31 August 2010

Midday Minneapolis

Downtown Minneapolis is a good place to work. In my initial draft of this post I said it was "great". An overused term. It's good.

In the summer there are multiple sites competing for your attention. Occasionally, I ride the light rail out of town at lunchtime, as I did today. 15 minutes out, 15 minutes back. A nice diversion. My office is somewhere in the background of this picture.

29 August 2010

State Fair Minnesota

The State Fair is a big deal in Minnesota. Bigger than in any state I have ever lived. It is part of the culture, part of being Minnesotan. I know people who plan their vacations around it, who will take off work for a week and attend every day. For some, it's a bigger deal than Christmas. I have a friend who is currently agonizing over the fact that the eminent delivery of his third child may keep him away from the fair.

It's a huge production, one of the biggest in the country. For some it's all about a favorite ride or some form of fried junk food on a stick. For me the big thing is the butter sculptures in the dairy exhibit. This picture was taken as a parade was passing through the fairgrounds, though I didn't get much of the parade.

27 August 2010

Project complete

This painting project of the bathroom and bedroom is finally finished, Like all such projects it took longer than expected but i'm glad to have finally done it, after putting it off since we first moved into this house in 2003. It took half of last Saturday, all day Sunday, Monday evening, all day Tuesday and 6-10pm on Wednesday. Another shot of the bathroom from a similar angle.

23 August 2010

The secret ingredient for great barbecue

I smoked a pork roast this weekend, which was rather crazy because of a massive painting project in the bathroom. Note the bathtub full of old wallpaper. Sunday morning after church I loaded the smoker and went about my business of removing wallpaper, taping windowsills and trim, and painting. Periodically when I needed a break I would tend to the meat, which mainly involved throwing some some hickory chunks on the fire and heading back to the project.

The bathroom turned out fine, and after about ten hours both it and the meat were done. The roast was amazing, one of my best. It had a juicy black crust that covered a deep smoke rink about a quarter of an inch thick. Worn out from the painting, I sat on the couch with a sample of the pork and dozed off watching football.

The secret ingredient was the painting project, which forced me to leave the meat alone. I had something else to do that kept me busy and away from the opening and closing of the smoker that is always tempting but bad for the meat. I've heard it over and over that the secret to great barbecue is to leave it alone, and it's so very true. The trick next time will be finding something easier than painting to occupy my time.

18 August 2010

Jayhawks in Minnesota

The worst thing about this state, is they let just about anybody in.

17 August 2010

Home - Mid August

I'm starting a series of photos that i'll post of our front yard through the seasons. This time of year it is almost impossible to take a shot of the house, due to this huge birch tree in our front yard. It will be trimmed soon but for now it's nothing but lush green everywhere. Taken this afternoon.

North Shore

I've lived in a lot of beautiful places, Minnesota's North Shore is hard to beat. We spent last Saturday roaming the shore of Lake Superior.

First Visit to Twins Stadium

Sunday August 15th, Twins 4 - A's 2.

First trip to the stadium. Caroline and I vowed earlier in the year our first trip to the new park would be together. Finally got our schedules in sync. We only had SRO tickets so we spent out time wandering around various spots looking for the best vantage point to view the game.

It is a nice ball park from the inside. Sight lines are great. Hard to have a bad view. It is not a true baseball fan's park as it is adorned in various trapping of entertainment. Cartoon characters and fast food logos abound, but this is a modern day sports problem, not just a Twins problems. Unbelieveable but it is almost possible to walk by it and miss it, so hidden it is in the various building and infrastructure of downtown.

We found ourselves talking mainly about old Busch Stadium in St. Louis and how much of our summers were spent there. Nachos in the upper decks. Waiting for Ray Lankford or Mark McGwire to step to the plate or Ozzie Smith to launch a 6-4-3 double play. It was a big part of her childhood that she will remember all of her life. A big part of my adulthood.

When they announced the DH coming to the plate, she shook her head in disgust and muttered, "it's not real baseball". Made me proud.

12 August 2010

A sign that the end of western civilization draweth nigh

Think about all the stories of recent months on bank overdraft charges. The discussion of course has been that banks are gouging consumers and the little guy must be protected. How terrible what the banks are doing, why, its almost criminal!!

Hmm. I seem to recall that writing a check when you don't have enough money IS a crime. A real one that you can go to jail for in every state.

What world is this where writing a hot check is some sort of badge of honor? You pass bad paper, a type of theft, and it's someone else's fault....or maybe just following an example set in Washington.

(In the interest of full disclosure the company I work for is owned by a bank. I am also a former, but long-since-reformed, writer of hot checks.)

