Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

Talking Minnesota – 01/08/2009

Ever have one of those weeks… you know, one of those weeks.

This week was one of those weeks for me. My family remains haunted by a plague of a sinus cold , I found out I was most likely investigated by the FBI due to some indescretions by our renters involving the alleged stealing of identites (thankfully not involving us or our property), and yesterday some creepy guy at the gym did the “I’m watching you” fingers to the eyes with a point at me ala Stiller and De Nero as he paused before leaving.

Yup, one of those weeks.

What could top that off?

How about the Star Tribune surveying gov candidates on substance use and mental health? Now there’s a can of worms and someone released the local heavy weights to swing it out over at Minnpost with Is the Star Tribune crazy to ask governor candidates about their mental health? and Bob Collins has a poll on the topic that almost reads like it was written by me.

After all that, plus the prior night’s, twitter talk about it I could use a drink.

Luckily Secrets of the City is there with “what’s your drink”.

In lighter news yet IamDez brings us CAPTCHA: The Movie

Speaking of Twitter Julio Ojeda-Zapata has Looking for journos on Twitter? Here is how to find them

With the weather the way it’s been maybe you need more help looking for your bike, check BuriedBikes. Is that yours?

You know what? It can’t all be bad. Let’s extend a hearty congratulations to Chuckumentary on his new job. I hear he’s been animated. Not bad for a first week.

I close it out with Military Special – “Apology”
Recorded by Todd Pitman on January 2, 2010 at the Hexagon Bar in Minneapolis, Minnesota.


Naked Award Winner – Jamie Oliver wins TED Prize


Jamie Oliver, who revolutionized how many people cook with his groundbreaking “Naked Chef” television series and cookbooks has been named the recipient of the 2010 TED Prize.  With the prize Oliver wins $100,000 to grant a wish to “change the world.”

Changing the world is nothing new to Oliver, who as a very young chef took his training in Great Britain and Italy and showed that food can be stripped down to its very essence, “Naked” and enjoyed by all.  His father owned a pub in Essex where his love of cooking began to be fostered.  He went onto Westminster Catering College and then trained in France. And after time at prestigious restaurants it was while a documentary was being filmed at the River Café where Oliver’s irreverent style and what he calls “cheeky” nature found the cameras.  Soon after “The Naked Chef” was born and Oliver became one of the newest and certainly youngest of the celebrity chefs.

jamies-america-largeBut the British kid who plays drums in a rock band didn’t just cook food. He was passionate about it, where it came from, and especially how food was affecting the youth of Britain.   With his celebrity Oliver launched a campaign to improve the food in UK school lunch programs. He filmed a multi-part documentary and worked with the British government to change policies about what was being served to the UK children in his battle to fight obesity and ensure they were eating healthier foods.

Oliver didn’t stop with school lunches, he founded the Fifteen Foundation a program that exists to help disadvantaged youth, now across Europe, assisting them to build careers in the restaurant industry. The concept is based on an apprenticeship model with a working restaurant, foundation and training program all together.  The  Fifteen program has graduated 159 students at a cost of $49,500 each through the start of 2009.

He also took his love for good food to the British television airwaves in a documentary to dramatically demonstrate how chickens live and die to reach consumers’ plates in the UK. Olivers’ “Fowl Dinners” on Channel Four has directly lead to a dramatic increase in the demand for free range chickens at grocers like Tesco and Sainsbury.

Following the chicken across the road, Oliver also launched a fight to save British pork in his series “Jamie Saves our Bacon.” Which discusses UK pig breeding and the heritage of local pork.   His other special focuses on getting people back into the kitchen. Oliver’s “Ministry of Food” shows how simple healthy cooking is just as easy as nuking frozen school-dinners-featuredinners and is an important part of a good diet; how making your own food is most often less expensive than buying pre-made, pre-assembled and pre-packaged foods. Oliver has also fought for clear and accurate food labeling in supermarkets and grocery stores in Great Britain.

Jamie has launched his own wines and foods as well as dinnerware and other products like most celebrity chefs. Unfortunately for us Yanks, the food and wines do not seem to be available in the United States yet and shipping on most of the other products is obviously spendy, but it can be well worth it.

