scribbles tagged ‘Minneapolis’

Spooky (snowflake #5)

Saturday, November 11th, 2017 | tags: , , , ,  |

I94 ghostly snowfall

Like dry ice on stage at a concert, spooky snow sweeps over the road, swirling away from the approaching car tires. It lingers like smoke until approached when it speedily swirls away into the darkness.  Fascinating white flames in the dry cold briefly caught dancing in the headlights of cars.

Hard, dry and fast, it stings.

Fire’s nemesis.

 

Fifth in a series describing different types of snowfall

Spooky (snowflake #5)
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Fake (Snowflake #4)

Friday, November 10th, 2017 | tags: , , , ,  |

A bi-product of the entertainment industry. Mainly used when temperatures are already below 32F. It provides a thin fresh, clean covering.

Theodore Wirth Park

Forth in a series that will describe the different types of snowfall this winter.

Fake (Snowflake #4)
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Stupid (Snowflake #3)

Saturday, November 4th, 2017 | tags: , , , ,  |

It’s thick, it’s dense. It’s common, there’s a lot of it about. It doesn’t seem to be going away. It’s a bit flakey. I’m a bit fascinated by it’s arrival and watch, dumb-struck. Stupid snow. It’s here and it’s staying around.

This is my car after about 40 minutes exposure to stupid snow:

 

Third in a series that will describe the different types of snowfall this winter.

Stupid (Snowflake #3)
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Antisocial (snowflake #2)

Friday, November 3rd, 2017 | tags: , , , ,  |

This type of snowflake has a personal space in excess of 3ft

It meanders down avoiding settling on stuff and disappears as soon as it hits a surface. The flakes may be more substantial than “Dandruff” flakes, but they don’t have presence. They evoke a sense of disappointment, “is this all we’re getting

They don’t settle, they cover anything

The anti-social snowflake is an anti-climax

Leaving Pangbourne

Second in a series that will describe the different types of snowfall this winter.

Antisocial (snowflake #2)
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Dandruff (snowflake #1)

Thursday, November 2nd, 2017 | tags: , , , ,  |

Small, firm, frozen droplets, creating a light fog with a sticky texture. Settling on walls and trees, creating a cover that doesn’t crunch under-foot

Pebbles

First in a series that will describe the different types of snowfall this winter.

Dandruff (snowflake #1)
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I want to bonsai a wisteria

Sunday, May 1st, 2016 | tags: , , , , , ,  |
Bonsai'd wysteria

Bonsai’d Wysteria

The light spring breeze danced with his loose, sparkling, Celtic curls “Can I interest you on some gravel Mam?

The earnest delivery by a boy untouched by razors was enough to make me laugh. Laugh out loud in the old fashioned, diaphram-shaking nature of the emotion. “Thank you, but no thank you, I’m looking for a wisteria in a pot, do you have any?”

Pale as his completion was, this question still managed to still further bleach colour. In seconds,  self-disappointment showed, more effectively than words, across his face. “it’s my second day, I’m only really familiar with the gravel, but I know someone who can help us

He walked me towards another member of staff  “that’s a lovely accent you’ve got, where are you from?”

England, do you have a garden?” Oh dear, I’m interviewing him for his job, must stop being so judgemental…

He introduced me to the next assistant, a boy who looked young enough to still be in high school with the heavy black loose curls that I associate with Italians. I asked about Wisteria. The Celtish boy quickly added “She’s from England, that’s the accent

I suspect they don’t get many people from outside this city district of South Minneapolis. The Italian looking boy replied with a ‘Whatever’ nonchalance “It’s my first day, I don’t know” By now, the store manager had noticed the flocking of her new employees and made a very personable b-line for me. She found out about my general gardening requirements and the boys hovered in the background, witnessing an excellent role model.

