Seasons Greetings From My Building

I thought I would let my fellow residents' door decorations brighten your holiday season. These were the best...lots of wreaths didn't make the cut. My favorite was the blue one.

My gut tells me I can do this for every holiday too.


Minnesota Children's Museum

If you have kids and like interesting stuff, this will easily eat up an afternoon.


World's Biggest Boot...

...resides in Red Wing, MN. This is inside RedWing Boot Co.'s Factory Store and Outlet in beautiful downtown Red Wing, a stone's throw from the mighty Mississippi too. If you ever drive to the Twin Cities, take the "long route" from LaCrosse/I-90 up the west bank (MN-side) of the river.


Mid-November Commute

A sunny morning like this in mid-November is not to be taken lightly. The ride in was very nice and I was happy to see a large buck in the park had the same thought as me. I think he could have throttled me if he wanted to.


newest (re)addition to the family

Though I had the Hyland from Civia once before, I missed it too much: internal gear SRAM iMotion3 hub, disc brakes, tucked-away full housing runs, matte paint, great rear rack, painted-to-match full coverage fenders, all alloy frame.


I DARE you...

... not to cry watching this video clip of Carrie Underwood at PS22 in NYC.
To qualify for the final prize, if anyone can stay dry-eyed, you have to watch the WHOLE clip.
Spend 5 minutes and 52 seconds wisely today.


Only in MN?

Evidently anyone can make food products now-a-days. Even American's beloved breakfast cereal. BUT, just because you can do it, doesn't mean you should. I don't think fellow, local MN cereal giant, General Mills, will have anything to worry about... but maybe they can take this idea and make it more, uhm, pallettable.

Wouldn't you like to see this on your store's shelves?! WTF.

And to add insult to injury, they have a 2nd flavor that's even more offensive than the first.

Who is actually thinking while you're shopping for food... "Boy, I don't want to think about eating, I want to think about pooping?!" And did you see how much it costs?!!!??? Almost $8 for 12oz of handmade granola (I hope they wash their hands)! I think there are far cheaper ways to stay regular, like raisins or prunes... or eating a normal healthy, balanced diet. Crazy ideas I have, I know.


2nd Date Recap, in pics

Date night was finally here and I was looking forward to the events. Watch as they unfold before your eyes...

Finding parking near MPLS' MIA wasnt' too bad... but sort of ominous... luckily I parked to the left of that sign and avoided tickets

We wound up joining a new museum tour that had a very interesting premise. The resident curators walked our small group to six different exhibits. Once there, they would tell us some background on the piece, then two stories about the piece. One story was true, one story was false. It was your job on the tour to pick out the correct stories. And yes, there were prizes at the end. It was a very unique tour and not as easy as we thought.

But, as a team, we pulled out one of the top scores, 4/6 correct, tied for first place. I got to choose between some Chinese porcelain book or a book modernist design postcards. I chose the latter... look for some in your mail, perhaps.
This is the art on the walls in both the men's and women's bathrooms at the place we chose for dinner. I don't know what the commentary is, but I do know it's funny.

And to finish off a really great dinner (homemade pesto gnocchi with preserved lemon for her, grilled sirloin with broccoli rabe and bacon-creme freche mashed potatoes for him - though we shared anyways), we couldn't resist a Bittersweet Chocolate Gateaux (look it up!) with Door County Cherry Whipped Cream and Roasted Salted Sliced Almonds. It. Was. Ridiculous.
The date was pretty great too.


The Last Day Of Summer.. er, maybe Fall.

With temps in the high-70s, but leaves blanketing the ground (what do weather phrases have to do with bedding?) I wasn't sure if I was in Summer or Fall yesterday on my ride. And I don't care, it was too nice.

This is like the twin of a beach in this neighborhood not 500ft away. How many teeny beaches do old ladies need? (You can see two sitting there below...gabbing away...) 

A little hawk watching anyone? It's right there in the center, but with a cell camera, it doesn't look nearly as impressive as it did in person.


A Warm Taste of Fall.

78°F weather and beautiful fall colors make for a unique ride backdrop. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Quote of the Day.

