Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Out for a Skate

Nothin' like having the neighborhood rink all to yourself.

Shinny anyone?

Monday, December 29, 2008

Abstinence Pledgers Lie, Certainly Going to Hell

Did you know the federal government has been spending $200,000,000 per year on abstinence education that does not work? So says a study that just came out of Harvard that looks at the sexual history of teens who took an abstinence pledge (I read about it here in the Strib). In fact, not only does the virginity pledge not work, but those who took the pledge are less likely to use birth control before marriage.

The study's conclusion:
CONCLUSIONS. The sexual behavior of virginity pledgers does not differ from that of closely matched nonpledgers, and pledgers are less likely to protect themselves from pregnancy and disease before marriage. Virginity pledges may not affect sexual behavior but may decrease the likelihood of taking precautions during sex. Clinicians should provide birth control information to all adolescents, especially virginity pledgers.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Album of the Year

I don't buy as many records as I used to, but still appreciate the beauty of a quality album more than any other art form. So I didn't listen to hundreds or even dozens of albums like the critics and websites I respect did. But I do read and listen to a lot of music reviews over the course of the year so I am able to pick up those I believe to be most promising. Here's my cream of the crop from 2008, with the #1 cd coming into my home only last week.

  1. David Byrne & Brian Eno - Everything That Happens Will Happen Today. A+. I'm only on about my 3rd or 4th full listen to this album, and am absolutely loving it (though I did post about it here when introduced to it online back in August). Both of these artists are over 50 years old and both have very respected careers going back 30+ years. They have worked together before, but not recently, and fortunately David Byrne didn't bring any of that weird world beat stuff he was doing in the '90s to the table.
  2. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds - Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!. A. "We Call Upon the Author" is my song of the year. Nick Cave is another pentagenarian who continues to kick out the jams.
  3. Girl Talk - Feed the Animals. A-. In my attempts to stretch my ear I was very pleased with the mashup genius of Girl Talk. The entire album is made up of bits and pieces of other artists' work and is threaded together brilliantly into hummable, recognizable, but still unique dancey tunes.
Other 2008 releases I bought:
Other newish albums I listened to a lot this year:
Music website of the year:
Whaddya think? What did I miss?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Song of the Day by The Beta Band

Today's song of the day is "Dry the Rain" by the Beta Band. You might have heard it in the movie "High Fidelity" or in the intro to my favorite NPR show Sound Opinions. As always with these, I struggle to find the right YouTube link to use. There's a quality live version of this out there, but it doesn't have the slide guitar. And I absolutely love the slide guitar on this song.

"Dry the Rain" by The Beta Band:



And a link to the broader scene from High Fidelity.

Previously (and still) recommended songs:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Gone Out Gone...On Ice!

My old band was given a hint of life recently sold out when the World Ice Racing Circuit tapped us for music to a pretty exhilerating ice racing video they put together. Looks like fun! I might have to go check them out at Lake Phalen for a Winter Carnival race in January.

Consumerism as Art

Last spring I ran across the art of Chris Jordan and was very impressed, but then lost the link or something and forgot his name. Somehow, though, I knew I'd stumble upon him again and today is the day.

Go to this link to see far better photos than I could try to represent here. He creates images depicting:
  • one hundred million toothpicks, equal to the number of trees cut in the U.S. yearly to make the paper for junk mail.
  • one million plastic cups, the number used on airline flights in the US every six hours.
  • 32,000 Barbies, equal to the number of elective breast augmentation surgeries performed monthly in the US in 2006.
It's hard to see the volume of consumerism depicted in this way and not be floored by it and not want to do something about it (at least for me). Especially at Christmas time I think it is important for us to re-think our impact. Maybe our President wouldn't tell us the best thing we could do to help the economy is to go shopping if we actually manufactured a quantity of products of enough value that we could export (see prior entry about America creating a capitalist world in which it cannot compete)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Praying for a Bailout

This NY Times article (via) shows how some Detroit residents are praying for Congress to approve the bailout. Maybe it's just me, but if you're gonna resort to prayer, why would you pray for this particular bailout option? Do they think that it is more likely that God would approve this prayer than a prayer for, say, each of them to be more wise and to give them strength to stand up to management when they see that management is being short-sighted? Or they could pray for a different bailout plan or for more money. Or simply pray for God to create more oil reserves....right near Detroit. Why limit yourself?


Last week Cardinal Maida gathered 11 Detroit-area religious leaders, representing Christian, Jewish and Muslim congregations, to call on Congress to approve the $34 billion in government-backed loans that the automakers have requested.
...
“We have done all that we can do in this union, so I turn it over to the Lord,” General Holiefield, a U.A.W. vice president for Chrysler, told the crowd. A vice president for the parts suppliers, James Settles Jr., asked those present “to continue your prayers, so we can see a miracle next week.”

Friday, December 12, 2008

Big 3 Compete for the Bailout of 2

Another brilliant Elliot Spitzer column in Slate. This one on his idea of how to solve the problems of the auto bailout. His idea: Have the 3 of them compete for 2 bailout spots.

The only issue, of course, is the difficulty in holding the two bailout recipients to their plan. But can a car czar really do that anyways? If so, let them do it this way.

We all know that a significant downsizing of auto-industry capacity is necessary. Maintaining all three companies is probably not economically feasible. We also know that the incipiency of bankruptcy tends to focus the mind and produce real offers. Why don't we tell the current Big Three that $25 billion in capital is available—but only to two of them? The surviving two will be those that submit the best, and final, binding bids, supported by all the necessary constituencies: boards, managers, suppliers, vendors, creditors, and the UAW. The plans that are the best, as judged by a panel of private- and public-sector figures—Jack Welch, Warren Buffet, or Felix Rohatyn, plus Office of Management and Budget and Congressional Budget Office officials—are the plans that will get funded. The measures they will be judged by will be announced ahead of time and will be a combination of retained/gained market share, return on capital, jobs retained, and mileage and environmental efficiency gains. The company with the least impressive plan will be denied funding. To avoid letting the third parties—creditors, the UAW, or vendors—pick the winner by refusing to sign on with their least favorite of the Big Three, third parties will be required to offer the same deal to each of the three. This process will force the companies to bid against one another for aid, giving us the benefit of genuine competition. This is better than an "oversight board" of Cabinet members who have no real understanding of the industry.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

America's Bed

Great article in Slate today by Elliot Spitzer about the now global capitalist economy that America has been encouraging all these years. But are we ready to sleep in this bed we've made? Are our big government bailouts being spent on the past or the future?

