Saturday, May 31, 2014

Al Franken to Demagogue and Waste More Time

It was announced last week the the esteemed Minnesota Senator Al Franken is going to hold a hearing on "stalking apps" - phone applications that collect geolocation information from mobile devices.

It seems that to Senator Franken, such functionality is just way too intrusive.  Here's his money quote: “The companies that make the software on your phone, including apps, can access extremely sensitive location data that reveals where you live, where you work, where you drop your kids off at school, the church you attend and the doctors you visit.” 

I'm shocked - shocked, I tell you - that Franken failed to mention any concern whatsoever about the NSA, or any other government spying (Hi, NSA!)

"Big" business "spying" = bad.  Government spying = good.

What a tool.  But we should expect nothing less than inaction and demagoguery from our elected officials.  It seems it is the only thing they can do with effectiveness anymore. 

Fr. Don on Communication (or Lack Thereof)

Fr. Don came up with an outstanding post today that I felt necessary to share:

"Who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me" (Luke 1:43)? In the gospel event that we call the visitation, these words are Elizabeth's response to a visit from her cousin Mary. The pregnant and elderly Elizabeth doesn't give a self-centered response: "Where were you? It's about time" but "How did I ever deserve this?" Elizabeth receives the gift of Mary's time and effort as an unexpected, most welcome kindness, a gift.

Daily life offers all of us opportunities to give generously and also to receive with gratitude and joy what others give. In our day phone calls and letters as well as convenient mobility make it possible for us to bring consolation, light, even some excitement to the lives of the lonely, the ill, the neglected, the suffering in any way. Yet with so many technology-enhanced opportunities for communication and contact, we still plead "no time." Visitation in some form or other of those who would benefit from it is a snap for us today compared to what it was in Mary's time. What keeps us from doing more of it? Perhaps it's our lack of identification with the selflessness of Christ, something He learned at least partly from His mother.

Interesting take, no?  Technology affords us more and easier communication than ever before in history.  But do we actually take advantage of it and communicate more, or less?

What busy, lonely lives we lead.

Friday, May 30, 2014


I started running 7 months and 40 pounds ago, and this morning I just cranked out my first 10k.  It has been a long road, but there are not many other accomplishments in my life in which I'm more proud.  

Now for the race coming up in two weeks...

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Elizabeth at Vittles and Joe

If you find yourself in Hackensack, Minnesota anytime soon, be sure to bring yourself and your appetite to a little establishment called Vittles and Joe.  Their specialty is a heaping plate of steaming, homemade blueberry pancakes like you can get no other place, and while the calories of said meal are likely of your daily allowance variety, they're worth every damn bite. 

Trust me, you won't be disappointed in either those vittles, or their joe.

And, in the event you have her as your waitress, you won't be disappointed with Elizabeth, either.

At a recent breakfast with a buddy, I was struck how Elizabeth approached our table.  She did so looking each of us in the eye, and offering us a huge, genuine smile.  It stood out so much (think about it - how many times in the past have you had someone in the hospitality or retail industry REALLY smile at you) that I watched how she interacted with other tables.

We weren't a fluke.  Every table, and every interaction with that table was done with this massive smile.  And when she left the table and her back was turned, that smile didn't leave.  

Holy smokes, who does that?!

By the time our meal had ended, I was so struck that I had to go up to Elizabeth and ask if I could take her picture as I wanted to write about her.  She smiled (imagine that) and agreed.  Hence the photo above.

In the time since my meal, I've had three pressing thoughts.

  1. The power of a sincere, genuine smile cannot be overstated.  It taps into a core human emotion and absolutely, positively changes things and makes them better.  Think about that for a minute: it changes things and makes them better.  Talk about powerful.
  2. I'm convinced that if I had an army of Elizabeths and a retail or hospitality business, I'm quite confident that I could conquer the world.
  3. I wonder what is stopping me from being an Elizabeth 
For the first time ever, my waitress left me with a tip.  Now it is up to me to spend it wisely.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Quick Trip to New Orleans

Last week I was fortunate to have a conference in my favorite city in the world (outside of Minneapolis): New Orleans.  It was a quick trip, but I was still able to get a lot completed:

 The trip starts in the cab, where you are reminded not to kill a taxicab driver.  Yikes.

