Monday, December 31, 2007

World Juniors

How 'bout that USA World Junior hockey club, eh? They're off to a great 4-0 start over in the Czech Republic and get the bye in the first round of the playoffs. Last time they went 4-0 in the opening round they won the thing. 17-year old Jordan Schroeder (Gopher recruit) appears to be playing awfully well with 6 assists so far. Last year the Center Ice TV package televised a bunch of the Canadian games, but no such luck this year. I'm told, though, that the NHL channel will broadcast the playoffs at the end of the week, so that'll be nice. I'll tape the game Friday and watch after work.

Good Week

It's been nice having the last week plus off from work and just being able to kick around. I've kept surprisingly busy, though, and haven't spent too many wasted hours on the couch (definitely some, though).

Christmas was busy as we had family gatherings on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday last week. It was fun seeing my niece (3 years old) and nephew (1) playing with new toys on Christmas morning.

Unfortunately the downer of the week was last Thursday which I spent with my dad at the hospital. He has some abnormal growth removed from his bladder. It was in its early stages and we'll know more when the biopsy comes back this week.

On the healthy front, I got out x-c skiing 4 times and decided to join a 8-week 5x per bootcamp at a newish little studio over at Minnehaha & 52nd. It starts Saturday and should make my life pretty hectic through February. But I'm looking forward to the intensity and hope to meet some new people (read: attractive single women). The x-c skiing is coming along quite well. I've skied at Como golf course twice, Battle Creek once and Elm Creek once. Elm Creek is way the hell out in Maple Grove, butwas crazy busy on Saturday afternoon with hundreds of folks out there tubing, snowboarding and skiing on a little bunny hill they have. Its always interesting to be introduced to these new environments that are packed with people, but which just don't really exist in my little city/condo/bus-riding world. The x-c was fairly crowded, but beautiful and I got in a nice workout.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Amen to that

So yeah it's Christmas Eve and I'm laying on the couch listening to the 3 cds that showed up from Amazon today and reading the new Replacements book that also came. I think I heard Santa outside my door, but he passed me by because he didn't care so much for the LCD Soundsystem on my stereo. Also got me some Spoon and Mavis Staples.

But this quote from Paul Westerberg put me upright on the couch in front of the laptop to relay it to you. I guess I'm feeling at a bit of a mid-career re-examination, so this kinda quote is standing out more to me. Like the Lloyd Dobler quote the other day and have I raved about Three Cups of Tea yet? Cuz that's a phenomenal story, too, that makes a fella want to get busy livin'.

Anyways, heres Westerberg on the 'Mats circa 1986: "Our goal is to be the biggest, most natural thing that we are, and be as big as possible. We're just trying to be ourselves with as much gusto as we can."

Like I said: amen to that. And I wonder if that attitude helped form the root of the Twin Cities music scene. Most bands around here are pretty genuine and aren't looking to be famous. They just love making music and checking out other bands around town.

Song of the Day by Alpha Consumer

Just found this one yesterday from a new Mpls band called Alpha Consumer. It's some guys who have been in other local bands and the rest of the tunes on their myspace page weren't as impressive. But this one's sweet.



Previously recommended song:

Have you heard of kickboxing?

Maybe that's my ticket. Sport of the future.

Lloyd, Lloyd, all null and void: I don't want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don't want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don't want to do that.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Consumers vs. Citizens

Another terrific Bill Moyers' Journal this week. I've mentioned it here before and I continue to be impressed. I presume I'll keep mentioning it here until you set your DVR for it. In St. Paul it's on channel 2 Fridays at 9pm.

This week's topic: Consumerism. And again, my words can't do it justice, but this week's guest was political scientist Benjamin Barber. You might have also seen him on the Colbert Report.

A choice nugget:

"You go to L.A. today, you can buy 200 different kinds of automobiles, and then in that automobile, no matter which one, you can sit for hours not moving in traffic". The nugget is that a society based on consumerism allows you the choice of car. But a society built on citizenry and neighbors would also allow for efficient public transportation.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Ayn Rand vs. Cormac McCarthy

In the blue corner: Ayn Rand. Author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. I read The Fountainhead a few years ago and it instantly became an all-time fave. I loved the artistic struggle and the hand-of-God attitude of the architect about his work. Sure, it was 900 pages long, but I got into it and enjoyed it. So a few weeks ago I finally checked out Atlas Shrugged from the library. 1130 pages! I'm a fairly busy guy and not a fast reader and could tell that this book was going to take me at least 2 months to read (and that's if I lugged it on the bus back and forth to work every day for the 25 minutes of reading each way).

