Sunday, December 28, 2008

Dolphins - Jets

The last time the Dolphins had a game this big I couldn't legally drink. To recap if they win today against the Jets they win the AFC East and get to host a playoff game next week. Lets hope that the game today doesn't make me want to take advantage of the fact that I am now 21+.

On other news I am rooting hard for the Detroit Lions. They just tied the game 14-14. After watching the Dolphins last year I can honestly say that no team's fan should have to suffer through an 0-16 season.

There will be time to recap the Christmas in Jackson, but now I need to get BBQ and prep my place for the game.

Go Fins.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Miami Dolphins - inch by inch

Something to get you excited for the game today. Al Pacino - Inch by inch.

The Dolphins are one win away from a primetime game against the Jets for the AFC East. All that is in between them and that game being for the division is a win against the 2-12 Kansas City Chiefs. Hopefully Herman Edwards will remind his team that you play to improve your draft position.

Go Fins.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Thunder Bay vs. Duluth

Yesterday I had some people over for a small holiday party. During the party a discussion came up about the merits of vacationing in Duluth or Thunder Bay. For those of you who aren't from Minnesota let me try to explain the allure of the city of Duluth. For most Minnesotans Duluth is next to their cabin on the lake as the most exciting place in the world. It is as if they are cats and Duluth is cat nip. Anyway, the discussion turned to how I thought Thunder Bay was a better place to vacation. Lets just say that it was a poor decision on my part to even entertain the subject. I would have been better off arguing the merits of hell vs. heaven. (It is warmer? More interesting people? Lower expectations?)

Here is my try of breaking down the two cities:

  • Population - 89,916 in the city and the greater Duluth area is 184,000
  • Location - 2 hours north of Minneapolis on Lake Superior
  • Known for - Grandma's restaurant, Grandma's marathon, University of Minnesota-Duluth, Great Lakes Aquarium, Aerial Lift Bridge, and the Glensheen Mansion.

Thunder Bay

Anyway, I tried bringing up some of the points and even busted out some pictures of Thunder Bay to show everyone. Mind you I wasn't saying that Thunder Bay was a better place to vacation than the Greek Isles. The only comparison I was making was that Thunder Bay was better than Duluth. That prompted the response "It is hard to take you serious" and "I can't believe you would rather go to Thunder Bay than Duluth." My point I guess is that if you find yourself in the same situation as me it is best to just keep your mouth shut.

I have to go to work now, but I thought I would share my thoughts on that argument.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sports Updates

It has been awhile since I have updated my thoughts on my favorite teams, so I thought I would use today to give my complete rundown

Miami Dolphins

M predicted 5 victories for the Fins this year and I thought she was being a little optimistic. As it stands right now the Dolphins have 8 victories with 3 games left. It is December 14th and the Dolphins still control their own destiny in winning the AFC East. The Dolphins season might last longer than my fantasy football leagues for the first time since I starting playing fantasy football. They have been helped by a really easy schedule (4 games against the AFC West and NFC West), but still the games aren't given to you. Chad Pennington has gone from somebody I despised because he played for a rival (the Jets), to someone who I am hoping will be the Dolphins starting QB for the next 5 years. In fact I just recently asked M what she thought about the name Pennington for a dog. We both agreed that the dog would have to go by Penn, but that wouldn't be too bad of a name. Today they play the 49ers in a game they should win. I am sitting here in my Marino jersey, humming the Dolphins fight song, and counting down to going to *Joe Senser's to watch the game.

*Joe Senser's is a bar in the suburbs of Minneapolis. My friend Brian and I have been there to see 3 games in the past two years. The Dolphins are 3-0 in those games, which includes the only victory the team had last year. In all the other games that we have seen together in the past two years the Dolphins have won twice. That means the record for Joe Sensor's is 3-0 and all the other bars are approximately 2-18. For an important game like today we are sticking with the streak.

Utah Jazz
The season so far has been filled with injuries and overall the record is disappointing. I am hoping that when everyone gets healthy the team will be able to live up to the expectations I have of them. Anything less than the conference finals will be a disappointing year. The team is extremely fun to watch (especially at home) and I am looking forward to the rest of the year and the playoffs.

Also, here are some pictures from the Jazz-Twolves game I went to on Wednesday.

Rashad McCants defense led to Ronnie Brewer scoring a career high of 25 points. Below is a picture of Brewer going up for a jump shot:

Memo must have told Deron to pass him the ball at the end of the game, so that he could make the game winner.

Kevin Ollie -Do you have something to tell us about your crush on Deron Williams?

The season has gone about as well as expected. Obviously it would be nice to be undefeated and after winning a tournament with UCLA in the field and winning at Purdue then that wouldn’t constitute a big surprise. Still having one loss at this time of the year is about what you might expect from this Duke team even if the game they lost was not the Big Ten road game I expected them to lose. The reason that a loss here and there isn’t shocking is because at the core the team is a 3 point shooting team. The game at Michigan highlighted that if they aren’t making even a reasonable amount of 3s then they will probably lose. My official expectations of this Duke team are to fall just short of the Final Four and make the Elite Eight. Also, I expect them to beat UNC once. The reason I think they can make the Elite Eight is that have a ton of talent that will be tournament ready thanks to a tough overall schedule that includes teams like Purdue, Michigan, Xavier, Davidson, Georgetown, and the normal ACC slate. The reason I think they will beat UNC once is because they are a better team than last year's team and last year's team beat UNC. Of course UNC is also better than last year, but I am sticking with my prediction of one victory over UNC this year. Still my expectations of the year are tempered because their 3 point shooting is inconsistent and all it takes is one bad day of shooting to be knocked out in the tournament. There will be more to come on the Duke team this year, but right now I am still in football season.

Miami University
The football team finished 2-10 and their coach (Shane Montgomery) ended up getting fired. I liked Montgomery when he was the offensive coordinator during Roethlisberger’s days and supported his promotion to head coach. Also, he was a very pleasant individual when he came to the Quiznos I worked at and got his raspberry sweet tea. It is too bad things didn’t work out and this year’s team bottomed out. Hopefully this will be the bottom point of the program because there is no reason why Miami shouldn’t be competing for the MAC title every year. Lets hope the next coach can bring continued success to Oxford .

On the flip side the Miami hockey team continues to be dominant. I don’t know much about hockey or even really where to look for news on hockey scores and analysis, but I am trying to get involved since Miami is so good. What I have found out is the team is ranked 3rd in the nation (behind Minnesota and Notre Dame) and has beat Michigan twice and Notre Dame twice. Now, I don’t know why Notre Dame is ranked 1st and Miami is ranked 3rd when both teams have the same amount of losses (3) and Miami beat Notre Dame at Notre Dame twice. Now, I know everyone is up in arms about the Texas-Oklahoma college football ranking issue, but I don’t know why nobody is more concerned about the rankings injustice that is going on between Notre Dame and Miami . This is almost as bad as how last year’s higher ranked Miami hockey team had to play in Massachusetts against Boston College in the Hockey Elite Eight.

