Sunday, December 30, 2007
Tomorrow, for the hell of it, I'm going to make up a new post. It will be #99 for the year 2007 and that seems like some sort of milestone, I reckon. Maybe I'll post 2 and make is an even 100. We're also hosting a little New Year's shindig. Stop by around 7 or after if you're in town for a potluck grill feast and outdoor fire. Yep, in Minnesota it's never a bad day to grill out.
A miscellaneous box outside the PG headquarters. The blocky font and all caps juxtaposed with the imploring message of compassion somehow struck me. These are good words to live by.
More photos to follow after the bike is finished.
Friday, December 28, 2007
Overall, the top 10 most literate (and wired) cities included:
3—St. Paul, Minn.
6—St. Louis, Mo.
7—San Francisco, Calif.
Minneapolis, Seattle, Pittsburgh, Denver and Washington, D.C., have made the top 10 every year since 2003, when the survey first launched.
St Paul coming in 3rd, not bad. BRose will be happy to see that Pittsburgh made the Top 10 list. Hey, Milwaukee may have us for the honor of most liquored-up, but at least we can read the Surgeon General's warning on our beer cans!
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Here I am a year ago with the bike, Burley attached, on a ride to a New Year's party. The next day I started this blog.
Quite serendipitously I was in the bike shop not only to clean my winter ride but to also clear some space to begin prepping my new Surly Cross Check frame for building. It will be a fixed gear. Looks like it will be the bike that replaces this old departing ride. Now, of course I am excited to be building up a new bike, but still sad to see one go ...
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
BTW What's playing now? (A la Johnny Kohtz) Pink Floyd, "Dark Side of the Moon" (And, yeah, I'm remembering watching The Wizard of Oz many years ago, stoned out of my gourd, while a friend played this album ...)
April with her dear friend, Marcus. He lives in Ireland these days and will soon hold a PhD in math. I wish Marcus lived closer. I also wish I had a scanned copy of their senior homecoming portrait together as Merlin and Mordred.
Brian (aka Dad) in his element -- t-shirt, beer in hand and ready to go. The smoked pork was excellent, in case you were wondering.
This was Sylvia's most gendered Xmas yet. Here she models her new princess outfit. I hope we have a son next so we can pass it down to him. ("Now, son, your sister worked hard for this princess outfit and you're going to wear it with pride.")
Hannah tries to snatch a private moment to read following the gifting festivities.
Chef Sylvia shows off her latest creations. She didn't put down that basting brush the whole way home. She even calls it a basting brush. How many 2 yr olds know what the hell a basting brush is? The mini wooden kitchen she received from her grandparents has seen non-stop use since we go home Tuesday evening.
And that's a wrap! Merry Christmas and all that jazz from Clan Fleck! We still haven't completed our family holiday newsletter ... maybe by Valentine's Day?
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
I'm rambling and backtracking again. I never posted photos from Thanksgiving weekend in Iowa City. End of semester got the better of me. I love Iowa. I could see moving to Iowa City someday soon. The pace of life is just a little slower. Geographically it's not so stretched out. There aren't fixed gear cranking hipsters with bulging U-locks on every block. Of course, there's also not the bicycle-friendly infrastructure to the degree of Mpls. And I'd have to guess the "scene" is a little more cozy, too. But the place has a lot of great things going for it -- cool, artsy folks; history and natural beauty; and a friendly co-op that's not chock full o' Wedge fascist types.
We're headed back to IC this Saturday for a fun-filled Fleck family Christmas. It's never a dull time when we get together for family holidays.
Sabra and Dad prep the feast. I can't wait to see what surprises await us on our next adventure to Iowa ... just two short days away. Iowa -- the focus of the Democratic candidates' efforts; Iowa -- the land of raptors and endless cornfields (sheltering food for those majestic birds); Iowa -- the mythical "middle" of America.
Monday, December 17, 2007
Where the magic happens ...
Thursday night was my last big push. I got home at about 4. I wrote until 2am with an hour break for dinner. Geez, though, I was on fire. I have not had such a productive (academic) writing session in about 6 weeks. I wish sometimes I could just crank out good writing whenever I needed to, but I do best when the muse visits and smiles favorably upon the keyboard as I compose. I've been lucky to have several professors who've been flexible in their deadlines!
