Black Skimmer's were sighted today at Fort Clinch State Park. These were one of my top targets because I have not seen Skimmer's yet. These guys were pretty cooperative and even posed for a few pictures.
Dec 31, 2008
Black Skimmer's were sighted today at Fort Clinch State Park. These were one of my top targets because I have not seen Skimmer's yet. These guys were pretty cooperative and even posed for a few pictures.
Dec 28, 2008
We ventured to Prescott, WI this morning to see if we could find the Harlequin Duck that has been reported on the MOU site in the past several days to weeks.
Dec 26, 2008
Dec 22, 2008
I was doing a little Christmas shopping this afternoon and stopped in at a gift shop in South Minneapolis to browse the fares. On the shelf was something so stupid, it was brilliant!
Dec 21, 2008
Dec 20, 2008
Once again, I was part of the Christmas Bird Count this year. A friend and I have done this for years now. Our current area is in southern Bloomington (bounded by I-35W and France Ave. from east to west and by Old Shakopee Road to the Minnesota River north to south).
We had a very snowy day for counting birds, but did alright despite the poor conditions. The only truly birdy area in our count zone is Nine-Mile Creek park. This year we had no open water and already plenty of snow on the ground. Surprisingly, every year we pound out a bunch of Robins in Nine-Mile Creek park. We also got the usual assortment of Downy, Hairy and Red-bellied woodpeckers, a bag full of chickadees, etc. Last year we got a Barred owl and we were very pleased to find him (or perhaps, her) again this year as well.
After a couple of hours of work, we swung down to Black Dog Lake to try and find some good gulls. Hands down, the birding at Black Dog was the best of the day - we were rewarded with nice views of a Rough-legged hawk, a Glaucus gull (that's the first time I have been confident in my I.D. of one of these guys), a probable Thayer's gull, a Pelican, and a bunch of assorted Mergansers. Black Dog is not in our CBC area, so we can't truly count these, but we'll make these "good birds" get in to the data in case they got missed by the group that had Black Dog Lake (possible, but not likely that they would be missed).
2008 Christmas Bird Count Tally
Hairy Woodpecker – 5
Downy Woodpecker – 14
Chickadee – 58
American Robin – 42
Mallard – 47
Blue Jay – 3
American Goldfinch – 28
Red-tailed Hawk – 2
American Crow – 10
Starling – 5
White breasted Nuthatch – 14
Brown creeper – 1
Northern Cardinal – 17
American Tree Sparrow – 23
Barred owl – 1
Dark-eyed junco – 3
Along Black Dog Road
Glaucous Gull – 1
Thayer’s Gull – 1
American White Pelican – 1
Hooded Mergansers – 11
Dec 19, 2008
It snowed a little bit early this morning so I was able to take a (poor) picture with my cell phone to demonstrate what effective use Metro Transit is making of their second south-bound lane on Marquette Ave.
Dec 17, 2008
- Helping to develop next year's operating budget;
- Guiding the Compensation Committee through the minefield of raises, promotions and bonuses for a lot of people;
- Developing annual scopes of work, cost estimates and contract renewals for key clients;
- Drafting and overseeing fee schedule notification letters;
- Trying to complete project deliverables by year-end;
- Completing performance reviews and conducting year-end discussions with employees;
- Leading our strategic planning meetings, and, last but not least;
- Trying to think about Christmas and get "in the spirit".
Dec 14, 2008
Dec 13, 2008
Dec 11, 2008
Sinead O'Connor was (and probably still is) scary powerful. This is was recorded live in Holland in 1995 and the reverberations can still be felt by sensitive seismic equipment in North America.
Amazing performance. Oh-ho-ho.
This article was dredged up by that greenway crime search. It dates back to 2000 and examines the experiences of Eugene, OR as they developed a bike trail along the Williamette River. I have heard of spats in the Midwest over Rails-to-Trails initiatives where local residents are certain that the trail will provide a superhighway for murders and kidnappers before, and it looks like Eugene went through the same public discourse. What's interesting about this article is that it is very thoughtful and examines how crime statistics work (factoring population to get to incidents per "resident" and the problems that bike trails present with that approach). It also touches on what makes for a safer trail, so that seems relevant these days.
You need to brace yourself - the article is 7 pages long, but it's a good read if you are interested in this topic.
Dec 10, 2008
*CRIME ALERT: Recent robbery/assaults on the Midtown Greenway.*
*Dec. 09, 2008*
*'Midtown Greenway - Hiawatha LRT Trail'*
Recently we've had series of robbery/assaults on the Midtown Greenway. They've occurred in both the 3rd and 5th Precincts at different locations along the trail. Typically the victim is surrounded and pushed off their bicycle. The attackers are taking wallets, backpacks and purses. Many of the assaults have occurred after dark. Some have occurred during daylight hours. So far the attackers are not stealing the victim's bicycles.
