Sunday, July 31, 2016

213. Sunday

Summer has made me reflect on many things. Especially this summer, it’s the first one in a long while where I have weekends free, I feel settled, and I’m making decisions about where my life is headed. I have some expendable dough and I also am tackling home improvement projects. I don’t feel as guilty about staying in one night. (But I do try to do something every weekend.) I also think I know myself just a little bit better.

I knew I had to get out of the house at least once today. I spent most of the morning reading the newspaper (as one does on a Sunday) and drinking coffee. I usually try to do something by 11 a.m., so I decided to finish up a painting project. I had spent most of yesterday prepping the whole thing with my mom and brother. I really don’t enjoy painting. I know it looks really simple, and the only way to really screw it up is to spill paint everywhere, but there’s a noticeable difference between a good and a great paint job.

I know that my time to move on to a new project is when I say “Oh shit” at least once every two minutes. That was starting to happen around 1:30 p.m. today. I came to a stopping place and started to clean up. There were a number of things I wanted to get done: writing projects, cleaning, exercising, laundry, cooking, calling friends, but the day reached a point where I got analysis paralysis. I didn’t want to commit to anything, so I decided to try and fall asleep on the couch. I think I was out for about 45 minutes.

I thought about starting a new project, but it was about 3 p.m. and I planned on going to Mass at the Basilica at 4:30 p.m. I knew I had to get out of the house, so I decided to go to the Loring Park Art Festival.

It was not all that fancy, just about 40-50 vendors around the park. I walked around the loop maybe three times, eyeing pieces to possibly add to my place. However, since the funds are a little low at the moment, I decided not to buy anything. The only booth that caught my eye was a photographer who had shot a lot of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. I really wanted a shot of the Grain Belt sign or one of Mickey’s Diner, but I decided against it. Sometimes you just have let it go for the moment. I figure I’ll find something eventually.

Which brings me back to my first paragraph. I didn’t do a whole lot of talking today. Just some projects, some other forms or electronic communication, and some getting out of the house. (I also made a pretty epic meal of summer squash quesadillas that caused me to go into a food coma.)

Monday, back to work, but another big week on the horizon.

*Apologies for the rambling nature of this post, my insight has been clouded due to my dinner.

212. The Baseball Project

Normally when I go see a concert, it’s easy to explain what sort of concert it is. If it’s a popular band, most people will know it. You’ll discuss the music and the venue. It’s pretty simple. It’s not all that simple with The Baseball Project.

The Baseball Project consists of Peter Buck, Mike Mills, Scott McCaughey, Steve Wynn and Linda Pitmon. They’re a supergroup that’s been a part of multiple bands, including R.E.M. Their songs are unique in that they only sing about baseball. I know that brings out thoughts of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” (which they do a cover of) but they are so much more than that.

They’ve done songs called “Ichiro Goes to the Moon”, “The Panda and the Freak”, and my favorite, “Please Don’t Call them Twinkies.” They’re fun songs about a sport that does its best to limit fun. I can’t remember how I got into them, but I remember listening to their CD’s in my car while I lived in Maryland. (Come to think of it, I probably heard Craig Finn singing the Twinkies song and then I just went from there.)

I went with my friend Mike to The Turf Club in St. Paul. I’d never been to the venue. It was small and its main function was a bar and restaurant. I don’t appreciate those sorts of places enough.

Prior to the show we went to my favorite place in the world, The Neighborhood Cafe. It was fairly quiet, but I guess the 6:45 p.m. dinner on a Saturday isn’t the most busy time. We still had some time to kill before the show so we went to another dive bar down the street. I didn’t remember the name, but it was nice that two beers only cost $7.50

A funny sidenote to this story. Mike and I were sitting near the back at a four-person table. A couple walked in just before the opener came on and asked if they could sit with us. Since we’re not jerks, we said yes. The couple was apologetic and nervous and offered to buy us drinks. Both Mike and I said it wasn’t necessary, but they insisted.

Turns out they were on a first date. Both of them were in their mid-forties. They said they had met on The woman was a short, blonde nurse, while the guy looked like Hank from the show Breaking Bad. Being on many first dates myself, it was kind of funny to witness the process among two people who were a little nervous about it. They left after about 30 minutes.  

The show itself was a lot of fun. I knew about 80 percent of their songs and made sure to sing along. My favorite was singing Ted #$*@($& Williams at the top of my lungs.

