janradder: (wtf?)
Twice now in the past week, cars that I am passing have decided to pull into my lane right when I am next to them so that I've had to slam on the brakes and blare the horn in order to keep them from hitting me. On numerous other occasions this week, cars have breezed through their stop signs without slowing just as I'm traveling through the intersection, suddenly pulled out in front of me from the curb with absolutely no warning (or space for a car), and unexpectedly cut me off as they did U-turns in the middle of the street. I have no idea how I have managed to keep our car in one piece.
janradder: (dork)
On the way to Target today, I drove behind a Corvette with a vanity plate reading, "SUM FUN." My first thought was that it had to do with summer, as in "summer fun," but then I thought maybe the person just couldn't spell "some." Then it hit me, the person loves to add, hence "SUM FUN."
janradder: (Default)
On 36th Street, just east of Chicago Avenue, someone has put up a huge sign in front of their house. It's about four feet tall and five feet long and mounted on a pair of six or seven foot tall four by fours. Written in black spray paint is this message: "Stop stealing my flowers, piece of shit!"

Honestly, I must admit I've thought about doing this after people have stolen plants and rocks from our garden, but I've never actually gone ahead and done it. I can't say I blame the guy, though.
janradder: (godzilla)
Why is it the only time I ever see the local news in our neighborhood is when there's been a crime committed, yet whenever we have the May Day Parade or the Powderhorn Art Fair or Fourth of July fireworks they're suspiciously absent?
janradder: (Default)
Today I rode my bike to pick up the boys from school and in order to get there part of my path took me through one of the areas hit by the tornado. Yesterday most of the roads were closed but today a few of them were open so I rode down part of Portland Avenue.

Along along the street it smelled like a lumber yard and sawdust hung in the air and settled on the road. Three out of every four or five houses were covered in blue tarps and large chunks of trim were missing from some of the homes. There were no trees left except for a few smaller ones that were far from the street and up and down the boulevards where the trees used to grow were either hacked off stumps standing askew or else gaping holes in the ground. Here and there were beautiful gardens untouched by the storm. The street looked naked and raw. It was sad to see. That part of Portland had been so gorgeous.
janradder: (Default)
When Arie was three I used to drive along Diamond Lake Road to take him to preschool. Along the way, as we passed the exit ramp from 35W there was usually a guy standing at the corner holding a sign. Usually it said, "Will Work for Money" or "Will Work for Food." Behind him, he'd have a kid's wagon with a yard rake in the fall and a snow shovel in the winter. I'm not really sure how he was going to rake the lawns or shovel the sidewalks of the people who gave him money from their cars as they got off the highway, but he had them anyway.

About two or three months after I first saw him, he had a new sign. "Absolute Desperation," it read. And he looked it. It was a good sign. Each time we passed by, he was usually getting money from a car that had pulled over to the curb. A couple days later, the "Will Work" signs appeared and then a couple days after that, the "Absolute Desperation" sign was back. He alternated them for the next few months until finally he just used the "Absolute Desperation" sign and the yard tools and wagon were gone.

It's four years later and he's still there with the same sign, looking no worse for the wear. He stands on the corner with a pathetic half-smile he gives to drivers or else he talks on his cell phone. I have no idea what his story is or why he's standing on the corner asking for money. All I know is that four years seems like an awfully long time to be living in "absolute desperation" without something changing.
janradder: (Default)
Last night, as you may or may not know, was National Night Out. It's a chance for neighbors to get outside on a nice summer night and mingle. It's also a chance for me, if I go, to talk to a bunch of people I've never met before and try to make small talk. If given the choice, I would rather be stuck repeatedly with sharp metal objects.

Usually, I hang back and let [livejournal.com profile] haddayr do all the gabbing and schmoozing because she likes that sort of thing. No, I shouldn't say she likes it. She thrives on it. Which is why I like going with her to those things because I can just nod and smile and pretend I heard what people said (in addition to being horribly shy and introverted, I'm also a little hard of hearing, especially when I'm in large group settings and there's a lot of background noise going on). That was not the case last night because Haddayr had yoga class which left me on my own. But since the boys wanted to go, I went with them.