11 August 2010

Cardinals clobber the reds = A good fight wasted on a team with no soul

Photo by Tom Uhlman / AP
Baseball in August. The Cardinals marched into cincinnati on Monday down 2 games to the reds and leave today with a sweep and the division lead. Back where they belong. 

There was this well publicized fight yesterday and it's a shame it was wasted on a team most of us had forgot existed. Replay this in Chicago or Houston and you've got a brawl that keeps simmering for months. "Reds", what kind of name is that. What is a red? a drug, a communist, a color? Their claim to fame is that that Pete Rose once played for them, but that was a couple of lifetimes ago, and not really something to be proud of. This season they are in the midst of their once a decade run for the division pennant. They should behave like they've been here before... but they haven't.... so they can't.

Players move around so much these days that you wonder if there's much team spirit in pro baseball. Well there is Cardinal named Yadier Molina who answered that. On the flip side there is a red named brandon phillips who will only be remembered for having a bad temper and, umm, uh, uh, hmmm

Go Cards!!!!!

10 August 2010

My take on the iPad

I have an iPad. I'm writing this entry from it. I've had it about three weeks and have not yet decided if it is just a big iPod, or something better. I keep it with me a lot in the evenings, as a substitute laptop. Good for checking email, the news, playing a game,etc. Very good for basic retrieving of info. Email client is weak though, and basically limited to your inbox. The most basic email program will beat this thing easily.

I use it on the bus as I commute. It's not bad as a reader and I have a dozen or so books loaded on it. There is also a kindle app that allows you to download anything in the Kindle library.

All in, I'd say I like it,don't love it. Could easily live without it, but would rather not. If I lost it would I spend my own money for another one? Hmmm

Combinations that don't make sense

Been working on this list for a while
things i've seen in my life that just don't go together, that I can't make sense of.....
(i've really seen this stuff, not making it up)
Hotdogs and ketchup, Pineapple and Pizza, A bride in a white dress with her baby in tow

A Minnesota Vikings jersey at church,

Fruit on meat, Ornaments on trees at Halloween

A woman smoking a cigar, A man with a corporate logo tatooted on his neck (Nascar)

Grits and sugar, Grits and shrimp, Clothes on dogs, The DH and baseball

Steak salad, Carter and Mondale, McCain and Palin

Cheez-It and Pineapple Casserole

Sage advice from my fellow bloggers at the White House

 I have edited for brevity but not distorted the point of each item below....Don't think about your major, your roommate, the job market for your chosen career, the quality of your chosen institution. Here's what's really important...

From the White House Blog

Top 5 Things You Should Know Before Heading Back to College
Posted by Julia Simmons and Sophia Solomon on August 09, 2010 at 02:24 PM EDT
  1. The President has invested more than $40 billion in Pell Grants....The great thing about Pell Grants is that they are free and clear....
  2. If you’re under 26 years of age, may be already be able to get on a parent’s health insurance plan – and all plans will allow this in September.
  3. Community colleges are a great alternative, and they will receive an extra $2 billion over the next four years..... 
  4. If you attend one of America’s 105 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) or 225 Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), your school might get a cut of $2.55 billion in coming years.... 
  5. The Department of Energy...will dedicate $19 million in funds for its undergraduate and graduate fellowship, scholarship, and traineeship programs. 
 Did I really get this from the White House? or was it The Onion, or simply a joke posted by Republicans hacking the White House blog. 

08 August 2010

Another summer roaming the Mother Ship

The last two summers I have spent a few Sunday mornings at The Church of Saint Mark, in Shakopee, Minnesota. Compared to last year it seems to be growing. Nice, full summer crowds, which is a bit unusual for any church. Though protestant by belief and family tradition, over the years the theological lines that seemed so clear and important when I was in my twenties are now getting fuzzy. As often as not I find myself siding with the Catholic perspective on the major theological divisions between this church and mine.

One things is certain, this is the moral bulwark of the world. It is this church that holds those same timeless and true positions everywhere it stands. Although there are things I can't yet reconcile with my own understanding of scripture, I would not want a world without the Mother Ship and here's to a day when we all sail a little closer to her.

07 August 2010

Summer wanes

There is a crabapple tree in our backyard. It is one of the heralds of spring, the first to show a fat buds in April and the first to be covered in a dome of white flowers in May.

It is also the first to shed leaves and send the first hint that the long warm days will end very very soon. Unattractive little sailboats of brown and yellow that soon spread in a arc around her branches, like those shown in the picture below, taken today. The rest of the yard is oblivious to this. The grass has that slightly overcooked August tint of brown. The daylilies, rose bush and daisy are cranking out new flowes daily. The hummingbirds hum while the swallows dive in and out of the garage.

When the maple bursts in a glory of red and gold, we will acknowledge that fall is here and winter close behind. But the unglamourous crabapple knows already that the days are running short.