After my Friday night that involved just watching Netflix on the couch, this whole evening was a nice change of pace. It was nice to be out, drink beer, observe the world, and sing songs about baseball. The world isn’t such an awful place all the time.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

211. Things I've enjoyed, July Edition

I am exhausted of the news cycle, as I have been for almost every week this year. So I’m going to go rehash an old post and talk about some things I’ve liked in the last few weeks.

“Pothole Confidential” by R.T. Rybak
I’ve got about 40 pages left in this memoir by former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak. I’ve always like Rybak as a politician. He seemed to be passionate about his job and he did some good things for the city. The book is entertaining, enlightening, and offers a lot of “Oh, so that’s what happened” moments. He’s also self-deprecating, which is a hard thing to pull off for a politician.

One of the things about this election is that people are so worked up about passionate feelings, that they kind of miss the forest for the trees. You don’t just govern by passion. I believe it involves nitty-gritty stuff. Rybak goes into a lot of that stuff in a book. (I didn’t think I’d get so worked up about city budgets-- in a good way.)

Rybak talks about a wide swath of things, some fun (campaigning, rebranding the city), and some not so fun (the I-35W bridge collapse, the tornado through North Minneapolis, the Accent shooting). Being a (near) Minneapolis resident and worker, I liked hearing about all the things I missed while on the east coast.

I’m proud to say that I was friends with Rybak on Facebook before the site really took off. I was one of his original 2,000 friends. I added him after he came up to speak at CSB/SJU and we got a big group picture with him. It’s a fun, quick read about some of the more satisfying things regarding politics.

I’ve been cooking a lot more due to my CSA box that comes every week. I’ve gotten a lot of different greens: Kale, Swiss Chard, Cabbage, Arugula, and many other types that I’ve had to google prior to prepping them. One ingredient that’s been crucial? Lemons. I bought a bag of fresh lemons for Trader Joe’s for about four bucks. It’s gone a long way to adding to the plant-heavy dishes I’ve been making. (I also like it better than a bottle of lemon juice.) It’s something I should keep around for a while.

Bojack Horseman
Bojack Horseman is a very depressing show. It’s a Netflix series featuring a bunch of anthropomorphized animals, that stars a washed-up, hard-drinking, depressive horse that used to star in a successful 80s sitcom. Sounds like a real winner, right?

It is. It’s wonderful hilarious, sad, and enjoyable all at the same time. The jokes are densely packed, but you also feel for the characters. I never thought I would feel so much sympathy for a horse. They’ve also got a bunch of great voice actors: Will Arnett, Amy Sedaris, Aaron Paul, Alison Brie, Paul F. Thompkins, and a bunch more.  If you like your humor with a little bit of sadness and your sadness with a little bit of humor, try Bojack Horseman.

210. A letter to Melanie

Dear Melanie,

I’ve avoided politics this week. I don’t know how long presidential campaigns will be when you’re old enough to vote, but I’ve reached a breaking point here during the summer of 2016. And I consider myself to be a pretty passionate guy about politics. But my heart softened a bit tonight as I watched Hillary Clinton take the stage to accept the presidential nomination.

Hillary will hopefully be the first women president of the United States. I hope by the time you are of voting age a woman running for president will no longer be a newsworthy item in and of itself. I hope that many women take senior leadership positions in government and corporations. I hope that the stigma and sexism associated with a woman in power has disappeared. I don’t know if Hillary will be the one to destroy all of those negative things, but I’m hopeful that she’ll help.

I’m so happy that you’ve been brought up with such awesome women in your life. Make sure to listen to your mom, your grandma, and your aunts. They all helped me become a better person. I know they will for you as well. I hope you don’t forget about your GG. She was an inspiration in my life and a woman I looked up to.

I’ve thought about you a lot this summer with the campaign. I’ve gotten down about it a lot. There have been so many negative ads, so much slime, and so much awful stuff that will make one lose hope in Democracy. Both candidates have their faults, but only one candidate painted a portrait of America that I agree with: Hillary.

There has also been a lot of talk about how women my age don’t appreciate Hillary and the barriers she has been breaking. Your grandpa was a history teacher and I’m guessing he’d want you to remember the past. So remember this: women struggled for years to get the right to vote and many other basic things that you probably take for granted. It’s a big deal right now that Hillary was chosen to be a candidate for president. Don’t forget your past.