(By the way that is me trying to be a hockey fan. How is it going? Probably not, so good so far since I can name exactly 0 Miami or Notre Dame hockey players and haven’t seen either team play for even a minute. Still I would like to see Miami succeed and if they made it to the Frozen Four I would definitely watch it.)

Minnesota Twins -
It is the off-season, so there isn’t much to get excited about. M should be happy because the reports are that the Twins resigned Nick Punto. I am lukewarm about that signing, since Punto is at best an average player and based on his 2007 number he has a pretty low floor. You know how they always talk about players in the Nba draft as having tremendous potential based on certain measurables (height, weight, speed, jumping ability) and basketball skills (shooting form, court vision, etc), but they don’t know if they will be a great player because of lack of experience. Well Nick Punto has potential, but not in the same way that most people think of potential. Nick Punto has potential to be a terrible starting shortstop. Nick Punto has potential to a have line (average, OBP %, and Slugging %) of 210/291/271 like he did back in 2007. Nick Punto has a reverse of the normal potential you want from players. I would consider the type of potential where you have a possibility of being truly terrible as Puntoability.

Off to Joe Senser's to see the Dolphins.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Jazz - Twolves

Last night I went to go see my favorite team in the Nba (the Utah Jazz) play against my current hometown and 2nd favorite team (the Minnesota Timberwolves) at the Target Center. You might have heard about the game if you followed the Nba because it was the first game since Randy Whitman was fired and Kevin McHale took over as the Twolves coach. Also, yesterday marked the 20th year anniversary of Jerry Sloan taking over as the Jazz coach.

Anyway, it didn't look like many people in Minnesota had heard about the game since from my estimate there was *three to six thousand people at the game. There was almost no one in the upper deck and the lower deck definitely had more empty seats than seats that were filled. The bad news for the Twolves was good news for me since I was able to get a cheap scalped ticket. Also, randomly enough I ran into a coworker and even more random he also happened to be a Jazz fan. More good luck came my way because he knew some people who worked for the Twolves, so in the 2nd half we moved up to watch the game from the 3rd row behind the Jazz bench. I will post pictures once I get them uploaded.

*Of those 3,000-6,000 there were about 20 Jazz fans in the arena. And of course those 20 Jazz fans (myself included) ended up talking to each other and in the end celebrating the Jazz victory. It was weird explaining to people from Utah that even though I grew up in Mississippi and had never even been to Utah I was still a Jazz fan. Still all the Jazz fans I met were very nice and exactly what I would imagine people from Utah would be like.

Just in case you couldn't wait for the pictures though you can check out the highlights by clicking on this link from The cool thing from the highlights is that you can see myself and the guys I was sitting next to in a few clips. It might be hard to see me, but I am wearing a Jazz sweatshirt and my friend next to me is wearing a dark blue Jazz (Okur) jersey. We are in the 3rd row to the right of the bench from the camera's point of view. There is one clear shot of my friend when the camera shows an up close shot of Coach Sloan. Also, you can see us cheering on the Jazz when Korver hits his 3 and Okur hits the game winner at the end.

I don't know why I (or other people) get so excited about seeing themselves on TV. Maybe this is more of a comment on how our facebook/myspace society is very egotistical? Honestly though I don't really care. I like seeing myself on TV especially when I am celebrating a favorite team of mine.

Go Jazz.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Quick *funny work story -

*I have a theory that most work stories are not funny. In fact I would go on to say that probably 90-95% of work stories are not funny. Even if you think they are funny and people you work with think they are funny to the outside public I can almost guarantee that they aren't funny. The problem is that people think that 1) Their office is like The Office. and 2) That people understand the nuances and intricacies of their work. For example you might think it is funny that your SO isn't shipping because the ship date was written in CMS instead of OMS, but most people will have no idea what you are talking about.

Anyway, on to the hopefully funny work story.

Somebody sent me an email and to understand the context I started reading for the bottom of the email chain. On the email chain there were some disagreements and questions that were obviously frustrating the people on the chain. It didn't look like anybody was getting the resolution they needed. Finally somebody wrote an email with the one sentence "Jesus will have to answer that."

When I read that I laughed out loud because for a second I thought that this person was basically saying something like "God only knows" and trying to end the argument as something that won't be solved. That second passed though as I kept reading and found out that one of our planners in Mexico is named Jesus and he in fact did know the answer to the problem. Problem resolved. Jesus saves.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Random observations

Here are the random observations of the day:
  • The 6-4 Dolphins are playing the 6-4 Patriots on Sunday at noon. I haven't been this excited for a regular season NFL game in 5 years.
  • I bet you didn't think it was possible for a 0-10 team to be favored, but guess what Washington is not only favored but favored by over a touchdown in their next game. The reason being is that they are playing their in-state rivals Washington St. Washington St. has won only one game this year and that game was against a Portland St. team that is 3-7 and has lost to UC Davis, Sacramento St. and Northern Arizona.
  • Do you know why I like Joe Posnanski? Because he writes articles about the best player in college basketball. What you expected Tyler Hansbrough? Sorry, but Joe knows that Tyler isn't even the best player in the state of North Carolina. The best player scored 33 points, handed out 9 assists and had 4 steals last night for a school that used to be best known for academics, free laundry and an excellent Religion school. It will be tough rooting against him and Davidson on January 7th.
  • Here is a Scoop Jackson article about the best player, where he talks about how Curry wasn't on the cover of Street and Smith, SI, Espn or Athlon and how he needs a nickname. For once I found a Scoop Jackson tolerable if only because he wrote about how Curry is not getting enough attention from the national media.
  • I hope by now that you are getting the point that Stephen Curry is incredible. I like Curry almost as much as I dislike Hansbrough.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A little known player

Last year I wrote a much commented post about the top 10 reasons why you should dislike Tyler Hansbrough. That was a year, a week and a day ago. So much has changed since that time. Since that time the Dolphins have seen Greg Camarillo go from a practice player to a season saving star to an actual solid #2 receiver in the NFL. Since that time the Jazz got jobbed by the Lakers in the 2nd round of the playoffs. Since then the stock market has gone down 35%. Since that time the United States elected Obama. However, despite all of thoese things there are a few things that haven't changed and more importantly there is one person who hasn't changed. Tyler Hansbrough and the media's love affair with him has not changed in the past 373 days.

In honor of that I have decided to come up with a new top 10 list on why you should dislike Tyler Hansbrough:
  1. Inside post defense - Do you know how many block Psycho T had last year? I will give you a hint. It was the same amount of blocks as 6ft 2 inch Stephen Curry. Give up. The answer is 14. How does a 6ft 9inch post player play 1286 minutes and block 14 shots? I don't even know how that is possible.

  2. Media Love -Tyler Hansbrough once again is on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week. Below is a picture of the cover:

    For those of you who are counting that makes 4 covers that Psycho T has been on. That would equal the amount of SI covers that Sandy Koufax and Jerry Rice were on during their playing careers. Seriously. It is kind of a fun game to see what all-time players have been on the SI cover the same or less (John Stockton) than Tyler Hansbrough.