But I lugged. And about 300 pages in I had a revelation. It occurred for me at the confluence of a few thoughts. First, I realized that Rand's schtick (if I may) is extreme detail. For every character you encounter in her books she feels the need to write in extreme detail about who they are, where they came from, their childhood, the hem on their pants or skirt, etc. This is all well and good and can be admired in a lot of ways. She paints a very vivid picture.

I was also read a couple poems around this time (the ones that are linked on the right side of this blog, actually) and was reminded about how they say one of the goals of poetry is to say the most with the least words. Brevity. Conciseness. Indubitably! When I see a 1000-page book or a 3-hour movie, I challenge the creator to do more with less.

Third, roundabout this time my library request for Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian came through and I picked it up. I was introduced to McCarthy (in the red corner) when a number of his books turned up on the Notable Books List put out by the American Library Association. It's a great resource if you're looking for something to read. I read McCarthy's No Country for Old Men this past summer and loved it. Maybe you've seen the film which also kicks ass. Blood Meridian is 335 pages and McCarthy is one of those authors whose schtick is to accurately depict the language of his derelict characters. And oh yeah, he doesn't use quotation marks. It's amazing how quickly you fall in and realize that quotes are nothing but a waste of ink because you can always tell who is talking from the context.

So Rand vs. McCarthy. They're both great authors with their own styles. But I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'll wait for the Atlas Shrugged movie to come out.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Curve Balls

Had a couple curve balls thrown at me this afternoon -- one at work and one at school. Work first: the project I've been working on for the past year+ is not getting shit-canned exactly, but is being transferred and effectively put on hold. Word is that they'll find something for me and I'm not worried about job security or anything.

Second is at school: my green store consulting project was waiting for a condo project to get going in order to be a tenant on the ground floor. But it was not surprising to learn that the condo cannot find funding, so they're switching gears to the airport opportunity. This is exciting because it infuses our group with a sense of urgency and purpose, as opposed to the 6-month timeline we had been working on. We'll be cranking out pro-forma financials in the next few weeks using a franchise-at-the-airport model. So that'll be interesting.

Monday, December 10, 2007

What I'm Listening To

To partner with the post from last week of what's on my DVR, here's a list of my favorite podcasts. Note that they're pretty much all NPR shows. I've tried to listen to smaller producers, but haven't found anything that I liked. Even though there are thousands of people making their own little podcasts, I still feel like I require a certain level of professionalism and production value. Feel free to recommend any to me. And I'm not into the video podcasts, just the audio on my little pocket-sized nano.

The hour-long shows work well for me because they're 50 minutes in reality and that works out pretty well for my bus commute which is normally about 40 minutes door to door.


I've been trying to find a good green, eco-friendly, sustainable show, but haven't found anything I'm really excited with yet. The ones I've found all seem to be interview style by an amateur interviewer. Might not be too long until one of the major public radio domains steps up with something...or maybe they already have.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Quit yer bitchin' and start a revolution

Like Bob Garfield did. Bob Garfield is the co-host of one of my favorite NPR shows On The Media. He also has this crusade against Comcast going for him....which is nice.

Got a problem with Comcast? Who doesn't. Comcast has representatives who are reading his blog and leaving a comment appears to have garnered positive attention from Comcast for some of the disgruntled customers.

King Corn

I went and saw King Corn at the Oak Street yesterday and enjoyed it (aside from me being uncomfortably cold throughout). It's a documentary about 2 guys from Boston who move to Iowa for a year to raise an acre of corn and see where that corn goes. The film is very informative and well made.

If you're not aware, Americans eat corn in virtually every processed food, and the type of corn most grown is virtually unless processed into something like high-fructose corn syrup.

Cattle used to graze on grass, but it would take them a couple years to fatten up enough to be sent to slaughter, so farmers began confining them in small spaces (they can't get any exercise to burn off the calories) and feeding them as much corn as they can handle. This greatly reduced the amount of time required to fatten up a cow. Veterinarians are quoted in the film saying that if beef cattle weren't slaughtered at the end of their first year on the feed lot, many of them would die as their corn diet gives them ulcers and other stomach ailments.