The way a man treats his car (or bike?) is how he treats himself.


Rock the Vote, Slut-o?!

I'm not normally hyper-political, but it's hard not to be attuned to campaign messages and propaganda during this time of the year and four-year cycle. As I rode down one of the nicest paths back home from downtown MPLS this weekend (I find my apartment hunt is best by bike as it gives time to look closely at buildings and get contact info if need be), THIS is what I came upon on the nearby train trestle.

As I'll presume you can see, it says, "Vote Sluto". I actually laughed to myself as I rode by from the juvenile humor and only turned back around for a pic once I thought about this more. Was the "artist" actually saying, vote for the candidate named "Sluto" or a more sinister message prodding all sluts to vote? (I'm sure this is an often ignored, yet quite large and untapped voter base... though I have no personal data, of course).

If there was a candidate named Sluto and they did indeed win their election, this could quite possible be the most innovative campaigning the US has ever seen. Stagnant train cars painted with crude messages to prod voters into action. Kudos. And much cheaper compared to traditional methods like those paper signs in the lawn or "TV commercials" (what a waste those are... click!).

But alas, after an exhaustive Google search it does not appear that MN has a local election with a candidate named "Sluto". So, it would appear my first theory is out the window. They really are trying to get the message out - "Vote Slut-o!" But, I really don't understand why they would want sluts to get out an vote.

And as a final affront to my common sense... there are two small words just before the "Vote Slut-o" phrase painted on the train car - it says, "Vote smart." Huh? Wha? That's your best piece of advice in this highly charged election year - "Vote Smart, Vote Slut-o!"

No wonder people stay home.


A CraigsList Lovestory?

Greetings everyone I used to know...
As some of you may be aware, I sell a good number of things on CraigsList (heretofore, CL... did I use that word correctly, meh...). I often find lots of humor in the people I have to deal with to get the items sold. Maybe it's a form of human interaction I know I can get here in MN, maybe I just like helping people. Currently, as I'm in the process of moving somewhere (not known yet where), my sales have picked up a bit in the last couple weeks... Cash is king.

Sometimes the people I meet aren't so bad...
> 1 older man, 1 middle-aged man, and 1 young-ish wife of one of them (crazy kids) picked up a 4+ year old mattress and IKEA bed - they were very efficient, Lord knows there ain't much to an IKEA bed anyways.
Sometimes it's kind of odd...
> A portly Hispanic woman made me walk out to the parking lot to meet her at her pickup truck. She got out, I handed her my high-end but gently used jeans, she looked at them, felt them, held them up to look at the sizing, then yelled to her daughter in the truck for some sort of approval. I didn't think the mom would fit them, but evidently the jeans were for the daughter. Approval got! The sale was made. (Eeesh - do any of you know the best way to wash money?)
And sometimes it's really really odd...
> after picking up my free moving boxes when I first moved here, a man texted me after he left and asked me if I liked to "jack it with other men" - I politely declined, but did ask if he knew any single women (he did not respond to that... I guess I was too bold for him (?)).

And then once in a great great while it's pleasantly surprising
> I had two nice, faux leather barstools sitting under my breakfast bar for the last 18 months or so. I could probably count on one hand how many times I've sat on them and I have no clear idea if the place I move to will even have a breakfast bar, so out they go! CL here I come.

Maybe my price was high, maybe the last of summer here makes people not want to complete CL sales, but these took a while to get a bite and have it stick. Finally, a person named Karen (never assume gender on CL) said "we" would be by Friday evening to pick them up. I actually note the use of "we" in transactions like this as it usually indicates she's bringing her husband or boyfriend (if I have the gender roles right at least). There are two main reason for this pairing - to have him do the heavy lifting and to make sure she doesn't get stuck in some deep dark hole w/ a basket of lotion. I think this is smart planning on both counts.

So, we had determined that 7:30pm was the time she could meet. I hung out at home after work, puttering around and getting ready to watch The Dictator (wipe any ideas of renting that out of your mind if you have thus far been spared this turd). Now if there's one thing I like, it's being early. And Karen called about 6:45pm after arriving downstairs - great, let's get this done so I can watch my movie!

