Wednesday, August 31, 2016

240. Turkey Club Club: Keegan's Irish Pub

I like Irish Pubs. They’re my kind of vibe. Most of them are pretty low key, nobody is there to get crazy, and they usually have a decent beer selection. (Though I always feel like I have to get Guinness.) On Tuesday night I went to Keegan’s Irish Pub in St. Anthony for the first time. I went
there for trivia (on a date!), but I had to get a turkey sandwich as well.

I haven’t reviewed one in a while for a few reasons. I’ve been packing my lunch pretty consistently to save a little bit of money. I’ve also run out of places nearby my office for lunch, so I’ve got to venture out when I can.

I arrived at the place a little early and got in just at the tail end of happy hour. Three dollars for a pint of Grain Belt Premium isn’t too bad. My date came a little bit later and we got some food. Luckily, she knew all about the turkey sandwiches, so I didn’t have to explain everything. However, she was curious about what I thought about the sandwich.

First off, it was served on caraway bread. This was a big deal. I have never had a turkey sandwich on caraway bread. As I’ve said before, the bread is the quarterback of the sandwich. If you don’t have good bread then your sandwich is already on the wrong track. The bread was thick, tasty, and it kept everything together.

The sandwich was also served with lettuce, tomato, onion, and cheddar cheese. The meat was just about how I like it. It wasn’t slimy, and it wasn’t clumped together either. All in all, it stayed together well as I made my way through it. The lettuce and tomato were fairly decent as well. My favorite part of the whole thing was the cheese. It was sharp cheddar! Sharp! You don’t see too many places using real, sharp cheddar. I like places that do a simple thing really well. Keegan’s Irish Pub did this simple sandwich very well.

The sandwich also came with a side of potato chips (“crisps”) which were a nice change of pace from the usual fries. Overall, I really liked the sandwich. I wish they served something like it closer to my office. It stayed together and tasted pretty good. It also had mustard. I’m not much of a mustard guy, but this wasn’t all that bad.  I’d give it a 4.5 out of 5 because it was tasty and was a good value, but I don’t think it’d be a regular in my rotation.  

Also, as much as I love sandwiches, it’s not always great to eat them for dinner. I kind of wish I had a burger for dinner. This is probably a subject for another blog post.

To sum up the other part of the evening. The date went really well. Nothing like a good sandwich and good company, even though we didn’t do all that well in the trivia itself.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

239. Dogs

There was a game I used to play with my dog Wiggles. She was only allowed in the kitchen/dining room area of our house. Our main floor floorplan has a loop going between the front hallway, kitchen, dining room, and den. Our dog was only allowed in the dining room/kitchen area. I’d often go near the front door and play a version of hide and go seek, walking on either side of the hall where she wasn’t allowed. I’d eventually hide in the front closet. She’d look confused for a few seconds before I came out and scared her. That was a lot of fun.

I haven’t had a dog since we put her down about eight years ago. I remember that she was put down in the summer of 2008 while I was at camp. I was sad about it, and a little shocked, but I kind of knew it was time. I probably took the dog for granted in her later years. It was tough to keep her as a big part of my life because I was at boarding school, and then at college. I regret that I didn’t take more time away from the computer or video games or whatever other crap I was doing at the time.

The thing that always amazed me about Wiggles was that she was great with other people. I don’t ever recall her biting someone, or getting angry at another human being. But she really didn’t like other dogs. When we brought her up to the lake, she’d eventually get into a fight with one of the other dogs. I couldn’t walk her with any other dogs. She was just a little too angry.

One of the things she learned about me was that I was a softie. During thunderstorms she’d come up to my room and scratch at the door because she knew nobody else would let her in. I’d let her lie next to my bed and I’d scratch her head as the evening storm went through. I’d leave the door open so she could go back downstairs. I do miss those moments.

I still like dogs. I like my friend’s dogs. My friend Addie visited with her dog Stella(!) earlier this year. The dog is an energetic breed and I don’t think she was used to staying in a small apartment. At first I wasn’t sure that I’d want her on my couch, but the dog wore me down. I’m really a softie at heart. My friend Corey and Ashlyn has a few cute dogs. They were part of his wedding.

I don’t know if I’m going to get a dog just yet. I don’t think I’m ready to take care of one. I still like planning things for myself and I don’t think I’m financially committed to it just yet. I thought about a cat, but as one friend told me, “If you get a cat, you can say goodbye to our friendship.” Fair. I’ll table that for a later date.

Monday, August 29, 2016

238. Kaepernick

I’ve always loved the quote, “Whatever you are, be a good one.” I think that applies to everything you do, especially protesting. And good for Colin Kaepernick, he’s making a good, principled protest.