This Time article also talks about some of the benefits of grass fed beef versus corn fed.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Baltimore?

I took the Which City Are You? quiz and it told me that I am Baltimore. Not sure how accurate that feels, but I've never been to Baltimore so maybe its dead on. And maybe that new career with Lutheran World Relief is in the cards for me.


Your Score: BALTIMORE!
You scored 34% Style, 33% Climate, and 56% Culture!


You are Baltimore, Maryland. Baltimore, the largest city in Maryland, is situated in the northern part of the state on the Patapsco River estuary, an arm of Chesapeake Bay. The city is independent and does not fall within any county. Baltimore's economy is very diverse, with strong financial, legal, and nonprofit service industries. The city also leads in scientific research and development through two highly acclaimed medical institutions, Johns Hopkins Hospital and University of Maryland Hospital. There is also a significant tourist sector. Major attractions include the the National Aquarium, Harborplace, the Maryland Science Center, the Babe Ruth Museum, Fort McHenry National Monument, and Pimlico Race Course, site of the Preakness.


While you are not the most stylish individual, you are definitely cultured and are not afraid to try new things, even if they differ from what you're used to. You appreciate diversity in life and definitely like to get out there and have fun. You like the changes in season, although you prefer warmer weather to cold. People find you to be down-to-earth and easy to get along with. Your personality is not grandiose, but just right.




Link: The Which Major U.S. City Are You? Test written by weeredII on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

My wishcentral.com

female
athletic (like better than me at running or biking or swimming or log running or whatever)
independent
not a cat person
not a dog person
just a people person
interested in the arts
more cute than beautiful
likes to travel

Friday, December 7, 2007

Darth Who?

Okay, this is a link to a link, but I enjoy reading the first linked blog, so I'll hip you to it.

It's kinda funny to hear David Prowse as the voice of Darth Vader in the original filming. Must've been a challenge for the actors to be afraid of his Scottish lilt.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Slow Transportation Movement

Have you heard of the slow food movement? Well I still like my food fast, but I'm gonna start the slow transportation movement. Walking, biking, bus riding.

I've been thinking tonight how much I value the bus compared to how most people value their automobile.

I don't value the acceleration or the upholstery or the styling or the handling. I value the time it gives me to slow down my life, and the lack of stress. Take last night's snow storm, for example. Stress levels were out of the stratosphere as folks spent 2-3 hours trying to get home from work. I, on the other hand, had the pleasure of going to class, going to the bar, and then a leisurely bus ride home.

Living in downtown St. Paul makes it pretty easy to get to a lot of local landmarks on the bus. Downtown Mpls (daily for work). Rosedale (my Dad lives a 10-minute walk away). Bars on Selby. Bars on Randolph. Bars on West 7th. Bars downtown Mpls.

So yeah. One great thing about the bus is that I can take it to bars. I can have a couple beers and get a chauffered ride home. Who wouldn't like that?

But I like it for other reasons, too. I like that it has helped instill in me a more peaceful, easy-going feeling. I'm in less of a rush to get places because I am comfortable on the bus. It gives me found time where I can read or listen to podcasts or music. If the bus driver of the 16 (you know who you are) decides to stop the bus and run into KFC for a big bucket o' chicken, I don't mind. Because I'm just biding my time and enjoying it in other ways.

Now this is probably easier for me, being single, than it might be for others. But for whatever reason, I appreciate how it helps slow my life down. I walk 10 minutes to the bus. Wait for 3 minutes. Ride the bus for 25 minutes. Walk for another 5-10 minutes to my destination. It's become a simple pleasure for me that I wish more of my peers could appreciate.

Of course, I'm sure my peers have things in their life that they wish I could appreciate. But this is my blog. And I didn't even mention the eco-friendly aspects of taking a bus (that's already going there) over driving.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

About Last Night...

As expected, last night at First Ave for the Replacements book release party turned into a bit of a "wheels off" evening. They had it set up pretty well with bands alternately playing in the main room and the entry, so the crowd would go back and forth between the two rooms to catch all the acts. Some of it was actually a little disappointing, like the new Mammy Nuns that Rob was playing with. Lame. And we missed Kruddler, who I was looking forward to seeing. But overall it was fun and plenty of drunken half-songs were filled with the spirit of the old 'Mats shows, of which I'm only familiar with the legend.

Monday, November 26, 2007

My DVR

Here's what's set to record on my DVR right now...

