Archive for the ‘2012 – 01 – January’ Category

Not a surprise to people who know me, but I haven’t ever really grown up.  I am still a child at heart, big time.  Though I can be mature and serious, I love having silly moments of fun.  I still try to do things that entertained me when I was in elementary school, because to be honest, they are still WAY fun!  One of the things that I do, along these lines, is read comics.

Now, I’m not referring to comic books.  I mean, I do still read those.  I have a fairly large comic book collection.  Peter Parker is my best bud.  I am going to name many of my children after X-Men characters.  But no, I am currently referring to comic strips.  Like Dilbert or Calvin and Hobbes.

Now, fun fact: Charles Schulz, the creator of the Peanuts strip, was born and raised in the Twin Cities.  So to honor him, the city of St. Paul hosted something called “Peanuts on Parade” in 2000.  Originally, a total of 101 statues of Peanuts characters were strewn throughout the city.  However, after 2004, the city auctioned many of them off to support local artistic charities, as well as to commission several permanent bronze statues that would be in St. Paul city parks.  Some of the originals are still around the city.  But because they are now privately owned, there isn’t an official map of their locations anymore, nor a well known number of how many.  So for this adventure, a good friend of mine and I went out to look for the non-bronze ones!

It was quite the random trip.  We weren’t sure where many were.  We had a few hints from friends, but not many.  So here was our plan of action: we printed off the original map with the statues locations as of 2000 (12 years ago…).  We then went to the local businesses near the original locations and asked if they knew where any had ended up.  Needless to say, many random conversations were had (and almost all of them were awkward too).  But we found a total of eight statues in one Saturday afternoon, which I think was quite the success!  So here is some photo evidence of the achievements and a small description of how we found it:

The first two statues we tried to find were misses!  There were supposed to be two near the Ford Plant, but alas, none to be found!  However, as we were driving to our next location, we see a Snoopy doghouse on the side of the street next to a bookstore!  Random and awesome!

Our map indicates that there should be one at St. Catherine’s University.  As we check it out, we can’t find anything!  But a campus security guard, who at first looks at us strangely, calls over to her base for help once we explain our plight!  She directed us to the student union.  Inside, we asked the front desk where we could find one, and of course at an all girls university, we find Lucy!

We next head to a bar.  Yup, a bar!  There is supposed to be one at St. Paul’s famous O’Gara’s.  Inside, we ask the bartender if he knows where it ended up.  He directs us across the street to the lobby of a bank, where we found the jackpot!  Four total statues!

We then were close to one that two friends (Whitney and Trevor) had first hand knowledge of: one on the Hamline University campus.  This one was earier to find.

Our last statue was probably my favorite one.  The map said there would be on at the Saint Paul Saints Midway Stadium, and it was still there!  Baseball and comics; two of my favorite things!

Overall, a great Saturday afternoon.  But now that the hunt is on, I need to find more!

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Something that I feel that I don’t do enough of us community outreach.  I’m fortunate enough to have come from a middle-class family.  Both of my parents have graduate degree, and I’m lucky enough to be in a graduate program now.  I grew up in a small town in Minnesota where I was taught acceptance, trust, and compassion.  I really feel like I could be doing more to help the world around me.  So for this adventure, I decided to walk the walk.

I am currently working part-time as a barista at Starbucks.  It’s a pretty sweet job for a full-time graduate school student.  I usually work only five hours a day, and get done by 10am.  I can take a nap in the afternoons, then do homework all before my wife gets home from work!    Bonus!

The Starbucks store that I work for does community work maybe once a month.  This month, some of my co-workers and I worked with Habitat for Humanity for a day.  And it was so awesome!

We, for the most part, were just painting the interior of a group of town homes that were being built in Northeast Minneapolis.  And the group of people that I was working with was awesome.  I only knew the three people in the picture above with me, but there were maybe 50 people there.  Everyone was very joyous, constantly joking, smiling, chatting.  And all while doing this great thing to help those less fortunate.