To put this out there at the beginning, I wouldn’t sit down for the anthem. But I agree with his end point, that there is systematic discrimination against black people in this country, and I also applaud him for putting a lot on the line with this. He’s potentially giving up money and respect during a pivotal time in his career. Not many other people, athletes or otherwise, can say they have done that.

Give me a principled protest over apathetic participation anyday. During my time as an official sports writer, I saw a number of people who lazily stood up for the national anthem before a game. There were plenty of people who whispered to one another while the canned recording played, or made silly faces. I always try to think of my cousin Philip, who was killed in Iraq in 2004, during the time the anthem played, but I’ll admit that my mind often wandered as well. While you may disagree with Kaepernick’s actions, you can’t say he doesn’t have his reasons. Look at the transcript from his recent press conference. It contains some of the most thoughtful answers I’ve seen a pro athlete give to reporters.

My problem with people criticizing Kaepernick’s actions is that they probably don’t realize how often they, either knowingly or unknowingly, insult many things. To the neighbors who leave their flag out in the dark, you’re doing it wrong. To those who don’t vote, you’re disregarding a right that people really did fight for. To those who say “support the troops”, yet spend their Memorial Days without a thought in memoriam of those who died serving our country, you’re missing the point.

Also, this “controversy” seems so f’ing stupid compared to an actual constitutional crisis going on in Louisiana. The sixth amendment rights of thousands of incarcerated people are literally being trampled on because the state can’t fund public defenders. People have a constitutional right to counsel, yet it doesn’t get the national uproar a sitting down football player does.

Now I get that this is a big deal because Kapernick plays in the NFL for a popular team, and plays at the most visible position, quarterback. Yet, it still seems like people are missing the point. What do people want from him? How will someone standing change anything about a person’s view on things? I’m guessing most of the people upset about this don’t even care about the 49ers.

Also, if you think that Kaepernick is “too rich to protest” or doesn’t deserve a voice because he’s rich, please make sure you tell that to the Koch brothers.

What makes America great is that we can have these differing opinions. You can protest injustice while playing football. You can still support the troops, but still not take part in symbolic patriotism that you think is B.S. You can speak your mind. All of that is what makes America great, people seem to forget that.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

237. Moving on.

I’m not great at ending relationships. I’ve broken up with a few girls, and a few have broken up with me. I’ve traveled down the bumpy road where you try to define what relationship you will have going forward. It hasn’t always worked out well. I spent a good year or two after my high school relationship clawing at something that wasn’t there anymore. It took me almost as long to fully move on from my last serious-serious girlfriend.

I think the problem with those times was that we didn’t have ending points. My high school one ebbed and flowed through summers, late-night phone calls, and facebook messages where you spill your guts. With my last one, we had some closure on the final night I was in Boston, but it dragged out through the next year. I will say that a lot of that was my fault.

This morning I had brunch with an ex-girlfriend. (Though, I hate that term. It feels so nasty.) I could say that it was a girl I was in a relationship with. We ended it, but we have still remained friends. I know that’s a cliche, but we’ve enjoyed each other’s company throughout the summer.

I’d wondered about how much we should be hanging out. There really hadn’t been temptation to get back into things romantically. However, I was still vigilant about keeping an appropriate distance between us. I sort of knew the drill for today. We’d catch up on things and then go on our way. The morning ended differently than I expected though.

We walked by the river afterwards. She apologized for a few things in the relationship. I know it’s bad writing to not go into details here. All I’ll say is that it was something that was a hard hurdle to climb over in our relationship and it was a factor in the breakup. She apologized for the issue. I told her the apology wasn’t necessary, but I was glad she brought it up.

There are fleeting moments where you wonder if you’ll reunite with someone you dated. I had those over the course of the summer, but I always responded to those thoughts with a, “If we were meant to be together, than we’d be together.” It worked. I’d felt lonely numerous times over the summer and wondered if that meant I should get back with her, but loneliness isn’t a good reason to get back with someone.

To finish this up, this morning felt like a good non-closure, closure. We both have been seeing other people and I think it’s for the best for both of us. I think perfect closure is a fantasy. It rarely happens the way we’d like it to. Sometimes we think it will end with an FU and other times we think it will end with a hug. Sometimes it just ends with a conversation you didn’t think you were going to have. But they all happen.

I’ve also been on a third date with someone. That hasn’t happened in a while. I like her. It’s good to put some things behind and move forward.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

236. Goals

Life has been easier since I gave myself fewer choices. I started my 10K training plan today. The first day of training involved running 20 minutes at a medium pace. I told myself that I did not have any other choice for my exericse. I was going to run 20 minutes at a medium pace. I mapped out a route that looked like it would fill the time. I threw on my headphones and I ran.

I did it, in pretty good time as well. I was running just under a nine minute mile. My usual pace is about a 9:15, so I thought this was a good slightly-above-average running pace. Sometimes my runs don’t go as planned and I end up going for long walks in addition to my run. Usually those times happen when I say, “I’m just going to go out and run.” If I don’t have an end goal or a distance goal, I usually fade away.