Was it as bad as I thought it was going to be? No. It was so much worse.

In addition to the fifty smiling strangers there was a loud band "playing music." To say they were bad would be an insult to bad bands everywhere. Not only could they not sing in tune with their instruments or keep their instruments in tune with each other, they couldn't keep their instruments in tune with themselves. And then they went into three and four part vocal harmonies. Out of tune. Singing the Grateful Dead. Loudly.

So I sat at a table watching Éiden stuff his face with chips until there weren't anymore as Arie did some sort of coloring activity and listened to the horrid caterwauling of a group of neighbors I'd never seen before in my life. Meanwhile, I tried to smile and nod at the other neighbors I'd never met before who said god knows what to me because I could barely hear them over the classic rock slaughter. It felt like someone had grabbed my insides with a fork and was slowly but steadily twisting them around and around while commenting on how it was a nice evening outside and how Powderhorn Park sure was a nice place to live. And then at eight o'clock, I got out of there as quickly as I could without looking back for fear I might be pulled out into the hell I'd only just escaped.
janradder: (Default)
Almost as soon as I hit the street, the bike started trying to dart out from under me, like a racehorse anticipating the bell. When I reached the Greenway and had a wide open trail in front of me, it leapt forward like a rocket and we sped along as fast as we could.

A few minutes outside of Minneapolis, a large hawk or falcon dropped down beside me. It was just a few feet away, and the two of us flew along, side-by-side, feeling the wind blowing against us. After about fifteen or twenty yards, it turned its head to look at me then swooped back into the air and flew away.

As I made the loop back to Minneapolis, I came up beside a set of train tracks and a long freight train rolled by, pulled by two engines. It seemed to last forever, box car after box car, followed by a nearly endless line of flatbeds. Each time I thought it had ended, it hadn't. The train outpaced me, stretching out towards Minneapolis, and as I rode through St. Louis Park, it looked like the train stretched from the suburbs all the way to the outskirts of Minneapolis.
janradder: (Default)
On our bike ride yesterday, Éiden and I saw that Minnehaha Creek has become non-existent for long stretches at a time. The creek bed is dry and beginning to fill with weeds in some spots while in others, it's just a nasty patch of mud and stagnant water. We were at the Falls a couple weeks ago and it was no more than a tiny trickle. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if it was even that.

The Twin Cities Metro is seven inches below average for precipitation since January 1st and it certainly shows. This morning, I noticed that even though it's only mid-July, the shrubs in front of our house have already started to turn color in places. And though it rained this morning, the ground is so dry that in many spots it doesn't even look damp because the water soaked in so quickly. Right now, the sun is out again, ready to burn off whatever moisture was left behind.
janradder: (Default)


So yesterday I was biking along the Midtown Greenway through Uptown in Minneapolis. Just about where this picture was taken (back when the Greenway was still a railroad bed), a sixteen or seventeen year old kid rode slowly past us, and I couldn't help but stare because the kid looked like a spitting image of Bob Stinson as he might have looked before all the booze took its toll and his hair started to thin. I know there's a million and one kids in this city with some sort of Swedish/Danish/Norwegian heritage so the chances of seeing someone who looks like Bob Stinson are pretty high, but I still thought it was kind of neat.
janradder: (Default)
--On the way out we rode over Highway 55, crossing on the bike and pedestrian bridge per Arie and Éiden's request. "The bridge!!" they shouted in unison as I huffed and puffed, pulling them up the steep incline. "Yes," I managed to squeak out. "The bridge."

--Keeping with the bridge theme, we rode to the Stone Arch Bridge. "The Bridge Over The Mississippi River!" Éiden shouted, as he nearly always does when we cross the Mississippi (I still find it remarkable that my kids think of the mythic Mississippi River as being a regular part of their world).