Of course, the cookbooks are still his bread and butter,excuse the pun. In fact the Fifteen Foundation is funded entirely by an endowment from sales of one of his cookbooks. Oliver continues to come out with unique approaches to food to surprise and entertain.  His latest, Jamie’s America, includes his take on American cuisine after filming recent specials and a BBC Series in the United States.  He is also about to launch his fight against childhood obesity and toward healthy foods for children in schools across the pond to the American market in Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution USA to be aired as a television special on ABC.  You can sign Jamie’s petition for better food in US school lunches here.

As the  recipient of the TED prize, Oliver is certainly one person who use that $100,000 prize and take “One wish to change the world”, he has already done so in so many ways.

Minnesotans attempt to crash the superbowl

Doritos is having a contest called Crash the Superbowl* and some locals hope to capture the prize, and I’m not talking about the Minnesota Vikings.

Here are the finalists and local video makers CBer have a video Snack Attack Samurai which is pretty funny and stands a good chance at winning.

WCCO reports

Super Bowl commercials usually cost millions to make and air. “Smack Down Samurai” cost less then $1,000 to make.

“I thought there’s no way, no way, no way I’d ever do a Super Bowl commercial. And now we have a 50 percent chance,” said Koehler. “It will be a lifelong dream come true.”

(*warning obnoxious intro download – “Skip intro” in lower right corner once loading is complete )

Talking Minnesotan – 01/31/2009

It’s the end of another year and Minnesotans,much like people everywhere, are making lists.

There are lists for music and lists for food
lists of fashion and lists that are rude
there’s a list for this and a list for that
be thankful, a list alone can’t make you fat

there’s a list for events and a list of regrets
and a list of things we’re not supposed to forget

Yeah there’s a list there, but no list here
I just wish you a Happy New Year.

A toast made to kindness

Yup, lots of lists. And the world keeps moving around the sun.
MPR wonders about “School levies passing in a weak economy? An odd reason” Think about it.
Starting tonight @FirstAvenue will debut their newly expanded sound system on New Years Eve. More bass for 2010 and I like the sound of that.

And soon…very very soon @spclassiccookie will be opening the greatest of new stories a cookie store. Act now, they are having a contest.
I asked Katie the question “How awesome is it to sell cookies?” and she answered it up

Pretty darn awesome!
I am passionate about scratch food, especially baked goods and cookies was the one thing I was always interested in mixing and baking since I was a young child. With cookies there is so much potential for creative expression, whether in the kind of cookie you are making, or in how you decorate it, there are never ending possibilities to create.
Basically we are ecstatic to be able to reopen and once again have the opportunity to make the most delicious cookies, muffins, cakes, and other baked goods.

Saint Paul Classic Cookie: 2386 Territorial Rd., St. Paul & the cross street is Raymond Ave.

C is for Cookie, and that’s good enough for me.

Another toast

Let’s close it all out with a video by our own Todd Pittman on December 26, 2009 at the Nomad World Pub in Minneapolis, Minnesota
City on the Make – Chicks on Bikes


Planes, trains, and automobiles: the terrorist in your panties.

Yesterday MPR asked “How far should authorities go to protect air travelers from terrorists?” and there are now new technologies that allows screeners to basically see you naked as Slate writesShow Some Balls
Want to get on an airplane? Let’s see your scrotum.

I think it’s a timely question, especially here in the Twin Cities where we have a major air hub and are building more and more public transportation.

What next? There are still orafices terrorists can stuff things into and there’s the old drug mule trick of swallowing stuff. How will they attempt to detect that? Will all travellers need a TSA approved Dr. screening before boarding? Will these new rules soon be applied to all mass transportation, LRT, Metro Bus, Greyhound, Amtrack, Subway, etc?

In not, why ? Aren’t they just as at risk?

So I ask you, my dear readers, just how far should the government go with this?



Build it and they will come?

Let’s say you’re a governement official and you need to raise some “revenue” for your county.

Where would “Hey let’s build more jails!” be on the list?

According to the Star Tribune article “Empty cells mean counties go begging

Some county boards built new jails as a way to make money; as crime dropped, that gamble didn’t pay off. ”

Minnesota counties have spent tens of millions of dollars building jail cells no one needs.

In the past five years, county boards have built modern jails that have added about 2,300 new beds to the state’s total, with more opening in the months to come. But they did so just as crime has plummeted, with 18,000 fewer arrests than five years ago.

The result is a fevered competition to help the jails pay for themselves by renting out empty beds for other counties’ inmates. One sheriff has even asked legislators to rewrite laws to allow him to make money from Wisconsin inmates.