I grabbed one stool to walk it down to my foyer. When I arrived seconds later no one was there to meet me, though I thought I saw someone in the parking lot, so I ran back up to get the 2nd one. This way there's no wasted time to fill with awkward conversation as one person puts a stool in the car while the other waits inside or something. 2nd stool in hand I got down to the foyer as they were walking in...

... but low and behold, it was a very attractive, perhaps late-20s or early-30s woman, and her mid-50s mother. In all my time selling on CL I have never seen a prettier woman, let alone a mother-daughter duo (flashbacks to Mom's Weekend at UofI start now!). They greeted me heartily and seemed oddly excited by the stools they were picking up. I mean, to see the smiles beaming from their faces, this kind of reaction from one, let alone two people never happens through CL (maybe I'm selling the wrong stuff?). There was one minute of chit-chat, handing me the cash (from Mom of course) and then I jumped back into my elevator to take me back up to my suburban lair. But damn if I didn't feel like I'd just missed an opportunity (this feeling happens a lot in MN). She was gone though, it was too late. What could I do?

Now, knowing I am moving soon, haven't been on a real date in a bit, and generally have nothing to lose, I thought I might as well ask her if she'd like to get a drink. (I know, I know... I could actually become the creepy CL kind of person, but it was a risk I was willing to take after meeting them both in person). So, early Saturday afternoon (not late at night or something, I'm not a creep!), I sent this email to Karen...

Karen [strong opening, right?]

This will likely seem odd, but I meet very few beautiful women and even less through sales on Craigslist. If you happen to be single and would be interested in having a drink with me, I'd be honored.
In any case, I hope the stools met your expectations. [they really were sweet barstools!]
Now in the land of CL and really in this case, online dating, my mind was set that it would be highly unlikely that I would even get a reply, much less one only a few minutes later (thank you, God, er, Gmail?). She said...

Thank you very much for the compliment [see, not creepy - ha!]. I do happen to be single, but widowed recently [emphasis added by me], and I am not ready to go out with a guy. But thank you very much for the ego trip and the stools. 

So, in the end, not getting a drink with me was only due to the simple fact that she's recently lost her husband - Wha??!!! This is a first for me on CL. She also seemed pretty young, as in, "How old were you when you got married even?" or "Are you from Utah?" But the real genius of this reply is I basically have nothing else to say. It shuts the conversation and window of opportunity right down. You can't push an actual widow to go out with you, nor can you imply that she isn't a widow ("Lemme see the death certificate, please."). Very good reply, Karen, very good reply. It just goes to prove that savvy shoppers abound in the online market that is Craigslist.
Happy selling, er, buying.

*** NEWS FLASH      *** UPDATE      *** NEWS FLASH     *** UPDATE

As I swam my 40 laps in my apartment complex's pool (yes, my life is very much like a retiree in Florida, but my meals are about an hour later than theirs would be), I realized I may have made a slight error in my advances on this Karen woman. I now believe "Karen" is the mid-50s mom in the story. Did any of you think that too? Surely one of you must have thought so. Maybe you were just nice and not saying anything. It would sure explain why she paid the money, why she looked so happy to see the stools, and why she's also a widow already. Way to go, MK, you hit on a widow and didn't even know it. Geez, I better "up my game". Cripes.


Tao Natural Foods, MPLS

If you have a chance to wander into this unassuming spot in the Lowry Hill neighborhood, I would encourage you to do so.
Looks like that have spent some coin updating their dining room, even new tables, chairs, and unbrellas outside in nice weather.
The sweet potato burrito, mixed greens, and fresh juice I had last night were a great start to an evening out.

Want to be an Olympian? Be a cyclist... or play handball.


Smallest Beach, Minnetonka, MN

I've snapped pics here before, but this angle is from the water/dock. One of the smallest public beachfronts I've ever seen.


Repost: Is the Internet Making Us Crazy?

