Archive for November, 2007

Because it doesn’t happen too often

I just want to point out how many people are NOT complaining about the weather today. I haven’t been outside yet today, but I do know yesterday was a beautiful day to live in Minnesota.

I personally drove out of Des Moines — where there were inches of standing snow and a 5 minute scraping fest Sunday morning — and enjoyed coming into the Twin Cities with my windows cracked to let in the balmy air.

The gas station attendant at Oasis Market on 212 in Eden Prairie told me he tried to run around Lake Calhoun Sunday afternoon but couldn’t get through the huge masses of people.

Maybe I’m a bigger fan of global warming than I realize.

(photo stolen from Flickr)

Rebuilding Peavey Plaza

Originally uploaded by gamergirl27.

Downtown Journal has a story on modernist architecture in Minneapolis. Stuff built in the ’60s and ’70s is not old enough for historical designation, but old enough to be falling apart with the added bonus of being difficult to renovate.

One such decrepit creation is Peavey Plaza. The fountains don’t run as often as they used to and apparently there used to be some green space which is no longer there.

It’s definitely not hurting for activity in the summer. It’s a great spot for concerts like the Alive After 5 series and Sommerfest.

When it’s empty it’s calm and peaceful. especially when the fountains are running and the bums are sleeping (just sayin’).

Peavey Plaza is one of the best parts of downtown. It really is an oasis.

Silent Green carries people!

I rode one of Metro Transit’s big green hybrid buses today for the first time. Waiting at the stop, you can see them rolling up like a humongous caterpillar, and they’re about as loud as one, too. Which is to say, they’re amazingly quiet. You almost don’t notice them pulling up to the stop if you’re not paying attention. On the bus itself, it’s also incredibly quiet. No engine roars to speak of. On top of the air pollution decrease, the noise decrease is a pretty major accomplishment for our city streets, I think.

According to MT’s website, the first hybrid bus was put into operation in 2002. They must’ve increased the number quite a bit now, because I see them all over the place.

And tomorrow, I get to ride it for free!

Best Brands Exploiting Fear

Great story in the TC Daily Planet on Best Brands’ firing of workers at their Eagan plant by making threats regarding immigration status.

Basically, HR called a bunch of people into their office, one by one, and told them they had received no-match letters and had one week to bring in the proper documentation. Some did and had them rejected as fraudulent.

It’s believed that Best Brands went through this exercise in anticipation of a proposed directive from Homeland Security to add language to the no-match letters threatening companies with fines for knowingly employing undocumented workers. Note that it says “threaten” and that these letters from DHS were legally blocked.

According to one of the employees that was fired, the company was aware that many of its workers were not U.S. citizens and conveniently overlooked that fact for years. These workers are being allowed to re-apply for their jobs through a temp agency, which makes it cheaper for Best Brands to employ these same people and also shifts the burden of proof immigration status to the temp agency.

The fired workers are organizing and threatening to disclose health code violations if Best Brands does not cooperate.

Seems to me if a worker can’t provide the proper documentation, then it’s not unreasonable to fire them. The circumstances do leave a terrible taste in the mouth, though.

“Camping Out”

Seen in the TC flickr pool.

“It was 6:56 pm Thanksgiving Day and people were already lined up on two sides of the building. The store doesn’t open until 5:00 am and the temperature is predicted to drop to twenty-three degrees f.”

folks camped out at Best Buy
Originally uploaded by MNkiteman.

Y’all are some crazy motherfuckers. I’m sure somebody out there is super proud of themselves. So give us your tales of Black Friday. I want to hear about the frostbite and the tugging matches. The wee hours and the awesome deals.

I went to the Eden Prairie Target at 8:30 pm and it was pretty quiet. That’s all I’ve got.

Strange once-a-year sight on Nicollet Mall

Thanksgiving evening, my friend and I were driving through downtown Minneapolis, when we witnessed one of the strangest things I’ve ever seen:

A parade of cars driving along Nicollet Mall. None of them labelled as official vehicles or anything, just cars, slowly driving along Nicollet Mall.

After I got home, I looked it up and according to the city’s website, Thanksgiving night is the one night a year that you can legally drive your car along the Mall. The website says it’s so you can view the holiday decorations, but I have to say that this year, there’s not really that much to look at, at least not yet. In fact, it was pretty dark along the mall.

