.
That should cover it for this year. Have a great Thanksgiving!
November 20, 2005
Hey everyone! Talk about interesting, I am in Boston right now! So, unfortunately I probably won't have anything substantial written tomorrow (Monday). I am planning on a "future of the Twins" piece and possibly a little essay on Intelligent Design. But that will have to wait. Sorry.
Before I go, I must send a Shout Out! to Kevin in Arizona who I heard this morning on the Sports Huddle with Sid and Dave. Kevin voiced his opinion that if the Twins are to leave our pathetic state he hopes they do it soon so that Pawlenty is the governor of record for this dark day. Well said Kevin! Of course, Sid totally disregarded his comment and then went on a tirade about Gopher football. Anyway, it was nice to hear the voice of Kevin, a regular contributor to the Greet Machine. Nice work Kevin!
Finally, I have discovered a new singer that I must share with all of you: Sufjan Stevens. My goodness he is writing some good stuff. I can't even categorize it ... maybe it could be considered alternative folk with a heavy dose of spirituality. I don't know. Anyway, Sufjan has taken it upon himself to record an album about all 50 states. He has already finished Michigan and Illinois. A tall task to finish the rest of the them in our lifetimes, to be sure, but so far the music is beautiful. If you'd like to give it a listen, his song "Chicago" is freely available on the web (MP3).
Gotta go for now. It is midnight in Boston and I am tired. Talk to you soon!
November 10, 2005
I have been cold-cocked. Blind-sided. I have had sand thrown in my eyes and a sucker punch delivered to my gut. But what else would you expect from a Cheesehead? Over at the Oracle of Cheese, my neighbor and "friend" has called me out to finish our Backyard Border Battle. There are certain things I'll admit to: yes, I'll admit that the Backyard Border Battle has not been my highest priority. I will admit that being at a 2 win to CC's 4 win disadvantage has left me flustered. I will admit that Cheeshead Craig throws like a girl. However, let's get a few things straight here.
When was it decided that it would be my responsibility and my responsibility only to schedule the next game in this epic battle? For the record, I don't recall any time, besides this week, Cheesehead Craig ever suggesting that we get together and play chess, or that we go bowling, or that we play horse shoes. No, CC has seen fit to rest on his laurels, sit in his basement, and weep over his precious Packers (3-5 vs. 1-7 ... now there is a stat that matters!).
So, now all of the sudden CC is upset that I haven't been banging down his door to play his little games. Bah! CC has even besmirched my honor by writing this nonsense:
Very well then Shane, your cowardice is plain for everyone to see now.
The Backyard Border Battle is hereby over and I have won by knockout as Shane simply cannot get up off the canvas.
I will let you know when you can be my beverage server for a day as per the agreement we had at the beginning.
Cowardice? Over? I think not. I'm sorry that my positive contributions to society have gotten in the way of what I thought were our friendly little games, but I'm pretty sure that we never agreed to allow either of us to call the competition "over." Especially on a misguided whim. This move reaks of poor sportsmanship. I am outraged! I could handle it from a 12 year old girl, but I am a little perplexed as to why a man 2 years my senior would stoop to these levels. For shame!
So, here is what I propose. Since you feel so wronged, Mr. Cheesehead, I propose one last battle to dictate the future of the overall Battle. I propose we go bowling. If I win 2 out of 3 the Battle will continue with what I hope will be a pleasant game of chess. If you win 2 out of 3 I will abide by the rules of the Battle and serve you, in humiliation, your prefered beverage(s) for a day.
Surely, even a Cheesehead can agree that this is more than fair. Personally, I also feel it is a honorable solution, but I wouldn't expect a Cheesehead to understand that.
Cheesehead Craig, I await your response.
Category "Boring vs. Interesting"
November 9, 2005
This will be completely off the cuff, and rapid fire. Everything I can think of that I want to get down right now:
I really want to see the movie Serenity but I can't find the time or willpower to do it. It is playing at the Hopkins theater for $2 right now. Is it worth it? Has anyone else seen it?
Speaking of movies, I have recently seen Sin City and Secret Window. Sin City was decent. Truthfully, I liked it probably for one reason and one reason only: Carla Gugino. I'll just leave it at that.
Secret Window was not very good. Predictable and not very suspenseful. I would not recommend it.
Thanks to a past recommendation from Andy at Twins Killings I am really enjoying the music of Air right now, specifically the album Talkie Walkie. Very pleasant and different.
It has taken me 32 years of life, but I am finally going to read Watership Down. I'll let you know how it goes.
I am really enjoying the T-Wolves right now. Maybe it is the mystery of a new team (how will they play together? how good is the Jaric guy?), maybe it is Rashad McCants (did you see that alley-oop from THUD? Yikes.), or maybe it is because this is the start of a new season and I'm supposed to be excited. Whatever the case, I am watching a lot of basketball and I am loving it.
Did you see the City Pages article about the T-Wolves last week? Good stuff. Well written. The author, Britt Robson, does not care for THUD at all. Among his more salient points he had this to say:
Every minute Hudson steals from McCants at the shooting guard position will penalize this franchise down the road.
True. McCants is the future, not the defensive nightmare that is Troy Hudson. Give him some PT Casey!
Now for a Boring vs. Interesting update ... unfortunately I've had three boring days in a row. On Sunday I watched the Vikings game. That was the highlight. On Monday I watched Sin City. Again, a pretty lame highlight. And last night I went to the library. Nothing too exciting there.
At the library I picked up a book for myself (Watership Down), and a bunch of books for my kids. Specifically I got Fantastic Mr. Fox for my middle son. We read half of it last night and really enjoyed it. Roald Dahl was a very gifted childrens' author.
Interesting days: 10
Boring days: 5
Have I really been tracking this for 15 days?
I've got a question for everyone: how many years have you been working and how many times have you switched jobs? I've worked at the U for 7 year now, and while I still enjoy it, perhaps I should look around. Let me clarify, I'm not looking around right now, I'm just starting to think, "How long can I work in the same job?"
Anyone out there interested in a 32 year old webmaster and adjunct professor at St. Kate's, with a Master's degree in Library Science and a sad obsession for stadium related issues? Let me know. I got mad skills.
I like Cheer or Die's prediciton that the Vikings will win this Sunday. I think the team has finally turned the corner.
I gotta say I liked how the Minneapolis mayor race turned out. Keep Rybak in office so McLaughlin stays on the Hennepin County board. Of course, it probably doesn't matter since the Twins deal with Hennepin County expires at the end of December, but I still have a little hope.
St. Paul's race is another story. I think St. Paul's chances to land the Twins just took a serious hit with Coleman taking over. We'll see though. What do you think Jim in St. Paul?
That's it. Talk to you later.
October 31, 2005
Happy Reformation Day!
Greetings everyone! In my never ending quest to bring you unexpected news and musings, I'd like to wish you all a Happy Reformation Day! On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther tacked his 95 theses on the church door in Wittenberg, Germany and changed history. I know there is another spookier holiday that usually takes precedence today, but today is definitely important for other reasons.
No more posts today. Sorry. My wife is in charge of a big wing-ding called "Halloween at the Creek" in Plymouth and I am her slave for the day. I know I've got three days to describe for my "interesting vs. boring" debate, and I know there was a Vikings "game" yesterday, but today it is all about helping my wife. So, I'll talk to you all later!
Category "Boring vs. Interesting"
October 26, 2005
My boring life?
I'm reading a book right now called The Beach by Alex Gardner. Among other things, this book describes the backpacking culture of Thailand, and how a lot of foreigners come into the country to hang out and explore. It features mystery, danger, exploration, french women, drugs, and exotic locales. It is a very interesting book (so far).
As I was reading it yesterday, I suddenly came to the conclusion that 1) fact is NOT stranger than fiction and 2) my life is just plain freaking boring. First of all, you hear this all the time, that non-fiction is much more interesting than fiction. I beg to differ. In the grand scheme of things, 9 out of 10 times our lives are as boring as watching snot freeze. Man, we really know how to be boring. Wake up, go to work, get home, eat dinner, watch tv, go to bed, repeat. Yikes! Somebody stop us! Secondly, I came to the conclusion yesterday that my life is not very interesting. I may do some fun things every once in a while, but for the most part I am a sedentary individual content to watch the world pass me by. Or am I?
Bear with me here. What I plan on doing for the next month (?) is document my life and decide once and for all whether it is interesting or boring. Hopefully I can keep up with this, but at the end of a month I hope to tally up all my interesting and boring days and make a decision on whether or not my life has enough pizazz. We'll see how it goes.
Anyway, let's start by writing about last night. Last night I actually did something that I will deem as "interesting." I went to a Jewish Synagogue and celebrated Simchat Torah. My son's Webelos Den Leader is Jewish, and as a Den we are visiting a bunch of different churches (and synagogues). Next week we'll probably visit my church (which should provide me with another interesting event in my life).
Anyway, last night was Simchat Torah or the holiday of "rejoicing with the law." It was the first time I had ever been to a synagogue. Simchat Torah, and its sister holiday of Shemini Atzeret, mark the end and beginning of a year of reading the Torah. As you may know, the Torah is the first five books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy), and it is the most sacred text in the Jewish faith. In the synagogue the Torah is kept in the "ark" at the front of the sanctuary (?) and it is in scroll form.
The service started out with some singing and chanting in Hebrew. Needless to say, I was completely lost, but it was very interesting. Oh, and I had to wear a yamika. After that, it was time for the "rejoicing" aspect of the service, and this was really interesting. The rabbi called for certain members of the synagogue to come up and take the Torahs out of the ark (this synagogue had about 5 Torahs). He announced that their would be 7 hakafots (pronounced "ha-ka-fa") and that other members would hold the Torahs for each one. Ha! I was so lost. But again, very interesting.
After this announcement, the band started in, and the people holding the Torahs started to dance around the sanctuary. Baloons and streamers dropped from ceileing and everyone literally began celebrating. Everyone reached out to touch the Torah, or kiss it by way of kissing a book and then touching the Torah. My kids loved it. We all danced around for probably a half an hour, and then the rabbi said, "For the second hakafot we will use people over 40."
I thought to myself, "That was only the first hakafot? And we've got six more to go? Wow! These people really like to rejoice in the Torah! We're going to be here until midnight!"
In actuality, each hakafot after was steadily shorter and shorter until we finished with the 7th hakafot. Then, the rabbi took out one of the scrolls and asked the synagogue members to roll it out and hold it up. It was about as long as half the sanctuary. Then, he went through it and described where each book begins and ends, and important parts throughout the text. It was fascinating. Those holding it up also could not touch it with their fingers. They had to use napkins. I missed if this was because finger oil could damage it, or if it was because the Torah is sacred. They even let my older son hold up a part of it. I thought that was pretty neat (given the scroll was probably over 200 years old) and so did he.
After that, the service ended and we went to the reception area for some refreshments. All in all, it was a very interesting evening.
So, here begins my tally:
Interesting day: 1
Boring day: 0
Most of my days will probably not be as interesting as yesterday. But we shall see.
October 20, 2005
I was reading The Onion today when I chanced upon this article in the AV Club section discussing "underrated" movies, DVDs, TV shows, and more. Their pick for underrated cartoon is "King of the Hill," and while that isn't remarkable in itself, their "evidence" for their pick is hilarious. They use the example of Hank Hill's dad as the reason the show shines and they include this quote from the character, "a domineering, sexist, racist World War II veteran without shins." He is describing his time as a POW in WWII:
"Tojo had me cooped up in a bamboo rat cage. There was nothing to eat except rats. So that's what I ate. After two weeks, I was down to my last rat. I let him live so I could eat his droppings. Called it ‘Jungle Rice.' Tasted fine. About September, I was finally thin enough to slip between the bamboo bars. I strangled the guard with a rope made of grated rat-tails and ran to safety."
"Jungle Rice" ... I don't know why, but that gave me a chuckle. Carry on with your business.
October 18, 2005
Is this too much?
First of all, thanks to freealonzo for giving me some great ideas for what I can write about during "No Sports Week" at the Greet Machine. One of his suggestions that gave me pause was this:
"Why was picture of Representative Paulsen removed from this website?"
I have decided to tackle this question today.
A few days ago, last Thursday I believe, I posted a picture of Erik Paulsen, Minnesota House Majority Leader, that made it look like he was saying some disparaging things about himself.
If you'd like to take a look, here is a link to the picture.
Shortly after posting the picture, maybe two hours, I decided to take it down. What surprises me is that freealonzo caught it before I took it down. So, to answer his question, my reasons were as follows in order of importance:
- First of all, Thursday night the Vikings "sex boat" scandal was in full swing. People were angry, I was angry, and after seeing the picture above on my blog I got a little angry with myself for possibly looking like I supported overpaid, juvenile athletes at the expense of a public servant.
- Secondly, I suddenly realized that over the past week I had personally attacked a bunch of people: Nick Coleman, Tim Pawlenty, and a large number of the members of the Minnesota Legislature. So, I thought to myself, is this how problems are solved? Is this an example of "civil discourse?" I was not happy with how bitter I had become, and how I had resorted to singling people out for abuse. Keep in mind that I was also thinking about the Vikings boat scandal.
- Finally, I also started thinking about the fact that this blog is not anonymous. It is very easy to figure out who I am. In addition, these types of posts could one day come back to haunt me. What if I was trying to get a new job, and the person I am interviewing with is Erik Paulsen's father-in-law? Or a strong supporter of the Republican party? With this lack of anonymity it would behoove me to be more thoughtful with what I post. You never know when it could come back to haunt me.
So, I practiced self-censorship, which is really the only form of censorship that is appropriate. And truthfully, bloggers in general should all practice self-censorship more often. Some of the big knocks against bloggers are that we are rude, unthoughtful, biased, full of ourselves, and wrong more often than not. Have we actually improved the quality of discourse in the public forum? Are we as bloggers living up to the promise of this new medium to improve democracy in America? Or do we muddy the waters too often with vindictive posts of little or no value?
I know, I am probably reading too much into it. But that is what I was thinking about when I took down the picture.
My question for you is, am I over reacting? On the flip side, public officials should be used to this kind of thing and they should even probably expect it. For years political cartoonists have done worse things than I could ever dream up and they are praised for their creativity and wit. And honestly, I am ticked with Erik Paulsen. His letter to Pawlenty was yet another display from our legislature of poor leadership, poor decision making, and an unwillingness to take a chance and do something they know is right for Minnesota. Our legislators should care less about getting reelected and more about improving our state!
But I digress. If you would be so kind as to let me know if you think I am over reacting by taking the picture down I would greatly appreciate it. Keep in mind that I am also trying to protect myself. With blogging, especially blogging as yourself, it is important to put your best foot forward. Sometimes I think I go too far.
October 17, 2005
Television and Democracy
Welcome to day one of "No Sports Week" of the Greet Machine. Honestly, I can't take it anymore. My emotions need to take a break. And I know Sid has come out with another article detailing an imminent Twins departure from the Twin Cities, but really ... we've heard Sid's predictions on the subject before.
So, today I'd like to discuss an article that was passed to me from a colleague called "Our Democracy Has Been Hollowed Out." It is the text of a speech given by Al Gore on October 5th, 2005 and it details his opinion that television is destroying our democracy as we know it. According to Gore, television is a one way medium, controlled by a wealthy few, that is making intelligent discourse almost impossible in the United States. Among some of the more interesting parts:
On the eve of the nation's decision to invade Iraq, our longest serving senator, Robert Byrd of West Virginia, stood on the Senate floor asked: "Why is this chamber empty? Why are these halls silent?"
Senator Byrd's question is like the others that I have just posed here: he was saying, in effect, this is strange, isn't it? Aren't we supposed to have full and vigorous debates about questions as important as the choice between war and peace?
Those of us who have served in the Senate and watched it change over time, could volunteer an answer to Senator Byrd's two questions: the Senate was silent on the eve of war because Senators don't feel that what they say on the floor of the Senate really matters that much any more. And the chamber was empty because the Senators were somewhere else: they were in fundraisers collecting money from special interests in order to buy 30-second TV commercials for their next re-election campaign.
Isn't that the truth. The article goes further to describe how our knowledge of candidates is limited to 30 second sound bites, and that sadly it is these sound bites that all too often dictate our choices on the ballot. Gore decries modern day television journalism as doing too much to attract viewers, but not enough to report meaningful news.
In addition Gore laments the passing of the Age of Print where an average citizen had a chance of having his or her opinion heard:
Consider the rules by which our present "public forum" now operates, and how different they are from the forum our Founders knew. Instead of the easy and free access individuals had to participate in the national conversation by means of the printed word, the world of television makes it virtually impossible for individuals to take part in what passes for a national conversation today.
Inexpensive metal printing presses were almost everywhere in America. They were easily accessible and operated by printers eager to typeset essays, pamphlets, books or flyers.
Television stations and networks, by contrast, are almost completely inaccessible to individual citizens and almost always uninterested in ideas contributed by individual citizens.
Gore goes on to say that the irony of this is that television reaches more people than any medium in history.
While the article takes some out-of-place jabs at the Bush administration, the point is solid: television and television journalism is doing more harm than good, and at best is creating an apathetic American populace that only cares about the sensational. Gore concludes by saying that there is certainly hope in the internet, but we are a couple of decades away from the point at which the internet will have the same kind of dominance over American thought that television now enjoys. Very thought provoking.
It reminds me of one of my favorite essays of all time, "Bowling Alone" by Robert Putnam. In this essay Putnam details the fact that Americans are spending less and less time with each other. We no longer join as many groups outside of the home (League of Womens Voters, Lions Club, Elks, Masons, etc.), a particular trait that Alexis de Tocqueville highlighted in Democracy in America that made us unique. Putnam also highlights the fact that we spend less time with our neighbors, and that our "social connectedness" is rapidly declining. Obviously this is to the possible detriment of a well functioning society and democracy.
One of the reasons Putnam gives for this phenomenon is the "technological trasformation of leisure." In essence, the emergence of television. How often do we stay at home rather than become civically engaged because our favorite TV show is on? All too often, I would wager. And I am no exception.
But to counter Gore's claim, one could make the argument that the internet is actually adding to this strain of decreasing social capital. Instead of just worrying about television competing for our attention, now we must also factor in time spent surfing the web. True, at least this activity is asynchronous, but it still takes up a lot of time.
In conclusion, it is obvious, at least to me, that we can do better. We can have meaningful debate in this country and we can create a stronger democracy. It would appear that a part of the means to this goal would be to turn off the TV, start thinking for ourselves, and share our opinions in a civil way with each other.
I know, that is pretty simplistic. Anyway, I hope you have enjoyed day one of "No Sports Week" at the Greet Machine. I have no idea what I will write about tomorrow.
Category "Stuff I wonder about"
October 11, 2005
If you want something you've got to ask for it
First of all, I just wanted to tell all of you that the bottom of an apple is called a "calyx." I learned this little tidbit while watching the news this morning, and I thought I would pass that information along. Now, the next time you are eating an apple, you can impress your friends and family with your new-found knowledge. No need to thank me.
Secondly, and more importantly, if you'll recall I said in my first post today that I was going to try to take some pictures of the Little Brown Jug. Well, let's just say that it is "mission accomplished" on that front. Not only did I get to take some pictures of the jug, I also got to hold the jug. I kid you not. I actually held the oldest, most important, most priceless travelling trophy in all of college football history.
Stay tuned for my story and my pictures of said event tomorrow. Needless to say, it was quite exciting for me.
Tide you over
If you didn't get a chance to see U2 on Late Night with Conan O'Brien last week, it was a very enjoyable show. The Edge and Bono did "In the year 2000" with Conan, and they played "All Because of You," "Original of the Species," "Stuck in a Moment," and "Vertigo." I know, some strange choices there. Anyway, during the interview segment, Conan was asking Bono about how they are treated in their home town of Dublin, and Bono said (something like) this:
"In America, when you are younger and you see the really nice house on top of the hill you say to yourself, 'One day I'm going to live in a house like that.'
If you are Irish in Ireland, you look up the hill at that nice house and you say to yourself, 'One day I'm going to get that son of a bitch.'"
I thought that was hilarious.
Today I'm going to try to take a picture of the Jug. I will let you know if I am successful.
October 3, 2005
Run Molly, Run!
I know there has been a lot of stadium news recently. I'll tackle that later on today. But for right now I've got to tell you about my day yesterday, and how proud I am of my wife. My wife ran in the Twin Cities Marathon 10 Mile race yesterday, and my family and I spent the morning cheering her on.
3 miles in and still smiling. Run Molly, run!!!
My wife has been training for this moment for a few months now, and to see her actually accomplish her goals and have fun doing it ... well, it was very emotional and I don't mind saying my eyes got a little misty.
My kids and I cheered her on at the three mile point, and then we got in the car and drove to the finish line. The finish line was at the bottom of the hill from the Cathedral to the Capitol.
You did it Molly! You ran 10 miles! Whooo!!!
Seeing all those people running and knowing that all of them had a story of perseverance, or of overcoming some kind of hardship ... that was awesome to think about. My wife said that half way through the race they told the people around them that my wife's running mate, Rachel (the wife of the infamous Cheesehead Craig), had lost quite a bit of weight in her efforts to run the race. Suddenly a bunch of women around them started yelling out how much weight they lost, "I lost 60 pounds!" And, "I lost 115 pounds!" Everyone was cheering each other on.
That is something special. To be a part of that kind of community and support each other while doing something as mundane as running ... that is awesome to think about. Again, there were so many stories! Elderly people running, people limping and grimacing the whole way, people weaving in and out of traffic, patting everyone around them on the back as they passed by. Wow. I was really proud of the Twin Cities yesterday.
But most of all I was proud of my wife. She has been running around our neighborhood for months, training for this moment. She has also been dragging me out to ride my bike along side her (sometimes less than happily). Well, she did great. She gave it everything she had and I couldn't be happier for her. To accomplish what she accomplished yesterday is just fantastic. I mean, three kids and a lazy husband and she can still run 10 freaking miles! Get on with your bad self!
Rachel and Molly engorging themselves on ice cream
So, after the race Craig and I took our wives to Cold Stone Creamery. I joked with my wife that I was going to order an ice cream IV for her. It was a fitting reward for months of hard work and sacrifice and they deserved every last spoonful.
Now the pressure is on Craig and I. Can we accomplish the same feat? My wife has provided me with the inspiration. It would be nice if we could run it together next year.
You are awesome Molly! I love you!
September 30, 2005
What else is new?
The Strib wrote an interesting editorial yesterday regarding the lack of leadership from our friend T-Paw. It ended with this sentiment:
What's needed is a mature and sincere commitment on all sides to clear the decks on stadium issues -- first the Twins and Gophers in a special session, then the Vikings next year. If the intent is to wave goodbye to the Twins now and the Vikings later, then the governor and key legislators should have the courage to say so. If not, they should scrape together a few hours this fall to invest in Minnesota's quality of life and competitive future.
This is an interesting thought. If it just ain't gonna happen our legislature should have the guts to just come out and say so. Then we would finally know what really is going to happen. No more threats from the Twins. Pohlad would know with definitive certainty that the state will never approve of public funds going towards stadium construction. Finally, we could move on and just say to Pohlad, "Do what you will." I would welcome that.
But enough about "the issue that will never die." I'm sick of it. In fact, I'm sick of everything. Nothing is good, everything is bad, and I'm not happy about it. You stink, I stink, the whole world stinks. So there.
I will end this post with interesting facts. If you don't like them you can just go jump in a lake.
- In 1963, baseball pitcher Gaylord Perry remarked, "They'll put a man on the moon before I hit a home run." On July 20, 1969, a few hours after Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, Gaylord Perry hit his first (and only) home run.
- Average life span of a major league baseball: 7 pitches
- Slugs have 4 noses.
- The ant, when intoxicated, will always fall over to its right side.
- A Wisconsin forklift operator for a Miller beer distributor was fired when a picture was published in a newspaper showing him drinking a Bud Light.
Finally ponder this quote from Charles Schulz the rest of the weekend:
"Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It's already tomorrow in Australia ."
Have a good one everybody!
September 26, 2005
The best weekend ever part two: The rest of the weekend
So, the first part of my weekend was the phenomenal U2 concert. Amazing stuff. Now, and I know you were waiting for this, here is a full description of why this was the best weekend of my whole life. Unfortunately it will have to be in abbreviated (bulleted!) form, but hopefully you'll get the picture.
- Curt in Grand Forks, my college roommate and best buddy came down to go to the U2 concert and spend the weekend with me and my family.
- We watched The Longest Yard which happens to be an adequately entertaining movie.
- We went to the Mall of America and had Georgia pulled-pork sandwiches at Famous Dave's. Yummy!
- We went to the U2 concert.
- We rode the light rail to and from the concert. Since the train was so crowded we both remarked at what an absolute "boondoggle" it was to build the light rail and how much we all appreciate Phil Krinkie's leadership on a wide variety of issues.
- We slept in Saturday morning and woke up in time for the Gopher's game. Curt said it was the first time he had slept in for at least 7 years.
- We watched quite possibly the most exciting (with a good outcome) Gopher football game I have ever seen.
- We invited Cheesehead Craig to come over to watch the Badger/Michigan game. As much as I dislike Wisconsin football, I dislike Michigan football even more. It is absolutely wonderful that they are out of the top 25. On Wisconsin, on Wisconsin, Grand old Badger state!
- Curt, Cheesehead Craig, and I went to see The 40 Year Old Virgin. This was much more of a ribald movie than I thought it would be, but because I watched the movie with Curt it is now one of the funniest movies I have ever seen. Curt has such an infectious laugh and is such a joy to watch movies with that he can make even the most mediocre comedy the funniest movie I have ever seen. Housesitter with Goldie Hawn and Steve Martin is still one of the best movies ever only because I watched it with Curt.
- Sunday morning we went to church, but we got out early to go to the Vikings game!
- We went to the Vikings game where the Vikings actually won! I attribute this to the fact that this was the first Sunday I wore my Cris Carter jersey this year. You can thank me later.
- After the game we went to Chipotle and had two of the best burritos ever created. They were delicious.
- Because Curt's train back to Grand Forks didn't leave until 11:15 at night, I got out of our Sunday night Bible study! Yipppeee!!! Er, I mean, that is a shame. I'll have to pray a little harder this week to make up for it.
- Instead of the Bible study, Curt and I watched The Last Starfighter with my kids. Curt had never seen the movie and admitted at the end that he is a "better person for having watched it."
- I took Curt back to the train station, we hugged, we agreed to get together again, and thus ended the best weekend ever.
That's it. I hope you can see, for a married man like me with three kids, this was an unbelievably fun weekend.
Needless to say, my wife now has free reign to do whatever she wants, spend however much money she wants to spend, and pretty much tell me to shut up if I put up any kind of resistance. That is the price I have to pay, and yes, it was worth it!
The best weekend ever part one: U2
This weekend was quite possibly the best weekend I have ever had, and it all began with the U2 concert Friday night.
It is hard to put into words the emotions one goes through when watching U2. For one thing, there are the songs, all those famous songs I grew up listening to. "Where the Streets Have no Name," "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," "Pride" ... to finally hear them sung live was awesome, in the truest sense of the word. But hearing them sung live isn't the half of it. There were over 20,000 people in the Target Center on Friday night all in tune with each other. I can't aptly describe the feeling of singing along with so many people, seeing so many smiles, tears, jubiliation, and focus. It was almost a spiritual celebration, and I wish church could be this fun every Sunday.
Here is what they played:
City of Blinding Lights
The concert opened with what probably is the best song on the album: "City of Blinding Lights." What an awesome beginning. Four huge curtains of lights lit up the stage and the surrounding area and ticker tape flew from the rafters. The band then went immediately into "Vertigo" and the swirl shaped stage lit up in waves of lights flying around the perimeter. During the chorus flashing lights pulsed throughout the arena and I must admit it almost put me into an epilectic seizure. Curt and I were in heaven.
Then, the band started into "Elevation." Bono noticed a woman in the audience holding a sign that said, "Bono, I lost 75 lbs. to dance with you." So, he brought her onto stage and did a little swaying with her. Together they sang the first verses of "Elevation" with only the Edge accompanying, and when the time came for the word "elevation" to be sung Bono turned to the audience who all screamed "Elevation!" I can't tell you how awesome that was.
The first three songs were spectacular. The audience was quite literally in a frenzy of aniticipation.