No wisteria yet, but I’ll be back. I could even put in a personalised order for the wisteria of my choice. I left empty handed and happy

I want to bonsai a wisteria
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Party lift

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015 | tags: , , ,  |

A creature of habit, on Sunday morning I carry my empty bottle and glassware to the recycle bin in the garage. I rarely meet anyone in the lift. This week, the 5 people in the lift chuckled when they  saw my collection of 3 bottles and one commented that my Saturday might looked more fun than his.

this is a week’s worth of bottles… honest…. ……that didn’t sound very convincing did it”

Chorus “No

stairwell only in emergenciesThe stairwell in the lofts is currently out of bounds, except for emergencies. It’s full of paint fumes. People would get high on the stairs if they accidentally used them.

lift out of orderOne of the two elevators is not working, due to be repaired within 2 weeks.

Can you guess what’s happening?

Sociability enhancements! I’m loving it.

Long waits for the elevator to arrive mean people meet each other while waiting. Frequent stops at each floor mean the elevator quickly fills with people, packages and puppies. We talk, smile, laugh.

It’s jolly nice.

I hope the elevator stays broken for more than 3 weeks.

Party lift
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Big white balls on the ceiling

Sunday, August 9th, 2015 | tags: , , , ,  |

Bare bulbs in basic ceiling fixtures provide harsh and inadequate light for the Wendy loft. At the moment.

Lighting6 months after moving in  I’ve gotten around to ordering lighting fixtures from ‘Lightworks‘ an awesome little family company that renovates old fixtures, designs and makes new fixtures and just loves lighting. I’ve spent several visits just sat on a bar stool in the shop talking to Charles and Kathryn while Wes walks through and the new puppy tries to get into the showroom.   They are lovely people.

LightingI’ve bought some plain pendants with 18 inch hand blown glass globules ‘shades’ that will cover two bulbs. The photograph is of the shop demo with an 8 inch globe. I’ll have bigger balls, in each room.

I’ve also commissioned them to renovate a standard lamp (circa 1920s) that mum and dad bought as a housewarming gift when I moved to Seattle in 2000.

Charles and Kathryn loved this and told me that if it was being sold today they’d expect about to get about $2,500 for it. WOW, that’s added a couple of zero’s onto what mum and dad paid for it!

By November the loft should have adequate lighting…

Big white balls on the ceiling
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What’s the home of the Vikings?

Monday, August 3rd, 2015 | tags: , , , , , ,  |

Rendering of US Bank Stadium (currently under construction)

A new stadium is being built for the Minneapolis Vikings American football team. The stadium will actually be called the “US Bank” stadium. The home of the Vikings is the IS Bank stadium.  I guess both Vikings and Banks have a reputation for collecting money from other people….

The US bank sponsorship team haven’t come up with a stadium name that inspires fun, images of fabulous things, aspirations and warm feelings for the local customers. It’s the name of the bank. No creativity or imagination involved.  To me it says, we’ve got lots of money and we want to you see and say our name every time you’re thinking of the local football team. A succinct message that says a lot about the culture of the IS Bank and the needs of the organisation providing the stadium (Minneapolis city?).

When I lived in Seattle the new Baseball stadium there was named “Safeco field”. Safeco is a huge insurance company in the USA. I understand that these fabulous buildings, cathedrals of our millennium, do need funding and that financial companies have the spare funds and the motivation to get their names known, seen in places associated with positive emotions. The new Baseball stadium in Minneapolis is called the Target field. Target is a large American retail chain. Somehow this name works for me beacuse pitchers target their baseball to be in play, the name is still meaningful if the company ceased to exist…

The trend to name stadiums after local corporations has produced some really poor names. In 2013 daily finance listed unfortunate American stadium names:

  1. Enron field
  2. Northwest Delta Dental Stadium
  3. Save-on-foods memorial Centre
  4. KFC Yum! Centre
  5. Amway Center
  6. Overstock.com coliseum
  7. CITI field
  8. Candlestick/3Com/monsterpark (I don’t understand this, what is the stadium called?)
  9. Whataburger field

‘Field’, ‘Coliseum’, ‘Stadium’ do at least refer to the sports, games, role of the place. This website lists the best NFL stadium names as:

  1. Lambeau Field
  2. Soldier Field.
  3. Arrowhead Stadium
  4. Ralph Wilson Stadium
  5. Paul Brown Stadium.
  6. Ford Field.
  7. Lincoln Financial Field.  Everybody calls it “The Link.”