* Robot Chicken (stop-motion action figure comedy)
* This Old House (home re-modeling)
* Bill Moyers Journal (socio-political magazine and interview show)
* Almanac (local news and politics)
* No Reservations (travel show hosted by punk rock chef Tony Bourdain)
* The Sports Show (local sports roundtable)
* Squidbillies (cartoon about hillbilly squids, just like it says)
* Globe Trekker (travel show hosted by younger folks)
* Austin City Limits (live music from Austin, TX)
* The Office (sit-com)
* Sundance Channel's The Green (eco-friendly stuff)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Cross and The Lynching Tree

Bill Moyers Journal again cemented its place in my world as Must See TV this week when he had on Dr. James Cone who talked about the parallels between the Christian cross and the lynching tree as a way to begin a new conversation about race in America. You really need to program this show into your DVR.

Dr. Cone is a professor at Union Theological Seminary in New York and wants to challenge America to re-open this important dialogue. He notes that crucifixion was how the Romans enforced their power, similar to how white America used lynching in post-Civil War America. Pretty powerful to think of it that way.

Moyers asked Dr. Cone to recommend one book for President Bush to read and he suggested The Irony of American History by Reinhold Niebuhr. What a phenomenal title! I'm intrigued.

Recently there have been several instances of nooses being hung in America and it is disturbing to think of where we are as a nation. For 400 years whites have been looking down on blacks in this country. Really, how far ahead of the rest of the world are we? It's easy to look down on racial and religious tensions elsewhere, but maybe we're not so different.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Bertolucci

When I was at the library yesterday I picked up a few foreign films for the long weekend and today I was formally introduced to legendary Italian filmmaker Bernado Bertolucci. I watched "The Conformist" and came away extremely impressed. I'm not the type to gush like this guy did, but let's just say that I now understand why Bertolucci is regarded as one of the greats. The directing and cinematography were phenomenal and I look forward to checking out more of his works.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

James J. Hill Reference Library

This morning I made my first foray to the James J. Hill Reference Library in about 10 years. It is located in the same ornate, marble building downtown St. Paul that holds the St. Paul Central Library, but has it's own entrance and is a separate library.


The condo building that I live in also happens to be the headquarters of James J. Hill's old Great Northern Railroad, so I enjoy little J.J. Hill experiences more than most, probably.

I went there to do demographics research for this green store idea and was looking for household spending on housewares and home improvement items like flooring, linens, cabinets, glassware, etc. The librarian was very helpful and I found what I was looking for. And it feels good to have that reference ability under my belt now. It's a cool looking library inside, too.

Unfortunately, they still force you to print everything out and charge $0.20 per page. And yes, I did try to log on to my Google Docs to just copy and paste the data right into there, but they have some specialized firewall that prevents sites that would allow a user to usurp their printing fees. Oh well, I'm happy to pay to support a library like that.

Monday, November 19, 2007

MPG vs. MP$

I was reading a story in Outside magazine last night about Richard Branson, the Virgin Atlantic billionaire. He's been instrumental in setting some large prizes ($25M) to encourage folks to push the envelope in things like space travel and sustainability. X-Prizes they're called.

One that caught my eye was the Automotive X-Prize, offering multi-million$ to somebody who could create a market-ready automobile that gets 100 MPG.

But talk about boxing yourself in! Why are we still using the term miles per gallon for this sort of thing. "Gallon" assumes we're using gasoline. If we're really pushing the boundaries and looking for new technologies, shouldn't we be measuring automobile efficiency by something like MP$? My challenge would be to get somebody who can create a marketable car that can go 100 miles on $1 of input, be it electricity, biofuel, gasoline, blood of a virgin, whatever.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

New 'Mats Book

At the end of this month is the release party for Jim Walsh's new oral history of the Replacements, one of my favorite bands of all time. Alas, I wasn't hip enough in high school to be too into them, but did see them once during college before they broke up.

So, in their honor, I present the greatest music video of all time and some vintage live footage....

Bastards of Young video


Kids Don't Follow from 1981 in Entry (bassist Tommy Stinson is 14 years old here)

Future Czech Bar?

