Thursday, February 28, 2008

OOOOO, We're halfway there

Or rather, I'M halfway there. To my 100 different beers in 2008 that is!

Raise a glass (half a glass), because I'm halfway to my goal!

I logged #50 last night, a Bass Ale. It was the only beer on tap at Spike's Bar downtown (at the Hyatt) that I hadn't yet tried.

So mid-goal report time.

  • 23 of my beers have been "local" (MN or WI, not counting Miller). Although when I was in Omaha, I drank 2 more beers that were local that city, which helped with the whole carbon footprint thing.
  • My favorite (or should I say favourite) was probably Rodenback Grand Cru, a delicious Belgian I had at Buster's on 28th. Very sour with a rich, but not confusing, flavor.
  • Favorite Local Beer: Summitt Winter Ale. So delicious, so caramely. It's almost too caramelly to be a beer.
  • LEAST favorite beer: Brau Brothers Scotch Ale. Out of Lucan, Minnesota, this beer had too much flavor, and too MANY flavors, and really upset my stomach.
  • Beer that I worked the hardest for: Yeungling Lager. I brought a 12-pack back on flight from DC. I LOVE that beer. Yeungling, PLEASE sell that here!
  • Most prestigious beer: Delerium Tremens. Best beer in the world apparently. It's hard to argue with that.
  • LEAST prestigious beer: Grainbelt Premium. Man, do I love my premo!
  • Most likely to drink again: Well, probably 10 or 20 of 'em
  • Most likely to be the NEXT one I drink: Summitt Winter Ale. Too delicious and the lifespan is too short to pass up.
So what's on tap for the rest of the year? Well, it's still February, and I'm halfway there. I think that I need to revise my goal upward to 200. But more importantly, I'm making it my goal to hit 50% local beer. I plan on trying more from New Glarus, South Shore (Ashland), Great Waters, Town Hall, and anything new from Surly.

Reduce your carbon footprint, drink local!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Getting Closer, Getting Closer....

It's almost here! What, you ask? My wireless internet. I've been waiting 2 years for this.

See! The USI website graphic says that my neighborhood is "coming soon". Whatever that means. I was supposed to have service by December 2007.

Quick question: What will happen first?

A) Crosstown Reconstruction Complete.
B) Outdoor Twins Stadium sees its first game.
C) I-35W bridge is complete.
D) I get USI wireless working in my home at the speed they promise.

My money is on the I-35W bridge. They're doing an awesome job.

Here's the order: C->B->D->...Let's be honest, A will never happen.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Hillary Rodham...CAMPEAU???

Hillary, bring back the '92 do!


I previously posted how I am an Obama-guy. Heck, I stood in line for hours just to see him speak his standard stump speech. I've read all his books, and I'm inspired by him! So I should hope he becomes president, right?

Well, turns out I have a reason to root for Hillary. We are long-lost cousins. No, seriously. Through a random email (misdirected email) I started an email conversation with this nice 76-year-old Quebecois, and we discovered we have the same common ancestor of Étienne Campeau, who was one of the first settlers of Montreal. I know that I'm descended from Étienne from my dad's extensive geneology work. So then this nice man drops the bombshell on me. I'm related to Hillary. I didn't believe him. So I checked the Googles. Turns out, if you can believe the internets, he's right! I AM related to Hillary, although about 10 generations back (maybe a little less). Here's the website to prove it. Go down near the bottom and look for Étienne. He was the grandson of a knight in Limonges, France.

On an interesting sidenote, my new-found Canuck pen pal told me a story about how my great-great-great.....(10 of them) grandmother was sent by King Louis XIV to "comfort" the men of Montreal who were so lonely. I'm glad it worked out for poor lonely Étienne!!

So does this mean I have to root for Hill? Well, by that logic Dick Cheney would be rooting for Barack Obama. And the day Dick comes out for Obama'08, I'll switch to backing Hillary.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

It's Time for a Fish Fry!

