Monday, March 31, 2008

RIP Ralph Rapson

Minnesota's greatest architect passed away over the weekend. Ralph Rapson was 93 and designed many great buildings including the original Guthrie Theatre and Rarig Center at the University.

One of my friends growing up lived near the St. Paul Campus in a neighborhood that has many homes built by University architects. Visiting my friend in his cool house helped instill in me an appreciation for modern architecture, I think.

Here's Rapson's Rarig Center:

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Back on the Bike

It felt great to get back on the bike today for the first time in several months. The only bummer was my destination: Augsburg library for four hours of studying. It's crunch time at school with the next couple weeks being particularly busy.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Take Back Cyberspace! (from the NCAA)

I've been following the college hockey national tournament this weekend and read in multiple places about how the NCAA does not allow any member of the press to blog more than 3 entries per period of a hockey game. Apparently, since the blogger didn't pay for rights to the game, the NCAA won't allow this "live representation". As if anybody would turn off the TV and follow a live blogger instead, thus denying all important advertising revenue to the NCAA. It's a ridiculous case of the NCAA flexing its curiously educated muscles.

But this Grand Forks writer has taken back cyberspace, inviting any readers to post as many game updates as they want in the comments section of his gameday blog in order to circumvent the rule. They can't revoke the press credentials of the people!

Movin' On

I sold my bass amp today, a bittersweet exchange. The ol' rock days are officially over. Well, they've been officially over for awhile now, but now I couldn't even rock out if I wanted to. I'm glad we made some records and am still proud of our music.

Cows & Hammerhead

It was the mid '90s in Minneapolis and it was amazing, musically speaking. Here are some samples of some of the more creative work that was pushing the boundaries and blowing out eardrums around that time.

Cows - Hitting The Wall


Cows - Cartoon Corral


Hammerhead - Tuffskins


It's almost better to hear it this lo-fi way, because the beauty is in the melody which is hidden behind the din and noise. It's there. Listen. Enjoy.

PMB

My boy, Pierre Marc Bouchard, threw down for the Wild tonight. He's the smallest guy on the team and has been a part of my Third Man In squad since draft day. Good to see him mix it up!

From Russo:
First of all, I want some props for this prognastication in my Jan. 21 entry:

Bouchard, one of these days, is going to fight Alexandre Burrows, I’m telling you. Every game those two quarrel, and if you read Bouchard’s quotes on Burrows in one of my stories back in November, you know he’s not a fan of Vancouver’s motormouth.

Who called it? Too bad I didn’t put my money where my mouth, uh, fingertips, are.

Little Pierre-Marc Bouchard threw em down tonight with his old pal, Alex Burrows. The two skate together during the summer, yet Bouchard hates the dude with a passion. One day I’ll figure out the exact reason, but here’s a quote from one of my stories last November.

“He runs around, he tries to hurt you, he talks a lot on the ice - too much,” said Bouchard, who is not friendly with Burrows despite skating together during the summer. “Sometimes he just says some stupid stuff and I know a lot of guys ask him to [fight] and he doesn’t want to go.”

So tonight, Burrows crosses the blue line in the third period with his team down 4-zip and spears Bouchard in the gut. He goes down in a heap, gets up and apparently slashes Burrows before dropping the gloves.

You’ll see all the quotes in my game story Saturday. But Burrows got a match for intent to injure, meaning he’ll probably be suspended. Bouchard got a slashing major, which means the league will review it.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Garfield Minus Garfield

This is surreal . Some guy has taken Garfield cartoons and erased Garfield, yielding bizarre and engrossing results.

To wit:



Great River Bluffs X-C Ski

Today I took an exploratory x-c skiing road trip down to Great River Bluffs State Park south of Winona. I found it on skinnyski.com, the local encyclopedia of x-c skiing, and it sounded promising. Mostly, I was just looking for a place near the river that has groomed skate skiing trails and GRBSP fit the bill. As you may know, I'm a huge fan of the river and always enjoy finding a new vantage on it.

The drive down was nice, but overcast and grey. Accompanying music is one of the fun parts of road-tripping to me and today it consisted of Calexico's "Hot Rail", My Bloody Valentine's "Loveless", "We'll Never Turn Back" by Mavis Staples, and Olivia Tremor Control's "Dust at Cubist Castle". Great albums all.

When I got there the little ranger shack was closed and it was pay on your honor, so I put my money in the envelope and headed on down the road. There was only one other car there so I pretty much had the run of the place. Unfortunately, the x-c ski trails were laden with 4" of fresh spring snow -- not groomed or anything. It quickly became clear that I wouldn't exactly be getting in the workout that I hoped, but more of a pleasant cruise through the woods (which was fine). I blazed trail for a few kilometers and found some nice scenic overlooks. It was peaceful and quiet and beautiful in the freshly snowed woods.