If these are the best, I’m not impressed.

Stadium names that have impressed me are not listed anywhere, except here:

  1. Stadium of light. Sunderland FC. Wikipedia says the stadium name was chosen as “as an ever-lasting tribute to the region’s mine-workers and proud industrial heritage and in the expectation that the stadium would be a guiding light in the future. The name is very much a symbolic link to the thousands of miners and Sunderland supporters that emerged from the darkness and into the light every day when they returned to the surface after working in the mine.” Compared to the NFL stadiums this is small, but the thought and specialness of this stadium shown in design detail (the Davey lamp at the entrance) is deeply moving.
  2. Pride park. Derby city FC. Officially this is the “iPro stadium”, the sponsored name came after the stadium had developed it’s own name within the community. The sponsored name will not have sufficient ‘appeal’ to replace the commonly used name. The sponsor does get associated with the Park by being the official name.
  3. The Den. Millwall FC. I like this name because of the enthusiasm of a class mate (age 7, in Bristol) who explained to me what “the Den” was, he was so happy, this was clearly a very special place. That Millwall have managed to keep that link with thief original stadium name is impressive.

I have strong affections for the grounds I’ve attended regularly, supporting local teams. The common naming theme here is the location of the stadium. It’s relevant to ‘place’ which makes a lot of seen to me and could outlive any renaming strategy from currently existing stadium:

  1. Ashton Gate, the home of Bristol City, my local team as a teenager.
  2. Fratton Park home of “Pompey”, Portsmouth City FC since 1898! The wendy house was located about 1000yrds from the ground 1993-1996, I regularly went to games

I’d like these companies to think about the aspirations and values of the stadium customers, I’d like corporate naming strategists to come up with something attendees can be emotionally attached to, relevant to them in a positive way. Ideally with at least a nodding reference to the name of the main team that is based there. The team name “Vikings” refers to the roots of the European settlers here and evokes images of aggression. The state is informally known as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes”, a strap line placed on most car license plates. The stadium is near the banks of the Mississippi.  There are cultural cues that could be used to generate a name that could be linked with the banks name.

In 2013 Joe Loveland wrote an article exploring the ores and cons of possible names for the Viking’s stadium:

  1. U.S. Bank
  2. Land O Lakes Stadium.
  3. Wheaties Stadium.
  4. 3M Stadium.
  5. Matt’s Bar Stadium.
  6. OmniSynCorp Stadium.
  7. Target Stadium.
  8. People’s Stadium.

Cathedrals are traditionally named after Saints, if stadiums are our new cathedrals, then corporations are our new saints. It doesn’t sit well with me.

I look forward to the day when corporate sponsorship for naming steps out of bland placing of one companies name on the building to inspiring naming strategies. Take a risk.

 

What’s the home of the Vikings?
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Smell the potatoes

Sunday, July 26th, 2015 | tags: , , ,  |

Farmers MarketDriving back from my weekly shop, I took a new route, ignored the Satnav and explored the back ways. Near home I passed a huge outdoor market. The traffic moved slowly, nowhere obvious to park. I parked at home and walked 10mins to the market. A treasure.

According to the signs its the biggest farmers market in the North Midwest. Size matters. I could smell the potatoes and beans. Everything liked good. From now on I’ll be visiting here for all my grocery needs.

Store holder vans reverse up to covered, raised, walkways. Their stock remains in the van behind them while they arrange a display of goods on the table in front.