I’ve tried to take that approach to lots of things this past week or so. I give myself goals and think about how I will achieve them. I have no other choice than to get them done. I know that sounds really intense, but it’s not. It’s just a change in mindset. I try to go into the grocery store and only get the things on my list. (That doesn’t always happen. Usually there are a few things that I’ve forgotten.)

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I’ve been trying to be more mindful about drinking alcohol. I picked up a bottle of three-buck Chuck and a six pack of beer to share with my new roommate. He likes Corona. I thought about possibly just buying a couple more beers just for myself. I looked at some Indeed or New Belgium, but I turned and went to the cash register.

I told myself that I’m going to limit myself to two drinks an evening. I have no other option than that. I can work around that. It’s not awful. I can make it through a Saturday evening without drinking a whole lot. I think I’ll feel better tomorrow because of it.

I’m still struggling to bring this mindset to my money. I don’t spend excessively, but the last few months have been more in the red than in the black, and that’s not somewhere I want to be. I’m glad my roommate will bring in some extra cash flow. I’ve given myself three goals with regards to finances: 1. Stock away $3,000 2. Save up for the trip to Spain. 3. Invest in a good gym/yoga studio.

I think the step one is the biggest goal. I’ve been drawing against my reserves too much as of late. I just need to keep telling myself that there are no other options than to do those things.

Our culture is all about having tons of choices. I think that’s generally a good thing, but I also think it’s a good thing to have a narrow focus and keep what is really important in mind.  

235. Drinks

I’ve started to reevaluate my relationship with alcohol. I’ll say this first. I’m not an alcoholic. If I have more than two drinks I don’t sleep well. I have more than three drinks, I’ll have a miserable next day. I really don’t take hangovers well. I’m paranoid about making sure not to drink and drive. I’ll occasionally drink too much at home, but that usually means I’ll be staying in for the night.

With that being said, I’ve been thinking a lot of alcoholism and drinking lately, especially with my job. I work with a lot of lawyers and it’s my job to keep up on the news around the legal industry. A few months ago a study came out that showed that a high number of lawyers have problem drinking. Initially, there was a big response saying that lawyers need to “do something.” While it’s admirable to try and break the stigma surrounding addiction, I don’t think the culture has changed a whole lot.

I spent most of Friday researching and poking around any content that has been done regarding the study. There hasn’t been a whole lot. I checked the Minneapolis library for any books. In the dozen or so shelves filled with materials related to addiction, there wasn’t anything related to lawyers. I thought that was odd. So, I’m hoping to provide some useful materials related to that.

I’ve been thinking about my personal relationship with it as well. I read this piece called “Giving up alcohol opened my eyes to the infuriating truth about why women drink.” Even though I’m obviously not a female, it resonated with me. So many of our social situations are lubricated with alcohol. So many people go to it as a crutch at the end of the day. So many people feel like they need to have it to validate an event. I’ve been in all of those situations. I’m not against those situations.

I’m not sure when those sort of situations cross into dangerous territory. I’m just uncomfortable with it being a normalized part of many things you do.

I usually buy a six pack and a bottle of wine on a Thursday and consume it throughout the weekend. It’s not very much compared to some people. Sometimes it feels like a lot. Especially the other weekend when I consumed a bottle of three buck chuck and a pint by myself in one evening. The next day I asked myself, “Why did I feel like I needed to do that?” It was sort of diminishing marginal returns after my second glass of wine.

I decided not to buy alcohol this last Thursday. It was kind of difficult. I went on a nice run, and I was making nice dinner. A glass of wine or two would have been a nice addition to the evening. It wasn’t so bad without out it though. It was a productive and relaxing evening even though I didn’t have a drink. I’m going to continue to reevaluate how I consume alcohol over the next few weeks.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

234. Colbert and Holland, 1945

I have this playlist I go to when I’m feeling miserable. Specifically, I go to it when I’m feeling miserable about my love life. It’s for those times when you feel like everyone is ahead of you. Everyone is making better choices than you. Heck, everyone is just making choices when you feel like you’re stuck.