The great irony is that our new place in the global economy is a direct consequence of our grand victory over the past 60 years. We have, indeed, converted virtually the entire world into one integrated capitalist economy, and we must now bear the brunt of serious and vigorous competition. In the immediate aftermath of World War II, the United States was essentially the only nation with financial capital, intellectual capital, skilled labor, a growing middle class generating consumer demand, and a rule of law permitting safe investment. Now we are one of many nations with these critical advantages.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Who am I? What do I do?

I've been thinking recently about how common it is for Americans to define themselves by their career, but how I have never really felt that way. Liz and I discussed it a bit last week and this weekend I meditated on it while lounging in the spa at the new Ivy Hotel downtown Mpls.

At work, I also thought this through from a marketing perspective recently. The Lutheran financial services organization I work for can only sell insurance products to Lutherans and targets its marketing materials to more active Lutherans. I am technically a Lutheran and eligible to buy insurance from my company, but I don't go to church and never really think of myself as Lutheran. It is my opinion that many potential Lutheran clients of my company are ignored by our marketing practices because of the expense and challenges of marketing to a religious group anywhere beyond the church. There are lots of people who are technically Lutheran, but don't really think of themselves as Lutheran. More likely, they think of themselves as mother, father, artist, North Dakotan, Packer fan, whatever.

When I think about who I am and what I do, my career and my religion do not show up. If I were to, say, jot those things down in my blog and share them with you they might look like this:

I am a global citizen and world traveler,
a critical thinker,
a loving son/uncle/brother,
an appreciator of music and the arts,
a city dweller.


Note: subject to change as I evolve and grow.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Rock 'n Roll Means Well



Rock 'n roll means well
but can't help tellin' young boys lies

Last night Liz and I went to the Hold Steady / Drive-by Truckers show at First Ave. and it was a great one. It's so rare to get two amazing bands like that on the same bill (at least outside of the oversaturated and soulless festival circuit). Drive-by Truckers played first for about 75 minutes and were very impressive. I'd seen them a few years ago at the 400 Bar and actually left before they finished their 2+ hour set that night. And a couple years ago one of their three(!) terrific songwriters, Jason Isbell, left the band to go solo. I feared that they might miss him but they did not. The other two songwriters, Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley, are equally as talented and they didn't skip a beat. Highlights for me included "Carl Perkins' Cadillac", "Sink Hole" and the opener (and title track of the Rock 'n Roll Means Well tour as quoted above) "Marry Me".

The Hold Steady set was great, too, but I'd seen them just a couple months ago so I pretty much knew what to expect. A highlight of the night was the hootenany encore with both bands 10 musicians up on stage for 3 songs including the Truckers' "Let There Be Rock" and a sweet cover of The Band's "Look Out Cleveland".

And oh, before the final encore a "Yes we can!" chant arose from the crowd. Do you think that is happening at rock shows all across the country? Cuz that'd be pretty amazing if a President Elect could actually stir the American people with a grassroots message like that.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Computer Repairman Opportunities

Last week I had a tragedy in threes:

1. Clutch went out on my car
2. Refrigerator crapped out
3. PC wouldn't boot up

I took the car in and it was fixed in a day ($570). Called the fridge repairman and had to schedule it 3 days out. Ended up spending $270 on a new computer for my fridge. Computer in the fridge. Who knew?

But the HP laptop computer is the real story here. Four weeks for "Geek" Squad to repair my laptop! How come the computer repair industry has not risen to the level of demand? In the past I've called around to Joe's Computer Repair type places and have not had good luck finding one that could (1) work on my type of computer, or (2) do it quickly. So I just took my laptop to Best Buy where I purchased it 15 months ago (with a 12 month warranty).

I asked the 21-year old girl behind the "Geek" Squad counter the very question posed in the prior paragraph. She didn't know. Then I asked if they shipped my laptop back to the manufacturer or something. She replied that they send it down to Louisville and don't really have a deal with UPS. So it takes 5-6 days to ship to Louisville and 5-6 days to ship back from Louisville. Brilliant!! Hire cheap "Geek" Squad labor in Louisville and then ship everything there via turtle. Just the vision that the Geek Squad founders based their enterprise on!

Anybody know of a better way to get a computer fixed? I'm slightly techy, but not real interested in reloading operating systems or anything like that.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Self-portrait

Self-portrait #1: mouth too small

Hud

computer broken. watching 'Hud'. Great movie. check it out. posted via cell phone. I'm not very adept at texting.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Canadian Comic Duo Prank Calls Palin

They're pretending to be French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Here's a story telling more about it. Gotta watch out for those wacky morning zoos.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Bike Commuting

I biked home from work 3 days this week and plan on picking and choosing favorable days through the winter. It's been awfully dark at 6:30am, so I've opted to take the bus in the morning. It's great to have the flexibility with all the buses having bike racks on the front.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Bulldog St. Paul Countdown

7 DAYS

It'll be opening across from Mears Park on the corner of 6th & Wacouta. The Bulldog has locations in Nord'east and Uptown and has some of the best burgers and beer selections in town. I can't wait!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Rolling Stone: A History

Ever wonder which rolling stone came first? There's the band, the magazine, the Bob Dylan song...
The answer, according to this story in the online version of Rolling Stone, is that Muddy Waters started it all.