What I want you to take away from this letter is that you should never, ever give up on optimism. Pessimism is easy. Negativity is easy. Being cynical and divisive is easy. Don’t do those things.
Being hopeful is hard. Being positive is hard. Being optimistic and inclusive is hard. Do these things, no matter how difficult it feels. These are the things your Aunt Kathy (my mom) taught me.

I’m guessing you’ll read this soon, but I hope you keep it for later when you’ve gotten a little bit older. I hope that when you read this again that things are more peaceful. I hope that you’ve figured out your dreams in life and that you go full speed ahead towards them. I know that Hillary isn’t the main reason for doing those things, but don’t forget about what she stands for.

You’re smart, wonderful, beautiful, and kind. You can do anything. Don’t forget that.

Love, Nick

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

209. More Breaths

I need to catch my breath. I’ve tried to quit Facebook and Twitter for the week. While I haven’t totally quit, I’ve managed to drastically reduce my time on either site. I probably check(ed) the sites about 30 times a day at least. That’s down to less than five. And those times have been short spurts, no mindless scrolling.

I’m not going to pretend that I’m holier than thou. (I think it would have felt like that had I posted something on Facebook that I was quitting the service and anyone who needs to reach me can email or text.) I feel like those who really need to get in touch with me, know how to get in touch with me. Because 99.999 percent of stuff on Facebook does not matter. It’s just noise. I’ll admit that. I think people like reading my blog posts occasionally, but that’s about it. I don’t remember all the things i liked today. I don’t even really like a lot of them. Many times it’s just a way to validate someone. You want to be a part of that validating. (I mean, seeing pics of weddings/family/etc. Is nice, but most of the time I’m only interested in them if I am in them.)

And it’s just gotten so depressing about the election, especially in the last few weeks. People are writing screeds about how either Trump voters or stupid, or how we need to save our country from Trump, or that they personally will be SO APPALLED if Trump wins. I get it. I am with (most) of my Facebook friends on this one…. But does those rants really matter? Are they just a way for us to feel like we’ve done our part? It feels hollow. I’m not saying it’s nothing, it’s just exhausting to read them every day.

While I have complained about social media before, I always feel like the best solution to any social media complaint is just to log off. (Note: this is probably different for most women. I don’t want to go there right now.) If you’re just complaining about the content of political posts, engagement photos, or people posting vacation photos in places where you are not, just step away for a while. It’s not worth it to work yourself up over things that are out of your control at that very moment.

I unfollowed a lot of people who keep posting articles with long, passionate explanations about how everyone needs to read this. (Note: I have done this.) Or people who quote tweets of people insulting them. Or people who complain about Facebook, on Facebook.

The last few days have been a nice reminder of everything that is not the election, or social media. I finished a book and am well on my way to finishing another one. I cleaned my room and set some things up in my apartment. I had a nice date where we talked about lots of things. Life is pretty ok in Nick world right now.

Remember to step away for a little bit. It’s worth it.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

208. Taking a breath

I’m keeping the theme of posting emails I write to other people. Sometimes that is just the way I think and express myself best. This one is to a DJ at the Current, Mary Lucia. She posted a thoughtful blog post on the website today about that moment you realize that you are where you are supposed to be. It resonated with me because I feel like that’s what at least half of my blog posts have been about this year. Looch went through a pretty rough time earlier this year. (Her story is out there if you feel you need to Google it.)

I still remember a phrase that my improv instructor, M.B. taught my class before our very first show. Right before we went onstage she told us to look at our feet and silently tell ourselves that this is where we are supposed to be. I try to tell myself that every once in awhile when I am out and about. It’s a good grounding exercise. While we may not always be able to get where we want to be, sometimes being where we are supposed to be is good enough.  


I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed your blog post on the Current. I'm so happy that you have found where you are supposed to be.

I've realized that my generation (millenials) just puts so much value on being happy and fulfilled in every aspect of your life. (Thought it's definitely not specific to us.) If you're not constantly chasing your dreams, then you're just wasting space. If you don't have your dream job, your dream partner, your dream life, then what are you doing? I have since learned that that is a bunch of crap. Sometimes you just got to take a deep breath and realize that, for better or for worse, you are where you are supposed to be and if you don't make the most out of what you got, you're going to be really friggin miserable.