At the western side the market changes nature as local artists display their wares, pottery, carving, stonework, garden ornaments made from rusting metal. A huge freeway sign overlooks the whole event. City life.
Farmers Market

Smell the potatoes
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Forgetting to remember

Saturday, June 27th, 2015 | tags: , , , , , , ,  |

City HallTo enrol for automatic payment of Wendy loft property taxes, I had to find the right website, print a form, find a pen to write on it, find an envelope to put it in, find a stamp to put on the envelope, then it get it to a snail mail address at the Gotham city style country treasury office

They send an annual invoice with a 2 date payment schedule. The first instalment is due 6 months after the invoice

I forgot to remember to pay my first instalment

The county has a reminder system, but you need to know that you have to sign-up for the reminders. I didn’t sign-up, I assumed I would be reminded

They’re not making it easy for me to give them money on their schedule

Forgetting to remember
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Mind the gap

Sunday, April 19th, 2015 | tags: ,  |

My furniture is shrinking

Starved of the natural moisture provided in the old, damp, Wendy House of the UK

It’s showing the strain as gaps appear. Oh Dear

shinking wood

Cupboard door no longer fits

shrinking wood

Seams in cupboard panels no longer meet

shrinking wood

Panels in my settle no longer reach their supporting borders

.

Mind the gap
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Artistic temperaments

Saturday, April 18th, 2015 | tags: , , , , ,  |

The Minnesota Orchestra went on strike for 15 months, the nation’s longest-running contract dispute for a concert orchestra. Orchestra’s across the country are suffering similar challenges.  They’ve resolved the dispute with the orchestra taking another pay cut. They’re talented, dedicate professionals and their music should be accessible, but they’ve got to earn a wage that reflects their skill and societal value. If the orchestra is making a loss they need something to help raise awareness of their value. I’m now donating, but money isn’t always the answer,  I wonder what the management are doing to change the way they engage with potential audiences?  I’ll be popping along to see performance on May day. Hooray!

They’re based in a fantastic venue within walking distance of my home. I’m loving the advantages of city living, which I couldn’t really afford in southern, central, England.

Artistic temperaments
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Beethoven in the baroque basilica

Monday, April 13th, 2015 | tags: , , , , ,  |
St. Mary's Basilica

St Mary’s Basilica

St. Mary's BasilicaSt. Mary’s Basilica  (1914)  is less than a mile from my home, I can see it’s imposing dome from my windows. It was the first ‘Basilica’ in the USA. Designed by a French architect, Emmanuel Louis Masqueray, trained in Paris, the Minneapolis-opedia says:

The pro-cathedral’s architecture reflected Masqueray’s training at the prestigious Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. The pro-cathedral was designed in the style of late Renaissance and Baroque churches in France and Italy. Masqueray wanted the pro-cathedral to create a serene impression through perfect proportions, good lighting, and sincere composition. The focus of his design was the wide nave, or main worship space. At the time, it was said to be the widest nave in the world.

The lower windows are colourfully decorated with characters from the old testament. It’s not a church style I’m familiar with. I did recognise the fluer de l’isle built into the decoration, recognise the French connection.

I lit a candle for Dad

St. Mary's Basilica

Detail of glass window

I wandered in at 2.05pm on a Saturday afternoon to find a fantastic concert in progress. Minnesota Sinfonia performing Beethoven’s piano concerto #4 in g major, opus 58. Beautiful music filling this vast place. The audience were all shapes, sizes and colours. Some people looked homeless, shabby and sleeping in the pews. Other’s looked wealthy, dressed-up for a special event. Children in smart outfits, families that looked like tourists

The event was free

Because it was free, it gifted a spontaneous happiness, I donated more than I would have paid for a ticket. Free, quality, live music produced by experts in a building built by experts, built for the people, this is the sort of ‘humanity’ that inspires

Wonderful

Beethoven in the baroque basilica
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Honeywell hill

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015 | tags: , , , ,  |

Honeywell HillI took Holly’s advice and went in search of the locally named ‘Honeywell hill’. It was easy to find because Minneapolis is relatively flat. People had posted pictures of views from the hill on Flickr, which helped me to find it.

At the bottom of the hill is an old, neglected looking, Honeywell building with a brick tower announcing it’s name. I followed the tower, then drove into the cemetery next door.

Apparently people come here to court. In the quiet company of the dead they watch the city’s profile, cuddle and kiss.

Honeywell hill
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Gotham city (hall)

Sunday, April 5th, 2015 | tags: , , , ,  |

City HallMy brother renamed Minneapolis to Gotham city, as lightening danced across the black cloud encased sky. Gotham city. The city hall, with mayor, fire department, courts, CSI, District Attorneys and other city administration would have existed when Batman first appeared on the dark streets of Gotham.