No one claims to know exactly how bad the problem is. But it looks as if there are thousands of empty beds — the equivalent of all the combined space in the state’s 40 smallest jails.

Much of the building boom was sensible, preparing for future needs and replacing antiquated facilities. But some of it amounted to an entrepreneurial gamble that is starting to look ill-timed.

I realize that counties are paid a fee for housing inmates from other counties, but really, jails as a revenue builder? This is not only nonesense at it’s finest, but a sure measure of the police state mentality that has been gripping our country. Maybe it generates “revenue” for a county, but putting people in jail has great expense for our state, both financially and socially.

If you’d like to see how much of a cost justice is to Minnesota here is a nifty website that includes data up to 1998
County expenditures: sheriffs` office, corrections and public safety capital outlay
Here’s a sampling.

Expenditure type 1998
Sheriff’s office $228,807,070
Corrections $255,228,573
Public safety capital outlay $64,423,361
Total county expenditures $3,696,581,075

You are reading that correctly, over 3 billion dollars in 1998 for Total county expenditures.
A quick search of the cost of a single jail bed and all that goes along with is found that in 1999 it was a little over $14,000 per bed versus a national average of $10,000. I could not find more recent data. Note, in 1991 the total justice cost was approaching about 1 billion. In just over ten years these costs have tripled. Read the Office of Legislator Auditor report from 1991 Sentencing and Correctional Policy

Naturally the data has caveats, which lead one to believe the actual costs are far greater.

•All data pertains to Minnesota county expenditures for criminal justice activities, including those related to sheriff’s offices, corrections and public safety capital outlays.
•The data pertains only to county-level agencies and does not include expenditures by city entities within a county.
•Court and county attorney costs also are not represented in the data set. Expenditures associated with these functions are included under the “general government departments” heading and are not distinguishable from other noncriminal justice costs grouped in this category.
•The dollar amounts listed for each county reflect actual expenditures for the given year and have not been adjusted for inflation.
•Due to an accounting change in 1988, total county expenditures data for 1985 to 1987 does not include debt service payments. For this reason, comparisons among these years will result in distortions and should not be made.
•Caution should be exercised when comparing corrections expenditures. Some counties are missing data for this category because either they did not report or they characterized these expenditures differently in their budget.

I for one can’t wait for the Minnesota Tourism Board to release it’s next ad campaign “Explore Minnesota, get arrested, and fill our empty jail cells!”

What do you think?


Going up the escalator at the Guthrie in Minneapolis

( Image uploaded on December 16, 2009
by manyhighways

I don’t know what it is about pictures of stairs that fascinate, but there seems to always be more than meets the eye. For me the figure at the top of this escalator almost gives a Hitchcockian vibe to this pic, my compliments to the chef.

What is it with stairs?


Fiona’s Five – 5 Quick Gift Suggestions

As a former Retail Slave for over 20 years people often ask me for advice for what to give for the holidays. That is a Transfer3 Turner Cooper teesvery tricky question because I am the kind of person who tries to give personalized gifts. I ask several pointed questions about each person then narrow down personalities or hobbies and try to come up with something at would be appropriate for each individual. I have been making gifts for friends and families for several years, including the t-shirts for my nephews and friends that seem to be very popular. Last year’s tees seemed to be a pretty big hit (pictured right).

But inevitably, there are some items each year that I think can be broadly applied as universal gifts for a large number of people so here are my five suggestions in no particular order:

Iphone chargerI.Sound 2 in 1 Back up Battery & Charger for IPhone & IPod They may be the coolest thing amongst a big circle of people but they also suck power like a starving anteater. If you are like me and have a large circle of friends who are addicted to their IPhones you also know how jittery they get when their phones begin to die from too much Tweeting and they have no power source or way to recharge. Friends have even cut evenings short because their IPhones are dying so this charger that retails for $49.99 on the I.Sound website but can be found on other sites for less, is the perfect gift.

Tumi wallet

Tumi Money Clip Card Case When I worked at Dayton’s/Marshall Field’s/Macy’s this was the singular item that we could not keep in stock and the best seller in Men’s Accessories. It holds two cards per slot and upwards of 20 bills in the money clip yet maintains a slim profile in a front pocket. Perfect for the frequent traveler, or any age group, men and women. There is a nylon/leather version available as well as an all-leather version and the Tumi quality is unparalleled. Just remember it is unlucky to give an empty wallet as it means you are wishing poverty on the receiver, so you must put at least a penny inside before it is given away. Available at many department stores, or go see Patrick at the Galleria Tumi Store.