One of the songs I listen to when I want to disappear from all that is the song “Holland, 1945” by Neutral Milk Hotel. I like it because Stephen Colbert used it during the finale of the Colbert Show. Here’s a quote from a New York Times column by Maureen Dowd on Colbert:
He had 10 older siblings. But after his father and the two brothers closest to him in age died in a plane crash when he was 10 and the older kids went off to college, he said, he was “pretty much left to himself, with a lot of books.”
He said he loved the “strange, sad poetry” of a song called “Holland 1945” by an indie band from Athens, Ga., called Neutral Milk Hotel and sent me the lyrics, which included this heartbreaking bit:
“But now we must pick up every piece
Of the life we used to love
Just to keep ourselves
At least enough to carry on. . . .
And here is the room where your brothers were born
Indentions in the sheets
Where their bodies once moved but don’t move anymore.”
I love those lines because even though the song is sad, it’s hopeful. You need to pick up things. You’re going to carry on. I also like the song because it’s not morose. It’s fast paced and if you can rock out in spite of the lyrics. I’ve grown to really like those things that can make you feel two different things at the same time.  
Life is full of contradictions. Things can suck, yet be enjoyable.  Things can be sad, yet hopeful. Things can ruin you, yet also set you free. I think I grow the most when I live in those contradictions. I enjoy art that toes the line between two different states. I think that’s why I love Colbert. He’s a guy who could be a total asshole (in character), but in real life he’s an extremely decent and kind human being.
I look back at the last major break up I had and thought about how sad I was. Even though it was the worst period of my life, I feel more balanced now. I still get sad about it sometimes, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good thing that happened.
Live in the contradictions. Even though you might feel like crap, go out and take care of yourself. Do something you love. I’ve narrowed my list down to a few things that I can reliably turn to when I feel awful: soccer, running, cooking, listening to podcasts, going for beers with friends. Find those things.
People are constantly figuring it out. Don’t give up trying to figure it out.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

233. Random

I have a new roommate coming in on Saturday. I’m both nervous and excited. I’m nervous because I’m probably going to have to change a few of my living habits. I probably will have to close the door when I’m going to the bathroom. I’m probably going to keep the place a little bit cleaner. I also probably have to be a little more organized with things. It’s one thing to say you want to be organized, but it’s another thing to actually be organized.

But that pales in comparison to the extra cash that will be coming in. It will also be nice to have someone to talk to in the evening. I’ve probably been a little too reclusive at times at home. I don’t think it’s good that you rely on Netflix or other forms of entertainment for your at-home stimulation. My new roommate seems pretty cool. He played basketball in college and played professionally in Australia and Mexico. I think it we’ll have a lot to talk about.

It was probably good that I’ve gotten to know a few more of my neighbors. I waved to one as I was walking around this evening. That felt good. It’s good to know that you have a connection with someone who lives on the same property as you do. Hopefully I’ll get to know a few more of my neighbors, one that’s actually in my building. (I think one of them may actually be moving out?) I’ll have to be on the lookout for anyone else moving

The past few weeks have been pretty slow with regards to writing. Maybe it’s the summer or that I haven’t done anything interesting. Or maybe I just haven’t felt like sitting down and writing. I’ve had a few other things on my mind like getting my apartment prepared or getting things for work done.

I’ve also been a little sick the past few days. I really don’t like the act of being sick. I left work early on Monday. It kind of made me mad to stay couped up inside all day. (I mean I did finish Stranger Things, but it was still hard to lie on the couch all day.) I came home yesterday and just took a nap after work. It was nice to sleep for over an hour. I think that really helped. I still didn’t feel great today. I was a little tired, not too hungry, and didn’t have a ton of energy.  I made it through the day, but I didn’t want to go for a run, so I just went out for a walk.

Man this has been a really boring blog update. I’m watching the Office right now. It’s nice to have a television, a lamp, and a coffee table. It’s starting to feel a little more like a home here. I guess that’s a good thing.

I’ve still got some updating to do in the bedroom. I’ll be getting a bed soon. I also still have to get some more blinds. That’s the thing about owning a home, always be updating.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

232. Things I've liked

I feel like more and more of my life just revolves around consuming content. Summer is a particularly rich time for consuming content. I feel like I should be outside more and not in front of a screen, but that’s the way things go nowadays. These are the best things I have watched or read so far this summer:
1. Captain America: Civil War. This is by far my favorite movie of the summer so far. It was just enjoyable in so many ways. I love the characters. The storyline sucked me in with a good mixture of action, mystery, suspense, and enjoyable people. I’ve seen a lot of superhero movies since college and I think this might be a top 3 choice for me. I saw it twice in the same week in the theaters. I haven’t done that with too many other films. A fun antidote to the all the other crap that our world is dealing with on a daily basis.

2. The Hike by Drew Magary. I actually got this book via Audible. I like Magary’s writing. He’s funny, snarky, intelligent, and I like to hear his takes on stuff. I kind of expected the same brand of humor in this. Little did I know that this was actually a thriller. The book center’s around a man who visits rural Pennsylvania on a business trip and ends up stumbling into an alternate dimension when he goes out for a little hike. I’m glad I got this via audiobook because I gave up my weekly podcast binge to listen to it. If you’re looking for something that’s a little scary, weird, and just a little bit warm and friendly, check out the Hike.

