July 20, 2010

the world of apps

[link deleted]

Posted by wrjacobs at 7:26 PM

February 3, 2010

Black golfers

Tom Watson says that Tiger Woods should "show some humility to the public" and clean up his act when he returns to golf (!). I wish I could find an In Living Color skit where they showed what would happen once Blacks started taking over golf courses....

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:18 AM

January 22, 2010

SF adventures

Last weekend I was in San Francisco. I'll have to channel Clint Eastwood and detail The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of an unusual trip:

The Good:

  • I took my niece and nephew to a movie theater they had not been to before.
  • I was able to get zipcars without any problems. Well, the gas card did not work in one car, but I was reimbursed for using a personal credit card, and also received an hour of free driving.
  • One zipcar lot was extremely tight. An Asian Amercian woman servicing one of the other cars tried to direct me between cars sandwiched on both sides and a truck behind me, but I was worried about hitting one of them. She said "let me try; getting cars out is my speciality," and got it out! Go 'head on, sista, and bust those stereotypes!

The Bad:

  • For the first time in 8 years of visiting at least once a year, it was raining (a lot).
  • I had to walk 7 blocks to the hotel in a downpour after a wind gust tore up a cheapie umbrella purchased from Walgreens.

The Ugly:

  • An elderly African American man got into a fight with a non-American White tourist when the tourist ignored a request for the tourist's son to stop filming with a Flip camera. The resident slapped the camera out of the kid's hand, then the tourist pushed the resident down while retrieving the camera from the front of the bus, and then the tourist and son went back to confront the resident (!). That's when I got off.

There's never a dull moment in San Francisco!

Posted by wrjacobs at 7:10 PM

January 9, 2010

college football bowl games

This year I watched at least part of all 34 college football bowl games! While I saw all of only 4 games (Insight, Outback, Rose, and BCS championship), I did catch significant action in half of the others, and saw at least a couple of series in each game. I can hardly wait for the 2010-2011 bowl season to arrive. Hopefully the Gophers will be playing in a January 1 bowl next year....

Posted by wrjacobs at 1:30 PM

NBA basketball games

Yesterday I went to my first Minnesota Timberwolves game. It has been at least a decade since the last time I attended an NBA game, and it'll probably be years before I go again. The game itself was OK, but all of the surrounding "entertainment" was annoying: fan promotions, Barbie doll cheerleaders, half drunk fans, loud music every time the home team has the ball. I'm gonna stick to the much more exciting WNBA and college game experiences....

Posted by wrjacobs at 1:21 PM

January 2, 2010

first sub-zero bus rides

It has now been three months since V and I decided to go without a car. Today I twice went out into sub-zero weather to catch the bus to and from campus. The experience both times wasn't that bad!

Posted by wrjacobs at 8:38 PM

December 25, 2009

another Christmas memory

In 1983 I saw A Christmas Story with my dad and brother. As a 15 year-old I reluctantly tagged along to a "kid's movie" (my brother was 11), but I remember loving it from the get go. Now I see at least parts of it every Christmas season, and watched the whole thing today.

Posted by wrjacobs at 4:36 PM

Christmas memories

Happy Holidays! Today I've been thinking about Christmas experiences. My most powerful memory, unfortunately, is of Christmas being cancelled when I was 13. I write about that in my memoir Ghostbox. A more positive memory: when I was 8 or 9 my mother said, "this is the first time you didn't get anything rideable for Christmas," but when we got to my grandmother's house later that day a skateboard awaited me. I wonder if Santa will bring me a Mercedes GLK today?!

Posted by wrjacobs at 8:55 AM

December 22, 2009

HP webcams racist?

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:30 AM

November 27, 2009

football rivalry games

Today Alabama defated Auburn in the 2009 Iron Bowl. I wish that I had attended a school with a rivalry game with a great name like that, or something like The Civil War or The Big Game or the Backyard Brawl. Oh wait, according to wikipedia, I did: Georgia Tech and Georgia play a Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate game every year. I don't ever remember that description used in my four years at GT. A google search turned up several current stories that use the term, though. Hhhmmm.

Posted by wrjacobs at 7:49 PM

November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving (non)travel

Normally on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving I'd be headed down south to visit friends and family in the ATL and South Carolina. This year is different, though, as (a) I had an out-of-town work assignment Monday-Wednesday, and (b) will have to go to the office on Friday. Chairin' Ain't Easy....

Posted by wrjacobs at 4:07 PM

November 13, 2009

bus adventures

All sorts of interesting things happen on the Metro Transit #16 bus. In a previous post I noted that a guy was trying to get signatures on a petition. Earlier in this week three young boys got on and tried to sell candy before being kicked off by the driver after a few stops. Today two guys were loudly debating the pros and cons of Free Will. What else would I experience if my ride were longer than 8 stops?

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:50 AM

November 4, 2009

first month without a car

So it's been a month since I turned in my car at the end of its lease and decided not to get a new one. Riding the bus every day has been OK, especially since zipcars are easy to get when necessary. Also, one can observe a wide range of folks on the bus, as illustrated by the previous entry....

Posted by wrjacobs at 12:36 PM

petitions on the bus

The other day a young White guy was asking riders of Metro Transit's #16 bus to sign a petition. I did not know what it was about until I was exiting; he was collecting signatures to try to save the TV Show Dollhouse. Dude: approaching peeps on an inner city bus about a cult science fiction TV show is not the best idea in the world, but I have to give you credit for your passion!

Posted by wrjacobs at 12:27 PM

July 12, 2009

adventures in customer service

Yesterday was an interesting day regarding customer service. First, I sent a Twitter tweet about my Comcast digital voice service not working correctly. A few hours later I received a reply by a Comcast customer service rep with instructions about how to possibly fix the problem. The strange thing is that I did not request assistance, and the rep was not one of my Twitter friends; he was randomly surfing Twitter, or Comcast has some type of web crawler that automatically searches for mentions of Comcast in tweets. I suppose I should be happy about this, but it was weird.

Later in the day I got takeout from D'amico. The cashier asked if I had a takeout punchcard: after 5 entrees the next one is free. I did not even know about this, so it was great to be told about it. Thanks D'amico!

Posted by wrjacobs at 1:43 PM

May 25, 2009

start of summer

Happy Memorial Day, the unofficial first day of summer, more or less.

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:42 AM

March 26, 2009

Tesla electric car

Electric car manufacturer Tesla recently unveiled its Model S sedan. It lookes great in the first look pictures, so I'll have to go check it out when it hits dealerships in 2011....

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:30 PM

March 8, 2009

Springing forward 2009

Happy first day of Daylight Saving Time! As usual, I started off the day resetting various time-keeping devices in the house: 8 clocks, 2 thermostats, and 1 VCR/DVD display; car and office clocks are up next. I need to upgrade to devices that automatically reset, like computers and cell phones.

Posted by wrjacobs at 1:10 PM

February 20, 2009

duplicate fortune cookie messages

I have a Fortune Folio in which I store fortune cookie messages. Today after adding one I thought, "wait, do I have this already?" Sure enough, I added the same fortune a couple of years ago! Is it bad luck when you receive duplicate fortune cookie message, or does that double the chances that it will be realized?

Posted by wrjacobs at 1:10 PM

February 14, 2009


Happy International Quirkyalone Day!

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:05 AM

February 13, 2009

Friday the 13th addendum

In addition to getting stuck in a car wash during pre-Friday the 13th hours yesterday [see previous entry], this morning I discovered that the car wash scratched up the car. Frak!