I think I’m going to do more community outreach with my Starbucks.  I’m not sure when, but I think next month or the month after, we are going to be working at a Feed My Starving Children event.  I hopefully can make it!  But since all three of my graduate classes have started, I may be pretty busy.  That won’t stop me from adventuring!  I just hope that the timing and scheduling works out.

*Fun fact: did you know that every house that Habitat for Humanity builds across the world is all painted the same color on the inside?  Every single house, the same color.  That’s so cool!  Kinda boring, but cool!  It’s mostly because the paint is, for the most part, all donated to them.  And you can’t complain about the color when it’s free!

If anyone meets me for five minutes, they will for sure learn that I am a gigantic geek.  And I’m not afraid to admit this.  I will talk about my favorite TV show (Firefly), favorite book (Wizard’s First Rule), favorite movie (Lord of the Rings Trilogy)…basically any kind of favorite has to do with something nerdy.  I even went so far as to get a geek related tattoo.

For those of you who don’t know what the tattoo is, it is called The Triforce.  The Triforce is a symbol and holy relic in the video game franchise The Legend of Zelda (my favorite one).  Originally when I got this tattoo, I just wanted something that I thought looked sweet.  I told people that it had some meaning behind it, but that wasn’t entirely true.  At least, not at first.

Now, as I looked back at my first batch of adventures, I was trying to see which ones I attempted and failed, if any.  One that I feel I didn’t fully commit to was my week four adventure, Lifestyle . During that week, I did a lot of self-analysis on how I could improve my life moving forward.  And I feel I did put a lot of thought and effort into it.  But I didn’t have an exact plan, and as such, it wasn’t executed very well.  I didn’t have written, obtainable goals, or the steps I could take to achieve them.

Which brings me back to my tattoo.

As I take an honest look at myself, I can’t help but be drawn to my tattoo, to this thing that was meant to stamp myself as a geek.  But now, as I look at it, I realize how I can use this as a constant reminder to better myself.  I can use this metaphor from a video game to inspire and change my life.

Power

I need to become stronger and healthier, both my my self-confidence and for my heart’s health.  I’ve been a subscriber to Men’s Health for almost two years now.  It is time I stick to a workout routine and diet plan.  I need to stick to one plan for it’s length then find a new plan to expand on what I’ve accomplished.  It is time I work out regularly and with passion.  Where I go into every workout with a drive and determination to succeed, and not foreboding that I will eventually fail.  I need to OWN this, to destroy it.

Coming to this realization made me understand that physical power isn’t the only thing that I need to cultivate.  I also need to foster a mental strength that will allow me to continue when times are tough, when things aren’t going well, or when I hit a plateau in my life.  I need to have a mental strength to match this desire so that it can last longer than a few short weeks.

My workout plan is set for two months.  I won’t type out all of the details of it here, cause it is boring to read work out plans, but I will say I’m going to work out three days a week, with both cardio and circuit training done in my apartment.  I’ve weighed myself and taken “before” photos, and I’m excited to compare them to the “after” photos which will come in two months.

Wisdom

Now, I’m a procrastinator.  Big surprise, I’m sure.  However, this in and of itself isn’t a bad thing.  I am the kind of person who thrives under pressure.  When my back is pushed to the wall, I’m able to focus.  When I know I have time, I just can’t concentrate adequately enough to do a good job.  I am too easily distracted.

But I can be better.  This trimester, in my graduate program, I’m taking three classes.  The last time I did this, I ended up dropping one of the classes half way through because I was too stressed.  I didn’t adequately manage my time; I didn’t look ahead to know what was coming.  I wasn’t able to just go with it.  Knowing this now, though, makes me realize that in order to succeed, if I know I have three papers due during one week, I just need to “plan out” my procrastinating.  I need to schedule my time, and I know that if I schedule myself a short window of time for each assignment, I can feel pressured and focus enough to finish them.

