Thursday, September 30, 2010

Technology Attack in the Men's Room

Among the beauties of this modern world are those areas in which technology makes things easier.  Take, for example, the nasty task of keeping our restrooms smelling fresh and clean.  The attached photo shows a device that sprays air fresher out at a predestined time interval.  This modern marvel keeps our work restrooms the epitome of sweet smelling, and subsequently keeps our workers happy and motivated.  Hats off to the man behind this ingenious invention. 

Now, to the man that actually hung this magical device in its current position, the same accolades cannot be bestowed. 

I happened to be innocently answering nature’s call when the miracle machine reached its appointed hour and squirted me directly in the face with an extended spray of baby powder scent.  As I was in the middle of my business, I could do nothing but close my eyes, take the blast, and hope that it quickly ran its course.  I returned to my office with an empty bladder and the unmistakable scent of a freshly powdered baby’s butt. 

Sometimes technology can be both blessing and curse.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Green Bay's Stadium View Sports Bar: Free Drinks with Favre Picks

We spent last Sunday in a Green Bay sports bar, trying our best to get the Vikings their first win of the season. We happened to land at the Stadium View Sports Bar, just a block from Lambeau, where they happened to have a unique special: a free shot for every Favre interception.

We ended up with the best of both worlds – an inaugural win for the 2010 Vikings, and a couple of free drinks, courtesy of our beloved (and Green Bay’s hated) #4.

Winner, winner, liquid dinner.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Twins Attendance Record Set

Fans gather outside of Target Field on Opening Day in Minneapolis on April 12, 2010. The new open-air ballpark made its official debut Monday as the Minnesota Twins beat the Boston Red Sox 5-2 in the game. UPI/Brian Kersey Photo via Newscom

The Twins have set their single season attendance record this year.  At over 3.2 million attendees, the record shattered the previous record of just over 3 million set in 1988 – the year after the Twins’ first World Series championship. 

While the team has played exceptionally well this season, the real reason for the record attendance is Target Field.  As stated here earlier, the field is an incredible shrine for an incredible game.  The state has fallen in love with outdoor baseball and with this beautiful stadium, and as such demand for tickets is through the roof (pun not intended). 

I can’t wait to see what it all looks like as the Twins host their first postseason in this gorgeous new home.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Appleton WI Octoberfest

My wife and I spent a great afternoon at Appleton, Wisconsin’s Octoberfest. The day was beautiful, the place packed, the beer cold, the food awesome.

The entire downtown is shut down to host dozens and dozens of food booths (manned by local non-profits). As you can see by the photo, there was a giant crowd there.

Notes from the day:
  • This was the first Octoberfest I’ve attended in which there was very little German influence. Aside from a couple of folks in lederhosen, you wouldn’t have any idea this was an “Octoberfest.”
  • There were four stages of music, with a heavy emphasis on really mediocre 70’s cover bands. Only one polka band represented. Lame.
  • We were surprised at the size of Appleton, and it seemed bigger than Green Bay. It clearly had a more defined downtown.
  • Guess where I’m going to be on St. Patrick’s Day?

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Real Reason Why Sesame Street Dropped Katy Perry

The latest news has Katy Perry’s appearance on Sesame Street being censored out of an upcoming episode.  Parents have been complaining about Ms. Perry’s choice of clothing, and questioning the need for kiddos to see cleavage.  But that isn’t the real story here, nor what’s truly driving the call for this segment to be removed. 

Here’s the truth: Katy Perry sucks.  She sucks on ice, and it would be absolute torture to expose young ears to her untalented, auto-tuned screeching.  If Hell has a soundtrack, it features Katy Perry’s music. 

Hence, can we allow our children to suffer by listening to this crap?  Judge for yourselves:

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Fox River Bike Trail - A Green Bay Gem

After a really long day at work I figured that I needed some fresh air and some exercise.  I punched out at , let the dog out, got my gear on, and hit the Fox River Trail. 