3. Pothole Confidential by R.T. Rybak. This was another book that I had trouble putting down. I really like R.T. and I’d even met him a couple of times. He always struck me as someone who generally cares about all parts of the city of Minneapolis. This book showed that. It talks about triumph, tragedy, good times, tough times, and a bunch of other little things that often get overlooked in the typical coverage of politics. In this sweltering hellhole of an election season, Rybak’s memoir was a tall, ice cold glass of lemonade. It made me gain a little bit more faith in public officials.

4. Stranger Things. This has been the show of the summer. And for good reason. It’s terryfying, fun, spooky, and beautiful. It tells the story of when a fourth of fifth grade boy goes missing in a small Indiana town. His group of friends goes looking for him, as does his mom and the local sheriff. It definitely has that 80s horror vibe, but it’s not absolutely terrifying. The kids are what really makes the show. Kids are often used as just another way to tell a story, but these kids are the story. We’re seeing the world through their eyes. It made me miss my younger days of hatching schemes and riding around town on my bike. I’m guess this will be even better to watch in October.

Monday, August 22, 2016

231. Concerts, Ranked

I’ve been to a lot of concerts this summer. Well, maybe not a ton compared to some people, but more than usually. I’m going to rank the best acts I’ve seen so far. I’ll start with the one’s I didn’t really care for.

Chance the Rapper- First, I like Chance. I like that he’s a bit different. He gives away all his music. He uses interesting beats, and he seems like an overall positive guy. But I just couldn’t get into the show. It was the last act I saw at Rock the Garden, so I was a bit dehydrated. It was also seriously crowded for about 50 yards in front of the stage. I hate that about concerts. Everyone smelled and there were a number of people toking up all around me. Do what you want, but I was a bit nauseous near the end. Chance’s set also didn’t flow all that well. I don’t mind artists talking, but I think he talked a little too much and it ruined the set.

Craig Finn- I also LOVE Craig Finn. I love the Hold Steady. I’ve bought both of his solo albums. It’s fine music to listen to in the car, but it didn’t really match up well to the sunny summer day at the Basilica block party. I’m not sure how to describe it. It felt kind of flat and out of place. Hopefully I’ll get to see him again soon to get another concert in my memory bank.

Ok, here are the bands I’ve really enjoyed seeing so far this summer.

Ryan Adams- I’ve been wanting to see Adams for a long time. I got into his music in college and I never took the time to go see him somewhere. He came to the Basilica Block Party and put on a great show. He had a good mixture of alt-country rock stuff along with some mellower pieces. He was also delightfully weird. The stage had two arcade games on it, along with a bunch of other random stuff. He was a great closer to the show.

Wilco- As noted in a previous blog post, I just saw Wilco this past weekend. I wasn’t very excited to see them due to a variety of factors, but I pushed myself to go see them. I’m glad I did. There were moments where I just closed my eyes and sang along. It was a very good winding down summer kind of concert. I was up close again for this show and I didn’t have to deal with too many jerks. It was a little crowded, but not too bad. It was also cool to see California Stars played under the stars.

Cloud Cult- This group puts on a fantastic show. It felt like it was an event that couldn’t be replicated anywhere else. The lead singer Craig Minowa was welcoming and warm, and inspiring. I couldn’t stop listening to Cloud Cult for about a week afterwards. The Hazelfest vibe was fantastic. I’d love to go see these guys again.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

230. Dating

As most of you who are reading this probably know, I’ve been single for a few months. I dated a really great girl for a couple months earlier this year, but due to a variety of factors, we decided to end it. And it’s fine, it just means going back out on the dating scene. Even though it sounds fun (and my co-workers think I’m just having a ball), it’s been a bit of a roller coaster.

These last few months of dating have felt different. It’s just felt like something I need to do. It feels like any other part of my day: eating, sleeping, breathing, working, exercising, dating. It’s become a process. I meet someone, we go for drinks, we learn the basics, and then we make a decision with whether we want to see this thing through, or we just stop texting one another.

I’ve gone on some fun dates, and I’ve met some interesting people, but every avenue in that regard has come to a dead end. And I’ll be honest, every connection I’ve made online has been a mixture of excitement and disdain. These dates kind of feel like homework. And that’s probably not fair to any of the many (many) fantastic women I’ve made met up with.

I thought about the women I’ve really, really been in love with. There’s been three. (I’ve said I love you to a few more. Those were different and I really don’t feel like diving into that subject for this blog post.) I remember how things kind of just glided into a relationship. It felt like things got some seasoning and we were able to build. It didn’t feel like a process. Of course, that was when I was younger, in school, and had a lot fewer obligations.

So why does dating and falling in love have to just feel like a chore these days? Someone is going to say, “Well,we’re all busy.” I don’t really buy that. I know some lawyers who work too hard and I also know plenty of people who just go to their job and then they watch Netflix most of the evening. I think most mid-twenties single people probably have more time on their hands than they’d like to admit.