Ever since Mikko and I spent some time in the Czech Republic a couple years ago we talked about opening a Czech bar in the Twin Cities. The idea: only one or two beers on tap, both high quality Czech beers (one certainly would be a pilsner). It would be a throwback to the olden days around here (or so I'm told) where each bar was run by a brewery, so they'd only have that one beer on tap. The risk is that this bar would stick to its guns and only offer 1 or 2 beers on tap. No bottles of MGD or any of that bullshit.

We were thinking that Nord'east Mpls would be the best place in town to do it, but the ol' Viking space on the West Bank might be good, too. After all, somebody needs to see that that beautiful old Grain Belt paint job is preserved. Ahhh, the days when it was rare to have a TV in a bar...


Saturday, November 17, 2007

A Renewed Hope

Today I drove down South Robert to visit the triumvirate of big box home stores: Menards, Lowe's & Home Depot (from north to south, respectively). My aim was to see how eco-friendly their product selection is. I also visited Natural Built Home on Minnehaha & 40th which, when I learned of it last week, sounded like it might be the exact same idea as we have for our Uptown green store.

Here's what I found:

Menards & Lowe's were pretty similar in offering virtually no green products, aside from compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). Neither of them offered low VOC paint or dual flush toilets or recycled countertops or eco-friendly flooring or sustainable wood. And if they did, it was not noticeable to my discerning eye. Each had a little insulation that was friendlier than pink owens corning fiberglass, but they each had far more of the classic pink panther insulatino than any alternative. They had zero marketing that touted any products as eco-friendly. Not sure if I'm surprised or not and I'm curious to know what their target markets are. Menards seems to want to be a low-cost leader, so that kinda makes sense. I'd never been in a Lowe's before but had heard how their stores are nicer, so I guess I expected that they might be slightly more upscale than Menards. But I don't really know. Do you? I'll ask around.

Home Depot was slightly different, but in only one regard that I could find. When I asked someone to point me towards their insulation, the gentleman who helped me immediately offered up that they were no longer carrying the fiberglass blown-in type, opting instead for the cellulose because it's more green. He mentioned, without me asking, that HD is trying to go more green, so I asked him about low VOC paint. He said they used to offer some from Behr, but it was thin and low-quality and Behr has pulled it (or HD pulled it). But they still had none of the other benchmarks I was looking for.

Next I drove to Natural Built Home in Mpls, almost fearing what I might find. It exists in an unattractive storefront on a nice stretch of Minnehaha which blends a quality neighborhood with decent traffic flow. Decent location, but not optimal. As I entered, I was immediately struck by the presence of customers. Two groups of customers were working with the two salespeople on staff, and another person was milling around. However, I was also struck by the simplicity of the store. It is a pretty simple and small (1200 sq ft?), containing floor samples, cabinet samples, countertop samples, some low VOC paint and a couple dual flush toilets. The employees seemed very knowledgable as they were explaining the different products to the customers, but this store offered a different vibe from what we are envisioning in our Uptown store. No linens, no glassware, purely a place to order cabinetry, countertops, flooring, etc.

I returned home with a renewed hope that our store will be able to differentiate itself.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Current Thoughts

My current thoughts on the green store idea is that, within the 1 year before it could possibly open, Home Depot, Lowe's & Menard's will have plenty of green offerings in their stables. I'm not exactly sure how a little guy could compete.

My rationale: Maybe it's just the little cocoon that I live in, but this green movement is everywhere. Every magazine, NBC, and many corporations are involve, even if for many its only greenwashing. But I just find it hard to believe that by January 2009 you won't be able to walk into a Home Depot, Lowe's or Menard's and choose from a large selection of high quality recycled glass countertops.

And if it is true that Hollywood and the press tend to be more liberal, it will only be spread more in the future.

I'm thinking the future here is more on the production side, because green products will all be distributed through current channels.

Am I wrong? Is there still a place for the little man? Will consumers trust their green greenbacks to the behemoths?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Some Ad

Great quote from some ad:

Pursuit of perfection leads to madness. Pursuit of destiny leads to triumph.

Oh yeah, I think it was an NFL Network ad. Not too bad.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Travel as a Political Act

Rick Steves attributed this quote to Mohammed:

"Do not tell me how educated you are, but tell me how much you have traveled"

I like that. However fairly thorough googling has not validated it. Are you familiar with it? Can you help me validate?

Rick Steves @ Augsburg


Yesterday I went to see travel writer Rick Steves speak at Augsburg on the topic "Travel as a Political Act". I appreciate Steves' books and TV show because he does a good job of showing a traveler how to best manage popular tourist spots. In my travels I've found that his book accompanied by another (like Rough Guide or Lonely Planet) makes a complete collection of resources.

