Posts Tagged ‘St Paul’

Zoo Blogging (pt. 2)

zoologo.jpgWhile the Minnesota Zoo is always a favorite, there’s a special place in my heart for the Como Zoo.

According to Wikipedia (which someone has yet to update to reflect the new Tropical Encounters Exhibit):

The first zoo in Saint Paul was on Harriet Island when in 1897, the city of St. Paul received a gift of three deer. Additional animals followed, when more room was needed to house the animals they were moved to facilities at Como Park.

Set within the lush 384 Como Park in North Saint Paul, Como Zoo has all the animals you would expect at a zoo (including many the Minnesota Zoo doesn’t) — namely lions, tigers, (polar) bears, seals and penguins.

Sparky the Sea Lion presents "Sparky's Coastal Journey"
Since I was too little to sit up in a stroller, I’ve been coming to Como to see Sparky the Sea Lion. Sparky turned 52 years-old this year, and he’s looking as spry as ever.

Sparky the Sea Lion presents "Sparky's Coastal Journey"

His new show is called “Sparky’s Coastal Journey” and features all sorts of propaganda about recycling, polar bears and global warming. Apart from the messaging, Sparky turns on the stereo, jumps through hoops, barks and waves on command — all to the delighted satisfaction of the children under 10 in the crowd (including myself).


This summer Como also has a temporary walk-through butterfly exhibit in the shape of a giant caterpillar. At any time there are 300 butterflies fluttering throughout the 2,500 sq. ft. greenhouse.


It’s the best butterfly garden I’ve ever seen and is highly recommended for a trip in itself.

Parking is free, and the donation to attend the zoo is a suggested $2 adult/$1 children donation.

Why I think more people aren’t volunteering for the RNC: the volunteer application

08goplogo.jpgThe 2008 Republican National Convention aims to recruit 10,000 volunteers who will be needed to help with:

  • Welcoming delegates at airports and hotels
  • Assisting with transportation logistics
  • Working with security teams
  • Supporting convention operations at the Xcel Energy Center
  • Providing guest services and other hosting activities at CivicFest in the Minneapolis Convention Center

According to the PiPress today, they are still 6,000 short of their goal of 10,000.

After filling out the volunteer application, I think I know why.

When I saw MNSpeak’s link to this story a few minutes ago, I turned to my wife and said, “Umm…did you ever re-sign up to register for the RNC, honey?” You see, we actually signed up to volunteer on September 17, 2007, but apparently that application didn’t pass muster.

This is from the e-mail I got from the RNC on May 1:

The 2008 Minneapolis Saint Paul Host Committee recently launched a new volunteer application at and are requesting you fill out this application in addition to the one you previously completed.

In addition to the one you previously completed?!? DAMN IT!

“I forwarded you the link to submit the new application,” she tells me, “but you should know it took me like 20 minutes.”

Great. Super. I’m still rolling my eyes. I understand background checks and security clearance are important, but seriously — 20 minutes? No wonder they’re shy volunteers. Anyone in Generation X or Y probably won’t make it past the 3-4 minute mark.

But I pushed forward, knowing there was a red clipboard out there somewhere with a big “My Name is Greg” nametag temporarily stuck on it just for me.

Here are my observations in filling out the application:

  • The password has to be 8 characters, have a capital letter, at least one numeral AND a special character. It’s really overkill. I have maybe 3-4 passwords I use as general rule, and none of them include a special character. Are you like me and just add an exclamation mark to an old standby password in this situation? It’s like my password is shouting. Password1234! But really, that exclamation point is guaranteeing I won’t remember it if I ever need it again, will have to reset the password by remembering what I put for my secret profile password I’ll need in case I forget the first password, which always forces me to chose which of my cats is the favorite (so I use a made-up pet name [that yes, I sometimes forget]).
  • 3. I am conversational in the following languages (this one doesn’t include English)
  • 4. I am fluent in the following languages” (this one doesn’t doesn’t include English, either. Seems pretty self-limiting considering our large immigrant population).
  • 5. Computer skills:
    1. None
    2. Can use standard programs and the Internet
    3. Advanced User: Proficient in Microsoft Excel
    (I’m glad to see an “Advanced User” means you can work a spreadsheet or maybe even tackle one of those fancy =AVERAGE(IF((A1:A60>=Low) *(A1:A60<=High),A1:A60) kind of formulas)
  • 8. Experience with the elderly:
    1. None
    2. Some: Have assisted elderly friends or family members
    3. Expert: Professional counselor or therapist for the aged
    (I wish there was a blank for, “Hate being stuck behind them on 394 in the left lane with left blinker on” or maybe “Please don’t stick me working with an old person who makes insensitive racial jokes, likes to smack me on the back and/or complain about gas prices.” And who has ZERO experience with the elderly, really? We’ve all seen them on TV, at least.)
  • 14. Driver license number
    (If they have your social security number, wouldn’t they have access to your driver’s license? I had to get off the couch and dig for my wallet in the other room. Then I decided to get a drink and next thing you know I’m surfing YouTube “jump style” videos.