Friday at work I was tired but I felt like the gravitational pull of the earth had magically weakened without the burden of coursework weighing upon me. It was a fun day. I snapped a photo of my next door cube mate's (that would be Alix K) cool poster with Skiles showing a little love in the background.
Tanner gave me a Xmas cupcake. It made me think of the donut-crazed Surly guys lying in their own private corners twitching from hyperglycemia.
After work we went to Joel and Faith's Xmas fondue party. It is always nice to see old friends (even if it meant I had to eat fondue). Fact of the matter is we just don't get to spend as much time with a lot of them as we'd like to. Sylvia especially enjoyed the mystery gift game and she volunteered to open packages for most everyone!
April models her new "I'm a Bad Girl with Good Intentions" t-shirt. That's gonna look dead sexy stretched over her pregnant belly.
Adrian was there and we share a mutual fondness for good whisky. I broke out the flask and even managed to get a shot of Joel trying a little sip of Ardbeg islay malt.
Just a brief FYI -- if you like good scotch (and who doesn't? Freaks) then you need to try Ardbeg.
Saturday night was Tanner's surprise birthday party at the Triple Rock, organized by his awesome better half, Amber. It also turned out that The Sword was playing. Because of that my classmate, Skip, was there as well. And so were a number of the usual suspects.
Hurl, Zito and Rollin taking a turn before the lens.
I ended up paying the $12 to see the show which was awesome, gruesome live metal. I'm not a huge metal fan but I can dig it. I haven't seen a live show in a while. It rapidly degenerated into a chaotic evening splitting time between friends on the non-music side of the club with my mates who were at the show appreciating the face-melting doom rock action.
The Sword shaking the foundations of the Triple Rock.
Amber's sexy fishnet stockings. I'm thinking these could be team kit for 'cross season 2008.
Becky and Marian smile for the camera.
Emily picks her nose while her friend Chris shows his obvious disgust.
Obaid bought several shots for the birthday boy. I just happened to be caught in the crossfire. Here he is paying one of the many tabs he generated on behalf of his inebriated friends. I was treated to a number of free drinks thanks to my friends. THANKS!
Skip and a friend after the show. Skip was kind enough to pile me and my bike into his Toyota van and give me a ride home. It was better than riding, all things considered.
The next day I was shocked how much money I actually came home with because people bought me drinks. I was not shocked how slow and retarded I felt. April went out with a friend to wrap up some Xmas shopping. Daddy and Sylvia got to do a little shopping for Mommy. It's always a treat to have the day with Sylvia.
Fake eyes never look red in photos. Therein lies the problem.
Sunday night was our designated decorating time. We got out the tree, the lights, the stockings and all of our ornaments. We also took a couple of Xmas photos for a card we will probably not succeed in sending out prior to the arbitrarily labeled date of Jesus' birth. Oh well ... that's why we call it the "Holiday Season"! The fun event is this Saturday -- Solstice. After all, that's when the real magic happens.
Friday, December 14, 2007
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Here are a couple of photos from April's birthday celebration at Buca downtown. It was an interesting place. I'd never been before this party. The food was good, what I might call "homestyle Italian" -- cheesy, fatty, meaty. That detracts from the real occasion, which was of course April's birthday. She was extremely happy with close friends in attendance and an evening away from Sylvia. After all, poop links with oregano atop a bed of pasta al fresco are fine when you're among friends. (I, of course, found something to gripe about and that is all I have to say about that.)
Smiles all around.
Angela's beautiful birthday cake. Buca has a policy prohibiting non-storebought cakes from being served. Does this bloody cake look less than professionally baked and decorated?! At least the server let us light candles and sing the birthday ditty. (Isn't the coolest thing about singing 'Happy Birthday' in a restaurant the way your group can silence everyone else in the joint?)
Fast forward to date night, Sat, Dec 1. With snow falling we opted to take the bus downtown. Tickets to the symphony at Orchestra Hall. It was a great show, featuring solo performers. Afterward we hit Brit's to rub elbows with the Trendies. Better than any food or drink consumed were two things: the company of April and the steady, incessant snowfall that went on all night. Thank you, on both counts.