1948: Rollin' Stone (by Muddy Waters)
1962: The Rolling Stones (the band)
1965: Like a Rolling Stone (the Dylan song)
1967: Rolling Stone (the magazine)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Shopping Hell

So I've been considering buying a new pair of jeans for awhile now. What I was looking for seems so simple:

Darker blue jeans, otherwise normal, but:
  • Not boot cut
  • Not loose fit
  • No bullshit design on the back pocket
  • And fer godsakes, NOT PRE-FADED!
You'd be amazed at what a difficult chore this is. You see, the garment industry works on fashion cycles and Lord help you if you want to buy something that isn't in the style of the moment. Pre-faded is in. Bullshit design on the back pocket is in.

This is why I hate shopping so much and get the willies when I enter a mall. The culture therein represents all that I despise about American consumerism -- teenagers requiring clothes so they can fit in; crappy music blaring out of the "lifestyle" stores; spending money to cheer us up (which I admit to doing before); the idea that spending instead of saving is better for the economy; trinkets, baubles & crafts.

Department store blue jeans are strewn all about the men's floor so I was hunting through all the different display areas and experiencing continuous emotional ups and downs as I'd discover a new stash somewhere, only to be disappointed by its high degree of fashion.

Even though I made it out of this one alive, it's not because I actually found what I wanted. I caved and did the best I could. Everyone will think that my new jeans look nice, but that's just because they've been conditioned to believe that pretty much whatever is in fashion looks good. Looking back 10-30 years from any point in recent history makes it quite clear that this is not true.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Bailout Plan

Click here to listen to a great piece to help us lay people better understand the current economic crisis. This American Life is a terrific radio program out of Chicago that I've been podcasting for the past few years and I highly recommend it.

Brings to mind this Uncle Tupelo gem cover version of a Carter Family classic:

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Song of the Day by Weezer

Going to the Weezer concert in St. Paul Friday night and their new single has been in my head all week. It's classic Weezer with their ever-present guitar sound. I've never seen Weezer before and just kind of got tickets with friends on a whim, but I'm really getting psyched for the show. Last night I was on YouTube devouring their videos, so after you click through to Pork & Beans, don't forget to check out other video gems like the Spike Jonze directed "Island in the Sun" and "Keep Fishin'" with the Muppets. The Pork & Beans video includes many YouTube stars including Tay Zonday and Miss Teen South Carolina (for real!).

Sing along to.....


WARNING: You're gonna want to put it on repeat. I dare you to listen to it only once.

Previously (and still) recommended songs:

Ain't That America

According to MPR, MN Rep. Jim Ramstad decided today to switch his "no" vote to a "yes" vote on the famed $700B bailout bill because the new version includes mental health insurance parity.



Was this the plan to get enough votes for the bailout? Take each of the needed 28 votes, find a pet project for each of those representatives, and add it into the bailout bill?

Now I don't know the exact definition of an earmark (never really been one fer the fancy language they like to use out there in DeeCee), but this smells kinda fishy to me.

The MPR story also mentions, at the very bottom, a couple other more relevant provisions that Ramstad also supports. But if those were enough for Ramstad then why include the completely unrelated mental health insurance parity provision as well?

And where were Maverick John McCain and Hopeful Changer Barack Obama when this bill was being crafted? I'm sure each of them vehemently opposed such actions as it represents that greed of the old entrenched Washington ways that both claim to be so opposed to.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Embarrassing

Couric Interviews Palin, Part I


Couric Interviews Palin, Part II

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Lunch

I just realized that one of the reasons it is difficult for me to eat a healthy lunch is because lunch is often the highlight of my work day. As a result, I like to make it more fun and fun for me is more linked to hamburgers and fries than salad. I have no problem eating a healthy dinner, however, because I'm having fun at home already in the evenings. But when I arrive at work I'm often looking forward to lunch and want to maximize my enjoyment of it.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Palin Goes Nucular in Blaine

I was just watching this past weekends edition of Almanac and they showed a clip of Sarah Palin speaking in town last week and she clearly said "eye-ran" instead of the now more accepted "ee-rahn" and the ever classic gaffe "nucular". If you go here you can click on the "McCain/Palin Visit Cities" video link to see the local version, but this clearly wasn't just a one-time slip up.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Road Trip to Omaha

Greetings from Granite Falls, MN. Alas, I missed the potato bake.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Omaha Bound

I'm off to Omaha for the weekend to visit Foster & Becky. They moved back down there a few years ago and have been touting it highly, so I'm excited to see the highlights and Warren Buffet's house. But you know me, I'll be driving the scenic route: Hwy 212 west out of the cities to U.S. highway 75 south to Omaha through LeMars. Western MN is underrated and I enjoy a good drive through the prairie. Nothin' like a road trip with a new car stereo (with usb port!) to really get the blood flowin'.

Long Live Neko

Neko Case filled First Avenue tonight with the glorious sound from her fantastic pipes. She reminds me of a modern day Patsy Cline the way her voice resonates. She's from Vancouver and also sometimes sings with the New Pornographers who were through town this summer without her. Bloodshot Records recording artist Kelly Hogan sang some backup and Giant Sand opened the night. The crowd was as into Neko as a Minnesota crowd can be and she appreciated it.

Here's a sample of one of her terrific songs called "Hold On, Hold On":


And her with the New Pornographers doing the great title track off their latest "Challengers" record:

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Song of the Day by Mission of Burma

Just heard this all-time classic while listening to Sound Opinions on the way to work. I believe I've written before how some mornings I need to hang out behind the building until a kickass song wraps up on the iPod, and this was one of those mornings...

I'M NOT JUDGING YOU I'M JUDGING ME!!
"Academy Fight Song" by Mission of Burma

Again I apologize for the video. YouTube is the easiest place to link to for songs, but often times the videos are just little homemade things by some kid, not official videos by the band. This is another one of those. We all know it's about the music not the video anyways, right?



Previously (and still) recommended songs:

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Hypocrites

In case you didn't see this on the Daily Show last night, I link to it here for your edumacation. Isn't it great to be living in this world of constant video recording where people can get so brilliantly nailed for hypocrisy?