I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
Beautiful Day // Many Rivers to Cross (snippet)
Then U2 went old school with the little known Boy gem "Electric Co." This is probably my favorite song off of this album so I sang along as loud as I could. Then came a short version of "The Ocean" which was a little strange since I couldn't make out a lot of what Bono was saying. But I'll cut him some slack for that since they immediately went into my favorite U2 song of all time "I Still Haven't Found." Wow. This was one of the more emotional parts of the entire evening. Such a beautiful song. At the end, Bono again turned towards the audience as we all sang over and over again "But I still haven't found what I'm looking for." It was beautiful. Bono himself seemed to be touched.
This was followed by "Beautiful Day" ... and I know what you are thinking right now, "What a freaking good concert so far!" I know it! Can you believe I was there to witness all of this? Anyway, after the song Bono sang a little snippet of "Many Rivers to Cross" and he made a big deal of the fact that the Mississippi River starts in Minnesota and flows down to New Orleans. The crowd revelled in this connection as Bono said, "When America is hit, you see the best come out in Americans." This got a huge cheer.
Sometimes You Can't Make it On Your Own // Black Hills of Dakota (snippet)
Bono began "Miracle Drug" with a story of how the Edge comes from the future. He explained that the Edge's brain is so advanced that they made a stop at the Mayo Clinic before coming to Minneapolis so that the doctors could study it. While there, the doctors asked the Edge, "How is the future?" and the Edge replied, "It is better!" Again, the crowd roared. Then Bono dedicated the song to all the doctors, nurses, and people in the health profession that work so hard to save people's lives.
This was followed by an extremely emotional version of "Sometimes You Can't Make it On Your Own" with Bono repeatedly looking towards the heavens presumably towards his father, whom he dedicated the song to. After this song again Bono sang a short snippet of another song which I guess he sings regularly at concerts. Only he probably knows its significance.
Love and Peace or Else
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Bullet the Blue Sky
This was followed by the "anti war quartet" and one of the more politically charged segments of the concert. All of these songs are highly anti war, and Bono used his platform to try to convince the audience of the futility of this kind of struggle. Bono also put on a bandana that spelled "COEXIST" with the Muslim crescent moon for the "C," a star of David for the "X," and the Chrstian cross for the "T." He sang "we are all sons of Abraham." While the message was clear, it was depressing to think how hard this sentiment actually is to implement.
"Miss Sarajevo" was another highlight of the show. Bono explained the background of the song (a beauty contest in war ravaged Sarajevo where the contestants dared the snipers to kill them) and said that it was written for Pavarotti to sing. The crowd cheered and Bono said jokingly "He's not here, but I've been putting on a little bit of weight." Bono sang the first verses and then sang the operatic verses himself, almost as well as Pavarotti (almost). The song ended with the screens displaying the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights." It was very emotional and powerful.
Pride (in the name of love)
Where the Streets Have No Name
This flowed into the next triumvirate of classics and the crowd really reacted favorably. "Pride" ... what a phenomenal song in concert. The crowd was literally screaming the chorus. And then the first strains of "Streets" started humming through the Edge's guitar. Wow. What a phenomenal concert song. The crowd on the floor was bouncing during the whole song and Bono was in rare form as he danced around the stage. Seriously, how would you like to be Bono? To have thousands of people focusing all their attention on you, loving you, practically worshipping you? What he has done with his star power in terms of debt relief and the awareness of AIDS in Africa is truly awe-inspiring. And then, how would you like to have created something, like "Streets," that will go down in history as one of the greatest rock songs, the greatest pieces of musical art, of all time? Anyway, that is the kind of stuff that runs through my head in moments like these...
The concert ended with "One" and again the crowd sang along. It was a good ending, that, of course, we knew really wasn't the end.
The First Time
Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses
With or Without You
I love "The First Time." It was nice to hear them play it. And while "Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses" isn't really one of my favorites, it is definitely a crowd favorite. These two songs were also done almost all accoustically with the Edge and Bono making their way out into the heart of the audience.
"With or Without You" provided Adam Clayton an opportunity to shine as his bass kicked in the familiar refrain. Again, this has never been one of my favorites, but to hear and see it in concert was definitely something special.
All Because of You
Crumbs From Your Table
Three more songs from "Atomic Bomb" one of which I really could have done without. Really, the only misstep of the entire show was "Crumbs From Your Table." This was the concert debut of this song, and I couldn't stop thinking to myself, "Why are you singing this song! Please don't sing this song!" Really, I would have much preferred, "Until the End of the World" but I guess I'll cut U2 some slack considering how awesome the rest of the show was. This was followed by "Yahweh" in another accoustic performance from the Edge. "Yahweh" is another one of my favorites off of the new album so I was thrilled to hear them play it. During the song the screens and curtains of lights shimmered with religious imagery including, of course, a dove. It was obvious the message of the show was "peace."
At this point I was begging for "40." What more perfect way is there to end a show besides "40?" Especially considering the subject matter of the song? Well, I didn't get "40" but I got another awesome rendition of "Vertigo." I don't know why Bono wanted to play this song again, but after "Yahweh" he darted around to each band member and you could tell he was trying to convince them to play another song. "Vertigo" was the choice and it was nice to see the awesome light show for this song again.
Did Bono want to play us another song because we were such an awesome audience? Or did he play us another song because they were only in Minneapolis for one night? Who knows, but I thank him for it from the bottom of my heart.
So, that was the U2 concert. By far the best concert I have ever attended. It was a long drought between concerts (3 kids kind of sap the time and money for these kinds of things). It was emotional, powerful, nostalgic, spiritual, meaningful ... it was fantastic. I will never forget it.
Don't you feel bad for missing it?
And that wasn't even the end of my fantastic weekend! More on that later...
September 19, 2005
My Very Bad Day
Yesterday started out with me going to church. I go to church with my family every Sunday, and it is usually a good way to start out the final day of the weekend. Yesterday, however, I knew I would be in trouble. My wife recently started working at our church as the Volunteer Coordinator, which means that I have to stay at church all morning, from 8:00 to whenever the second service ends.
In other words, this was the first Sunday where I knew that I would miss the kickoff at 12:00 for the Vikings game.
This is very upsetting to me. So, during the second service I continually looked at my watch and prayed, yes prayed, that the pastor would have mercy on me and end his sermon in a timely fashion. When 12 noon rolled around I turned to my wife and angrily pointed at my watch. She angrily whispered back, "What do you want me to do, stand up and tell the pastor that my husband has a noon kickoff to attend to so could you hurry it up?"
So, I sat there and fumed a little bit. Meanwhile the pastor was still rambling on about how "no one should leave this church until they have been touched by Jesus." Blah blah blah...
I'm pretty sure I'm going to spend another couple of years in purgatory for my attitude. Anyway, the service finally ended, I herded the kids into the car, and turned on the radio only to find...
So, the Vikings were already down 14-0. This was cause for an undue amount of jubiliation from my wife who was pretty ticked off with me already. She is pretty sure that God decided to punish me, and I'm starting to think she is right.
The Vikings ... I can't believe it, but I think they are a really bad team. Offensively, defensively, it doesn't matter. They suck. And I don't usually repeat anything the usually stupid announcers say during the game, but I'm beginning to think they were right with at least one of their comments:
For six years Daunte Culpepper has been seeing the same defense, a defense designed to shut down Randy Moss. This type of defense has allowed Culpepper to flourish. Now, with Randy gone, Culpepper must adapt and he is having an extremely hard time doing that.
I know, that is the understatement of the year. And besides Culpepper, I don't care how good the Vikings could have played on offense they would have a very hard time overcoming a 37 point Bengal outburst even if Randy Moss was on the team. The high priced defense purchased in the off season flat out sucks. They are old and over paid.
But the bulk of my anger is uncharacteristically pointed at the coaches today. And I'm not even talking about Tice, I am talking about the idiot that is Steve Loney. Remember playing football in the backyard with your friends? Do you remember huddling up and pointing at your hand like it was the field, "OK, now Jim you go to the left a ways and then cut back. Jason, you go across the middle, and Ralph you go long. OK? Break!" I am convinced that this strategy, this backyard football diagram-a-play-on-your-hand strategy is better than anything that Steve Loney could come up with. I have no confidence in him. I think Daunte should just start playing backyard football.
But that is just me.
So, I stayed up to watch Tice on the Sports Wrap on channel 5. Truthfully I can't believe he even shows up for this show when the Vikings play so poorly. I would be livid and I would not want to answer questions from some sports anchor and "former NFL MVP" Rich Gannon. And speaking of which, right at the beginning of the show they turn to Rich to get his opinion and he says something to the effect, "Coach you've got to pull your team together and make sure they are all on the same page and just work your way through this."
I can't believe how stupid this comment is. It is so obvious it is painful. I half expect Tice to rip into Gannon, "Thanks for the insight Einstein. Do you mind repeating that so I can jot it down for future reference? You mean we've got to work through this? Genius!" But Tice just says, "You are absolutely right Rich..." I am amazed at how gracious Tice is in defeat.
Besides that, I also stayed up to watch the Sports Show with Sid, Dark Star, Reusse, and Stu Voight. Sid really criticized the Vikings for trading Randy Moss. Hindsight is 20-20. But Dark Star had a very interesting comment. He said that he has heard that Mike Ditka has already been contacted as Tice's replacement. Ditka ... I'm not so sure about that, but I am pretty sure that anything is better than Tice and Co.
By the way, Tice himself predicted that Jim Fassel would be his replacement on the Sports Wrap. Does he see the hand writing on the wall?
So, I'm watching the Sports Show and it is getting close to 11:30 when I hear a tinkling up on the landing of the nearby staircase. I think to myself, "That sounds like water." And then I think "Oh great, my stupid cat is taking a leak outside the litter box again!"
I run to the stairs and look up only to see my middle son with his dilly-dangle hanging out peeing all over the stairs. Words cannot express my confusion and anger over this predicament.
I yell up, "Anders! What are you doing?!?!?!?" And then I answer my own question by saying, "You are peeing on the stairs!!!!"
By that time he has finished and he is kind of standing there in a daze so I run up and lead him back to his bed yelling the whole time, "What did you do that for?!?!?! What is wrong with you?!?!?"
Well, obviously he was sleep walking. He has done this at least two times before now (not peeing on the stairs, sleep walking). So, I got out the wet vac and cleaned up his mess. Believe me, cleaning up piss all over the stairs after a brutal Viking defeat is not what I (or anyone) want to be doing at 11:30 on a Sunday night.
And thus ended my very bad day.
(And no, Anders did not remember anything of this when he woke up this morning.)
Finally, if you are here to read about stadiums, have no fear I will be writing more about that in the days to come. Until then check out a Podcast of me with Mr. Cheer Or Die that was recorded last Friday. We talk exclusively about stadium issues for almost 30 minutes. Long time readers of this blog probably won't learn anything new. And also, I'm a little surprised at how my voice sounds. I didn't think I sounded that whiny. Oh well, give it a listen if you are interested...
September 16, 2005
No, I'm not dead...
I just haven't had much to say over the past couple of days. So, in honor of my lack of things to say I will now write a stream of consciousness type post of whatever pops into my head:
The Green Day song "Jesus of Suburbia" off of American Idiot is approaching "Bohemian Rhapsody" status for me. What a phenomenal song. 9.5 minutes of pure musical genius.
I just read the book Magic Street from Orson Scott Card. This is a very good book that reinterprets Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream by using the characters of Puck, Oberon, and Titania in a contemporary setting. Card is a master at re-examining old myths and beliefs and trying to glean the truth of them. Why did people believe in fairies so long ago? Is there an inkling of truth to these old beliefs? What would happen if fairies were still around today? I'm not sure this book answers all these questions, but they are the questions I have after reading it.
Of course, if you want a really good book about fairies, do yourself a favor and read Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. Yikes, what a good book. And I know what you are thinking, "Fairies? I don't want to read a story about Tinker-bell." Ah, but there is a lot more to fairies than that. They were actually mischievous (nasty) creatures that most people tried to avoid.
Vince and freealonzo bring up a couple of good points in the comments below concerning my favorite topic, stadiums in Minnesota. For one thing, McLaughlin's showing in the recent Minneapolis mayoral primary was not very good, and that in itself is a very good thing. McLaughlin is a Hennepin County commissioner and one of the 4 votes needed to hammer the Twins stadium through once the legislature approves it (ha!). If McLaughlin becomes mayor of Minneapolis there is no telling who will take his place and if he/she will still support the stadium initiative.
And you may not know this, but after the legislature approves the Twins stadium plan (ha!) the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners will vote again on whether or not to proceed with the plan. So, McLaughlin's vote is very important.
Secondly, the recent announcement that Best Buy will contribute $2.5 million to the Gopher's stadium drive is a very good piece of news. Of course, this adds even more pressure for Pawlenty to call a special session. The only bad thing about this announcement is that the legislature has to approve the Gopher's stadium bill before February for the Best Buy contribution to kick in. I wish they would have made it December like TCF's contribution.
And this little tidbit came out today, the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly at the U has come out against the Gopher's stadium plan since it calls for a $52 million contribution from students at the University. Luckily, the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly has about as much power as I do here at the University. In other words, their stance means nothing.
I see the chances for a special session still at 50%. Why? Why am I still so pessimistic? We are still dealing with the same old idiots in St. Paul, that's why. You know, the idiots that let the state shut down? So, le't try to keep it in perspective.
Finally, I'm going to be on TV! I was asked to appear on the PBS/U of M show Tech Talk. The taping for the show was yesterday, and the show will be aired January 1 at 9:00 PM on channel 17 (in the TC area). Of course, the show is about blogs, a topic which people seem to think I am somewhat of an expert on.
Anyway, I am on the show for about 7 minutes and I talk about how to create a blog, how to get people to read your blog, how to search for blogs, and a little about blogging anonymity. Of course, now that I think back on the things I said I can't help but think I sound like a moron, "Me likey blogs! Blogs fun! Blogs funny word! Me say it over and over, blogs, blogs, blogs!" Gah! Oh well, if you'd like to take a peak at your's truly just tune into PBS on January 1. I guarantee a riveting performance that will rival the Gopher's appearance in the Rose Bowl (ha!).
Nothing else pops into my head. More later...
September 9, 2005
Statistics and cats
Statistics are evil. For one thing they are addictive, and secondly they show you things that sometimes you just don't want to see. Let's take this blog, for example. From the statistics I can see that about 75-100 people come and read this blog everyday, and about another 100-150 people find other, older pages of this blog through search engines, mainly Google. And what people are searching for to find this blog is what I find troubling. Check this table out. It shows the most common words people use to find my blog through a search engine:
Did you catch that? The most common search term after "the" for this site is "rabbits." Rabbits! This is due to the fact that last April Fool's day I wrote one entry about rabbits, and how I was only going to only blog about rabbits from that point on. Obviously, this was a joke. But now, it seems, my blog is the rabbit blog of the entire Internet. Argh! You would think the most popular search term would be "stadiums" but nope ... it is "rabbits." I try and I try, but it seems my efforts are all for naught...
So, given the fact that people seem to like reading about rabbits more than stadiums, today I am going to show pictures of my cats. See the connection? No? Too bad, because cats are what you are going to get.
This is "Azul" and "Trinity." Azul is named such because of his blue eyes, and Trinity is named for Trinity of The Matrix fame. At first we named Azul "Neo" to complete the Trinity/Neo pairing, but people thought we were calling him "Neal." So we changed it. And now we don't even call him Azul anymore, but usually a variation like "Ozzie" or "Oswald." He doesn't seem to mind.
Here is a close up of Azul. He is a big cat, at least twice as big as Trinity now. Both of the cats are Ragdolls.
And here is a close up of Trinity. By far the most beautiful cat I have ever seen. I may be biased, but she is so sleek and soft, so feminine and feline ... she is the perfect "cat."
There you have it. Have a good weekend!
September 6, 2005
Don't have much to say
The students have returned to the University of Minnesota. I am always surprised at how much more crowded the campus becomes today compared with last week. I prefer having the students around though. Makes things a little more exciting.
And because the students are back, The Minnesota Daily is back in print every weekday. Today, they had a good article discussing the chances for a special session to deal with the Gophers stadium issue. According to the article, Sen. Geoff Michel, R-Edina, chief author of the bill sets the chances of a special session being called at 50-50. Also according the article: "But Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, said she doesn’t think the governor will call a special session in light of the government shutdown earlier this summer." So, we are still up in the air on this one, it seems. I personally still think a special session will be called.
This is especially true since the governor is going to start getting more and more pressure to call a special session now that the State Fair is done. Bob Sansavere of the Pioneer Press wrote a very short article voicing his support for a Twins stadium and a special session in today's paper. I think we are going to start seeing more of this.
Lastly, and I don't know why I am thinking of this right now, but something from my childhood needs to be rectified. When I was a child in elementary school my teacher (and I can't remember what grade I was in) asked the class to think of interesting questions about nature or space or weather, etc. to ask that would encourage the class to research the question and find the answer. Stuff like, "Why is the sky blue?" or "Why does toilet water drain in a clockwise direction?" Questions that you have always wondered but never quite knew how to answer.
So, I started thinking really hard. And I came up with what I thought was a pretty decent question. When it came to my turn I asked, "Where does dust come from?" Well, you would have thought I asked the dumbest question in the history of time. My teacher, in fact, told me that was a dumb question because everyone knows that dust comes from dirt swirled up from the wind. With that she moved on to the next question which, of course, was "Why is the sky blue?"
Anyway, I'm here to tell you that was not a dumb question and that my teacher answered the question wrong. Dust is way more interesting than that. Sure, the bulk of dust outside comes from dirt, but "house dust" actually is a bit more disgusting. According to Wikipedia.org, "house dust" comes mostly from sloughed skin cells. Skin cells! That is interesting!
So there, Mrs. Eilers. Your arrogance prohibited you from answering my question in a respectful and accurate manner. And although I wish I could go back in time and express this all to you in person, writing this out today has actually made me feel better. I suppose this also proves that there are no stupid questions and that one shouldn't think one knows everything. That is the lesson for the day. Let's all humble ourselves and practice a little more humility.
September 2, 2005
I'm having trouble thinking about anything besides what is happening in New Orleans. The scope of the tragedy that was only thought to be relatively minor at the beginning of the week is now so overwhelming to me that I haven't been this riveted to the TV since 9/11. It is almost like we are watching something from Mogadishu or Sarajevo. This is America? This can happen in the USA?
As the Star Tribune has already done a fantastic job of pointing out the planning for this level of tragedy was woefully inadequate. New Orleans may be a unique situation as compared to 9/11, but what have we been doing for the past 4 years besides planning for disasters? True, the size of this disaster, the scope of the devastation in terms of square miles, would be difficult to adequately prepare for, but what is happening in New Orleans right now is shameful.
This is especially true when you consider people have known for quite a while what a category 4 or 5 hurricane could do to this area.
But from a humanitarian point of view, blame is just plain unimportant right now. There may have been a slow start (there was a slow start) but I expect that millions of pounds of supplies are making their way to Louisiana and Mississippi right now. In fact, we'll probably start seeing convoy traffic jams today or tomorrow. At least that is what I'm hoping for.
What can we do now? What is the best response we can make? Plain and simple the best response for average citizens right now is donations of money. There is nothing better. Relief agencies can make much better use of money than donations of supplies given that places like the Salvation Army and the Red Cross can purchase supplies for much cheaper than you or I can. In other words, a donation of $50 to a charitable organization can go a lot further than if you or I purchased $50 worth of water. And I'm not saying donations of water aren't important. I'm just telling you what I think these organizations would prefer.
There are so many, many organizations you can donate to. It is quite stunning really. Of course, you can't go wrong with the Red Cross or the Salvation Army. On the local scene, Best Buy is matching donations up to $1 million to the Red Cross through the previous link. Thrivent Financial (Lutheran Brotherhood) is also matching donations. Truly, the difficulty in giving a donation shouldn't be whether or not to do it, but where to donate. There are many opportunities and needs. I choose the Salvation Army due to their overall mission and ties to FEMA.
And please, let me know if there are any other local businesses that are matching donations or that are making a point of helping with the relief efforts. They deserve our business.
Finally, I'm reading a book right now that discusses, among other things, the proper Christian response to the poor and poverty. Did you know that 1 out of every 10 verses in the Gospels (1 out of every 7 in Luke) discusses matters of money and helping out the less fortunate? According to the author, though, when he asks audiences what Jesus said about the poor, invariably people will trot out Matthew 14:7, "The poor you will always have with you." This is the the number one verse that people in America remember from Jesus' views on the poor.
The author, of course, argues convincingly that this verse is taken out of context and that it should no longer be used to justify cynicism or apathy towards those less fortunate. The verse in question is a part of a longer story where a woman washes Jesus's hair with expensive oils in a form of worship and respect, and his disciples suggest that the money for these expensive oils could have been donated to the poor. Jesus, who was nearing the end of his ministry on earth, tells his disciples that the poor will always be among us but that he would not. He wasn't suggesting that we should disregard the poor. In essence, he was saying that helping the poor and worshipping the Son of God are both worthy pursuits.
The author also suggests something else concerning this verse that strikes me as very interesting:
They are at the dinner table with a leper, and Jesus is making the assumption about his disciples' continuing proximity to the poor. He is saying, in effect, "Look, you will always have the poor with you" because you are my disciples. You know who we spend our time with, who we share our meals with, who listens to our message, who we focus our attention on. You've been watching me, and you know what my priorities are.
Further on, the author continues:
The critical difference between Jesus's disciples and a middle-class church is precisely this: our lack of proximity to the poor. The continuing relationship to the poor that Jesus assumes will be natural for his disciples is unnatural to an affluent church.
Now, it is not my intention to get into a theological debate concerning this verse, or the role of the middle class churches in urban America, but what strikes me about these passages is how close the poor of New Orleans are to us today. This isn't somewhere in Indonesia or Ehtiopia. This is right in our backyard, right down the Mississippi. In fact, these people are really even closer. They are in our living rooms, on our TVs, begging for help. And it is so easy right now to give them that help. Let's see what we can do America. If you haven't done so already, please consider a donation to one of the charities above. It does make a difference.
September 1, 2005
Stuff on my mind
First things first, it appears that a special session will indeed be called. I've heard this from two sources now. The more reliable report comes from Cheesehead Craig who has said that Randy Shaver says T-Paw told him one would be called after the Fair. This is, of course, good news. The other report comes from my brother-in-law who is a teacher in Hennepin County and who could benefit from some additional health care legislation if a special session is called. He tells me that his union/teacher compatriots are being told that there bill will be heard in a special session. So, I'm feeling more and more confident our legislators will make a glorious return to the capitol in a couple of weeks.
The big question is will the Twins stadium be heard? Will it pass? Again, the Twins stadium chances have definitely benefited from the Gophers stadium efforts. However, Gopher fans and the Gopher stadium drive has recently been grabbing all the good press and the favor of the legislators. At the fair:
Oh, they were talking about some matters of state at the fair on Saturday. A few with their dander up about the Legislature's dawdling ways got some digs in when they met up with some of the legislators making their fair appearances. And the No. 1 serious statewide topic appeared to be sports stadiums, followed by the prospects for a fall special session.
"I'm hearing a lot of support for a Twins stadium," said Rep. Mike Charron, R-Woodbury. "But the e-mails I'm getting are more for a Gophers stadium."
Did you catch that subtle dig? The Twins stadium is important, but not as important as the Gophers stadium. And it appears that emails are more important to our legislators than actually talking. How peachy. Anyway, I think it is obvious a special session will be called and that a Gophers stadium is a slam dunk. We'll see if the same can be said for a Twins stadium in a couple of weeks.
And speaking of stadiums, the evacuation of the Superdome seems to be put on hold right now due to shots being fired and arson fires being lit. I can't imagine what people are going through right now down there. I read an interesting piece about the looting happening in Louisiana, a piece that actually speaks in favor of the looting. Very interesting and thought provoking. Can't say I disagree.
Needless to say, my wife and I will be making a donation to the Salvation Army to help with their relief efforts.
Cheesehead Craig and I resumed our Border Battle last night with round two of Stratego. I lost. It was all my fault. I was right next to his flag but I moved back instead of right. Kaboom. Game over. I was very upset to be so close and to lose thanks to my own stupidty. Quite frankly I don't even want to talk about it. Craig leads the battle 3-2. Mini-golf is next.
That's all for now. See you soon.
August 30, 2005
The Border Battle Continues ...
And if I may digress for a second, what the heck does it mean that it is a "two-handed" strategy game? Does this mean that if a person only has one hand they are out of luck? I have been perplexed by this for quite a while. If anyone can shed any light on this I would greatly appreciate it.
Anywhoo, here are some pictures of our separate strategies. Here is Craig's set up:
And here is my board setup:
Note the differing strategies especially the fact that Craig did not surround his flag with bombs. That is surprising. Then again, it seemed to work out for him. Allow me to explain.
Craig went first since he choose "red" as his color. Things were going well for me until Craig attacked my left flank with a renegade "2" and ran roughshod through the back of my army. This seriously decmiated my remaining troops. Meanwhile I also begain attacking his left flank. Well, this side included both his Marshall and his spy. In other words for about 3/4 of the game my Marshall was incapacitated as Craig and I both jockeyed for position with our spys.
My mistake came by focusing my attack on the his left flank in the beginning. I should have attacked the right and trailed a miner sooner. By the time I figured this out I didn't have enough "big dogs" to clear out the rest of his pieces.
Long story short, the game came down to both of our abililities to retain enough miners to defuse bombs. Since I seemed to have focused my attack on his left flank, I ended up with only a "5" and an "8" towards the end of the game. I knew he only had one miner left, but I didn't know where it was. So, Craig took care of my last "5" and in a last ditch effort I attacked the only piece I could with my "8." It turned out to be his last miner and the game ended in a tie. Craig was distraught and I was relieved. Without any miners, CC would obviously be unable to difuse my bombs. Sure, the rest of his army could dance around my flag while performing their Wisconsin/pagan rituals, but they would never be able to get to it. Meanwhile, I would call in reinforcements and wipe out the rest of his army. Isn't that a part of Stratego?
Anyway, the game ended in a tie. It was an amazing game and it seems we will have to duplicate our efforts another night.
The Border Battle rages on with the score still 2-2. Obviously you can cut the tension with a knife!
New Libraries web site
Sorry for my silence everyone, but I have been busy over the past couple of days working on a new web site for my "real" job (no, blogging isn't my real job, although it is a part of it!). As many of you know, I am the webmaster (I prefer the term "web sovereign") at the University of Minnesota Libraries. Just yesterday we unveiled the new version of our web site, much to my happiness and relief. If you'll recall, I was angry last week. This web site, or the lack of a release on Thursday, was the reason. Anyway, if you'd like to take a look, point your browser to:
If you are unfamiliar with what the old site looked like, take a look at it also. Anyway, I'm proud of both designs, but my design philosophy has changed since we came out with the old design almost 5 years ago. For one, I'm a big believer in using text, colors, CSS, and layout rather than images and/or copious use of tables to design a site. Text and colors through CSS is much more flexible and elegant than images and they download faster.
You'll also note that there are way more links on the new home page than the old. In 2000 when we unveiled the old libraries' web site we were concerned that too many links would confuse users and overwhelm them. I don't think this is true anymore. Users today are actually quite used to a lot of links as is evidenced by sites like CNN, ESPN, Amazon, etc. More links will also give users a better chance of finding the information they are looking for, what Jared Spool calls the "scent of information." Too few links means less options and a descreased chance of finding those distinct keywords many users look for on a new site.
Anyway, blah, blah, blah. More later.
August 25, 2005
I'm angry today. Something that I've been working on for a long time has been pushed back and this has all happened at the last possible minute. So, I'm mad. And it isn't necessarily because my project has been pushed back, but ... well, I can't get into specifics. Darn my lack of anonymity.
But I wanted to say that being angry can sometimes feel good. I have a "screw the world" type attitude today and I don't care what anyone thinks. I have also probably said some stupid things to the people I work with, but that happens when you are angry.
There is two types of anger: justified and unjustified. Unjustified anger is when you are angry for no reason. You are just in a foul mood. It is during these times that the people around you have every right to be angry back at you for being such a jerk. For example, when someone is trying to merge in front of you from an on-ramp and you get angry at that person. Bzzz! That is unjustified anger. Merging is a fact of life. Get over it.
But justified anger, that is another story. People who have justified anger should be given a one day pass to let it all out. For example, today I feel I have been wronged. I have been accused of untrue things. Have these people not seen my new sideburns? Do these sideburns not demand respect? What is especially upsetting about this is that I have worked really hard. Man, I am angry! And you know what? I am going to keep on being angry! I deserve to be angry! It is my right in this instance to be angry. How am I supposed to feel, happy? I have said stupid things, and hopefully I won't say any more stupid things but I probably will. I can't help it, though. My anger is justified and that is just the way it is.