Posted by wrjacobs at 1:31 PM

Friday the 13th came early

Today is Friday the 13th, but it actually arrived for me at 6:45 PM on Thursday the 12th when I entered the car wash at the new Minneapolis Metro Petro. In this car wash you pull in, the garage door closes behind you, and then you enter a code to start the wash. Problem #1: my receipt did not print the code on the bottom. OK, I should have checked it when I got the receipt, but in 10 years of using automated car washes I've never had a receipt that did not have enough space for the car wash code! Problem #2: the door would not open when I tried to back out. Problem #3: the call for help button wasn't working. Problem #4: I entered $5 in dollar bills, but then the machine would not take the remaining $3 I was gonna use in quarters. Problem #5: after I was able to get out when someone else pulled up to use the wash, I went inside and got a new code, but this did not work (!). Luckily one of the workers came in to check on me, and was able to get a third code, which was accepted. Problem #6: I'm still out of $5 I entered in cash. Happy Friday the 13th!

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:15 AM

February 1, 2009

Super Bowl Sunday

Happy Super Bowl Sunday!

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:15 AM

January 9, 2009

the line between ignorance and hope

In webisode #9 of Battlestar Galactica "The Face of the Enemy" a Number 8 says, "there's a thin line between ignorance and hope." Hhhmmm....

Posted by wrjacobs at 11:55 AM

January 1, 2009

2009 New Year's Eve

Happy New Year! Last night I watched the Time Square Ball drop twice, at midnight eastern time, and at midnight central time. Well, technically it only dropped once (second time was on tape), but it was still fun watching it both times....

Posted by wrjacobs at 2:13 PM

December 30, 2008

can't go offline

Yesterday I planned to be offline: no email, World Wide Web browsing, or iPhone use. Alas, when I noticed voicemail waiting indications on both land and cell lines I had to check in, and have been going ever since. If I try to go a day offline again I need to do it on a weekend day....

Posted by wrjacobs at 2:36 PM

December 24, 2008

Transformers at the U's Anderson Hall

IMG_0008.JPG versus IMG_0009.JPG

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:26 AM

November 30, 2008

Atlanta Cyclorama

Before going to the Atlanta airport yesterday and watching an iPhone movie on the flight home, V and I visited the Atlanta Cyclorama. It was a bit weird going to a Civil War exhibit and museum, one that featured several items for sale that were emblazoned with Confederate flags. We were the only Negroes at the 3:30 tour, but some of the workers were also African American. Additionally, while most of the other tourists were White (and many of them had strong Southern accents), I noticed two groups that included Asian Americans, a Spanish-speaking Latino/a family, and a couple that appeared to be Native American. Welcome to the New South!

Posted by wrjacobs at 3:13 PM

November 14, 2008

new car rental fee

Last week I rented a car while in Florida for a conference. The checkout counter guy tried to push a product I'd never heard of before: a "loss of use" insurance policy. I declined, thinking that my normal insurance covered this, as it does all of the other optional insurance coverages hawked by rental agencies. This week I double-checked on this and learned that this item is NOT covered by regular insurance. So just what is loss of use rental car insurance? According to my agent, "If you were to be in an accident with the rental car, then the rental car company would charge you for renting the car while it is being repaired." Frakking Capitalists are vultures, man! What will they think of next?

Posted by wrjacobs at 5:11 PM

November 4, 2008

football players busting stereotypes

While waiting in line today to vote I saw one of the current players on the University of Minnesota football team come in. I don't know his name, but I did see the football player ID tag hanging from his backback. This was the second time I've encountered a football player at my polling place; two or three years ago Matt Spaeth (who currently plays in the NFL) rolled in. I saw some other students in line too, of course. Props to them for being civic-minded, but double props to athletes who break stereotypes!

Posted by wrjacobs at 6:28 PM

November 1, 2008

Halloween 2008...or 1958?

Last night a relatively steady stream of trick-or-treaters came through from 6:15 to 8:15. Around 7:00 two 7- or 8-year old White boys rang the bell. One of them was dressed as a Native American "chief" (!). The kid must have noticed the shock on my face, as he didn't say anything and hung back as his brother rushed forward. It flashed in my head to not give the kids any candy, but I realized that it was the idiot parents at fault, not their offspring. I should have gone down to the curb to have a word with their adult handlers....

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:20 AM

October 24, 2008

Terrestrial Quidditch

If I were an undergraduate I would definitely play a little Terrestrial Quidditch for Muggles.

Posted by wrjacobs at 8:36 PM

October 11, 2008

no longer a Minnesotan?

I'm not sure if I can call myself a Minnesotan anymore after today, as I discovered that I hate being in human-powered boats, which is a quintessential Minnesota activity. I think I was in a rowboat when I was a Boy Scout 25 years ago and disliked it. I definitely had not been in anything since.

So today I went on a sea kayaking class/excursion on Minneapolis' chain of lakes. Here's what happened:

  • We started on Cedar Lake, and my back started hurting really bad on Lake of the Isles. Halfway across Lake Calhoun I could not keep the boat straight, so I had to be towed in to shore.
  • After lunch we headed back across Lake Calhoun. Once again, I could not keep the boat straight, so had to be towed to the canal between Calhoun and Isles. The problem: my legs went past the rudder foot pedals.
  • On Lake of the Isles I started paddling on my own again, but soon capsized! Who knows how it happened, but going in the drink was a serious shock to the system. Heartbeat 1: "Huh?" Beat 2: "I'm under the water." Beat 3: "My glasses are off." Beat 4: "Frak the glasses!" Beat 5: "Go UP, fool!"
  • My glasses were nowhere to be found in the murky depths. Although 10 years old I do...did wear them quite a bit. Frak!
  • After I calmed down the group set off, but I was too rattled to paddle so was towed for a second time. I keep zig-zagging behind the tow kayak, though, so after a while I started paddling again on my own.
  • We made it over to Cedar Lake with no problems but the frakking boat started to pull to the left once again. (I was supposed to go right.) I fought it for awhile, and then just let it take me to the shore it wanted. One there I capsized again trying to get out (!).
  • I walked around the shore to where everybody else landed; the leader went and towed my kayak in. Once I got my soaked shoes off I discovered that I had ripped off a big patch of skin on my ankle. Nice.
  • It started to rain as I was walking back to my car after we returned all the gear to storage.

So, I'm glad I tried kayaking since I've been curious about it for a long time, but it ain't for me.

P.S. The other Minnesota must-do thing I don't like is going to a cabin in the summers, but that's another story for another day....

Posted by wrjacobs at 5:59 PM

August 2, 2008

strange summer

Today was the first day I rode my bike...and it's August 2! That's not the only weird thing about this summer, though. Other items:

  • Movie theater visits number in the single digits
  • None of the movies have been great
  • For the first time in 5 years I don't have any summer TV shows; last year I watched The Dead Zone and The 4400, both of which were cancelled :(
  • First summer of no basketball (following a May 14 retirement)
  • No tennis yet because of a sore left knee
  • No big house repair/remodelling projects
Hopefully the summer of 2009 will be more exciting!

Posted by wrjacobs at 1:37 PM

July 7, 2008

35W bridge encounter

Today I went over to check out I-35W bridge construction progress. An older White guy ambled up to me and said, "girls should not be allowed to drive bulldozers." "Why is that?" I replied. He mumbled something and moved away, correctly sensing that I did not share a view that might have drawn some agreement back when the original bridge was completed....

Posted by wrjacobs at 5:49 PM

July 5, 2008

4th of July fireworks

Last night I watched the Minneapolis "Red, White, and Boom" 4th of July fireworks display from a bridge filled with dozens of other spectators. This was just an OK event; watching fireworks as an adult doesn't have the same thrill as playing with them as a child. Take the 4th of July when I was 11: we stuffed the engines of a toy plane with bottle rockets to see if this would enable the plane to fly. Of course, the plastic engines simply exploded once everything was lit, but it was great! Maybe I can do that again next year....