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Welcome, Rich White Oligarchs

Well, the police state has officially descended on downtown St. Paul. I went for a walk today to check out the hubbub and they've got the mounted riot police parading about, fences erected all over downtown, choppers constantly circling, and Viet Nam looking river gunboats (sans obvious firepower) plying our lovely Ol' Man.

You've never seen so many blue blazers and khakis in St. Paul. It's like an Ordway crowd run amok. I did, however, spot George Snuffleupagus and I even think I spotted a black Republican, though that cannot be confirmed. There was a dude with a VOTE 4 JESUS sign, though.

But the highlight of the day was definitely hanging out on the beautifully revitalized Raspberry Island and seeing the waterfalls flowing at that new plaza along the river near the Science Museum. See pics below.

St. Paul cleans up pretty nice. Come check us out sometime.

Raspberry Island


St. Paul from Raspberry Island


Waterfalls on new plaza


Friday, August 29, 2008

Song of the Day by The Hold Steady

It's called "Slapped Actress" and is the last track on their new album. At first blush, the album does not stand up to the greatness of their last, but it certainly has 4 kickass songs, of which this is one. The rest of the record is just a little more dark and less sing-alongy, which isn't bad, but just isn't as fun to listen to as Boys and Girls in America. I'm sure it'll grow on me, though (except for maybe that harpsichord).

Here's "Slapped Actress"


Previously (and still) recommended songs:

Thursday, August 28, 2008

St. Paul: Where Minnesota Adventure Begins

"It has been said that once you spend a day in St. Paul, you'll want to spend a lifetime."

Welcome visitors! Enjoy this cheesy promo vid from a city stuck in the middle who knows it has to try extra hard to gain your favor, but just don't heed the gentleman's advice and "walk into one of our great neighborhoods like Frogtown."

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

MST3K Lives!!

During the Olympics, some viewers in Helena, MT were stunned to see the ol' MST3K crew of Joel, Tom Servo & Crow T. Robot show up on their screen. This blog has a pretty good recap with some more links and comments. Anybody else miss the likes of "Mitchell" and "Alien from L.A." being sent up by local comedic genius?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Buckle Up, RNC Coming Soon

As a resident of downtown St. Paul I'm curiously looking forward to the traffic restrictions, protesters, Republican politicos, concerts, block parties, PR stunts by hardcore left wing political rockers, and 4am bar times.

The Harriet Island concert is what I'm looking forward to most. Performing will be Billy Bragg, Steve Earle, Lupe Fiasco, Tom Morello as Nightwatchman, Atmosphere, Mos Def and more. I expect to be there most of Labor Day.

And it looks like Denver is getting an early taste of the challenges of hosting a convention in the days of organization by internet where a FOX News team was roughed up a bit.

"Riot 4 Peace"? Seriously?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

It's About Freakin' Time

St. Paul finally steps up to the plate and offers a reasonable plan to allow bars to stay open until 4am for the RNC. Amazing how hard that was.

St. Paul bars can stay open til 4 a.m. ... for only $500


St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman has reached a deal with the City Council to roll back the fee for bar owners to stay open until 4 a.m. during the Republican National Convention, his office says.

Under the plan, which is likely to be introduced at Wednesday's council meeting, bars that pay the $2,500 would be eligible for a $2,000 refund.

Several bar owners have complained about the fee, especially after Minneapolis rolled back its fee for private parties to $100. Public venues that plan to stay open during the convention, which runs from Sept. 1-4 at the Xcel Energy Center, are still being charged $2,500.

Other cities, including Eagan and Bloomington, are allowing bar owners to stay open until 4 a.m. without an extra fee.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

MADD: Debate is Bad

This was an interesting story yesterday. 100 college presidents suggested that, in light of the drinking culture in our society, we re-open the debate about the drinking age and consider the benefits and consequences of changing it.

College presidents live in a world with massive binge drinking amongst their students. Anbody who thinks this is the fault of college presidents is delusional. It is a mark of the state of our society.

But MADD sees debate as a bad thing, immediately bringing this suggestion down about 5 intellectual notches by replying that these presidents are completely reckless:
"It's very clear the 21-year-old drinking age will not be enforced at those campuses," said Laura Dean-Mooney, national president of MADD.
Huh? Are you serious? Sure, in the short-term more people drinking will probably lead to more drunk driving deaths. But that's an extremely simplified way to look at this problem. Why should drinking be legal at all, then? Think of the lives we could save by outlawing alcohol entirely! It sure worked back in the day.

C'mon, MADD. Why are you so afraid of open debate? Feel free to bring your statisticians and your sad stories of drunk driver induced deaths to the table. 100+ college presidents are willing to listen and discuss. Why aren't you?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Song of the Day by Byrne & Eno

Legendary musicians David Byrne (Talking Heads) and Brian Eno (everybody) have collaborated on a terrific new album that is only available for purchase online. Take a listen...



Previously (and still) recommended songs:

Sunday, August 10, 2008

At the Cabin

I drove up to the cabin Thursday evening and there's internet access up here now. I'm not really sure what I think about that, because here I sit on a glorious morning writing a blog entry instead of sitting down at the beach or something. But I guess it is pretty practical to have. It's nice to be able to check email and keep up on the news and not be completely disconnected.

And we did spend plenty of time outdoors the past couple days. Friday and Saturday each held a 35-mile bike ride, yesterday's split between Lake Itasca State Park and the Mi-Gi-Zi trail up at Cass Lake. There's a beautiful 15-mile one-way road loop at Itasca that is like a roller coaster and super fun to ride on. Mi-Gi-Zi was similarly enjoyable, winding and hilly and scenic.