 Here is just one of the many riverboats that tour the Mississippi

I did quite a bit of running in the city while I was down there.  It was good in the respect that New Orleans is extremely flat, and by running in the French Quarter, there is plenty to see.  Here I am with Andrew Jackson in Jackson Square, for example.  The bad is that it was damned hot and humid, which made running hard.  Really, really hard.  I'm not sure how folks do it.

The reward for all of that running.  Here are New Orleans barbecue crab claws from the Red Fish Grill.   If there is a better appetizer in the Big Easy, I've not found it.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Santa Barbara Killings - Another Gun Killing. Plus Knives. Plus Cars

With the recent, horrible events in Santa Barbara, there have come outcries for what we, as a society, are going to do about guns.

Unfortunately, the psycho that killed all those people didn't do it all by firearm.  He gleefully killed (or attempted to kill) people via knife and motor vehicle.

Given his actions, is there any cogent argument that, if all guns were banned, he still wouldn't have found a way to pile up a massive body count?  Oh, one may argue that guns made it easier to kill.  That may or may not be true.

But what is most definitely true is that guns certainly were not necessary for this psychopath to commit mass murder.  

Given that, what do we as a society REALLY want to do to prevent the next incident like this?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Ireland Day 6

Day six of our Irish trip had me on the golf course.  I was fortunate to play Dooks in County Kerry; a true links course right on the ocean.  For more on Dooks, you can see their website here.  
The scene from a tee.

An Irish hare hangs out on the tee box

A tough looking hole
The course is a true links course, and is built directly on the sand, and this ground under repair shows

My caddie, bless her heart.  She was with me for all 125 of my strokes.

Despite my massive score, I'm still smiling.  In fact, I couldn't stop grinning the entire time.

The 19th hole, and the best post-golf drink I've ever had

King Puck, the famous savior of Killorglin

Life members at Killarney

A golf buddy at Killarney

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Fishing Opener Report - 2014

The Gang of Four held our annual Minnesota Fishing Opener up on Leech Lake, and it was another highly successful event. Below is some of the documentation:

A nice first day stringer which ultimately led to a rare first day fish fry,

JP with a nice 24" fish

Pauly outfished us again this year, and this was just one example

The fish of the weekend was this 29 1/2" monster.  For Leech Lake, walleyes typically don't come much bigger.  

The boys with yet another fish caught by Paulie.

The weekend went by too fast, but it was good to have the gang all back together again.  I can't wait until next year.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Ireland Day 5

Our fifth day in Ireland was more of the same - incredible beauty, just about everywhere:

This vista afforded a wonderful scene that was truly Irish in every regard

A random church along the way

The beauty of the Irish mountains

A lovely waterfall in the middle of a lush Irish wood

Perhaps my favorite view from the trip

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Adolescent Obama Administration

From the Wall Street Journal. comes an editorial that accurately psychoanalyzes the nature of the Obama administration as one of a narcissistic adolescent.  

An extract:

 If the United States today looks weak, hesitant and in retreat, it is in part because its leaders and their staff do not carry themselves like adults. They may be charming, bright and attractive; they may have the best of intentions; but they do not look serious. They act as though Twitter and clenched teeth or a pout could stop invasions or rescue kidnapped children in Nigeria. They do not sound as if, when saying that some outrage is "unacceptable" or that a dictator "must go," that they represent a government capable of doing something substantial—and, if necessary, violent—if its expectations are not met. And when reality, as it so often does, gets in the way—when, for example, the Syrian regime begins dousing its opponents with chlorine gas, as it has in recent weeks, despite solemn deals and red lines—the administration ignores it, hoping, as teenagers often do, that if they do not acknowledge a screw-up no one else will notice.

Read the entire fascinating article here

Friday, May 16, 2014

Al Franken - Online Privacy and Security Hypocrite

Minnesota Senator Al Franken is receiving kudos in some circles for his recent questioning of Samsung on the fingerprint security of their new Galaxy phone.  

What a privacy hawk!  What a friend of individual freedom!  What a First Amendment warrior!

Oh, wait...

Bleeping hypocrite.

Hi, NSA!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Ireland Day 4

Our fourth day in Ireland was full of surprises.  Here are just a couple of treasures in which we enjoyed

 Our stay was at an old castle, it it was clearly as advertised.  The building and the grounds were incredible.

 Here are my travel companions, at our dinner at the castle.

Another shot of the building and grounds.  I took a run through the grounds - nearly 5 miles of it, and it remains perhaps my most treasured memory of Ireland

It was a day of castles, as we visited and explored this one

The Irish highlands and their incredible beauty

Religious articles were found everywhere, like at this mountain pass

The beauty of the coast

Want to go for a walk?  Here's a convenient ladder to cross the fence.  Just leave the dog behind...