The suspects have been described by their victims as groups of 2 or 3 younger males. At this time we do not have more specific descriptions of the suspects. It appears that more than one group of suspects may be committing these crimes.
The Minneapolis Police Department is investigating these crimes. Police are doing extra patrol on the Greenway. The Police Dept. met with the Midtown Greenway Coalition to discuss some prevention strategies.
*What You Can Do?*
- If you can, avoid riding or walking the Greenway after dark.
- Whenever possible ride/walk with others, not alone. You are much safer with a group than you are alone.
- There are "Bluelight" phones at intervals on the Greenway that will connect you directly to 911. Carry a cell phone as well. If you aren't close to a phone, you can call 911 if you need help
-Pay attention to your surroundings. If you see people ahead of you, that make you nervous or uncomfortable, exit the Greenway at the nearest ramp.
-If you should be assaulted, try to stay calm. Give the attackers what they want. The more you resist, the more likely it is that you will be injured.
- Be sure to wear a bike helmet while riding. If will reduce you chances of injury considerably.
- When you call 911 give the operator your location. Due to recent changes in our police reporting system, the Greenway is now listed as a street (i.e. Midtown Greenway W. (Nicollet Ave. westward) and Midtown Greenway E. (East of Nicollet to the river). When you riding or walking during daylight hours take some time to familiarize yourself with the addresses of the cross streets over the trail. It will help ensure a quicker police response.
If you have questions please contact Crime Prevention Specialist Don Greeley at the 3rd Precinct - 673-3482 or
Carla Nielson, Crime Prevention Specialist Minneapolis Police Department, Franklin Safety Center (612) 871-8090
*"To Protect With Courage"**" *To Serve With Compassion*"*
Dec 9, 2008
Dec 8, 2008
Dec 3, 2008
"About half [of the bloggers] are under the age of 30. About half use a pseudonym. About half say creative self-expression or documenting personal experiences is a major reason for blogging. About half think their audience is folks they already know. Half say changing people's minds is not a major reason behind their blog, and about half had never published before starting their blog."
Of course, since Pew slices the world into halves, EVERYONE fits into the profile (great way to be correct, when you think about it).
Nov 29, 2008
For those that don't know about Mr. Michael, it's worth your time to follow the link. Mike and his wife Benita operate a not-for-profit company (in their spare time, I might add) that salvages cast-off bicycles, fixes them up, and basically gives them away to anyone that wants one. They tell their story better than I could, so here it is. Here's another article from TwinCities.Com that gives a feel for how they do things.
They operate a used bike and parts shop on Prior Ave. in St. Paul (on the same block as the first office of Natural Resource Group, interestingly) that is open only a few hours per week because they both work full time. Proceeds from the shop go to cover the cost of the bike donation business. They are supplemented when possible by volunteers to help get the bikes back on the road. I forget the exact number, but I think Mike told me that they have place something like 480 bikes with people this year alone.
This was my first time helping out with a Bike Blitz, so I had no idea what to expect. It was pretty much what I expected - Saturday morning bluegrass on the radio, plenty of coffee and a cluttered but comfortable shop. They have a couple of repair stands, a truing stand and plenty of tools and parts at hand, and the company was great. We seemed to have plenty of volunteers, including a few Bike Lovers and one very qualified bike mechanic. We were also offered plenty of food - tasty vegetarian soup, nachos, veggies, and homemade apple pie, which was delicious.
The Bike Blitz effort goes to fulfill wish lists for people that are hoping for a bike but maybe can't afford one. I ended up working on a bunch of 20-inch BMX bikes for the most part, as well as a snazzy pink princess bike or two. We were able, in the time I was there, to get through their entire holiday order, which felt good. As I was packing up a few other volunteers came to help out, so I am sure they will be able to work ahead. It helped that all of the volunteers were pretty knowledgeable about things, so it was an efficient operation.
All in all, this was a great thing to do with a Saturday, and I plan to head back for another Bike Blitz in the future. They need to have a few more of these because I got a peek in one of the storage buildings and it's pretty much full to the roof with bikes waiting to be repaired.
I had heard about Palin's Turkey Massacre interview on the news and seen a reference to it on Andrew Halcro's blog, but until I came across the You Tube feed on Mello Velo, I had not seen this. This should be incorporated into every media training program out there as an example of what not to do...