It's NHRA drag racing weekend at BIR (Brainerd International Raceway) and you know what that means: great people watching! Yes, the rednecks are out in force and Mikko and I had quite a fun time at the bar last night. You've never seen so many sunglasses perched atop backwards baseball caps on goateed gentlemen indoors after dark.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Six Random Things

Spirophita tagged me to write 6 random things about myself. Thanks for the tag. Here goes...
  1. I'm a bar snob. Some people are super sensitive about how their hair looks or their car. Me, I'm super sensitive about the bar I'm drinking in. Atmosphere is extremely important and I can be a whiny bitch in a lame bar. My choices are generally (but not always, depending on my mood) outlined here.
  2. I didn't really drink until I turned 21 and was in Japan for a month for school. It would have been rude of me to turn down the sake from my host father. I've made up for it since then, though. But I was a good kid. Quiet. Smart. Had my 4 or 5 really good friends but wasn't very social beyond that. I think there was actually a time (probably 7th gradeish) where I wore different MN Gopher shirts to school 3 or 4 days each week. Ouch.
  3. I'd love to be an eco-architect, but am not sure if at this stage of my life I want to go to school for 3.5 years full time and then make half as much money as I'm making now for another 3 or 4. At any rate, I'd love to find me a career where I could make a comfortable living in a sustainable way.
  4. I have seen the Supersuckers play live rock shows in Mpls, Seattle, Boston and Austin, TX. However, I haven't seen them in a few years and probably never will again. They were fantastic in their day, though.
  5. I was mailed 2 recently published books, photo histories of Mpls and St. Paul, with the hope that I would favorably review them on this blog. I read through them both and they each had a few photos which made an impression on me, especially the ones along the river and Swede Hollow in the St. Paul book "Historic Photos of St. Paul". They might make a nice gift for someone of an older generation who could reminisce much more than I.
  6. My car has been broken into 6 times. Every stereo stolen was a very average stereo, but the bass guitar stolen was a hamburglar gem.
  • 1987 - Radio stolen from my Mom's Pontiac Safari station wagon when I had the family truckster at a Twins game (parked for free near the Cabooze)
  • 1991 - Radio almost stolen from my 1980 Ford Fairmont Futura when I was a senior at St. Olaf. The security guy scared off the thief while they were in my car. They ran and dropped the pull-out radio. Remember pull-out car radios?
  • 1995 - Stereo stolen from my 1995 Saturn when parked on Bryant Ave. while I was watching a movie at the Lagoon
  • 1996 - Stereo stolen from my 1995 Saturn when parked in the lot on Selby next to the Cathedral and across the street from an old apartment.
  • 2001 - Bass guitar stolen from trunk when parked in Mac-Groveland after that show at O'Gara's where I talked back to some annoying drunks in the crowd. Did they follow me?
  • 2006 - Stereo stolen from my 1995 Saturn when parked in my supposedly secure parking ramp in Lowertown.

No Pain, No Gain?

Ahh, the pain following the 100-minute run. It turns out Friday's run (eloquently described below) left me with one helluva pain in the leg. Tight hamstring. Sore left glute. Actually the whole left leg was tight and sore. Inflamed IT band? I don't really know what I did, but for the rest of the weekend it was extremely irritating and turned my nights into 45 minutes of tossing and turning, alternated with 30 minutes of sleeping (if ice was applied).

So I desperately called Theresa, my massage therapist friend this morning, hoping that she could help. I wasn't sure if I should try a doctor or a physical therapist or a massage therapist, but I figured she was a good place to start.

60 minutes of painful massaging later, I'm in pretty good shape. Not 100%, but hopeful to be able to sleep through the night.

Friday, August 1, 2008

100 Minute Run

Ahh, the beauty of a Friday off. I went for a run this morning and intended to do the ol' Warner Road to Indian Mounds Park loop (about 6 miles), but decided to turn off on a path that I always thought just went to a parking lot for this DNR equipment storage location. It turns out that path kinda followed the river down near Pig's Eye Lake to Battle Creek park.

It ended up being one of those great runs where you go exploring, maybe get a little bit lost, but feel good the whole way and end up staying out longer than planned.

Last summer I was first introduced to the wonders of Battle Creek park when I was training with the Finn Sisu x-c ski group. So I was excited this morning to stumble into it from the back door. Two weekends in a row now I've had fun connecting the dots between some St. Paul landmarks. And it's probably been a couple years since I've been out for an hour and 40 minutes.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Everybody's Mad for Mad Men!

Last season I started watching Mad Men early on and hung with it for most of the season. I really enjoyed watching the retro style and mannerisms like the vintage office furniture, three martini lunch, smoking in the office and slapping the secretary on the ass.

But that's all it had for me. All style and no substance. At its heart it is just another hour-long prime time drama/soap opera. Those shows are very popular with many people, but have never been my thing. There's something about that week to week dramatic story line that just doesn't draw me in.

It's not you. It's me.

p.s. Notice the tag below. To me, tv falls under "art".

Best Gin & Tonic


According to Outside magazine, one of my favorite mags, the best G&T is made up of Plymouth gin, Q tonic, and half a lime. However, the commenter notes that Q tonic is not available in St. Paul, MN. Bummer.

I usually drink mine with Bombay Sapphire or Hendricks gin, but have never given much thought to the tonic.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

My Balanced Life

On my bike into work this morning I had an amazing run of luck with the stoplights. Westbound on Summit is downhill after Snelling, but there are many stoplights that normally impede my momentum. Today, however, I smoothed through all of them and was able to keep up a great pace onto the river road. It felt like the gods were smiling on me.

But that wasn't all. When I got to Riverside the same thing happened. There are a bunch of lights there, too, and normally I end up stopped at at least a couple of them, but not today. This was surely my day! Everything was going right and I could tell it was going to be a terrific day. These thoughts were actually running through my head, though only half-seriously.

Then I turned left off of Washington Ave downtown onto Portland. One block to 3rd street and I had another beautiful green light. Unfortunately, the pickup truck westbound on 3rd street must've thought he had nothing but green lights all day, too, because he had to stand on his brakes and screech his tires in order to avoid hitting me as he almost when through a solid red light. Missed me by a couple feet. I mumbled and grumbled as I biked the last few blocks to work, completely having forgotten my prior good green fortunes.