It's Lent! So there's the religious aspect to Lent (which I already blogged about here), and then there's the Fish Fry. Being a Lutheran by upbringing, fish on fridays wasn't mandatory (except at elementary school when we were subjected to nasty fish sticks.) But I have come to appreciate this tradition.

Last night I went to St. Albert the Great's famous fish fry. It's ridiculously popular, attended by hundreds each night, and even City Pages has weighed in and deemed it the best fry in the Cities. (More reporting here at Kare11).

And as usual, the fry did not disappoint. The fried fish was tasty and crispy and the desserts were varied and so delicious. And then there's the best part of the night, B-I-N-G-O!! Yep, after gorging on fish (fried and baked), mashed potatoes, spaghetti and desserts, there's no room for more food, but there's always room for BINGO!

The best part of BINGO this year was the caller. She had all the BINGO jokes flowing. "B-4......and after" and other similar jokes had the crowd rolling. Great times! And the best part is we don't have to wait til next week, just til next Friday. Hurry B-4 all the fish is gone!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Favorite Overlooked Run

Tonight I was a ZEN runner. I almost didn't run today. I certainly would have been more than ok NOT running. But on my way home at 9pm, it was snowing. A nearly perfect, peaceful snow. I previously wrote about how I love running on freshly fallen snow. Well, there's only one thing better than that, and that's running on freshly fallen snow while a light snow is STILL falling. And tonight, that's what was happening. There was about half an inch on the trails, and a light snow coming down. So I laced up and hit the trails, even though I don't usually like to run after 9 or so. But the snow was calling. And it was peaceful. No traffic, the streetlamps illuminating little oasises of falling snow. It was like running from one island of light to the next.

My only debate was which trail to take. My default one hour run is the Lake-Ford loop, but I am getting sick of that, and I thought there might still be traffic on the river roads. Then I remembered I could take the Minnehaha Parkway to Nokomis. I rarely do that for some reason, even though it's so close to my house. The reason is that then it's doubling back on the parkway, and I hate running the same terrain twice. Give me loops! But the section of Minnehaha Parkway from the falls to Nokomis is in my opinion the most beautiful part of the Minnehaha trail. It is completely separate from the actual road by several blocks at that point, so there's no traffic nearby. And the floodplain is pretty wide so you're further from houses too. And to top it off, the foot and bike traffic on this stretch is oddly very light.

All of these combine to make for a perfect night of quiet zen running. I was just in awe of the beauty around me, and it just gave me a chance to clear my head and feel some peace. I usually pray a little while I run, but usually not too much because there are too many distractions. Tonight there were no distractions other than the peacefulness that enhanced my prayer. I'm rambling here, but basically it just felt great to get out and feel good about running outside again, instead of slogging through the run which is how I've felt lately.

Below I've inserted a map of that stretch of trail that I love. I think it's my "favorite overlooked run". What's yours?

View Larger Map

Sunday, February 10, 2008 like beer

I don't necessarily have the most discerning tastebuds. I try to eat and drink things that taste delicious, but honestly, I just can't tell the difference between a $10 and a $20 bottle of wine. And while I prefer more expensive, flavorful, hoppy beer to mass-produced domestics, I can't always tell you WHY I like one better, or pick out the individual flavors in each.

Kirk has embarked on a year-long adventure to drink 100 different wine varietals. That sort of challenge would be wasted on me since I really probably can't discern, and would most certainly never remember, the subtle differences between most of them. However, I like beer, and I think I can drink 100 different types of beer!

So I will have a running list on the side of my blog for the remainder of 2008. The ones listed are ones that I already have consumed so far this year. Considering that this year is only 41 days old, it may shock you (and it definitely shocks me) to realize I've already had 32 different beers. But when I really think about it, it's not too surprising. I don't drink much, rarely to excess, but when I do drink, I always have a different beer each time. In fact, the reason I've had so many Summits, Leine's and Schell's is because I bought sampler packs and had one of each.

