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.