But that still wasn't all. This evening on the ride home going eastbound on Franklin through Seward some guy made a mid-block left turn right in front of me, never seeing me. He was going slow enough so I was able to stop, but it was then that I realized the tremendous balance of my day:

Good for the lights on Summit
Good for the lights on Riverside
Bad for the pickup truck that almost killed me
Bad for the piece-o-crap other car that almost killed me.


I guess I'm even.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Addicted to Oil

Good Thomas Friedman article in the Times the other day. Here's the link and a snippet:

What doesn’t the Bush crowd get? It’s this: We don’t have a “gasoline price problem.” We have an addiction problem. We are addicted to dirty fossil fuels, and this addiction is driving a whole set of toxic trends that are harming our nation and world in many different ways. It is intensifying global warming, creating runaway global demand for oil and gas, weakening our currency by shifting huge amounts of dollars abroad to pay for oil imports, widening “energy poverty” across Africa, destroying plants and animals at record rates and fostering ever-stronger petro-dictatorships in Iran, Russia and Venezuela.

When a person is addicted to crack cocaine, his problem is not that the price of crack is going up. His problem is what that crack addiction is doing to his whole body. The cure is not cheaper crack, which would only perpetuate the addiction and all the problems it is creating. The cure is to break the addiction.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

What? No Dems?

So the Strib is reporting that Michelle Bachmann wants more oil drilling in the USA in order to stem the rising tide of gas prices. Fine. Whatever. I think all my bicycling posts lend a hint to where I stand on the whole gasoline thing. But what disturbed me was the second paragraph (shown below).

My concern: How come only Republicans went for a tour of the energy sites in CO and AK? Were only Republicans invited? Do all Democrats have their minds so stubbornly made up that they don't want to learn more or ask challenging questions? You'd think all involved on the pro-oil side would want to convince the Democrats of the benefits of more oil, wouldn't you? Michelle Bachmann didn't need a trip to AK to be won over.

Last paragraph is pretty funny, too.

Rep. Michele Bachmann says the United States needs to tap its energy reserves and that only Congress is standing in the way of making a dent in rising fuel costs.

Bachmann, R-Minn., held a conference call today after returning from a tour of energy sites in Colorado and Alaska with other Republican members of Congress.

She says Congress should open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, and allow for the expansion of oil exploration in other areas including Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota and off the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf of Mexico coasts.

Bachmann predicts that if the U.S. more thoroughly taps its own energy sources, gas prices could be cut in half. Other energy experts have disputed that projection.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Song of the Day by Nick Cave

I picked up the latest album by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds last week and this song has been stuck in my head ever since. Looks like a great live show, too. Enjoy...

Nick Cave - We Call Upon the Author


Previously (and still) recommended songs:

Strip Club Review

The Monument Club adjourned at the Strip Club in St. Paul last night and were very impressed. It seemed like the restaurant might have been a bit lightly staffed with the bartender also serving our table, but the food was tremendous. The highlights for me included the deviled eggs (seriously...I'm not a deviled egg guy and these were amazing), meat & cheese tray, and my NY strip steak (though I ended up scraping off most of the Mama Mia sauce -- this steak needs no extra flair). Others at the table raved about the scallops, cold seafood soup, rabbit & prime rib.

Check it out. It's located just off of East 7th just up the hill from downtown and it is also great to see a restaurant like that succeeding in that neighborhood. Hopefully it'll spark other new businesses in the area.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Only Good Bar in Boulder, CO

It took a little searching and my companion, Big D, was getting tired of my attention to bar minutae, but as some of you know a good bar is hard to find.

Yesterday I asked the concierge at my Hotel & Spa where the best bar bar was in town. You know, a bar bar. A dark, most-likely long and skinny bar with a long bar down one side to which a gentleman can belly up and order a cold one (not Fat Tire). He told me of a couple places on Pearl Street which is the lame, over-touristed pedestrian mall with new brick buildings built to look old. I skeptically examined his two recommended joints last night and was quite disappointed. Even after examining the part of town near the university, I was still disappointed.

So I trucked D around town to bar after bar, decreeing each below my standards. What standards, you ask?

Quality Bar Standards
  1. Be dimly lit
  2. Primarily a bar, not a restaurant
  3. Have quality music (i.e. stuff I like like Yo La Tengo & Whiskeytown)
  4. Have an actual bar to which a gentleman can belly up
  5. No string of branded major-label beer flags
  6. Not a chain
  7. Good, decent folks

So last night after dinner I was scoping out the town knowing that D and I would be looking for a quality establishment tonight. The one place that looked as if it has potential was called The Attic. It was an upstairs establishment and fit many of the above criteria: dimly lit, no beer flags, actual bar. But for the other two I was unpleased. Reggae music piped from the speakers and hippie trustafarian Boulder types hung out.

Tonight I reserved it as a last option, and then needed to pull it out. We got skunked at a number of joints, none of which D understood for he does not share my scruples for such things. We popped in The Attic only as a last resort, and when I heard The Verve wafting down the stairs my hopes rose. As we sat down I noticed that last night's trustafarians were replaced by regular folksy folk, and there was decent art on the walls (no beer flags). A hit! As we ordered a round of Left Hand Sawtooth beers and Yo La Tengo's "Tom Courtenay" began playing, I knew this was the place. Our waitress was cute, too.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Best Hockey Offseason?

The Wild?

Whatever they put in the water in Columbus, I want some!

He apparently didn't take into account the goal scoring the Wild lost. Here's the full story.

Best offseasons

1. Chicago -- With all that "Youth Gone Wild" up front, the Blackhawks landed offensive-minded defenseman Brian Campbell and No. 1 goaltender Cristobal Huet to balance the attack. They could be the next Pittsburgh Penguins.

2. Detroit -- The Red Wings are so good, talent comes knocking on their door. Witness Marian Hossa taking a one-year deal to leave Sidney Crosby's wing and move to Motown. The Wings lost nobody except forward Dallas Drake (retired yesterday) and still have salary-cap room for the future to stay intact.

3. Minnesota -- Gained goal-scoring with Andrew Brunette and Owen Nolan and some offense from the back end, too, with Marc-Andre Bergeron and Marek Zidlicky.