I've categorized them into 4different categories. 3 are domestic, 1 is imported. For domestics I have LOCAL (which I'm most proud of), then DOMESTIC (which are small breweries or microbrews only) and then lastly CRAPPY DOMESTICS which is your standard mass-produced beer. I certainly like a Miller Lite every now and then, but let's be honest, compared to a Surly, Miller Lite is pretty crappy. Check back to see if I hit 100 beers before Kirk hits 100 varietals!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Tis the season

What season you ask? It's not Christmas! (even though I went to my final holiday party only 2 weeks ago). No, it's Lent, and it snuck up on us early this year. So early, in fact, that due to St. Patty's Day conflicting with Holy Week, the Catholic Church has MOVED St. Patrick's Day up one day! I'm not kidding, read more about it at TVSnacks.

So I observe Lent pretty reverently, even though I'm not Catholic. This always gets me some questions this time of year as to why as a Protestant I take Lent so seriously. Well, I grew up in a Lutheran church that observes Lent (still does, according to my aunt, 2 services EACH Wednesday throughout Lent). But since I came to really have faith later in life, in my early 20s, it's not just my upbringing that led to my respect for this preparation for Easter.

Well, I don't like to preach and my faith is very personal, so I'll keep this brief. I really am overwhelmed at the thought that Jesus came here and went through so much, just for us. It's really quite a remarkable realization, and life-changing. So observing Lent, taking the time to think about Christ's sacrifice, and making a small sacrifice in my own life to remind me of His sacrifice, is very important to me.

This past Wednesday was Ash Wednesday. For me, this is one of the most powerful times to go to church for me, only preceded by Good Friday and Easter itself. This year I went to the St. Paul Cathedral. This is a beautiful building that I've driven and walked past many times, and run past numerous times, including 3 times during the different Twin Cities Marathons. Well, as anyone who has run past can attest, not only is it a wonderful sign that the marathon is nearly complete, it's also a gorgeous building. It's also beautiful inside too.

The service was very beautiful and reverent. While I disagree with many Catholic doctrines, I admire how serious and sincere their masses are. The best part at this Ash Wednesday mass was the homily. The priest explained the reason for Lent and what we should try to get out of Lent. He first used a baseball analogy (so naturally, that grabbed my attention). He said that Lent is like Spring Training. It's a time when you focus, recenter, and practice the fundamentals. It's all about developing good habits that can take you through the rest of the year. So much like batting practice in the spring can help Joe Mauer get hits later in the season, focusing on the Lord and His sacrifice during Lent can help us throughout the year.

The priest said that there are 3 aspects to observing Lent: Praying, Fasting, and Alms Giving. The fasting for me is what I give up for Lent. When I choose what I give up for Lent, I don't necessarily make it some big dramatic thing, rather, I make sure it's something that I'm going to notice everyday so that it reminds me of Jesus' sacrifice. And prayer and alms giving are important habits too that I practice during Lent to help me the rest of the year.

While Lent can be a solemn and sad time, we know that the joy of Easter is just around the corner!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Skiing by Candlelight

This past Saturday evening, some friends and I headed down to Lake of Isles for some late-night skiing. But there are no lights on Isles, you may ask, why didn't you go to Wirth or Hyland for lit skiing? Au contraire I say. The course was lit the whole way as part of the City of Lakes Loppet (pronounced LOH-PET) Luminary Loppet. This was great fun! There were about 1,000 skiers that came out for this leisurely ski around Lake of the Isles. The course (about 5K or so) was lit by 800 luminaries (candles inside of ice). It was very serene.