My wife might still need a transplant to supplant that asshole presence where her husband ought to be. I think I'm gonna check and see if our new insurance policy at work will cover such a procedure.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Snow drives in angled bands
it is possible to follow a single flake
but only at the price of slight nausea from hyper-
focus and concentration
There is the innocence of winter
snow days -- benevolently profound interruptions in the hectic pace
of an adult world --
we all are pressed to some degree
to join the realm of responsibility
yet we still retain a giddiness whenever frozen precipitation
piles up on the roads and walkways
perhaps granting a respite --
one golden day of clarity --
removed from the muddled din of progress
which we all too blindly chase without question.
There is a darker side as well.
The death and stillness and cold nurture in some
a wish for the mind to mirror the starkness of landscape --
devoid of buffers --
a purity of experience unsullied by moral constraints
or considerations of responsibility;
brutal honesty, wind peeling layers of flesh.
Is such a state possible?
It is entirely possible that most would not understand
why one would desire that experience;
then again, I do not get why I should take every conventional medical
precaution currently known to short-sighted western scientists
in an attempt to prolong this
singular iteration of corporeal existence.
But the $125M man says "awareness of health above privacy"
so I submit my fluids,
quite recently tainted,
in the interest of health --
but in reality,
in all actuality,
in the interest solely
of my family's bottom line.
Saturday, December 8, 2007
By hensleyswer (movies profile) Dec 7, 2007 84 of 286 people found this review helpful
I would and will never take my kids to see this movie .You all may not know what the True meaning of this movie is..... Well they won't show it for a couple of books and movies but the whole moral of the story is to KILL GOD! Any movie that is made around killing God is is not worth my time seeing. What are we teaching our children by allowing them to watch this. They will be so hooked on the first movie then They will want the books then after they have read all the them then us as parents will say what did we do. The movie looks appealing its suppose too so it gets our kids hooked.
Okay ... where to even begin with this? Is it real? Sadly, probably so. What is also sad is that the author has procreated, multiple times, and is most likely nurturing her/his offspring to be just as paranoid. And another sad thing -- 84 of 286 people found this review helpful! That's 29.4%. Yikes! Nearly one in three people are potential paranoid nut-job sympathizers. But I digress ...
Here are a couple of free pointers/observations if you, like this person, are tempted to unleash your decidedly strong proclamations to the electronic community:
If you're a kook who wants to make a point, whether in print or via audio, it's best to A) not let your emotion run ahead of your typing or speaking and B) have a basic command of English grammar, spelling and mechanics. For example, the rather arbitrary capitalization of "True" might have been better reserved for "they" in the next sentence since our writer obviously believes there is a collective, monolithic (and atheistic) They who are out to "KILL GOD!" Since so many movies are apparently, according to this person, "made around killing God" I think the next time I find myself in a video store I'll ask where the "God Killing" movie section is located. By the way, if your God is omnipotent and omniscient the way Christian folk say he is could he ever be killed by puny, pasty Hollywood movie types? Couldn't he outwit them with his divine knowledge or just smite them for the divine hell of it?
Rarely outside of stream-of-consciousness style (a la Kerouac) do I see quadruple run-on sentences. Nice job. However, this succession of causes and effects left me a bit stymied: is it anti-God movies or movies with an accompanying book series you're lashing out at? Your working thesis seems to be "the role of subversive, anti-Christian movies is to 'get kids hooked.'" That's interesting. Are they produced by the likes of drug dealers and pimps then? Or, more likely are they backed by corporate interests representing junk food, branded toys, computer games, clothing, etc.? Dear Author, I think what you need to realize is that our country's consumer-driven marketing machine is what you really ought to be decrying and consequently seeking to protect your children from.
Let's quickly revisit this notion of the singular, atheistic, God-killing "They." Admitting a vivid belief in a seemingly real, conspiratorial "they" is grounds for most psychiatrists to recommend medication. Apart from that, are you actually implying that our nation is host to such a strong godless movement? Have you checked the national trends in faith-based/moral voting decisions? Have you heard the Christian-laden proclamations of vote-hungry mainstream politicians? Well, in a twisted way you are correct -- the God of your "Christian nation" is under attack, but not by a singular group of men and women. Your foe is America's shining star, our greatest export -- capitalism. Capitalism is killing God. I don't know how best to break it to you, but capitalism is the official religion of America.