If you are distracted by the guy feeding the turkeys into the woodchipper, here is a little bit of what she actually said in her interview:"Plans just include gettin' through the budget process that were going through right now. Building the state's budget based on the price of oil that has plummeted so greatly and reigning in the growth of government and plans like that, that have to do with governing this state and building this team that is continually being built to provide good services to Alaskans, so in my role as governor that's what my plans are all around."
I guess I don't have any questions after hearing that explanation.
Nov 27, 2008
We kicked the day off with a Walk to End Hunger (not a Walk For Hunger, like a lot of people were saying) at the Mall of America early this morning. We were "walk-ons" and did not get sponsors before hand, but we made a contribution at the sign-in table, got a free bottled water and a cheap tee-shirt, and did a few laps around the MOA. Live music was provided as well.
The most interesting site at the MOA was Bernhard Eisel's Giant, which was hanging in the window of the Columbia store.
Followed that up with the first Spinervals workout of the off-season to make room for the turkey. The Spinervals series is good but like any time on a trainer, it can get dull. I was very pleased that I was able to stay on the bike for the full 80 minutes. I think it builds mental toughness as well as aerobic base.
Nov 22, 2008
The Bike Lover's held a swap meet on Sunday at Solomon's Porch, a Christian church on 46th Street just west of I-35W in South MPLS. I packed up a Rubbermaid tote full of cast-off parts and headed over there about 12:00 to try and get rid of the old junk and score some new junk. As the picture above indicates, basically, as someone arrived, they were swarmed and the good stuff carted off in short order, leaving the misfit parts for the late-comers.
It's been another tough week for economic news and I am starting to see the effects close to home. I am sensing some increased uncertainty in capital projects, seeing a lot of houses on the market and store fronts for rent, and neither of us are feeling like a big Christmas is in order this year.
President-elect Obama is now proposing his own economic stimulus package. The NY Times ran an article on it here and a video of his short speech is available on You Tube (click window above to view).
I like the sounds of this program better than the previous bail-outs. Obama is talking about a two year program to repair infrastructure, modernizing schools and move us toward renewable energy. This seems a lot more pragmatic than pouring money into banks or cutting loans to out-of-touch auto manufacturers. Sort of a modern New Deal.
I will be curious to see if he is able to pull this off and how effective this is.
Nov 16, 2008
We are having our next blitz on Saturday, November 29 between 10 AM and 6 PM and again on Sunday the 30th from noon to 4 PM. The focus of this blitz will be to prepare bicycles for Holiday Wishes recipients. If we complete all of those, then we will work on some kid-size bicycles to make available to people who don’t qualify for one of the charity programs but still are looking for gifts for their kids. We will offer our usual array of food and drink for the volunteers, so please consider coming to the shop and fixing some bicycles. If you are not a bicycle mechanic but want to help, come anyway because we have some work available that does not involve fixing bicycles.
We have lots of great used parts to sell. In fact, we have just as much, if not more, than the basement over at One on One, so if you didn’t find what you were looking for in Geno’s stash, come over and check out ours. All funds received from the sales of our parts, accessories, and the bike art goes to offset expenses of the shop. Check us out, we are affordable and the money helps the needy get bicycles.
I am not very familiar with Mr. Michael but I am planning to donate some time to help them out. He and his wife run the shop, selling use parts and bikes to cover their primary mission, which is giving away bicycles to needy people. They get the bikes at recycle events and accept donations as well. Contact information is available on their website (link above). I bet this will be pretty fun, and I am curious to learn more about Mr. Michael and his bicycle ministry, and to lend a hand as well.
I am coming to understand that the trick to this is to develop a career that pays the bills and does not suck the life out of you so you have the time and energy to devote to whatever the hell you think matters most. Sometimes easier said than done, but always worth striving for. The real hard work, and the most important part of this, I think, is figuring out what matters to you personally and then managing your life to pursue this. Don't get me wrong on this point - I get tremendous satisfaction from my job and take great pride in some of the projects that I have helped bring to reality, but without the other part of the equation, it's pretty easy to get out of balance quickly.
Nov 15, 2008
November is a tough month in MN. The leaves are down and the weather is typically partly to mostly lousy, but today was pretty good. Sunny and cool, but good clouds and a good sunset. The Beaver Moon is now in decline, but I got some good views of the waning Beaver on the drive back tonight. The Trip Planner email from Northwest/Delta promises me temps of 6 degrees in Anchorage, so I will probably end up appreciating November in MN by this time next week.
Despite the generally flat topography, the relentless wind and the agricultural land use of this part of the state, I have come to like southern Minnesota. The towns are all interesting, if a little run down, and there are good place names, like Good Thunder, Olivia, and Rapidan. There's also some quirk (Keister and Amboy, for instance). I have seen some of the best thunder storms and sunsets of my life at my in-laws as well. The landscapes, with open fields, wind breaks and old farm buildings, can be quite beautiful. Some day I am going to try a black and white photography project down there.