Anyways, Steves comes off as a bit of a weenie on his TV show, so I wasn't sure what to expect out of him as a speaker. But the title of his talk was intriguing so I went. And boy am I glad that I did. He surprised me with his strong political views that were mostly centered around how America could be a better place if more Americans understood the rest of the world better by traveling. He didn't pull any punches when espousing his liberal leanings which have been gleaned by years and years of experiencing the rest of the world first-hand.

Oh, if only our politicians had such an understanding of other cultures. What if, instead of spending 2 years getting an MBA from Yale, our future politicians spent 2 years studying or traveling abroad or in the Peace Corps?

The crowd gave him quite an ovation after being treated to 75 minutes of speech, slideshow and Q&A.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Destiny?

My MBA consulting project team met with our client yesterday for the first time at French Meadow Bakery and this might just turn into my next career. I'm quite excited for the opportunity to work with Lynn & Steve in helping to devise their next entrepreneurial venture, and even more excited that it was implied that there might be a future for me there. For the past few years I've been dreaming of getting out of corporate America and into an eco-friendly business to call my own. And this might be it. Stay tuned...

Friday, October 26, 2007

Gopher basketball

Last night we gathered at my dad's house for the annual ritual of divvying up his Gopher basketball season tickets. He has the tickets that originally belonged to his father, so they've been in the family for 50 years, which is kinda cool. And they're great seats (well, as great as seats can be without paying the premium seat deposit). 7th row in the free throw lane.

For as long as I've known, my dad has invited over a few friends with whom he shares the tickets. And in the past several years I've begun inviting a friend or two because none of us really wants to go to more than a few games. In the past 10-12 years it really seems like they've added more non-conference games against weaker opponents. And nobody wants to see Northwestern or Penn State. So basically there are about 6 or 7 desirable games (Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana, Purdue, Michigan, Michigan State, Illinois) and about 10-12 lame games (South Dakota State, Cal-Poly, NE Louisiana, etc.). Also, in recent years they've added 2 exhibition games. At least these are half price ($15), but nobody really wants to go.

The dynamic of the divvying is thus: Rik, Chuck, Whitey, Kirk & Dan sit around Rik's dining room table on which the tickets are displayed. Everybody has their calendar and their checkbook and I often have a proxy list for a friend like Jay who was unable to attend. We passive-aggressively go through the games one-by-one and people speak up if they want it. For instance: "Okay...first game is versus Army. Anybody? ... Anybody? ... Bueller? ..." It goes on like that through the crappy non-conference games until everybody has one or two. God help the proxy person who doesn't show up, because they always get stuck with the worst of the worst. This year Jay will be enjoying Northwestern and South Dakota State. But thems the breaks.

Then we get to the Big Ten games. Now everybody knows that there are 11 teams in the Big Ten, but only 9 of them play here any year because for some amazingly ridiculous reason they choose to play 12 non-conference games, but not everybody in their own conference. I don't get it. This year Purdue does not visit. Last year it was Wisconsin. So there are the 7 good Big Ten games and the 2 bad Big Ten games and nobody wants to see Northwestern or Penn State. This is where the participants get a little more aggressive, but only partly so. Iowa? Hmm....I guess I could take the Iowa game...I mean if nobody else wants it....because the date works particularly well for me this year.

Whatever. It's pretty sad the charade we go through every year. But it's been like this for 30+ years, so who am I to question tradition.

Diamond Dave

Went to the Van Halen show in Mpls the other night. Good stuff. It was a fun show, entertaining and I'm glad I went, though it was a little weird seeing 52-year old Diamond Dave singing some of those lyrics. The crowd was fairly old and I don't think I've ever noticed so much smell of hash at a concert before. But Dave and Eddie were most impressive and it was great to see them genuinely having so much fun. Something certainly flipped the switch on that whole relationship thing between Dave and the others.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Bill Moyers

I've been really enjoying watching Bill Moyers Journal of late. He discusses current social, political, cultural and economical issues ranging from deregulation of the financial industry, Iraq and American-Mid East relations to interview with poet Robert Bly.