Courage

This one, for me, should be easy.  For this yearly goal, I just want to have the courage to continue to adventure.  No matter what, have fun.

Well, that’s it for this week.  A boring one to read about, but one that I feel should be done right away in the year to allow myself the best chance to make this year amazing for me and those around me.

Previously, I started adventuring by eating at Matt’s Bar, the Minneapolis landmark, to try their famous Jucy Lucy.  So this year, I began by going to the Dinkytown neighborhood in the University of Minnesota to, for the first time, eat at Al’s Breakfast.

I started my adventure by arriving here at 6:05 a.m.  For those that don’t know, Al’s Breakfast, which was featured on the Diners Drive-Ins and Dives TV show on the Food Network, is notorious for long lines.  The reason why is that they only are open for breakfast..and there are only fourteen stools in the entire restaurant.  It is one counter top.

I arrived five minutes after they opened, but the fourteen seats were already taken and there were seven people in line ahead of me.  Oh, and by line, I mean standing against the wall which is about a foot and a half behind the stools.  Personal space isn’t allowed in here.

Though there were only twenty or so people in this tiny restaurant, there was a great mix of the young and old.  It made for an interesting vibe to see them were bumping elbows with each other, quite literally at times.  The cramped nature also allowed for great eavesdropping.  I was able to find out that one of the employees was having their house inspected, but a different employee’s uncle was the inspector.  Being able to hear the conversations made this place seem very homey, very much like a small town diner, not a place you’d find in a major metropolitan city.  The casual way in which people were talking with one another was also a nice change of pace.  You weren’t allowed to have your own bubble; your own place to turn the rest of the world off and focus only on yourself.  You are forced to interact with people next to you.  If you aren’t okay with that, you aren’t going to come back here.

As time went on, a line began to form behind me.  There was a couple waiting in line together ahead of me, and as a stools opened up, people that were already sitting were told to move over to allow the waiting couple to sit next to one another.  The people already eating were not asked to move stools; no no.  They were told.  But given the limited space, it just seems like the right thing to do.  Why can’t someone move down a stool or two so that these people can sit next to one another?  The waitress was just basically being the voice of reason.

After about a half hour of waiting, I was told to sit down on a stool that opened up.  I look through the menu, which I’m sure hasn’t changed in years, and ordered a bacon and cheese omelet with toast and hash browns, plus OJ and coffee.

After ordering, I had time to look at the opposite wall.  They had plenty of cartoons, pictures, and other random crap hanging up on it.  Most noticeable, though, was two rows full of yellow booklets with names on them.  Apparently, when the restaurant first opened over 60 years ago or so, the owner would let people buy meals in advance on these kinds of booklets.  They still allow people to do that to this day (oh yeah, no credit cards here; just cash or check).  This is also something that makes Al’s feel very homey, very welcoming and trusting, the kind of place you would want to buy meals in advance at because you know you want to come back.  Often.  You want to be a regular at a place like this.

My food arrived about twenty minutes after ordering.  And it was delicious.  The omelet was huge, the hashbrowns crispy and hot, the coffee cup always full.  It was a great kind of meal; the kind you’d expect at an aunt’s house, or a diner from the 50’s that you see on the side of an old highway.

Overall, Al’s Breakfast rightly deserves it’s reputation as a Minneapolis and University of Minnesota staple.  It brings a sense of no-nonsense food service to a culture that needs more of it.  It is perfect for someone looking for a romanticized notion of nostalgia; a place that is divey and kind of grungy.  But those aren’t faults; they are the charm.  A place where grease on your food adds to the taste.

When I was finished with my meal around 7:20 a.m., I paid and tipped the waitress, put my coat on, and squeezed by the new line of people waiting right behind me.  New people sitting down, new people waiting in line, and more coming in as I was leaving.  I for sure will be coming back to wait against the wall for a coveted space at Al’s Breakfast.