On the drive back I took the river road and stopped at the National Eagle Center in Wabasha. It's a modest little place with educational opportunities and displays on eagles. The highlight is definitely the 4 bald eagles that they have in captivity for visitor viewing. They were all hit by cars and rehabbed at the University's Raptor Center, but are unable to fly. It was pretty cool to stand about 3 feet away from a gorgeous adult bald eagle. Lots of eagles winter around Wabasha because below Lake Pepin (birthplace of water skiing) is the northernmost place where the Mississippi is reliably ice free. A very nice day.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Song of the Day by Sons & Daughters

"Johnny Cash" by Sons & Daughters. I had this one on repeat for more than 30 minutes while walking along the Stone Arch Bridge the other day.



Previously recommended songs:

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Ahlberg the Movie

Some distant Ahlberg relatives, perhaps?

I laughed. I cried.

Morning Routine, Part Deux

This morning on the bus (and trudging through the 2 inches of sloppy wet snow) I was listening to my other favorite NPR podcast "On The Media". It's out of New York and they do a great job of analyzing how the media portrays different news events, both current and historical. It helps one ingest media into a critically thinking mind.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Morning Routine

I have this practice that has been becoming routine where every Monday morning on the bus I listen to that week's podcast edition of Sound Opinions. Sound Opinions is my favorite NPR show and is out of Chicago. It features Gret Kot and Jim Derogatis, the Siskel & Ebert of rock 'n roll. If you're a fan of indie rock I highly recommend it.

Anyways, frequently they have a fantastic interview guest on who has made a great impression on quality rock music. This week it was producer Butch Vig. Last week it was Bob Mould. Neko Case. Mission of Burma. Arcade Fire. You get the picture. And each week as I get off the bus and start walking the few blocks toward the corporate job downtown I get in a total groove with some of this great music. It can be an absolute hight point of my day. But it's a total conundrum because I'm flyin' high with these awesome tunes fed directly into my inner ear, and have the impending obligation to go to my desk and start work.

This morning I just had to crank some Smashing Pumpkins after listening to Vig talk about his recording sessions with them. At that time there was nothing I wanted more in life than to be walking the streets of Mpls, snow falling, with "Drown" washing over me. Ahhh....

Sometimes I'll sit on a bench behind the building and continue to listen to a song or two or remainder of an interview before I head into the office. And as much as I want to keep the headphones on while going into the cafeteria to grab some breakfast and heading to my desk, it feels like something that is completely unacceptable in a business environment where I walk past people I know all the time. I might be smilingly greeting you in the morning as I walk in the back door, but let it be known that I'd much rather be ignoring you (well not you, but other people) and rockin' out in my own little world.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Free Tibet!

China's at it again, killing nearly 100 Tibet citizens after recent protests. And now they're cracking down further on free speech by blocking YouTube.

Should we boycott the Olympics?
How would Team USA World Police react to this outrage if there were oil in Tibet instead of just some of the most peaceful people on the planet?


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Minnesota Corn

No, not this kind. This kind.

I went skiing at Welch Village today, the first time skiing in Minnesota in years. After spending time living and skiing out west, it's just not as exciting to ski around here. But I'm really glad I went. It turns out that Welch has the best skiing around the Twin Cities. It actually has some nice steep runs which were unexpected, but a pleasant surprise and a lot of fun to cruise. Mikko and I were there for first chair at 9am and it was a little icy this morning, but loosened up nicely after lunch into some nice corn (or as close as man made snow gets to corn).

It was sunny and in the 20s and 30s. A great day to be outside. Welch, MN is a cool little town, too, and the Cannon Valley bike trail runs right past the ski area. I'm looking forward to biking down there in a few weeks when the snow finally melts off the shaded areas of the trail.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

SXSW

SXSW is the premier music conference in the country and one helluva fun long weekend (though it appears to now be a full on week). I've been a couple times and had a blast, but not in a few years. I'm not there this year, but I'm sure there are plenty of bloggers who are.

Here's what I miss about it:





And what I don't miss about it:

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Song of the Day by Tom Waits

"Ol' 55" by Tom Waits from his 1973 album Closing Time



Previously recommended songs:

Picturing Power

Paul Shambroom has an exhibit of photographs at the Weisman Museum entitled Picturing Power. I visited last weekend and there are some absolute gems in there. Mr. Shambroom traveled has the country taking photos of things emblematic of power: factories, offices, nuclear weapons, security and meetings.

My favorite were definitely the small town council images from the Meetings series.