Posted by wrjacobs at 5:04 PM

June 13, 2008

Friday the 13th

Today is a Friday the 13th. As of 9:45 AM (U.S. central time): I had an early morning nightmare (I rarely have nightmares; in this one I had to go on a 3-hour car trip with a neighbor I don't know well, AND he invited a complete stranger to join us!), woke up to discover that the DVD player was left on all night (which has never happened before), am having problems scheduling a routine medical exam (the scheduler did not read my initial email correctly), my internet connection is super slow, and a work problem that I thought was solved has been reopened. Hopefully the morning will be the worse part of the day....

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:52 AM

June 7, 2008

Yes, We Can

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:51 AM

June 6, 2008

women's Olympic basketball

American women's basketball star Becky Hammon will play for the Russian national team in the upcoming 2008 Olympics, even though she has no Russian heritage and does not speak the language. Interesting....

Posted by wrjacobs at 3:11 PM

April 2, 2008

street observation III

Sometimes I see the driver of a car pull up to a stop, get out, and the passenger replaces him behind the wheel and drives off. Until now the driver has always been male, but today in downtown Minneapolis a woman (a Sista) got out to go to work and was replaced by man, a Brotha. Go 'head on, y'all!

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:33 AM

March 29, 2008

street observation II

Today a Brotha passed me on a bike. He answered my "What up?" with "God is Great! Pimpin' ain't easy but someone's got to do it!" Um, I don't think that particular juxtaposition would have ever occurred to me, but I'll give my man props for creativity!

Posted by wrjacobs at 12:55 PM

February 19, 2008

Blu-Ray's victory

Well, it appears that Blu-Ray has won the high definition DVD war with HD-DVD, so now I can get off the sidelines and upgrade my DVD player. It's been starting to skip and do other crazy things, so Toshiba's announcement is right on time!

Posted by wrjacobs at 11:28 AM

February 14, 2008

International Quirkyalone Day

Happy International Quirkyalone Day!

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:24 AM

February 1, 2008

we need new stories

From William Kittredge's Who Owns the West? (Mercury House, 1996):

"Many of us...lose track of the story of ourselves, the story that tells us who we are supposed to be and how we are supposed to act."

"It isn't any fun, and it doesn't just happen to people; it happens to entire societies. Stories are places to live, inside the imagination. We know a lot of them, and we're in trouble when we don't know which one is ours. Or when the one we inhabit doesn't work anymore and we stick with it anyway."

"We live in stories. What we are is stories...."

"We need to inhabit stories that encourage us to pay close attention. We need stories that will encourage us towards acts of the imagination that in turn will drive us to the arts of empathy, for each other and for the world. We need stories that will encourage us to understand that we are part of everything, that the world exists under our skins, and that destroying it is a way of killing ourselves. We need stories that will drive us to care for one another and for the world. We need stories that will drive us to take action."

"[C]omplexity is actual."


Posted by wrjacobs at 10:49 AM

January 29, 2008

the nature of wisdom

Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast has posted a great entry about Toni Morrison's take on Barack Obama's wisdom.

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:17 PM

January 1, 2008

New Year's Eve celebrations

Happy New Year! As usual, I did not do anything special last night for New Year's Eve (and was asleep before midnight). Five years ago I attended a New Year's Eve wedding of friends, and in high school I went to a New Year's Eve and Day youth mini-camp. Other than that, the only thing I occassionally do is watch the Times Square Ball countdown. Next year I'll have to try something different....

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:02 AM

December 2, 2007

one cold hand

Pittsburgh has a web site about lost gloves, one cold hand. We need something like that in the Twin Cities....

Posted by wrjacobs at 2:16 PM

snow assistance

While doing round three of show shovelling this morning I noticed that a young woman walked up to my neighbor's house, shovelled his sidewalk and driveway, and then walked away. As my neighbor is over 70, I assumed he asked her to do it for him. When he came out later he was surprised that his walk and drive were cleared, and he could not determine who did the good deed, even after a couple of phone calls. I guess that he has a secret admirer!

Posted by wrjacobs at 2:13 PM

December 1, 2007

first snow

The first snow storm of the season blew into the Twin Cities today. I just finished the second round of my favorite winter activity: shovelling snow. The snow was still coming down when I knocked off at 9:15 PM, so I'll be out again tomorrow morning....

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:34 PM

November 27, 2007


The December Atlantic Monthly has a story about tools for finding better fitting clothes, such as at zafu.com. Looks like they only have stuff up and running for women's clothes so far, so I'll have to check back in later. For as long as I can remember I've been wearing Levi's Silver Tab jeans, but this year's crop was awful (way too flimsy and a weird thread pattern), so I switched over to another brand that doesn't fit as well. Hopefully, though, Silver Tab will be back to normal next year....

Posted by wrjacobs at 7:50 PM

November 17, 2007

a pizza deal?

I've ordered lots of stuff online, but never pizza. Tonight I had an online-only coupon to Papa John's, so I went to the site to see about placing an order. I did not get very far, though, given that (a) the system kept rejecting the perfectly valid coupon code, and (b) it appeared that I had to create an account vs. placing a one-time only order. I guess that some things are better done the old-fashioned way....

Posted by wrjacobs at 8:47 PM

November 10, 2007

real hip hop

"You would rather have a Lexus, or Justice? A dream, or some substance? A beamer, a necklace, or freedom?" (Dead Prez, "Hip Hop"). Word!

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:30 AM

October 31, 2007

October 31

Happy Halloween! As usual, I'll only celebrate by passing out candy to trick-or-treating neighborhood kids....

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:59 AM

October 14, 2007

stereotypes in action

Today I ran a quick errand to the Mall of America, and grabbed some takeout from Tiger Sushi. The teen who took my order had a look that said, "Negroes eat sushi?" Either that or "Please don't rob the place." I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume it was the first stereotype in action....

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:05 PM

back of the bus

The University of Minnesota has a free campus shuttle bus system. On Friday I boarded the WABC bus and went to the back seat when that shuttle bus pulled up to a layover stop. Five minutes later it departed with me as the only passenger. I asked myself, "Would Rosa Parks be mad at me for sitting in the back of the bus?" Naw, she would have applauded me for going to the warmest place on a chilly day!

Posted by wrjacobs at 8:54 PM

September 3, 2007

last day of summer

It's the last day of the summer. (Officially, summer ends on September 22 or something, but Labor Day is always the last real day of summer, as school is back in the next day). As I reported two weeks ago, I saw very few movies this summer. Tonight I'll add one more to the list: The Bourne Ultimatum.

Posted by wrjacobs at 6:01 PM


"Marriage for the most part appears to be a series of mostly comfortable silences punctuated by joy, despair, and sudden dialogues that serve to calibrate the relationship, bring it up to speed, reassure and inform, after which we lapse back into our own quiet worlds" (Daniel Wallace, in the short story "A Terrible Thing"). Hhhmmm...

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:38 AM

August 24, 2007

a cross-cultural moment

Today I helped a new student from Japan find the U's Blegen Hall campus bus stop. In thanks, she saluted me! Um, OK. One doesn't get that on your average day....

Posted by wrjacobs at 5:36 PM

July 8, 2007

Good Reads

Want to social network about good books? Check out goodreads.com. Be warned, though: you can spend hours cataloguing your books!

Posted by wrjacobs at 7:36 PM

June 26, 2007


As much as I'd love to grab a cool new iPhone on Friday, today's announced prices extinguished that desire. I guess that $60 a month (plus $500 for the phone) is worthwhile to many, but my current phone was free and I pay $20 for 60 anytime minutes/300 weekend...and I don't even use the 60 minutes! Oh well....