I know this whole “dating sucks” thing is trite. The only response people can think of is “Oh, well, someone will come around.” I don’t know. Maybe. It’s just not fun. Shouldn’t this be fun? Shouldn’t this whole thing be fun? I’ve come to dread spending money on dates because it just feels like money wasted. Ugh.
Maybe I should just cool it for a while. Whenever something begins to feel compulsory to me, I try to stop and re-evaluate. Usually that involves stopping whatever I’m doing for a while and just gathering myself. I’ve deleted a few of those apps on and off for the past weeks. Maybe I’ll take a more permanent vacation and see where other things go.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

229. Choices

There’s a feeling you get when you don’t want to do something. You feel tired by the thought of executing a plan. The couch and Netflix seem so much more inviting. You just don’t want to put in the effort to go do something outside the comfort of your own home. Tonight that thing for me was going to a Wilco concert.

Wilco is probably one of my top 10 favorite bands. I have a few of their albums. I’d seen them once before. I thought about getting tickets to the concert, but I waffled and let it slide by. Then a coworker of mine said that she had an extra ticket for the show. She also said I could have it for free.

She told me she would text me this morning (Saturday) to figure out a plan. I was in Wyoming and wasn’t going to get back to St. Louis Park till the afternoon. It was also raining. I had also run a 5K that morning and I made a trip to Costco with my family. (Retail parking lots of weekends are pretty much my definition of hell.) I was reconsidering my plans. I told myself that my night was either just going to involve my new tv and Netflix, which could happen to me pretty much every night, or it would involve a concert with a band that I really liked. I chose the concert even though I desperately wanted a nap.

I finally met up with my coworker to get the ticket. For some reason I took a few wrong turns on the way home and to the place we were meeting up. (In another retail parking lot nonetheless.) That just made me even more frustrated. It was also threatening to storm again. (I also hate thunderstorms.)

I made it to Hall’s Island in Northeast Minneapolis after parking in St. Anthony and hoofing it a mile there. I got a beer and bratwurst. Even though I usually don’t like going close to the stage, I decided to do that for this show. I wasn’t with anyone.

The first set was decent. It was by Kurt Vile and the Violators. I was about three rows up from the stage. A woman standing next to me was wearing a pretty badass leather jacket with patches advertising Indian Motorcycles. After the opening act, she complimented me on Tottenham sweatshirt and I said I liked her jacket. We eventually got to talking about bands we’d seen and we had a similar taste in music. We talked a little soccer as well. It made the time between sets go a lot faster.

And then Wilco came on. I’ll describe their set like this. They made me forget that this stupid digital world I seem to inhabit more and more of. I didn’t think about memes, the twitter burns, the latest news cycle, or the general social media angst. I just enjoyed the music. In a world with billions of choices for entertainment, it sometimes is pretty nice to focus on only one thing.

The weather turned out to be ideal for a late August concert. It rained a little bit, but that kept everything cool for the evening. I didn’t have to deal with too many assholes. And I sang along to most all the songs. I made the right choice today.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

228. Friends (Part 1)

I read somewhere that you only get about a dozen friends in life. I think that is true. You probably will have lots of family members that will help you throughout life, but they don’t have much of a choice. You can’t pick your family. I’ve always found it fascinating that friends actually choose to hang out with you. They are people you connect with and a bond develops out of circumstance.

I have some great friends. I’m really lucky in that regard. There was someone who said something like, “If you want to judge the character of a man, take a look at his friends.” I believe that is absolutely true.

The idea of friendship fascinates me and it’s something I value a lot. So here are a few tributes to some close friends whom I like (and love.) The catch is that I’m not going to name any of them.

-You are a friend I got to know a little bit later in life. It’s fun how we met in a place that was different than a place where we could have met. I’m glad you appreciate my texts, calls, tweets, and other random forms of communication. It’s good to have someone who keeps you grounded, but also can commiserate and appreciate the good and bad things in life. Here’s to many more years of good beers and SACCAH.

-A friend I met in college. Not one of my “group” friends, but someone I’ve grown to appreciate and value post-college. The best part of our friendship is that we always have things to talk about whether it’s sports, politics, life, or any of the other good things in life. It’s good to have those friends who you can just sit down with and enjoy a cold beverage.

-Probably the friend I underrated the most in college. You’re a solid all-around person who I didn’t appreciate enough in college. You’ve always been friendly, willing to chat about things big and small, and a good person to turn to in times good and bad. I’m glad we’ve grown tighter in our college years.

-I couldn’t imagine summers without this person. Goofy, driven, and principled are all words that I would use to describe you. I wish you lived closer, but I’m glad I’ve been able to share some great moments with you. Here’s to hoping we live closer in the near future.