He's pretty clearly on the liberal side of the spectrum, but that doesn't take away from the impact of the intelligent discussions he brings out of his guests. Check it out.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Art Crawl

Lowertown Art Crawl is today and I'll take a stroll through a building or two this afternoon. I have one piece hanging in my place that could certainly be upgraded. Well, two actually. But the second one I envision as being a particularly expensive replacement due to the size and prominence of the space. But one for sure. And I usually end up falling in love with something at these art crawls/-a-whirls. But it's always fun.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I Will Dare

I Will Dare still sends chills up my spine. Such an amazing song. I was listening to Sound Opinions on the bus this morning and the Chicago hosts (Greg Kot & Jim Derogatis) were interviewing Jim Walsh about his new Replacements book coming out soon. In 1984 I was 14 years old and wasn't exactly hip (my hipness didn't arrive until much later), but I still feel a real connection to this band. Only saw 'em once. In a theatre setting. But such great stuff.

Monday, October 8, 2007

The NYC

Spent the weekend in NYC with a couple friends and had a great time. Highlights included:

- seeing Buddhist monks from Myanmar at the UN
- pepperoni and parmesagne at the Italian market in the Bronx's Little Italy. Gave our leftovers to a homeless guy
- Steve McQueens at Sweet Ups
- being in town while the Yankees lost 2 playoff games
- bumping into an old college pal in Union Square

Also couldn't help but notice the signs saying "No honking $350 fine" along many of the Manhattan streets. It appears to be helping. There was still some honking, but very little and very little red light running like we see in the Twin Cities, too. Seemed quite civil and it is an impressive city.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

NYC

Off to NYC with Mike and Dan tomorrow. 7am flight will come a little early, but it'll be nice to have three full days there. We used Vacation Rental By Owner to book our lodging and found a good place near Union Park for a very reasonable price. I think it's around $200 for the three of us to stay in somebody's apartment. Our plan is to explore Brooklyn (Williamsburg), check out lots of bars, UN tour, maybe a show through TKTS. I'm psyched.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Your Starving Children

I fed your starving children for a couple hours at work this afternoon...er...I mean Your starving children. It's a pretty impressive operation they have and I was first introduced to it one year ago when we also did this at work. Check out the website. In 2 hours of work (which included an intro and cleanup) about 30 of us stuffed enough bags with food to feed 51 children for a year. Now my hands smell like chicken, veggies, soy and rice. Yummy!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Spent 15 Years in Indiana...

Well not in Indiana, exactly. That was just for the Jack Logan fans out there. But this weekend were the festivities for my 15 year college reunion. It was good to see some old friends, but there were only a few that I hadn't seen in more than 6 months or so. I think the 15 isn't one of the big ones that draws folks in from out of state, so it was mostly the local folks at the bar last night and down on campus at St. Olaf today.

Since college I have:
  • Traveled fairly extensively. I've driven across all the northern tier of states and all the bordering provinces of Canada. Right after college I had some great camping road trips with my friend Dave. We hit Glacier, Banff, Quebec City, Montreal, Maine, the maritime provinces. All great trips, the first one to grad school in Missoula, MT in my old 1980 Ford Fairmont Futura. As my career slowly inched along and my salary increased from the original $18,000 I started going abroad: Norway, Finland, Russia, Italy, Iceland, Morocco, Spain, Czech Republic, Austria (and Peru next Spring).
  • Dated fairly extensively. Sure, for the first several years I hardly dated at all. When I went to college I just assumed that everybody met their future wife in college. But I was pretty quiet and didn't step out too much. Then I was quite content to be a single guy in my 20s, but I've made up for that in the past 5 years. I guess when I hit 30 I realized that it was up to me to put forth a little effort to meet a girlfriend. So recently I've been dating a lot and starting to feel like I might have missed my chance to find The One. It's becoming increasingly frustrating to go out on dates and have one of us be interested, but not both.
  • Lived in MT and UT. I did one year of grad school in Missoula, but mostly I went there for a change of scenery (having spent my entire life in MN) and to ski. The skiing was great, but I wasn't entirely into the school thing (math -- operations research). But Missoula is a great town. After returning to MN I worked the cubicle life for three years before convincing my buddy Steve to move to Utah with me. We got a lame apartment in a suburb of Salt Lake City and I worked the first year as a lift operator at Alta. That was an awesome year. Next year I worked at a lodge at Snowbird next door. These were two terrific years of skiing almost every day.
  • Bought a condo in Lowertown St. Paul. I like it here.
  • Driven the same car for 13 years.
  • Played in a rock band for 6 years. Those were good times, too, and probably would not have happened had I gotten married in my 20s (and potentially started cranking out kids).
  • Ran 4 marathons and 1 triathlon.
All in all, it's been a very good 15 years. I'm very happy with the experiences I've accumulated in that time, but feel like I'm ready to move on to the next chapter.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Field Study

Got a great email this morning from a fellow student in the MBA program I'm working on. My cohort of 18 classmates and I are in our 2nd (and final) year of the program and are responsible for a Field Study. Field Study means we partner with an actual company to help them solve some real world problem.