Posted by wrjacobs at 4:49 PM

June 20, 2007

NE Minneapolis parade

Yesterday I attended my first Northeast Minneapolis parade, which featured several marching bands, which I love. I'll have to make sure that I go every year....

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:01 PM

June 8, 2007

be the change

"Today I made up my mind: I gotta get it together. If I can be the change I wanna see, then I can live forever" (from "Forever," by Freedom Theory).

Posted by wrjacobs at 11:12 AM

June 1, 2007

neighborhood festival

This afternoon is the Pratt Ice Cream Social. I'm scheduled to work games from 5:30-6:30, and be a tour guide for the Witch's Hat Tower from 8-9. I hope that it doesn't rain....

Posted by wrjacobs at 3:00 PM

May 9, 2007

journey to the 1950s and back again

On Monday I received an ad for Mother's Day products that featured the following graphic:


Note that all of the Moms are White (well, dining and/or pampered & pretty Moms might be bi-racial); I thought that the advertisers' code mandates that at least one obviously "ethnic" person be included in each spot?!

Yesterday I was catapulted back to this century, when a UPS driver handed me a package out in the front yard of my house, even though I was grungy from cutting the grass. I thought, "how does she know this is my house without asking for ID," but was impressed that I was given the benefit of the doubt....

Posted by wrjacobs at 2:09 PM

May 1, 2007

May 1

Happy May Day.

Posted by wrjacobs at 11:18 AM

April 26, 2007

a new twist on road rage

"Women stop car, fight in center lane of I-694".

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:40 AM

April 10, 2007

ancient rock music

On the bulletin board of the Dinkytown Potbelly is a notice advertising piano lessons in "ancient rock music." Huh? Maybe this cat smoked something past its prime just before he typed that up....

Posted by wrjacobs at 5:01 PM

March 26, 2007

suburban surprises

On Saturday V wanted to see Pan's Labyrinth, which was only playing in two places that night. Since neither of us likes The Lagoon Theater very much, we decided to trek 20 miles to Maple Grove. I thought we were going to a relatively new stadium-seating gigaplex, but was surprised to find that the movie was playing at a much older place a couple of blocks away. Once inside, I was greeted with a couple of additional surprises. First, tickets were only $3 each, and I got a large popcorn and small Coke for just $8. Second, in the small crowd was a male/female couple who left a seat empty between them (!). Now, I know why two guys would do this (the "not gay seat," to use the non-vulgar expression), but a man and a woman? If they were on a date they would, of course, be next to each other, and if friends they would be comfortable with close contact. Ah, maybe that points us in the right direction: they are in limbo as friends vs. something else, so the guy wanted to signal that he was not interested in the something else? Whatever the case, it was weird.

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:44 AM

March 21, 2007

the power of writing

"When I'm writing, I am trying to find out who I am, who we are, what we're capable of, how we feel, how we lose and stand up, and go on from darkness into darkness" (Maya Angelou). Indeed....

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:09 AM

March 19, 2007

Riverview Theater

Usually I see movies in new stadium-seating gigaplexes, but yesterday I saw Happy Feet at an Old School theater, the Riverview. Altough the movie was disappointing --too many adult themes were layered on a kids' story...and they weren't done very well (for example, the "bad" penguins had Mexican accents) -- I enjoyed the overall experience. A medium Coke and a medium popcorn -- with real butter! -- for only $5?! Can't beat that!

Posted by wrjacobs at 11:01 AM

March 15, 2007

March Madness

March Madness begins today, but for the first time in years I'm not participating in an office pool, and I did not pay much attention to the 2007 version of bracketology. Maybe next year.

Posted by wrjacobs at 5:41 PM

March 5, 2007

Head Scarf Society

Move over, red hats, the Head Scarf Society is in the house!

Posted by wrjacobs at 3:53 PM

February 26, 2007

southern adventures 3

While waiting for my hotel shuttle bus after my cancelled flight yesterday, a minivan pulled up and the driver -- a middle-aged African-American gentleman -- asked, "Anyone going to the Ramada?" After getting no takers he rolled off, and I noticed a small sign on his van: "Driving Miss Daisy Shuttle Service." Say what!? Maybe he should have announced "I'm tryin' to drive you to the store!"

Posted by wrjacobs at 4:52 PM

February 14, 2007

International Quirkyalone Day

Happy International Quirkyalone Day!

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:50 AM

February 13, 2007

adventures in 13

This morning I thought that my Triskadekaphobia was in full effect, as after I reprogrammed the garage door opener the whole system died! On attempt #2 thirty minutes later, though, I got things to work. Hopefully I will not have any problems when I get home today....

Posted by wrjacobs at 12:38 PM

February 11, 2007

crazy Minnesotans

I've always told my Southern relatives that one becomes a real Minnesotan the first time s/he goes out with an unzipped coat in 20 degree weather following a week or so of sub-zero temps. Today was the first day in the 20s after a two-week cold snap, and lots of people were out without their big coats. I also saw some fool driving a convertable with the top down! In 23-degree weather!! DAMN!!!

Posted by wrjacobs at 6:21 PM

February 7, 2007

science and politics

Science magazine's 2006 list of top scientific breakthroughs ranked the solution of a 106 year-old mathematical problem as the #1 achievement, instead of a development in a pressing contemporary issue such as global warming. Was this right? Check out episode 2179 of the "Engines of Our Ingenuity."

Posted by wrjacobs at 1:46 PM

January 22, 2007

Black NFL head coaches

I did not watch yesterday's NFL football AFC championship game because I figured that the N.E. Patriots would find a way to beat the Indianapolis Colts, and a quick check of the score at halftime (21-6) seemed to confirm my prediction. Luckily I was wrong, and the Colts will head off to the Super Bowl to face the Chicago Bears! The best part, though, is that for the first time two African-American head coaches will face each other (Tony Dungy for the Colts, Lovie Smith for Da Bears), so history will be made. I'll be pulling slightly for the Colts, so afterwards Colts QB Peyton Manning can come out with some new Mastercard commerials....

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:12 AM

January 1, 2007

neighbor's Christmas toy

One of my neighbors, it seems, received an all-terrain vehicle as a Christmas present, as today he was out plowing the sidewalk after an overnight snow. And he was not just plowing his sidewalk, or his sidewalk plus the sidewalk next door, or the sidewalks of 2 or 3 more houses. No, he went up and down both sides of the block (11 or 12 houses total)...twice! Luckily I was just finishing up my sidewalk and driveway when he roared past; I love shovelling snow so if this fool had deprived me of that pleasure it would have been on, baby!

Posted by wrjacobs at 2:06 PM

December 14, 2006

end of an era?

Today I was surprised to discover that the vending machine in Appleby Hall doesn't stock Fruitopia any more. Well, technically I should say "Minute Maid," as the name "Fruitopia" was officially dropped in the late 90s, but that's what I'll always call my drink of choice while teaching (the throat gets mighty dry in a 2 hour class!). I hope that it's still available in the supermarkets....

Posted by wrjacobs at 2:56 PM

November 27, 2006

flying while Muslim

I've long known about "Driving While Black." Today I've discovered the related term "flying while Muslim" in a story about an airport pray-in.

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:57 AM

November 16, 2006

diversity at potbelly

During peak lunch hours Potbelly restaurants usually have local musicians play from the loft above the seating area. Today I was greeted with a first when I got a sandwich in the Dinkytown store: the artist was an African-American gentleman in his late 40s, not the White college-age male artist I've always seen. Nice job, Potbelly! Unfortunately, though, Brotherman played the same modern folk stuff that the White guys play. Oh well; one step at a time....