I went through one of those crises about two years ago when I was living in Boston. I was dating a great girl, had a great job, and was in a city I loved, but I didn't feel like I was supposed to be there. I broke up with my girlfriend and moved back to Minnesota. I took a crap job in southwest Minnesota and bided my time before I moved back to Minneapolis last fall.

It was literally on the day I was moving back to the cities when that moment hit me that I was where I was supposed to be. I was driving north on 35W and the Minneapolis skyline came into view. I think Jade was DJing and she played the Atmosphere song "Finer Things." I turned it up loud. It was one of those moments where I felt like I had made the right choice. (Moving back has also made me fall in love with the Current again. I have it on in my car all the time.)

Anyways, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I'm so glad things have settled down for you and you're content with how things are going. Keep on Rockin,

Monday, July 25, 2016

207. Thoughts

I had some thoughts today about an organization called Cookie Cart. I also had to log out of Facebook for a while due to the sheer awfulness of this election. I wrote some thoughts in an email to some friends.

I went to a happy hour/networking event for Cookie Cart, and I had some thoughts about it that I wanted to share with you both.

- First, it seems like a really good organization. It's well-run, it teaches marketable skills, and it's growing. There were maybe about 20 kids there tonight and about 100-125 adults who paid to be there. One thing I noticed was that there were maybe three black people who were guests. Is that a bad thing? I know this is a completely subjective and other events/programs that the organization runs might be different, but I thought it was an interesting observation.

- Second, I spoke with a few people who were involved with either volunteering or were on the board. They were generous with their time and money and obviously have affected lives in a good way. However, a topic that came up in both conversations revolved around how they or someone they knew taught the kids about the importance of dressing professionally. (i.e. telling them to "pull up their pants.") I know that dressing professionally is important, but it was weird how people talked about it like it was such a big thing that they did not know about.

- Joey and I talked about this on Sunday, and it passed through my mind again. While one of the board members was giving a pitch to donate more money, she kept mentioning about "the problems in North Minneapolis." While this program does a lot of kids, how much is it changing the perception of "North Minneapolis"? Maybe I'm being cynical, but the city isn't going to change just from cookies.

- There was one really cute girl who was wearing a hijab who introduced herself right out of the blue. (Matt Lindstrom would have been proud.) I asked her what she wanted to do and she said she wanted to be an engineer. I was so happy she said that.

Changing gears here, another set of thoughts went through my brain today. A former co-worker of mine posted an article about the latest Trump polls and wrote a long rant about how we live in a dumb country full of dumb people who are dumb for voting for Trump. My first thought was, "Is this helping anything?"

Yeah, I think a vote for Trump is dangerous. (I thought similar things about Romney and McCain, but looking back on it, I don't think it was this level.)

BUT, I can't think of a single instance of people coming over to join a party after they were called dumb. I'm not afraid to admit this, but my party is full of snobby elitists who will accept anyone as long as you agree with everything they say and do. What the hell kind of big tent is that?

I get that a certain percentage of people are voting for Trump due to his personality, others are just party loyalists, but others are choosing to vote for him. They've done their research and think that he is the best choice. I don't think it does well for Democrats just to insult these people. Have we ever tried just asking people why they are voting for him? (Outside of a poll.)

I reserved this book from the library. Excited to read it.

As a liberal Catholic, I've felt this especially. Outside of my CSB/SJU friends, it's a weird dance to talk about how you're a progressive and a Catholic. (That's why I like Tim Kaine so much. He's a Catholic I can relate to.)

Yeah, Republicans haven't been the friendliest to gay people or people of color, but I don't think that necessarily makes Democrats any better. We were the ones who put the Japanese in internment camps.

Ok, this is a lot. Just needed to get it all off my chest.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

206. This weekend.

Sometimes, I’m surprised at how much time I spend by myself. I don’t really realize it until I’m a few hours into either reading or watching something. I wonder if that’s either a good or a bad thing, or if I’m getting out enough.

I worried about the same thing in college, Americorps, and grad school. I worried that I was missing out on big parties, or big events. I don’t do that anymore. I know what makes me happy and I stick with those things. I don’t particularly enjoy noisy parties, or clubs, or binge drinking. I like concerts, plays, sporting events, museums, and catching up with people over beers.

Today was one of those weekends when it was perfect storm of people being out of town or having plans and I was left (for the most part) without things to do on Saturday or Sunday. (I did make it to a Lynx game with a friend on Friday night, so I didn’t feel like a complete homebody over the weekend.) I decided just to roll with it and see where things would take me.