The trouble with living in Minnesota is that people don't like it when you are angry. They immediately think you are unjustified in your anger. They'll say, "Calm down, Shane. Here, have a Vanilla Coke." Ah, nice try but no dice. Not even the savory goodness of Vanilla Coke will satiate the beast in me. People need to start recognizing the difference between justified and unjustified anger in this state and let the chips fall where they may. If a person is justified, then give them 24 hours to cool down. If not, only then can you call them on it and tell them to chill out.
Tomorrow will be different. My one day pass will be over and I will come to work refreshed and happy. But today I am going to be angry. It is my right and there isn't anything you can do about it.
August 12, 2005
I'm reading a great book right now called Founding Brothers by Joseph Ellis which discusses America's Founding Fathers and the impact they had on our fledgling republic. It is only 288 pages and it features short, illustrative chapters, vignettes really, concerning Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Madison, etc. etc. Right now I'm reading an early chapter on "The Duel" between Burr and Hamilton and how, remarkably it represents the only example of political violence during the early days of our experiment in democracy. Anyway, an interesting portion of this chapter describes the rules for a duel (the code duello):
"Burr and Hamilton then met in the middle to receive their final instructions. Hamilton, again because he was the challenged party, had the choice of position. He selected upstream, or north, side, a poor choice because the morning sun and its reflection off the river would be in his face. The required ten paces between contestants put them at the extreme ends of the ledge. It was agreed that when both principals were ready, Pendleton would say, "Present"; then each man would be free to raise and fire his weapon. If one man fired before the other, the nonfirer's second would say, "One, two, three, fire." If he had not fired by the end of the count, he lost his turn. At that point, or if both parties had fired and missed, there would be a conference to decide if another round was required or if both sides agreed that the obligations of honor had been met."
Fascinating, huh? As you probably know, the rest of the story can be summarized with Burr mortally wounding Hamilton and Burr being ostracized from American life in general. Obviously, there is much more to this story than that. If you are interested I would recommend checking out Founding Brothers. Let me just close this little snippet by saying I am glad this method of resolving a dispute is now a thing of the past. Cheesehead Craig, sadly, would have alreay been killed by my deadly aim.
Little known fact about me: I never use an alarm clock. Every morning I wake up whenever I decide I need to wake up. This is how it has always been for me. If I need to wake up at 6:00, I'll wake up at 6:00. If I need to wake up at 5:00, I'll wake up at 5:00. I don't know why, or how I developed this skill, but there you have it.
I am absolutely fascinated by the ongoing saga of the Eagles vs. Terrell Owens. What a nightmare. On the one hand I love to see a possible stumbling block for the Vikings Super Bowl aspirations having these kinds of difficulties, but on the other hand a classy individual like Donovan McNabb does not deserve this. I agree with most other Eagles fans: T.O. must G.O. And did you catch what T.O. said about McNabb?
When Owens was asked if he could have success with McNabb, he was even more blunt, saying, "I don't think so and I'm just being honest."
Wow. Not only is T.O. a bad teammate, but he is just an idiot. Highly entertaining though.
After reading stuff like this article about a Christian museum displaying dinosaurs and an intelligent design (ID) viewpoint and this hilarious open letter to the Kansas School Board I am this close to writing my own piece on this blog concerning ID and the theory of evolution. Of course it will deal with issues of religion, science, and history, but so far I have held back. I don't know why. Anyway, stay tuned for that (if you care).
Well, I'll be going to the Vikings game tonight and I'll be sitting in the seats of Mr. Cheer or Die. Here is what the view from my old seats looked like. COD's seats, being on the first row, should provide me with a very interesting new perspective. I am looking forward to it. Thanks COD!
August 2, 2005
You know how kids are. Everything has to be done fast, especially chores. If you ask a child to sweep the floor, it is usually done quickly and not very well. In other words, it is done quick and dirty and just well enough to get by. This fact of life drives me nuts in my own kids. "Why does everything have to be done fast?" I ask my own kids, "Why don't you do a good job the first time so you don't have to do it again?"
This is especially true of my older son. He is getting better as he gets older, but he still tries to get by with the bare minimum (and as fast as possible). So, I have come up with a little saying that he has heard me repeat over and over again in his short life:
"There is a fast way to do something, and the right way to do something. Do it the right way."
I know, you are overwhelmed with the subtle wisdom of this little nugget. The last time I said this to him was during our Webelos camp where he somehow discombobulated his tent's zipper so that it wouldn't close or open the tent. It was just stuck in the middle with both sides open. I could see that the tent fabric was totally jammed inside of the zipper. He must have had to go to the bathroom something fierce and in a rush he must have just ranked on the zipper until it absolutely couldn't move anymore. I asked him, "You forced it, didn't you?" He said, "Yeah, sorry." So, I said, "There is a fast way to do something, and the right way to do something. Do it the right way." See where that saying can come in handy?
Anyway, that brings you to me. Unfortunately I didn't heed my own advice. A little while ago my compact refrigerator in my basement, where I would usually store all my tasty beverages, suddenly got full of so much ice that I couldn't even close the door. As a result, the problem just got worse as it got filled with more and more ice. So, obviously, I had two options: 1) I could unplug the fridge and let the ice melt naturally, or 2) I could chip it out with a knife. Yep, you guessed it, I picked the knife. What a moron.
At first the chipping was going well. Big chunks of ice were flying everywhere. I was making progress! And then the inevitable happened. I chipped right into one of the coils and was blasted by the hiss and freeze of all my precious freon escaping from the fridge. And with that, my compact fridge, where I keep all my Vanilla Coke, is now broken beyond repair.
"There is a fast way to do something, and the right way to do something. Do it the right way."
That is my advice for today. And if anyone knows where I can get a cheap compact refridgerator (upright kind, around 34" tall) please let me know. And I vow to never take a knife within 5 feet of a refrigerator again.
August 1, 2005
My most recent purchase
That's right. I bought a library card catalog. I have now achieved complete "geek-ness" and I feel good about it. As a librarian, I have always wanted one of these archaic pieces of library furniture, and now I have one for my very own. What will I store in my 25 card-sized drawers? The sky is the limit!
Are you jealous? I wouldn't be surprised. By the way, card catalogs like this are going for about $100 on EBay. In about 10 years I'll be able to sell this one and send my kids to college!
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 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 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 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 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!
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
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 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.
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!
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 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
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
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 1, 2005
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!
May 24, 2005
I honestly have nothing to say
I think the nice weather has tapped by creativity/writing abilities. I have nothing to say about anything. Are other bloggers being affected like this? I note that on TwinsTerritory the amount of writing has seriously dropped off, my good buddy The Oracle of Cheese is taking a bit of a breather, Cheer or Die hasn't written anything for a couple of days, and Twins Chatter has been silent for a couple of weeks. Gleeman didn't even write anything today. Something is in the water, I guess.
Hmmm ... if you've got a minute you should stop over at Stick and Ball Guy's site and welcome him back from his honeymoon. I'll be doing that later on. Hawaii sure would be nice to visit.
Well, I'll probably write something around lunch. I've been planning on a new "Songs for a Desert Island" selection (the others can be found in music). This new selection will be by Led Zeppelin, but I would be surprised if anyone could guess which song is my favorite Zep song.
May 23, 2005
Not much to say
Not much to say, but I'll say it anyway. Revenge of the Sith was good. In fact, it was very good. It renewed my faith in the Star Wars franchices, and I enjoyed it immensely. While the acting was a little stilted in some cases, the story came together nicely and the action was top notch. Great fight scenes, wonderful visual elements, and all together just stunning eye-candy. If you go and see it you'll have to let me know if you agree with me on this though: I thought Anakin's decision to pledge his allegiance to Palpatine was a little abrupt. Maybe that's just me. My wife thought it was fine.
Favorite scence: when Kenobi and Anakin fly into General Greivous's ship and Kenobi vaults out of his ship doing a couple of mid-air flips and generally kicking butt ... I thought that was cool.
I'm starting to really like Zygmunt Wilf. I think he'll be fine as a Vikings owner, especially after I read that he has pledged not to move the Vikings. That is good to hear. I think his pledge is a little more solid, too, than when Red bought the team. You'll recall what Red said: "The Vikings belong in Minnesota." There is a lot of different ways to wiggle out of that statement. Wilf, on the other hand, when asked if he will move the Vikings said, "That'll never happen," and also according to Sansavere Wilf also said, ""There's no question (the Vikings are staying in Minnesota). Listen, no way (they're leaving). It's a storied franchise. It is Minnesota.'' Wonderful. OK, what about a stadium? Wilf had this to say:
Wilf has visited Minnesota several times, looking at potential sites for a new stadium. Wilf indicated it is possible he would purchase the land for the stadium site and said he would "not necessarily" ask the state for money to build the facility.
"We feel that it's important to work with everyone involved to get a world-class venue for our Minnesota Vikings,'' Wilf said. "We're exploring all options to achieve that result. Get the best venue for our team and the fans, that's our goal. We're committed to fund our share and we have to go into details before finalizing our exact plan. We're exploring all options (for funding). I am determined to find a way (to get a new stadium).''
"Not necessarily" ... that is very interesting. Does that mean he will still seek county money ala the Twins? Or is he considering how to fund this monster himself? I certainly hope so. No one wants the Vikings to go through what the Twins have gone through. The fact that Wilf is a Giants fan is, I think, a positive thing in regards to the stadium. If you haven't heard, the Giants are paying for their new stadium themselves. I can't help but think that Zyggy has been paying attention to this development. I sincerely hope he strives to emulate it.
Not much to report on the Twins stadium front. As you probably know, the Senate will have their first committee hearing for the ballpark bill this Wednesday. Other than that, I haven't heard much of anything new. If you have heard anything please feel free to share in the comments below.
May 17, 2005
Happy Syttende Mai!
Happy Syttende Mai everyone! If you didn't know, today is the Norwegian Independence Day, the day that Norwegians removed the shackles of oppression and told Sweden to stick it where the sun don't shine. Officially, this day remembers the signing of the Norwegian constitution in 1814, but most Norwegians understand the true significance of this day as a day of spite towards Swedes and the Irish. Norwegian animosity towards Swedes is justified given the years of brutal Swedish rule in our beautiful country, but we throw the Irish into our celebrations just for good measure given Norway's dominance over Ireland in medieval times. Most of the pictures of this celebration feature children in parades and eating ice cream, but private celebrations usually include Irish and Swedish flag burnings, hanging Eamon DeValera in effigy, and, even though Norway is a Lutheran country, Norwegians also pray that Gustavus Adolphus either be sent to or remain in purgatory for all eternity. Take that you Swedish jerks!
Nighttime celebrations usually feature pogrom style hunts tracking down anyone with the surname "Hanson" (given that most Hansons are both Swedish and Irish). Any Hansons that are found in Norway during this time certainly rue the day they ever set foot in our beautiful country. Tortures include forcing the captive to eat pounds of lutefisk, telling the captive Ole and Lena jokes until they cry, and forcing them to memorize a catalog from their precious IKEA stores before they are set free. That'll teach 'em!
So, if you haven't already, take a moment to celebrate the wonderful holiday of Syttende Mai. And if you are a Swedish-Irish person with the surname Hanson, there is no hope for you. You better just start running now. Nighttime is coming.
May 13, 2005
Whoever You Are
I enjoy "one hit wonders," you know, the songs that were the only hit for an artist or band before they drifted into obscurity. Songs like "Tainted Love" by Soft Cell, or "In the Meantime" by Spacehog. Really good stuff, but I could never name another song by these artists. I'm sure you could come up with your own.
Another one hit wonder I really like is "Whoever You Are" by Geggy Tah. This is a great song built around the premise of someone thanking another person for allowing him to change lanes on the highway. The lyric goes:
All I want to do is thank you
Even though I don't know who you are
You let me change lanes
While I was driving in my car
Whoever you are
I wanna thank you
And the lyric goes on in the same innocuous fashion. It obviously is a simple song that makes you feel good and, at least in my case, it makes me want to let people change lanes while I'm driving in my car. You know what I mean? Why in the world are we so against people changing lanes?
A couple of days ago my brother-in-law and I were driving down 394 on our way home from work. My brother-in-law noticed that our exit was approaching so he checked his blind spot and started to move over into the right hand lane. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, a Porsche Cayenne started honking and speeding up while trying to stop us from changing lanes. My brother-in-law was already half way over so he finished his lane change while we both looked behind at the car making all the noise and trouble.
The Porsche Cayenne sped up beside us. Now, any person in our position would probably expect the same thing we did, the infamous bird. However, this driver was a little more creative than that. Instead of the bird, he took his thumb and rubbed it against the rest of his fingers in the international sign for "money" and then pointed at himself. He did this twice and then drove away.
My brother-in-law and I were simply quite stunned by this. What on earth was he saying? The only thing we could come up with was, "You might have changed lanes in front of me, but I have more money." Or maybe just "I have more money than you." After we came up with this, it actually became very humorous. I'll give this jerk one thing, he was definitely creative with his attempted put-down, but seriously ... "I have more money than you?"
So, anyway, this little incident reminded me of Geggy Tah's "Whoever You Are" and really how much easier it is for all of us just to let people change lanes while we are driving. The jerk we dealt with was more put out by his own actions to stop us from changing lanes than if he had just let us move over.
In conclusion, if you are driving home tonight and someone tries to change lanes in front of you, just let them. In fact, let them and then give them a smile and a wave. I guarantee it will make you and the other driver feel better about everything, including life in general. Oh, and just as a rule of thumb, if you are one of those drivers that can't stand it when someone changes lanes in front of you, if you have to speed up to stop someone from changing lanes that is a pretty good indication you are at fault. Chill out.
Lastly (I guess the paragraph above was not the conclusion) I also think we should all try the new put-down introduced to my brother-in-law and me by the jerk in the Porsche. "I have more money than you." ... that is just priceless!
May 8, 2005
I'm not usually a superstitious person. I don't knock on wood. I don't throw salt over my shoulder. I don't care about walking under ladders, breaking mirrors, or black cats crossing my path. Having said all that, though, there is one piece of superstition that I can never ignore, and I'm ashamed to admit that it fascinates me more than it should. What is this piece of superstition you ask? It is the superstition of "whatever song comes on next." Never heard of it? Allow me to elaborate.
Whenever I listen to the radio, or my iPod, I like to say, "Whatever song comes on next will determine how the rest of my day goes." Or I like to be more specific sometimes by saying something like, "Whatever song comes on the radio next will dictate whether I go to Home Depot or Menards to buy some window caulk." As you might imagine, deciphering the meaning of some of these songs can be quite a challenge. Does the fact that the next song is "Black Dog" by Led Zeppelin mean I should get a haircut today or not? Or does hearing the song "Clocks" by Coldplay mean I will finally beat Cheesehead Craig at a bet? Like I said, the message these songs are trying to send can sometimes be almost impossible to figure out, but that doesn't stop me from seeking the truth within.
Over the course of my life "whatever song comes on next" has had some surprising results. For example, in my sophomore year in college my roommate (Curt in Grand Forks) was in a serious relationship when I said, "Whatever song comes on next will determine your relationship with Emily." The next song to come on was "Evil Woman" by ELO and they broke up a few weeks later. I know, spooky!
Another example was when I asked my wife our on our very first date. We were both working at a local department store during the summer. I was a stock boy, and she was a cashier, and I had pretty much been stalking her for a couple of months. I would position myself in places I knew she would be so I could talk to her, but I would always chicken out when she came walking by. So, one day I said to my stock boy colleagues, "Whatever song comes on next will determine whether or not I ask Molly out on a date." They all said, "Yeah, yeah" because they knew that I had been wanting to ask her out for weeks but I could never muster the courage to do so. Anyway, the next song that came on was "Rag Doll" by Aerosmith. I know, you're probably thinking that I'm a sicko, but the lyric that struck me as I was listening was "Don't mind, come on up and see me." I was on the first level of the store, and Molly was on the second. I turned white as a ghost and said, "This is it." I literally ran up to the second floor (because I knew if I didn't run I would turn around) and I made it to her counter. I was a little winded from running and while I was panting I blurted out, "Do you want to go out on a date?" She was a little perplexed by me since I was so winded, but she still said, "Sure. When do you want to go out?" I said, "Tonight." Awestruck by my suave demeanor she agreed and the rest, as they say, is history. I owe 11 years of marriage and 3 kids to the song "Rag Doll" by Aerosmith. Amazing, wouldn't you say?
A more touching example occured when my first son was being born. A radio was playing in the operating room (it was a c-section) and I snuck in a "Whatever song comes on next will ..." Well, I didn't know what, but I knew it would be meaningful. Sonny and Cher's "I Got You Babe" came on as they put him into my arms for the first time. I thought that was appropriate.
So, why am I telling you all of this? For one thing, it is a fun game to play and the results can sometimes be surprising, but I have something more important to tell you. I played "whatever song comes on next" last Thursday as I was walking home from the bus stop. I had my iPod on shuffle so I said, "Whatever song comes on next will determine whether or not the Hennepin County proposal will result in a new Twins stadium." I waited patiently, the song that I was listening to ended, and the next song slowly started to play. At first I couldn't make it out, but then it dawned on me what song I was hearing.
It was "Scarlet" by U2. And if you know the lyrics of this song, you know that this is indeed a very good sign! I know I shouldn't give it too much credence, but based on my previous results with this little piece of superstition I can't help but be hopeful!
If you feel up to it, give "whatever song comes on next" a try. If something interesting comes on, or even happens, please feel free to share! Until next time...
April 28, 2005
I'm a little swamped today
It is a busy day for me today so I probably won't be adding much here. Sorry. However, just to give you something to mull over, as many of you know, one of my favorite animals is the chicken. I just love walking through the chicken barn at the State Fair. I am continually astounded at the variety of chickens from the Red Junglefowl to the Black Orpington or the White Crested Black Polish. Beautiful!
Well, my mom, knowing how much I enjoy chickens, told me that May 4th is International Respect for Chickens Day!. In fact, there is even a web site in honor of this day. Who knew? And while I doubt that I will do any of the their suggested activities to recognize this majestic bird, I may have to stop by the Chinese restaurant down the street and enjoy a plate of Sesame Chicken.
Thanks for stopping by today. There may be more later. And maybe not...
April 22, 2005
I'm getting stupider
I can't deny it. It is just a fact of life. But as I get older I know I am getting stupider. Denser. Unable to understand words larger than two syllables. As I watch the TV show The Amazing Race I can't help but cringe every time the elderly couple Meredith and Gretchen come on the screen and, well, do something stupid. In between weeping over how much they love each other, and blubbering about how proud they are of their feeble efforts, they are constantly misunderstanding clues or going in the wrong direction. I can't tell you how many times I've turned to my wife while watching this show and said, "Please tell me I'm not turning into Meredith." But, alas, I know it is meant to be.
I can already feel a general malaise settling over my intelligence, a brain cloud, if you will, taking residence in my once impressive mind. What is happening? Is it Spring? Am I just stupified by the nice weather? I swear in the past couple of weeks I have been able to do little more than walk around outside and stop every once in a while to notice a flower or some piece of nonsense that catches my attention. "Oh look, there is something shiny on the ground! I like shiny things. Shiny things are pretty!" Gah! Where is the vibrancy of my youth? Where is my creativity?
Well, I may have found an answer. I can blame my wife and kids. According to a study published in the Journal of Research in Personality marriage and children kill creativity in men. The research, spearheaded by Dr Satoshi Kanazawa, suggests that the quality of scientific creativity and discovery is usually dictated by a man's age and marital staus. I know, it is almost too much to be believed, but check out this snippet:
His study was based on the analysis of a biographical database of 280 scientists considered 'great' by their colleagues, noting their age at the time when they did their greatest work. He found the data remarkably concurs with the observation made by Albert Einstein in 1942: "A person who has not made his great contribution to science before the age of 30 will never do so."
"Scientific productivity indeed fades with age," Kanazawa said. "Two-thirds [of all scientists] will have made their most significant contributions before their mid-30s."
So, here we have the age factor. Einstein himself made his most important discoveries in his mid 20s. I am 32. Sadly, it seems, my "great" achievements are all behind me. Excuse me while I take a moment to weep ... And it gets worse:
But, regardless of age, the great minds who married virtually kissed goodbye to making any further glorious additions to their CV. Within five years of making their nuptial vows, nearly a quarter of married scientists had made their last significant contribution to knowledge.
"Scientists rather quickly desist [from their careers] after their marriage, while unmarried scientists continue to make great scientific contributions later in their lives," said Kanazawa.
Ah! The scourge of women strikes again! Not only do they torment us with their incessant talking, honey-do lists, and demands for "quality time together" but they also nefariously sap our creativity without us even noticing! Will their treachery never cease? Why do they have this effect on us? Kanazawa has a theory:
Kanazawa suggests "a single psychological mechanism" is responsible for this: the competitive edge among young men to fight for glory and gain the attention of women. That craving drives the all-important male hormone, testosterone.
After a man settles down, the testosterone level falls, as does his creative output ...
Of course! Getting married is a virtual siphon hose on a man's testosterone! It is all coming together now. What can we as men do to get our testosterone back? How can we fight back against this evil nemesis of marriage and reclaim our most important hormone?
Polygamy. I think it is the only way. The ability to have multiple wives would mean that we would always be trying to attain glory for new women. Trying to attain more and more glory would mean more testosterone and more creativity. Problem solved. I am a genius.
April 19, 2005
It must be the weather, but I feel a little more stupid than usual. Sitting here trying to think about what to write about is more of a challenge all of the sudden. There has been some minor stadium news of late, namely the Giants new stadium deal (paid for by themselves), the Yankees attempting to build a new stadium (why?), Pohlad claiming that the potential stadium site is still wide open. That last one really perplexes me and continues to prove that Pohlad will do whatever it takes to shoot himself in the foot.
The Twins game last night? Watched it, but I don't have anything to say about it. The NFL Draft? Of course, I will be watching it, but I have read about it so much that all I can say is I am confused and I have no idea who the Vikings will pick. Let's just wait until Saturday to find out.
So, I've decided to just write a stream of conscienceness (consciousness?) type piece. Whatever comes into my mind is what I will write about. Let's start:
What is my favorite color? Blue
What is my favorite food? Cheeseburger
What sports do I like? In this order, NFL football, MLB baseball, college basketball, NBA basketball, college football, college hockey. You'll note that the Vikings are at the top of my list. I can't help it. That is just the way it is.
What is the last movie I saw in the theater? Constantine. The theology was a little off, but it was an entertaining movie.
What is the last movie I saw? Taxi. That has to rank up there with some of the dumbest movies I have ever seen. Not quite Tomb Raider status (the dumbest) but it is up there.
What is the last album I have purchased? Hotel by Moby. Good stuff. Moby is a little different than what I usually listen to, so it is refreshing.
What is my favorite rock band? U2, without a doubt. There is not a day that goes by that I don't listen to U2.
What book(s) have I most recently read? Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk. Fight Club was very, very thought provoking. I wish I had that kind of imagination.
What book am I reading now? Jesus Among Other Gods by Ravi Zacharias. A work of Christian apologetics and also very thought provoking. Also, written in the "Queen's English" so it is fun to read.
What is my favorite TV show? The Amazing Race. That show is awesome.
What do I think about gay marriage? Inevitable. If Christians would only show this kind of determination towards issues like hunger and health care, we might make a real difference in the world and more easily accomplish our actual mission.
Speaking of health care, how would I fix the problem? State run all the way baby. It would cut down on beauracracy and ultimately save money. And don't tell me the gov't can't efficiently run something this large, they seem to do fine with the military, the Federal Reserve, etc. The fact that we live in a county where so many people can't afford to see a doctor is painful to me. We can do better.
What did I think of the Terry Schiavo fiasco? I found it fascinating that so many Christians cared so much about this one life, but turn a blind eye to millions of sick people every day just because they lack health insurance. It is wrong.
What do I think about the upcoming energy crisis? I think this is too pessimistic, but this is straight out of a fairy tale. I think we are all in for a shock, and that we all will have to change our lifestyle, but probably won't be as bad as some people say.
What kind of car do I drive? A Chrysler Town and Country mini-van. I love driving a mini-van. I have no shame, only pride in driving my big maroon min-van around town. This is my only vehicle. I carpool to work and ride the bus when that falls through.
What are my favorite animals? Like it says above (sometimes), I like giraffes and chickens. I could watch giraffes for hours, and my favorite State Fair activity is walking through the chicken barn. Amazing variety...
What is my shoe size? 12
Where would I rather live? Until the Vikings and Twins leave, this is where I want to be. No doubt about it. I love the four seasons, I love this time of year, I love the people of Minnesota. If the Twins and Vikings leave, though, I am packing my bags for Maine.
What kind of peanut butter do I prefer? Chunky. No question.
When I get to heaven, what 3 questions will I ask? What happened to the dinosaurs, if I never cut my hair how long would it have been when I died, and what should I have done for a living? Right now I'm a webmaster, but I have a sneaky suspicion I should have been a canoe maker.
What is my general demeanor? I think I am easy to work with, way too pessimistic, quiet, generally happy, and very shy. If you met me, I think you would be surprised at how shy I am.
What is my favorite snack? I love EZCheese and triscuit crackers. I probably eat this almost every night.
What would I love to be able to do? I would love to be able to write a book. And my book would have aliens in it because I love aliens (and most science fiction). I hope to meet an alien in my lifetime, but I'm pretty sure that will never happen.
That's it for now. Hopefully something with more substance at a later time.
April 18, 2005
I went on yet another Cub Scouts camp out this weekend, but without kids this time as this was for leadership training. We camped at Camp Stearns which is about an hour way from the Twin Cities. There were about 80 Webelos leaders there, including three other leaders from my Pack, and we all had a great time. However, as you probably know, it rained nearly all day on Saturday. I can usually handle rain, but when you combine it with cold it really sucks. There is just no two ways about it. And doggone it if shivering for 8 hours doesn't take a lot out of a person. I was very hungry and very tired by the end of the day.
While at the camp I was trained as a BALOO leader. That is Basic Adult Leader Outdoor Orientation training. You have to have at least one BALOO trained leader at a Cub Scout camp out so, needless to say, I could be going on more camp outs! Lucky me...
I learned a lot during this weekend, but there are two things that really stuck out for me. One was the dedication of the people who were running the camp and training. Half of these people didn't even have Cub Scout aged boys anymore and yet they were still out there with us in the rain teaching us how to be better leaders for the boys in our dens. I was overwhelmed with their cheery attitudes and commitment to the Cub Scouts program. And they were all volunteers. It really gave me perspective on how much of my own time I give in volunteer work compared to others. I was deeply impressed.
Secondly, again, their attitudes were great. Here they all were, volunteers, teaching us stuff like first aid, knife safety, cooking outdoors, etc. all in the rain and cold and they were loving it! They were funny, and happy, and confident ... their attitudes pervaded the entire camp. Later on they told us that the attitude the leadership portrays in any camping situation will be picked up by the other campers. In other words, if we as leaders are complaining and grousing about how cold it is, or how hot it is, or how much they want to go home, then that is exactly what the boys on the campout will start to feel like. I know, that should be really obvious, but to see it demonstrated so effectively this weekend was just a wonderful, practical lesson on having a good attitude. I needed that.
So, no, I didn't watch the Twins this weekend. And I wasn't able to do any cat blogging (shoot!). I'll probably be back with more this afternoon.
April 12, 2005
Taking my other senses for granted
Last Friday afternoon I was in downtown Minneapolis on Nicollet and 9th waiting for my express bus to come and wisk me home. I don't usually catch my bus at this location, but I had spent the afternoon at a conference at the convention center and this bus stop was a short walk away. Anyway, when I got to the stop I noticed another usual rider of my bus, a blind rider, waiting with his cane at the stop. A blind bus rider will typically wait at the curb of the stop and ask every bus that comes by if it is the bus he or she wants to ride. Knowing this, and knowing that this bus rider is waiting for the same bus as me, I approached him and asked him if he was waiting for the 663.
He answered that he was indeed waiting for the 663 and that he had missed the bus he would normally ride. So, I told him that I was also waiting for the 663 and that I would let him know when it arrived. He thanked me and we had a nice conversation about our work, kids, the weather, etc. etc. Anyway, the 663 came, we both got on, and we sat in separate seats.
As the bus traveled it's route I started to think how exactly does this blind gentlemen know when to get off the bus? How does he know when to pull the cord? I knew where he would get off since I've been on the bus when he has boarded, so I decided to watch to see how he would decide when it was time to get off. Until that time I sat back and read my book (Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, if you'd like to know.)
