Blog All Time Stats

For a long time I've used a free service called Stat Counter to count all manner of stat-related things on this blog. It really is informative, and somewhat scary, to see how much data is collected on all the people that visit. I can get right down to country, city, and ISP information.

I'm also now more familiar with the Google and its stat counter. I thought it would be interesting to see how the two compare. This is for the life of the ole blog...

From StatCounter:
 From Google:
In total, only a difference of 4,000 views. Those could be my own views alone... maybe. With this post, I'll be at 698 in total, over the 6 years I've been writing. Maybe that's not that many in the grand scheme of things, meh. What I also found interesting above is which posts had the most views all time. Clearly people are still finding the ones about the University of Texas, Japan, a horribly good MPLS dive-bar called the Red Dragon, and a great transportation museum in Omaha, the Durham. They were written so long ago, maybe posts get more popular as they age, gaining views and search results placement.
I'll stop rambling now - thanks for all the page views.


Maybe don't use this as your main dating profile photo.

I think it's a pretty universal truth that people visiting dating sites categorize others with intuition and experience. I think flattering pictures actually help people see beyond the cover, giving them time to peek inside the book. 

To that end, there may be some simple ways to get a leg up. Below isn't an exhaustive list, nor would I say they are absolutes, maybe someone has a good reason for making their main profile pic include a lizard (yet to see that actually). I also realize you may be trying to attract a certain/different kind of man. Good luck, but read below just the same.

I wouldn't make any of the below your main profile pic:
- you holding more than one drink (aka double-fisting)...at least not in my age bracket
- you posing with something dead that you've just killed
- you with a cat... ok, more than one cat
- you with a little teeny dog. Even just one. There's only one kind of woman that wants the kind of dog you can carry in leather luggage
- you with a random dude with your arms around him, face blacked out or not. Don't make us think of you with other guys...we don't know who they are just by seeing the pic
- you in zombie make-up...unless it's professionally done or just before Halloween
- you in a dark elf costume, including pitch black face and body makeup. There must be a dedicated dating site for that, or a support group
- you almost naked...why don't you leave something more to the imagination? We get it though, you like getting down. News flash - everyone does
- you on a bed, see above
- you with only your eyes/top of head/forehead/legs/cleavage showing. If it goes well, we'll see all of you eventually. Might as well start strong, start with all of you...or a nice headshot
- someone that isn't you. Duh 
- you in an amazingly hard yoga pose. You can impress me with your yoga prowess over a drink
- a sideways pic. You can't straighten an image file, really? How will you locate a bar for a first date?
- no pic at all... are you in witness protection? Do you work as a private investigator? Are you on the FBI's Most Wanted list? Maybe. And I'd guess your  job isn't that important. You aren't a spy, are you? ...if you can reveal that info. If none of the above, just post a pic of yourself 

I've seen everything above and presume people dismiss the profile immediately. Personally, I look for someone to date and hopefully more. It's slightly insulting to see someone's first introduction of themselves taken as a boast, goof, gaff, or outright lie. Not only that, but you have nine other photo slots to fill that aren't your main profile pic. Fill 'em up with all your pet/body/yoga/sideways shots, just not the first one. 

So join us - We all take a risk by making a real profile, main pic included. You might just be surprised by the results. 

Note: while I view female profiles, an astute reader has confirmed that male profile pics can be just as "creative"... probably worse.


Apostle Islands Ice Caves, near Cornucopia, WI

Well, last weekend I was able to check something off my bucket list that wasn't  even on my bucket list.

It all started a few weeks back when I heard the phrase "ice caves" mentioned by a few co-workers and Northwoods folks. I had no idea what they were talking about, kind of like a lot of things "up here", so after some prodding and internet research (largely from HERE), I found out it was this:

Ice CavesThe caves' beauty varies dramatically with the season. In summer the red sandstone is sandwiched between sapphire blue lake and emerald green forests that grow right up to the brink of the cliffs. Large waves generate plumes of spray and thunderous explosions as they surge into the sea caves. While visitors must enjoy these scenes from a distance, such is not the case when the lake is tranquil. Under calm conditions, kayakers can explore the caves' deepest recesses while listening to the murmur of water against rock.
By February, an ice bridge might connect Sand Island to the mainland. The lake surface is usually a frozen white expanse. Lake shore cliffs form a crimson red border to this arctic landscape. Pillars of ice extend to the cliff tops where waterfalls have hardened in place. Frozen lake water encrusts the base of the cliffs. Inside the caves awaits a fairyland of needle like icicles. The formations change from chamber to chamber and from day to day.
I had no idea, and color me interested. I like finding things in this great northern forest that will allow me to put another "feather in my cap", so to speak. I felt like a solo trip to this icy escapade would be a fine feather to add. And too add some fire, to the ice?, this phenomenon hasn't occurred in 5 years up here (Global Climate Change?), so you gotta get while the gettin's good.
It took some planning and packing, plenty of white-knuckle driving on snowy roads to Duluth, my overnight stop, and then up to Cornucopia, but it worked out well. I also stumbled on the shuttle service that only runs the weekend I had chosen to go up. Now understand, you have to walk from your car to the shoreline, then a mile to the ice caves, then 2-3 miles of caves, then all the way back to shore, then back to your car. So, if I could get a ride back and forth from my car, why not? City folks ain't that dumb.
Enough words, here's some pics:
It's a funny sight to see the largest of the Great Lakes frozen over... this is a bay, but still

"Does anyone see Timmy?!"

"Lady, move your poles!"

They have an abundance of red ice from the iron ore in the area. They also had regular ice and blue ice

Way on the right... blue ice

A duck's quack does not echo... wish I had one here

Finally, some icicles people couldn't reach and tear down... seriously, people!!!
I pretty much thought I would know what to expect before getting there, but the sheer size of the area, long walk, and massive crowds were way more than I expected. I talked to a gristled local at the general store as I started the day and he mentioned that 11,000 people daily were visiting the caves in an area that's really just "in business" during the nicest summer months. And I don't feel like I'm in much shape anymore, but there were all kinds of folks on the ice... trudging along in snowsuits and looking like ripe tomatoes stuck in GoreTex. I only heard of one person that day with a medical issue, but that can't have been the only one.
You can get a sense of how big some of the sea caves are in summer... would be fun to paddle out and see them filled with non-frozen water. (oh, I was able to tag-along with a co-worker and his family for most of the walk and they're in this pic. He's in green, his wife and daughter in red and pink)

This thing looks harmless, until you realize it's about 5 stories tall... and eats trees


Tycoons, Duluth, MN

I found this spot in a city I don't know very well by Googling "brewery". It looked good online and seemed to be "downtown", plus it had 4/5 stars, so I thought at least I wouldn't be disappointed. 

I arrived on a snowy night and after some parking issues, I had tucked my car into a city lot (put that on your website!). As I walked to the restaurant, I realized why it was called "Tycoons" as it's directly across from a creepy, gen-pop drawing, downtown casino. Gross. Nice city planning, Duluth. Must be the tax benefits. So, name understood, I went inside. 

The restaurant has a nice vibe and decor in an older building downtown. It was also busy, a good sign. I sat at the bar and inquired about a beer with the college-aged, female bartender. She helped me understand why Google chose this place under "brewery" as all their tap beers are supplied by Fitger's, a local Duluth brewer and she helped me choose their Tugboat Irish Stout. I was pleased with the beer choice from the first sip. 

I picked one of the evening's specials for dinner which is their "Cinnamon Salmon". It was served with fingerling potatoes and a grilled vegetable medley. Though I thought I'd be in for a Northwoods portion (aka huge), it was almost like a high-end restaurant portion (not petite, but no leftovers). The salmon was really well done, but the vegetable medley had onions, which I thought was odd and the potatoes were not consistently cooked, some tender and some a little under done. Despite the minor points, I liked the meal and would go back. 

They also had a great crowd and interesting folks on staff. For example, one of the bartenders had not one but two puka shell necklaces. Who wears these anymore...if you're over 22 years old... and not a swimwear model? In fact, all the male bartenders looked they needed a shower and shave too...I could chalk that up to a long winter.


Moth be Spring soon

If anyone can tell me what kind of moth this is, I'd be interested. Further, if you can tell me why I found it fluttering around the footwell of the front passenger seat of my car in the middle of February, I'd be really interested. 


First Taste,The Butcher & The Boar, Minneapolis, MN

If you have been hibernating for longer than just this winter, you may not have heard about this altar of meat. I know it gets good reviews and friends have said its worth a (meat heavy) trip. I haven't gotten a group together yet, but wanted to see it. So, just went in for a mid-evening drink and snack before meeting people out.

It seems to live up to the billing, though prices seemed a little too downtown for what you seemed to be getting. Then again, I'm not thinking this an every week kind of place for me, but for special occasions only. 