If I don’t have big plans, I usually like to make sure I have two things lined up: plans to exercise and ingredients for a big meal. Those things eat up time and make me feel good. I ran three miles on Saturday morning. I was struggling near the end due to the excessive humidity. Luckily, I got back home in time before the storms came.

I decided to tackle a project on my apartment. I like to have some tangible things accomplished if I don’t have plans. I painted part of the wall in my living room. It didn’t take too long, but it was long enough to force me to drag myself away from my computer.

Later, I knew I needed to write and that I wouldn’t get it done if I stayed in the house. I headed to a coffee shop just up the block. I stayed for about two hours and wrote a decent amount. While I like to think of myself as a reclusive writer typing away, going somewhere in public to write helps. Afterwards, I decided that I didn’t want to go home quite yet, so I went into Uptown and visited my favorite bookstore, Magers and Quinn. I didn’t buy anything, but I walked around the stacks for about 40 minutes. It was relaxing. (And I talked to a few people.)

A friend called and I talked with him for a bit. I then headed home to make dinner, drink some wine, and end the night watching Netflix. I made a decent pasta with meat sauce. I always tend to gorge on pasta. I felt great.

This morning I spent the first few hours of the day reading the newspaper and drinking coffee. I headed over to another friends house to chat and have more coffee. When I got back home I decided to try my hand at another run. I did just over six miles. I was exhausted afterwards.

I then went to church and read, and wrote. While it may not have been an extremely social weekend, I was happy with how it turned out.

205. Refugee Athletes

I’m cross posting this blog post. I originally wrote it for my church’s blog, but I thought it would work well here. I’m really excited to see these athletes highlighted on the Olympic broadcasts in a few weeks.

Every so often I just get upset about sports. I question why people care so much about them. I distance myself from them and I just literally want to experience anything else. But these kinds of stories bring me back into to enjoying the games. Watching these videos, you can easily see that these people have found their calling. This is what they were meant to do. While many American athletes get top-notch training from an early age, it was most likely more of struggle for most of these athletes. We as Americans probably can’t even fathom what it’s like to be forced from your home and into another country where you know very few people, if anyone.

One thing that consistently inspires me is seeing people find their calling and excel at it. It’s even better when people recognize that they are doing what they love and they are so thankful for that. I think that’s how you know you’ve found a happy person.

One of the swimmers competing at the games said that he hopes there will not be a refugee team at the 2020 Olympics. That was interesting to ponder. Sadly, I don’t think that will be the case, but I’m still inspired by what these athletes have accomplished.
While many Americans will be cheering for the team in red, white, and blue during the Olympics in Rio, another team deserves your support. Ten athletes, who are also refugees, will be competing under the banner of the Refugee Olympic Team, the first of its kind in any Olympic competition. The team was formed to shed light on the worldwide refugee crisis.

Those 10 athletes are from Syria, South Sudan, and the Republic of Congo. The team will march in with the Olympic flag just before the host nation of Brazil during the opening ceremony. The athletes were identified and selected with the help of National Olympic Committee around the globe.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) hopes these athletes will inspire those in dire situations across the globe.

“This will be a symbol of hope for all the refugees in our world, and will make the world better aware of the magnitude of this crisis. It is also a signal to the international community that refugees are our fellow human beings and are an enrichment to society. These refugee athletes will show the world that despite the unimaginable tragedies that they have faced, anyone can contribute to society through their talent, skills and strength of the human spirit,” said IOC President Thomas Bach.

While it’s easy to be patriotic during an event like the Olympics, it’s just as important to remember those who aren’t able to represent their home countries.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

204. Tim Kaine

I really like the Tim Kaine pick. I’m going to start this off with a caveat. I am a religious person. It’s sometimes a challenge to admit that in front of my liberal friends. There’s a strain through the left that says, “How can you believe in all of that if you believe in all of these other good things?” I really hate that. (I’m sure some conservatives feel that way about liberals. I don’t blame them. We can be a snooty, uppity bunch.)

I can understand that plenty of liberals were not excited about the Kaine pick. He’s not a member of the progressive caucus and he hasn’t taken a stand on any of the sexy progressive issues. I’m not here to write about the political pitfalls or the benefits of the pick. I’m not qualified to do that. And the world doesn’t need more political takes.