Posted by wrjacobs at 1:14 PM

November 15, 2006

OJ's new book

O. J. Simpson has a forthcoming new book that explores how he "hypothetically" could have killed his wife and her friend. Yikes!

Posted by wrjacobs at 3:14 PM

November 2, 2006

Halloween 2006

While we did not have as many trick-or-treaters as last year (when Halloween fell on a weekend, and it was much warmer), 40 or so kids trekked up to our door on Tuesday. An observation: in our 85% White neighorhood, all but 5 were children of color. Interesting....

Posted by wrjacobs at 5:36 PM

October 27, 2006

iPod on a string

Today I went downtown for lunch, and saw a 50ish White woman listening to an iPod. The weird thing was this: she had the iPod dangling from a lanyard worn around her neck! While I have to give this middle-aged person some love for having the latest hip gear, she lost cool points for putting it on a string vs. stashing it in her pocket....

Posted by wrjacobs at 2:10 PM

October 25, 2006

faulty memories

You ever have a memory that you swear is dead-on accurate but a check of the facts reveals otherwise? For years I've known that my memory of the space shuttle Challenger explosion falls in this category, as it happened in January of 1986, not in January of 1988 as I recall. I still, however, see myself driving from my apartment to class at Ga. Tech when I hear the news, but in January of '86 I was carless and a senior in high school! Today I've discovered a second memory fault: I did not first watch The X-Files during the fall of 1992 as I can so clearly picture (I've just set up my very first TV surround-sound system and was clicking through channels to find something to test it on), as the show did not premiere 'till September 1, 1993. How can this happen to me not once, but twice!?!

Posted by wrjacobs at 5:26 PM

October 23, 2006

story reading

One of my favorite activities is reading short stories aloud. Last night I organized an outing where four couples got together to read stories and eat pizza. I read Saki's "The Lumber Room." As this was the first time several of the participants had met, we actually spent more time talking then telling stories. That's cool, though. Next time we'll get through more!

Posted by wrjacobs at 11:29 AM

October 12, 2006

school crisis drills

When I was in elementary school we had fire drills once or twice a year. These days schools have "crisis drills" that include "mass casuality units." Damn!

Posted by wrjacobs at 12:43 PM

October 9, 2006

still not scary

In the widely reprinted essay (such as in Speak My Name) "Confessions of a Nice Negro, or Why I Shaved My Head," slim and soft-voiced African-American professor Robin D. G. Kelley recounts how his newly bald head scared White people while he was out and about. I shaved my head back in June, but I'm still waiting for that to happen to me. On the contrary, I still get strangers asking me for directions, even when I'm walking around a strange town looking lost myself (well, at least I think I do), as was the case last week while I was visiting Purdue University. Interesting....

Posted by wrjacobs at 2:17 PM

September 22, 2006

my pirate name

My pirate name is:
Dirty Sam Bonney
You're the pirate everyone else wants to throw in the ocean -- not to get rid of you, you understand; just to get rid of the smell. You can be a little bit unpredictable, but a pirate's life is far from full of certainties, so that fits in pretty well. Arr!
Get your own pirate name from piratequiz.com.
part of the fidius.org network
Posted by wrjacobs at 4:54 PM

September 19, 2006

drive-thru rage

We live in troubled times: some fool shot up a fast food restaurant's drive-thru window.

Posted by wrjacobs at 1:40 PM

September 7, 2006

neighborhood kid's survey

Last night a kid from the neighborhood was going door to door doing a survey on pets. The kid's about 9 years old, and I think she lives about halfway down the block from me. I was surprised that she was walking around without a parent or older sibling in this age of Amber Alerts, but Prospect Park is a relatively safe and secluded 'hood. Also, it's cool to see parents encouraging their kids to venture out into unfamiliar territory....

Posted by wrjacobs at 2:24 PM

August 29, 2006

biking in a suit

While driving in downtown Minneapolis this morning I saw a guy riding a bike in a gray business suit! That's not all; the bike was an old 10-speed model! Maybe this dude's car broke down this morning and his mountain or road bike is in the shop, so he had to bust out a bike he kept from his childhood? Weird.

Posted by wrjacobs at 4:21 PM

August 21, 2006

flirting in traffic

There's a new website that helps singles connect with others while driving. If I were not married I might have given it a try....

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:39 AM

August 18, 2006

Potbelly in Dinkytown

My favorite sandwich restaurant franchise -- Potbelly Sandwich Works -- just opened a store (today!) in Dinkytown, a 5 minute walk from my office. Yes!

Posted by wrjacobs at 1:43 PM

August 9, 2006

Darwin Awards

I wonder: are children eligible for Darwin Awards? Last night a group of pre-teen boys were riding bikes against traffic on Minneapolis' 4-lane University Avenue (at a very busy stretch)...and one was doing stunts! Craziness....

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:53 AM

July 19, 2006


I love parades, but for the second year in a row I might not see any. Tonight is the Torchlight Parade at the Minneapolis Aquatennial, but storms are rolling through the area today, so it may get rained out....

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:57 AM

June 29, 2006

the new evening constitutional

When I moved to Minneapolis' Prospect Park neighborhood two years ago I was told that a favorite activity of the predominantly ultra-liberal residents was "the evening constitutional," a walk around the 'hood. Tonight I saw/heard a graying White guy in button-down shirt and khaki pants yapping on his cell phone (through a wireless headset) about a patent application, trailed by a leashed dog and a much younger Asian woman carrying a dog toy. I don't think that this is what the neighborhood's old hippies had in mind....

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:05 PM

June 5, 2006

working at the car wash

Last week I got my car washed at a place around the corner from my house. While waiting I looked at a job application. In addition to the standard stuff (address, position applying for, U.S. citizen?) the following four questions appeared: what is $125.31 plus $135.21? what is $135.21 minus $125.31? what is 1036 divided by 4? what is 7 times 9? Huh!!?? If you are a cashier you might have to do some calculations if the register breaks down, but why put that on an initial screening for everyone? Crazy!

Posted by wrjacobs at 1:06 PM

May 11, 2006

airplane and airport fun

More airplane fun (courtesy of a comment from Vix about yesterday's post): air toons.

V and I were routed through Charlotte, NC for flights to/from Cancun. On the return trip, WNBA player Tamecka Dixon walked past us while we sweated out a 3-hour delay for the connecting flight to Minneapolis. V gave me a hard time for commenting on Dixon's athletic walk. High-achieving athletes do have a cat-like way of walking, though, don't they!?

Posted by wrjacobs at 12:42 PM

May 10, 2006

airplane fun

On the plane ride down to Cancun last week the flight attendant added a little sauce to the usual pre-flight instructions: "Please take out the procedures card and follow along, or pretend to follow along," and "If the person next to you is a child or is acting like a child, please put the mask on them first." I don't know if this was because it was 6:30 in the morning, or if he was trying to atone for being late to the gate (and, thus, delaying departure), but it was a welcome jolt of humor to get the trip started right.

Posted by wrjacobs at 2:24 PM

May 9, 2006

the 19th century anthropologist

As part of the Cancun conference V's company brought in 2 motivational speakers. The first guy was cool, especially as he was a Minnesotan so I got all of his references to places/events/customs here. The second person was a complete dud. The program said that a PhD cultural anthropologist would inform us about Mayan culture and history, but he focused mostly on personal encounters and challenges in the field. Even worse, his discussion of present day Maya people could be summed up like this: "These people have nothing, but they are at peace." Where did they dig up this fool!? Doesn't he know that "the noble savage" hasn't been in vogue for, what, 30 or 40 years? After we left that B.S. early, we visited the Mayan ruins at Tulum. Our guide was a Mayan woman who had a nice mixture of knowledge, humor, and people skills; SHE should have been the 2nd motivational speaker! I doubt that a Fortune 500 company would ever hire a local to do a keynote, though, but they can definitely find an anthropologist who lives and thinks in the 21st century, like my home grrrl Bianet Castellanos. I'll have to write a letter to V's company with that suggestion....