 

The sunshine of day leaves a taste of the electric night. Surreal juxtaposition of city hall from last millennium and a skyscraper thrusting upward with no ‘twiddly- bits’ to distract from it’s line of action.

 

City HallCity hall has been beautifully maintained, restored. It’s a living museum that still works for it’s original purpose. The civil rights office is empty today. Letter boxes on the doors half frosted with glass to borrow light onto this big building, giving us a shadowy glimpse of what might be going on behind those doors. The lady Major’s name is painted on the glass of her door ‘Betsy Hodges’. I like her already.

 

The long corridors are lined in white marble and pews provide rest places for those who have to wait. I saw no one waiting, the city staff must be doing something right! City Hall

 

Stained glass lights the marble coated entrance hall. Statues, plaques, column all attest to it’s significance. I’ll definitely be visiting again to find out what happens behind the court doors, where my camera cannot go.

 

Quite right to leave the people in  courts to focus on the serious business of legal things.City Hall foyed

Gotham city (hall)
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street walking

Monday, March 30th, 2015 | tags: , , , , ,  |
Minneapolis

Deco sky scraper reflected in modern glass sky scraper

Minneapolis

Forshay tower (circa 1927) seen from nearby street level

but where are the people? Where are the shops?  It looks deserted and there’s nowhere that looks like a place I’d want to stop and shop

Mum was a bit baffled by a drive through the heart of downtown Minneapolis, in December.

Downtown shoppers don’t walk on the streets, sidewalks. It’s too goddam cold! Why have a shop-front onto the street if there are no people to be lured into your store by that view? There are shop fronts. I’ve learned that you have to read the shop fronts in a different way. I’m not sure what I’ve learned, but I’ve learned something because I see more than mum.

Wandering, on foot, downtown in the warmer, above-freezing, temperatures of the Spring revealed some beautiful views of the city. Still no people on the streets.

The walk from my apartment to downtown passes a host of sex bars/shops, I counted 6 on one route…A depressing story that there is demand for this and women find it’s the best way available for them to earn a living. I wonder if mum noticed these places?

This area was clearly a seedy part of town, still is. The seeds of change are showing as restaurants, hairdressers, and other ‘local’ services start to emerge between the sex bars. Anyone for chargrilled Pizza?

Dreamgirls bar on the walk downtown from home

Dreamgirls bar on the walk downtown from home

Minneapolis

Augies topless bar/nightclub seen on the walk downtown from home

Minneapolis

SexWorld, 24hrs, seen on the walk downtown from home

 

street walking
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the scary balcony

Saturday, March 28th, 2015 | tags: , , , ,  |

Shadows from evening sunshineDog park in distanceExchanging the Wendy House staircase of doom for the Wendy Loft scary balcony, is a novelty. As the weather warms I’m sending myself as a scouting party onto the balcony to discover it’s virtues:

To the east in the morning an active dog park & neighbours’ BBQ’d balconies of similar scariest quotients

To the North in the evening dramatic shadow cast through the legs of a local state route ramp

 

The grass is yellow from months of snow-covered sun starvation. Now we’re in a ‘drought’. It hasn’t rained since I moved here in November. The local’s tell me the snowfall has been very light. It seems to come 3-6 inches in a couple of hours, but only for a couple of hours and not frequently. During the winter months snow falls and stays, gradually accumulating then spring temperatures above freezing melt it away.

the scary balcony
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The Holly and the wendy

Sunday, March 22nd, 2015 | tags: , , , ,  |

Downtown AlleywayI’ve lived in my downtown apartment for 6 weeks.  Today was the first time I got out to enjoy just wandering around, exploring

5hrs exploring. All of it full of treats peculiar to my tastes.