--Halfway across the bridge we were nearly brought to a standstill by nearly a thousand Mississippi Lions. I'm not sure who they are or what they do except wear white T-shirts that loudly proclaim their names and blindly wander through the active bike path without once looking to see if there was a bike coming or not (which there was, and quite a few at that).

--On the other side, after making it through the gauntlet of Lions, we were forced to turn around by the profusion of cobblestone streets and the overpowering smell of garbage. On the way back, having to once more make our way through the Leonine pedestrians, I nearly took one of them out when, with her back to us, she stepped directly into our path at the last second. Lucky for her, I'd expected it to happen.

--Riding along the West River Parkway, a driver yelled at me to get on the bike trail (which was more pock marked and potholed than the road) mere seconds after we both passed a sign depicting a bike and car side-by-side accompanying the words, "SHARE THE ROAD."

--Making our way back over the bridge over Highway 55, I observed that while dieting and exercise may help one lose weight, exercising on a nearly empty stomach makes one's stomach feel that much emptier.

--Back on the street, a few blocks from our house, a Minneapolis school bus almost took the three of us out when he pulled the patented Minneapolis move, "I-may-be-parked-on-the-side-of-the-street-but-I'm-still-on-the-street-so-I'm-pulling-out-without-looking-just-like-I've-got-the-right-of-way." Luckily for us, he looked at the last minute, otherwise I wouldn't be writing this now.
janradder: (Default)
About two years ago while heading into the grocery store, I was a approached by a man who looked hot, tired, and panicked. In his hand was a red plastic gas can.

"I'm so sorry to bother you," he said, sounding out of breath. "But my wife just went into labor at Regents Hospital and my van ran out of gas over there on Lake Street."

He pointed to an old tan and brown minivan from the early nineties.

"It's our first baby and I can't believe this happened -- I-I've never run out of gas before -- and I don't have any money. I just need enough to get over to the hospital. Please, if you could just help me out, I'd really appreciate it."

I usually ignore these stories, but there was something about this man and his behavior that made me think he was telling the truth. He was a Black man who looked to be about my age and he had a good, honest smile. And I thought about how I would have felt had the situation been reversed. If it had been my first child, I thought, and I'd run out of gas, I would have looked and sounded just like him. So I gave him the twenty dollar bill I had in my pocket and after thanking me profusely, he rushed off in the direction of the gas station with his red, plastic gas can.

I watched him disappear between the cars in the parking lot and without his bright earnest face before me, I wondered if I'd been taken. Still, I thought, maybe I hadn't, and I'd really helped the guy out.

Today, as I got out the car at another grocery store with the boys in tow, there he was.

"Excuse me," he said, looking hot, tired, and panicked, but without a gas can. "My wife just went into labor at Regents Hospital and I was wondering if you could help me."

"No. I can't help you at all," I said.

I looked at that smiling face, which suddenly looked a little scared.

"Yeah, okay," he said, and rushed off looking for another mark.

I turned away, pissed off at myself both for letting him con me two years earlier and for not saying something when he'd approached me with the same con. "She's in labor and you ran out of gas again?" I told myself I should have said. But I hadn't. Instead, I walked through Aldi, feeling like an idiot for being taken by the guy. But his eyes -- his eyes and his smile, they looked so honest and earnest. And as I drove away, looking to see if he was in the parking lot so I could say something, I cursed him for using that honest face to take advantage of other people.
janradder: (watt)
It was a good show, though they started out a little flat on the first few songs, which was understandable in that this was the last show on the tour (and Exene was recently diagnosed with MS, which might have had something to do with the energy level as well). By about the fifth song, however, they found their groove, as did the crowd, and a slam pit opened up in front of the stage. I jumped in, bouncing off the people around me and getting shoved by the people around me until I had to take a break and get some water from the bar

Near the end of the show, during the first encore, some girl behind me on the edge of the pit literally started punching me in the ass. I have no idea why -- she and her friend weren't slamming, but they were kind of violently shoving any of us who got near them.