Posted by wrjacobs at 12:42 PM

April 14, 2006

the dangers of gum popping

Just a few minutes ago a door-to-door salesperson came to my house. She (a pre-teen kid) made the fatal mistake of loudly smacking her gum while one house over. When I looked and saw a kid with a clipboard ringing my neighbor's doorbell I knew my house was next, but luckily I had enough time to get out of sight so I didn't have to answer the door. The last time I did that I got sucked in to buying a subscription to Ebony magazine.

Posted by wrjacobs at 5:58 PM

April 12, 2006

Gotan Project

The Gotan Project has just released a new CD, Lunatico, which -- in the words of my music aficionado brother-in-law -- is sick! The website contains a video of my favorite track, "Diferente." The video has too many funhouse-style mirror tricks for my taste, but is worth checking out....

Posted by wrjacobs at 5:46 PM

April 10, 2006

zoobuh e-mail

One of my nieces turned 7 today, and as a present I am opening a zoobuh e-mail account for her. She has been writing me from her dad's account for a few months now, so hopefully she'll love having her own. Wow, sending e-mail at 7! Welcome to the 21st century....

Posted by wrjacobs at 5:50 PM

February 23, 2006

trademarkin' the N word

Actor Damon Wayans wants to trademark the N word for use on a new line of clothing. Say what?!

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:42 AM

February 21, 2006

students smoking pipes

During the drive to work today I saw a male undergrad student light up a pipe. Now while there were not any others around at that moment, this dude has got to be smoking a pipe in an effort to impress people, right?! That is, unless he's the reincarnation of an 80 year-old man....

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:37 AM

February 14, 2006

International Quirkyalone Day

Happy International Quirkyalone Day!

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:54 AM

February 10, 2006

Target sales associate (dis)appearances

Why is it that whenever one goes to Target s/he is surrounded by sales associates when shopping for stuff like toothpaste and TP -- items of which you know the exact location! -- but when help is actually needed the only red shirts around are on other customers? That happened to me today when I was trying to get a price on an unmarked nightstand. After wandering around looking for someone for 5 minutes, I went back and picked up the nightstand to take it to one of the price check scanners. What happened when I was halfway there? You guessed it, a Red Shirt appeared, but I finished the check myself...and eventually bought the thing. I should've asked for a discount at checkout....

Posted by wrjacobs at 3:29 PM

February 8, 2006


Wired magazine reports on a new academic area of study: "mociology" is "the study of how people adapt and use wireless technologies, from buying concert tickets to organizing political rallies. The field gets its name from mobile and sociology." Hhhmmm, this has intriguing possibilities....

Posted by wrjacobs at 12:56 PM

January 16, 2006

MLK Day required reading

Check out Black People Love Us.

Posted by wrjacobs at 5:29 PM

January 3, 2006

surviving the holidays

In the movie When Harry Met Sally... we are treated to the following exchange:

Harry: Boy, the holidays are rough. Every year I just try to get from the day before Thanksgiving to the day after New Years.

Sally: A lot of suicides.

Harry: Hmm.

We made it through!

Posted by wrjacobs at 11:05 AM

December 2, 2005

back door of the bus

As a teen in the ATL (Atlanta, GA) my primary mode of transportation was the bus. A favorite activity was to yell "Back do'! Yo bus driver, open da back do'!" when s/he did not open the rear door fast enough for a rider's exit. Yesterday a guy used it on Minneapolis' #50 bus...well, the Minnesota Nice version anyway: "Back door! Open the back door, please."

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:51 AM

November 30, 2005

grocer's apostrophes

Grocer's Apostrophes pop up in the strangest places. For instance, you would think that copy editors would not fail to strike a G.A. from a DVD box set that will sell in at least the 6-figure range, right? Wrong: Point Pleasant disc 3 has a description of "The Kramer's discover a secret." Maybe it's that a fired copy editor is moving to town?

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:18 AM

November 5, 2005

Halloween II

On Tuesday someone on the neighborhood list-serv said something like "thank you, neighbors, for welcoming our older teens as they trick-or-treated." S/he probably was not tricked, as my house was, and I doubt that the culprits were the little ones. The teens were at it again last night, as today the street is littered with smashed pumpkins. In anticipation of this, I tossed my jack-o-lantern in the trash the day after Halloween; those punk kids were not gonna mess up my driveway!

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:05 AM

November 3, 2005

my first jack-o-lantern


Posted by wrjacobs at 9:51 PM

November 1, 2005


When I was a kid, "Trick or Treat?" really meant "Treat or Treat?" since we never played any tricks. Some punk kids in my 'hood decided to do a trick last night, though, after showing up at the house past lights out. There were 8 bags of leaves on the curb; the little brats punched holes in 2, put another on top of a parked car, and threw one into the neighbor's yard. In the big scheme of things these are minor offenses, but DAMN!

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:32 AM

October 26, 2005

return to 1955

Lots of comment on the death of Rosa Parks is in the media, such as in the StarTribune newspaper and the "Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast" blog. Today I learned that the coach of the Air Force Academy's football team believes that the Falcons are having a losing season because they don't have enough Black athletes, who can "run very, very well". Damn, some folks are thinking about 1955 in some not so good ways....

Posted by wrjacobs at 5:54 PM

October 20, 2005

rethinking 13

Last Thursday (the 13th) my niece Alexis was born. My other niece Elaine was also born on a 13th (March 2004), as was my mother (December 1944). So maybe the 13th is not all bad, as my Triskaidekaphobia leads me to believe.

Posted by wrjacobs at 11:04 AM

October 17, 2005

sculpture gardens

Here in Minneapolis we're in the middle of a string of near 70 degree days; a perfect way to enjoy them is to visit local sculpture gardens. In town is the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, and about 45 minutes away is the Franconia Sculpture Park. I visited Franconia yesterday; they've got great new additions, like "Lost," a chain-link fence maze. My favorite, though, is still "Like Father, Like Son," two stylized tanks rumbling off to find new adventures....

Posted by wrjacobs at 4:20 PM

October 13, 2005

iPod video

Apple is releasing new iPods that will have the capability to play video clips, including episodes of ABC shows downloaded for $1.99 from iTunes. That sounds good in theory, but can one really get Lost on a 2.5 inch screen!?!

Posted by wrjacobs at 1:54 PM

October 12, 2005

new StarTribune.com

In an effort to be "hip" and "fresh" (to attract coveted 18-34 year-old readers), today the Minneapolis StarTribune newspaper launched redesigned print and Internet editions. The website definitely looks more interesting visually, but I'm gonna miss the old format, which was much easier to scan....

Posted by wrjacobs at 12:50 PM

September 13, 2005

differential fortune cookies

I wonder if the fortune cookies one recieves at Chinese restuarants are determined by the location of the restaurant. Today, for instance, at a place (Camdi's) next to the U of Minnesota my fortune read "a book is in your future," which is perfect for a professor on a lunch break. Do downtown restaurants order "you will find a condo with a great view" messages, and suburban places stock cookies that announce "an exceptional school will soon open in your neighborhood"?