Markle, Indiana (population 1,228) Town Council, July 21, 1999

Stockton, Utah (population 567) Town Council, June 11, 2001


Marshfield, Missouri (population 4,508) Board of Aldermen, May 23, 2002

Camera for Peru

I'm going to Peru in April to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu with my buddy Mikko. I own two nice cameras, but decided I need a third to take advantage of the new pocketsize camera technology.

My first camera was a classic Leica M3 that my Mom got as a graduation gift back around 1960. It's an absolute beauty, but of course is 100% manual. I missed more than a few photos over the years because I had the f-stop set wrong.

So about 5 years ago I jumped on the digital camera bandwagon with a Canon Powershot G3, which was pretty good for the day. I can't remember what it cost, but I'm pretty sure it was over $400. It has 4.0 megapixels, 4.0 zoom and is as big as the ol' Leica, which is a little too big if you're trying to blend in to a foreign environment while traveling.


Not that I'll be blending in in Peru, but I still love the idea of having a quality camera in my pocket instead of hanging around my neck. Today, with the help of a nice little gift from work, I picked up a Canon Powershot SD850. It has 8.0 megapixels and still a 4.0 zoom and is less than half the size of the G3.

So I'm ready to go.
Bring on the chica de jora (purple corn booze)!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Where I'm At

I've been reading a lot of blogs and websites recently pertaining to sustainability and business and living. It feels like I'm starting to, for the first time, get an idea of what I want to do with my life. Where I'm at is that I really don't want to just cruise through life without making a difference. The world is facing so many challenges right now that we have the ability to fix. Unfortunately it feels like politics and governments frequently get in the way and force two steps back for every one in the right direction. Given the level of today's technology & communication there's gotta be a better way to improve the global standard of living.

So I've been mulling that for the past few months, trying to figure out where I can fit in. And I'm talking "standard of living" in a broad sense, not just something so monumental as eliminating global poverty or something, but local things like encouraging others to lead more sustainable lives or broadening the reach of an arts organization. I still have a certain standard of living of my own that I'd prefer to maintain -- not ready to move to Tanzania or anything. And somebody already thought of Kiva (you should do this -- great workplace teambuilding opportunity).

But that's where my head has been at of late. I think it has been driven by the confluence of:

  • 9/11 and how it changed how many global citizens view the world

  • MBA degree coming this spring

  • International travel experiences I've had, all wonderful

  • Riding the bus every day and having closer interactions with a segment of society that many white-collar folks ignore or avoid

  • Being single and 37 and having some time to kill to think about stuff like this
The sub-heading of this blog came from the personal mission statement that I was asked to come up with for a leadership class. The longer form is: Live fully, tread lightly, and encourage others to do the same. I truly do think of that statement regularly and it has survived without edit for over a year, so I think its working for me.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Beauty Outlawed in Suburbs

I just read a couple articles (here and here) in the Pioneer Press about that Spirit of Brandtjen Farm housing development in Lakeville. The author wrote 24 articles over 4 years documenting the project from inception to first owner move-in. Here's a snippet from the summary article he wrote at the conclusion of the series:

The suburbs are the same because the ordinances are the same, promoting efficiency, safety, crime control. There is no ordinance for beauty.

When officials ponder plans for developments, no one advocates for how people will feel in a new neighborhood. Every other consideration takes precedence.


Maybe Brandtjen Farms will show other communities that things can be done differently, taking more into account when building a neighborhood than simplicity and quick profit for the developers. There are a wealth of architects out there who would love nothing more than to help us live more enjoyably, but we need to ask for their help and value their skills. However, architecture is just like music and the other arts: a majority of people seem to be more than content with the ordinary. As a result, developers and cities have no incentive to create more livable, sustainable, comfortable communities.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Leadership

One of the reasons I started this blog last September was because I've supposed to have been journaling for the past 18 months for my Executive Leadership class that I'm taking through the Augsburg MBA program. But along the way I quickly forgot that original intent and haven't posted hardly at all on those sort of issues. I'll try to do better in the next several weeks.

This morning we had a good Exec Leadership class with more terrific guest speakers. The instructor focuses a lot on helping us find what our personal values are and then encouraging us to lead that way. And it always gets me excited to think about who I am and what I believe in and what I want out of life.

Over the course of the program we have had several guest speakers who are successful business people and quality people outside of work. One disturbing thread through each of them that Brooke has perceptively noted is that they all talk about the importance of work-life balance, while at the same time admitting that they do not have such a balance. They work a lot. So what does that imply? It seems to point to the state of today's American business model where the only way to make it to the top and be admired by your peers is to work 70 hours per week.