Overall, the event was great, and a neat way to get non-competitive skiers interested in the Loppet (which I watched a bit of the next day as Mary, Peter and Chris all competed in the Freestyle race). Read Chris's wrapup here (Chris, my hope is that by linking to you I will encourage you to post more often!) My only complaint with the Luminary Loppet is that it was heavily promoted with all the hot chocolate, cider and coffee that would be served along the course. I saw ONE spot where hot chocolate was being handed out, and that wasn't even by Caribou (the sponsor of the event), it was by a local church, St. Paul's I think. While the luminaries and the friends who came far more than made up for the lack of hot beverages, I was disappointed, especially since we know Caribou can afford it, and our $18 should have returned hot chocolate as promised. Let's hope next year they get their act together.

Another highlight was being able to ski over one of the small islands in Isles. Running around the lake I see the islands all the time, so it was neat to be able to to one without the use of a canoe!

Here are some fun photos I took. The first one is hard to see, but it's the group of us by a big luminary. The second photo is a series of luminaries along the course on the north side of Isles. More photos on Skinny Ski.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Are you ready to...Caucus?

Seeing as how it's Thursday and the caucuses were on Tuesday, this post is a little belated. Kirk and Ed already beat me to the punch with their wrapups.

I actually did not participate in the caucus beyond showing up, waiting in line 30 minutes, voting and getting out of there. I had wanted to, but Tuesdays are tutoring night, so I couldn't stick around. I wish I had after hearing stories from my friend Tim about how his caucus spent time debating the merits of insuring "Doulas" for the birthing process. Very weird, read about them here on Wiki.

The voting process was a little Mickey Mouse. I basically wrote the name of my candidate on a piece of paper and stuck it in an envelope. I'm pretty sure voting for class president in 3rd grade had a more formal process. And what's with the polls only being open 1.5 hours? That is ridiculous and undemocratic. So many people were disenfranchised as a result of that. Wake up Minnesota! Time to move into the 20th Century. Although it was cool hearing about people trying to vote in bowling alleys.

So who did I vote for? Well, since it's a caucus it's not exactly a secret ballot. I'll give you a hint. I went to this candidate's rally over the weekend. Still not sure who I'm talking about? Here's a photo I took at the event. And since I was sitting far away and perhaps you can't see who it was. Here's another hint: He won 2/3 of the DFL vote in Minnesota! Finally, I'm voting for a winner!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Don't worry about me, I'll be here in the spring

This photo is from Uptown on 27th Street. Looks pretty obvious this guy's been chained up since before our first snow in December. I wonder about the back story on this bike. Who left it? Are they coming back for it? Why hasn't anyone stolen it yet!!?? I'd like to think the bike will get some use again once the roads are clear...

There are actually 2 more bikes chained to a pole about 20 feet away that have also been there since at least before Old Man Winter unleashed his fury. What's up with leaving your bikes out that long on busy streets? Did these people die?

Monday, February 4, 2008

Snow Running

I was feeling a little under the weather today, but nothing could keep me from running today (although it could keep me from going any respectable distance). Why, you ask? Well, it snowed an inch today! That is my favorite time to run. An inch of snow is perfect. It's just enough to muffle the sound of running, and the sounds of the city, and not too much to make running extra difficult. So here's to running, and here's to snow!

What are your favorite conditions for running?

You Know You Were Watching

I guess last night's sporting event was the most watched ever. So you know you saw it. And you know you were watching the ads too. Lame game until the end. And even then, lame because now we have to endure another 36 years of Don Shula and his undefeated Dolphins with their sub 0.400 opponents winning schedule. But whatever. I don't really care about football. I do enjoy watching the ads though.

And I was disappointed. A couple shone through. I loved the Doritos man-in-a-rat-suit ad. That was my big ad favorite. I generally agree with THE ROCK that ads with animals suck. But that's a reason why this ad was so money. It wasn't a cutesy or sarcastic animal. It was a dude in a rat-suit kicking the crap out of someone. High-larious.

But the best ad was the Twins ad they played. Watch it here:

I miss TK. (no offense to Gardy). It was a sign of the times (and the age of the people I hang out with), when only a couple of my friends recognized TK. Then again, most of us were the same age last night. It must be a sign of my Twins obsession.

Win Twins!