As a Catholic, I don’t see to many leader who reflect the same faith values that I do. There are a lot of people who equate Catholicism with just being pro-life. (I’m not wading into the merits of that, but I want to make sure that the comparisons go deeper than just that.) Catholicism is so much broader and deeper. I don’t think the general non-Catholic voting public, especially progressives, get that.

I like Kaine because he approaches faith the way I do. It’s not a thing to list on your resume, it’s like a muscle. You work on it, you use it, it helps you get through the day. While some people definitely want to show off their muscles, some just want them to be strong enough to help them get through the day.

I listened to Kaine’s introductory address on the radio. While these speeches often involve a lot of pomp and circumstance, there isn’t much in the way of policy substance. What I did hear from him though is a man who served in different arenas. He was a member of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. He won an extremely important case having to do with redlining. While Kaine might be a leader in issues in the liberal zeitgiest right now, he has experience in the big, unsexy ones. I appreciate leaders who can take on those issues.

I appreciated that they interviewed Kaine’s priest at the church he attends. You don’t often get that interview. He spoke about a man who was devout and volunteered to do things around church like carrying the cross in during Ash Wednesday.

With all the craziness surrounding this campaign, I appreciate a guy who seems to be a dedicated and optimistic public servant. There’s a lot of fear in the air right now and talk about the world ending. I appreciate a man who has a base of optimism, hope, and enthusiasm for getting things done. He might not be out there appealing to the most die-hards in the liberal base, but he’s a pragmatic, principled guy. I think that counts for a lot in this race.

203. Beth

Outside of your family or famous people, who was the first person you looked up to? One of those first people in my life was Beth Black. Beth was the dean of students at my high school and she continues to be a mentor, as well as a friend.

Beth is one of those people who just “gets it.” She’s wicked smart, extremely compassionate, a dedicated educator, and someone who tackles problems with enthusiasm and passion. She was the perfect leader for Conserve School and someone who I am so glad that I’ve stayed in touch with.

One of my first memories of Beth was during our sophomore year convocation. It was the opening ceremony for the school and we were all excited to take on year two of Conserve.

However, my name was listed as “Hick Hansen” in the program for the ceremony. I got a few ribs about it, and I was a little upset, but afterwards Beth told me, “If there was anyone that this happened to, I’m glad it was you.” It took me a while to unpack what that statement meant. Ever since than, I’ve made a point to tackle problematic situations with a sense of humor. It’s not worth it to lose your head over minor errors like that.

Beth always had a lot on her plate. She was dean of students, a teacher, a houseparent, and I’m sure she was putting out hundreds of other fires around campus. As teenagers, you really don’t appreciate what you can’t see, but knowing what I know now about Conserve, she did so much. However, you always knew that she cared. Whether that meant sitting down for a conversation, a night playing scrabble, getting baked goods, or just a hug, Beth always let you know that she cared. She was the houseparent to our sister wing of Bear and she took our loving teasing in stride.

The school lost an important, guiding light after Beth (and her husband Keith) left after the second year. While the students were hurt and frustrated, it took me a while to realize how painful of a decision that was and how much they struggled over it.

Beth and Keith were gracious enough to take me in a few years ago after I was in between apartments. They let me stay (rent free!) in their lovely old house. I couldn’t thank them enough for it. Before I left back for Minnesota, they invited me to spend the day with them near Plum Island. It was an ideal summer day filled with cold drinks, kayaking, and good food around a fire. I really enjoyed that day.

Beth is still an inspiration to me. She reminds me that tackling problems with compassion and humor is important. She makes time for people even though she’s an incredibly busy person. She takes on big projects that require big ideas, and she has the courage and fortitude to go through with them. I was really fortunate to be in contact with such a wonderful and brilliant individual at such a formative age in my life.

I don’t quite remember all of your graduation speech, but I do remember this line, “Life ... is a tale...Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.” I’m probably missing a boatload of context here, but if the quote from Macbeth is true, you’ve done a helluva job proving it wrong.

Happy birthday, Beth.

202. Los Lynx

I finally made it to a Lynx game. I haven’t had any real excuse not to go this year. It’s just that I haven’t made the effort to go get a ticket and spend an evening at Target Center this summer. I’ve been missing out.

