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)