Posted by wrjacobs at 1:56 PM

September 7, 2005

marching band fix

Last week I mentioned my love of parades and marching bands (be sure to check out the comments). I went to the State Fair on Sunday at 4:00, so missed the 2:00 parade. Yesterday, though, I participated in the New Student Convocation, so I got to enjoy the U of M marching band march in to Northrop Auditorium and play a few songs, including a favorite, the Minnesota March. So, that was fun, and I satisfied my seasonal marching band craving, but in 2006 I've got to get out to see The Real Deal Holyfield: bands marching in outdoor parades.

Posted by wrjacobs at 2:08 PM

September 2, 2005

last chance to see a parade

I can hardly believe that I've not yet done a favorite summer activity: watch parades that feature marching bands. I've got one more opportunity, though: there are daily parades at the Minnesota State Fair. I'll probably head over there on Sunday; hopefully by the time 2:00 rolls around I won't be too stuffed with mini donuts and Pronto Pups to enjoy it....

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:05 AM

August 22, 2005

men's fashion

Like many people, I thought that capri pants were worn only by women. Today, though, I saw a young African-American man wearing a pair. A google search reveals that he's not alone. Well, at least in terms of gender in general, but I don't know if too many other Brothas will follow his lead....

Posted by wrjacobs at 1:46 PM

August 4, 2005

reading Harry Potter #6

I can hardly believe that today is when I'll start the sixth Harry Potter Book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, since for books 4 and 5 I got them at midnight on opening day and started reading in the morning. This year, though, the book came out the day I flew to the Dirty South for a week-long trip, and then when I returned I had another full week activity (a creative writing class with lots of homework). Then this week I had to catch up on stuff that piled up over the previous two weeks. Who says that summer is a lazy time?!

I think I also delayed the start date because a favorite activity is now officially dead. I read HP books 1-3 out loud with a friend, Tom. We started book 4 together, but he couldn't find the time necessary to read the whole thing with me (book 3 took us 25 hours!), as he was at the start of a new relationship. I read book 5 entirely on my own, and now book 6 will also be solo 'cause Tom is married and has a 6-month old son, so there's zero chance he'll be coming out for our old pastime. Oh well....

Posted by wrjacobs at 8:43 AM

August 1, 2005

cool comix

"Ever feel gloomy? Would you describe yourself as 'disenchanted'? Do boys make you mad?" These are questions asked at the angry little girls site. Visit Kim, Deborah, Maria, Wanda (the fresh little soul sistah!), Xyla, and all the rest to discover "what kind of angry" you are.

Posted by wrjacobs at 6:41 PM

July 25, 2005

waving to strangers

While in Liberty, South Carolina last week I participated in the common southern small town practice of waving to people one sees -- both on foot and in cars -- while out and about. Today I waved to an older gentleman as I drove out of my neighborhood, but he looked at me as though I was trying to coax him over to buy a bag of crack! I've got to remember that I'm up north again....

Posted by wrjacobs at 3:55 PM

July 12, 2005

online secrets

I recently learned about a site -- postsecret -- which "is an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard." All of the cards that are posted (so far), though, look pretty fancy. I'll have to get an artist to help me out....

Posted by wrjacobs at 6:05 PM

July 4, 2005

sneakin' in the movies again

Back in February I posted a guide to sneakin' in the movies, focusing on seeing two movies for the price of one. Yesterday I did my second ever sneak-in triple feature. The line-up: Land of the Dead, Bewitched, and Herbie: Fully Loaded. After my first triple feature (in the summer of 2002) my head was spinning when I emerged from the theater, but this time I felt fine. I wonder if I'm ready for a quadruple feature!?

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:03 AM

America's real capital

Happy 4th of July! On this Independence Day lots of celebrations will be held around the country, such as A Capital Fourth in Washington, D.C. I wonder what's happening in the "real" capital, Las Vegas? I call Vegas this after visiting for the first time last week; people of all ages, races, ethnicities, social classes -- you name it! -- were united in a giant spectacle of glitz and consumption. Anything that can be bought or sold was available and lavishly displayed. What can be more American than Capitalist excess?!?

P.S. I won $100 on the slots.

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:45 AM

June 23, 2005

movie theater seating

I got a shock yesterday when I went to the movies to see Batman Begins. No, the surprise wasn't about the movie, which I liked a lot (4 out of 5 stars on the Netflix scale). The problem was with seating...more precisely, with the seating choices of others. When I arrived there was only one dude in the very last row of the stadium seating venue. I took my usual spot in the middle of the first row behind the main central walkway (there are 5 or 6 rows in front of that). Two minutes later a couple came in and sat in my row, three seats over on the right. The next two couples sat in the row behind me, then some people went to the second and third to the last rows. Finally, another couple sat in my row, two seats over on the left. So, when the movie started there was a cluster of people in the first two rows and another clump in the last three, with almost no one sitting in between (10 rows or so), or in the first section of seating in front of the screen. What up with this!?! Why did peeps want to sit on top of each other when there was plenty of space available for the mid-day matinee?! Maybe they were clustering for protection in case something came out of the screen to attack them....

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:39 AM

June 7, 2005

unwired cities

According to a survey just released by Intel, Minneapolis is one of America's top 10 "unwired" cities. That is, it has a high number of public Wi-Fi internet access points. I think that there are also a ton of private wireless networks around town. Take my neighborhood of Prospect Park, for example. In my house, "default," "Big Daddy," "wireless," and "robin" frequently pop up on the list of available networks. There are many "closed" private networks in operation too -- like mine -- where one must know the name in advance in order to connect. The "open" networks announce themselves to anyone who is scanning for them, such as when "wardriving." Maybe I should wardrive around the 'hood to see just how many open networks are in operation....

Posted by wrjacobs at 2:23 PM

May 24, 2005

conclusion of Star Wars

Like a million other people, over the weekend I saw Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. I liked it, of course (since the 1977 original launched me into a life-long love for sci-fi). I also found myself in line with the general reception of the 6-episode series: people who are over 30 generally prefer the original trilogy (eps. IV, V, and VI), while those under 30 like the post-1999 entries (eps I, II, and III) better. Perhaps a third trilogy should be attempted to unite the two groups?

Posted by wrjacobs at 1:41 PM

May 18, 2005

road rage, Minnesota style

The time: Tuesday, May 18, 2005. 8:45 A.M.

The place: Downtown Minneapolis, MN. Rain-slicked 2nd Ave. at 7th St.

The participants: Two White men, one in a station wagon and the other a UPS driver.

The action, part I: As the UPS truck was coming to a stop at a red light, the station wagon cuts in front of it and the driver slams on the brakes. UPS driver honks and brakes.

The action, part II: UPS driver gets out and walks to the front passenger side of the station wagon. He makes eye contact and yells, "Did you just get your license today!?" He then gets back in the truck and waits for the light to turn green.

The analysis: There was no cursing, no wild gesturing, no car ramming. "Minnesota Nice" is alive and well.

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:56 AM

April 25, 2005

shoe coolness factor

Yesterday I bought a new pair of basketball shoes from Foot Locker. The sales staff at the time (20 minutes to close on a Sunday) consisted of two teens who were half my age. As I tried on a pair of mid-priced Nikes they kept trying to interest me in the highest-end kicks, saying I'd look "cooler" in them. That tactic might have had some influence 10 years ago, but now I'm more interested in stability and cushioning for my tempermental back. They also tried to sell me on a Foot Locker VIP card so I would have access to "cool stuff" like autographed game gear. I did sign up for the card...but provided the 411 just to get the $10 discount. Next time I'll avoid all the hassle by an on-line purchase....