CSACSA Membership – For those who don’t know CSA is Community Supported Agriculture, and when you purchase a membership you receive a share of a Farm’s harvest. There are dozens of Minnesota Farms for which you can purchase shares. Braucher Sunshine Harvest Farms Eggs and Grass-Fed Beef, Chicken & Lamb is a longtime favorite of mine, but many more CSA’s can be found on the Land Stewardship website. Some may not have updated for the new season yet but if you send an email I am certain most farms will be happy to accommodate an early request for 2010 as a holiday present.

I Heart MPLS T-Shirt – Locally made t-shirts in a variety of colors & sizes for Men & Women. What better way to express your Minneapolitan Pride? Full disclosure: these are available at a client’s store but he was a longtime friend and former coworker for 20 years at Dayton’s before he became a client, so I feel comfortable adding this great product to the list. The tees are available at Elsworth Menswear store in the Downtown Minneapolis skyway and should be online soon as well. They are much better than anything you’ll find on Cafepress. The T-shirts are only $20.00 each so are the perfect present for the Minne-apple in your life.

Cutting Boards

Wood From The Hood Cutting Boards – If you’re like me and feel like you’ve been kicked in the stomach every time you see the red band of death go up on one of the beautiful ancient elms in your neighborhood you’ll be happy to know that even though the diseased trees must be felled there is a fantastic company that is using the wood. You can select them by zip codes of neighborhoods from where the trees originally grew. The boards which cost $20-$33 are available at numerous local stores including Mother Earth Gardens, Natural Built Home, Seward Coop and CorAzon. A great gift for the foodie or anyone who has a kitchen!

Just five Quick suggestions; affordable universal presents that are sure to please and ones that should be easy to pick up at the last minute.

Baby in a Wheelie

Baby PodWheelies are what the Brits call wheeled suitcases and an Iranian designer seems to think that a baby would fit just perfectly inside one of them.

In a recent competition from Samsonite asking designers to develop products for consumers to travel with their babies. Pouyan Mokhtarani submitted his Baby Pod wheelie.

At the website Yanko Design they call it a “Smart Baby Case.”  saying “It’s kind of like a Matrix robot nanny pod sort of thing.”

The Baby Wheelie has its own air supply, with an LED light (the Samsonite logo) that indicates the quality of the air inside the pod.  It also has an auto rocking unit, and an auto diaper, with a moisture sensor and some kind of flushing mechanism (say it with me, Ewww).  There are gel-filled pads to protect the baby’s head, you know, for when you’re trying to put it up in the overhead compartment.  You can plug your baby pod into the wall, to recharge it too. Just picture that for a minute, plugging in your baby. 

A comment from the designer “It is just a device which can provide a safe and healthy condition during 2 or 3 hours Baby pod 2while you can`t change your baby or staying in some poor facilities or places during a trip or airport.”

I wonder if Samsonite is going to have the band  march over this one for a commercial too! Yes, Its Samsonite!


I think I’ll to stick with the winner of this year’s competition, the Italians from Castiglione Morelli Design Studio who came up with the Strolly, a suitcase that converts into a stroller.


Talking Minnesotan – 12/11/2009

MPR has a picture of a man in a snowsuit and somepeople think it’s a sasquatch sighting. And here I thought dope wasn’t legal yet.

Tis the Season and How Was The Show has The Guthrie’s 2009 A CHRISTMAS CAROL by the numbers

Minnesota’s prodigal video son Chuck Olsen is in Copenhagen for the UN Climate Change Conference and he’s live tweeting the entire event. You can also follow #COP15

The uptake has video and here’s some protestors being arrested

My favorite Chuck tweet so far?

I openly questioned the value of covering any more #COP15 demonstrations. @kk notes: Coverage is valued by people outside my jaded bubble.

Here’s Chuck’s Flickr feed, check it.

Is there still a media war going on?
Minnpost interviews “a lovable little fuzz ball” and things explode. Citypages responds with flair and hyperbole The worst of MinnPost’s Michele Bachmann puff piece and once again BrauerPower is the voice of reason

You know? What’s so civil about war anyway?

So I’m going to close out with the gents from In The Loop jamming with Kermit the Frog.

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