Yes! It says it saved my progress so far, and now I’m into the “Referral section.” Time to get up, stretch, find my laptop’s power cord and maybe pick a new iTunes mix.

  • 1. Which group referred you to the Minneapolis Saint Paul 2008 Convention? (I wrote “the internet” — which is probably my favorite group ever).

At this point I got to rate how much I would like to help with certain tasks:

  • 4. Airport welcome desk:
    1. Ideal
    2. Would not mind
    3. Acceptable
    4. Would not prefer
    5. Undesirable

At this point I stopped to ask my wife what she put down for all of these luxurious choices. She stopped what she was doing and tried to remember. You see, we don’t really need to do the same things, but for babysitter and only owning one car reasons, we don’t really want to be downtown and the airport at the same time. We debated event staffing vs. office vs. airports for awhile. She would’ve logged into her account to see what she put down, but SHE COULDN’T REMEMBER HER PASSWORD! (please note the explanation mark).

Then I had the privilege of going date-by-date from August 16 through September 5 to give them availability morning, afternoon, evening or not available. But first I had to get up and find my calendar, then sync back up with the wife. Turns out I’m going up to Lake of the Woods to fish over Labor Day Weekend, but there wasn’t a blank for me to tell them that’s why I couldn’t make it for the RNC kick-off. I hope McCain will understand. Fishing is definitely a conservative pastime, right?

Finally, I was at the last page and ready to hit FINISH. Oh look, there’s finally a link to the Privacy Policy to see how all of my information will be used. Of course, most people don’t ever read these, but I skimmed it just for giggles. Turns out, I really don’t like that they automatically sell your information to third parties:

(i) We may share your First Tier Information with the Committee on Arrangements for the 2008 Republican National Convention (“COA”), a committee of the Republican National Committee and with selected partners and/or third parties to provide you with information about events and opportunities that might be of interest to you and also would provide you with system information or information about similar events, political candidates or the like; however, the application will allow you to opt-out of having your First Tier Information shared with selected partners and/or third parties other than the COA…

That’s pretty crappy. Most web forms these days have a couple checkboxes for this kind of opt-in list-selling. Looks like I’m going to be on all sorts of mailing lists for the next year or so. Hooray.

Overall, the application took me about 40 minutes to fill out whilst blogging it, watching YouTube, Twittering and generally giving way to my ADHD whims. The average person will probably breeze through the application. And they should. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, after all.

Fill out your application here. And be sure to tell them you LOVE the elderly. I have a feeling not many people are “Experts.”

Barack Obama Rally

Barack and Michelle Obama Fist Pound
Barack and Michelle Obama pound fists. Originally uploaded by chad davis.

More flickr photos from Barack Obama’s appearance in St Paul last night, by Minnesotans and by the Obama Campaign. Bob Collins posits that the almost-two-mile-long line outside the X was the real story.

More Cockfighting in St Paul

I got blasted the last time I brought this up.

A neighbor reported about 20 people carrying chickens into a home on St. Paul’s East Side. When officers went to the home, they were told nobody was fighting chickens inside. But officers heard roosters crowing.

It’s not that I have no sensitivity for animal cruelty. It’s just that the wording of these stories cracks me up.

St Paul Classic Cookie in Danger of Closing

It is with a sad heart that I have to write this when we are so close to making it, but because of substantial price increases in our ingredients in recent weeks, we may be forced to close.

St. Paul Classic Cookie is a small, family owned bakery located in the heart of downtown St. Paul. We make cookies, muffins, brownies, bars, cupcakes, cakes, and cookie cakes. Everything we make in our store is made from fresh ingredients and mixed from scratch and baked fresh daily.

I’m a little late getting this up, but they had a mini-fundraising drive Tuesday and Wednesday. No word yet if they met their goal which would allow them to stay open, but if you’re so inclined to order online (cookies) (bars and brownies) or visit them in the Skyway (they’re in the Alliance Bank Center) go for it.

St Paul Almanac Looking For Submissions

The Saint Paul Almanac is an annual calendar and guide to take the curious urban adventurer through the year in Minnesota’s capital city.

And they’re taking submissions for the 2009 edition. Turn ’em in by April 28.

Based on their description and what they’re looking for in stories, it actually sounds like it would make a great city-centric blog. Like if anyone here at Metblogs lived in on the east side or paid more attention to it (and wrote better, and had an editor, and earned a salary) (and if that’s you that lives on the east side and has something to say about it, pipe up already).

(via cities)

Capitol Air is Teh Dirty

Mary Lahammer’s personal take on bi-partisan objection to taking money out of the Capitol Restoration budget.

I can personally vouch for how horrible the air quality is. The photos above show the layers of grime and gunk that collect on our air vents and fans in our Capitol office. My colleague bought a mold test last year that instantly verified the presence of mold in the press room. During session we all get sick often having upper respiratory problems breathing this sick air. It puts the press in an odd position. We certainly don’t want to be advocating for any legislation, but we’d really like to breath clean air too.


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