After leaving the Louisiana Transit Center I started to pay attention to see if I could figure out how he would know when to pull the cord. Sure enough, though, as we approached his stop he pulled the cord, got up, and exited the bus. I was absolutely flummoxed. How the heck did he know that his stop was coming up?
I started to think of possible reasons why he would pull the cord at that point. Did he and the bus driver have an understanding that he needed to get off at a certain stop? I quickly decided no since he had already told me that he had missed his normal bus. Did he count to a certain number after we left the Louisiana Transit Center and then pull the cord? That also couldn't be it since there were a few stops before his stop with people getting off. And he wasn't sitting with anyone so no one could have told him. How the heck did he know to get off without seeing the stop???
Then I realized that his stop was at the top of a hill. And while this is just a guess, I'm pretty sure that he knows when he starts to feel the incline of the hill begin he should pull the cord. It probably takes a lot of concentration for him to know exactly when to pull the cord since the hill he is looking for does not have that sharp of an incline. He probably prefers to sit alone also so that he can focus on the hills the bus rides on after the transit center stop.
I was very impressed with his ability to concentrate on what was going on around him in order to figure out where his stop is without even seeing it. It probably comes as second nature to him. In fact, he probably doesn't have any difficulty pulling off this feat at all. Needless to say, I would be toast if I had to do the same thing everyday. I would probably be riding all the way to Wilmar by the time I realized I should get off.
Anyway, I may give it a try some time. I am going to try to focus and concentrate on what, besides my eyesight, could clue me in to the fact that my stop is coming up. I'll let you know how it goes. However, until then I'd like to thank my new bus riding friend for teaching me a thing or two about using other senses beside eyesight. It was a good lesson for me.
Thanks for stopping by.
April 9, 2005
Lounging around on a lazy Saturday afternoon...
April 6, 2005
Back in the saddle
I'm back! Aren't you excited? However, I won't be writing anything of real substance just yet. I am still recovering and I need to get some actual work done. Allow me to explain my absence, though.
On Friday I left for a two night camp-out with the Cub Scouts at Eagle Cave in rural south-western Wisconsin. While there we explored, went on nature hikes, and actually slept in the cave. Sleeping in a cave is about as much fun as you can imagine. Caves are usually wet, dark, cold, and smelly and Eagle Cave is no exception. We literally slept on gravel, and we had to cover our sleeping bags and gear with rain tarps because of all the dripping from the stalactites on the ceiling. Also, the people who run Eagle Cave have strung lights throughout the entire cave so you can see where you are going, but they never turn them off, even when you are trying to sleep. Needless to say, it was an amazing experience.
To top it all off, while on this camp-out I also tripped and fell and seriously damaged my right shoulder. How? What I like to tell people is that I was wrestling a bear, but the truth is much less glamorous. I was playing tag. Yep, that's right, I was playing tag and my 32 year old body couldn't handle it. Pathetic. I was chasing someone down a hill and I tripped over him. This caused me to take a swan dive down the incline of the hill until my shoulder hit the ground and bulldozed for about 5 feet. It was nauseatingly painful. So, I had to go to the emergency room. Now, keep in mind that I was in rural Wisconsin. We couldn't even get cell phone connections or radio signals. That is how far we were in the boondocks. The hospital I went to was in Richland Center. The doctors and nurses were great, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if they have to give banjo lessons on the side to make ends meet. Anyway, they did about 10 x-rays before deciding that nothing was broken, thankfully, but they were unable to tell me what is really wrong. Hopefully it will just heal on its own, but I still have difficulty moving my right arm.
Anyway, that was my trip to Eagle Cave. And lest I sound too negative, I actually did have a good time. I mean, how often do you get to sleep in a cave? It was a once in a lifetime experience, that is for sure ... and emphasis should be placed on "once in a lifetime."
I got back on Sunday and immediately packed my bags for Washington D.C. and the CNI Task Force Meetings. About six months ago I agreed to make a presentation on UThink at these meetings. Here is the description of my presentation. Anyway, I flew out of D.C. on Monday morning at 7:00 AM. Having only one functioning arm made this a little more difficult, especially going through the security checkout. I think they were also suspicious of me since I was walking around like Igor in Young Frakenstein. So, it seemed like they made me do a little more of their "song and dance." It was frustrating.
Anyway, I gave my presentation at 4:45 Monday afternoon and it went very well, thanks for asking. But I was really one cool customer at the podium thanks to all the Vicodin pumping through my veins. That is a nifty little drug. After the presentation I went back to my room and watched the NCAA b-ball championship and finally got some sleep.
The next morning I woke up late, got dressed, and walked down to the Mall. While there I saw the new WWII Memorial, the new Korean War Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the Lincoln Memorial. The WWII Memorial is very moving. I was deeply impressed. And the Lincoln Memorial is always awe inspiring. I climbed to the top, read some of Lincoln's speeches, and wondered as I looked out on the city, "If the Washington Nationals can get a stadium deal why can't the Twins?" What can I say? It is a curse.
Then I took the Metro to the airport, flew back home, and immediately made my way to St. Kate's where I teach every Tuesday night. I teach a class called "Internet Fundamentals and Design" in the library science program there. Needless to say, due to all my traveling, and the pain in my right shoulder, I was in no mood to be there last night. Luckily I had set up a guest speaker who did a great job. Then, I came back home, watched a little of the Twins game, and went to sleep.
That is why I haven't been able to update this site for a while. And I know there has been some interesting stadium news in recent days. I will be commenting on all of that in good time. However, for now, as I said, I have to get some work done. Until later...
April 1, 2005
I'm soooo funny!
Well, if you haven't figured it out, my last post was an April Fools joke! Ha! Sometimes I just slay myself! For those of you that were fooled (maybe one of you?) I am not a rabbit breeder. The Greet Machine was not named after a sickly newborn rabbit. I AM NOT a Barbara Streisand fan. Cheesehead Craig, however, does in fact own a Ron Popeil Showtime Rotisserie Oven. I know, it doesn't surprise me either.
Anyway, I will be harping about stadiums until the day I die, or until stadiums are actually built in this God-forsaken state (so, I may be doing this for a while). You can be rest assured of that! I am the scourge of the legislature! With my quick wit, sharp toungue, and overwhelming mental faculties (I mean this bunny thing was a stroke of genius, no?) I will always be here to fight the good fight concerning stadium construction in Minnesota. How can I stop when I have already made such a difference?
And regarding my favorite topic, I have some news to pass on to you. From today's Pioneer Press comes this interesting piece of good tidings:
Stadium bills, among the hardiest perennials of the Legislature, are starting to sprout.
On Thursday, state Sen. Steve Kelley introduced a generic bill authorizing construction of a baseball field for the Minnesota Twins. But the bill provides only a sketchy mechanism for a state or local subsidy that the Twins have been seeking.
Kelley, DFL-Hopkins, called his bill a placeholder in case lawmakers finish more important work and decide to consider building stadiums for the Twins or the Vikings.
Sen. Don Betzold, R-Fridley, said he planned to introduce on Monday two alternative plans for building a Vikings stadium in Anoka County.
Seriously, I'm getting a little misty-eyed ... hold on just a second. OK, I'm all right now. This is just too exciting for words! The best part of all of this is that Steve Kelley is MY SENATOR! That's right, my senator is leading the charge to finally put this mess behind us and actually SOLVE A PROBLEM THAT NEEDS SOLVING! I'm proud of you Senator! I'll mail you that "campaign contribution" as soon as I finish writing this entry!
Finally, there won't be any updates for a few days to this fine blog. There won't be any cat blogging tomorrow, and I may not even be able to write an entry on Monday or Tuesday. We'll see. So, sorry about that, but things are going to be a little busy for me for the next few days. I'll give you the details of my busyness most likely on Wednesday.
Until then, thanks for checking out the Greet Machine today. I'll be back soon, and hopefully there will be some stadium news to dissect! Have a great weekend!
One more thing, if you haven't checked out Stick and Ball Guy's guest for Pepper! today, do yourself a favor and go over to his site. His story is both unbelievable and hilarious!
March 26, 2005
Start to refelct
"Such nonsense!" declared Dr. Greysteel. "Whoever heard of cats doing anything useful?"
"Except for staring at one in a supercilious manner," said Strange. "That has a sort of moral usefulness, I suppose, in making one feel uncomfortable and encouraging sober reflection upon one's imperfections."
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
March 23, 2005
Creativity and Artistry
As a webmaster/web designer I create a lot of web pages. In fact, the last time I heard, the University of Minnesota Libraries have over 60,000 web pages on our servers. How many of these have I created? I don't know, but I'm sure it is a fair number of them. However, even though I do this for a living, even though I create web pages everyday, I do not consider myself a "creator," or to be more specific: an artist. I am a thief. I see things I like on the web and I steal and modify them for my purposes. In essence, I am at the mercy of other people's creativity.
We are going through a "brand identity" project right now at the U of M Libraries. An internationally known, Minneapolis-based design firm is helping us create a unique brand that we can use for all aspects of our communication with the "outside." This includes a logo, graphics and layout for a library magazine, stationary design, and of course web site/page design. I am excited about this. Watching people create, watching true artists mold and shape all this different media is a wonder to behold. It is humbling, but at the same time it is invigorating to see people do things that they are really good at, especially when it comes to creativity and artistry.
This Monday we went out to lunch with members of the design firm, including the president of the firm himself. We went to Nami, a Japanese restaurant in Minneapolis. Usually I would not seek out a restaurant like this, especially one that is known for sushi, but I'm glad I was talked into it this time. It was wonderful. Good atmosphere and good food. Anyway, as we were sitting there at the table I noticed the president of the design firm tear off a piece of paper from his chopsticks wrapper. As he continued to talk, laugh, and entertain he began to fold the paper. I don't even think he knew he was doing it. I never saw him look down at it. Suddenly, before I knew it, he had folded the paper into a swan. I was stunned. It was beautiful. I almost asked him for it! Needless to say, I was very impressed.
It got me to thinking: what am I so good at that I can create something without even thinking about it? Specifically, is there anything that I am good at that I could create something with effortless artistry? Something beautiful that other people can appreciate? And it doesn't have to be art in the narrow sense. Could I write a short piece of music? Could I grow a flower? Could I make a beautiful spaceship out of Legos, or even clean my garage so as to be both aesthetically pleasing and an efficient storage place? I'm probably not expressing myself well, but I don't know. After I saw someone so effortlessly create a swam out of paper I asked myself, "Can I do anything like that?" And I have to answer, "I don't know." How upsetting.
So, I have decided to start looking for the things that I am good at. Things that I can create "art" through and be happy in/with. I want to be able to create and do so effortlessly. The thing is, I'm sure I already do. I just need to start recognizing it.
Sorry to ramble on. This has just been on my mind for a couple of days.
March 20, 2005
Well, Cheesehead Craig came home today and as you can see from the picture below, he vanquished the snowman in front of his garage:
He and his son actually had a pretty good time doing it, so that was nice. Of course, he had to destroy the snowman in order to get into his garage. That, I hope, will be only the first of many ways I get him back for all the crap he has pulled on me over the years.
Craig is a good neighbor. How many of you have a neighbor you can truly count on? One that always is ready to lend a hand, or share a frosty beverage with you? That is what I have with Craig and I am thankful for it.
And if I could digress for a second here ... While my son and I were building the snowman on Craig's driveway there was a woman watching us from within her SUV in the cul-de-sac Craig lives in. Why? I don't know. However, she must have thought I was an idiot because she kept on giving me directions, "Don't build the middle piece as big as the base, now, you'll never be able to lift it!" and "Pack it in good now! You don't want the head to fall off!" After a while it kind of gave me a chuckle. I just wanted to say, "Woman, do you think I have never built a snowman before?" And why was she sitting in the cul-de-sac watching us and giving us directions? After we finished she drove off. Very strange.
And I'm sure you've already heard this, but it looks like the name of the new Gopher's stadium will be TCF Stadium. It sounds like the University hopes to have this lead investor lined up by Wednesday for the first Senate State and Local Government Operations Committee hearing for the bill. I honestly hope that this bill passes through the committees quickly. The longer it is debated the longer it will be until a Twins bill has a hearing. However, I know better. If a Gopher stadium bill is considered problematic to pass, a Twins stadium is nothing more than an impossibility.
What kills me about this, though, is the fact that the sponsor and author of the House version of the bill is none other than Ron Abrams, who after Phil Krinkie I consider to to be Twins stadium enemy number 2. What a slap in the face! Abrams also had this to say about Gophers football, "[It] is our team. It is the Division I football team in the state. If you're going to be in the business of Division I football, it's almost mandatory to have an on-campus football stadium." Couldn't the same be said about the Twins? The Twins are the only MLB team in the state. The Twins are "our" team as much as the Gophers are. I never attended the U. I won't see any of the profits from a new Gophers stadium. But yet, somehow this is different. Maybe it is time to start looking at community ownership of the Twins again in earnest, I don't know.
Patrick Reusee sums up my feelings nicely as he finally comes out with a strong statement concerning new Twins and Vikings stadiums:
Key members of the Legislature continue to send encouraging signs to the university in its attempt to build an on-campus football stadium. It appears these knotheads really are going to do it -- kick in taxpayers' money for this needless stadium before they do anything to guarantee the future of the NFL and Major League Baseball for this area.
Let's try this once more: The Gophers have a commitment to play in the Metrodome through 2011, as do the Vikings. There is no reason to suspect the Gophers will recruit any better or win any more games playing outdoors. There will be no huge revenue increase playing in a 50,000-seat outdoor stadium.
An on-campus stadium for the Gophers is a luxury. Stadiums soon will be a necessity for the Vikings and the Twins. There has to be an influential person over there in St. Paul who realizes that being in the big leagues matters.
Governor? Speaker? Anyone?
Amen. And again, I'm not asking for a blank check. I'm asking for a solution to a problem. Alas, I'm not sure we have any problem solvers at the state capitol anymore.
March 19, 2005
Viking snowman part 2
I decided to go ahead and build another snowman in front of his garage. Of course, it will probably melt by the time he comes home, but I hope it is still somewhat of a nuisance.
The sign says, "This means YOU Chessehead!" Simple pleasures, people, simple pleasures.
Cheesehead Craig is out-of-town this weekend so, being the good neighbors that we are, my eldest son and I shoveled his driveway. As you can see, we also decided to have a little fun in the form of a Viking snowman parking attendant:
At first, I wanted to put it in front of his garage door, but my son thought CC's wife would be a little upset to have to knock down a snowman before they park their car in the garage. Especially after a long drive. So, we put it at the corner of his driveway. There are a few things to note, of course. First, the snowman is holding a sword, and he has horns sticking out of his head. Second, he is angry. Don't mess with the Viking snowman! Finally, he is huge. Note that he towers over my 10 year old son. It took us quite a while to get the middle piece on the base!
Anyway, I hope Cheesehead likes him. And this isn't half ... (a fourth!) as bad/good as the stuff CC has pulled on me. After one vacation I came home to a "For Sale" sign in front of my yard and 6 messages on my phone from people wanting to buy my house. Sheesh! Now I wish I would have put the snowman in his driveway. I guess my evilness isn't as powerful as the evilness of your average Packer fan.
Cats and U2
Both of our cats like to sit on their scratching post and put their paws over the bannister. Note the look on Trinity's face is one of happiness and relaxation.
U2 concert ticket update: Curt was successful in getting our tickets but the Ticketmaster employee messed up so we are sitting in the upper deck. Apparently Curt asked for two $50 floor tickets, but she misunderstood him and put in an order for two $160 floor tickets. She must have been confused by his lack of a Canadian accent. He probably should have said, "Two $50 floor tickets, heh?" or "Hey hoser, two $50 floor tickets." That would have probably worked better. Because of this mishap, by the time Curt corrected her they only had upper deck $50 tickets left. So, we got two tickets looking straight on to the stage from the upper deck. It will be awesome. Thanks Curt!
March 17, 2005
Erin Go Bragh
Long time Greet Machine reader and contributor Curt in Grand Forks and I went to college together at Concordia in Moorhead, MN. Now, one thing everyone who meets Curt quickly learns is that he is very proud of his Irish heritage. Curt even looks and acts Irish with his red hair and jolly demeanor. Curt will never let you forget about the contributions Ireland and its citizens have made to civilization as a whole such as U2, Guinness beer, and Lucky Charms. I, on the other hand, am a proud Norwegian. I also look and act the part with my 6' 5" frame, blond hair, and razor sharp wit (just kidding). Of course, I always remind Curt of great Norwegians of the past such as Leif Ericsson, Henrik Ibsen, and the great rock band A-Ha. As you can probably guess, as roomates Curt and I got into a fair number of arguments concerning which culture was superior.
One thing I was always quick to point out was the fact that the Vikings dominated the Emerald Isle for centuries. Ireland was a cog in the mighty Viking trading and pillaging empire. The famous saying, "From the fury of the Northmen, O Lord, save us!" comes from a monastary in Ireland. Curt, however, always had the perfect comeback: The Battle of Clontarf. Curses on the Battle of Clontarf!
The Battle of Clontarf took place on Good Friday in 1014. Supposedly this battle signaled the end of Viking dominance in Ireland as the Irish vanquished the Vikings in an all-day fight. Please. Nobody vanquishes the Vikings today or yesterday! I am of the opinion that the Irish embellished certain details of this battle in their own history books which has skewed our knowledge of what really happened. So, I offer you an alternate and more likely scenario.
The Vikings were sick of being in Ireland. I mean, how many potatoes could the Vikings eat? So, after bringing civilization to the savages on the island, teaching them a thing or two about being real men, bedding all their women, and performing other important services in a typical Viking "goodwill" tour of a foreign land, the Vikings decided to leave. They packed up their long boats and started to sail away. Meanwhile, along the coast, two Irishmen were having a drink at the local pub:
Seamus: Patrick, would you mind passing the cabbage? I need something to help my beer go down.
Patrick: Here you go lad. Say, look out the window. It seems the Vikings are sailing away from our island! Could they finally be leaving?
Seamus: Glory be, Patrick, I think you are correct! They seem to be pretty far off shore. Let's go throw some rocks at them. That will teach them to never come back!
Patrick: That is a grand idea! Let me finish my pint first, though.
Two hours later...
Seamus and Patrick [singing]: 'Tis I'll be here in sunshine or in shadow, Oh Danny boy, oh Danny boy, I love you sooooo.
Seamus: Patrick, those Viking ships are but wee specks on the horizon! Let's get out there and show those Vikings a thing or two about Irish might!
So, Patrick and Seamus stumbled out of the pub, walked to the shore, and started throwing rocks at the Viking ships as they sailed away. Some monks passing by saw what they were doing and became so overwhelmed by their patriotism that they went back to the monastary to record the event for posterity. Well, the monks must have had a few pints themselves because the story obviously became the "Battle of Clontarf" that we all know about today, and the bravery of Seamus and Patrick has been lost to history. Until today.
Curt does not care for my version of this "epic" battle. However, we have agreed to go together to Ireland in the year 2014 to celebrate the 1000th anniversary of the Battle of Clontarf with a re-enactment (using my version of events, of course). I will venture off-shore a little ways in a small boat, a dinghy perhaps, and Curt will throw rocks at me. It will be a grand spectacle that I'm sure the natives will enjoy. And of course, anyone is welcome to join us, especially if you have Irish or Scandinavian heritage. I don't want to be alone on the boat, and I'm sure Curt would appreciate having some help throwing rocks.
Anyway, Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone! I must also admit that my great-grandmother was 100% Irish. So, even though my Norwegian heritage usually takes precedence, today I proudly wear green. Erin Go Bragh, my friends!
March 12, 2005
Build a new Twins stadium now or my cat will attack you!
March 10, 2005
The first rule of the Greet Machine
The first rule of the Greet Machine is, you do not talk about the Greet Machine.
The second rule of the Greet Machine is, you DO NOT talk about the Greet Machine!
If you can't tell, I watched Fight Club today. It was on, in the middle of the afternoon, on a channel my kids would have access to if I didn't block everything rated the equivalent of PG and over. I really couldn't believe it.
So I watched it while I was folding laundry. It helped me regain some of my manhood. With my wife gone I have cleaned the laundry room, scrubbed the kitchen floor, cleaned all the bathrooms, shuttled the kids everywhere, and yes, I've done some laundry. Seriously, I don't know how she accomplishes it all in a day.
Anyway, Fight Club was awesome. It definitely helped me get through the day.
March 8, 2005
Just to let you all know what is going on, my wife is headed for a 4 day conference today in Chicago. This means that I will be taking care of the home duties this week. This also means that postings on this fine blog will be erratic at best. I will probably have to start working on these entries late at night. Have no fear though! I have some entries rattling around in my brain, including some stadium induced ramblings. Until then, check out these links of interest:
First of all, if you didn't see this, there is an interview with Jerry Bell in the "New Ballpark" section of the Twins website. Now, before you get all excited, it does not have good news. In fact, Bell sounds a bit surly. First of all, Bell makes clear that Pohlad's contribution won't be higher than $120 million. And secondly, Bell also makes clear that the Twins won't be picking a site before a deal is in place. This is bad, bad news as far as I'm concerned. When will Pohlad realize he needs to do something different to shake things up? A larger contribution and a solid plan with a single site could go a long way if you ask me.
Also, the Twins Geek has a new site called Twins Territory where anyone can sign up and start blogging about the Twins. I have been pegged as one of the "founding bloggers" which is seriously quite an honor. My blog on that site is called "Stadium Stuff" (someone help me with a better name!). I am using my new site to rehash some of the things I've written here for a new audience. We'll see how it goes.
See you soon!
March 6, 2005
Parkinson's Law: an introduction
In 1957, C. Northcote Parkinson, a noted British historian and humorist, wrote a series of essays around the central premise of what he (unmodestly) called "Parkinson's Law." In its most basic form, this law states, "Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion." To offer further elucidation to this fact Parkinson wrote:
"Granted that work (and especially paperwork) is this elastic in its demands on time, it is manifest that there need be little or no relationship between the work to be done and the size of the staff to which it may be assigned. A lack of real activity does not, of necessity, result in leisure. A lack of occupation is not necessarily revealed by manifest idelness. The thing to be done swells in importance and complexity in a direct ratio with the time to be spent ... Politicians and taxpayers have assumed (with occasional phases of doubt) that a rising total in the number of civil servants must reflect a growing volume of work to be done."
To further explain, Parkinson was particularily interested in the odd fact that even though the British navy was in decline, as an adminstrative bureacracy it was still expanding in complexity and staff. Using his law as a backdrop, Parkinson especially wondered why the British navy continued to add more staff. He came up with two "axiomatic" statements: 1) An official wants to multiply subordinates, not rivals and 2) Officials make work for each other. In other words, let's say there is a person that feels overworked. He or she has three options: he can resign; she can decide to share her work with another person; or he can request to have two subordinates to help with the work. Parkinson rightly states, "There is probably no instance in history, however, of [the person] choosing any but the third alternative."
Why? It would do no good for the person to resign, and sharing the work with another person would be too competitive and bring on board an unwelcome rival. What does this have to do with the British Navy? Parkinson offers this stunning data:
|Year||Ships in commission||Officers and men in the R.N.||Dockyard workers||Dockyard officials and clerks||Admiralty officials|
|Increase or Decrease||-68%||-32%||+10%||+40%||+78%|
As you can see from the data, even though both the number of ships and the number of officers (and "men") decreased in the Royal Navy, the number of dockyard workers and officials, and the number of admiralty officials, increased, and sometimes increased dramatically. For what reason? Based on the fact that the navy was losing ships and officers, you would think that the work of the navy would also decrease. For some reason, however, the work increased so much that, as far as admiraly officials go, it was necessary to increase that staff by as much as 78%. Again, "Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion."
Where am I going with this? Even though Parkinson's Law was written to be humorous and show some of the foibles of modern bureaucracy, it still makes you think: what are some examples of this in my own environment? And what better example is there than our very own Minnesota Legislature? Now, this kind of makes me laugh because the example I'm about to demonstrate is weak at best, but in the end I'm really just trying to have fun with this. Oh, and of course to prove, as usual, that the legislature is a bunch of idiots.
What ultimately is the job of the Minnesota legislature? Off the top of my head I would say that their job is to pass laws. They are in the business of making laws that better our state. So, I decided to look back into the history of the legislature to find out if there was ever a time when our governing body was at it's utmost efficiency.
|Year||No. of legislators||No. of bills intro.||No. of bills passed||Avg. per year||No. special sessions|
From 1861-1866 our legislature had an average of 66 members total in both the House and Senate. During that time they introduced 4864 bills and passed 2393 for an efficiency rate of 49%. Now keep in mind that most of these legislators were probably farmers who rode a horse and buggy to St. Paul, wrote and typed their own bills, and had a staff of maybe 1 or 2. They introduced only the bills that they thought were important and they passed over half of them (with only one special session necessary). A model of efficiency? Compared with today I would have to say an unequivocal yes.
Today there are 201 legislators and all of them have a staff a great deal larger than their 1861-1871 counterparts (if someone can help me with that number I would greatly appreciate it). Since 1994 our legislators have introduced 41550 bills, while only passing 2302. That is an "efficiency" rate of 6%. Wow. And even with these increases in staff and actual legislators they still are unable to match the yearly average of bills passed of the 1861-1871 legislators. Furthermore, because they have had to deal with 41550 bills, 9 special sessions have been necessary to actually accomplish legislation of importance.
Interesting, heh? Even though 1861-1871 legislators and 1994-2004 legislators are passing on average the same number of bills per year, the 1861-1871 legislators were able to do that work with far less staff and actual legislators (not to mention less time in the form of special sessions). Does this suggest that our government could get by with less legislators today? Actually, I think it does. In fact, I would wager if we cut our legislature in half, about 210 bills would still pass per year, and they could be passed with at least half (or less) the special sessions necessary.
Well, if you made it this far let me say again that I merely write this all for my own entertainment. I'm sure both Parkinson's and my arguments could all be ripped to shreds. However, I still think a main point stands out: bureacracy grows and there is no stopping it. But it appears, even with all that growth, that the same amount of work gets done. And in the case of our legislature even less work gets done. Even though it is obvious our legislators are working harder and spending more time trying to get bills passed, they aren't actually producing any extra work. Is it time for a change? Would a unicameral legislature be more efficient and make more sense? Heck if I know, but I've had fun talking about it.
March 5, 2005
Azul and Trinity. Regal, aloof, selfish, fuzzy, and elegant. Ocassionaly affectionate, but most of the time solitary in nature. In a word: cat.
March 4, 2005
In my 32 years of life I have learned a few things, and one of them is to keep quiet if you don't have anything to say. And I haven't had anything to say for a while. I mean, really. How many more times can I say the same thing over and over again? Don't get me wrong, I love writing about stadiums, but if their isn't any news I have trouble manufacturing posts out of thin air talking about the same old stuff over and over again. I really, really want the legislature to start looking at this issue, but so far they just haven't. So, I'm kind of stuck.
Sure, I could write about the upcoming Twins season, but you've already got the TwinsGeek, Aaron Gleeman, Twins Chatter, and SBG taking care of that. I could definitely write about the Vikings, but I am stunned with the quality of posts put out by Mr. Cheer or Die concerning the Purple. How can I compete with that (did you see the NY Post is reporting that Plaxico Burress will sign with the Vikes?)? I could write about the T-Wolves and the Gophers, but as of right now I just don't have anything to say.
So, that leaves me with a dilemma of sorts. What to write about? Truthfully, I would love to write about all sorts of things. You'll note the tag line of this blog is "Minnesota sports, politics, religion, and life." How often do I talk about politics? Or religion? Almost never. And you know what? It is starting to tick me off. And not because I don't have anything to say, but because I am afraid of offending you and all my readers and that you won't come back.
You might guffaw at this, but it is true. People in general are very thin skinned and right now rattling around in my brain is something that you might be offended with, or that you might think is strange. It is true of all of us. Where am I going with all of this? Well, I guess what I'm trying to say is that I am practicing self-censorship so as not to offend people, and as a result I think I have become a little boring. I mean, I honestly don't think about sports as much as this blog would lead you to believe (stadiums? yes). I think about a whole lotta other stuff that never sees the light of day.
It reminds me of an exchange I recently read in the great book Omega by Jack McDevitt. The book tells the story of how we (humans) try to save an alien race from an omega cloud (if you are wondering you should read the book). We travel to their home planet and discover, of course, that this alien race is quite a bit different than us. For one thing, they are much more open with their opinions and feelings, and they are also not as easily offended. One part in the book in particular tells of a debate that some members of the alien civilization recently had and how two of the characters in the book are stunned with the level of freedom the aliens have to share their opinions. The two characters have this conversation as a result:
"How could they have more freedom than we do?" he demanded. "We don't have any thought police running around."