4. Tampa Bay -- Koules may not know what he's doing -- Oren, these are guaranteed contracts -- but the dude can run a shopping spree. The Lightning added eight forwards and two defensemen and killed numerous trees with all the news releases.

5. Columbus -- The addition of Huselius, Umberger and Torres represents a solid step forward. Finally, the forwards are legit. If Tyutin is as good as management thinks, the blue line will be, too.

Bicycle Myths & Facts

These are just a sampling of bicycling myths and facts from Roadguy blog in the Strib via the Mpls Police Dept:

MYTH: Bicyclists have to ride in the bike lane, or on a trail when provided.
FACT: Cyclists do not have to ride in a bike lane if it is not safe due to surface hazards and parked cars. Cyclists also do not have to ride on trails. Most Minneapolis trails have a speed limit of 10 mph. As a result, many bicyclists who want to travel faster use the road.

MYTH: Cars can drive as close as possible to a bike lane without entering it.
FACT: Passing cars must provide a minimum of three feet clearance from a bike at all times even when a bicyclist is in a designated bike lane.

MYTH: Bikes must use the street.
FACT: Cyclists may ride on sidewalks except in business districts or where posted. Studies have shown that it is often safer to ride on the street.

Boulder Bound

I'm off to Boulder, CO today for the Lean & Green Summit for work. I've never been there before and am looking forward to it. I expect to have some time to get out and enjoy the city and environs. Alas, I am taking the work laptop along to keep up on emails and such, but at least I still get to go after all the recent cost-cutting announcements where I work. With this economy people just aren't buying financial services like normal. Go figure.

Can you recommend any hikes, bike rides, bars, restaurants or other in Boulder? Is $59 too much for the Mork & Mindy tour?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Song of the Day by Pavement

Today's SOD features many terrific lyrics, the best of which is one of my all-time faves:
A redder shade of neck
on a whiter shade of trash

"Shady Lane" by Pavement


Heck! Let's make it a Pavement Rock Block,
Here's "Stereo"


"Spit on a Stranger"


"Major Leagues"



"...And Carrot Rope"


Previously (and still) recommended songs:

Man Enough to Admit it to the World

I just realized I put my underwear on backwards this morning. Boxers. Feel free to laugh it up at my expense, for I exist solely for your amusement.

And no, this is not a regular occurence. First time I can ever recall doing it.

Monday, July 7, 2008

What! No flag lapel pin?

From Pete Lumbis [via]

Bike Ride: Luce Line

Mikko and I rode 60 miles round-trip along the Luce Line on Saturday. The trail is a crushed limestone trail that starts in Plymouth and we rode it 10 miles past Watertown to Winstead. It was a beautiful day, if a little hot, and once we got west of Wayzata there weren't too many people out. The trail was in good shape, though the farther west we got the more it tended to narrow and have grass sprouting up through the limestone.

The trail goes through the broad estates of the west metro, farm land, and past numerous lakes. It seemed like its a big snowmobile trail and continues west for another 30 miles or so to Cosmos, MN, but I'm not sure what sort of shape the trail is in for biking out there. It was pretty flat and nicely shaded and I recommend it, especially if you live on the west side of town.

Trail Rating: 7 out of 10

Stoplights

You didn't ask, but...

I counted 45 stoplights & 3 stop signs on my one-way bike commute today. 48! If you would have asked me I would have guessed half that.

How come you didn't ask?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Gof

I played golf this morning out at Baker National in Medina. Nice course. Aside from the annual company scramble golf outing, this is probably only the 3rd time I've played my own ball in the past 5+ years. Much of what turned me away from golf was the increasing popularity which led to more crowded courses, especially for guys like me who tend to only play on the weekends. I'm just not interested in spending an entire Saturday playing golf (5 hour round, commuting time there and back, etc.).

But this morning, a Thursday, we teed off at 7:09am. Done with 18 holes and lunch by noon. It was really nice. I played poorly, but the nice shots still were there on occasion and there was no competition or money on the line, so we played fast and loose. I didn't even keep score on the back 9.

Baker National is a terrific course, especially at $36. Each hole was completely independent and you could not see the neighboring fairways, and there were not the long walks between holes like you get on some of the newer, fancy, $90 courses.

Mark Twain may have called golf "a good walk spoiled", but for me a day on the links is about 3 things:
  1. hanging with friends
  2. enjoying the summer weather in MN
  3. a good walk

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

New Favorite Breakfast

This morning I had breakfast at the Longfellow Grill right there on the West River Road & Lake Street and I think I discovered a new favorite breakfast:

Meatloaf Hash & Eggs
Pan seared blend of chopped meatloaf, Idaho potatoes, roasted carrots, bell peppers, onions and fresh herbs. Topped with two eggs and bearnaise sauce, served with toast. $9.45

Scrambled. Wheat. So good.

Story of My Life

When they're gaga, I'm not gaga.
When I'm gaga, they're not gaga.

It's becoming far more than a trend. What's a boy to do?

Welcome Back, Bruno

Unforgettable moment in the history of the Wild when they came back from down 3 games to 1 to beat Colorado (and legendary goalie Patrick Roy) in the playoffs.

Andrew Brunette's OT game 7 winner (2004)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Minnesota Style Pizza

So I'm not sure what sort of socio-culinary uprising it takes to anoint such a title, but I think greasy, thin crust, cut-into-squares pizza should be called Minnesota Style.

New Yorkers do it thin, but cut in triangles.
Chicagoans do it deep (again with the triangles).

Minnesotans do it like this:
(thanks to S4xton for the pics)

Carbone's (pic not me)

Pizza Flame


Moose on Monroe


Dulono's


Classic Pizza

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Song of the Day by New Pornographers

In 1986 televangelist Jimmy Swaggart called rock music "the new pornography". Today, the New Pornographers are a terrific pop-rock band from Vancouver and I caught them live for the first time yesterday at the Walker Art Center's Rock the Garden outdoor concert at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.

