Archive for March, 2008

The Two Overheards

I totally said this, like, two years ago. I do, for the record, agree with the more current assessment.

(via mediation)

Earth Hour Observance: What’s the point?

The City of Minneapolis will observe Earth Hour by shutting off all non-essential lights from 7-8pm on Saturday, March 29.

I’m sure some of those big office buildings will see a (teeny, tiny) bit of a dip in their Xcel bill. It is significant in that 7-8pm on a Saturday is a pretty busy time for downtown what with all the bar-goers, dinner-goers, theater-goers, etc. So it’ll certainly be noticed.

But what do we really get out of this? The idea is that everyone else in the city will follow suit. So we all bust out the batteries, sit in the quiet, and sketch out our personal conservation plans by candlelight? Do we get to hear back how much energy was saved by the city in the effort?

The Earth Hour movement encourages you to sign up, thus triggering the flow of information-packed email to your inbox. (Strangely, they link to a Facebook application for an environmental footprint calculator. Try the original source.) If the city is making a show of its participation, how about spending the money they save on energy on citizen education? Or funnel it to non-profits that provide such education.

I’m not opposed to energy conservation, but I think Earth Hour ends up being more of an inconvience than a learning opportunity or an awareness raiser. Wouldn’t kill anyone to put down the internet and read a book for an hour, though.

(via Maria Energia)

Umbria Gourmet Pizzeria has the best pizza I’ve had in a while.

An Umbria Gourmet Pizzeria just opened last week, two blocks from my house. There’s already a Domino’s about a half mile away. I figured, “What’s another chain in the ‘burbs?” but since it is walking distance away, we gave it a try.

Woo, boy, was it good.

Umbria has Gourmet Pizzeria locations in Eagan, Eden Prairie, and Blaine, and a Cucina Italiana in Plymouth. I can’t speak for the quality of the Cucina (nor can I recommend a trip to Blaine), but I really liked the Thai Shrimp pizza. The toppings were good but the crust is what I really loved. Not too thick, not too thin. Crispy around the edges and still soft in the middle.

Seriously, really good pizza. It’s not Domino’s cheap — $20 for a 10″ pizza and a caesar salad — but it was worth the price. That’s about what you’d pay at Pizza Luce. So when I can’t get into the city for my Luce fix (Luce is easily my favorite pizza place in town), I’ll walk down the block to Umbria.

P.S. You can order online for delivery or takeout. I haven’t actually tried that yet, but it can’t be worse than every time I’ve tried to order Domino’s online (I ended up calling every time).

P.P.S. I was browsing their website and found this…

Inspired by John Hassler

Sarah from Urban Wanderlust has a touching tribute to late author John Hassler.

I don’t know that I would call Hassler my favorite author — mostly, because I don’t know that I’d pin down ONE author as a favorite. But here’s what I do know: Hassler’s genuine, masterful storytelling (all set in small-town Minnesota) helped me make peace with a high-school experience far away from Minneapolis, which always sort-of felt like where my heart belonged. As an aspiring writer, Hassler helped me understand how to write from my own life experience — and how that experience, regardless of how mundane it seemed, was beautiful in that it was mine, and it touched the lives of others, and that somehow, putting down my life experiences in words made me feel more connected to the greater world around me.

Found Photo

From the Metblogs flickr pool.

Lake Calhoun Ice
Originally uploaded by smcgee .

Taken at Lake Calhoun a few weeks ago. This block was cut out of the ice for the polar bear plunge. I love the gypsy toddler on top for perspective.

Mayo Clinic Blogs and Podcasts

The Mayo Clinic has blogs dedicated to Alzheimer’s, nutrition, pregnancy and stress. The first three seem like reasonable and obvious choices, but I never would have guessed that of all the topics they could blog on that stress would be one of them.

Unfortunately you can’t subscribe on a per-blog basis, but they do have further information available via RSS, including a ton of articles, “Ask a Mayo Clinic Specialist,” and the podcasts.

(via Leah Jones)


Facebook party invite brings cop to house of underage drinkers

facebook_underagedrinking.JPGYou may remember when school administrators at Eden Prairie High School used Facebook photos to suspend more than 100 students from sports and other extracurricular activities as a result of candid partying photos as the sole evidence.

Then it happened in Woodbury.

Yes, it was idiotic and naive of students to put these photos on a social networking portal, but there’s a fine line between online privacy (only user friends should have been able to view photos) and the extent of a school’s reach after the bell rings.

But here’s a well-duh example of naïveté I can get behind:

Maybe promoting an underage drinking party online wasn’t such a good idea after all.

Cottage Grove police busted a house party early Sunday after receiving two anonymous tips that it had been announced on Facebook, a popular social networking site.

Police found 60 to 75 people at the party and cited 21 adults and 12 juveniles for underage drinking….

Authorities were alerted midweek that a Facebook group that calls itself the “Alleygators Dance Club-Teen Night” had sent an invitation about a Cottage Grove house party. The group has nearly 900 members, and most of its officers — or “promoters” — are identified as students from various high schools across the Twin Cities area.

And here’s where the your local police are using their investigative smarts to track down these vile underage drinking criminals.

The invitation was “just explaining that they were having this party, and it gave vague directions,” McCarthy said. Anyone interested in attending the party was supposed to text a point person or reply via Facebook.

Because police didn’t have a specific address, officers had to search for the party. About 2 a.m., they found it in the 1100 block of Lockridge Avenue South.

For the record, I’ll argue all day long that school administrators don’t have a right to follow kids’ lives 24/7 via Facebook, but when you do something illegal, I do believe the police have a right to uphold the law.

Bonus quote: “Party attendees initially wouldn’t let police inside the home. Some hid, while one person stood at the window and flipped his middle finger.”

Geniuses, I tell ya.

Happy Tuesday Link Dump!

I-35W Bridge Collapse Findings Released


Although the NTSB previously cited too-thin gusset plates and construction project weights as factors in the collapse, yesterday’s update included drawings and tables that pinpointed the locations of those heavy loads on the structure. According to news reports this afternoon:

The Interstate 35W bridge over the Mississippi in Minneapolis collapsed last August after construction workers had put 99 tons of sand on the roadway directly over two of the bridge’s weakest points, according to a National Transportation Safety Board report.


More than 191 tons of construction material had been piled over the weakest areas of an interstate bridge that collapsed last August, according to federal investigators.

In a followup to a preliminary report released in January, the National Transportation Safety Board report that the piles of rock and sand were placed over steel plates that were thinner than they should have been.

Calculations by the agency have determined that the bridge in Minneapolis was carrying a 630-ton load at the time it fell into the Mississippi River. About half of that load was sitting on the center span.


The NTSB has uploaded investigative reports, photos and information submitted by the parties involved in the collapse here. Go to that link and check out all the data and reports.

I’m really fascinated by the photos in this particular report (pdf) especially with all the plates labeled and aerial (satellite?) photos of the bridge just hours before the accident.

Btw, where did those photos come from? Am I being photographed right now?

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