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Songs on Rotation for My Brother's Birthday

Every year for the past few I've gifted some new music to my brother in celebration of his birthday.  While Apple will no longer allow me to "gift" a setlist, I still can pass along a list of what I'm jamming out to via the information below:

"Bitch, I Love You", Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears - Not exactly for the kiddos, but the closest thing to James Brown since the man himself.

"Country Down," Beck - From his most recent effort (a standout album, by the way), Beck is putting out some of the best night-driving music being made right now.  

"Cut Me Some Slack," Paul McCartney, Dave Grohl, and friends - From the Sound City soundtrack, Sir Paul rocks like he hasn't rocked since the White Album.  If this doesn't make you think of "Helter Skelter, " you're missing out

"Dare," Gorillaz - I went back and added a ton of old Gorillaz to my music collection.  This little "virtual band" has pulled together a lot of great music over the past decade or so.

"Fireflies," Mofro - Sweet, drippy soul.  Music like they used to make it.

"Gun for a Tongue," Butterfly Boucher - Butterfly Boucher has been putting out some really incredible music, and this indy-pop effort is one of my favorites.  She is very much worth getting to know.

"Hallelujah,"  Michael McDonald - The Leonard Cohen staple has never sounded so good.  McDonald shows why he's one of the best voices in rock.  Ever.

"Ladies and Gentlemen," City and the Colour - I love this band, and their album released this past year was worth the wait.  One of the really great bands out there right now.

"Louisiana 1927", Aaron Neville - I saw him do this Randy Newman song in concert last year, and it blew me away.

"Madman Across the Water," Elton John - From a rare masters album, this is a different version than the one made famous as the title track in the album of the same name.  It just shows the incredible talent this guy had in the very early '70's.  He was a virtuoso.  Sadly, nobody makes music like this anymore.

"Nothing but the Whole Wide World," Jakob Dylan - Nice tune.  Throw in Neko Case on backing vocals, and it's gotta be in your library.

"Oh Well," Billy Gibbons - From a recent Fleetwood Mac tribute album, Gibbobs is the only artist that is a peer of the band being tributed.  Nearly all of the other contributing acts are current indy/alternative acts.  And Billy schools them.  The guy is a beast.

"Somebody has Got to Go," Eddie Cleanhead Vinson - Old school blues by a very under appreciated artist.

"The Sound of Silence," Brandi Carlile - Actually, it's just the Hanseroth twins.  And it gives you goosebumps.

"Tennis Court," Lorde  - She got a lot of publicity, and this is one of the more obvious songs on the list.  Regardless, I really like her, and this song in particular.

"Waiting," The Devlins - I did some research on Irish bands to create a play list for me while I was over there.  I wanted the whole Irish immersion, right down to the soundtrack.  I bumped into this song via that research, and it is an absolute gem.  My goodness, what an outstanding song.  If you download only one song from this list, make it this one.

"Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High?" Arctic Monkeys - Fun song from AM's very strong recent effort.

"You're Not Good Enough," Blood Orange - Dig the Prince vibe on this one!  The Minneapolis Sound is alive and well.

Happy birthday, bro.  I love you.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Michael Sam and the Death of Dignity

The media circus around Michael Sam - the first openly gay player in the NFL - came to a crescendo with Sam's draft yesterday.  I was able to watch it all unfold over dinner last night with Mrs. YDP.  

Upon getting the call that he had been drafted, Sam wept.  And wept.  And wept.

Was it emotional for Sam?  Obviously.  He is the "first," and perhaps that was the origin of the emotion.  If so, and regardless, I certainly don't begrudge him for what he felt.  But if the moment really, truly meant that much, why the cameras?  Why the live ESPN feed?  Why make it a circus?

And a circus it was.  It was made all the more manifest by the incredibly weird smashing of cake into his lover's face later on - again, all while the media cameras were rolling:

I don't get it.  Any of it.  If one wants to consider this a Jackie Robinson or Rosa Parks moment, I'd agree.  But the moment was sullied by behavior that frankly didn't jive with the purported magnitude of the moment..  It was weird, egocentric, and all captured live on ESPN.  