"Sure we do," he said.
"Whit," Digger raised his eyes to the overhead. "What kind of speech is prohibited? Other than yelling fire in a crowded place?" Digger smiled.
"Almost everything," he said.
He was baffled, "Whit, that's crazy. When's the last time anybody was jailed for speaking out on something?"
"You don't get jailed. But you have to be careful nonetheless not to offend people. We're programmed, all of us, to take offense. Who can go in front of a mixed audience and say what he truly believes without concern that he will offend someone's heritage, someone's religion, someone's politics. We are always on guard."
"Well," said Digger, "That's different."
"No it isn't" said Whit, "It is only different in degree. At my prep school, it was drilled into us that good manners required we avoid talking politics or religion. Since almost everything in the domain of human beahvior falls in the domain of one or the other of those two categories, we would seem to be left with the weather." He looked momentarily bleak. "We have too much respect for unsubstantiated opinion. We enshrine it, we tiptoe cautiously around it, and we avoid challenging it. To our shame."
"Somewhere we taught ourselves that our opinions are more significant than the facts. And somehow we get our egos and our opinions and Truth all mixed up in a single package, so that when something does challenge one of the notions to which we subscribe, we react as if it challenges us."
Do you get what Whit is saying? He is saying that we hold our own opinion is too high regard and that sometimes it prohibits us from seeing the truth and changing our opinion for the better. That is certainly true, but I was also struck with the truth of how much we guard our own speech and writing, again, so we don't offend anyone. It is so absolutely true. For example, I would love to talk more about religion, or healthcare, or conceal and carry, or a myriad of other topics, but I watch myself closely. I have almost sub-consciously decided not to write about these things.
In my defense, however, I do write about at least one controversial topic. Of course, that is stadiums. However, maybe I should write more about the others, too. I mean, do you as a reader really care? Yes and no. Would you stop reading this if I wrote something that offended you or that you didn't agree with? Maybe, maybe not. But I hope you as a reader would be able to look past some of these things and focus on the topics that you do agree with me on, or even take a close look at what I am saying and respect my opinion. Maybe we should all just lighten up. I don't know...
Where am I going with all of this? I have no idea. So, I'm just going to stop. It is definitely something that I've been thinking about though so I thought I would share. Talk to you later!
March 1, 2005
Back for another try
Well, I said I would never do it again, but tomorrow I will take part in another panel discussion concerning blogs. It kind of makes me laugh. You may remember what happened the last time I took part in a panel discussion. I was not very thrilled with how that turned out. However, I'm actually looking forward to tomorrow's discussion since it will primarily be focused on UThink blogs and how some people are using them in the department of Family Social Science. Such as the blog Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast. It will be a much more focused converstaion. I will let you know how it goes.
Some of you may be wondering what happened to my basement a couple of nights ago that made me miss my self-imposed blogging deadline. Well, even if you aren't wondering I'm going to tell you as it is a story that not only discusses the joys of home ownership, but also my expert parenting skills. Read on if you are interested.
After we put the kids to bed on Sunday night, my wife and I decided to watch the movie Mr. 3000. And if I could digress for a second, Mr 3000 is not a very good movie. In fact it stunk. Which is a shame because I am probably in a couple of scenes in that movie since they were filiming it during my trip to Miller Park last year with Cheesehead Craig. Anyway, we were watching the movie when all of the sudden I hear water trickling in the wall behind me. At first I thought nothing of it, but then the trickle became a very noticeable sound of water pouring. That is not a good sound to hear.
I turned to my wife and said, "There is water in the walls." I swear the last time I saw her move that fast we were at the State Fair making our way to the bucket-o-french-fries line (that one is going to get me in trouble). Anyway, she darts up the stairs and I follow behind her. When we get to the upstairs bathroom we see that water is pouring out of our clogged toilet and there is at least 2 inches of water on the floor. Oh my goodness. That is just really painful to see.
I of course go nuts. Obviously one of my kids got up after they went to bed and clogged the toilet. "Why do we even have kids! This is going on their 18th birthday bill!" I yell as my wife starts sopping up the water. I walk out of the bathroom and in a fit of what can only be described as stupidty I storm into my sons' room. Now, keep in mind that my two sons have already been asleep for about an hour. I start yelling incoherently "Clogged toilet! Water pouring! Carpet runied! You pay!" Then composing myself ever so slightly I add, "You are forbidden from ever using the toilet again! I'm going to dig a hole for both of you in the backyard!" My oldest son wakes up immediately and with wide eyed wonder and confusion says, "I don't know what you are talking about!" Realizing this I left the room saying, "Just go back to sleep." My youngest son didn't even move a muscle the whole time. Either he was asleep or he is really smart.
So, my wife and I stop the toilet from running, clean up the water off the floor, and go back downstairs to survey the damage. Water, of course, seems to be everywhere. We start to try to soak up the water in the carpet, but quickly learn that whatever we soak up is just replaced by the water still making its way down the walls. Man, oh man, does this ever tick me off. Like clockwork I start thinking about all the money this is going to cost me saying stuff like, "What did I do with all my money before I had a house? Or before I had kids? I must have been rich!!" I'm sure all the other homeowners out there can relate.
Well, after about an hour of soaking up water we realized we would have to cut up some of the carpet to get at the padding underneath. If you don't do that you will have mold. There is just no two ways about it. Taking a carpenters knife to my carpet and a symbolic knife to my heart, I made the first cut. Oh, the agony! The pain! But in the end it turned out to be an excellent decision. We were able to dry the padding underneath and save the bulk of the carpet. Plus, the area I cut could be hidden by a couch or a throw rug. Phew, after about 2 hours my ordeal was over.
In the morning my oldest son told me that I scared him half to death storming into his room like that. We had a good laugh about it and that was nice. He really is a great and understanding kid. However, he is still banned from using the toilet. He told me he won't go near it anyway if I'm going to be such a freak about it.
Kids and home ownership. Never a dull moment.
February 24, 2005
On a lighter note ...
Please, do yourself a favor and check out this post from the blog Broken Wing about someone ahead of him in line at Noodles who decided to order something less than creative. Hilarious. I lauged out loud.
February 11, 2005
Sorry for the prolonged silence everyone. Things have bee really busy for me lately. And then when our connection to the Internet went down yesterday here at the U it just totally discombobulated me. I swear, I just sat in the corner drooling all day mumbling "fix the router, fix the router..." I could not be consoled. So, today will be an extra special edition of my inane ramblings. Lucky you.
Let's start this off with some stadium news. No, not Minnesota stadium news, but some interesting news coming out of New York/New Jersey. The Giants are planning on building a new 80,000 seat stadium next to their existing stadium, and they have agreed to pay for the entire cost. Wow, wow, wow. However, their plans have hit a snag because an entertainment and shopping district called Xanadu (read "big mall") is also being constructed in the area. The Giants are very concerned with this. They want Xanadu to be shut down on gamedays because they think it will be a parking nightmare if the mall is also open at the same time. This could seriously stop the entire project from happening. I truly can't believe this. In addition, check out this little snippet:
The team currently occupies 33 acres of the 400-acre facility. The sports authority's land offer was about 50 to 75 acres, the source said.
The Giants have offered to pay $4.8 million in rent and another $1.5 million in PILOT fees, payments in lieu of taxes. The state is looking for more than $6 million in rent plus PILOT fees, said a source close to the state.
What in the world?!?!? I don't think I have ever seen anything like this. Let me see if I understand this. In addition to paying for their own stadium (to the tune of $700 million), the Giants will also pay rent for the land and these strange PILOT fees, and the total of these payments could be close to $6 million. Wow.
Back to Minnesota. Unless you are living under a rock you know that we now have a two horse race between Fowler and Taylor to buy the Vikings. Sid wrote an interesting piece today talking about this potential sale and saying that Taylor is still very much in the running and actually might be preferred by the NFL.
Taylor is a Minnesotan who has the financial wherewithal to own the team and, in my opinion, has a better chance to get a stadium built. Fowler would be the NFL's first minority owner, but his group would be new to this community.
After the league's bad experience with a splintered ownership group before McCombs arrived on the scene, there's little doubt in my mind the NFL would prefer Taylor.
I gotta admit, I would prefer Taylor. I'm really excited to have the Vikings sold, but Taylor, hand's down, has the best chance to build a new stadium or renovate the Metrodome. Unless, of course, Fowler is planning on going the Redskins/Patriots/Giants route and paying for the stadium himself. His partners, which include the mall magnate Zyggi Wilf and New York real estate tycoon Alan Landis, might suggest that he is putting together a unique plan. Given my choice, though, I'll take Taylor if only because he is a Minnesotan who would be committed to keeping the team in Minnesota. In fact, I'm a little ticked that Taylor has waited until this point to get serious. It seems like a repeat of what happened the last time the Vikings were put up for sale.
Did anyone watch the finale of the "Amazing Race" last Tuesday? I thought it was pretty good, although I was upset that Kris and Jon didn't win. I have never seen a better combined attitude out of a couple in my life. Always happy, always nice to each other, they were simply an inspiration. However, what I found most interesting about the show was when the teams were in Japan trying to catch flights out of Tokyo to Chicago. Two teams found out that they could catch earlier flights to Chicago so, at separate times, they ran up to the gates and begged to be let on the flights. Both times the Japanese staff at the gates admitted that there were seats available on the plane, but that they wouldn't let the teams on. Here is what I found interesting though. Both times, and at separate gates mind you, the teams begged to be let on and the attendant said, "But you would not get a meal." This was always the first reason given why they would not let the teams on the flight. It seemed that they thought not having a meal would be enough to dissuade someone from wanting to be on the flight. Do most Japanese people say, "No meal? You animals! Of course I'll wait for the next flight. I mean, I have to have my meal. I don't think I could live without my meal." Of course, both teams said, "We don't need a meal, please let us on." Only then did the Japanese staff at the gate revert to the old standby, "It is against company policy." Anyway, I thought that was weird. You probably could care less.
And this ends another edition of "Who Gives a Rat's Butt Theater."
I think most people will agree with me, but I hope the Twins sign Santana to a 4 year contract. Right now the offer on the table seems to be 4 years for $38-$40 million. I realize that this is a big gamble, especially for someone who has already had elbow surgery, and for a team that has already been burned by the Joe Mays deal, but this is the freaking Cy Young award winner. This is the next Sandy Koufax. If the Twins wait, it will only get more expensive. To me, it is worth the gamble. Let's get it done Terry.
You know what I hate? No? Well, I'll tell you. I hate it when I open my camera up to take a picture and there is a big fingerprint smudge on the lens. And this happens every time I go to take a picture. What is it about the lens that makes kids want to touch it? I am befuddled by this. Given the choice between touching a big Teddy Bear, or touching a camera lens, I would bet that 90% of children will go for the camera lens. And I don't care if I put my camera in a vacuum sealed, airtight room with alarms and electric shocks attached to the camera itself, the next time I open it, it will have fingerprints on the lens. I need this to stop. I really do.
That's it. See you all later.
February 10, 2005
Just a quick note, there was a network outage when I got into work today so I will not be able to offer you my usual award-winning prose this morning. My internet connection just came back online. So, sorry about that. Maybe later.
February 4, 2005
I found something out about myself last night. I found out that I suck at panel discussions. And not only do I suck, but I look and act like a moron when I am a part of a panel discussion. It is a double whammy of ineptness that left me dumbfounded as to why I was even asked to be a part of a panel discussion. Allow me to explain.
Last night the Institute of New Media Studies and the Internet Studies Center hosted a Blogumentary Viewing and Discussion. We watched Chuck Olsen's Blogumentary (I'm in the picture! I'm the one that looks mentally imbalanced and happy about it.), a documentary about blogs, and then afterward I participated in a panel discussion with Chuck Olsen and other blogging luminaries. Let me first say that Chuck Olsen's Blogumentary is fantastic. It really captures the spirit of blogging in a way I didn't think was possible on film. I thoroughly enjoyed it. However, the panel discussion was another story.
Give me a topic and I can write a mean research paper about it. I can also give a good speech about it. I might even be able to write a good blog entry about it. But put me on a panel with 4 other people and suddenly I become "JoJo the Monkey Boy." I am fidgety, and nervous, and ... well, quiet. Say something JoJo! Speak monkey! And when I do answer a question I am suddenly very self conscious about what exactly is coming out of my mouth. A question came up, "What do all of you think about the role of blogs vs. the media?" I seem to answer, "Me likey blog! Me think bloggy fun! Word blog make funny! Ha Ha!" Man!
Here is the funny thing. I know about blogs. I work with them everyday. I answer questions about them everyday. I encourage people to use them, and I help people create them. I have created a project called UThink which allows anyone at the U of M to have a blog. You might say I have a thing or two to say about blogs. But I swear every question that came up to the panel dumbfounded me. It was like they were asking me to explain the Theory of Relativity or the NFL QB Rating system. Yikes! What is wrong with me?
So, I have decided that last night is my first and last panel discussion. I gave it a try and I found that it is not for me. I don't care what the topic is I will never be on another panel again. You could say, "Hey Shane, do you want to be on my panel discussion?" And I'll say, "What is the topic?" And you'll say, "It is on 'Looking like a moron in front of 100 people.'" And I will say, "Alas, it is a topic I know about, but I will have to decline." Sheesh!
One last thing, if you haven't seen this Livejournal post of pictures of people at a Star Wars convention, go take a look right now. Warning! The humor is a little crude.
January 28, 2005
Warning: Stupidity ahead
Behold and harken to my words! I will now impart upon you a story of intrigue and mystery, a story that just might convince you that this blog is even more worthless than you first imagined! I know, hard to believe! It is the Mystery of the Bottle on the Chimney. Read on if you dare! Or if you are bored.
Before church last Sunday I pulled the car out of the garage and waited for my wife and kids to shuffle out into the cold and get in. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a strange sight on top of my chimney. It looked like a bottle, but I couldn't be sure (click on the image for a larger version). I thought, "How strange... did someone climb up on my roof, have a brew, and then leave the bottle?" I immediately thought of Cheesehead Craig, my neighbor, since he is a Packer fan and Packer fans are known to get sloshed every once in a while, but I was perplexed as to why he would climb onto my roof to enjoy his beverage. "Sheesh! Packer fans," I thought, "Just like women, you can't figure them out." Thinking I had the mystery solved we went off to church.
While at church, the intrigue got to me. Is it really a bottle on top of my chimney? And if not, what is it? So, after I got home I climbed up on top of the roof to take a look. Now keep in mind that it had just snowed heavily so my roof was a dangerous place to be, to say the least. Truthfully, I almost fell off several times as my feet tried to find purchase on the newly fallen snow. This, dear readers, is what I do for you. In order to bring you the most interesting Greet Machine I can, I will risk my life to bring you the story you deserve.
Anyway, when I got up there this is what I found. A breathtaking phenomenon of nature, surely worthy of comparison to the aurora borealis or Haley's comet. Behold and be amazed. So, now I must take this opportunity to apologize to Cheesehead Craig. It has now been proven that you don't climb up on top of my roof to do your weird Packer fan stuff, you obviously do all that in the comfort of your own home.
You'll recall a couple of days ago I posted a picture of my daughter getting her ears pierced. I have been chastised for posting such an interesting picture and then not giving any details, so here it goes. My daughter was desperate to get her ears pierced so my wife and I tried to explain to her the whole process. We told her they would poke a hole in her ear and that it will not feel good. In fact, it will hurt. Trying to deter her even more I told her that her ears would bleed. Amazingly, she was not deterred. She was determined to get her ears pierced. So, off we went to Ridgedale thinking that once she got there and saw the instruments of pain that would administer the piercings she would quickly change her mind.
We went to Libby Lu to get her ears pierced. If you've never been to Libby Lu, let me tell you it is an experience. It is on the exact opposite end of the spectrum of stores that I would usually choose to willingly walk into. But it is paradise for little girls. When we walked in they asked my daughter, "Would you like some fairy dust?" She nodded and they said, "Close your eyes and make a wish," and they sprinkled brightly colored dust all over her head. I thought that was hilarious. My daughter was in heaven. We then asked to have her ears pierced and we were told that they had to finish up a birthday party first and then they would be right with us.
Holy guacamole. If you've never seen a birthday party at Libby Lu, plan to spend a day at Ridgedale some Saturday and prepare to be entertained. It is an amazing spectacle. First they dress the girls up, plaster them with makeup, and put hair extensions in. Then they all practice poses and dance moves with the store clerks. Then, all the girls line up outside in front of the store, and the clerks blast "Mambo No. 5" as loud as they can. One of the clerks then stands in front of the girls and literally screams the lyrics, of course changing all the names in the song to the names of the girls in the party. The girls strike poses for all the people passing by as their names are called.
I cannot express to you enough how stunned I was at all of this. It was like watching a train wreck in progress. I couldn't take my eyes off of it. What impressed me the most, though, was the clerk in charge of singing the song. She must have been 16-17 years old and she put on a show for those girls worth every penny of the $20-$30 each of them spent to be at the party. I asked my wife how mortified she would have been singing like that as a teenager, and she, of course, said it would have been overwhelming. I mean, people were literally running up to store yelling, "Is there a cow dying up here? Someone call 911!" Well, not literally, but that is what it sounded like.
Anyway, after the party my daughter did, in fact, get her ears pierced as you will note from the picture. They pierce both ears at once because little girls have been known to settle for just one ear pierced after they realize how much pain the process actually is. I really couldn't believe how brave my daughter was through it all. Not once did she ever consider not going through with it. You can see from the picture that it was a little painful for her, but after it was done she was thrilled.
So, all in all, it was a good night. My daughter got her ears pierced, and I got to see the spectacle that is a Libby Lu birthday party. I have a feeling my daughter will put me through that again.
January 24, 2005
Odds and ends
I'm listening to the new 89.3 FM MPR radio station called "The Current" and I'm liking what I've heard so far. Good music from the past (I'm listening to Ray Charles right now) and present, good local coverage, and no commercials. I know, amazing. You should check out the web stream if you are interested.
Speaking of music I've been listening to a lot of new music lately and most of what I've been listening to has impressed me immensly. Here is a run down of what has been in my CD player:
- Keane -- Hopes and Fears -- Great new band that features piano and not guitars. Good stuff.
- Secret Machines -- Now Here is Nowhere -- Wow. The spirit of Led Zeppelin returns with this hard rocking group. If you like heavy drums and thoughtful and melodic guitar based rock, look no further. I am highly impressed.
- Garden State soundtrack -- The movie didn't impress me that much, but the soundtrack is a thing of beauty. Mostly accoustic and all elegance. And it introduced me to ...
- Frou Frou -- Details -- I know, how can I listen to a band called Frou Frou? I should turn in my Led Zeppelin fan club badge right now. But their music is, again, technological elegance. It reminds me a lot of the Sundays with their female lead singer and her understated lyrical delivery. Cool, cool stuff. "Let Go" is a masterpiece.
- The Killers -- Hot Fuss -- I love passionate music, where the singer and band really feel the music they are playing and excude that feeling to the audience. "Mr Brightside" captures pain and jealousy better than any song I've heard in a long time. Plus, its got a good beat that you can dance to.
Got any recommendations? Let me hear them.
The St. Paul Winter Carnival is getting into full swing, and that means that we have another year of Treasure Hunt Clues. I have looked for the treasure for about 5 years now. And three years ago I was at the park the night before it was found. So close! Anyway, if you are interested the Pioneer Press is publishing the clues on their web site. I think today's clue means the medallion is at a park with paths and water. I know, talk about a genius ...
That's it for now.
January 17, 2005
Happy birthday ... to me!
Just a quick note that today is my birthday (note the "countdown" below is now empty!), and the U, in their infinite wisdom, decided to give everyone the day off in honor of it! Well, actually, Martin Luther King, Jr. had something to do with our day off, but that is OK. Here are my thoughts and feelings today:
I had a great weekend in Boston. The ALA advertised my presentation in their daily conference newsletter so the room was packed. Standing room only and at least 200 people. Of course, some of the people were probably there to hear my co-presenters, namely Mike Keller from Stanford, but I was relieved that no one got up to leave when I started speaking.
I rode the subway while I was in Boston and I was very impressed with how efficient it was. However, I did have an interesting "Bostonian" experience. On Sunday I got to the "T" station at 5:30 in the morning to get to the airport for my 7:30 flight, only to find out that the "T" doesn't start running until 6 AM on Sunday mornings. Of course, they didn't have any hours posted or anything, so I was a little confused. I was especially confused when almost everyone that came to the station jumped the token gate without paying. I thought to myself, "Is this what Bostonians do Sunday mornings when someone is late in opening the gates?" So, after seeing some more people do it, I decided to jump the gate too. I jumped it, walked down the stairs to the rails, and found everyone that had jumped it still down there waiting for the train. Then a scary thing happened, a "T" worker walked down the stairs to survey the situation. I was afraid that he would know that none of us had paid, which would be pretty easy to figure out since no one was selling tokens. Luckily he just sauntered past us all. An elderly African American woman then approached me and said, "Bet you thought he was going to bust you!" and I replied, "Actually, yes, I was a little worried." She said, "Here is what you do when you are in Boston. You say, 'It wasn't me!'" I thought that was a little strange so I said, "How about I just pay him the money?" and she replied, "He'll think it is a bribe and he'll just take the money and ask for more!" I answered, "OK, I'll just follow your lead then." She said, "That's right, repeat after me: It wasn't me!" So, I did and we had a good laugh.
So, anyway, the people in Boston were great and I really enjoyed riding the "T." I highly recommend it.
January 17th is not the best time to have a birthday. Not only is it a little close to Christmas, but almost every year the Vikings do something to screw it up. Just take a look at these great birthday's from my past:
- Jan. 16, 2005 - NFC Divisional - Philadelphia 27, Minnesota 14
- Jan. 14, 2001 - NFC Championship - N.Y. Giants 41, Minnesota 0
- Jan. 17, 1999 - NFC Championship - Atlanta 30, Minnesota 27 (OT)
- Jan. 17, 1988 - NFC Championship - Washington 17, Minnesota 10
- Jan. 15, 1984 - NFC Divisional - Washington 21, Minnesota 7
Before then my memory gets a little fuzzy since I was just a little tyke. Anyway, although I am a little upset the Vikings lost yesterday, I am still thrilled they beat the Packers. That should sustain me until traning camp opens.
Finally, here is what I'll be doing on my birthday:
- Sleep in (check!)
- Write in Greet Machine (check!)
- Go see National Treasure with my two boys
- Maybe go to the Como Conservatory with my whole family
- Eat at Fuddruckers tonight where I will purchase a cheeseburger for Cheesehead Craig to take care of the bet I lost when the Packers won the North. I know, I have to buy someone else a cheeseburger on my birthday. But I will do it happily since the Vikings beat the Packers in the playoffs! Yippeee!
- Watch one of my movies tonight. Either Gattaca or Troy. Probably Troy since I haven't seen it yet.
- Prepare for my class tomorrow night. It will be on blogs, so I don't think I will have to prepare long
- Go to bed .
See all of you later!
January 12, 2005
More from the mind of snackeru
Greetings and salutations Greet Machine readers! I trust you are having a good day. Me? I'm feeling pretty good. I don't know if you know this about me, but I have a second job as a professor at the College of St. Kate's. I know, hard to believe isn't it? Professor "Stadium Freak." I teach a class called LIS 753 - Internet Fundamentals and Design at St. Kate's every Winter semester. Last night was my first class of the new year and it went pretty well. So, I feel good about that. And, believe it or not, I even found time in my first lecture to try to convince my students about the benefits of building a new Twins stadium. I know, I'm sick, but how could I not? I had 11 students sitting there listening to every word I said. Last night I gave a lecture on the history of the Internet and during part of that I talked about Usenet. A couple of years ago I used Usenet to document what I think is one of my better ideas, naming the new Twins stadium "Marshall Field." I brought this up to the class and showed them this post as an example of some of the content that can be found on Usenet. So, I was able to talk about the Twins stadium and Usenet to my class all at the same time! Simple pleasures, people, simple pleasures.
I think Curt in Grand Forks and I have similar feelings about this whole Moss mooning business, and it really has nothing to do with Moss's actions in particular, but other people's reactions to it. For example, in a comment below Curt points out:
Not to beat a dead horse, but here is what Peter King said about the fake moon:
"Simulation-mooning Lambeau is like mooning the Mormon Tabernacle Choir."
Somehow Lambeau Field has been turned into a national institution/religous shrine, and Packer fans have been turned into God's chosen people. Pathetic!!
Amen to that. Absolutely pathetic, like Lambeau is a house of worship or something. It actually makes me sick. Chris Berman was the worst though. He practically genuflects every time he mentions Favre and Lambeau. After Sunday's game against the Packers he had this to say about Moss's mooning, "Randy disgraced Lambeau Field with this and he disgraced himself." Randy disgraced Lambeau Field? Is Lambeau Field holy ground or something? Do we have to remove our shoes when we enter? So, when Packer fans moon the opposing team's bus when it leaves, is that also "disgracing" Lambeau Field?
Wow. It is just football, Chris. If Randy had mooned someone at St. Peter's in Rome, that would be a disgrace. At Lambeau Field it is just entertainment. Time to put things into context buddy.
That's all I got time for right now. More later.
January 7, 2005
I was struck by a recent post on Duvernois Blog entitled The victums of economic and technological progress? (sic) wherein the author of an essay posted on the site argues that today's children are actually being hurt by technological progress in America, especially in the realm of social abilities. The article states, "Today's children spend more time than ever in human history alone, staring at a video monitor. That amounts to a natural experiment in childrearing on an unprecedented scale. While this may mean children as adults will be more at ease with their computers, I doubt it does anything but de-skill them when it comes to relating to each other person-to-person."
Ouch, that definitely makes me think about my own kids, who definitely spend more time in front of the computer, TV, and video game monitors than I ever did. In addition, the article states:
[T]he Bell Curve for social and emotional abilities seems to be sliding in the wrong direction. The most compelling data comes from a random national sample of more than 3,000 American children ages seven to sixteen — chosen to represent the entire nation — rated by their parents and teachers, adults who know the well. First done in the early 1970s, and then roughly fifteen years later, in the mid-80s, and again in the late 1990s, the results showed a startling decline.
The most precipitous drop occurred between the first and second cohorts: American children were more withdrawn, sulky and unhappy, anxious and depressed, impulsive and unable to concentrate, delinquent and aggressive. Between the early 1970s and the mid-80s, they did more poorly on 42 indicators, better on none. In the late 1990s, scores crept back up a bit, but were nowhere near as high as they had been on the first round, in the early 70s.
Fascinating stuff, and truth be told I think the author is right. It makes me want to take all that stuff away from my kids and raise them like Ma and Pa Ingalls on "Little House on the Prairie." Unfortunately I don't have any cows or chickens. Of course, read the whole article if you are interested.
Articles like that make me more and more happy that my son and I are involved with Cub Scouts. We had another wonderful Den meeting last night where the boys made rubber band guns for a "Craftsman" activity badge project. You know, this seemed like a great idea at the time, but it also turned out to be a little dangerous. Take 7 nine-year old boys and put them in a small room with rubber band guns and an unlimited supply of rubber bands, and you've got trouble plain and simple. And it started with the fact that the rubber bands we bought were too small for the guns. So, every time some of the boys tried to load their guns, the clothes pin that was supposed to hold the rubber band would not be able to hold it and rubber bands would shoot in all sorts of directions. Pulled really tight and at short range those buggers can really hurt! So, imagine 7 boys shooting rubber bands every which way and you have a picture of my evening last night. I don't think I've ever heard the words, "Watch where you are pointing that thing!" said so many times in my life.
Then, after we got finished with the guns we built a fire in the backyard, sang some songs, and ate carmel apples. It was freezing outside, but everyone had a great time laughing and telling stories. Truly, what would my son and I do without Cub Scouts? Good people, good friends, and lots of fun.