Holly, the lady on the till in the hat section of the 8 storey Macy’s store on Nicolette, was so helpful. 45 minutes helpful.  Our chatting. My listening. Didn’t stop anyone else buying anything! I’d already bought the hat, so this wasn’t a sales tactic. I suspect she’s chatty by nature and more than a tad bored. Downtown is VERY quiet on Saturday at 11am.  she explained that weekends, when all the office workers have left, are always quiet.  Ideal for “don’t like crowds’ me!

Holly was a high school teacher, she taught biology. She didn’t like the students who went on to be Engineers because they were unimaginative and focussed on ‘interesting’ engineering rather than societal value and function. She told me there’s a place near Industrial Blvd (and a cemetery, that I’ve been meaning to visit) that’s called “Honeywell Hill” because it’s where the company ‘Honeywell’ started out. Evidently they have excellent July 4th celebrations there, on the hill, not in the cemetery.

I think I’ll visit Holly again on another Saturday and find out about her dreams.

 

The Holly and the wendy
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1949 Modernism in Minneapolis

Saturday, February 28th, 2015 | tags: , , , , , ,  |

Eliel Saarinen Lutheran ChurchCoincidences in the suburbs.

Eliel Saarinen designed one of my favourite buildings, Helsinki central train station. One day I’ll ride the line from Helsinki to St Petersburg with a layover at Viipuri, my fathers birthplace. Eliel Saarinen also designed the Viipuri train station. Train stations are fabulous places, they are the door to adventures, they bring loved one’s home.

Eliel’s last building was a Lutheran church in Longfellow, a suburb of Minneapolis. One of the earliest examples of a modernist building in the USA and listed on their national register of historic places. It stands in very stark contrast to the surrounding classical wooden, suburban, homes. No more of a contrast than the pseudo-gothic, often Germanic, red stone churches in most other districts.

Eliel’s son Eero appears to have worked with Charles Eames, clearly knew both Ray and Charles. Eero also designed the educational annex on the church, added to the building in 1962.
minneapolis residential street
On the Saturday morning that I spontaneously  visited, all the doors to the church were locked. No sign of life inside, no opportunity to see the wonderful light streaming through the cleverly placed windows to fill the space for worship. The door design is simple and beautiful. Ashame that someone felt the need to add the instruction to “Pull” the door handle which already displays all the affordances of being ‘pull-able’ more than ‘push-able’.

Eliel Saarinen Lutheran ChurchThough far more beautiful, the outside design reminded me of the Danish church in Hull that the House family occasionally visited when staying with Hull branch.

I’ll be back, with some locally rounded-up fellow building-lovers on an official, docent-led tour day

1949 Modernism in Minneapolis
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Thermostatic calibration in progress

Thursday, February 19th, 2015 | tags: , , , ,  |

1FAt 1°F the temperature is actually very close to “Goodness this is a bit too cold to be walking anywhere” or “F**k” in the old English vernacular. This is without a wind chill factor, it’ll take a lot more research to really grasp the frostbite inducing winds. Currently I’m avoiding all winds at temperatures below 32°F (freezing). I’m building a list of real descriptions of the new temperatures I’m experiencing. This will help me understand how to dress and talk to the locals.

Goodness this is a bit too cold to be walking anywhere

Preliminary scope suggested as from  5°F down to 0°F This range needs to be confirmed. Behavioural implications include:

  • Hat that covers ears & gloves required
  • Talking about cold is acceptable
  • The mucus in your nose freezes about 30seconds after you go outside
  • A heated steering wheel would definitely be a plus for a car that’s been parked outside in this weather. Darn, it’s not included for my car. Driving gloves essential…   I keep 2 pairs of gloves in the car lest I haven’t anticipated a drop in temperatures. One thick insulated pair for leaving the car and one leather set for covering that period whole the car warms up.
  • For short walks (from car to office, store, specific building) thin soled shoes are passable, but your feet will feel the cold quickly. Thick soles, such as Dr. Martens airware are advisable
Thermostatic calibration in progress
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Post it!

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015 | tags: , , , ,  |

Minneapolis Post OfficeIn the cold.

Cold is stuff below 10°F

I wandered out from my heated car, 30 paces, to the heated central post office in downtown Minneapolis.  The post office has an amazing exterior. I’ll photograph the exteria in the summer.