I had a good nitro pour stout (Left Hand) and their pickled plate, including all manner of vegetables, a pickled egg, and some pickled beef heart. Yes, the heart. I saw it on the menu and thought it would make a good story. Plus, I have to say, it was delicious. The whole plate in general, and specifically, the heart. Who knew?


The Rabbit Hole, Minneapolis, MN

There are numerous new reviews by true foodies about this place, so I won't pretend to be finding a needle in a haystack, but that's not likely why someone stopped here anyways. Now, on to the meat of the matter...

The Rabbit Hole is a new restaurant and bar located in the Midtown Global Market space. It has an entrance right off the eastside doors (right across from the parking ramp - which is free with validation, btw) and an entrance off the marketplace (so people can get to the shared restrooms... not shared by men and women or something, they're shared b/w TRH and the marketplace).

I don't know what the official take on their place is, if they have one, but once you're inside you get a sense that they have design influences from Asian, Middle-Eastern, and Indian themes. Decor is dark, like a cozy place often is, but comfortable. We chose to sit in front of the kitchen windows, which are kind-of-cool 2-top seats, like at a sushi bar, but no ability to talk to the chefs, and had a great time watching them create plates that were going right out to other diners. In fact, it helped us decide what we wanted as we simply thought something looked good seeing it being prepared and asked the waitress what it was, then ordered it.

The menu takes the same direction as the decor, bringing in influences from Korean, Asian, Indian, and Middle-Eastern dishes and spices, then adding their own unique TRH twist, like spice dusted Rice Krispies on the broccoli salad dish we ate. There were dishes with kimchi, a number with seafood as the main component, like crawfish, and some that we had to ask about to understand completely and the waitress was happy to explain.

Get one of their unique drinks. The two we had, a hot date tea and a N/A ginger cocktail were outstanding and gave us totally new flavors we'd never had before. And I don't just mean ginger, I mean the unique blend of items in the ginger drink.

What do you call a redheaded ninja? A ginja!!!
We chose one salad item, one small plate, and one main dish to share b/w the two of us. We had:
Salad - Broccoli, Orange, Red Onion, Almond, Crispy Rice - This was very good and reminded me of the old family staple carrots & raisins salad.
Small - Brussel Sprouts, which got hijacked upon order entry and mistaken for - Charred Green Bean, Onion, Almond, Garlic-Black Bean Sauce - We ate these just the same and liked them just the same too. Maybe more actually, because the order was messed up, they gave us the brussel sprouts at the end of the meal and I ate them the next day at home.
- Big - Grilled Kalbi, Short Rib, Kimchi Hash, Grilled Carrots, Roasted Pearl Onions
[the bold and italics are the words they use on their menus to direct your appetite]
Couldn't wait to dive into this one...
Just what the doctor ordered on a cold winter's night...
They didn't look like brussel sprouts, but tasted great
Though we were pleasantly full from our dishes, we did look at their simple, 4-item dessert menu, but decided to fore go some of their Asian-inspired, lighter desserts for a trip to Sebastian Joe's Ice Cream (and don't get me started on that place).

All in all, we had a great time, with great food and service and I would go back in a New York minute. You should too.

One extra little note: if you see the red neon heart in the rabbit picture above, though I took multiple pics with my iPhone, only this one came out with the red heart, the rest of them are blank. See below. Spooky. Ghosts?


Dragons Attack!!!

You probably wouldn't believe me if I told you where, but rest assured these are for sale in the Twin Cities...hand-made woolen balls of firey fluff. The first one below is actually a woman's hat. Hilarious. I have no idea why dragons. This artist makes other, real animal figures as well.

The Craftsman, Minneapolis, MN

This was a brunch I won't soon forget. Nice, comfortable space; simple, well thought out menu; and service that could use a cup of coffee (though judging by reviews, I'm not the first to say that). 

Their Sunday brunch menu all sounded good, but they have a rather upscale take on the ole breakfast sandwich. Up the quality of the ham, use a nice egg, jazz up the greens, aioli and bun and you get a really nice brunch item. It was delicious and unpretentious. I'd go back for brunch #2 in a heartbeat. 


"I'm Ron Burgundy?"

Now, I know that Will got almost literally everywhere in promotion of Anchorman 2 (did you see him on your local newscast in South Dakota?)...but this may be taking it a touch to far, drawers. I get the tie-in, but seriously?

Not to mention how I felt after paying to see the movie...


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