After I got I home, my wife and I watched the movie Napoleon Dynamite. This was a very quirky movie that I couldn't help but fall in love with. The movie is difficult to explain since nothing really too exciting happens, but the characters of Napoleon, Kip, Deb, Pedro, and Rico are so interesting and weird that I was mesmerized by their mundane lives. I can't imagine how a movie like this gets made. The director/writer walks into a studio office and says, "I've got a great idea. Let's make a movie about some people of questionable intelligence set in the middle of Idaho. The main character will never smile, he'll have a little attitude problem, the audience will think he is a moron, and his favorite thing to say will be 'Sweet!' His friends and family will all be exceptionally quirky, and nothing will really happen throughout the entire movie. And by the way, there will be no profanity, sex, or anything controversial of any kind. What do you think?" What does a studio executive say to this? Well in the case of Napoleon Dynamite, the executive must have said, "Where do I sign up?" And you know what? It really works. The movie was hilarious. I am a better person for having seen that movie.
Finally, Sid Hartman reported yesterday:
There have been rumors that Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor was close to a deal with Vikings owner Red McCombs to buy the NFL team, but Taylor said, "I have not talked to McCombs in more than a month. There is nothing new. I'm still interested in the team."
One of Taylor's concerns is that if he does buy the Vikings, the Legislature might be less inclined to support a new stadium because they wouldn't worry about Taylor moving the team.
That sucks. Hopefully Sid doesn't have a clue what he is talking about, which is highly likely, and Taylor is just trying to lay low. Also, I don't know how the Vikings stadium chances could get any worse, so I don't share Taylor's concern that the legislature might not give him any love. It all comes down to how much up front cash you put on the table, Mr. Taylor. Make it a substantial amount and I would think the legislature would be more amenable to helping you out.
January 6, 2005
First things first, I must send a shout out to Cheesehead Craig and give a link to his new blog Oracle of Cheese. Craig has decided to take the blogging plunge and I welcome him to the family. Of course, I think we all know what the content of Craig's blog will mainly be about. I can just see it now, since I am somewhat an oracle myself, his posts will be something like: "The Packers are in the playoffs, again, and they did so without backing in" ... "Brett Favre is a god, and as such he deserves worship. Have you worshipped Brett Favre today?" ... "The Packers, for the people and owned by the people. We never have to worry about the team moving." ... "Lambeau Field, recently renovated and still the best stadium in the NFL." Sheesh. It must be nice being a Packer fan. Only sunshine, flowers, and birds chirping for cheeseheads.
Seriously though, go visit the Oracle of Cheese. I look forward to what Craig has to say about sports and life in general. Hopefully he will be able to keep it up. And do you see that it says he "powers Blogger"? That is amazing! Already such a blogging bigwig!
Speaking of whining Viking fans, and believe me we do have reasons to whine, did you all see the article in the Star Trib today, "Vikings? We still love 'em, but it's kinda tough"? Lots of whining in that article. Thats OK, until Red sells I don't think the whining will stop, or even can stop. However, there is a point where whining can become inappropriate, and it is at the point someone says, "The Vikings are so disappointing, I'm not even going to cheer for them anymore. They don't deserve my support."
Bzzzzzz!!! Wrong! With that statement you have given up your right to be a Viking fan now and into the future. Turn in your horns and your Randy Moss jersey, you are no longer welcome within the realm of the brethren. That is something you will never, ever, ever hear me say. Or how about, "The Vikings are losers. I'm not even going to watch the game on Sunday." What???? I can't even fathom missing a game. That borders on treason, and even worse it is "fair weather." No, no, no, no!!! I have been a Vikings fan since I can remember. Fran Tarkenton, Chuck Foreman, Tommy Kramer, Ahmad Rashad ... whenever I get a cold I buy Vick's Formula 44 cough medicine because 44 is Chuck Foreman's number!!!! That is the kind of fans the Vikings deserve. When the Vikings finally win it all, I will be able to say I was there through it all. When the Vikings finally win it all, I will dance around like an idiot and scream into the sky, "Finally! I can die a happy man! Packers suck!!!" That will be a glorious day. So, all you fair-weather fans, all you post 1998 fans, get a clue. I don't mind the whining, but try not to step over the line. To be a true Vikings fan you've got to suffer. That is the way it is. If you don't like it please leave, and don't come back.
January 5, 2005
No sports today, just the ramblings of some of the recent things I have found interesting. Let's start with The Amazing Race. Seriously, I cannot get enough of this show. Last night's episode literally had me screaming and squirming at all the goofy stuff they had to do. Eating the spicy soup, for example. And the way Jonathan treats Victoria is simply stunning. I keep hoping she just decides to leave him, that she just gets up and walks out of the show. My favorite couple is by far Kris and Jon. I have never seen them fight and they always have a good attitude. I found it hilarious in last night's episode when Jon told the chef of the spicy soup, "You may want to tone it down a crack next time."
Anyway, of course all of this makes me want to be a contestant myself although I don't think I could handle it. There are a couple of things I am afraid of that I know they would make me do. I can just imagine coming up on a Roadblock where Phil says, "A Roadblock is a part of the race where teams must choose between two tasks, each with their own pros and cons. In this Roadblock, teams must choose between 'Jump and die' or 'Eat and die.' In 'Jump and die' teams must bungy jump from a 500 foot tall bridge. The bungy cord will be calibrated to their body weight so that they will fall to within an inch of the ground. Of course, the calibration could be wrong sending them hurtling to their deaths at 50 MPH. In 'Eat and Die' teams must pick a number out of a hat and then eat that many African Scary-Poison spiders. African Scary-Poison spiders are hideously ugly and scary, and if not eaten at the ungodly pace of 3 spiders per second they will kill you. So we will provide you with a special spider shovel to help you cram them into your mouth. No number is below 50."
That is what I'm sure would happen to me. Heights and spiders, nothing gets me worked up more. I'm sure they ask you all about this on the application to participate, something like "What scares you the most?" When I fill that out I am going to write "bikinis." I hope that throws them off.
Recently I joined Netflix thanks to the recommendation of Curt in Grand Forks. What a great service. I am wrapping up a free two week trial where I have received about 7 movies, including The Terminal (4 stars), Chronicles of Riddick (3 stars), Collateral (3 stars), I, Robot (3 stars), Luther (3 stars), Super Size Me (4 stars), and Mona Lisa Smile (grudgingly I give it 3 stars, I am such a sap). You can give a movie up to five stars if you are wondering. Also, movies come very quickly, especially if you live in the Minneapolis area. My first order was on a Wednesday night, and I had my first batch of movies that Friday. I've heard that they will delay delivery if you start ordering too much, but I haven't seen any sign of that yet. And after the two week trial is over it only costs 17.99 a month. Not too shabby. Stay tuned for a new addition to the sidebar of this blog: my rental queue! Netflix provides personal RSS feeds for this purpose. If I can get it to work, I'll put together a little tutorial for other UThinkers who want to give it a try.
Finally, I have really fallen off on my book reviews. And I've read a whole bunch of books since my last set of reviews. So, in the near future I will have to rectify that. See you soon!
January 3, 2005
La la la la la la, la la la la la! La la la la la la, la la la la la!
Butterflies and flowers
Vikings and stadiums ... Vikings and stadiums. Must ... get ... this ... OUT OF MY HEAD!!!
Today I shall think of nothing but butterflies and flowers. Whimsical butterflies and pretty flowers. Butterflies fluttering around in the breeze and flowers smelling oh so pretty. Maybe I'll even think of a butterfly landing on a flower! The possibilities are endless.
December 30, 2004
What follows is just a flat out brain dump with little or no value. You have been warned.
Blogging is hard. Maybe not hard for some people, but it is certainly hard for me, or at least it is becoming harder. You see, I'm the type of guy that can't just write something. I have to fret over it. I have to proof read it. I have to analyze what I have written and make sure it is up to par. In college it would take me forever to write even the most simple 2 page reaction paper. I would write maybe a sentence, a couple of sentences perhaps, and then get up and slack off before coming back to my paper an hour later to write a couple more sentences. Then I would get up again. It was a painful process.
You really can't do that with blogging. Well, I guess you can, but you won't have any time for anything else, especially if you write something every day like I try to do. I'm finding that out. I'm finding that writing this stuff takes a lot of time, and when I don't take the time I'm finding that I'm not happy with what I have written. So, I'm in a bit of a conundrum. Either I can take the time and spend an hour (or two) writing everyday something that I can be proud of, or I can take it easy and write something every once and a while when I really have something to say. I honestly don't know what I'm going to end up doing.
Blogging has taught me a lot about myself. Some of the things I have written I have been very proud of, and not necessarily because I really nailed a topic, but because I wrote something well. Maybe I wrote with feeling, passion, humor, maybe a touch of arrogance, but most of all what I wrote was coherent and well constructed (at least to me). Like this. And this. Or this. Or this. Or this. Or this.
And when I look back on the things I have written that I am most happy with, they almost never have to do with sports or stadiums. As many of you know, I am passionate about stadiums. However, I am finding that maybe I should change my focus a little bit. Does that mean I am going to stop writing about stadiums? No, I don't think that is even possible. I do think it means, though, that I am going to write less about sports in general. Seriously, I'm not very good at writing about sports anyway. I look back sometimes on what I have written about the Twins and Vikings and I think blah, blah, blah. What am I really adding to the discussion? I would argue not much.
So, I'm going to try something new. I'm going to try writing more about my life, my place of work, my family, stuff that is happening around me. Will I still write about sports? Sure. It is kind of hard to separate sports from my life, but I'm going to try to write about sports only when I've got something to say. Something to add to the discussion. This may mean that sometimes I don't write a post for a day or two, but in the end I think it will hopefully mean what I do end up writing will be of a little higher value to me. And that will make me happy.
December 15, 2004
Can you believe it? My wife bought me a new TV today for Christmas! And then, she couldn't wait until Christmas to give it to me! Apparently she woke up today and decided that she wanted to do something nice for me. And she got this 32" TV for a bargain too; only $240 at Sears. I am out of the Stone Age! Hallelujah! What did I do to deserve such a nice wife? I will have to repay her with something special. If anyone has any ideas please let me know.
December 13, 2004
Well, I alluded to this below, but I got into a little car accident this weekend. This would be only my second accident since I got my license 15 years ago. So, my amazing driving record is now tarnished with what could possibly be considered one of my more careless moments. Let me explain.
As many of you know my TV broke about a month ago, and I've been desperately trying to find ways to find the cash to buy a new one (and pay for all the Christmas presents we need to buy, too). Anyway, after trimming the tree this last Saturday my wife had a brilliant idea. About 5 years ago at an apartment complex in St. Paul we were living in at the time, my wife found a diamond ring. Not a big diamond ring, or an expensive one, mind you, but a diamond ring nonetheless. We put a sign up near the mailboxes to advertise the fact that we had found it, but no one came forward to claim the ring. So we have kept it all this time wondering what to do with it.
So, this Saturday my wife told me to take the ring and sell it to a pawn shop. I thought this was a great idea and I was immediately overcome with song: "Pawn America is right for you, Pawn America!!" You know the jingle. Selling the ring would give us some much needed extra cash and allow me to visit a place I had never visited before, a pawn shop. So, I hopped in the car and off I went to make our fortune.
Little did I know that the ring was cursed. It did not want to be sold. It wanted to stay with me. Pawn America is located on Blake Road off of Highway 7. As I a was taking a right onto Blake Road I had to stop for a long line of cars and wait for them to start moving. They started moving, I stepped on the gas, and then I noticed a large man walking on the sidewalk wearing a very frilly hat and bright orange boots that went up to his knees. I thought to myself, "What an odd outfit. What on Earth would posess someone to wear ... " KABOOM!!!! I nailed the car ahead of me at a blistering 5 miles an hour. I looked down, and I swear the ring sparkled at me!!
I threw my hands up in disgust. Why is this happening to me? We pulled into the Walgreens parking lot, we both got out and I said, "Merry Christmas!" Luckily the driver laughed. We exchanged insurance information and I apologized profusely. While the damage on my car was relatively limited, I nearly ripped the bumper off of the other car. Man! I was angry. If you'll recall I was trying to actually make some money off of this trip. Now I was out almost $300 at least which coincidentally is the price of the new TV I want. Is someone trying to tell me something?
I knew it had to be the ring's fault. Ha! I decided I would still sell the ring and be rid of its curse! So, I drove my damaged vehicle to Pawn America to finish what I started. Maybe the ring would be worth $300! Maybe it would be worth more! I gave the ring to the clerk and waited patiently for his decision. He weighed it. He inspected the diamond. And he said to me, "I'll give you $35."
I took the money, happy to finally be rid of the ring, and I vowed to drive more carefully from now on.
On Friday night my son went swimming with the Cub Scouts at the St. Louis Park Central Community Center. This was a lot more fun than I expected. My son's den was working on their Aquanat badges and some of the requirements for this badge are kind of challenging for 9 year old boys. These include both a 100 yard swim using a variety of strokes, and a "dive and four strokes" into the deep end of the pool. It is amazing how happy a father can get over a "dive and four strokes."
Let me explain. After getting warmed up the boys went to the deep end and started working on diving. None of them could get it, including my own son. It was somewhat comical to watch as the boys tried and tried to dive, but most of the time they just ended up doing belly flops. Anyway, after practicing for at least a half an hour my son was getting very frustrated. For probably the 500th time I told him, "You've got to get your head in the water first and kick up your feet. It won't hurt." He grumbled at me, got up on the platform, and actually did a perfect dive (for a 9 year old)! I was stunned and very happy.
So, after he got out of the water the scout leader running the show told him to do it again, but this time stay under water and do four strokes. This is the requirement for that part of the Aquanat badge. I was so sure he wouldn't be able to do another dive so soon after finally doing his first, and under pressure, but I told him to give it his best shot. So, he got up on the platform, put his hands over his head, put his head down, and dove in. Perfectly. Under water he did his four strokes and then he came up. When I saw this I swear tears came to my eyes as I clapped wildly and hooted and hollered at him. Words cannot describe how proud I was of him. I raced over to the pool ladder, pulled him out, and told him he was "the man!" as I slapped and hugged him.
Amazing how wonderful a "dive and four strokes" can be. He was the first to do it in our den, and both he and I were very happy. My son is not the most coordinated boy, and I doubt very much he will make a career in any type of sport. But for this one night he was the best. He was the one the other boys looked up to and were envious of. He doesn't get to have that feeling very often. I was very happy for him.
December 8, 2004
It's a conspiracy!
What did I do with all my money before I had a house? A car? Kids? I must have been rich! Sadly I've got nothing to show for it. And now that I am poor and Christmas is coming around the corner, things are just breaking all over the place. So I decided to write about it. What good is having a blog if you can't vent every once in a while?
The first item I'd like to vent about is my mini-van's driver side window. You see, it will go down, but it won't go back up. Of course, I found this out just as I was about to go into a car wash. I clicked the window down, put in my wash code, hit the red button to start moving me forward, and the window wouldn't go up. Let me tell you nothing gets a person moving faster than a free moving van going into a car wash with the window down. Luckily there was no one behind me because I had to back the van out of the car wash mechanism. I then had to manually lift the window back into place, which took about 5 minutes because it will only go up about 1 centimeter per lift. By then my car wash was over. Very frustrating.
Now, I don't know about you, but I am of the opinion that the ability to roll down your window comes in mighty handy. So, I took the van in to get the window repaired and they told me it would cost at least $250. $250!!!! I asked them if the new window was tinted with gold plating, but I don't think they heard me. Then I had a stroke of genius. I asked them if they could take the window motor out of the passenger side and put it into the driver's side. No luck. Apparently car manufacturers, in their infinite wisdom, make right and left window motors. I have come to the conclusion that this is beyond stupid and borders on a conspiracy to suck as much money out of me as possible.
The second item I would like to vent about is my van's rear window washer fluid dispenser. It has also recently stopped working properly. It seems that there is some sort of short in the wiring mechanism because every time it rains now the mechanism just starts whiring away and dispensing washer fluid. Now I can't put any washer fluid in the van because every time it rains the thing dispenses every drop and then keeps on whiring. And it "whirs" very, very loudly. I swear it sounds like the van is about to explode, "Whirrrrrrrrr! .... Whirrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!! ... Whir! ... Whir! ... Whirrrrrrrrr!!!!" We have to crank the radio so we don't hear it anymore. Someone drove by recently and upon hearing my van thought it would be wise to warn me that it was about to explode. So, he gave me the "roll down your window" sign. Sigh. I wish I could. I wish I could.
And the third thing I'd like to vent about is my broken TV. I've talked about this before, but I have yet to resolve this issue. I ended up taking my broken TV to a repair shop hoping that they could repair it and I could move on. According to them, my TV broke in such a spectacular fashion that everything basically blew out in a very methodical, cascading manner. They reveled in telling me this for some reason. It seems I missed some sort of 4th of July show inside my TV. Unfortunately, to repair this already piece of junk 27" TV it will cost me upwards of $350. Of course, that is not an option for me around Christmas time. So, I have been forced to return to the Stone Age and watch TV on my 12 year old 19" TV. I swear I need binoculars to see what is going on. And it is so old that it doesn't have any AV hookups for my DVD player. Hockey is nearly impossible to watch. The puck looks like a really fast moving ant. I don't know when I'll be able to rectify this situation, but it will be a while.
So, there you have it. Sorry to be such a whiner, but sometimes you've just got to let it all out.
So, now I will read a whole lot more. Right now, I am reading American Gods and I am enjoying it immensly. I don't want to write about it too much right now, but there is a general feel of "Americana" that just seeps out of the book. Right now the main character is in north central Wisconsin and an old man is telling him about how poor his family was as a child and how cold it was in the winters:
"We were so poor that we couldn't afford a fire. Come New Year's Eve my father would suck on a peppermint, and us kids, we'd stand around with our hands outstretched, basking in the glow."
I don't know why, but I really liked that excerpt. It put a smile on my face.
December 6, 2004
So, like I said below, my wife figured out what I got her for her birthday. It literally came to her in a burst of inspiration. So, without futher ado, I got my wife tickets to "A Christmas Carol" at the Guthrie Theater. Here is how the clues breakdown:
- Dan Majerle shares something in common.
This clue was the toughest. No doubt about it. But for those of you that know the story of A Christmas Carol, and know how to pronounce Dan Majerle's name, you could have figured it out. "Majerle" is pronounced the same as "Marley," as in Jacob Marley.
- 53 Twins.
Like Curt in Grand Forks said, this was a key clue. If she would have figured this one out, she would have had it. "53" refers to the jersey number of former Minnesota Twin Mark Guthrie. Obviously, I am taking my wife to the Guthrie theater.
- Beatles single released April 1965.
This was a gift to keep my wife in the game. My first two clues frustrated her to no end. Anyway, most of you figured out that the Beatles released "Ticket to Ride" in April 1965. So, obviously, my gift had something to do with a ticket.
- For Christmas last year I got Molly a new coat. I hope she likes what I got her this Christmas. If not there is always next year!
This was my favorite clue and it was actually the clue that my wife finally figured everything out through. So, again, why would I be talking about Christmas when I am giving clues for my wife's birthday present? Reading the clue again, you should be able to see that I am refering to Christmas past, present, and future. My wife and I were watching TV on Saturday night when she just blurted out "Past, present, and future!!!" and I knew she had it.
- Are you afraid of ghosts?
I had this clue posted before she figured it out so it helped her piece things together more and convince her she had finally guessed correctly. Obvioulsy I am refering to the "ghosts" of Christmas past, present, and future.
I had two more clues in the works if these didn't do the trick. In the next clue I would have just listed some of the various actors that have played Ebenezer Scrooge over the years: Patrick Stewart, George C. Scott, Kelsey Grammar, Bill Murray (that is a stretch, I know), etc. And the last clue would have been: Hamlet (II, ii, 633). Hopefully that would have sealed the deal.
By the way, my wife is thrilled with the gift. We don't get to too many plays, and "A Christmas Carol" will be perfect given this time of year.
So, thanks for playing "what did I get my wife for her birthday!"
December 4, 2004
The next clue in "what I got my wife for her birthday" is:
Are you afraid of ghosts?
December 3, 2004
Since many of you are visiting primarily to see the clues for what I got my wife for her birthday, I decided to start with that today. Just so all of you know, my wife's birthday is December 11. So, I've got a whole week to give out more clues if no one can figure it out. Yesterday's clue was intentionally easy. Hmmm ... a "ticket to ride?" What could I be talking about? Today's clue is a little more difficult, but like clue #2 it could be enough to unlock the mystery:
For Christmas last year I got Molly a new coat. I hope she likes what I got her this Christmas. If not there is always next year!
If you think you know what I got her, leave a comment below.
I got a comment from "Jim in St. Paul" for yesterday's post which I thought was just hilarious. This is for you Jim!
Tom Ridge for Governor of Minnesotacampaign
While governor of Pennsylvania Tom Ridge figured out how to build 4 new stadiums for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Phillies, Philadelphia Eagles, and Pitt Panthers. In other words, Tom Ridge is a diplomatic and financial genius. Now that Tom has resigned as directory of the Department of Homeland Security, Minnesota desperately needs his leadership. Please, Tom! Come to Minnesota and lead us to the promised land!
Paid for by the Tom Ridge for Governor of Minnesota Campaign
Jason Giambi and now Barry Bonds. Barry claims to not have known, but in my opinion you would have to be an idiot not to know what was happening to your body. Barry never hit more than 46 home runs before the age of 35. Then in 2000, with an obviously beefed up body, he hit 49. Then in 2001, at the tender age of 37, Barry cranks out 73. 37 years old. Sigh. I don't care about hand eye coordination or the fact that he was a great player before he started taking steroids, his records are tarnished and I will never accept them. It would be a tragedy if he breaks Hank Aaron's all-time home run record. I hope he realizes that.
The sad thing is, this will probably affect the Twins stadium drive. I just know we'll be hearing about how baseball "needs to get its house in order before we build any new stadium for the Twins" from legislative committees this winter. Thanks Barry.
This comes on the same day that Charley Walters actually reported some interesting and good stadium news:
Word within state legislative circles is that chances for a new Twins ballpark and University of Minnesota on-campus football stadium have improved and that there will be legitimate consideration for approval during the next session this winter.
OK, usually this would really put some "pep in my step" but I've heard this all before. I desperately want this to be true. But for one thing you've got to take everything Charley Walters says with a grain of salt, and secondly, again, we've heard this all before and as recently as last year. Actions speak louder than words at this point. Oh well, I will keep fighting the good fight.
That's all for now. Keep on guessing what I got my wife for her birthday!
November 24, 2004
Since it is Thanksgiving tomorrow, I thought it would be good to think about the things I'm thankful for:
- I'm thankful to have a good job with people I enjoy working with.
- I'm thankful to have a great neighbor that I enjoy spending time with, even if he is a Green Bay Packer fan.
- I'm thankful that my best friend from college lives in Grand Forks so I can visit him from time to time.
- I'm thankful for the Rozelle letter that keeps the Vikings from moving to Los Angeles or Las Vegas until 2011.
- I'm thankful that I get to visit Grand Forks so I can get a sense of what the Twin Cities will be like after 2011.
- I'm thankful that Randy Moss is coming back this Sunday.
- I'm thankful to have a great house with a nice place to eat a family dinner, a working fire place, a big master bedroom, and a two car garage.
- I'm thankful to live in a metropolitan area that values learning and that has one of the best public library systems in the country.
- I'm thankful to be a member of a great church that challenges me and gives me much to ponder.
- I'm thankful that U2 has come out with a great new album which I have listened to non-stop for two weeks straight.
- I'm thankful that the mild weather this summer didn't kill all the grass in my front yard.
- I'm thankful for my cats, especially Trinity.
- I'm thankful for the three time Central division champion Minnesota Twins and that I still have the opportunity to cheer for them.
- I'm thankful for the blast of air that pushes you out of the Metrodome. It is, quite frankly, the Dome's only redeeming quality.
- I'm thankful the Golden Gophers can never threaten to leave because they don't have a new stadium.
- I'm thankful that the UThink project is approaching 800 blogs created. If the project had not been successful, I would have looked like a big idiot.
- I'm thankful that I'm not in college anymore. I'm thankful that I can go home at night and do whatever I want, especially if it involves sitting on my butt and not writing a 20 page paper contrasting the indecision of Hamlet with the rashness of Othello.
- I'm thankful for the CBS TV show "The Amazing Race." I really find that show entertaining.
- I'm thankful that I only need one car. Most of the time I either hitch a ride or take the bus.
- I'm thankful for Kevin Garnett and the fact that the T-Wolves finally made it out of the first round.
- I'm thankful to be involved with Cub Scouts. My son and I love it.
- I'm thankful to live in an area with four seasons, even if one of the seasons seems to last for 12 months.
- I'm thankful to live so close to all my family. My parents live down the street and to the left, my sister lives 10 minutes away, and my in-laws live 15 minutes away.
- I'm thankful that my family loves each other enough to be able to live so close together.
- I'm thankful to have three healthy, happy kids. If you would have told me when I was 18 that I would have 3 kids by the age of 31, I would have looked in the mirror and said, "You stud!"
- I'm thankful for my beautiful wife, and the fact that she puts up with me and finds me even remotely attractive. If you would have told me when I was 18 that I would eventually marry such a beautiful woman ... well let's just say it would have made all those looks of disgust I usually got a lot easier to handle. And I would have looked in the mirror and said, "You hound dog! Get on with your bad self!"
- I'm thankful to be healthy, well-fed, loved, busy, relaxed, involved, educated, insured, compensated, and happy.
That about covers it. Feel free to add your own.
November 19, 2004
As many of you already know, I went to Monterey California last Sunday - Wednesday to give an invited presentation about UThink. I've already kind of mentioned it below, but Monterey was amazing. Words cannot express how at peace I felt in this place. Imagine standing at the shore listening to the sea lions barking, smelling the salt water, and without a care in the world. Well, needless to say I had a really good time.
I gave my presentation on Tuesday and from what I have heard it went pretty well. Truth be told it was probably the worst presentation I have ever given. Not because it was bad material or that I presented it poorly, but because I totally misjudged how much material I could present in the time allotted to me. They pretty much had to drag me away from the podium because I just had too much to say. I think I ended my presentation by saying, "I'm out of time, aren't I?" Do'h! Luckily I decided to start with a short introduction and then a demonstration of the system. Really, that was the most important part anyway.
After the presentation I decided to take a short walk on a local bike path to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I almost didn't make it in due to the $20 admission fee, but I decided to bite the bullet and put aside my cheap ways for the afternoon. And I'm glad I did. I saw some truly amazing fish, a few of which I've highlighted over at Super G. The most spectacular fish I saw, or that anyone sees at the MBA, are the jelly fish. My meager pictures cannot do justice to how neat these creatures are. I think I took 50 pictures of the jelly fish, standing there slack jawed the whole time. I also saw some sharks, and some tuna (Have you actually ever seen a tuna fish? They are huge! And nasty.), and some sting rays. But the jelly fish ... wow ... that made it all worth it.
After that I made my way down Cannery Row and back onto the bike path for the mile walk back. Cannery Row was very interesting. To the right is a picture of some shacks the city has left up to show the horrible conditions cannery workers lived in. It was a tough and thankless life. I wish I could have spent more time learning about the history of the area. I think I will be picking up Steinbeck's Cannery Row in the near future.
Anyway, that was my trip. It was nice, and I had a good time. See you soon!
November 18, 2004
I have returned from beautiful Monterey, California! A special thanks to Cheesehead Craig for managing this blog in my absence. His interview with Dave St. Peter was an unexpected and welcome surprise. Thanks for everything Craig!
Of course, I now have work coming out of my ears so this will have to be short. I will be writing more about my trip to Monterey tonight so stay tuned for that, if you care. It is a beautiful town and area, and it again made me question the sanity of the early settlers of Minnesota. I can undersand why people decided to check this place out, but why did anyone stay? Mosquitos in the summer, snow and cold for what seems like 12 months of the year, idiot politicians that won't build any stadiums ... the list goes on and on. But Monterey! 70 degrees, no wind, the smell of the sea, not a bug in site ... I fell in love with the place.
Speaking of stadiums (I can't help it! I have to report on this stuff!) it appears that the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe have pulled their offer to help build stadiums. In a letter to Pawlenty they wrote:
"You led a political smear campaign," Benjamin wrote, "in a deliberate attempt to turn undeserved animosity toward Indian gaming and Indian people into votes for Republican candidates."
Who didn't see that coming a mile away? I mean, we had a willing party ready and able to help build stadiums in Minnesota, but instead our fine state politicians once again muck up the deal. I shouldn't get my hopes up.
With that, let me just say I've got to get back to work. There will be more later!
November 12, 2004
The time of the Cheesehead is almost upon us
Out of the comments section and onto the main page! Either tonight or tomorrow I will be instructing Cheesehead Craig on how to post to this blog. Depending on how the Vikings do on Sunday, you may see some gloating on Monday from Mr. Cheesehead. I'm sorry in advance for that. However, I think the Vikings are going to surprise some Packer fans this weekend. Before the season started I wrote some haikus on how I thought the Vikings would do this year, especially in regards to their games against the Packers. So, since the first game is almost upon us:
No Moss for Vikings
No problem, Daunte will have
Pack saying "No mas."