A few minutes later, my glasses flew off my face and to the floor. I backed up out of the pit to see if they were anywhere nearby, and the girl who'd been punching my ass started shoving me from behind again. I told her to quit shoving me, that I'd lost my glasses, and shockingly, she stooped down and tried to help me look for them. Soon, a bunch of other people asked what I'd lost and started to help me look for them as well. Even when I said to forget about it, that they were more than likely smashed to bits on the floor a group of people continued to search the floor with the lights form their cell phones, and a few minutes later, one of them handed me my mangled, lensless frames. I'm still amazed at their kindness in looked for them.

Left without my eyes for the two encores but with my now found frames, I jumped back into the pit for the last few songs, then wondered if I was going to have to call a cab to get home. After the band left the stage for the last time and the crowd cleared out, I searched around the now empty floor to see if my lenses might be anywhere around. And they were! Up near the stage, just lying there with only a few scratches.

So I've got my glasses back, though I do need to get them replaced now, and I've got a pair of filthy, beer-scented shoes to go with them. I'm tired from being up late and having to get the boys to school early, and my body is pretty sore, but I'm pretty happy too.
janradder: (Default)
No, I'm not going out for a bike ride. Apparently there is a limit to my idiocy.
janradder: (Default)
Is there any music worse than Christian pop? I'm talking about the kind you hear on the all Christian radio station, where every song sounds exactly like the last one and all the words are exactly the same -- the kind where between songs, you'll hear that gentle male preacher voice lulling you to sleep with the love of Jesus. Someone in our neighborhood has been blasting it to the neighborhood, perhaps in the hopes that doing so may save some of us sinners (or perhaps it's being done in an effort to finally drive us to the devil once and for all, in an effort to escape that horrid, horrid sound). Dear God, please deliver us from your devotee and shut off that infernal racket . . .
janradder: (axe man)
The other day, as I drove to Éiden's preschool, I saw a normal looking sedan driving down the street with a huge piece of metal pipe taped to the passenger side of the car with electrical tape. The pipe looked like it was about four or five inches in diameter, and it ran almost the entire length of the car, from the trunk to just in front of the windshield. I couldn't figure out why the owner had put it there. Was it taped on merely as a way to transport the pipe to another location, or did the owner know something more about the current economy than the rest of us and was preparing for a Road Warrior future where the pipe could be used as both a battering device and a mechanism to launch flaming projectiles at oncoming cars? I didn't check the driver to see if he or she were wearing half a spiked leather jacket and shoulder pads, so if it's the latter, I guess I won't know until it's too late.

Um.

May. 16th, 2009 11:45 am
janradder: (Default)
After you get your money at a drive-through ATM, do you:

A) Quickly drive off so the next person can use it?

B) Sit and count all your money, then slowly place it in your wallet or purse while a line of cars builds behind you?

or C) Get out of your car and urinate on the ATM?

If you picked C, you are apparently not alone, as this is what the otherwise normal-looking middle-aged gentleman did at the ATM on Nicollet and Blaisdale last night.

Sometimes

Apr. 30th, 2009 09:27 am
janradder: (godzilla)
I really, really, really, really, really hate driving in Minnesota.
janradder: (wtf?)
As in many cities and many parts of the country, there's a growing number of vacant houses in our area. The windows and doors are boarded up and in winter, the sidewalks in front are only shoveled occasionally by the city, while in the summer, the lawns tend to grow longer than others. It's kind of depressing to see, and vacant homes, between being an eyesore and providing a home to rodents and delinquents (who are able to break in), aren't the greatest thing for a neighborhood. So, because a vacant house alone isn't bad enough, someone has decided to start tagging the homes in our neighborhood (presumably to make a political point) with the message, "Too many vacant homes; too many homeless." So now, we get to live in a neighborhood full of graffiti as well, though I guess since it's political graffiti instead of gang graffiti, I'm supposed to approve of it.

So . . .

Apr. 2nd, 2009 10:23 am
janradder: (Default)
There's a new aisle at Rainbow Foods labeled "New Age Beverages."

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