The inside was like walking into the deserted 1920’s. There were a few people around, but not many given the size, capacity, of this building. The brass panel in the ceiling that hid recessed lights, the wooden, marble and brass wall panels. This building reeked of celebrating the postal service as a service for everyone. Fabulous.

I love the social responsibility of the locals and their city governance. I feel really at home here. Which is good, because this is my new home.

Post it!
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red red wine stain

Sunday, January 25th, 2015 | tags: , , ,  |

Red wine stain removerWhen shopping for cleaners I tend to look for something that will zap as many things as possible with a minimum environmental effect. Vinegar and baking soda are pretty darn good at cleaning all sorts of things

‘Bed, Bath and Beyond’, takes a very different approach. They make the cleaner very specific to the stain. This approach would fill my cupboards with numerous cleaners for tomatoe sauce, tea, beer, toothpaste, egg etc

Presumably, to be financially viable, a specific stain has to be an extremely common cleaning problem. A stain that has no commonly known alternative cleaning method. I was taught that white wine and salt are best put on red wine spillage

I wonder of the red wine stain problem is particularly prevalent in Minneapolis

red red wine stain
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8 wooden columns

Thursday, January 15th, 2015 | tags: , , , , ,  |

Architectural salvageCity Salvage

Several people roamed around the spacious yet cluttered store. Heated sufficiently to remove the steam of our breath and feel like outdoors in a temperate climate. For a Minneapolis winter, this is a good temperature for a store. Customers are bundled-up in clothes suitable for minus degrees Fahrenheit. The winter is coming…

All these beautiful wood, doors, columns, sconces…. every piece with a story to tell. This is a magic shop. I left the magic undisturbed, leaving with a raised heart and the treasures left in their place for others to see and enjoy.

I’ll be back,

Next time I may bring a friend….

8 wooden columns
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Boston or Minneapolis?

Friday, January 9th, 2015 | tags: , ,  |

Red StagRed Stag

Next to the “City Salvage” store is a place reminiscent of a large UK pub. When I wandered in at 4pm it was almost empty. By 6pm it was busy with couples and families.

The dapper waiter looked like a younger version of Colonel Saunders with his neatly coiffured moustache and beard.

With time I’ll get habituated to the wooden columns and exposed wooden ceilings in many lf the downtown buildings. For now my jaw slackens and I study the texture of the beams and layout of the columns. Were there once walls here? Was there once a ceiling hiding the roof beams and holding ornate plasterwork?

The lady at the table next to me was considering moving to Minneapolis from Boston. She introduced herself and asked me what it was like moving to Minneapolis from the UK. How friendly. In the UK I’d have found the self introduction somewhat surprising, possibly even rude. I like this open, direct, way that American’s have. I can go out and just meet people and share stories with them. It’s not as lonely as the UK’s polite reservedness.

Boston or Minneapolis?
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Freedom to self segregate

Monday, January 5th, 2015 | tags: , , , , ,  |

buildingSilver-car parking on the streets of St. Anthony.

We are free to park where-ever we want, as long as we pay at the metre. Sometimes it looks like car owners flock to their like-coloured colleagues.

Wandering into the antique shops in this fabulous building revealed that the local parkers were, like me, pale skinned (Caucasian origin?). I’d parked a couple of blocks away, among the black cars. My dark blue blends in almost seamlessly.

There’s a rogue bicycle lassoed to the parking meter in this photo. I’m so impressed by the cycling commitment of local residents.

Freedom to self segregate
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con dense sation

Thursday, December 18th, 2014 | tags: , , , ,  |

MinneapolisIt takes a few minutes, or more, for a street parked car to warm up when it’s so cold outside that the Mississippi is frozen-over.

On days like these I leave 15 minutes earlier for work. I scrape the ice or snow from the front, side and rear windows. Some cars come with heated wing mirrors, steering wheels and seats.  Not the VW Bug I’ve been given as a rental car.