The Fox River is the river that bisects Green Bay, and while sections of it are really industrial, there are portions that are downright pretty.  I headed south, into a pretty good headwind, and was surprised at the scenery and activity.  Before long I found myself well beyond De Pere and well into the country.  By the trail marker I had only gone 8.5 miles, but one of Green Bay’s charms is her small size, and it didn’t take much to peddle into the farms and cows. 

I really wanted to get a 20 mile ride in, but it got buggy and I was more tired than I expected, so I hooked around and headed back to home.  Now armed with a tailwind I really flew, and I kicked myself that I didn’t crank out the extra mile and a half as the trip home was going to be a quick one.  Maybe next time. 

I’m not sure that my schedule will allow me to get out much more on weeknights, especially with the days getting noticeably shorter, but I am planning a nice long ride sometime this weekend.  I understand there’s a deer park 12 miles out.  That sounds like a good goal. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Lonely Man In Cheeseland

Personally, I’m having a tough time.  I’m working a ton, enjoying it immensely, but I’m lonelier than I can describe.  My little Residence Inn room is dark, small, lonely, and depressing. 

In this period I’ve often thought about the lives our soldiers, sailors, and airmen live, and how compared to theirs’ my loneliness is the emotional equivalent of jack squat.  I hoped such thoughts would make it easier. 

It doesn’t.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Cabela's Discontinues Herter's Decoys

Cabela's finally did it.  They killed off the Herter's decoy line. 

When in operation, Herter's was making the finest working decoys available.  Cheap?  No, but these were decoys that were made so that your son could hunt over them one day.  Heavy?  Yeah, especially the burlap decoys, but anything that was built to survive the rigor of decades of use needed to be sturdy. 

So why did Cabela's kill the line?  Good question.  I used to be responsible for the marketing of that catalog back in it's waterfowling heyday, in the late '90's. The picture here is a scan from one of our catalogs that we developed.  I know the margins that were made on the decoy line, and they were astronomic.  But some bean counter in some back cube in Nebraska must have run the numbers and found there was more to be made with annual sales of consumable Chinese-made plastic ducks than a one-time purchase of a lifetime decoy. 

I'm fortunate in that I have my supply that has served me over a decade, and will last the rest of my life.  I pity those other duck hunters, especially the new ones, that are subjugated to an annual trip to the store to continually augment their spread, all due to a greedy decision. 

Here's a fond goodbye to the best working decoys ever made.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Twins Magic Number at 10 - "It's Over!"

Roy Orbison checks in with a song for Ozzie Guillen and the boys from the south side...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

White Sox Strike Out; Minnesota Twins' Magic Number at 12

Chicago White Sox designated hitter Manny Ramirez (L) tosses his bat after striking out during the first inning as Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer walks off the field at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago on September 14, 2010.   UPI/Brian Kersey Photo via Newscom

It’s over. 

With the win last night, the Twins stretch their lead over the White Sox to 7.  The Twins’ magic number (the number of combined Twins’ wins and White Sox losses) in order to clinch is down to 12. 

In order for the Sox to be there mathematically, they must take the next two games from the Twins, win (not tie) every series they play the rest of the season, while the Twins lose every series they play the rest of the season. 

It is over.  It has been over.  Let’s hope we can clinch this early, celebrate, and then get ready to actually do something in the playoffs.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Home Sales and St. Joseph

Our house has been on the market for over three weeks, and had garnered the same amount of showings. The real estate market in Waconia, and in Minnesota in general, is as cold as January Sunday on Lambeau Field. The specter of dual mortgages looms like a fat kid eyeing the Old Country Buffet dessert table.

Our desperate time requires desperate measures, so we’re beseeching the involvement of St. Joseph via his statue burial as a means of bringing about a transaction. Since he is also the patron Saint of our local parish, and one in which we were very active volunteers, we hope our call for help is heard and divine intercession received.

Let’s go, St. Joe!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Rubbing Elbows with Green Bay's Affluent

Last Friday, though an invite from my boss, I attended a fundraiser for a local Green Bay hospital. It was held at a private residence - a multi-million dollar home on the Fox river- and was attended by 150 of Green Bay’s richest, plus about a dozen or so Green Bay Packers players. I didn’t know all of the players, but recognized Donald Driver, Mark Tauscher, Greg Jennings, and AJ Hawk.