Of course, this might suck if you are an American Christian. However, that is another fallacy -- America is not a Christian nation. Apart from the money-grubbing capitalists there are Native Americans, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Pastafarians, Unitarians, agnostics, atheists, etc. Christians, by buying into the "Christian fallacy" are making matters worse. The true national religion of capitalism is propped up by the government who has all you Christians duped into thinking your right-wing, conservative political heroes are fighting to take America to the moral high ground. In reality they are just making more money for themselves and their corporate buddies at the expense of effectively sending our nation to hell in a handbasket (i.e. socially, environmentally, geo-politically). But as long as narrow-minded folks keep voting in terms of single moral issues (e.g. against abortion and gay rights, in support of prayer in schools) then real change will be stalled. That's right -- your "Christian" leaders elect are selling out God in the name of capitalism but you're too blind to notice because compromise might mean backing off from the staunch moral stricture your Christian blinders have forced you to see as the only way. In a rather beautiful way it's poetic justice don't you think? Considering the harmful centuries of Christian hegemony to have God usurped by an economic system seems only fitting. Of course, it still doesn't make matters any easier for non-Christian Americans. We just wish you fundamentalist wackos would quit trying to act like the country should be run based on your misguided, shallow, incestuous by-product of a centuries-old, closeted affair between church and state.
I'll end on a fun note. Over Thanksgiving weekend, my father-in-law, Brian, brought up the Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Upon doing a little research I discovered some things that are imminently funny, cohesively intelligent and quite readable. I submit for your pleasure the Flying Spaghetti Monster's commandments, "The Eight 'I'd Really Rather You Didn'ts'". Now here's a doctrine that is current and applicable to our times, easy to read and inclusive of our fellow human sojourners on Planet Earth:
1. I'd really rather you didn't act like a sanctimonious holier-than-thou ass when describing my noodly goodness. If some people don't believe in me, that's okay. Really, I'm not that vain. Besides, this isn't about them so don't change the subject.
2. I'd really rather you didn't use my existence as a means to oppress, subjugate, punish, eviscerate, and/or, you know, be mean to others. I don't require sacrifices, and purity is for drinking water, not people.
3. I'd really rather you didn't judge people for the way they look, or how they dress, or the way they talk, or, well, just play nice, Okay? Oh, and get this into your thick heads: woman = person. man = person. Samey = Samey. One is not better than the other, unless we're talking about fashion and I'm sorry, but I gave that to women and some guys who know the difference between teal and fuchsia.
4. I'd really rather you didn't indulge in conduct that offends yourself, or your willing, consenting partner of legal age AND mental maturity. As for anyone who might object, I think the expression is go fuck yourself, unless they find that offensive in which case they can turn off the TV for once and go for a walk for a change.
5. I'd really rather you didn't challenge the bigoted, misogynistic, hateful ideas of others on an empty stomach. Eat, then go after the bitches.
6. I'd really rather you didn't build multi million-dollar churches/temples/mosques/shrines to my noodly goodness when the money could be better spent (take your pick):
-- Ending poverty
-- Curing diseases
-- Living in peace, loving with passion, and lowering the cost of cable. I might be a complex-carbohydrate omniscient being, but I enjoy the simple things in life. I ought to know. I AM the creator.
7. I'd really rather you didn't go around telling people I talk to you. You're not that interesting. Get over yourself. And I told you to love your fellow man, can't you take a hint?
8. I'd really rather you didn't do unto others as you would have them do unto you if you are into, um, stuff that uses a lot of leather/lubricant/Las Vegas. If the other person is into it, however (pursuant to #4), then have at it, take pictures, and for the love of Mike, wear a CONDOM! Honestly, it's a piece of rubber. If I didn't want it to feel good when you did it I would have added spikes, or something.
Now, that sounds like a solid foundation for leveling the playing field and getting started on some change in the right direction.