  3. He overshadows the the other UNC players - I am not a big fan of North Carolina's basketball program. Still I have to feel bad for any player on the team not named Hansbrough. Danny Green is the most complete player on the team and their best defensive player. Wayne Ellington is the team's best shooter. Ty Lawson is still the most valuable player on the team. Still based on the national media's reaction you wouldn't even know that those players were on the team.

  4. Omri Casspi and Gani Lawai - These are the two player in between Tyler Hansbrough in the Nba Draft mock draft. Have you heard of them? One is a post player from Maccabi Tel Aviv and the other is a post player for Georgia tech. In other words he isn't that good.

  5. His Age - Andrew Bynum has been playing pro basketball for 3 years and less than a month ago he celebrated his 21st birthday. Tyler Hansbrough is entering his Senior Year in college and he is 23 years old. The only time I might agree with most commentators this year is when they talk about how Hansbrough is a man amongst boys. There was a reason why Danny Almonte was such a good little league pitcher.

  6. Selfishness - Tyler Hansbrough averaged less than one assist per game last year. Considering how much talent is on UNC's roster you would think Tyler would be able to pick up a few assists a game.

  7. Assist to turnover ratio - This point is similiar to the point above in the fact that it points out how one dimensional of a player Hansbrough is. Anyway, Tyler's assist to turnover ratio was 0.42. In other words he had more than double the amount of turnovers over than assists. Simply put - that isn't good.

  8. Outside shooting - Hansbrough has made three 3 pointers in his career. He isn't much of an outside shooter, which is another reason why he won't be a good pro player. Unless you are a Dwight Howard type athelete then you need an outside shot to make in the Nba. Needless to say Tyler Hansbrough isn't much of an athelete.

  9. Cole Aldrich - Below is a picture of a freshmen dominating the natational player of the year in the Final Four.

10. Natational Title - Now for the last point I thought about pointing out his awkwardness, the fact he travels every time he makes a post move, or even his awkward 7 year old boy haircuts. Instead I will point out that despite all of the attention and love from the media Tyler Hansbrough has never won a national title. Why I don't think is always a fair way of judging the performance of an athelte in Tyler's case it is appropriate. The reason being is because he has been given plenty of chances. His sophomore year's team was stacked and didn't even make the Final Four. Last year's team was given a very easy road to the Final Four and they choked as well. Now all of this year's team is back and they have another easy non-conferance schedule. If they (and Tyler) don't win the title then I hope that the media gets together and realizes that they should never write another puff piece on Psycho T again. Tyler might not want to grow up, but some of us wish that he would grow up and move on.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Quick points

Happy Friday to everyone. Winter is officially here in MN as I can look out the window and see snow sticking to the ground. Anyway, it has been a pretty exciting week with the Miami-Buffalo game on Tuesday highlighting everything. Here are some quick thoughts:
  • M and I are going to see Prairie Home Companion tonight. I tried calling the ticket office to buy tickets and they informed me that you could only buy them through Now why can you buy the tickets online, but not over the phone? Why do they even have a ticket office?
  • was the 4th best invention of the year according to Time Magazine. For anyone who likes certain TV shows, but doesn’t have Tivo, DVR or in the case of some family members a TV this website is a must for add to your favorites list.
  • All this talk about whether or not Barack Obama has *mandate makes me think of him and Colin Powell going to grab some Ben’s Chili Bowl in DC before going to see a movie.

*I realize that at most only 2 people would get the joke, so here is an explanation. My new term that I like to use is “man date”. A man date is when two male friends go out on a traditional date like activity such as dinner, movie, or a comedy show. Not too complicated, but I felt like a clarification was needed.

  • Ted Cook's 19th Hole BBQ and Asahi beer were my food and drink of choice for the Presidential Election coverage on Tuesday night. Neither disappointed.
  • The blue side won in both the election and the Miami-Buffalo game on Tuesday. Obama won 2.2 times more electoral votes than McCain. Buffalo scored 2.2 times the amount of points that Miami scored. The comparison from the previous post about the similarities between the game and the Election held even through the result.
  • Dolphins-Seahawks on Sunday. As a Dolphins fan I am starting to feel guilty about expecting an above 500 record. It has been nice enough to know that the team is playing meaningful games in November.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Congrats on the big win yesterday. The last time a Democrat won an election I had just turned old enough to go see Forrest Gump.

There will be more time to look through the stats, but one of the ones that jumped out at me was how people who made over $200K voted. My guess would be that those voters would vote overwhelingly for McCain because Obama kept talking about how he was going to raise the taxes on people who made over $250K. Anyway, according to the exit polls voters who made over $200K (only 6% of the population) voted 52% for Obama and 46% for McCain.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Are you excited about tomorrow?

It all comes down to this. Both sides have spent so much money, so much time, and so much energy in hopes of having their spot in the national limelight. Side A is represented by the color Red. Side B is represented by the color Blue. Side A courts the “real” Americans, such as the ones found in the cornfields of Southwestern Ohio. Side B courts the people in metropolitan areas of states like New York. Side A has seen success in the past with the biggest success coming in 2004. Side B has had a tough decade, but with a mid 40s African-American leader is hoping to come out victorious this year. Side A is hoping for a newcomer to provide the spark on what has been a listless 2008 campaign. Side B is surprised to be leading Side A, but is still relishing the moment as being the hunted as opposed to being the hunter.

I am excited to see the outcome tomorrow and am looking forward to the result. To find out more about tomorrow then please click on this link.

Go Redhawks!
(Oh yeah in case you didn't get it...Side A is Miami U and Side B is the University of Buffalo. What else would I be writing about?)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Obama's international appeal

One of the reasons (not a main one, but still one of the ones) why I suspect people are supporting Obama is because of his international appeal.   After years of the US being disliked I think that most everyone can agree that it would be nice if more countries liked us.    This isn't just because America wants to be the popular cheerleader in high school.  This goes to the theory that if other counties like us then they will A) Be more likely to help us out and B) Less likely to attack us.

I would like the international community to like us more, so I looked to check out who would the rest of the world pick if they could.   This NY Times article (Rebranding the US with Obama) quotes the statistic that 22 nations surveyed by the BBC preferred Obama over McCain.  Also, they quoted the statistic that nearly half said an Obama election would "fundamentally change" their perceptions of the Unites States.   Anyway, I looked up the survey and found it here.

I find no fault in the questions about other countries preference for either Obama or McCain.  In fact I think this is a pretty important feather in Obama's cap.   However, I do find fault with the survey on whether or not an Obama election would "fundamentally change"  your perception of the United States.  Below is the question as it is worded on the BBC survey:


M3. To what extent do you agree or disagree that the election of Barack Obama as US President, being an African-American man, would fundamentally change your perception of the United States?