Posted by wrjacobs at 3:57 PM

April 5, 2005

basketball legacies

Last night the University of North Carolina men's basketball team won the 2005 NCAA championship. They were led by big man Sean May. 29 years before that, Sean's dad Scott lead Indiana U. to the 1976 championship. While a grad student at IU in the 1990s I played a pickup game against Scott May, in the basketball mecca shown above, the HPER (pronounced Hi-Per) -- Health, Physical Education, and Recreation -- building, with 10 courts (in use most hours of the day). I was totally frustrated by the slightly overweight old man (mid 40s), who scored 12 or 13 of his team's 15 points...all against me (in my late 20s). I asked someone, "How can this fool be taking me to school like this?!" When informed that I was guarding a former college star and NBA player, I felt much better. If I ever see Sean on a pickup court, though, I'll just hang up my shoes for the day....

Posted by wrjacobs at 5:10 PM

March 23, 2005

March Madness

OK, we're done with the first weekend of March Madness, and 7 of my 8 Final Four teams are still alive (on the men's side my boyz at Ga. Tech didn't make the cut). In general I enjoy watching the women more than the men, mainly because the women's game emphasizes more of a team approach, while the men are more often one-on-one high-flyin' show-boats. The Men's tourney, though, cranks out more underdog drama: only 7 of the top 16 seeds made it to the Sweet Sixteen vs. 13 on the women's side (including all of the 1 and 2 seeds and 3 of 4 3s). There'll be more upsets in the next two weeks, no doubt. In the end, Rutgers (women) and North Carolina (men) will be on top of the mountain....

Posted by wrjacobs at 2:17 PM

March 16, 2005

Spring Break

This week is Spring Break at "The U." As usual, I am not really doing anything out of the ordinary for this week. We were thinking about taking a trip to California, but that was postponed due to V's knee surgery recovery. You know, I have never taken a trip for Spring Break, not even while an undergrad at Ga. Tech. Next year we've got to get outta town....

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:05 AM

March 1, 2005


This month's WIRED magazine has an article about "podcasting," the process of recording self-made radio shows as digital audio files and then posting them online to be downloaded by others. Sounds like an interesting idea.

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:06 PM

February 22, 2005

Hip Hop music

Today at lunch a former student (from a class taught 5 years ago) approached me to say hello. Later on this afternoon another former student will be talking about Hip Hop in one of my current classes. He's in a group called Purest Form; check 'em out!

Posted by wrjacobs at 2:13 PM

February 14, 2005

International Quirkyalone Day

Happy Quirkyalone Day! Don't know what this is (and/or overwhelmed by media coverage of today's other holiday)? Click the link.

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:57 AM

February 3, 2005

sneakin' in the movies

A couple of weeks ago I talked about my most recent "Sneak-In Double Feature," where one buys a ticket to see a movie and then slips into a second at the conclusion of the first. Here is my guide to successfully sneaking into movies:

  • Pick a stadium-seating multiplex with one entry for all theaters (though with some luck you may be able to get away with having both movies in one wing on a dual-entry site).

  • Check on-line movie listings to memorize movie start and run times; allow 5-20 minutes between end of first movie and start of the second.

  • Buy snacks to get through the 3+ hours you'll be in the place. (Buying way over-priced snacks will also eliminate any guilt one feels for buying only one ticket.)

  • Enter 1st movie normally, and also enter 2nd movie in your usual manner. That is, do not look guilty; be confident that you will not have any problems!

  • If challenged by an usher upon 2nd movie entry, say "I left my ticket stub in the bathroom." What's the worst they can do in this case? (I must admit, I've never been stopped, so can't answer this question).

  • Have fun!

I do not recommend a Sneak-In Triple Feature, however. I did that once in San Francisco, in the summer of 2002 (at the Van Ness 1000, seeing Star Wars Episode II, Halloween: Resurrection, and The Bourne Identity). After 6 hours in darkened rooms I stumbled around outside in the sun for 20 minutes or so. Not fun, believe me.

Posted by wrjacobs at 7:29 PM

January 31, 2005

Eternal Sunshine, Spotless Minds

On Saturday I saw Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, about a couple who have memories of each other erased from their minds when the relationship sours. At first I thought that the movie was just OK, mainly because Jim Carrey was not the best choice for the male lead (Philip Seymour Hoffman would have been much better, especially if he riffed on his character in Love Liza). After a second viewing on Sunday and talking about it in class today, I now realize that I like it better than I first thought. In addition to interesting and quirky visual effects, the movie raises interesting sociological Qs. For instance, would an America of 2005 be well served by the ability of its citizens to visit Lacuna, Inc.?

Posted by wrjacobs at 3:37 PM

January 10, 2005

charity or scam?

A VERY strange thing happened to me in the grocery store (the Rainbow at Lake and 27th Ave, for my Twin Cities readers) about an hour ago: a man my age asked me for money at the back of the store, but then told his girlfriend/wife to pay for my stuff when I got in line behind them later! OK, let me back up so that makes more sense. When the guy asked me I said, "I only have $5, sorry man," to which he shrugged and walked away. 10 minutes later at the front of the store I was about to get in a long lane when he flagged me over to a short lane where he was bagging his stuff (with the assistance of two young children), and told his partner to put my purchases on her credit card. I told her that I had it covered with my own card, and they walked away. My first thought was that they were using someone else's card so didn't care how much they rang up, but then I wondered, "maybe this guy took pity on me since I supposedly only had $5, but my bill would clearly ring up to be more than that?" I've seen people chip in when others are short at the register -- in December 2003 I gave an elderly woman $2 but she made me march out to the car and get change to repay me! -- so I'm not totally crazy, am I?

Posted by wrjacobs at 5:20 PM

December 28, 2004

Christmas Ritual

OK, we're almost done with the end-of-year holiday season. In an earlier posting I mentioned that a personal Thanksgiving ritual ended a few years back; now it appears that a Christmas ritual may also be dead. I bought my first car in 1987, a 1979 Honda Accord with 120K miles on it (still going strong when I sold it in 1991 with 190K miles). On Christmas mornings from 1987-2001 I drove around town listening to Christmas music for an hour or so. Two years ago I visited my in-laws for Christmas so didn't get to do it, thus breaking the streak. Last year I was able to take the morning music cruise on Dec. 25, but this year we didn't get out of the house until 1:00. We did play a CD of Christmas music that I made for my mother-in-law, so I guess that counts on some level. Good, I was wrong: the ritual is not completely dead, but next year I've got to celebrate it in its original form....

[4:01 PM] At least one reader wants to know what was on the Christmas CD. Tomorrow I'll post the song list. Check back again then!

Posted by wrjacobs at 2:15 PM

November 30, 2004

Into the Red

Last week I was in the South (Georgia and South Carolina) for Thanksgiving weekend. A lot has been written about "Red" and "Blue" America. Here in Blue Minnesota's Twin Cities I don't see many American flags painted directly on cars (vs. the removable kind), but in Red Georgia (Atlanta) I saw several, and many of those flags were accompanied by "God Bless America" text, which I've never seen here. What up?

Posted by wrjacobs at 1:57 PM

November 23, 2004


In two days I'll join millions of my fellow Americans in eating turkey and watching football on Thanksgiving day. This was not always the case, though, as in the 90s I did something very different:

  • Turn down offers from friends to celebrate the holiday with them.

  • Spend the day alone, reflecting on stuff.

  • For dinner have a pot of spaghetti, sauce (always Prego), ground beef, and beef sausage.

  • Watch 3 movies, one of which was always When Harry Met Sally....

I did these things in each year from 1990-1999. In 2000 I started going to South Carolina to spend the holiday with my maternal relatives. Although I enjoy each Thanksgiving in Liberty, I miss my old ritual....

Posted by wrjacobs at 10:46 AM

November 11, 2004

What's a QA?

What is a "quirkyalone"? Click here to find out.

P.S. I appear in the book Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics.

Posted by wrjacobs at 9:24 AM