The "great" part of the email was the idea that Brooke wants me to help her with. It involves a new eco-friendly/green/sustainable business that is being opened in town by a successful pair of local entrepreneurs. They need a little help with a business plan and we're going to assisst! I'm very excited because for the past few years I've realized that my dream job is to be an eco-architect. You know...designing sustainable architecture. I've been quite passionate about this, but not necessarily passionate enough to enroll in a 4-year degree program at this stage of my life. Though maybe I should. I dunno. Anyways, as a fallback I've also been interested in eco-entrepreneurship. This is something I could dedicate a large chunk of my life to and feel good about it, unlike many corporate jobs that do nothing for me spiritually.

So I'm psyched and looking forward to getting started. Hopefully this won't get shot down for any reason. I assume it has to be approved by the professor or something. But hopefully it'll give me some great experience in the green entrepreneurial realm and maybe I can meet some people to work with later on.

Draft Last Night

FanHockey draft was held online last night and I think I came out alright. I lucked out by drawing the 3rd overall pick and was quite pleased when Dany Heatley was available. But I made two slight mistakes due to my incompetence with the draft gui, delivering me Niklas Lidstrom a little earlier than I wanted and Shane O'Brien as my goon instead of Brendan Witt. Shouldn't hurt too much, though. Looks like the teams I'll most be following this year are Ottawa, Tampa and the Wild. I think I have 3 players from each team on my roster.

Yeah, Heatley was a Badger, but I'm an equal opportunity appreciator of former college players when they make it to the NHL. I just enjoy seeing the college game churning out more top-notch talent than ever, because college puck is my favorite sport.

Rest of my squad, Third Man In, includes (but is not limited to):
Dany Heatley, LW, OTT
Brad Richards, C, TB
Niklas Lidstrom, D, DET
Brian Rolston, RW, MIN
Paul Kariya, RW, STL
Paul Martin, D, NJ
Ray Emery, G, OTT
Josh Harding, G, MIN
Martin St. Louis, RW, TB
Shane O'Brien, D, TB
Mike Cammalleri, C, LA
Eric Belanger, C, MIN
Simon Gagne, LW, PHI
Wade Redden, D, OTT
Michael Roszival, D, NYR

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Hockey Season Nears

NHL and college hockey seasons start soon and that's always an enjoyable time for me. Again this year I'll be getting the NHL Center Ice package so I can watch all the games I want on cable. The beautiful thing about the NHL package as opposed to the NFL one is that the NFL games are all played at the same time. While for the NHL you get games 7 nights per week, a far superior value!

Tomorrow night is my FanHockey league draft. This will be the third season I've done this and I've fared quite well in my 12-team Yahoo leagues including players from across North America. I think both years I took 2nd place, just losing out in the last week the first year. I don't know yet what draft position I'll have, but I've done enough basic preparation to feel good about it. You only get 1 minute to make your pick so you really have to act fast or else it will auto-pick for you.

I dig college puck, too. Just saw that UND got the cursed position atop the Grand Forks Herald's annual preseason coaches poll. The team receiving that seeding rarely actually wins the McNaughton Cup as regular season champeen of the WCHA. Gophs were picked 2nd.

And, Bucci's first column of the year is up. He seems to be the lone hockey guy at evil ESPN, but does a tremendous job. He has great insight, makes surprisingly accurate predictions, and is a joy to read.

The War

So I've been watching The War on PBS this week. I'm DVRing it (of course) and am midway through the 2nd night. I guess it's kinda crazy to think that there are people in our country who aren't familiar with the atrocities and level of devastation, but then it's also kinda crazy that I cease to be surprised by these statistics of ignorance.

That Ken Burns sure does a good job with these massive documentaries. I'm sure he's pleased to be making these records that will be viewed by future generations as their window on history.