Here's just one excerpt:
          People tell her that their phones and laptops are the “place for hope” in their lives, the “place where sweetness comes from.” Children describe mothers and fathers unavailable in profound ways, present and yet not there at all. “Mothers are now breastfeeding and bottle-feeding their babies as they text,” she told the American Psychological Association last summer. “A mother made tense by text messages is going to be experienced as tense by the child. And that child is vulnerable to interpreting that tension as coming from within the relationship with the mother. This is something that needs to be watched very closely.” She added, “Technology can make us forget important things we know about life.”


If you have a grandparent that's 98 years old...

This is likely what's in their garage. Maybe a 30+ year old pair of lawn sprinkler s in the original boxes. There was a newer version above them, but I'm sure they think the old ones work better.


FooFighters, Summerfest, 2012

It's like a game at Wrigley or Fenway...if you ever get the chance, just go. Don't think about the cost til after either.


Quote of the Day

 In a blog entry for ESPNw last week, Kathryn Bertine wrote: "I put my heart and soul into trying. I am pretty certain that is what hearts and souls are for. There is no greater regret than looking back on life and wondering, "What if?"


How I spent My Summer, Part V

Finally starting to feel normal again. Phew!

Paragraph of the Day

"It was my first term and I was walking home alone across the village green after school when suddenly one of the senior twelve-year-old boys came riding full speed down the road on his bicycle about twenty yards away from me. The road was on a hill and the boy was going down the slope, and as he flashed by he started backpedalling very quickly so that the free-wheeling mechanism of his bike made a loud whirring sound. At the same time, he took his hands off the handlebars and folded them casually across his chest. I stopped dead and stared after him. How wonderful he was! How swift and brave and graceful in his long trousers with bicycle-clips around them and his scarlet school cap at a jaunty angle on his head! One day, I told myself, one glorious day I will have a bike like that and I will wear long trousers with bicycle-clips and my school cap will sit jaunty on my head and I will go whizzing down the hill pedaling backwards with no hands on the handlebars!

"I promise you that if somebody had caught me by the shoulder at that moment and said to me, 'What is you greatest wish in life, little boy? What is your absolute ambition? To be a doctor? A fine musician? A painter? A writer? Or the Lord Chancellor?' I would have answered without hesitation that my only ambition, my hope, my longing was to have a bike like that and to go whizzing down the hill with no hands on the handlebars. It would be fabulous. It made me tremble just to think about it."

-Roald Dahl, Boy.


Downtown Omaha Skyline

From the riverwalk pedestrian bridge

Lot 2, Omaha, NE

Upstart restaurant in the Benson neighborhood, great food (we had brunch), very friendly service, nice space...one of the best spots in Omaha. Well worth a visit.


Scoreboard's Happy Hour, Eden Prairie, MN

I think this is their default size...big help on a Friday. Crazy app specials too.


Carson Bay, MN

Not so easy to find, but doesn't that make it more special? Like a 20' beach too, smallest I ever saw.

Spring, '12?

Hot, then cold, the rainy...maybe Mother Nature is going through menopause. These blossoms seem to have hit the right time inspite of the waffling weather, just at the end of April.


Quote of the Day

"All of the biggest technological inventions created by man - the airplane, the automobile, the computer - says little about his intelligence, but speaks volumes about his laziness." - Mark Kennedy


Haute Dish, Minneapolis, MN

This item on their menu came with a can opener. It was rich, but good. The rest of the menu was equally inventive and flavorful. The space itself is also unique and adds something to their story. Service is attentive without being too mucg. Drinks are drunkenly good.


RedBull Crashed Ice, St. Paul, MN

Wow! Big crowd, big course, and big cajoƱes for anyone that raced it. RedBull pulls off another breathtaking event.


Schubert's Old Fashioned Cafe & Bakery, Mt. Horeb, WI

I had the chance to check out this great traditional diner in the quaint downtown business district of Mt. Horeb, WI (after peeking into the only retail location for the Duluth Trading Co.). If you want to slow down the pace of life and enjoy some comfort, stick-to-your-ribs breakfast, lunch, or dinner fare, stop by for sure. After my lunch of this chicken fried steak, I had no room left for their daily homemade pie (and other tasty treats)...my mistake, it looked amazing.


Last Ride of the Year

Shot from the beach, but definitely not swimming weather...only in the low 40s.


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