01 Strongly agree

02 Somewhat agree

03 Somewhat disagree

04 Strongly disagree


Am I wrong to think that is a leading question?   Personally I think that adding the clarifier "African-American man" is

not necessary and points the person being surveyed towards a certain answer.  Also, another thing that concerned and annoyed me about the survey was that there wasn't the same question about McCain.   As I have written before (which my brother in law disagrees with) I think the McCain/Palin ticket seems to be another big step for American because Palin would be the first female VP.   Either choice in my mind I think will change the perception of the United States.   What is frustrating is that the BBC didn't even to think to ask the question about the McCain/Palin ticket.  I think it would be a more convincing argument if the BBC had included that question.

Please note I do feel like Obama would be liked more by other countries and would fundamentally change more people's opinions on the United States than McCain/Palin.   I think that he would help the way America is viewed by the rest of the world.   The first statistic from the BBC about 22 countries preferring Obama over McCain is telling.  However, I wish there was a 2nd statistic about who would more fundamental change your view of America.

Anyway, I emailed my former Marketing professor about the survey since he teaches a class about Market Research.  His response is below:

Definitely leading in my opinion and the African-American part is unnecessary, again, in my opinion.  Also, it would have been interesting to ask the question a little differently (without the African-American part) and ask about both candidates or both tickets.


The question may be bad, but I suspect the sentiment is correct in the sense that Obama would change the perception overseas more than McCain, McCain’s running mate notwithstanding.  That, of course, is just my opinion, but the candidate farther away from the Bush administration is likely to be seen as more “change” even before race is introduced.  I also suspect race would trump gender as more “change.”  Again, just my opinion.


There is the usual array of bad instruments out there on both sides.  My latest axiom is that it is hard to ask non-leading questions when you are objective and it’s easy to ask leading questions when you are not objective—we have plenty of evidence of that!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Election and other updates

It has been two weeks since my last post....sorry.   I have been working, watching the debates, keeping up with the resurgent Dolphins and calling Carl Pohlad and reminding him that he should have signed Johan Santana to a long term deal.    Anyway, here are my updates from the past two weeks:
  • Amongst all the talk about the election I don't know if people are getting the bigger picture.   In only a few weeks we will either elect the first African-American President or the first Female President or Vice-President.    Some people might like to say that it is a long time coming (which it is), but I would rather focus on the fact that this is progress for America.  You can't change the past, but the future looks a little bit brighter.  
  • M and I finished Season 1 of Mad Men.   It is a good show, but not one I would necessarily recommend to everyone.  The setting of the show is a 1960s ad agency in New York City.  It seems like an accurate representation of the 60s.  (Obviously, I don't know since I wasn't alive during that time.)   Watching the show made me even more happy when I would think about the above point in regards to politics.
  • People use the term "we" way too frequently.   If you did not do something then you shouldn't use "we" when describing things.   Personally I have tried to stop using "we" when describing my favorite teams.   The only time I might get caught using it is when talking about the mighty Redhawks of Miami University, which I find more understanding since I am a Miami University alum.
  • My latest food kick has been twice-baked potatoes.   I have made 3 batches so far, and am working on perfecting my recipe.  
Off to a BBQ.  Hopefully my twice-baked potatoes will be a hit.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Nationals Park

Continuing in my series of reviewing Mlb ballparks (thus the name of the blog) I will do my best to review the new Nationals Park .

Scalping/Ticket Prices: B-
It would be hard to pick a sporting event where it was better to be a buyer than a seller than the Nationals-Padres game that M and I went to two weeks ago.  Let me count the reasons why demand would be low:

  • It was Sunday during football season and the game just happened to be at the same time as the Washington Redskins. Let’s just say the Nationals haven’t built up the same amount of fan interest as the Redskins.

  • It was as meaningless of game as any regular season game could be. It was within a week of the season ending for two teams that went on to lose a combined 201 games (winning only 122).

  • While the Nationals play in a new ballpark the park has rarely been filled close to capacity.

With that being written you would think that the scalping scene would be an A+ in favor of the buyers. The only reason it isn’t is because the scalpers were few and far between. I don’t know if it was because they were all applying their trade at the Redskins game, but I only saw 3 people selling tickets. I went up to one person and got tickets for 55% face value ($15 for $27 seats) and still felt like I spent too much. It turns out this guy wasn’t even a pro scalper and was just looking at unloading his season tickets, so that he could go enjoy the day anywhere besides Nationals Park .

The rest of the seats seemed reasonably expensive, but in reality it doesn’t matter what the ticket’s face value are until the Nationals become a better team and get more fans.

Aesthetic Appeal: B-
The ballpark is situated in the middle of a parking lot in the middle of construction just southeast of the National Mall. Let’s just say you don’t get the same feel walking to Nationals Park as you do Wrigley Field or even Safeco Field. The park is *nice once you get inside, but still leaves much to be desired. Sitting from our 3rd base seats all M and I could see where construction cranes outside the stadium. We moved to the 1st base side near the end of the game and over the left field wall you could see the US Congress.

My fault with this is that when you have the opportunity to build a stadium in Washington DC shouldn’t you face the stadium, so that you could see the Washington Monument from most seats? It just seems like facing the stadium away from the National Mall was a poor aesthetic decision.

*Don’t you love how when people describe someone as “nice” they almost always don’t really have many nice things to say about the person. It isn’t necessarily that they don’t like the person. It is just that the person’s characteristics are either extremely annoying or not especially noteworthy.

The reason for the B- is that I absolutely loved the scoreboard.

I was able to keep up with the score and situation for the Twins. Also, I was able to have a crystal clear understanding of the important information (count, outs, batting order, pitch count, etc) without having to look all over the ballpark. Also, a plus for the park would be the wide and open concourses. It was extremely easy to move around the stadium and not miss the game.

Thing(s) I wish I would have done:
Since my normal stadium is the Metrodome, I am not used to lots of food options. At the Dome the food options are Dome Dog with ketchup or Dome Dog with mustard. (Both are bad options by the way.) Anyway, just like Safeco I wish I would have tried more of the food options.

Fans: C

A friendly group of people, but really it didn't seem like anyone cared about the game. I mean I don't know if I would care about a Twins game if they were 30 games out of 1st place, but still these fans made more a lot more noise during mid-inning events with Clint than in anything that happened on the field. Overall I think the Nationals fans need a little bit more time and definitely a better team. The Nationals should hope to follow the Devil Rays formula.

Buzz: D-

There was no buzz inside the park. Outside in the concourse there was plenty of buzz around the Guitar Hero games, playground, and concession stands. On that September day Nationals Park was basically a glorified place for kids and their parents/babysitters.

Food: A-

Everywhere M and I looked there were different food options. Pizza, pretzels, fries, cheesesteak, Ben's Chili, etc, etc. Also, all of the food stands utilized alliteration, so bonus points in my book. The pletora of food options ended up flustering M and I since we didn't know what to get. The first food choice for us was the "famous" W pretzel:

This was recommended as the best thing to eat at Nationals Park by the NY Times. However, M and I would like disagree with the writer of the NY Times article. The pretzel was a fine thing to eat, but not something we would want to order again. We were now slightly disappointed, so we headed to the chili stand to get the largest order of chili-cheese nachos for only $9.50. I felt like this was a good choice and for awhile it was very appetizing. However, before we ever made a real dent in the fries we were tired of the soggy nachos. Overall M and I were disappointed with our selections and wish that we could go back in time and order something else. I am giving Nationals Park the benefit of doubt on the quality of the rest of their food since almost everything we saw (except what we got) looked incredible.

Fun things to do besides the game: A

See the buzz section for my analysis of the things to do beside the game. Also, add on the fact that you get your picture with the Lincoln, Washington, Teddy Roosevelt, and Jefferson mascots. One thing to keep in mind is that all the fun things to do besides the game happen to take place in the park. The development around the park has yet to catch up to the fact that there is a Mlb stadium there. I guess that has something to do with all the cranes that you can see looking into the outfield. Hopefully, for the Nationals sake this part of DC will grow into a place where you can grab a beer and burger before the game.

Overall impression: B-

Nationals Park reminded me a lot of Great American Park in Cincinnati. The park was a decent enough park, but for whatever reason I felt like a new park like either one of those should be better. Everything objectively seemed fine, but still neither park really felt like it was that special. I don't want to discount Nationals Park since it was a very fun experience that I would definitely recommend. Again as written before it would be a great place to take kids with the amount of activities around the park. Also, whoever is in charge of the park made a great, fun experience that is extremely fan friendly. I guess that my overall impression of Nationals Park in one sentence would be: In every way the park is a fan friendly experience that meets expectations, but still leaves something to be desired.

October thoughts

September for me is a wonderful month filled with the last few days of summer combined with pennant races in baseball and the start of football. Unfortunately, October doesn't carry the same type of hope and overall joy as September. The reason being is that by then baseball playoff races have been decided and slowly teams start realizing that this is not their year. In football October can mean the end of many football seasons (especially in college football) before you even really got a chance to get excited. In the end September is about hope and October is about reality.

For me this October was ushered in by the White Sox defeating the Twins 1-0 in a one game playoff that I will haunt Twins fans because of missed opportunities (during the season or the game) and the injustice of having to play in the Cell. The "summer of stun" is over and my 6th row lower-level division series tickets are still mocking me from the door of my fridge. In football the Dolphins are 1-2, which amazingly is cause for celebration in Dolphins *land.

*I refuse to call everything Nation. Just cause there is Red Sox Nation, doesn't mean there is Dodger Nation, Cubs Nation, Patriot Nation, Redhawk Nation, or anything else.

Anyway, here are some thoughts that I guarantee will make you laugh, cry, and want to write in my comments section (broken into Random and Ben/Laurie's visit) or your money back.

  • What do you say to a coworker (not a coworker and a friend, but just a coworker) when that coworker is leaving the company? I find it social appropriate to say that "we will definitely meet up." or "you have my email address so stay in contact." Does anybody actually believe that they will stay in contact with these coworkers? More importantly does anybody actually ask "Will you really stay in contact with us?" to the departing coworker?
  • I feel like exclamation points are a 50/50 proposition. Half of the time they are used to mean excitement or emphasis. The other half of the time they are used to be "sorority polite." For example if you ask someone to do something and they respond with "That sounds like so much fun! Unfortunately, I won't be able to make it because..." then they really don't think it sounds like fun and there is a better than average odds that they would rather watch 27 dresses 27 times before they took you up on your offer to do something.
  • Is it weird to anyone else when people over the age of 25 use smiley faces in IM conversations? First off I thought IM had an expiration date around junior year of college. Now, I am finding out that not only are middle-aged people using them, but they are writing messages to colleagues as if they are two 13 year old girls excited about the Jonas Brothers being on TRL later. :D
  • If Sarah Palin was a MN state senator after the North Stars left, I have no doubt that she would have been able to bring back hockey. Also, I have no doubt that she would look better than Norm Coleman.
  • Did you know that Forbes came out with a list of college rankings. If you care about that sort of thing you should check it out. Here are some quick highlights: 1. Princeton 12. Wabash 23. Stanford 57. Kalamazoo College 80. Duke 87. St. Olaf 111. UCLA 120. Washington and Jefferson College 121. Cornell 197. Ole Miss 275. University of Idaho (school of Sarah Palin) 276. Miami University (school of this blogger) 292. The Ohio St. University. 524. University of Minnesota. Seriously? I mean I am all for a new ranking list to compete against the US News and World Reports, but can you really take one that has Kalamazoo College over Cornell seriously?
  • Nfl fans - Here is the tv map for the year. Click on the link if you want to see what games you will be seeing in your area on Sunday.
  • I was trained in the Worldwide Leader of Cheap Chic to be relentlessly positive. No matter what happened you were supposed to present yourself and the information as if it was the great thing since the Rosetta Stone. Anyway, when you read an article like "The Power of Negative Thinking" you realize that maybe there are certain advantages to being the Eeyore of the group.

The two college friends that got married just over a month ago (see Lake Geneva post) came to visit me and the Twin Cities this past weekend. From that weekend I have a few thoughts:

Ben/Laurie's visit

  • 3 different couples were getting their engagement pictures at Minnehaha Falls this past Saturday. Of course Ben, Laurie, M and I had to make fun of them by recreating their pictures.
  • The Cherry and the Spoon was also a popular photo site on Saturday. This time it was a bunch of high schoolers taking pictures before what I can only assume would be their homecoming dance. This was an age-defining moment because the group of us all agreed that if we were there parents of the girls in this group they would not have been allowed out of the house with what they were wearing. When do you get to the point where you start to relate more to parents than the kids? I mean I remember a time when I used to always put myself in the kids shoes. Now, I am more likely to take the parents side of things when it comes to "kids these days."
  • Apple picking = not as bad I thought. This is especially true considering that you can buy apple butter and apple bread.
  • Brave New Workshop has a really funny show for anybody who lives in the Twin Cities area and has been following along with the political scene. It is the funniest thing this side of having Tina Fey in your living room.
  • The wedding video was a success for both sides. Ben and Laurie got a video memory of their wedding. I got Southern Comfort and a book on Baseball parks. I think that is a fair trade.

Stay tuned on the blog for a Nationals Park review. I am in the process of writing it and just need to sit down and complete the post and upload the pictures.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Twins-White Sox

Why are they playing in Chicago today? In the season series the Twins were 10-8 against the White Sox this year. Some could make the case that the Twins should win the division based on that stat above. At least the Twins should have tonight's tiebreaker game played in the Metrodome. There is no way that that the White Sox should be rewarded due to a coinflip. If the White Sox wanted to play at the Cell for a playoff game then they should have won one of the last three games they played at the Dome.

I am behind on posts. I need to do a review of the Nationals Park. Also, I haven't touched on any of the weddings M and I went to or this past weekend when Ben and Laurie came to Minneapolis.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Twins win again

Coming home tonight I walked into my building and saw something I don't remember ever seeing in that place before. I am sure it has always been there, but again it was never something I noticed. The object made me smile and think back to the truly remarkable game I just saw. The object was a broom.

I normally don't like to use the word unbelievable because for the most part that word is overused. Unpredictable or unlikely usually would be a better fit. However, I am making an exception now. The way the Twins swept (thus the broom reference for those non-baseball fans) the White Sox was unbelievable. After the game I found myself (in between many, many high fives exchanged with strangers) muttering to myself "I can't believe what I just saw." I felt like Jimmy V after the 1983 NCAA championship game. I had never seen a game like that before and I don't know when I will ever see one quite like that again.

To recap for those who didn't see the game: The Twins went up 1-0 and were cruising into the 4th inning. Then Murphy's Law struck the Twins and when the dust settled they found themselves down 6-1 and had gone from the starter having a perfect game to the bullpen. Then slowly they started chipping away. Through the course of the day the Twins had 15 hits (compared to only 7 hits for the White Sox) and they scored in 5 of the 10 innings. The most exciting part of the whole evening (besides the end) was in the bottom of the 8th. Harris doubled. Gomez singled him in with 1 out. Span then hit a triple in which Gomez came around and scored the 6th run to tie the game. After two disappointing at bats by Casilla and Mauer the game went to the 9th tied at 6-6. Nathan and Jenks battled through that inning and into the 10th inning. It then came down to Casilla with runners on 1st (Span) and 3rd (Punto). Casilla made up for his previous at bat in the 8th (when all he needed was a sac fly or a bunt) by coming through with a single over short to win the game 7-6.

Above is just the play by play recap, but in no way describes the emotions of the moments. Everyone was up and more into the game then I have ever seen before. The Twins gave the fans a game that nobody there will soon forget. Gardy said it was the loudest he had ever heard the Dome and tipped his hat to us. That is nice, but all we did was come and cheer. We didn't come back from 6-1 to sweep a series that required them to win every game. The Twins players deserve this credit and as a fan I thank them for that.

After Casilla's winning hit everyone in the Metrodome lost it. The fans stayed and cheered. When people finally left there was the happiest mob you could possibly imagine. Everyone was chanting, cheering, and basically going crazy. For a night there was nowhere anyone would rather be then the beautiful, quirky, much maligned Metrodome. For a night the fans saw the Twins take sole possession of 1st place in the Central Division.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Twins win

As I sit here right now I am still basking in the glory of the Twins 2nd straight win in as many days against the White Sox.   Tomorrow they have a chance for the sweep and that would mean they would lead the division.   I had already planned on going to the game on Friday, but now I am definitely going to go tomorrow.    

Just this past Saturday I spent $190 on 2 tickets (row 6 lower level) to the first 2 games (so 4 overall) of the division series.  At the time I didn't there is was much of a chance that I was actually going to be able to use those tickets.   Now it looks like I might have to adjust my budget accordingly because that $190 charge might not be going away.   According to there is a 50% chance of the Twins making the playoffs.  A coin flip right now, but definitely not a coin flip after tomorrow night's game.


Monday, September 22, 2008

West Virginia and small town values

I think I might now know what Republican politicians are talking about when they talk about small town values. I made this revelation in *Charles Town, West Virginia. Now, the reason I was in Charles Town, West Virginia was because of my lifetime goal of getting my picture with all 5o state signs and Charles Town just happened to be the closest West Virginian city to my hotel in Virginia. Also, I had 5 hours to spare thanks to M being rushed away for bridesmaid pre-wedding duties. What better way to spend 5 hours than searching for a state sign?

*Charles Town, WV is a city of "historic interest, natural beauty, and wide range of human endeavor" that was named after George Washington's less accomplished brother Charles. Also, it is the place where abolitionist John Brown eventually was hung in 1859.

Anyway, I was able to get the state sign (see below):

Then for no particular reason I kept going 7 miles to Charles Town despite the fact that I had accomplished my goal of getting the state sign. If I had to guess a reason I might say that I wanted to see the city that was on the signs I had been following for the past 15 miles. Maybe it was just dumb luck.

Anyway, I arrived in Charles Town for Heritage Day Celebration. This meant that the downtown streets were blocked off and street vendors had set up shop selling things from oil candles to steaks. In my rush to get to West Virginia (and to buy Twins playoff tickets) I had not had any breakfast, so I decided to stop by the local coffee shop and pick up a sandwich. The young (approx. a high school junior) waitress named Debbie took my order and I went to a nearby seat to wait for my egg sandwich.

This is where things start getting weird.

Debbie came over to with a strange smile on her face and asked me what I was doing the rest of the day. Now being a guy that doesn't normally (i.e. ever) get hit on by girls I thought that this might be the real deal. In my head I thought about how I was going to have to crush this poor girl's heart by saying that 1) I have a girlfriend and 2) I am not a high schooler.

She then pulled out two $20 bills and proceeded to ask me if I would go to the grocery story to buy milk. Apparently the coffee shop had run out of milk and even though I was a "perfect stranger" she thought I looked like a *trustworthy guy. I said yes that I would do her that favor, but (cliched line coming up) that "I wasn't from around here." She was not dissuaded by this and gave me (inaccurate) directions to a grocery store with the $4o and the reminder that she wanted 3 gallons of 2% milk and 3 gallons of skim milk.

*I used to think people thought I looked like "someone they know" at a better than average rate. Sometimes I would even get comparison with public figures like Prince William. That has now been replaced by being someone who looks "trustworthy" or "not a creep" to complete strangers. I guess that is a good change.

Now, am I crazy to think this is a weird request. Does this happen in other areas of the country? Is this what small town values mean? You can ask perfect strangers to run an errand for you, give them money, and expect them to come back.

Of course I like to think I am not an unethical jerk, so I found a gas station and bought 4 gallons of milk. My thought was that 4 gallons was about the max I could carry (not because of the weight, but because of how cumbersome it is to carry milk), and it also happened to be all the milk the gas station had. I then drove back to downtown Charles Town and proceeded to walk through the Heritage Festival with 2 gallons of milk in both hand. I dropped off the milk at the coffee shop with my new friend Debbie, gave her back $20, and then went back to the car with a "thanks for doing that here is a free hot tea w/honey" that she made for me in a to-go cup.

Maybe when Republicans are talking about true small town values (and not just using small town values as code for something else) they are talking about people like those you would find in Charles Town, WV? Now, it probably isn't smart to give $40 to a stranger and hope he comes back with what you need, but Debbie did and it worked out well for her (she got the milk) and for me (I got a strange story and also the previously mentioned state sign).

Friday, September 19, 2008


This post is coming to you live from our Nation's Capital.   M's friend is getting married in the DC are, so we are here for a long weekend.   Last night our flight got in at 11pm and we decided on the fly to go see part of the National Mall at night.  We spent 2+ hours walking around, but it was such a nice night and a cool experience that it definitely was well worth it.  One of the best things about our impromptu night tour is that there weren't many people out at midnight on a Thursday night, so it was almost like we had our own private tour.  Below are three pictures from the evening:

Anyway, after the night tour we met up with one of my friends from the old Target days.    She now lives near Dupont Circle, which if I remember correctly is close to wear my sister and brother-in-law lived.   Also, if I correctly remember there are about 3 Ethiopian restaurants per block in that area.    It was a fun but long night that unfortunately meant that M and I didn't make it back to the hotel till 3am (feel free to sing along to that stupid Matchbox 20 song).  

Today consisted of seeing DC in the light and then going the rehearsal dinner for the wedding.  

Quick thoughts on the trip:
  • I vehemently dislike driving in DC.    There is tons of traffic everywhere, nobody (including M and I) really knows where they are going, and traffic laws are similar to China in that they are merly suggestions and not really laws.  (Actually let me rephrase that; They are a watered down version of China, since nothing can compare to the drivers in China.)
  • M and I went down by the water and had some of the better seafood I can remember.   Now mind you we are used to MN seafood (which not surprisingly we don't get that often), so take the above comment for what it is worth.  The place was called Jimmy's and the 1/2 pound baked shrimp, 4 crab balls, and strawberry shortcake were nothing short of amazing.                                                The whole water scene environment seemed like it could have been a scene from the Wire...minus the fact that I could understand at least 75% of what was being said.
  • Catering BBQ for a rehearsal dinner is not a bad idea.  In fact I would say that is a great idea and I applaud the Krogh family.
  • I was surrounded by New England sports fans tonight and it took all my power not to mention how the Dolphins were going to destroy Matty Cassel and the Pats on Sunday.   Maybe if I would have had some more to drink then I would said that?   And maybe if I would have had way even more to drink then I might have actually believed that?
  • Twins playoff tickets go on sale tomorrow morning.  I don't even know why I am going to bother trying to get those tickets.  I might as well put down a deposit for Twolves playoff tickets since they stand more of a chance of making the playoffs then the Twins.

Monday, September 15, 2008

My Election Issues

I was planning on writing this post yesterday, but instead I spent the entire day watching football*. It was a great day filled with lots of meats, cheeses, cocktails and comebacks. Of course the Dolphins weren't one of teams that made any sort of comeback, but at least they forced Kurt Warner to throw 5 incompletions.

*The Vikings really snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. In a way it is depressing being around Vikings fans. They have been to 4 Super Bowls, but have 0 Super Bowl wins. They have seen one of the best passing attacks in the league when they had Cris Carter, Jake Reed, and Randy Moss. At the time they could throw any QB into the system and get a career year. Now they have one of the best rushing attacks in the league led by Adrian Peterson. The only problem is that never seem to have a complete team and because of that they have been running 2nd fiddle to the other upper Midwestern team in green and yellow for close to 50 years now.

Anyway, I have digressed into a sports rant, which is not the main reason for the post. The main reason for the post is to point out what my two most important issues are on for the 2008 election. I don't care about troopergate, lipstick jokes, teenage pregnancy, celebrities, Vietnam, experience, $400 glasses, or small town values. The majority of what I care about is what the next President is going to do in terms of our economy and our energy crisis. I care about what Thomas Friedman cares about in his "Making America Stupid" article from this past Sunday's NY Times. Along with that article, I would vote for nearly anyone who would enact what Gregg Easterbrook writes about in his TMQ football column under "Hold Your Horsepower." I encourage you to read the entire section on Horsepower (not the entire article unless you are a huge football fan), but here are two exerts in italics:

Like weight, horsepower depresses fuel economy. Simply knocking a third off the horsepower of new U.S. passenger vehicles would, in about a decade -- as efficient new vehicles replace wasteful old ones -- eliminate approximately the amount of oil the United States imports from the Middle East. Yes, it's that simple. Race cars need lots of horsepower; suburban family cars do not. Excessive horsepower causes the United States to be dependent on Middle East dictatorships, engages military commitments to those dictatorships, drives up the price of oil and pushes down the value of the dollar.


Federal legislation to regulate the horsepower of passenger vehicles, perhaps by establishing a power-to-weight standard, would reduce petroleum consumption, cut greenhouse gas emissions, lower U.S. oil imports, strengthen the dollar, and take some of the road-rage stress out of driving. So what are we waiting for? Whatever your answer, don't reply, "No one can tell me what I can drive." Courts consistently rule that vehicles using public roads may be regulated for public purposes, such as safety and energy efficiency. NASCAR races occur on private property -- there, horsepower is nobody's business. On public roads, horsepower is very much everybody's business. You'd be laughed at if you asserted a "right" to drive a locomotive down the freeway. Where is it written we have the "right" to operate an overpowered car that wastes oil and pollutes the sky?

If the United States started looking for new alternative energy sources then the hope would be that this would not only improve our energy dependence situation, but also as a huge side effect help our economy. There should be other steps taken to improve our economy and I am curious to hear from both candidates on their ideas. Anyway, as a warning to both candidates they should take my opinion seriously since I still might be able to vote in Bulter County, Ohio like I did back in 2004.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Vikings game

Not to sound like a girl, but I don't know what to wear.   In 10 minutes I leave with two of my friends to go see the Colts-Vikings game at the Metrodome.   One of my friends is a semi-Vikings fan and the other friend is a Colts fan.  I don't really care much about either team besides fantasy purposes.  Anyway, it is kind of tough to pick out a casual outfit that doesn't lean towards one team or another.  I finally settled on my 2004 Pac Rim shirt as probably the most neutral shirt in my closet.   

As a freshmen in college I used to get in long arguments with my Calculus professor on whether the SEC was a better conference than the Big Ten.  I couldn't imagine anyone would think the slow, boring Big Ten was better from top to bottom than the SEC.  The reason I write this is because last night I was probably more sympathetic towards the Big Ten than ever before in my life.  I wanted Ohio St to win (or at least put up a big game) and I also actually found myself rooting for Wisconsin over Fresno St.   Maybe 7 years of living in Big Ten country (wow that seems like a long time) has finally softened me up a little bit?  Don't get me wrong I still think the SEC (or a few other conferences) are better than the Big Ten, but again  I am just a little more sympathetic to the Big Ten.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

September updates

It has been awhile since my last post and for my loyal readers I apologize. The reason for the delay was due to a week long family vacation in Florida and then a busy week at work trying to catch up on the work I missed while I was gone. Also, there has been the distraction of fantasy football. Not that any of you care, but here are my teams as the currently sit:

College league (12 teams) - Starting lineups listed with backups in parenthesis.

  • Brian Griese (Chad Pennington)
  • Michael Turner (Kenny Watson), Ronnie Brown (DeAngelo Williams)
  • Reggie Wayne (Vincent Jackson), Torry Holt (Matt Jones), Eddie Royal
  • Tony Gonzalez (Tony Scheffler)
  • Neil Rackers
  • Seattle's D

Honeywell league (12 teams) - Starting lineups listed with backups in parenthesis.

  • Jon Kitna (Derek Anderson)
  • Marshawn Lynch (Matt Forte)
  • Brandon Jacobs (Kenny Watson)
  • Randy Moss (Eddie Royal)
  • Santonio Holmes (Anthony Gonzalez)
  • Santana Moss (Kevin Walter)
  • Matt Prater
  • Tennessee's D.
Now, in the Honeywell league I have a trade on the table where I would give up Randy Moss, Brandon Jacobs, and Matt Forte for LaDanian Tomlinson, Darren McFadden, and Tony Scheffler. I think I will take it for no other reason then but to have a backfield of Lynch and LT for the fantasy playoffs.

Oh yeah my sleeper pick Eddie Royal looked pretty good in his first game.

Quick updates:
  1. The Florida trip went well. M was missed, but overall it was great seeing the family (especially Henry).

  2. The Twins are currently 1.5 games back from the Division leading White Sox. They would be up at least 3 games if their bullpen wasn't so terrible this past month. How does Joe Nathan blow 3 saves during my week and a half vacation? All I am hoping for is that they are in the race by the end of this month when they have a 3 game series against the White Sox at the Metrodome.
  3. All you need to watch in keeping up with politics is the Daily Show. Check out John McCain: Reformed Maverick. John McCain's Big Acceptance Speech.
  4. If you care about the issues (crazy thought) then check out the Issues section from and read what interests you. Seriously, it shouldn't be that difficult of a decision in November.
  5. One of my coworkers just joined facebook and is trying to figure out what to do with it. I sent her the following article from the NY Times magazine. It is a good in-depth look at the culture behind social sites like facebook.

Off to softball tonight. Then this later this weekend I have tickets to the Colts-Vikings game thanks to one of my friends up here. We will be taking advantage of VIP treatment of a buffet and free drinks two hours before the game. There will be pictures, so stay tuned.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Lake Geneva

Labor Day is the beginning of school and the end of summer.  For the people in the upper Midwest it means that a short fall is all that stands between them and the frigid winter.  If you want to do something fun outdoors now is the time.   

For M and I Labor Day has now become a yearly tradition of roadtrips in the Upper Midwest. In 2006 M and I went to Bemidji, MN and crossed the Mississippi River at its headwaters. Below is Paul, Babe, M and I:

In 2007 M and I drove up the north shore of Minnesota to Thunder Bay, Ontario.   Below is M and I at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park.

Yesterday we left Minnesota on an adventure through Wisconsin to the city of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.   The reason being is that my good college friends (Ben and Laurie) are getting married and we are having a mini college reunion.   That reunion started late last night after a long drive through the back roads of Wisconsin.  (Side note:  Why are Wisconsin roads named after letters?   Yesterday we were on country road M and passed by another road called NN.)   

Last night was fun as all my old college friends went to a bar, had a few cocktails and told stories that have aged very well after some years (and beers).   M was thrown into the deep end of my college experience and she did well not making fun of a bunch of Miami students.   

Today is time for the wedding.  I have been tasked with videotaping it (after the critical success of Bears and Beers 2002 it isn't unusual to get these requests) and hope that my old reliable camera won't fail me.   Now, it is off to go get my picture with Illinois state sign.   Despite my many trips to the Land of Lincoln I have never been able to get my picture with the state sign. Hopefully, today I can cross Illinois off my state list and move closer to getting all 50 states.

I will try to check in later.   

Oh yeah the Twins are only a half game out.    

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Fried Okra

I am an upwardly mobile guy. That isn't to say that I am getting promoted rapidly (or at all) or planning on moving into a corner office any time soon. What I mean to write is that geographically I am an upwardly mobile guy. At first it was to find the right school for me, so I moved to the cornfields of Ohio. Then the next step was to find the right (or any) job for me, so it was time to move to the frozen tundra of Minnesota. They were all the right steps to take and I am happy for my experiences in the new states, but sometimes it is tough being away from home. I won't get into the obvious reasons of family (especially now that we have a relatively new addition) or even friends. This blog isn't supposed to be that serious, so right now all I want to discuss is food.

Specifically, I want to talk about fried okra, sweet tea, cheese grits, and a slab of meat that takes me back to my Mom's cooking or the hole-in-the-wale places of the South. In that vein I would like to talk about my new quest of finding the right comfort food here in Minneapolis. It might have started when I read my brother-in-law's post about sharing some BBQ with his son (my nephew).

Anyway, I have searched online and then hunted down the supposed best of the best in BBQ in the Twin Cities. I have tried Ted Cook's 19th Hole (voted best BBQ by City Pages in 2004), Scott Ja-Mamas (or as I like to say Scotty's), Lee's and Dee's (voted best BBQ by the City Pages in 2005 and 2008), and Chelly's Cafe. I still need to try a few more places (Rooster's BBQ and others I haven't found yet in my research), but I think I have at least an initial understanding of what is out there. Here would be my awards (definitely subject to change after more visits):
  • Best twice baked pototoes - Scott Ja-Mamas on Diamond Lake in South Minneapolis. While the chicken was above-average, I wouldn't make a point of it to go back there for it. However, the twice baked potatoes were cheap, delicious and definitely something that I would like to try with some ribs.
  • Best chicken wings - M and I went to Lee's and Dee's for the catfish (for her) and the ribs (for me), but ended up falling in love with the chicken wings. Most chicken wings are fried with too much breading, but these chicken wings didn't have any breading and were the most deliciously seasoned wings I have ever had. Seriously, I am thinking about driving to St. Paul just writing about the wings right now.
  • Best sauce/beef tips - Ted Cook's 19th Hole. Incredible. I need to try more from Ted Cook's since it is pretty close to my home and also offers exceptional sweet potato pie. The only disappointment of the dining experience were the black-eyed peas.
  • Best overall dining experience/sweet tea - I loved Chelly's Cafe and the fact that is is only 10 blocks from my house, might make me a regular. The wings were very good and I also enjoyed the okra and cheese grits as sides. Also, the meal comes with a southern style biscuit, which is never a bad thing. The real treat was the fact that I could read the paper and drink a sweet tea while waiting for my food. I am going to have to try more of what Chelly's has to offer since I think it is probably the most versatile of the restaurants I have mentioned.
  • Best okra - Randomly the best okra I have had in the Twin Cities comes from the gas station on 48th and Nicollet. It is better than Lee's and Dee's and Chelly's. I have always had my theory that the best chicken comes from those hot counters at gas stations in the South, but the quality of the fried okra from a gas station in South Minneapolis really caught me by surprise. The best thing is that I can walk to the gas station order the fried okra and two cokes (50 cents each for the cokes) and be completely prepped for cocktail hour.
That is it for right now on the search for the best comfort food in the Twin Cities. I am off to go see the Vikings-Steelers preseason game tonight. If you are at the game look for a black #7 Roethlisberger jersey with a red Miami hat sitting behind the visitor's bench.

Oh yeah, I haven't written many Twins posts this year. Lets just say I don't really believe what is going on right now and don't want to jinx anything. I have been watching the games on tv and have made it to 15 games at the Dome so far this year, so rest assured I am keeping up with them. I just don't have anything to write right now because I am still in shock that as of right now they are in 1st place in the division.