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.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


One of the best things about watching the Olympics is the media's coverage of the middle country. This of course takes me back to the summer of 2004 when I went to Beijing through Miami University's study abroad program. Not that I need proof, but below is the group at the Forbidden City:

When I see the USA basketball team playing the Chinese team I can't help but think about when the Miami University Pacific Rim 2004 students competed against the Beijing University students. I can vividly remember pulling a Bill Russell and being a player-coach for the Miami University team. Unfortunately, we weren't able to pull out a victory (I blame the smog) but I enjoyed the competition.

Another "fun" memory were the cab rides. Some of my favorite bloggers/writers have written articles about these thrill rides. If you have the time check out Dave Barry or Joe Posnanski (it is at the bottom after his take on Nadel).

Finally, I can remember the problems we had with the Internet. We were in China when our 2nd Semester grades came out and couldn't check them because China blocked Thankfully we had our Bill Gates on the trip (my roommate and friend Jeff) and he was able to break through China's firewalls. Joe Posnanski (can you tell he might be my favorite current blogger) wrote about the problems with his Internet. It is funny to think of sites like being blocked. I wonder if my site is blocked as well because Chinese people really love Tyler Hansbrough's grit and determination.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Comments from a UNC fan

Just a week ago I received the below comment on the "Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Dislike Tyler Hansbrough" post I wrote about a year ago. Before I write anything else lets see what "chels26" has to write about my post:

dude you suck at life if your going to try and hate on tyler. he is a great bball player and thats why he plays for unc. duke sucks. and maybe you sould make a list about some of dukes players, it wouldnt take you long because they are bad. so next time your going to try to hate against somebody do it on somebody else than the number 1 player for si. p.s. carolina rocks!!!! go tar heels!!!!!!!

Things I don't understand:
  1. Why it took chels26 so long to read my post? Maybe she googled "Dislike Tyler Hansbrough" and clicked on my post as the number 1 result?
  2. Is it a rule that when you post a comment that you have to completely forget about any of the rules of grammar?
  3. I don't know what "the number 1 player for si" is? Does she mean the college player of the year as determined by the magazine Sports Illustrated? Or does she have some inside information on Tyler Hansbrough playing for some team named "si?" Maybe that is a Spanish or Mexican league team?

Anyway, I decided to see who this intellect of the Internet was by clicking on chels26's link. If you are curious click on her link to see her profile. Below is the summary:

  • Gender - Female
  • About Me - I love the jonas brothers!!!
  • Interests - Swimming, listening to music and riding my bike
  • Favorite Movies - Camprock, cars and a lot of others i just can't think of.
  • Favorite Music - Jonas brothers, linkin park
  • Favorite Books - I like mystery books.

So from the looks of it I have this tween girl angry at me for posting a less than flattering piece on Tyler Hansbrough. Hopefully she keeps reading this blog because she will find more articles that she might feel obligated to comment on. Maybe I will even make a post about the top 10 reasons why you should dislike the Jonas Brothers?

Sunday, August 3, 2008

All Day, All Night and my 100th post

What a great weekend.

Our (M and I's) co-ed softball team won their first game this year. In true Dolphins like fashion we had lost every single game of the year. The playoffs were held this weekend and after a heartbreaking opening round loss we were able to redeem ourselves (and our season) by winning the first game in the loser's bracket. We lost the next game, which meant our overall record for the season was probably something not too dissimilar to the Dolphins 1-15 record. However, that one win was enough to put a smile on my face and remind me of Greg Camarillo.

After the three softball games spread out from 9am-4pm I was kind of tired, but thankfully I got my second wind and went out with some friends. After a disappointing Indians-Twins game we decided to head out to one of the new, hip bars in Minneapolis. This led to some celebrity sightings. We saw Tony Gonzalez (one of the greatest tight ends in NFL history), Adrian Peterson (the offensive rookie of the year and an amazing running back), and Jared Allen (the new defensive end and the owner of three DUIs). Anyway, I introduced myself to both Tony Gonzalez and Adrian Peterson and actually got pictures with them. Below are both:

Adrian "All Day" Peterson

Tony Gonzalez

Overall it was a good night.

The luck continued the next day (today) when M and I decided to go to the Twins game to see Liriano pitch. We showed up 20 minutes late and because of the high demand all of the scalpers were out of tickets. With no other option we headed to the box office when a woman approached us and asked if we wanted 2 lower level tickets. I was in my scalping mindset and asked her how much she wanted for them. She said nothing and gave me the tickets. Apparently I didn't look like a "creep" and she just wanted some nice people to have the tickets since they were right next to her seats. Anyway, as a friendly gesture I bought her and her friend a beer when we got in the stadium. Overall the good karma from that moment couldn't have hurt the Twins as they won 6-2. Combine that with a White Sox loss and that means the Minnesota Twins are in 1st place in the AL Central.

Like I stated in the beginning this was a great weekend.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Why I like baseball?

A full list of why I like baseball would be long and extensive.  It would be more complex than my reasons for liking (loving) basketball, but I don't want to get into that right now.   All I want to write is that I like baseball because of moments when career minor leaguers get a chance in the majors and get their first major league hit.  Randy Ruiz probably spent 30 years of his life hoping to make it to the majors.  During his time playing baseball he put in 3,644 at bats over 10 seasons in the minors.  Today, Ruiz got called up and was put in as the Twins DH.   His first two at-bats resulted in outs, but in the third at-bat he hit a soft liner into right field for his first major league hit.   One batter later he ran (pretty well for someone who is listed at a generous 235 lbs) from first all the way home for a run (another first for him) on a Brendan Harris double.   Congratulations Randy Ruiz.

Also congrats to M for her well-deserved promotion.