During the evening, it was clear that, in terms of net worth, I was the poorest guy in the house. By a long shot. I kept thinking to myself, “I don’t belong here.” While that didn’t ruin my evening (I was more than happy to mingle around and see how the rich folks live), it was a conscious thought.

A day later, after reflecting on it, it came to me that each and every one of those people at that event had felt exactly like me at one point in their lives. Does that mean I’ll ever join their ranks? Not at all. It will take a lot of hard work and a lot of luck. But what it does mean is that they’re not appreciably more different than I am.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Never Forget - The Falling Man

At over an hour, this is a long documentary, but it is worth the investment.

Bring Kleenex.

And never, ever forget.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Break Up Conversation with Obama

The genius that is Iowahawk has come through with another brilliant piece of satire, this time in the form of a break up conversation between the US democracy and Barak Obama. An excerpt:

Barack, can we, uh, talk for a few minutes?

Oh, nothing. It's just that it just seems we haven't had a chance to talk for a while. I mean, I know we've both been busy for the past year or so. You with your fundraisers and golfing and stuff, and me with all those appointments at the unemployment office. But you know I think it's important in a relationship like ours to keep the lines of communication open. But anyway, I've been think that... look, this is really hard. God. Do you remember when we met at that big party in Denver back in 08? I mean when I saw you across that crowded convention floor, it was like, Oh My God. I don't think I ever saw anything like you before. I was on the rebound from a bad relationship and you were so tall and articulate and, well hot. And then I couldn't believe that of all the democracies in the room you picked me out!
I encourage you to read the whole thing.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Trip Back to St. John's University

On my way home last weekend, I stopped by St. John's University to see how my alma mater is holding up. It has been a couple of years since I've been on campus, and this was the first time in ten or fifteen years that I've been up there while the students were around.

A couple of observations from this walk down memory lane:
  • From the minute I got out of my car, I was overcome by a palpable sense of "home." I just can't explain it any better than that. Despite being almost 25 years away from physically being a part of campus, it felt like a good portion of my soul never left.
  • I was touched at how much this place meant to me.  While I only spent four years there, they were incredible years. Years in which I grew into a man, years in which I grew intellectually and spiritually, years in which I met and made the best friends that I'd have in my life. It is amazing how that little segment of time can have a ripple effect through a lifetime.
  • I forgot how incredibly beautiful this campus is. From the Abby Church to the stadium to the smallest and most insignificant of buildings, it is simply picturesque. Additions made through the years, either buildings or landscaping, have only added to its beauty. 
  • I felt really bad for the students that I met. When I came out of college in 1987, we had ourselves a recession, but nothing like what the class of 2011 will be called to endure. Thankfully, youth is the antidote to pessimism, and hopefully things will get better soon so this next generation gets to experience the blessings that I and others in my generation were lucky enough to enjoy.
If you happen to find yourself on I-94 just west of St. Cloud, definitely pull over. Even if you do nothing other than run in and get yourself of delicious loaf of that famous Johnnie Bread, it will be worth your while.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Donald Fagen, Boz Skaggs, Michael McDonald MN State Fair Concert Review

Billed as The Dukes of September Rhythm Review, a band featuring Michael McDonald, Boz Skaggs, Donald Fagen, and a majority of the band from the 2009 Steely Dan tour held court on the final day of the Minnesota State Fair. The weather was miserable, with times of heavy rain and strong wind, and judging by some of the missing seats, kept some folks either at home or sheltered in the grandstand. Regardless of the weather, the show was quite good.