Nov 13, 2008
It's been a week of tough news on many fronts, from personal to national.
- The bridge was doomed from the start because some of the gusset plates that were used when it was built were undersized and not up to the job of holding up the bridge.
- Corrosion, lack of maintenance and the general decline of our society were not the primary cause of the collapse - it was "design error" (nevermind about inspection and repair error, please).
- Additional lanes and barriers were added to the bridge after its construction and nobody apparently checked whether or not it could hold the increased load, I guess.
- An engineering company that inspected the bridge before the most recent repairs noted strain in the bridge but that seems to be about it.
- The resurfacing crews that were working the day the bridge collapsed had put about 280 tons of equipment on the bridge very near the weak gusset plates at about 3:00 (2.5 hours or so before it collapsed).
Nov 11, 2008
Nov 10, 2008
Nov 9, 2008
We also spied a pair of hooded mergansers on the little pond the model boat racers use during the summer.
Nov 5, 2008
I discovered a website tonight that has bicycle themed clip art available. Here is a sample for your viewing pleasure.
Nov 2, 2008
Nov 1, 2008
I spent a little time this afternoon "laying in" wood for winter. That's an expression I used to hear out east but people don't seem to use much in Minnesota. Like any self respecting urban dweller, I got a load of organic, free-range wood that was humanely harvested in a sustainable manner by sensitive, thoughtful people who care about the earth. This year I bought 1/3 of a cord. Last year I made the mistake of getting 1/2 cord and we had to stash it all over the place, but it did last all winter. This will probably not quite make it through the winter, but that's okay.
Oct 31, 2008
Two things that I find truly horrifying combined into one Halloween terror - stories of stolen bikes and videos of somebody's cute kid talking.
We will have employee's kids trick-or-treating in the office today (never mind that I have a client meeting at 10:00) and we have been invited to a bonfire "kegger" in my neighbors front yard tonight (yee-hah!) so that will mix it up a bit for us.
Nice to back from ANC and in the Twin Towns again.
Oct 28, 2008
ADN covered the first day of the hearings here. It is quite a story, and because it happened while I was in Anchorage, it was a Big News event, but tonight it got even more intense for me.
According to the guy at the next table, the testimony from the hearing was pretty straightforward but sobering; the weather was horrible - 80 knot winds and high waves. It sounds like Katmai developed a starboard list and could not correct it. Normally, taking on a little water is not a problem, but for whatever reason, they could not keep up with it. Katmai developed an increasing starboard list, and at one point they turned to port, hit a wave trough and augered-in, rolling the boat. Apparently the source of the leak could not be determined - the boat should have been battened down because it was full and heading to Dutch Harbor to unload, so hatches should have been closed and it should have been tight.
The hearings into this accident will likely go on for a few more days, and I suspect at some point some additional recommendations will be made on operating fishing boats off the coast of Alaska, but tonight it became more than a story on the second page of the newspaper for me.
Oct 27, 2008
Oct 25, 2008
Oct 24, 2008
Anchorage is much better off with Speedway in town. There was no LBS selling high end bikes off the floor in Anchorage prior to this. Yes, The Bicycle Shop had some high end Specialized and Trek's, and That Other Shop carried Giants, but Speedway has a few Moots, Parlee's and lots of Kona's on the floor and ready to go.
There is also some old (like 1980's) racing gear on display in the shop as well - I suspect the owner might have ridden the Coor's Classic and other U.S. circuits in the early '80's but I did not get a chance to talk to him.
Oct 22, 2008
Cheney Wolfhound Palin
If that were the case, I would probably also not be posting this because I would have hung myself from a highway overpass (in broad daylight) long, long ago.
Be that as it may, thanks, Brother Yam, for posting the link - it cracked me up. Try it yourself and see what could have been...
Here's a photo from the last frontier to satisfy those of you that were searching for "Palin" and sadly blundered into this post.
Oct 21, 2008
The conventional wisdom among my married friends is that the wife needs to essentially train the husband in order for things to work out in the long run.
Happily for me, some of my training has rubbed off on the wife, however.
Today, I was unexpectedly treated to photos of a Waterford she saw while in Maine last week. It's a fine, fine woman that keeps an eye peeled for a sweet bike, and then takes the time snap a picture, and email them over to me.
This is almost the color of purple I wanted to get my Waterford 1200 painted last winter; I was going for that rich purple 3Rensho used to paint some of their road bikes, but I locked in on a sweet metallic orange instead. No regrets, but it's nice to see what that purple looks like again.
Enjoy the bike porn!