Or how about:
Vikings first in North
Pack? Overrated at best
Two game lead assured
Feel free to give it a try yourself in the comments section. Skol Vikings!
Believe it or not the news about the possible statewide smoking ban also brought out some news about possible stadiums in our fair state. A couple of days ago, Dean Johnson, Senate Majority Leader, and Pawlenty met to talk about the upcoming legislative session. Out of the talks appeared these little nuggest of good news:
Johnson and Pawlenty also discussed potential changes to the state's gaming laws during their Willmar discussions Wednesday.
"I know and have said to the Native American communities that in 2005-2006 gambling in Minnesota is going to change, somehow, someway," Johnson said. He said he suggested American Indian gaming communities could help the state by contributing some of their revenue to a stadium effort or to University of Minnesota medical programs.
The two leaders also said lawmakers might try to tackle public funding for sports stadiums next year after they have dealt with other more pressing matters such as the budget, education and the environment.
"I don't rule out and I understood from Sen. Johnson that he doesn't rule out at least being willing, at least later in the session, to consider a Twins stadium or other stadium proposals if we get our other work done and other priorities have been addressed," Pawlenty said.
Johnson said he believes Minnesotans are more willing to have their lawmakers address stadium issues than they had been.
Oh - my - goodness! First of all, I love the idea that Indian casino revenue could be used to fund stadiums. The tribes (well, at least one) have already suggested it. I think I would weep out of happiness if this ever happened. The second part of their comments was a little more blah, blah, blah about "priorities" and "waiting until later in the session if we've got everything else taken care of" but the possibility is definitely there. Of course, I'll be tracking the efforts and comments of our fine legislators as the session progresses. Finally, my whole week has been one of joy and harmony thanks to the new U2 album, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. What an absolute masterpiece. I'll probably write a more detailed review when the album is ... ahem ... actually released (and be rest assured that I will buy a copy), but for now I've got to say that the stand out songs are "Vertigo" (duh), "City of Blinding Lights," and "Yahweh." Particularly "Yahweh." Musically and lyrically it is as uplifting as they come, and in the same vein as "Where the Streets Have No Name" and "I Still Haven't Found." So, as I prepare to leave for California and unleash the beast that is Cheesehead Craig, I will leave you with the lyrics of this beautiful song:
Take these shoes
Take these hands
Still waiting for the dawn, the sun is coming up
Take this city
Have a good weekend everyone!
November 11, 2004
I'm feeling goofy today. I don't have much to say, or I guess that should be anything of true importance to say, but I'm going to say it anyway.
First off, my wife and I went to the YMCA a couple of nights ago to start an exercise routine. Of course, we didn't go last night, and I doubt we'll be able to go tonight, but I still feel good about starting to exercise. I ran on the treadmill for 30 minutes to get my body used to the idea that it is going to get into shape. Well, I didn't exactly run, I kind of jogged. And I didn't exactly jog for 30 minutes, it was more like 10 minutes. The rest of the time I walked briskly. My index finger also got a work out pushing the down button on the incline scale. The stupid treadmill kept on rising up like I was climbing up a hill or something! So, my finger is a little sore from trying to keep my heart from exploding. Yeah, I really pushed myself.
After I got off the tread mill I felt a very strange sensation. It felt like I was still on the treadmill and I was just gliding around the room as I walked. You know the scene in Fellowship of the Ring where the Ringwraiths glide into Frodo's room at the Prancing Pony and then proceed to vigorously stab all the bedding? That is how I felt after I got off the treadmill, only I didn't stab anybody.
As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I'll be going to a conference in California next week. Monterey to be specific. It looks like the weather will be in the 60s while I am there so that will be nice. I hope to still be able to blog while I am away, but I may not be able to. In my absence, Cheesehead Craig has graciously agreed to add some of his Wisconsin based wisdom to my meager site. Some of you may be aghast at this idea, but I say it will add a little spice to all of our lives. What is a blog if not a little goofy sometimes?
I'm sure all of you have also seen that the stadium deal in Washington DC has hit a little snag. It seems that the DC City Council Chair, Linda Cropp, wants the city to consider privately funding the stadium. I would be lying if I said I wasn't pleased to see DC have these kinds of problems. For them to come up with a plan so quickly really irked me. However, what excites me more about this development is the possibility that her idea for private financing might actually work. She claims that someone has already approached her offering $350 million. If she can make it work, hopefully that will demonstrate to the businessmen around here that a plan like this has some merits. Of course, I don't think she will actually be successful, but I don't think it is a bad idea to try. I'll be keeping an eye on this situation.
Last night I spent a fair amount of time working on a new design for Mr. Cheer or Die's Viking Underground. I think it turned out pretty good, if I do say so myself. Mr. Cheer or Die has helped me immensely in gettting the word out about the Voter's Guide so as a thank you I tried to spruce up his site a little bit. Of course, it took me a little longer than I initially thought it would, but what is time amongst the brotherhood of Viking fans? Skol Vikings!
One more thing, Michelle Malkin has a very interesting post about which states are most charitable: red or blue? A very interesting post that shows a contrast with yesterday's link about the states with the highest IQ (which has been proven to be a hoax anyway).
Gotta get to work. See you soon!
October 21, 2004
Red Sox, Chimneys, and Gopher Basketball
Well, I would be lying if I said I wasn't impressed. For the Red Sox to come back from 0-3 to take the AL pennant against the hated Yankees is something truly spectacular. David Oritz and Dougie deserve it and I am happy for them. However, spare me this underdog/curse/anti-Yankee mumbo jumbo. The Red Sox payroll is almost $130 million. That is still $60 million less than the Yankees, but it is also an obscene amount of money. In my mind the Red Sox are just as much to blame for the economic problems in baseball as the Yankees and for this reason they don't deserve, and they will never get, my support. I know, I'm sure they are crying and gnashing their teeth over my lack of support, but I gotta take a stand somewhere. Are they the lesser of two evils? Barely and it pains me to even feel a little spot of goodness in my heart for their victory last night. All I've got to say is go Houston. If it is a Red Sox - Astros World Series only then will it have a modicum of respectability. But that is just me. All of you go ahead and slobber all over yourselves proclaiming that the Evil Empire has been defeated when in truth the evil regime's little brother has merely taken over.
The Gopher's basketball team is in trouble. How do I know this? Advertisements in the student newspaper to help sell student ticket packages feature Jeff Hagen. In fact, he is the only player featured in the advertisements. Now don't get me wrong. I like Jeff Hagen. He is a good player and a hard worker. He is not someone, though, that you build your team around and I think he would agree. If that is the best player on the Gophers, the only player worthy of featuring in an advertisement to build excitement for the team, then they are in a load of trouble this year. He wasn't even awarded a scholarship until his sophomore year. Again, I like Hagen, but I am feeling a little queasy about the Gopher's chances this year.
I had my chimney cleaned yesterday. Nick of Nick's Chimney Service came out a did a great job. However, he was the second person to come out and take a look at my chimney and wood burning stove. The first company to come out, and I can't remember their name now, told me that my chimney was so bad that they would have to pretty much rebuild the chimney for me. They said the tiles were all cracked and falling apart, that it wasn't up to code, and that it would need a stainless steel pipe running the entire length of the chimney to make it safe for use. They quoted me $3,000 to repair it. Now, either they thought they could give me a royal porking, or they were just plain stupid. Nick and his people came in and cleaned the chimney, showed me everything they had done and described it all in detail, assured me that the chimney looked very safe, and then charged me less than the first company would have just for the cleaning. Moral of the story is in the world of chimney cleaning, get a second opinion.
You know what pains me the most about the Yankees-Red Sox series? It should have been the Twins vs. the Red Sox. Maybe that is why I am so bitter. The Twins should have won game 2 of the ALDS, and they had game 4 wrapped up too. I like what the Twins Geek had to say about the Yankees victory over the Twins, "this series was won when one team had (and continues to have) more mojo - not because they bought it." Were the Twins the better team? I would argue they had better pitching, but I will agree that the Yankees definitely had more of that confidence, that cocky attitude, that winners usually have. Will next year be different for the Twins? I sure hope so.
That is all for now. Maybe more later.
October 13, 2004
Off the cuff
If you are wondering why my entries lately are so sporadic it is because I am playing Mr. Mom at home this week. My wife is on jury duty so I had to take a week off of work and take care of the kids and house. It has actually been kind of fun, but I haven't had much time to sit at the computer. My younger son and daughter like attention so I've been playing with them, reading to them, cleaning the house, etc. Truthfully, I haven't really wanted to sit at the computer and write out this tripe. What follows is really not that interesting, so if you stop reading I will understand.
I'm cheering for the Yankees. That's right, you heard me, the Yankees! It has gotten to the point where I think their dominance is actually comical. Just watching them tear up the Red Sox last night put a smile on my face for some reason. It's like all is right with the world. Why does the rest of the American League even try? Baseball is just ridiculous and the Yankees epitomize how ridiculous it is. I enjoyed Tim Keown's article on ESPN's Page 2 yesterday where he says, "What starts tonight is Evil Empire (A) vs. Evil Empire (B). It should be great theater." The Red Sox want us all to feel sad for them and their playoff futility. Ha! They spend just as much money as the Yankees and have nothing to show for it. They are just as evil as the Yankees only stupider! Why should I cheer for them? Regardless, I think we all know how this series will turn out anyway. Needless to say baseball has left a bad taste in my mouth. I'm sure Spring Training will cure me of that.
I'm listening to the Smashing Pumpkins "Cherub Rock" right now. Talk about a phenomonal rock song. It just consumes the auditory space around the listener. The lyrics have a sort of Holden Caulfield vibe to them, "But beware all those angels with their wings glued on." Fakeness, "coolness," teenage angst. It rocks and is the sort of song I have to stop and listen to. Thought you might like to know.
I love working on a college campus. Freedom of speech runs rampant! I've got two examples of freedom of speech that has had the campus talking for the past couple of weeks. It is a rare day that there isn't someone on the mall handing out a pamphlet, giving a survey, or just plain preaching. Just a few weeks ago Brother Jed was back on campus preaching his brand of Christianity. I usually take a walk around the mall at lunch, so I got the opportunity to hear for myself how successfully he was leading people to the Lord. This is how he started his sermon, "Did you know that Paul Wellstone is in Hell?" Of course, this sent the crowd into a tizzy. What is Brother Jed trying to accomplish with a statement like that? First of all, how does he know where Paul Wellstone currently resides? Is he God? Is he the final judge? Secondly, with that statement I truly feel he did more to hurt his cause than anything else he could have said. About 200 kids decided right then and there not to take seriously anything he had to say. His approach is mind boggling to me. The next day I saw him I heard him saying "Woody Allen is going to Hell!" Again, I doubt any of the kids know who Woody Allen is anymore so strike one, and strike two, how does he know what will happen with Woody Allen? Contrast this with the Gideon's style of prostelytizing. They were just on campus a couple of weeks ago, too. They just hand out a Bible with a smile. No words, no fire and brimstone, you can either take a Bible or leave it. Which style is more effective I wonder? Every year I get a new Gideon Bible at the U of M, so I've got a nice collection of them so far. Brother Jed and the Gideons, two contrasting examples of the freedom of speech on campus. I would love to hear a definitive answer on which style is more effective. I think I have a pretty good idea.
I call my wife "pookie" sometimes. I know, that is kind of sad, but after 10 years of marriage and three kids I've got nothing to prove to anyone. Anyway, yesterday I was asking my wife to please pass the spaghetti when I accidentally combined "por favor" with "pookie" and it came out, "Could you please pass the spaghetti, Porky?" My oldest son just about fell of his chair laughing while I quickly bactracked. Truthfully, I couldn't stop laughing either. And no, I don't think she ever passed me the spaghetti. That will have to go down as one of the worst things I have ever said to her, next to the time I called her a beluga whale when she was pregnant. I tried to explain to her that the beluga whale is one of the smallest varieties of whales in the whale family, but that didn't work out so well. Anyway, I say some stupid things sometimes to her. I'm lucky she loves me enough to forgive me.
That's all for now. If you made it down this far, I am impressed.
September 28, 2004
No sports today
Today is a non-sports related entry. I can't write about sports all the time because 1) I really don't have that much to say and 2) what I do have to say probably isn't that original anyway. So, if you are hear to read about the Twins, or the Vikings, or the stadium issue, sorry to disappoint.
Yesterday I posted a picture of my younger son playing video games. As you can probably see, he really gets into it. He jumps around and screams and generally works himself into a sweat playing any type of video game. It is very humorous to watch. Another thing that is very humorous is that if I'm playing with him or against him, he will also start to talk trash to me. Yes, my six year old son will talk trash, but not just any type of trash talk, six year old trash talk. Let me explain. Our favorite game to play Super Smash Brothers, a game in which you try to whomp the other player off the playing field, so he is constantly saying to me, "Hey Dad, I got a present for you! BOOOOM!" as he tries to smack me. And whenever he does he'll usually follow that with a "Uh huh, its my birthday! Its my birthday!" However, the coup de gras of all trash talk, the one I hear most often happens either when he really lays down the smack on my character or when he beats me. He will quote Finding Nemo when Marlin and Dory fend off the Glow fish. He will sing to me, "No eating here tonight, eating here tonight. You on a diet!" That is when I know things have really gone his way and I have been truly humbled. Trash talk from a six year old. You gotta love it.
Yesterday I had an adventure. But it really probably won't strike you as that exciting. Much like six year old trash talk, this is an adventure only a 31 year old father of 3 can have. So, I was riding the bus home when I remembered, "Uh oh, my bus pass is screwed up. The meter probably won't take it." Sure enough, when I went to pay, the meter read "MISREAD" and it spit my card back out. Usually this wouldn't be a problem since the bus drivers are pretty nice about that. But this is the second time this has happened and I knew that the bus driver on my transfer would be on to me, or think I am trying to rip him off. So, in other words, I had to walk home from the Louisiana Transit Center, at least a 3 mile walk.
I know, boo hoo. Exercise would probably do me good at this point, anyway, so I started walking. And walking. And walking. Quite frankly I was getting sick of it. Then I saw the Minneapolis Golf Club golf course. Now, one thing you probably don't know about me is that I practically live on the Minneapolis Golf Club golf course. This isn't because I am rich, or because I have a membership, though. I have heard that a membership costs upwards of $40,000 a year, so I was of the opinion that I would never set foot on the course, which is kind of sad since I live so close to it. Heh heh, you probably know where I am going with this.
I live on the west side of the course, and I was walking on the northeast side. I looked through the yards of the houses on the course and I noticed that unlike the poor saps like me, these folks do not have a fence between them and the course. I had a choice. Either I could choose to walk another mile, at least, around the course on the street to get to my house, or I could cut through the course and save myself a considerable amount of walking. I said to myself, "How can they keep me off the course? I practically live on the course! I am their neighbor! They should welcome me on the course!" And so on. The justifications of a desperate man.
So, needless to say, I sprinted up through one of the yards on the course, and I quickly found myself stepping on my first fairway of the Minneapolis Golf Club. It was beautiful. Then the panic struck. I am an idiot! I am trespassing! And not only that, I am trespassing on some really, really rich guys' property! So, I start to run. And much like my cat when she gets outside I start to run without really knowing where I am going. I mean, I had never been on the course before. I would run across a fairway and then duck into some bushes to catch my breath and make sure no one saw me. And then I would race across another fairway like I was an East Berliner trying to escape into the west. Around fountains and tress, past water hazards and sand traps, it was exhilirating and very tiring.
I thought to myself, "How is this better than just walking around the course?" as I grew more and more tired from the constant running, but I was determined to make it across without anyone seeing me. Finally I reached my goal. The Golf Club swimming pool. It is on the street I live so I knew where I was, and I knew where I had to go. However, to get there I had to cross the driving range. If ever there spot someone would see me, it was on the driving range. I take a peek to make sure no one is there, and I sprint across. Out of the corner of my eye I catch a big flash, a reflection of light, and in a panic I whirl around a look at what I was sure was my eventual captor. I thought, "You won't take me without a fight!!!" as I prepared to launch myself into the freedom of the street, but lo and behold it was just a huge mirror reflecting the sun light. Strange, I thought. I guess these rich golfers want to make sure they look really good on the course.
With my final bit of strength, I climbed the hill to the street. I had made it. Looking back on it now I probably could have just leisurely strolled across the course. Would they have really cared? In fact, they probably did see me from the club house over-looking the course. I can just imagine a grounds keeper looking down at me and saying, "Hey Joe! Come over here and get a load of this guy. He thinks he is a fugitive or MacGyver or something." Ah, but it was the thrill of the run. The thought that maybe I was doing something wrong and that if I was caught I would be in big trouble. I have never felt so alive!!!
And I saved myself a ton of walking. Thus ends my story. Back to our regularly scheduled programming.
September 26, 2004
Church of the Holy Sprinkler
I heard this joke in church today. I think it does a pretty good job of illustrating how petty differences in beliefs between denominations gets in the way of Jesus's message sometimes:
I was working as a suicide prevention policeman one day when we got a call about a man on a building ledge threatening to jump. When I got there I said, "Why do you want to jump? You've got so much to live for! Are you a religious person, or an atheist?"
He said, "A religious person."
I said, "Great! I am too! Are you Christian, or do you have other beliefs?"
He said, "Christian."
I said, "Wonderful! Me too! Are you Catholic or Protestant?"
He said, "Protestant."
I said, "Amazing! Me too! Are you from the Church of the Holy Sprinklers or the Church of the Holy Dunkers?"
He said, "Church of the Holy Sprinklers."
I said, "Great! I am too! Are you from the Church of the Holy Sprinklers Reformed, or Church of the Holy Sprinklers Orthodox?"
He said, "Church of the Holy Sprinklers Reformed."
I said, "Wonderful, that is my church too! Are you Church of the Holy Sprinklers Reformation of 1879 or Church of the Holy Sprinklers Reformation of 1915?"
He said, "1915."
I said, "Die heretic scum." And I pushed him off the ledge.
Let's focus on what matters, heh? Even my 9 year old son found this joke hysterical.
Category "Sports business"
September 14, 2004
Why do I even try to think of a title...
Kids ... I swear I am keeping track of all the extra money my kids are costing me. When they hit 18 I am going to present them all with bills for damages to my house and car through the years that will shock them. It is already shocking me, and my oldest is only 9. Take last week for example. My daughter, who just turned four, decided to "color" my mini-van. Only she decided to use a rock as her crayon. When I saw the damage, which wraps around the entire vehicle, I was too stunned to speak. Sputtering, I turned to my daughter to ask her what on earth prompted her to wreak this kind of devastation on something I am years away from paying off. She just looked at me and said, "Dad, you're crazy." I don't know what to say to this. No matter how much I want to, I cannot reason with a four year old. It is impossible. You say, "Honey, you can't scrape a rock against a car. It ruins the car." And she says, "OK Daddy, do you want to play with my dolls?" How frustrating. Maybe I am crazy. Regardless of my mental state right now, though, she is going to get a bill for this when she least expects it. Oh yes, there will be restitution!
Interesting article about the Vikings defensive line today in the Star Trib. As I sat in my seat at the Dome this weekend I was thinking the same thing. Vinny had all the time in the world to throw. I don't care how good your corners are, if the QB never feels any pressure he will eventually find an open man. According to the article, Dallas was only hurried on 12 of 50 throws. 12 of 50!!! That is unacceptable, especially considering how strong the Packers O-line is. And it appears that Hovan received most of the criticism. Are we a couple of weeks away from a benching? I wonder. I also wonder about this quote:
"They were going up against [Pro Bowl left guard] Larry Allen. I didn't expect them to go out and beat Larry Allen on every snap. He's a future Hall of Fame-type guy. But I didn't expect us to hand him a yellow coat, either. That's what we did out there. We handed him a yellow coat."
Maybe I'm just dense, but what in the heck does it mean to hand someone a yellow coat? I have no idea what this means. Oh wait, I just figured it out. They hand you a yellow coat when you enter the Hall of Fame. Sheesh, I guess I'm a little slow on the draw today.
Bob Sansavere wrote an interesting column today for a change that suggests the relationship between Reggie Fowler and Denny Hecker isn't as set in stone as we have been led to believe. Apparently the deal, as far as Hecker is concerned, hinges on whether or not they can get a stadium deal shortly after purchasing the team.
"The biggest hurdle is not the purchase price,'' he said, "it's setting up without a stadium. That's what we're really looking at — where would we be without a stadium.''
Hecker also added:
"This goes back to, 'Be careful what you wish for.' If you get it, you may not get rid of it. If you do get (the Vikings) and don't get a stadium right away, it's more painful than it is with a stadium. You don't want to risk enormous capital for fun.''
I also heard on the radio this morning some comments from Tim Pawlenty who was audibly happy about a local owner possibly buying the Vikings. Could part of Hecker's involvement be some assurances from the governor that he would look more favorably on a new Vikings stadium with a local owner? I would say that the answer is a definitive yes. No way Hecker, or Fowler for that matter, would do this deal without talking with the governor. Pawlenty also said he expects an offer to made within the next few weeks. While the article above hinted that things are still up in the air, I would be shocked if Red didn't have an offer on the table by the second week of October.
September 7, 2004
The big question of the summer didn't concern the war in Iraq, or Kerry vs. Bush, Santana for the Cy Young, or a place kicker for the Vikings. No, this was the big question: what is the better movie, Anchorman or Dodgeball? Both are shockingly stupid. Both feature Vince Vaughn. Both are sometimes offensive, sometimes even painful to watch. However, I have the definitive answer: Anchorman is by far the funnier movie. Dodgeball has its moments (the wrench scene comes to mind), but Anchorman is simply hilarious, highlighted by Jack Black's cameo and the rumble in the alley with all the other news teams. Anchorman didn't try to be anything but a really stupid movie and it succeeded on every level. I dare say it has now entered my hall of fame of great comedies. We have Tommy Boy, we have Happy Gilmore, and now we have Anchorman.
I went to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts this weekend. If you haven't been there, you are really missing out. I've been there before for an exhibit, but I had never taken the time to walk around and check out the regular collection. What an absolute treasure. I was stunned by the amount and diversity of the art they have, from Egyptian to Chinese to Impressionism to Native American, and much, much more. We actually got lost trying to weave our way through all the collections. Amazing. I will definitely be going back and soon.
Finally, my wife and I took our two boys to Valley Fair this weekend. I hadn't been to Valley Fair in probably 20 years so it was neat to see how the place has changed and how it has stayed the same. I didn't ride the Wild Thing, but I did ride Excalibur and that is really saying something for me. Usually you couldn't get me within a two block radius of a ride like that, but this time I decided to buck up and take my kids on it. It was actually a lot of fun. The day ended a little short because of the torrential downpour we got caught in, but we had fun with that too. It is not everyday that you just stand in the rain and let it pelt you. Very liberating in some ways. We even went on some rides in the rain. So, all in all, I'm sure it will be a day that the kids remember for a long time. And I'm all about creating memories.
I'll probably write more later.
September 2, 2004
What a day
Sorry for the lack of posts this morning. Tim and I ran into a little unexpected traffic this morning in the HOV lane. In fact the traffic in that lane was at an absolute stand-still. This, of course, is very odd. Usually we are flying down 394 waving to all the saps in the regular lanes as we zoom by, but today it was the exact opposite. It was like I was trapped in Bizarro world! It seems the police set up the mother of all HOV single driver traps and it brought all the traffic in that lane to a screecing halt. I say "it seems" because I never actually saw the police pulling single drivers over. We heard about it on the radio. When we got to the end of the lane the police were gone and traffic started to move at a normal pace. Tim and I were kind of upset since we wanted to see some police brutality inflicted on those lawless single drivers.
When I got to work I got a call from a librarian in another library on campus who told me the dean of a certain school was deeply troubled by UThink. Apparently he is upset that students could use UThink to negatively comment on classes or professors at the U, particularly in his school. I love this kind of stuff, especially considering where the complaint is coming from. I'm sorry I can't be more specific. Free speech! You gotta love it. What I'm most excited about is that the University Libraries can use this opportunity to invoke our campus role as defenders of intellectual freedom and free speech. I don't think the complaint will really go anywhere, but if it does I think the Libraries are well positioned to defend our stance.
I would be remiss if I didn't write about stadiums every chance I got so I offer this little tidbit today. According to a Pioneer Press article yesterday, the upcoming hockey strike or lockout could have a dramatic effect on business in downtown St. Paul. That is really obvious. However, what I found interesting in the article was this little factoid about the Xcel Energy Center:
" Last year alone, hockey and other events at the arena added $104 million to St. Paul's economy, according to a study by St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce."
Again, is anyone upset they built the Xcel Energy Center? The same naysayers that we have now fighting against a new Twins stadium also fought against the construction of the X. The X has done wonders for the economy of St. Paul, not to mention the intangibles of civic pride and the new and improved impression most Minnesotans have concerning the capitol city. Goodness, let's not make that mistake again and actually give people a reason to come to St. Paul all year round.
Could Denny Hecker and Glen Taylor be working on a partnership to buy the Vikings? According to Sid Hartman, Denny and Glen were seen talking with each other on a boat cruise last week. And Charley Walters is reporting that:
"When all the talk of selling and buying the Vikings is complete, people in the know expect that Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor also will own the Vikings. That could be sooner rather than later."
It should be an interesting next couple of weeks. I expect if something doesn't happen by the end of next week, nothing will happen until the end of the season. We'll see, though, we shall see.
That's all I got today. See you tomorrow.
August 31, 2004
My family and I went to the fair this weekend and we had a blast. It was by far my best experience at the Fair, and it probably had a lot to do with the weather which was mild and overcast. For those of you that care, here is what I ate:
Fried cheese curds
Pork chop on-a-stick
A frito burrito
Now before you go and think that I am a complete pig, please keep in mind that I have three kids that help ... no beg to help me eat all of this. Of course, that is actually a good thing as they would have had to roll me out if I would have eaten all of this alone.
While at the fair we also took in some of the festivities and sites. You'll note over at Super G I have featured pictures of a couple of the state fair chickens we saw. Honestly, I don't know what it is I like so much about them, but looking at the chickens is one of my favorite things to do at the fair. Go figure. I just think they are amazing. You get a view of chickens in your head from TV and movies, but there are so many beautiful varities. OK, I'm babbling now...
We also saw the 3rd Lair skate show, and the Extreme Team diving show. My kids, especially my middle child, really liked both shows. The skate show featured skate boarding and in-line skating and I was more impressed than I thought I would be. And the dive show, while a little hokey, definitely had me squirming in my seat. I don't know how anyone can climb so high and then jump. I could barely watch.
Both shows also aggravated me. I'll tell you why. In their attempts to get the crowds to cheer louder, both shows constantly used the old "We can't hear you" method to get us to yell and scream. You know what I am talking about:
Announcer: Do you want to see some diving?!?!
Crowd: Yaaaaay! Woooo! Yes! We would like to see some diving, thanks for asking!
Announcer: Oh, come on! I could barely even hear you. Now, do you want to see some diving?!?!?!?
Crowd: YEEEESSSS!!! Please dive for us! Woooo!!!! We are being louder!!
Announcer: I still can't hear you! I swear, we will just pack up and leave if we don't hear some REAL cheers this time! One more time, DO YOU WANT TO SEE SOME DIVING!?!?!?!?
Crowd: WOOOOOO!!!! CLAP, CLAP, CLAP!!!!! FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, PLEASE LET US SEE SOME DIVING!!!! YOU HAVE WORKED US INTO A FRENZY THAT CAN ONLY BE SATISFIED BY PEOPLE JUMPING FROM OBSCENCE HEIGHTS INTO A SMALL POOL OF WATER!!!! YAAAAY!!!!!!
You get the picture. I have come to a point in my life where I find this tactic to be extremely annoying. I might do it once a show, but both the skate show and the dive show went through this cycle at least three times. I just had to stop cheering. That's right, I came to a point where I would risk not "seeing some diving" because I refused to play their little game anymore! So, if any would be announcers are out there reading this please spare your crowds this method of forcing cheers. We can probably handle it once, but three times is a little excessive.
After the dive show we went on the river rapids ride and all got soaked. I think I got soaked the most, but I could be wrong. But that was OK beacause we left right after that. All in all, it was a great day at the Fair.