I decided to finally get a ticket after the hullabaloo over the players wearing shirts that said Black Lives Matter along with the names of Philando Castille, Alton Sterling, and the Dallas Police Department Badge. The four officers working that game walked off their posts. And then there was an ensuing spat between noted nincompoop, police union head Bob Kroll and Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges.

David Brauer, a former reporter and avid twitter user, tweeted that he wanted to start a #KrollDepreciationNight to get people to the game. I decided this was as good a time as any to go. I bought tickets that day.

Fast forward to today when I met Brauer and a few others for a drink before the game. There aren’t too many times in life where I’ve met random people for at a random place, but I’m glad this was one. We met at Huberts. (Side note: I ended up telling Brauer a lot more of my life story than I tell most people the first time I meet them. It was kind of fun. I guess we’re BFF now.) The place was filled with plenty of people in Lynx gear.

I’ve been to a lot of Timberwolves games and a lot of high school basketball games. While the Lynx are professionals, this game felt like a high school contest. It was a bit more intimate with most everyone down in the lower bowl. Most everyone who was their seemed like they wanted to be there and it wasn’t just something to do on a Friday night. And a lot of people cheered for the players by name. While you do that at a Wolves game, it feels kind of like a formality. With these cheers, it felt like the fans surrounding us might really know the players they were cheering for.

I like when a team finds their niche market and embraces them. A good portion of the crowd were older, lesbian fans. God bless them, they’re the best fans. Their cheers were passionate, earnest, like moms cheering for their kids. There were plenty of families too. I loved seeing elementary age girls (and a few boys) wearing Maya Moore and Lindsey Whalen jerseys.

The basketball wasn’t bad either. Both Maya Moore and Sylvia Fowles scored over 20 points. I also got to see Breanna Stewart, the former best college player in the country. The Lynx maintained a healthy lead throughout and won by seven points.

I loved hearing the “Who’s House? Our House.” chant. It was much more creative and passionate than anything I’ve heard at a Timberwolves game.

I’m glad I went and I would definitely go again the Lynx. Screw everyone who thinks the Lynx don’t deserve to be mentioned with the “real” Minnesota sports teams. They damn good and deserve to be recognized as such.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

201. Rambling on eggs

I really hate eating hard boiled eggs. They have the consistency of a flaky boil. They smell like a tub of mayo that had been left out in the sun for three days. They are just the weirdest objects to peel in the morning. Who really wants to chip away at their breakfast in the morning?

I remember when I was elected to the Order of the Arrow, an organization within the Boy Scouts and we had to do a service project for our initiation weekend. (I know, an organization within an organization is kind of weird.) The whole point of the weekend was to spend it in service, which is a good thing. However, we weren’t supposed to talk much and we weren’t given a whole lot to eat during the day. Breakfast was a hardboiled egg. I think I maybe took two bites of the the thing and then swallowed it. It was the most disgusting thing I’ve ever eaten in my life. I made it through the day, barely. I stuffed myself on hamburgers and french fries during the evening.

Eggs have consistently been the one food I strongly disliked. It used to be a hardline that I would not any sort of egg product, but I’ve let up over the years. I started eating egg bakes and quiches. I gradually got to scrambled eggs with lots of cheese and hot sauce. Then there were breakfast burritos and eggs benedict. I even ate a scotch egg, a hardboiled egg that is wrapped in sausage and deep fried. I was quite hesitant to do it, but my friends the Men in Blazers love them. I also had a pint of Guinness to wash them down with.

I still can’t do fried eggs though. I haven’t been able to do the consistency plus the smell. They are just too much for me to stomach.

That’s made for some weird breakfasts in my day. I remember that my grandpa used to try and make me eat them. He’d be absolutely confused as he made tons of them for my brother, but I would politely refuse. I just didn’t care for them.

I usually stick with the carb triumvirate of pancakes, french toast, or waffles. That’s served me pretty well, but you can only eat so much sugar in teh beginning part of your day. Glad I’ve had coffee to go with it. I’m also glad that beer is perfectly acceptable if I am watching a soccer game while pigging out on breakfast products. The beer helps.

I like that my pallate is a pretty accepting one. I like to try new foods and for the most part I don’t hate too many of them. But, eggs are still public enemy number one when it comes to my taste buds.

I don’t know if my palate will allow for them in the future. Maybe it’s one of those things that changes as you get older, like your taste for coffee and beer.

200. Race Part 1

Yesterday, I attended a book discussion among members of the Hennepin County Bar Association and other legal professionals regarding the book, “Between the World and Me” by the acclaimed writer Ta-Nehisi Coates. There were about 55 people. The mix included public defenders, judges, and other types of attorneys. There were a bit too many people to make it a worthwhile back and forth discussion, but I appreciated hearing the viewpoints of some intelligent and highly influential people.

I came away with a few thoughts about it. Mostly good, but I still wanted to discuss some things. So here are some thoughts I had afterwards.

- I’ve probably done some racist things in my life. I don’t think I’ve ever done it intentionally, or if I ever did, it was when I was a dumb kid and I was shut down immediately. However, my unconscious bias has affected the way I’ve done some things. I’ve walked away from people who’ve looked suspicious on the sidewalk, and I’ve assumed some people are asking for money, when they were just making casual conversation. That’s something I know I need to do better at. I’m not quite sure how.

- There was a lot of talk of, “Well, what should white people do?” And while I don’t expect every black person (or white person) to be able to answer this question, there really isn’t much guidance out there for people. There is so much talk about being educated and reading. I get that. I read the Coates book. I try to stay on top of big articles addressing racial issues. I understand and definitely believe in white privilege. I talk with my close friends about these issues. (All of whom are white.) I’ve participated in discussions surrounding race and comedy, race and the legal profession, race and politics. I’ve supported my friends who are comedians of color (all of whom are funnier than me.)

So all of the “education and discussion” talk felt a little like preaching to the choir. But, it still doesn’t feel like it’s moving the needle much. And while my generation love to use social media to share opinions and thoughts about “recent events.” How much does that really affect things? I’ve slimmed down my friends list to basically only see people I agree with. Engaging online with someone you disagree with is rarely productive and fulfilling, and I don’t think lecturing a family member ever solved anything.

(I never really acknowledged this, but damn that must be annoying when white people tell [insert race/religious community here] to “talk to their community.” That’s awful and dumb and needs to stop. I’m annoyed when people do it to me, and I’m guessing it’s just as bad the other way around.)

(To be continued…)

199. Twitter

I really hate posting on Twitter. I have to think twice when I respond to a news item or retweet a take. (Usually my dumb jokes with my friends don’t matter much. I do a lot of those things mindlessly.) I thought about something today when I was reading through news stories about the shooter in Baton Rouge.

I tweeted a Twin Cities media person who I like and asked if he had seen any stories about the fact that both Dallas and Baton Rouge shooters were combat veterans? He quoted my tweet and said he hadn’t. He ended with the hashtag #FullMetalJacket. Somebody took offense to that and said not to lump all veterans in with those two. I immediately responded and said that I wasn’t trying to do that. I said that combat-related PTSD has real effects and I wondered if anyone had started to draw that connection. (I kind of forgot that the second horrible shootings in Baton Rouge had happened just about 24 hours ago. I’m sure there were not any substantive stories on the guy just yet.)

The guy responded with a “Really? Really? Jesus Christ.” I was taken aback by his tweets.

It was then I should have just shut down. That guy didn’t really matter in my own life. My day could have been just fine if I just went on with my life. I could feel my blood pressure rising. I walked away from my computer and talked with a co-worker about the whole thing and how stupid this guy was. I left it alone. I didn’t need to respond to the guy.

This is where more people should stop. I wonder how many public relations problems, school suspensions, and firings have come from people throwing an opinion out there without really thinking about it. I let it go, but then I started thinking about the whole thing again at the end of the day.

I wrote out a series of draft tweets on my phone before sending them out. I decided that my reasoning was sound, my arguments were strong, and I wasn’t attacking the guy. I  wrote about a half dozen tweets directed at the guy. I told him that this wasn’t about lumping in events. It was about examining to see if PTSD or some other mental illness was related to the horrible attacks. I feel it would be irresponsible to throw away that as part of the problem that led to these horrible attacks. I said that mental health needs to be talked about more, not less, especially when it comes to veterans. I don’t want more veterans to suffer silently, give in to depression, commit suicide, turn to drugs, and yes, commit horrible acts of violence. There may not be a story there, but I’m hoping someone is at least trying to write it.

The guy responded with another tweet, but I didn’t feel like responding. I had said my point and I defended it.

My new policy is to wait three hours before I respond to a twitter argument. My mind is usually clearer and I can get my point across better. It’s not worth it to get into fights with ad-homnym attacks.