Thursday, December 6, 2007
And speaking of winter, anyone else in the TC area think it came about 4-6 weeks earlier than last year? I mean, c'mon, there wasn't even a lag in the skeeter (skate-skier) traffic before the real snow flew and those snobs got to claim prime cycling real estate to their elitist "winter" sport. I relish the day a black or hispanic person wins the Birkebiener.
So, we got a big snow on Saturday (more on that later). Sunday was a mess. The Monday morning commute was even a bit of a mess. Then, Tuesday we got snow all day. The ride home would be interesting for sure. Skiles rode in to work on one bike and wanted to borrow a Pugsley to ride home. He lined up the ride. We coordinated times. It seemed like a good plan. By the time we rolled out the door at 6:15 or so things were kooky weird. The parking lot had not been plowed; getting going was hard enough. I had my usual route along the sidewalk north of Old Shakopee to pick up a side street a few blocks away; Andy apparently wanted to take the street. We were immediately separated before our ride ever began. I never saw Andy the rest of the night.
Old Shak (pronounced 'shock') was bumper-to-bumper headed west. The sidewalk I was riding had not been plowed. It was basically 4-5" deep over pre-existing snow ruts. (Now, let me tell you a thing or two about winter cycling ... snow is one thing. Depth matters, fer shur. But when you get a sizeable snowfall on top of an existing and re-frozen snowfall, things get interesting.) I'm sure those frustrated motorheads on the street were getting a kick out of me on a bike trying to ride the snow on the sidewalk -- making it 20-30 feet and almost crashing, walking a few yards, remounting and trying all over again. Thankfully, when I made it to the street, things were easier going, but still not easy. Here is where I have to insert a rant:
Some drivers get it, most don't. Bicycles are legal users of the roadway. And guess what? If you see a biker on the road during or after a snowstorm, they're not crazy -- they choose to, or have to, be there. So, calm yerself the fuck down AND slow down. I don't get why so many people in cars are willing to plunge headlong (at speed) toward their own deaths by passing me close enough to kill me. Slow the fuck down, people. Bikes deserve the road -- get over it, for it's the truth and the law. Well, because plows concentrate on the arteries, after a snowstorm you can expect to see more cyclists on your route. It's okay -- you're amongst friends ... I promise. We all want to get home ASAP, and alive. After a day or so, we'll be gone out of your bourgeois lives.
The ride home was lonely and uneventful except for the part where my cycling "friends" blew by me and cut off my access to the lane on Penn north of 62. Nice move, guys. Jerks is more like it ... wait, Frane was among them, making a rare commuter appearance. I got home after almost two hours of riding (my usual commute is 50 minutes or so). I wasn't just tired, I was soaked through with sweat. Happy to be home, but kinda cranky nonetheless. When does winter begin?
So, back track ... to last Saturday. The snow was fresh and new and we were all excited (and the bike jerk himself was still deciding which gear to screw onto his hub). I didn't hesitate to hook the Burley up to the Malvern Star -- 46x20 fixie, no brakes. Sylvia and I rolled to CRC, then over to Bryant hardware where we picked up a sled.
From there it was on to Lyndale Farmstead Park. I have to be honest, I haven't been sledding since before I moved to MN nearly 6 years ago. I picked a small hill and asked Sylvia if she'd like to sit on my lap for the ride. We immediately got going really fast and the fresh, powdery snow blew straight in to Sylvia's face. One trip down was all for the day. She was pissed; her feet were cold. We loaded back up and I pedaled as fast as I could back for home.
It was an interesting trip without goggles (fogged up) with snow driving in my eyes and a daughter screaming from cold feet. When I emerged on our street (a major street, 38th) I was shocked that a mini van behind did not want to yield behind me as I pulled left while signalling a turn into our alley. With snow blowing from a headwind I watched a "family" car speed by fully in the opposite lane, against driving snow, as the teenaged girl in the passenger seat craned her head to see whether I truly had a child in the bike trailer I was pulling.
Well, yep. Tell your parent to slow the fuck down. Sense a pattern here? Thanks!
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Borrowed a Surly Pugsley for the commute. Field review and status report at 11 ...