Feb242010

February 24th, a day that will go down in history

Today started like every other day, meaning I traded valuable commuting time for the comfort and warmth of a comforter. I left the gate only 5 minutes behind my scheduled departure time, but that’s still five minutes late for a 9am meeting with my boss. I was hoping for a good tailwind so I could make up some time in the air.

hwy55home

The deck was stacked against me. After traversing downtown Minneapolis, which is a feat in itself, I had to run the gauntlet of Highway 55 better known as Hiawatha Ave. Its just a 5 mile stretch of highway cutting diagonally across South Minneapolis, but it’s an extraordinary road for one reason: RED LIGHTS! There are 11 of them to be exact.

These aren’t just any old red lights; you can sit at one day or night with no traffic for a couple of minutes (I’ve timed it). Quite often I hit every single one of them. At the posted speed limit you should theoretically be able to cover the 5 miles in 7 1/2 minutes, but the reality is 20. Tik-tok tik-tok.

This has always frustrated me. Cities have had the technology to time lights on major corridors for decades. For example you can drive from downtown to 50th street on Portland Ave, and if you keep it at 35 miles per hour you are almost guaranteed to not hit a red light.

I have a theory about Hiawatha however. You see Hiawatha is also the route for the light-rail. Now I realize that the train adds a level of complexity to the whole light timing thing, but the trains do run on a schedule and I would assume that modern computers could figure how to make it work. My theory is that the city actually has timed the lights, but in reverse, making the light rail the fastest option. I’ve actually thought about submitting a design to the city that they could use to brand the corridor using little flags on lampposts. The main design element would be a big red circle.

Today however was not like every other day. As I was looking ahead to the first light, trying to figure out which lane was shortest, something happened. A green light happened. That light is never green, wow. Soon the next light…green. Then another…green. What? This is too good to be true. Green… green…green… there’s got to be a catch, like an accident up ahead. 4 more greens…and I’m heading to the last light… GREEN!

The unbelievable has happened. I hit green lights all the way down Hiawatha. I feel like an olympian that just won gold for a perfect score. It’s a feat that will surely will never be repeated. So Like a great athlete that’s reached the top of their game, I think I should retire – going out on top by never taking this road again. If I don’t the next trip down Hiawatha will only be more frustrating when I hit every red light.

By the way, I got to work at 8:58 with 2 minutes to spare. The meeting was rescheduled for the afternoon.

Nov282009

Day two in Winnipeg

I was wrong about the art gallery thing. That wasn’t last night, it’s tonight. Luckily someone looked that up at the pub last night so I just ended up staying there for the night. There was a good band playing from Montreal (the winter gloves), but I wasn’t paying much attention because I was busy talking with several people that are all into local art/food/music. It was a good night.

Today I decided to go for a walk to the “cool” part of town – the Exchange District. It sort of reminds me of cedar riverside back home. Right now I’m enjoying a veggi curry and apple/Ginger/kale juice at a place called Mondragon which is a counter culture vegan cafe and bookshop. I’ve probably eaten more healthy here than at home. If you don’t count the beers that is.

Nov272009

No after Thanksgiving day sales for me

Well it’s the day after thanksgiving and I didn’t see a single sale today. That’s becuase I’m in Winnipeg! They do have a thanksgiving but I don’t know when. Needless to say it’s nice to get away from all the stupid parts of the holiday and have a little adventure in a city I’ve never been to.

It was about a 7 1/2 hours from Minneapolis. 7 hours driving and it took customs around 30 minutes to search my car. They always ask questions like “where do you work?” which seems like such a simple question. I don’t know why I have a hard time explaining. I think I’m going to practice for next time. One of the customs agents pulled a patch out of a jacket pocket that said “$ 0.00 9/10″ and asked me to explain. I tried to explain that i got that at a biking event and it’s suposed to be like zero gas when you ride a bike. He kept looking at me funny and I kept blathering on trying to explain. Eventually he said “so it’s like an environmental thing?”, me “yeah”.

I eventually got to the HI Winnipeg downtowner at about 8pm. Mirriam, the nice German girl working the reception desk started 3 days ago so when the credit card machine ate the paper she had some trouble figuring out what to do.

I decided to go in to the attached pub to get some dinner. I was surprised when I was told they have a completely vegetarian menu, “except for a bison burger”. I ended up having chic pea fritters which was not only really good but beautifully presented. I also had a couple of pints of a local ipa which was also delicious. While there the bartender explained how Winnipeg is similar to Minneapolis in a lot of ways paticularly in it’s thriving arts and music scene. My second surprise was that this little pub is also one of top “cool” spots to catch local live bands. Last night was dj and tonight is live music. This is great I can go out and I don’t have to go anywhere.

This morning I got up and went down to the kitchen to make some coffee and ended up talking for 2 hours to an 85 year old lady who lives in Churchill. That’s the place where the polarbears are. After extracating myself from the conversation I had to dealing with my credit card being put on fraud alert. After that though I did get out and explor the city a little bit.

I walked quite a bit. I went through a mall, through a library and into the skyway system. I went past a young girl playing an accordian, then a guy playing a guitar, and then a guy playing a sittar. I made it back outside and walked down to The Forks. It’s where two rivers combine and there is apparently 6000 years of history here. I wonder if they figured that out when they dug the foundation for the shopping mall.

The mall had a produce market and nice bakery. The bakery was a local/organic kind of place it smelled really good. I ended up buying a loaf of rye sourdough and some fruit to have a little lunch before walking back to the hostle.

My feet are a little sore but i’ll force myself to go out again in a lite bit. Aparently there’s a cool local art gallery thing going on tonight.

Oct242009

Winter Arghhhh

Or more specifically winterizing and the joys of boating. I’m of to try to figure out how to get antifreeze in the boats engine. Then I need to build a frame to hold a tarp that will cover the whole thing.

The $600 some bucks that it costs to have someone else do it is seeming not so bad now.