This evening I drove into a mall parking garage. As I drove into the warm, underground parking my windscreen fogged. Out of habit I turned the in-car warm air blowers to the windscreen. The fogging appeared to increase. In a random effort to clear my view I turned on the windscreen wipers. Voilà! The condensation was on the outside of the cold car windows, not the inside.

A local told me that I should open the windows before I park outside at night to let-out all the damp warm air from within. To make sure the insides of the windows don’t ice-up as well as the outside.

Oh. I’m learning….

con dense sation
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inspection

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014 | tags: , , , ,  |

The USA home buying process is radically different from the UK process. Here are some of the features that actually change the way people behave:

  • An offer is made with a goodwill payment of 1%. This acts to reduce the likelihood of people making multiple offers…
  • If an offer is accepted by the seller it’s a legally binding contract for the seller, the buyer can still pull out at several check-points but the seller cannot continue to market the property. This acts to prevent gazumping.
  • The buyer employs a professional to conduct an inspection. Professional? This person is not a qualified surveyor, no qualifications required. The fellow who conducted my inspection was like a caring dad who checked every window, every piece of equipment. He lit the oven, made ice, turned on the washing machine, checked all the lights and electric circuits, the boiler etc He gave me advice on how to look after the property and questions I should ask the Home Owners Association (HOA). He recommended that I attend a HOA meeting. He made observations about the other tenants. He was awesome. A buyer can pull out of the agreement after an inspection.
  • Immediately prior to the money exchanging there is a ‘walk through’ of the property in the estate that it will be handed over. The money is not exchanged if the purchaser is unhappy with the walk through. My ‘Inspector’ explained that a resident may have a big leaving party that leaves broken windows and toilets etc. The final walk through makes sure that they pay for any damage between agreement and departure. Nice.

Meanwhile my inspection raised lots of minor functional questions, like

  • How does the intercom work – there’s no in apartment equipment – is there a cell phone app for that?
  • Are those sockets for internet connections or phones?
  • Can I put more powerful bulbs in that light fitting?

It feels good to shift to asking trivial functional questions, clearly the big stuff is working well. The apartment is 4 miles from work and has ample bike storage in the basement. I could get fit in the summer. The route to work is through prettily housed suburbs.

As the inspector checked the apartment I pondered the view, watching the tail’ lights of city traffic. I felt at home. It felt right despite being so very different from my little hidden garden cottage in Reading. We all change as does the world around us. Time for a high rise garment with  scary balcony…..

inspection
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jingle jingle

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014 | tags: , ,  |

In the dark, driving slowly,  I search for the car park entrance to the supermarket.

There is a roadside Christmas tree sales spot. Someone has camped on the abundant sidewalk and placed their neatly cut trees in the snow. Music is playing, they have bright lights pointing at the trees. It reminds me of TV programmes, films, I’ve seen. The Christmas trees shopping experience in below zero USA climates is just like that in the films.

A portly black man, reminiscent of father Christmas, dressed in ‘Salvation Army’ red rings a handbell at the store entrance. I pull out some dollars and push them into his collection jar. His voice is cheerful, hearty,  as he talks of his day job and, this, night time volunteer work. I thank him and listen. I admire his dedication. It’s below zero and he’s collecting money to help those people who’ve been excluded by society. He likes my hat and warns me against the problems of drink.

How did he know?

jingle jingle
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No coat hangers

Sunday, December 7th, 2014 | tags: , , , , ,  |

Most of the time it’s below freezing. Today’s been an exception, I’ve walked out with my coat undone, no hat, no gloves and my scarf hanging limp in the sunshine. Yet the restaurants don’t offer to take your coat when you arrive.

Cloakrooms are definitely not ‘de rigour’. They exist. If you ask, you are offered a coat hanging solution, but this offer is not naturally forthcoming. Odd, given the weather and dress of the locals.

I’ve been in Minneapolis for a week, eaten out once per day. My oversized WW2 style flight jacket is heavy, when placed on the back of a restaurant chair, the chair surrenders. It falls backwards to the floor. I’ve now sent the jacket to the dry cleaners because it’s hugged way too many local restaurant floors.

No coat hangers
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