Show was quite good, but lacked a bit because amazing singer Neko Case was unable to be a part of the band. She has a solo career, too, and is busy working on a new record. So that was a bit of a bummer, but the New Pornographers still write some of the catchiest songs around. It's not too often I find myself singing along to a song the first time I've heard it.

One of my favorite lines of all time is from a song of theirs called "The Slow Descent into Alcoholism":
My ever loosening grip
on the commonest courtesy slipped

Here's that example of their pop genius. Not sure if this is the official video or not.


Previously (and still) recommended songs:

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Picking up Pennies

Yesterday's entry on my Living Green calendar was from Gandhi: "You must be the change you wish to see in the world."

The other day I was in the nice, new lockerroom at work where they offer two hair dryers for the gentlemen to use. However, they were just sitting there plugged in. Talk about a great opportunity to reduce some energy drain! I mean, c'mon, does a hair dryer in a men's lockerroom get used more than about 90 seconds per day?

It has recently been documented that all those appliances sitting unused, but plugged in, each consume a little bit of energy and it all adds up to a massive amount. To read more on phantom energy, click here.

So I made up this little sign, unplugged the plugs, and taped it next to the outlets. Feel free to download, print out and do the same to hair dryers, microwaves, coffee pots, et al in your work area.

I'm just trying to live my life according to Gandhi (quoted above) and this bumper sticker I saw a few months ago: Quit yer bitchin' and start a revolution.

Oh, and "picking up pennies" is what Iditarod dog mushers call the act of poling with a single ski pole while riding on the back of the sled. They think that over the course of 10 grueling days every tiny bit will help.

Yellow Pages & Catalog Opt-Out

Sick of receiving the yellow pages (and the white pages)? Go here to opt-out. I just submitted so I'm not sure if it actually works or not. I've also signed up for a similar deal at CatalogChoice.org for unwanted catalogs (like the damn Pottery Barn catalog that has been haunting me for 10 years and 5 different addresses after I bought my sister a Christmas gift there way back when). However, I am still pestered by Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma regularly, so I'm not sure how well the catalog choice one works. Can't hurt, though. I haven't noticed any evil alterior motive and I'm under the impression that more upset consumers opting out just gives them more leverage with the retailers.



Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Shine A Light

It's been a long time since I've spent a Monday night at the Entry for a rock show, but tonight reminded me what I love about life: live rock music and not having to worry about tomorrow morning. Life is better when you're donating blood at 9:15 and don't have any meetings until 11:00.

Kickass Canadian rockers The Constantines were in the Entry tonight. Mikko and I decided to go even though it was a school night. In the olden days this was a regular occurrence, but of late we have been much more discerning about which acts are worthy of our weeknight attendance. The Constantines were absolutely worthy.

They played a lot of their older stuff, with which I am more familiar, and sounded great to the 100 people in the Entry. Frankly, I thought there'd be more people there. It's one of those deals where you think this is one of the gret rock bands of the day and assume that others feel the same, so I was a little surprised it wasn't sold out. The Entry only holds about 200 packed to the gills. But all the better for the rest of us. I don't care much for crowds anyways.

Anybody want to roadtrip to Winnipeg to catch 'em Tuesday night? We should probably be gettin' a move on.

Monday, June 16, 2008

I Baked!

The last couple weekends I've walked past the fresh rhubarb at the farmer's market, wishing I had the interest to go shopping to pick up all the staples I would need to bake my mom's famous rhubarb cake. I'm not much of a cook, so I don't have all the different pan sizes, baking soda, vanilla, flour, etc. laying around my kitchen.

But I really wanted to enjoy that fresh rhubarb.

So I scourged the interwebs to find a simple rhubarb recipe that I could crank out while only requiring one bike trip to the grocery store for the aforementioned staples. Here's what I came up with. Muffins turned out great. I might have to try this "baking" thing again sometime.

Rhubarb Muffins
Ingredients:
2 1/2 C. flour
2/3 C. brown sugar, packed
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 C. milk
1/4 C. oil or melted margarine
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg, beaten
2 C. finely chopped rhubarb


Procedure:
Heat oven to 400 degrees; grease or paper line 12 muffin cups. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add milk, oil, vanilla and egg. Stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Fold in rhubarb. Divide batter between muffin cups. Sprinkle tops liberally with sugar, if desired. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes, until light golden brown.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Top Five

Okay, some friends are listing their Top Five albums of all time and I'm gonna jump on the bandwagon. The album is a piece of art and should be treated as such. A quality album is not just be a collection of pop songs, but should contain greater meaning as a whole.

First of all, it's extremely hard to stick to just five. Maybe on a later post I'll list the runners up, but I will stay true on this one and only post five. And they can't just be records that are fun to listen to. To get into the Top Five they have to also stand for something and be influential. If it was easy to get into the Top Five, your favorite band would be here.

Second, these are as-of today and are culled from the 600+ albums I own. They evolve as I evolve, but at this moment they are (in no particular order):



* Double Nickels on the Dime (Minutemen) -- this album blows me away with its jazz influenced punk rock in 90-second bursts. Best lyric: "Our band could be your life".









* March 16-20, 1992 (Uncle Tupelo) -- I never would have thought it at the time, but this is Uncle Tupelo's best record. You can't tell which songs are "traditional" and which are time-undistinguishable originals. That's a good thing. A timeless thing. Best lyric: "I spent all my money on whiskey and beer".







* Bulk (Jack Logan) -- I actually first heard this album in Verbier, Switzerland while visiting a ski bum friend. Through 42 songs its variety, artistry, and simple poignancy continue to impress. Best lyric: "Why oh why did you become an optimist?"








* Grievous Angel (Gram Parsons) -- One of America's all time best songwriters at the peak of his brief career. Best lyric: "Twenty thousand roads I went down, down, down and they all led me straight back home to you".








* Pet Sounds (Beach Boys) -- Not the Beach Boys you may be familiar with, but moreso the brainchild of disturbed genius Brian Wilson. Best lyric: "I guess I just wasn't made for these times".





What are your Top Five?