Minnesota is the nation’s leading producer of turkey.

closeup of a turkey in minnesota
Originally uploaded by carlcmc.

Minnesota Monitor tells you what all the turkey labels mean. Free-range, cage-free, organic, fresh, etc.

My boss’s wife drove all the way to Rochester for a fresh turkey. Which was frozen when she picked it up. They said it was “fresh frozen.”

In the end, the best way to know how your bird was raised is to know the person who raised it. To get to know a turkey farmer, search the Minnesota Department of Agriculture directory of Minnesota organic farmers or the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association.

I’m all for healthier meat, but the taste is gonna be in how you cook it (or how much gravy you slather on it) anyway. So if I were in charge of obtaining and cooking the turkey, I’d love to hit my local turkey grower, but it’s not worth a drive to Rochester for me.

Anticipated holiday spending in the Twin Cities decreases.

According to a University of St Thomas Institute for Retailing Excellence (enh?) study Twin Citizens expect to spend “slightly less” (on average, per household) on holiday shopping this year vs last year. Where by “slightly less” then mean “1%” or “$7.”

  1. And so it begins. Never mind that we went directly from Halloween to Xmas decorations and paraphernilia.
  2. I’d like to see actual dollars spent instead of predicted dollars spent, so get back to me in January.
  3. $750 seems like a lot. But I guess not when you have a whole family to by for. Or when there are electronics involved.
  4. Actually, I’d like people to stop buying Xmas shit all together. Seriously. If you have a really great gift idea for someone, get it and give it when you think about it. Don’t save it for Xmas. Don’t get something at Xmas because that’s what you’re supposed to do.

That said, I am of course shopping for my girlfriend. I may send some gift cards home for my parents and sister. Only a handful of people will get actual Xmas cards by postal mail. I’ve drastically cut my list of people to shop for. That started when I was really poor for a few years, but I’m content to keep it that way. I like to give the way I’d like to receive. Give me something consumable, or it damn well better be something I really wanted, because I do not want any more stuff. NO STUFF! Because I don’t get anything out of giving out of obligation, and I don’t get anything out of gifts that suck. “Thought that counts,” my ass.

I don’t think of myself as being particularly Scrooge-y, but I can’t help the knee-jerk anti-commercial-Xmas feeling I get. What pleases me is Xmas lights, good food, a good snuggle, and a day off work. That’s all I need or want.

Bah humbug!

Urban Exploring Gone Awry

Posted in the Minneapolis Issues Forum:

This morning at around 4am, we were awakened by voices in front of the house. We looked out the window and there were 3 people, wearing all black with black stocking caps, standing around the manhole in the street in front of our house, the cover was off and one person was half in the manhole…

It turns out they were self styled “Urban Adventurers” looking for the tunnels and caves under Nicollet Island…

Unfortunately, it was a bad day for urban adventure. Not only did they get busted, but (i) the reason they were standing around was that one guy was big enough that he was stuck in the manhole and couldn’t get out – the cops had to free him and lift him out; and (ii) if they had been successful in getting down, they soon would have soon figured out that they picked the wrong manhole – they were not headed into the water supply tunnels, which go to the caves, but into the totally separate and rather pungent city sewer system, which I’m sure have a mystique all their own.

Did the Nicollet Island tunnels and caves make it into Melanie Gilbert’s Urban Explorers: Into the Darkness documentary?

Recycle Your Stuff (not at the MOA)

I figure since the Mall of America electronics recycling event closed down early due to an incredible volume of stuff, there are still plenty of Twin Citizens looking to do the right thing and recycle their garbage instead of just pitching it. Had I been turned away, I’d probably still be driving around with that stuff in my trunk until I figure out what to do with it.

One option is to go to The Recycling Center, punch in your zip code, and let it draw up a list and a Google Map with the recycling facilities near you.

Another good option is to go to your county’s drop off/recycling center. [Hennepin] [Ramsey]

I think it would have made a lot of sense for the MOA to direct people whose items they could not accept to the Hennepin County drop off center in Bloomington. Maybe they would have been quickly overwhelmed as well, but it’s a few less people giving up all together in frustration.

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