August 25, 2004
What to write about? Again, I don't feel the need to write about anything. So, this post will be about whatever pops into my head.
August 23, 2004
My life is so boring. I apologize for it. I could talk about the Twins and how Santana dominated the best hitting lineup in the AL tonight (Texas), or I could talk about the Vikings and how their secondary is looking a little thin right now. But you can read the newspapers and get all that news and opinion. What can I offer that is of any actual interest to you, dear reader? Sadly, I don't have much.
My wife and I had this conversation today:
Wife: Let's get a sandwich at Panera. They've got some really good food there.
Me: Panera?!?!? All they've got is soup and crazy bread for sandwiches. I'm not going to spend $10 on soup and sourdough bread.
Wife: They've got more than sourdough...
Me: Yeah, they've got three types of bread: pumpernickel, dill weed, and sourdough. Oh boy, yummy.
Wife: They've got white and wheat, too.
Me: They want me to spend $10 on wheat bread? I've got wheat bread at home.
Wife: (Sigh) The bread doesn't matter, it's what you put on the inside of your sandwich that matters.
Me: Well, I've got ham at home too. I can put ham on my sandwich.
Wife: I don't think they have ham...
Me: They don't have ham?!?!? What do they expect me to eat? Sourdough and pimento loaf?
Wife: You are an idiot.
Obviously, I was just trying to get her goat a little bit. But I love my wife. Almost 11 years of marriage and I still love hanging out with her. We have a great time. I can't believe she can put up with me. And no, we didn't go to Panera.
August 5, 2004
I have to comment on this
Regardless of your political leanings, you've got to admit that President Bush says some pretty humorous things sometimes. Just today Bush said about terrorists, "They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we." Huh? I know what he means, but other people are going to have a field day with this. [from coffee grounds] That isn't what I wanted to comment on, though. On top of all these "Bushisms" we have this: I don't know how many of you heard about this, but on a campaign stop in Albuquerque Cheney required anyone who wanted to hear his speech to sign a "loyalty oath." That's right, if you wanted to get in to hear Cheney talk you had to sign a document that said you support Bush for president in the upcoming election. Apparently this was done to thwart efforts by a local Democratic organization from crashing the party. Truthfully, I don't really care about the rights or wrongs about the oath in general, but I do think the form they had people sign must have been put together by a 10 year old. Check out this line:
I, (full name) ... do herby (sic) endorse George W. Bush for reelection of the United States."
I do "herby"? I think they mean do "hereby." And do we really endorse Bush for reelection of the United States? Is he reelecting the United States for something? Me confused. It later adds that,
"In signing the above endorsement you are consenting to use and release of your name by Bush-Cheney as an endorser of President Bush.
You are "consenting to use and release of your name..." Egads! Someone must have been in a hurry when they put this together.
I've got nothing
Have you ever wanted to write something, but instead you just stared at the computer screen for a while? That is where I'm at right now. Just staring. Well, actually I'm typing, but I'm not really saying much. So, what can I say? I'm feeling very blah right now. Not "laid back" type blah, but blah as in "I'm so tired" blah. Which is odd since I just came back from vacation. This probably has to do with the fact that I was recently diagnosed with walking pneumonia. I have literally had a cough for two months now. I swear whenever I cough I sound like Gollum from the Lord of the Rings. You know, a deep chest cough with phlegm gurgling in my throat as my body tries desperately to get it out. I finally went to the doctor two days ago and begged them to find out what is wrong with me. So they decided to give me a chest x-ray. Twice. It seems that the first time they gave me the x-ray they missed a good portion of my lungs because my lungs are "so long." Have you ever heard of long lungs? Well, apparently I have very long lungs. So they had to zap me twice.
As a result of this ailment, I think it is making me extra tired. Whenever I sit down to write something on this blog at night I am overwhelmed by tiredness. Then I get here (at work) in the morning and scramble to put something up. I need to find a new routine.
Anyway, I've got to get to work, but enjoy these two links:
- Peasant Quest. An old fashioned type game where you have to tell your character what to do, like "talk man" or "get item." Brings back the memories.
- Roger Waters is writing the "Wall" for Broadway. I really liked the Broadway adaptation of "Tommy." Here is hoping this will be just as good.
August 3, 2004
The Trouble with Air
Unless you don't have any kids or you just don't care, it is difficult to ignore the problem of childhood obesity in America today. There are many, many news stories around the country dealing with this epidemic, and all of them mention the same old reasons for this problem: namely lack of exercise, too much TV, and fast food. All of these are obviously a factor, but I've discovered yet another possible reason for this problem, a much more covert, sinister reason that will be difficult to overcome.
I remember my own childhood well. I grew up in River Falls, WI and I remember the summers being HOT. I remember lying in my bed at night sweating like a dog because 1) it was hot and 2) I always covered myself with blankets because I was afraid of "monsters." But the main reason I was so hot was because we didn't have air conditioning. In fact, I don't remember many people having air conditioning at all. I had one friend lucky enough to have a cool house, and I thought his family was rich. However, as a result of not having air conditioning I think I played outside a lot more. I mean, it was just as hot inside as it was outside so why not be outside?
It is my hypothesis that kid's today are not making the same choice. Kids today avoid being outside in the summer because it is so much more comfortable inside. As a result, they just aren't exercising as much as we did when we were younger. I see it in my own kids. On a relatively hot day, like last Saturday for example, my wife and I tell our kids to go outside and play only to see them return inside after 10 minutes because they are "soooo hot." I can imagine this same conversation taking place in thousands of other households across the Twin Cities. I really feel air conditioning is making our children lazy and fat, and truthfully I don't know what to about it.
In closing, there was a time when air conditioning was a luxury. I think if you studied it long enough you would find a correlation between the rise of air conditioning in cars and homes and childhood obesity that would be hard to ignore. That is all for now. Back to our regularly scheduled programming.
August 1, 2004
I'm back from vacation. I had a great time, but it wasn't nearly long enough. Italians get about 2 months of vacation a year, but I am stuck with a couple of weeks in the summer (here and there) and a couple of weeks around Christmas. Could be worse, I suppose. Anyway, my family and I went to Green Lake up by Willmar. Actually, Spicer is one of the towns right on the lake. Man, what a fun time we had! Swimming, fishing, kayaking, grilling, eating smores, relaxing, reading ... I could really get used to a lifestyle like that.
Anyway, I'll be writing more later, especially about the Doug Mientkiewicz trade and Vikings training camp. Lots of good stuff to comment on with those two stories. See you soon.
July 23, 2004
One more thing
Again, I'm on vacation, but you may have missed some of the stuff I've written before. Here are some of the things I've written where I actually thought I did an OK job of expressing myself:
- The Inevitable Fall
- Songs for a Desert Island II
- Brew Ha-Ha in the Backyard
- Book Review: The Watch by Dennis Danvers
- Book Review: The Meaning of Everything
- Book Review: Luther the Reformer
- What is in a name?
- Kids and Poop
- Reflections on UThink
- A refresing drink
Truly though, what I write most about on this blog is stadiums. I desperately want a Twins stadium to be built. If you are interested, check out all my posts on stadium issues. Man, do I sound like a broken record!
July 21, 2004
Another edition of random musings
This brings up Morneau. The Twins are coming dangerously close to doing the same to him as they've done to Cuddyer. In the five games he has been up for he has hit 2 homers and has 4 RBI, not stunning numbers but not Mientkiewicz numbers either. What more does Morneau have to do to stay in the majors? It is time to recognize that he deserves the starting job at first.
July 19, 2004
The Twins are simply too painful to talk about right now. They seriously couldn't hit a beach ball. So, I'm going to write about my eventful Sunday morning, afternoon, and evening.
Sunday morning: Church
Thanks to my lovely wife I volunteer at my church as a sound technician. Not every Sunday, but some Sunday's I work the sound board and make sure everyone is "mixed" properly. That is sound lingo for making sure everyone has their volumes turned up (or down) properly. You see, most Lutheran churches have a couple of wireless microphones to worry about, but my Lutheran church has a full on band with guitars, keyboards, vocals, backup vocals, violins, drums, etc, not to mention flood lights and even a disco ball. Oh yes, we get funky when we worship the Lord. Unfortunately for me, I barely know how to work any of this equipment. I'm willing to learn, and I'm definitely doing just that, but sometimes that isn't good enough. Take yesterday for example. Everything seemed to be working smoothly when suddenly one of the microphones started to make a horrendously loud thumping noise. Let me tell you, there is nothing as humbling or nerve wracking as this since the second the noise starts all eyes in the congregation dart to the sound guy. Me. Seriously, about all I know how to fix is the volume (up or down?), but I frantically try to look like I know what I'm doing by flipping switches and turning dials. "What does this one say ... reverb flux equalizer? Sounds good to me, let's crank this puppy up and see what it does..." Eventually we had to turn the wireless mikes off since not even some "experts" in the band knew how to fix it. Like I said, very humbling. Then our pastor get's up to talk. Now, if there is one thing a sound guy does not want to mess up, it is the pastor's sermon. So, everything was going smoothly when my ears started to hear an echo coming from ... well ... I didn't know where it was coming from but I was determined to fix it. So, I start messing with the dials. "What does this one say ... quantum input balance authority? Let's see what happens if I max this one out..." Well, lo and behold eventually all my fiddling got the echo to go away! I was pretty proud of myself and I sat back to listen to the sermon without a care in the world. Well, I should have known something bad would happen. After the sermon the pastor ended on a very poignant note and the congregation quietly reflected on the message. The pastor then reached down to turn of his microphone when all of the sudden the most annoying and loud screech blared forth from the speakers. The congregation actually yelped from the pain this caused their ears. Again, all eyes on the sound guy. Me. While my fiddling fixed the pastor's echo, it seems it also turned on some feedback that sounded and felt like an ice pick rammed into everyone's ears. The pastor gave me a little look of annoyance and I slumped down vowing to never touch anything but the main volume control ever again. Very humbling.
Afternoon: root beer floats
Another weekend, another Cub Scout activity. This weekend my son and I volunteered to sell root beer floats in front of our local Cub Foods to raise money for the Cub Scouts. We worked the 2:00-5:00 shift, and we sold the most delicious root beer floats for a $1 a piece. Most of the people buying floats didn't really want one, but they did want to help the Cub Scouts. Some people just gave us a donation which was very, very nice. And then there were some people that seemed to want to rip us off. I know, can you believe it? One gentlemen walked up and said, "All I've got is 30 cents. Give me whatever that is worth." So, I gave him a little scoop of ice cream and about a third of a cup of root beer. So then he said, "Oh come on, give me some more root beer." So, being a nice guy I gave him a little more. Then he motioned to his cup and asked for more. So I said, "You gave me 30 cents! I should have given you a spoonful of ice cream and a swig of root beer from my bottle. Now take a hike!" Actually I didn't say all of that, but I did say that is all 30 cents would buy him. He grumbled and walked away. Sheesh. Anyway, overall we did pretty well. We sold 180 floats in 3 hours. Not too shabby.
Evening: Spiderman 2
So, doing all this Cub Scout activity with my older son makes my younger son feel a little left out. Eventually he'll be in Cub Scouts, but for now he gets a little ticked off that his brother does all this "cool stuff" and he has to stay at home. So, after root beer floats I took him out to get a little bite to eat and to see Spiderman 2. That, my friends, is a good movie. I enjoyed it immensely. I tell you, Tobey Maguire is the perfect Spiderman. I read that Sam Raimi, the director, almost gave him the boot, but it is a good thing he didn't. I can't imagine anyone else as Spiderman. The second installment of this franchise may have even been better than the first. There is action, sure, but there is also a very well done love story. That's right, I'm not too manly to admit that I wanted Mary Jane and Spiderman to work out their differences. But the best scene was in the middle when Spiderman is unmasked on the subway after fighting Doc Oc. I don't want to ruin it for you, but the reaction of the people is very touching. Anyway, it was a great movie, and my younger son loved it too (although there were a couple of scary scenes!). I'll definitely see it again.
That's about it. I just read that Joe Mauer may be put on the disabled list again. Yikes, that is scary.
July 13, 2004
Sorry everyone for the lack of posts recently. I went on a Cub Scout camp out this weekend and I just got back last night. I'm also taking today off. The camp out was a blast and my son had a very good time, thanks for asking. The Cub Scouts are so good for him (and for me) that I thank God everyday we joined up when we did. Good people and good times.
So, today I'm going to spend some time with my family, maybe watch the All-Star game (maybe...) and generally just hang out with my kids. See you soon!
June 4, 2004
You could say that I'm really getting into this blog stuff. I don't think I've reached the obsessive stage (my wife would probably disagree) but I'm getting up there. One thing I really like about blogs and blog software, in this case Movable Type, is how easy it is to add new entries, edit old entries, and just to get content up on the web. In the two months that UThink has been up, there have been almost 280 blogs created, and over 1,200 posts written. Not too shabby. There have been blogs created for research, classes, departments, newsletters, and, of course, many personal blogs have been created. While I'm not surprised with this at all (I expected the bulk to be personal blogs), I am a little surprised with the lack of photoblogs, or blogs that are primarily pictures. So, I decided to create one myself.
So, I'd like to take this opportunity to announce Super G, my photoblog. I hope to update Super G at least once a day with a picture of something I like, and sometimes a picture of something I don't like. I don't want to limit myself. There will be pictures of family, things, places, nature, etc. Probably more often than not just a picture of something I saw that day that I liked. You know, no big whoop.
To tell you the truth, I'm kind of excited about it since I think picking out one picture a day to literally illustrate the essence of that day will be sort of fun. There really is a lot to photograph and I'll probably have to buy another camera (a very cheap one) to make sure I'm always ready to take a snap shot. We'll see. Anway, sorry to bore you. On with the day!
May 24, 2004
Random weekend thoughts
I think we all know what was on my mind this weekend: The T-Wolves/Lakers series. What a great game last night. When Sam left the game I think the world thought the Wolves would just fold, but fortunately that was not to be. The Wolves not only beat the Lakers, but they crushed the Lakers, making it look easy in the process. What was the secret? First of all they played physical. Sprewell led the charge in that category by consistently picking up his man for full court defense after the ball was inbounded on made shots. The Wolves as a team got in the Lakers "grill" and didn't let up. That is why there were so many technicals at the end of the game (and an ejection of Karl Malone). The Lakers were just sick of it. What a bunch of pansies. Secondly, the Wolves got to the foul line. The magic number for the Wolves seems to be 20 free throw attempts. If they get to that number (or close to it: they got to 19 last night) they seem to have their best shot of winning the game. Next we have the play of KG. KG scored 24 points and had 11 rebounds. A solid effort from him throughout the game and a very good effort from him to close out the game in the fourth. And of course the Wolves bench contributed big time. Darrick Martin with 16 points? Are you kidding me? Wally is playing some good ball too, although I wish he would shoot more and dribble less. Finally, the quartet of Johnson, Madsen, Miller, and Olowakandi shut the Diesel down. I think we found out last night that Kobe can torch the Wolves (27 last night), but if Shaq is taken out of the game the Lakers don't stand a chance. Shaq is without a doubt the MVP of that team and we should see a bigger contribution from him on Tuesday. At least I think the Lakers will try to get him more involved.
Next we have the semi-weekly update from the Sports Huddle with Sid and Dave. Yesterday as I was driving home from church Sid received phone calls from both Dean Johnson, Senate Majority leader, and Steve Sviggum, Speaker of the House, concerning stadium issues. First of all, it sounded like there will most definitely be a special session called. Right now the two chambers are mapping out the agenda of the session. Secondly, both leaders said they think a stadium bill will be part of the mix. Although they both hedged a little bit, I think the fact that they both called Sid on Sunday speaks volumes regarding the chances of the stadium bill being considered in the special session. Of course, Sid gave both of the them a hard time which I really appreciated. Anyway, I'm feeling good about the chances for a new Twins stadium today.
Lastly, and this is totally off topic, I was thinking about my family this weekend and where we have come since the first Nackerud "got off the boat" in 1903. Needless to say, my family has come a long way. I'm sure yours has too. When you think about it, the people we have to thank for this are the people that decided to take a chance so long ago. In my case, Andrew Pedersen Nackerud decided in 1903 to leave everything behind in Norway for the chance of a better life in the unknown of America. That was huge! Can you imagine packing everything up, leaving your family and home, and moving to a foreign country knowing that you would never return? You may be wondering what my point is. It is this: somewhere in all of our pasts is someone who decided to take a chance, a huge risk actually, and try for something better. We all have the blood of adventure running through our veins. Somewhere deep down inside of all of us Americans is this drive, this willingness to sacrifice and work hard and take a chance. Is there any wonder why America is so great or why we are so successful? So take a moment today to think about your own family history and that person, or group of people, that made the decision to come to America. For me it is a little humbling and awesome to think that this spirit of adventure still lives somewhere in me.
May 10, 2004
That's about it. There will be more later.
May 7, 2004
Well, by the time you read this I'll be on my way to camping out, or I'll already be camping. Today I purchased a bunch of new camping equipment, like a poncho (apparently it will rain this weekend), and I've packed it all in the car. I am amazed at how much you have to bring on a one night camp out, especially if the forecast calls for rain. We must have enough stuff to fill up the trunk of a small Toyota: tent, sleeping bags, pads, duffel bags, pillows, etc.
You get the picture. Speaking of which, I've also got my camera so I should be able to get some good pictures of our excursion.
Now for the bad news, as Jim in St. Paul points out in the comment for one of my posts below, the stadium bill failed to pass the Ways and Means committee today. This doesn't mean it is dead, but it will be hard to resuscitate. Apparently there was some disagreement over using the soon to expire liquor and car rental taxes to pay either the communities' or the state's share of the stadiums. Here is what I think will happen next. I think the bill will pass in some form in the Senate. Then, either on the last day of the session, or in a special session, the bill will be rivived in the House. It will be close, but I think some kind of bill will pass. Will it be enough to dig that first fabled shovel full of dirt? We'll see, we shall see. Let me know what you think.
April 16, 2004
Decimate or obliterate?
I don't know where I read this, so if someone can tell me please do, but it has been bugging me ever since I've read it. A couple of weeks back I read about the correct definition of the word "decimate." While it's true definition is somewhat like how it is used today, ever since I've read its true definition I get overly bugged by how people are using it now. It is a curse! So, now I will pass the curse along to you. Decimate is defined as:
"Decimate originally referred to the killing of every tenth person, a punishment used in the Roman army for mutinous legions. Today this meaning is commonly extended to include the killing of any large proportion of a group."
That makes sense, doesn't it? Deci is latin for "10." So, now that you've read this, you will hear the word "decimate" everywhere. I sure have. I heard it last night when Donald Trump explained how the women on the show "The Apprentice" decimated the men in the early weeks. I heard it the last time I watched a T-Wolves game when Tom Hanneman described how the Wolves decimated the league to take the top spot in the West. I hear the word all the time, and now it bugs me to know the word is being improperly used. Oh well, c'est la vie.
April 10, 2004
Love your neighbor
WARNING! Religious rant follows! If you are interested, keep on reading. If not, come back later. There is always something rattling around my head wanting to get out.
What follows is based on 26 years of hearing that homosexuality is a sin. I grew up in a Christian family. I went to a Christian school from the 4th grade to the 8th grade. I attend Church weekly. I was taught, and still believe, that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. Having said that, however, I also believe that many in the Christian faith are losing their focus on what truly matters. For some reason, many in the church have made homosexuality their number one priority. And quite frankly I am sick of it.
Why in the world do we, as Christians, care so much about homosexuality? It is mentioned only about six times in the entire Bible. What makes it even more bewildering is that homosexuality is only one of about 20 topics and rules the Bible speaks about concerning sexual mores and human sexuality (e.g., no sex during menstruation, polygamy, prostitution, levirate marriage, concubines, etc). Yet we choose to disregard almost all of the rules, except a handful dealing with issues like rape, homosexuality, and adultery. What is our criteria of selection? Some would say many of the rules we choose to ignore come out of the Old Testament and are no longer applicable under the new covenant under Jesus. So, let's take a look at what Jesus said. Please open your Bibles to Matthew 5:31-32. Jesus says:
"It was also said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.' But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchasitity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery."
I think it is safe to say that 99% of Christians today ignore this commandment. And Jesus actually said it! This is not something written by Moses or the apostle Paul, this is a commandment said by the Son of God himself! Why are we as Christians not outraged by divorce? Why do we not fight it as much as we fight homosexuality? And not only do we not fight it, sometimes, in the cases of an abusive relationship, we encourage it! We even perform the marriage ceremonies between divorced people in our own churches. According to Jesus, these people are committing adultery every time they sleep together, and yet we are blessing their sin! We welcome them into our churches. Do we think Jesus was kidding?
I can't get around this hypocrisy any more. I'm sick of turning a blind eye to some commandments and not others. I have come to the conclusion based on this and other Bible passages that it is impossible to take a literal interpretation of the Bible. It is impossible to follow the Bible to the letter of the law. No one can do it and, in fact, no one does. The best any of us can do is follow the spirit of the law as it is written in the Bible and whether we can admit it or not, this is what all of us do. Don't believe me? Let's take a look at another passage, again from the New Testament, from Paul's first letter to the Corinthians chapter 14 verses 33b-35:
"As in all the churches of the saints, women should be silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as the law also says. If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church."
I don't know about your church, but my church encourages women to speak. In fact, just last Sunday we had a woman seminary student give the sermon. Yet the apostle Paul himself condemned this activity. We usually write this off as a necessity in the time of Paul, or that is just how things were back then. Obviously, today we don't have to follow this rule since it is archaic and offensive. Again, by what criteria do we make this judgement? And more importantly, are we still following the word of God exactly as it is written if we don't follow this rule? I would say no.
This brings us to another of Paul's writings, Romans 1:26-27:
"For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error."
There is no getting around it, Paul is against homosexuality and even suggests that men who practice it will receive some kind of "penalty." But is Paul any less clear with his wishes in 1 Corinthians 14, concerning women speaking in church, than he is in Romans 1? No, in fact I would argue that Paul is more clear in 1 Corinthians 14. Yet again, today we choose to ignore completely Paul's writing in the 1 Corinthians passage. Why? Why can we ignore something as clear as this passage, yet vehemently defend Paul's condemnation of homosexuality in Romans 1?
Paul goes on in Romans 1 to list all sorts of sins that the people of Rome had fallen prey to: wickedness, evil, convetousness, malice, envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, gossip, slander, God-hating, etc. However, in chapter 2 Paul turns the tables and states to all Christians:
"Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgement on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things ... Do you imagine, whoever you are, that when you judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself, you will escape the judgement of God?"
What is Paul saying here? To me it is plainly obvious: people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. We all sin and we do it often. And in the case of Jesus' speech about divorce and Paul's writings about women's role in the church, we sin without any intention of changing our ways. Some would argue through some slick debate tactics that divorce and women speaking in church aren't sins at all, that they are more rules for a specific time period than for the Christian church today. I wonder if the sin of homosexuality could be judged using the same criteria then.
Am I trying to say homosexuality isn't a sin? Am I trying to say it is a sin? Neither. What I am saying is that I am no longer going to focus on it. At all. What I am going to focus on are the teachings of Jesus, most of which focus on helping the poor, healing the sick, having a closer relationship with God, feeding the hungry, and making disciples of all. Let's take a look at Mark 12:28-31:
"One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, 'Which commandment is the first of all?' Jesus answered, "The first is, 'Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you should love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."
Imagine if the agenda of all Christians was focused on these commandments! What an impact we would have on this world! Jesus and the apostles admonish Christians to "love your neighbor" eight times in the New Testament, and more if you count the Old Testament. Yet how often do we ignore this commandment? Everyday. Would God rather we protest homosexuals and gay marriage? That we get angry and scream in people's faces that they are all sinners and going to hell? That we literally spew hate and malice towards other people based on a Bible that we ourselves do not even follow to the letter of the law? No. For me, it all comes down to "love your neighbor as yourself."
Think about what we could accomplish if we decided to focus on this and the other teachings of Jesus rather than homosexuality! Why is this issue taking up so much of our time and energy? Homosexuals are at best 4-5% of the population. Why are we letting this relatively small issue set the agenda of the entire Church? Are we not strong enough to set our own agenda? Let's be proactive instead of so reactive! Let's change our focus. Take this little test. I'm going to make two statements. Try and decide which one angers you more: 1) Gay marriage could be legalized in Minnesota, 2) There are people starving in your own community. Well? Through which issue could Christians make more of a difference? Let us set an example of love through our actions and actually have a positive impact in our community. Let God take care of the rest.
In closing, let me emphasize that this is my own viewpoint and I am neither claiming it to be the truth, or am I saying that everyone must follow it. In fact, I must admit that I am confused and struggling to come to grips with this issue. However, I don't think there is any confusion when it comes to Mark 12:28-31 and that will be my focus from now on. I welcome your feedback.
April 9, 2004
A refreshing drink
I'm about to demonstrate to you how pointless some blog entries can be. And yet you will keep on reading. It's fascinating, I think. Why do you keep on reading? We'll never know, I guess. Anyway, tonight Alex's Cub Scout pack had a Pack Meeting. During the meeting I decided to walk around the church and do some investigating. Shortly into my walk I came across a Pepsi vending machine and I thought to myself, "Boy, am I thirsty," but I noticed the machine wasn't plugged in. So, I plugged it in and the machine lit up and started to hum. I thought to myself, "You know, you probably shouldn't have any pop tonight. You'll have to go to the restroom right during the badge ceremony (actual thought!)." So, I decided to get some refreshing lemonade. My mouth started to salivate as I put my dollar in and made my selection. However, when I reached down to pick up my lemonade I noticed the bottle was completely covered in frost. "Nice and chilly," I thought to myself. Oh cruel fate! Not only was the bottle covered in frost, the lemonade inside was completely frozen! That is why the vending machine was unplugged, to thaw out the contents! For the rest of the evening, my bottle of lemonade mocked and tortured me as I was left to drink water from the drinking fountain. Believe me, it was very frustrating.
See what you get when there is no stadium news? If you made it to the end of this pointless piece, I am impressed.
April 1, 2004
What is in a name?
Tell me, what is wrong with the name Shane? Why don't any of you like it? Hmmm? I can just hear all of you saying, "What? I like the name Shane. How can he say that I don't like it?" I'll tell you why. If you met me today, later on in the day you would say to yourself, "What was his name again? Oh yeah... Shawn." Why do people prefer the name "Shawn" to "Shane"? I get called Shawn all the time. In fact, I think it might be every day. Just yesterday, a woman I've known for 3 years called me Shawn. It is baffling to me.
Even when I was a little, impressionable kid I learned quickly how much people don't like my name. When I was about 8 I got a call from a nurse who asked me my name. I told her and she said, "Shane Adam? That is a terrible name." As an eight year old I was a little dumbstruck, but I think today I would probably give her a piece of my mind.
And you would think that it might go the other way. That people would mistakenly call someone named "Shawn" the name "Shane." But it is not the case. Every Shawn I meet I ask if anyone has ever called him Shane. I have yet to have a Shawn admit to having ever been called Shane. What is up with that? It really is humorous, but also after 31 years of life it is getting a little old. So, please everyone, try to find a little love in your heart for the name Shane. The Shawns of the world are getting a little too full of themselves.
UPDATE: Just 10 minutes ago a woman I've known for two years called me Shawn. Maybe it's just me? Am I just a forgettable person?
March 10, 2004
The Inevitable Fall
Last Friday I was walking across the mighty Mississippi on the Washington Ave. bridge to Walter Library to get a couple of books to read. I'm always kind of amazed by walking across the Mississippi, the longest river in North America, on a daily basis but that is beside the point. While walking, Old Man Winter almost had his way with me. For those of you that live in a "wintry" area, you know what I am talking about: the inevitable fall. At least one time every winter I slip on some patch of hidden ice, fall down on the ground in spectacular fashion, and generally embarass myself immensely. And I'm a relatively tall person, 6' 5", so when I fall my gangly arms and legs go flying in all directions as I take up an entire sidewalk with my flailing body. Anyway, I was walking across the bridge when I came to a large puddle of water. Unfortunately it was so large that I decided I had to walk through it. Unbeknownst to me, the puddle featured quite possibly the slickest spot of ice underneath it that the world has ever seen. So, I hit that slippery spot, and I started to flail as I tried to catch myself. And amazingly, catch myself I did! Old Man Winter, I beat you! If I had fallen I probably would have had to go home due to the huge puddle of water I was walking through, but I didn't! So, I want the world to know that I mock winter! I'm throwing down the gauntlet and challenging winter to just try and make me fall! Because this year, it isn't going to happen!