- You’re really my moral compass in most things. I’m glad you’re the friend who has things figured out among our friend group. (I mean everyone does really, but I like that we all can turn to you.) I appreciate our in depth conversations about tough topics. You need those sorts of friends in life.

- I’m glad we had a nice bond in a place that wasn’t college. I’m glad I could always depend on you for a stiff drink and good conversation. You’re a driven person who appreciates the finer things in life. That’s a very underrated quality. I wish we lived closer, but I’m glad our paths still cross every so often.

227. Breweries

Since I’m falling behind on content lately, I’m going to co-opt a review I wrote on Yelp for Harriet Brewing company. I went there on Wednesday night with a friend. It was literally the worst brewery I’ve been to in the Twin Cities. And that’s quite an accomplishment.
I knew there had to be an awful brewery in the Twin Cities. This is it.

I went with a buddy on a Wednesday night. We just wanted to catch up and chat, but it was so awful, we left after one drink. Here is why our experience was terrible:

1. No signage. There was road construction on Minehaha Ave., but the brewery provided no signage where to park. I didn't realize there was a parking lot until I actually got there. (Parked a few blocks away on the street.)

2. LOUD. I don't mind live music, but the live music they had their was way too loud. It's a really small space, so you can't really escape it. I get I sound like an old man here, but I was not looking to go to a rock concert, I just wanted a beer. They need a better set up to divide between people who want to hear music and people who just want to talk.

3. Hot. It felt like a sauna in there even with their doors open. Would it kill you to have a fan by the register?

4. Tetanus. They had a few setups for Hammerschlagen (sp), which is fine, but don't leave a bunch of rusty nails on the ground around it. I'm not looking to get tetanus when I go out for a drink.

Sorry Harriet Brewing, you need to step up your game before I go back.

So what makes a good brewery? I don’t think it’s that hard to do. All you really need is some halfway decent beer, a good place for socializing, and an environment that’s not lame. Harriet Brewing had none of those things. I feel like it’s kind of hard to screw up a good taproom, but Harriet Brewing managed to do it. It was the first place I’ve ever been to where I immediately wanted to leave. I mean, seriously, who leaves rusty nails out around their patio? It’s insane.

On the flip side of this, what are the best breweries in the Twin Cities? I’m being serious when I’m saying that Harriet Brewing has literally been my least favorite. I’ve always enjoyed Surly when I’ve been there. Even though it’s usually busy, I can get my beer quick and find a nice place to enjoy it without feeling too crowded. I like beers from Fulton the best, but I don’t really enjoy their taproom. I’ve really liked Bauhaus. It’s a good space with lots of parking. I’ve only been to Indeed once, but I’d like to go again. I did really enjoy Sociable Cider Works. I’d like to go back there. (I didn’t think I’d be such a cider guy, but it’s a good change up from the usual beers.)

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

226. Distractions

I’ve tried to organize things in my life. It came after a work webinar where we learned about organizing our email from some dude who called himself the email guru or something like that. The premise of his brand was a little weird, “I’m the guy who helps you organize your emails”, but he actually had some decent organizational points.

The basic points of his email organization premise is this: take care of it, file it for later, or delete it. It sounds pretty radical, but it’s really helped me organize my inbox (at least my work one, my normal gmail is a mess and I don’t want to take care of it.) I frittered away over 400 messages in my inbox last week and now it’s sitting around zero. I also think I’ve been more productive in the past week. I’ve taken care of things right away instead of letting them linger. When I let things linger, I wory, and when I worry I either do dumb things or procrastinate. I’ve found myself doing that less and less. I like having a clear set of directions and tasks in front of me.

I’m not an extremely messy person. (My mom might think otherwise.) I’m cleaner than many 20-something men. I sometimes let things go, but I’ve done better with keeping an area clean. I’ve tried to implement that email philosophy in life. I’ve started with the kitchen. I can either clean it, put it away, or save it for later. I’ve done a pretty good job of keeping a clean (maybe not spotless) kitchen. It is also pretty nice to wake up to a clean kitchen. (Especially after you spent the night drinking beer and you see cans all over your counter.)

I’ve tried to do that with my clothes, but it hasn’t quite yet been successful. I think that’s because I don’t have a great filing system in place yet, so things tend to end up on the floor. I’ve started to ask myself, will I wear this again? If so, hang it up. If not, throw it in the hamper. My room isn’t as messy as it was, but it still has a long way to go.

Maybe I’ve started to do this because I’m getting older. I like to keep things organized and simple. I’m not a huge fan of plans getting mucked up or complicated. I think I’m still fine with a little bit of mess, as long as it’s a controlled mess.

I’ve also been timing myself how long it takes to do simple things. I’ve noticed that cleaning up the kitchen after I’m done takes less than 15 minutes. I can usually get it done quicker than that. That’s a really nice feeling. I think it also helps when you limit distractions. I wanted to write this post in 14 minutes, and I think I’m going to make that goal. So, the lesson I’ve learned the past week? Take care of things and don’t let distractions get in the way of accomplishing a goal.