Here's a set list to the best of my recollection:

Everybody's Gone - Think I may have the title wrong on this one. All three shared a chorus to start things off.
Don't Mess Up a Good Thing - Michael McDonald soared his blue-eyed soul to take this old Fontella Bass and Bobby McClure song to an awesome place. Outstanding.
Shakedown Street - Fagen gave a pretty honest treatment to perhaps the worst Grateful Dead song ever. Not sure why it was selected. Yuck.
You Never Can Tell - Boz did a traditional run at this Chuck Berry classic, but chose not to go after the high last line of the chorus. It sounded funny that way (although the background singers hit it for him), and could have been better.
I Got News for You - Michael McDonald absolutely tore the place down with this song. Somewhere, Ray Charles was smiling broadly.
Green Flower Street - Great treatment by Fagen. Very true to the original, save for a great piano solo lead-in.
Miss Sun - This is my favorite Boz song, and hands down the best part is the sexy female backup singer improvisation at the end. I was wondering how that part of the song was going to be handled, and sure enough one of the female backups came down to take on an interplay with Boz. Unfortunately, their mic levels were not at all aligned, and instead of a breathy, sexy back and forth, she dominated the conversation. Too bad.
I Keep Forgettin' - A solid performance by Michael.
Rock Steady - One of the background singers took on this Aretha song, and did pretty damn good with it. I know I wouldn't want to cover the Queen of Soul, but she really held her own. I was impressed.
King Harvest - Fagen started out a trio of covers by The Band, and all three were really lacking. Given their backgrounds, band, and personal catalogs, covering The Band made zero sense to me.
Rag, Momma, Rag - The second miss, this time with Boz at lead vocals.
You Don't Know the Shape I'm In - McDonald's stellar vocals made this passable.
I Live the Life I Love - Another backup singer handled lead vocals on this old Muddy Waters tune.
Cadillac Walk - Boz's voice hits stride with this Mink Deville classic.
What a Fool Believes - While the song sounded dated, it did get some folks to their feet to build to the finale.
I.G.Y - For some reason I did not expect Fagen to play this. Not sure why, but it surprised me. He totally knocked it out of the park, and more people got on their feet.
Lowdown - Boz's biggest hit had even more people dancing.
Takin' It to the Street - This Doobies' classic my McDonald had literally everybody up.
Reelin' In the Years - Given the band make up, they've been playing this for over a year now, and they crushed it.

Additional random notes:
  • Fagen was way more lucid than he was last November. He knew his lyrics (save for one small error on I.G.Y), and cracked himself up on the lead lyric of Reelin' while fighting through the wind and rain - your everlasting summer you can see it fading fast.
  • All the guys looked really good. They looked their age, yeah, but they still looked good.
  • I was really awed by the greatness of Michael McDonald's singing. Why he didn't have a significantly bigger career is beyond me. He's kind of like the US's version of Great Britain's Paul Carrack
Despite the lousy weather, it really was fun. I recommend the show.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Minnesota Goose Opener 2010

I spent last weekend with Fuzzy, his kids, and a couple of Yellow Dogs in search of either some geese or doves. Given a reliable scouting report, we decided to forgo geese and spent Saturday morning in pursuit of doves. Unfortunately, a big NW wind the days leading up to the hunt likely moved many of them off to warmer climes. That meant a trip to town for blueberry pancakes, a long and much needed nap, target shooting, some fun ATV riding and copious amounts of college football.

The following day found us on the lake in pursuit of some Canada geese, but again things were a bust (as you can likely tell by the picture of the Yellow Dog and my buddy Ben). We saw a handful of birds, but nothing gave us any kind of look. The day was salvaged by a trip to Cabela's on the way home, so all was not lost, but in terms of the game bag, things were a little light.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Week One Recap

My first week at the new job is nearly complete. I’m exhausted by the amount of what I’ve needed to learn and by the amount of work I’ve done, but I’m energized by the opportunity that is ahead of me. The culture of this company is aligned with what is important to me (respect, professionalism, frugality, passion for the customer, fun) and my boss the CEO and I could not be any more on the same page.

 It is hard – there’s so much to do. But that’s also the fun part as well.

I can’t wait for week two.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Video of New Home

I was going through our formal home inspection, and was able to get some video of the place. It was originally built by Ryan Longwell of the Packers (now with the Vikings), so there’s a touch of a brush with greatness, I guess.

Check it out: