Friday, March 27, 2009


Plenty of news today about the Red River flooding in the Fargo-Moorhead area.  Including some dumbass CNN reporters who got arrested for standing on the dikes.  But it's still amazing to me that the house I used to live in during The College Years was evacuated this morning.  When we lived there we never felt like we were in close proximity to the river.  The Red is about 10 blocks from the house.  Moorhead is a town of about 43,000 and it's a lot taller than it is long, so 10 blocks is about one third the width of town, at least the core section.  It wanders further east much farther than that, but you know what I mean.  Both MSUM and Concordia have closed their campuses and the river is expected to crest at records that may never have been recorded.  Unbelievable.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

9 years old, tough as nails

Nothing like a little snow in the morning at the end of March to liven up the morning commute.  When heading directly into that West wind the snow felt like tiny knives being stabbed into my eyeballs.  But when I got to work I had an email from my lovely wife, as follows:
Subject:  36 & snowing, and Morgan's biking to school
That's your girl!
She *really* wanted to bike to school yesterday, but the forecast was so dire, I wouldn't let her. Boy, was she mad at me when she came home (because it wasn't raining, lightning, or thundering at that exact moment). So today, there was no stopping her.

So if you didn't ride in today because it was a little snowy, you've been pwned by a 9 year old girl and her purple, sparkly bike.

March Madness?

Everybody's so excited about this silly game with a round orange ball these days.  But according to a Star Trib Hockey Blogger, the WCHA Final Five outdrew the basketball games hosted at the Dome this past weekend:
At the Metrodome, eight men's basketball teams played first - and second-round games in the NCAA Tournament, the Big Dance.
Crowds for six games, split into three sessions were 14,279, 15,794, and 12,814.  Add those numbers up, the grand total was 42,887.
In the Mill City's sister sister [sic], St. Paul, there was the WCHA Final Five.  It had five teams, hence the name and five games, all sold as separate sessions.
Those one-game crowds were 17,611 (for the Gophers-UMD), 14,744, 17,779, 15,254 and 16,749.  That's a grand total of 82,137.
To be fair, many of those fans going to the Final Five expected the Gophers to be around for more than one game.  So maybe they both [sic] an all-sessions pass.
Also there were five separate gates for hockey.  But pick the lowest three, and hockey still outdraws college basketball.
I love this town.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Super power!

The Fat Cyclist often writes about his self declared superpowers.  One that sticks out in my head is his ability to eat while exercising.  It's a power, to be sure, but how super is questionable.  I think if I had to name a superpower for myself, it would be the ability to do the same thing over and over.  Commuting is a good example of this.  According to Jill, commuting makes me a Labrador Retriever:
Commuters are the Labrador retrievers of the pack. Throw them a good bicycle route, and they'll keep coming back. They love a good game of "catch" — that is, they race to catch green lights. They're highly sociable, largely domesticated and don't mind being leashed to the same roads day after day.
This superpower also extends to lunch.  I'm a cheapskate, so I bring my lunch from home.  I pack the same old lunch, with minor variations, every day.  It consists of:
a sandwich (lunchmeat of some flavor or another)
fruit (usually an apple)
grain (peanuts, soy nuts, pumpkin seeds, etc.)
I have eaten a variation of this lunch nearly every weekday for the last 10 1/2 years.  However, this was thrown into somewhat of an uproar a few weeks ago when my non-Catholic wife decided our family should give up meat for Lent.  Lent?  I've never given anything up for Lent.  For one, I wasn't raised Catholic.  For two, I never saw the point.  "Let's give up our worst vices with the understanding that in about a month we'll indulge them with twice the fervor."  Lent.  But the kids and I half-heartedly agreed that we would honor a custom of a religion none of us had any stake in and give up meat.  We didn't eat a ton of meat to begin with, and the transition has been mostly painless (The kids wailed mightily when they realized that chicken nuggets are meat).
The meat free zone known as Lent has had an impact on my lunches.  Making a sandwich was the default.  Bread, mayo on one side, mustard on the other, grab whatever lunchmeat was in the drawer, done!  Now, not so much.  I've made sandwiches with hummus, with cheese, and with avacado.  And sometimes a combination of these.  I've also, gasp, brought other things.  Leftovers, usually.  This week I brought leftover lentil soup on Monday and leftover tomato basil soup on Thursday.  And in both cases, they leaked all over in my bag.  Soup is not a bike commute friendly food.  A pox on you, foul soup.  I shall not be bringing you along to work again.  Fie, I say.  Fie!


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Cycling fee

In 2005, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty was stuck with a budget shortfall.  He refused DFL entreaties for a general tax increase and instead went with a 75 cents-a-pack hike in cigarettes.  He insisted the increase be called a "health impact fee" so he could maintain his no-tax pledge.  To boost funding for cycling programs I am proposing that we add a new fee, which I am titling the Cyclist Annoyance Fee.  Here's how the program will work:
Any time a coworker, friend or acquaintance asks a known cycle commuter "Did you ride your bike to work today?" and the temperature is below 32 degrees Farenheit, a fee of $1 will be assessed to the questioner.  If it is raining, a fee of $2 will be assessed.  Questions asked during a snowstorm or a thunderstorm will be assessed a $3 fee (double if lightning is present).  Questions asked when the temperature is below 0 degrees Farenheit will be assessed a $4 fee.  If the temperature is below 0 and it is snowing, a $5 fee will be assessed.  If the question is asked with a smug "I'll bet you didn't ride." expression on the questioning party's face, the fees will be double.
To be fair, bicycle commuters will also be assessed fees.  Any time a bicycle commuter is asked by a coworker, friend or acquaintance "Did you ride your bike to work today?" and the temperature is between 65 and 80 degrees Farenheit and the skies are clear, a fee of $1 will be assessed to the cyclist.  If the questioner adds "Looks like a great day to ride." with a wistful/jealous expression on his or her face, the cyclist's fee will be waived.

Friday, March 06, 2009

The Dow

There has been lots of talk over the last few months about The Dow, and how every time we cross a certain number it's a "psychological barrier" or some other such drivel.  But yesterday The Dow closed at a number that I actually did find interesting.  The close yesterday was 6594.44.  Nothing much in and of itself.  But if you look at the 52 week range, that's when things get interesting.  The 52 week high was 13,191.50, and half of that number is 6595.75.  Which means that, by a margin of 1.31 The Dow has lost a full 50% of it's value in the last year.  I'm not sure this is unprecedented, and I'm frankly not interested enough to research it.  But it's something.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Snowed under the weather

Last Thursday we got a good 5-6 inches of fresh snowfall here in the metro area. I rode to work, since it was lovely and dry in the morning and my attitude of the last year or so has been "if it doesn't completely suck in the morning, I'll deal with the afternoon when it gets here." And it didn't suck in the morning. But the snow came down heavy and fast and by the time I left work there was 4-5 inches on the streets. And everywhere I went there was no sign of a plow. I took the train from downtown to the 50th Street station and headed into Minnehaha Park. Those trails were not plowed either. And while the fresh powder of the trail was easier to navigate than the mashed potato snow of downtown, both took a tremendous amount of energy. I was surprised at how rideable everything was, it was just hard work. Even my nemesis, the Mendota Bridge, was rideable. But after 6 miles, I was covered in sweat and plenty pooped. But pleasantly so. I found the whole experience to be enjoyable, even when I had to push the bike. It was like a mini Arrowhead 135. Only 129 more miles to cover. I realized that if I ever attempted that race, I would need to actually train instead of just relying on my base commuting miles to carry me through. I'm definitely not in that kind of shape.

I drove in on Friday and spent an uneventful weekend taking care of some household tasks. I got my minor wiring project done, and now we can turn the bar lights on from both the top and the bottom of the stairs. Pulling romex is thankless work, but I'm happy I was able to complete the project. Monday in the small hours of the morning I came down with some sort of plague that caused me to leave work early and stay home Tuesday. An actual sick day. I can't remember the last time I took an actual sick day. Back to work again today, feeling more or less back to 100%. I plan to ride again tomorrow, one week to the day since the snowstorm and the last time I was on a bike.