Monday, August 15, 2016

225. Rhode

I got a little upset today. I saw a Snopes post on Facebook regarding a medalist, Kim Rhode. Rhode is a trap shooter and just medaled in her sixth consecutive Olympics. That’s a fantastic achievement. However, a meme created somewhere said she was being ignored by the mainstream media because she loves guns and Trump.

Holy crap that’s annoying. Not taking anything away from Rhode’s accomplishment. I don’t think I could be at the top of my game for 20 years. But no one cares about shooting sports! Seriously, it’s one of the least popular sports at the Olympics.

There were stories about Rhode, just not as much as some of the popular sports like swimming and gymnastics.  And this story from NPR is actually pretty positive about Rhode and guns. (Yet, I’m guessing the same people who created and shared the meme probably think NPR is some commie liberal outfit.)  In an era where people have no attention span, do you really think they’re going to devote extensive air time to a sport that isn’t all that popular, nor is it fun to watch.

My biggest annoyance with this is that people don’t seem to understand the larger context in how we get the news. It’s not three channels and a bunch of newspapers. There are literally thousands of places to get news. Not all of them are good, but there are a lot of them. We also expect to get it for free. If it’s not pumping into our brain exactly when we want it, we get upset.

However, if there’s an interest out there, there’s probably a speciality blog or internet site devoted to it. (And really just google Kim Rhode, there’s plenty of stories on her.)

If you haven’t noticed, but lots of news gathering operations have slashed budgets in recent years. Reporters are asked to do more with less. You need eyeballs. That doesn’t excuse the reporting media for everything, but give them some slack.

There’s also a tendency for people to think, “This is important to me, why isn’t it important to everyone else?” I understand that tendency for some issues, but do we really have to care about a sport that costs a lot of money, involves equipment that many Americans don’t care to own, and is involved with a culture that many people are turned off by? I don’t. In fact, I really don’t care for the culture surrounding many sports, but I just ignore them.

A former teacher of mine once told me something along the lines of, when you realize that the majority of the world is not out to get you, it becomes a lot easier to get through live. (I realize there’s a touch of privilege in that statement.) The media isn’t “ignoring” Rhode. And even if the collective it of the media was, it’s not becaus she likes guns and Trump. It’s because her sport isn’t that popular.

It’s so easy to complain about things and think everything is unfair. It’s much harder to do something about it. Do something about it.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

224. Roasted Potato Hash Recipe

I tried a new recipe today. I don’t usually like cooking potatoes, but I had an excess of them and I didn’t plan on eating red potatoes at every meal this week. I saw this recipe for roasted potato hash in last week’s New York Times magazine. I had most all of the ingredients at my house, so I thought I’d try it for dinner tonight.

Side note, cooking a big Sunday dinner is great. It takes up a lot of my day and it’s a good stress reliever before the rest of the week. I’ll also have a couple meals in the bag if I don’t end up eating everything while I’m cooking.

I got some very good, fresh bacon from my friend Joel. He’s a native Iowan, so he picked up a bunch on a recent trip to his homeland. I made some the previous day. It was very good stuff. First thing I realized was that I don’t have that great of kitchen knives, or else I dull them very quickly. I diced probably a dozen potatoes of various sizes, but they came out fairly consistent, so I guess that was good.

I’ve been roasting a lot of vegetables lately. They don’t always turn out great. Maybe I don’t leave them in the oven long enough. But I like doing that because it’s usually pretty easy cleanup. (I put aluminum foil over the baking sheet.)

The recipe called to cook the bacon in the oven first and then put the potato, pepper, and onion mixture on the same sheet and cook with the bacon grease. That’s some old school stuff. The roasting took a while, probably about an hour, but I had other stuff to do while it was cooking, so I didn’t mind the time.

I swayed from my normal strict adherence to the recipe. It called for sour cream, lime, and jalepenos in adobo sauce. I had things that were slightly like that: vanilla greek yogurt, lemon juice, and a fresh jalepeno (I think it was jalepeno) along with some siracha sauce. I just went for it because I wasn’t up for making a trip to the grocery store. I didn’t mind that it probably tasted different than what the plan called for originally.

After flipping the potatoes every 20 minutes for an hour, I added the bacon and shredded cheddar cheese. I added the yogurt/lemon/siracha sauce to the mixture and… it was really good. I think it’s pretty hard to screw something up with bacon, starch, and lots of grease. I ate two bowls of it and I barely had enough for another meal sometime this week. (Though my stomach is paying the price for all the greasy stuff.)

This was an excellent and easy recipe. Only after rereading the accompanying article I realized that the author intended for it to be riffed on. I think it might be good with some scrambled eggs for a breakfast dish. That’s for another time.