Michael Sam, you may be the first openly gay player in the NFL.  But a Jackie Robinson or a Rosa Parks you most clearly are not. 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Tough Job Interview

This is one tough job:

Happy Mothers' Day, all you moms, and a special "I love you," to my mom.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Wild Dominates Blackhawks

The Minnesota Wild absolutely dominated the Chicago Blackhawks last night to pull to an even 2-2 in the best of seven playoff series.  On all sides of the equation - defense, offense, power play, penalty kill, and goaltending - the Wild outplayed Chicago.

For the game, Chicago was held to 20 shots on goal.  20!

Minnesota was definitely helped by the return of Matt Cooke, who dominated on both ends of the ice after sitting out a 7 game suspension for his hit on Colorado's Tyson Berrie.  Cooke showed exactly why he was picked up by the Wild in the first place.  With fresh legs and an aggressive attitude, he was everywhere on the ice, and the Blackhawks had no way to contain him.

After losing the first two games in Chicago, likely due to an exhausting 7 game series with Colorado, the Wild have now evened things up with back to back home wins.  In order to take the series, the Wild will need to stay perfect at home, and will need to win one in Chicago.  But that doesn't seem like a stretch.  Hockey is all about confidence (the next time you hear a player or coach interviewed, just see how many times they use that word), and the Wild have it all, and the Blackhawks have none.  The pressure will be on Chicago to produce in front of their home crowd, and if things start of bad and the Wild continue their dominant play, that choking feeling will likely set in.

In the series, the Wild look like they are clearly the better team.  Now they just need to prove it by taking a game in Chicago.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Vikings 2014 Draft? We'll See

The Vikings, as has been their mode of late, were very active on the Round One day of the NFL draft.  First, they traded down, albeit slightly, to take a gamble on Anthony Barr at the 9th pick overall.  Barr, who became an outside pass-rush threat in his last two years in college was converted from a fullback.  He's got wicked athleticism, but very little experience.

Then, later in the draft the team traded with Seattle to acquire the last first round pick, and took Teddy Bridgewater.  The quarterback saw his draft day fortunes fall as his official workout went quite poorly, and multiple teams soured on him.  Still, his statistics don't lie, and the numbers he put up at Louisville were pretty darned impressive.

The bottom line is that neither of this picks are a cinch.  While both address glaring team needs, both come with substantive risks.  Still, it seemed like risks worth taking.  If one pans out, it will be a successful draft for the Vikings.  If neither work, it will be a massive disaster; one very difficult from which to recover.  But if both work, my goodness, it could substantively change the team for years to come.

We'll see.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Happy Birthday to Mrs. YDP

There is nothing better in life than to have someone that loves you.  It might be a child, it might be a parent, it might be a pet, it might be a friend.  It might be all of the above.  But among these, there is no better love than the love of a spouse.

I am a lucky man to have Mrs. YDP in my life.  Life's highs are so much better, and the lows so much more tolerable with her at my side and holding my hand.  

Happy birthday, honey.  I love you more than anything.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Former Obama Security Council Spokesman - "Dude!"

You just have to see this to believe it.  

This administration needs to go back to legalizing marijuana and stuff like that, ya know, bro?  Leave the hard stuff to the adults.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

A Little Spring Fixes Everything

It has been a long winter.  It started in early November, and we've not had a respite since.  But finally, finally, it appears we may have turned a corner.

Here is our 10 day forecast:

There's not a 30 degree temp in the lot!  And what a difference it makes: business is better, being motivated to be active is better, attitudes are better, and smiling just comes easier.  Layer on top that Mrs. YDP is having her birthday this week, and Mother's Day is this weekend, and there's a lot to look forward to.

Including the weather.  After this long winter that we'd have, I wondered if I'd ever type those words ever again.

Happy spring, everybody.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Why Science Does Not Disprove God

There is a significant battle being waged by some in the scientific/intelligentsia communities which claims that our knowledge of science has now reached a point that humans can explain most of the important mysteries of life.  Hence, there is no need of the Divine anymore.  If one truly understands science, one knows God does not truly exist.

While the nature of that argument is hogwash on its face, it was refuted quite deftly in a recent article in Time by Amir D. Aczel where he pulls together scientific findings that not only support a Supreme Being, they'd be nearly impossible to occur without one.

I encourage you to read the whole thing here.

His concluding paragraph sums it up very well:

Science and religion are two sides of the same deep human impulse to understand the world, to know our place in it, and to marvel at the wonder of life and the infinite cosmos we are surrounded by. Let’s keep them that way, and not let one of them attempt to usurp the role of the other.