Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Replacing a giant hole...with another giant hole

You may remember back in November when I went back to Florida to visit The Family, and we extracted numerous giant pygmy palms from the front of The House, because The Mom tends to plant things that get too big there. The story gets better. And I didn't think that was possible.

On a whim a few weeks ago, The Mom bought a bunch of koi. Yes, koi. These things:

She bought them for no reason other than they were for sale at a plant sale.

So, now she has koi. But no koi pond. Had no plans to build one. Didn't have one to start. Fortunately for her, she has a part-time landscaper living with her right now (that's an interesting story). So he's building her a koi pond with some help from The Dad, in exchange for free housing. He is joining koi clubs as part of this operation, he has attended seminars, he has shopped around for the best deals. And then they broke ground.

I wish we had known this we didn't have to fill in the holes created by the trees. They are recreating all the work we had undone!

I am afraid to go back to visit. I don't know what's going to happen next there.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Coffee Crazies

Some of you may be surprised to find out that my wonderful energy and hyper, loving nature is not always 100% naturally produced. At times, my normal physiological supremecy is supplemented by caffeine in the form of coffee. I know, hard to believe. Consider this to be my confession. Much like how a cold, fresh microbrew on an outdoor patio at a local bar is a great way to end a day of work, a hot (or cold, sometimes, during the summer) fresh cup of coffee is a wonderful way to begin said day.

I'm currently house-sitting for a friend, but I had to run by my apartment today to get clothes for work, on my way to work, because I realized I had no work clothes with me! So this morning I stopped by my apartment, and then realized, I needed a coffee. On most days I drive an extra .23 miles past my office to Ginkgo, a little coffee house that is locally owned, has a lot of fair trade and organic stuff. The coffee is way better than any of the massive chains, and about 1/3 the price. It's great. And it's a happy place...I normally run into someone I know there, and everyone is pretty chipper.

But there is another local coffeeshop that I absolutely adore, but it's just a little bit out of my way. (More on that in a paragraph.) It's called Brewberry's, and I don't think it has a website - at least not one that I can find. And it's located directly across the street from a Caribou Coffee. Now, I have nothing against Caribou. I actually like it. And this particular Caribou is really close to where I go to college hockey games, so I typically stop there on the way to games. Of course part of that has always been because Brewberry's isn't open at night. (Or I should say, wasn't. It now stays open til 9 on Fridays and Saturdays - so this coming winter, I can get Brewberry's on my way to games!) Anyway, back on topic, I have decided that Brewberry's may have the best coffee in the Twin Cities.

As I am driving to Brewberry's this morning, I was thinking, "Gosh, I must really want this coffee. By now I could have gone to Ginkgo, bought my coffee, added my cream and sugar, and been back in the parking lot of my office. Instead, I haven't even made it to the coffee shop yet." Now granted, Brewberry's is way out of my way and in the opposite direction of work. Exactly how far out of the way you ask? Funny you should ask...I figured it out for you!

Some basic calculations...thanks to the help of Mapquest...
My house to work: 1.95 miles
My house to Brewberry's: 3.81 miles
Brewberry's to work: 3.31 miles
Ginkgo to work: .23 miles

Difference between going to Brewberry's and Ginkgo: 3.08 miles

Satisfaction in getting that perfect cup of coffee: Priceless!

Granted, I also pay 25 more cents for a Brewberry's large coffee - $1.65 vs. $1.90 (gulp!). But it's worth it.

Oh, and then to top it off, I get to Brewberry's, and I realize that I have left my cash, driver's license and ATM card in the pocket of the jeans I was wearing last night. So I had to pay with the quarters thrown into the bottom of my purse, it was rather comical. (That's where my loose change goes to die, Boof.)

I bet The Dad could calculate for me, based on the above coffee prices and distances, figuring about 18-19 miles per gallon city driving in my truck, and with my last fill-up at $3.19 per gallon of gas, how much extra I paid this morning for a Brewberry's coffee instead of a Ginkgo coffee. Or if any of the other 3 readers of this blog are so mathmatically gifted to figure it out, let me know the damage!

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Steph's Guide to Landscaping

This weekend was The Steph's dream...I went to Home Depot not once, but twice - and filled my truck both times! I also went to a giant garden store and filled my truck there. I also had the opportunity to go to Sam's Club and get a giant soda for 47 cents. The only real tie-in between that and the gardening is that it was on the way home and we had to get chicken for the grill. However none of the wonderous things purchased at any of these places were for me...well, except for the soda. I spent the past 3 days helping a friend, B, do the landscaping/gardening to fill in some garden space created when he had a new stone patio added to his house. What a great adventure!

The whole story started a couple weeks ago when B made the mistake of asking myself and another friend about our opinions regarding what he should do with some landscaping he was going to have done. He knows nothing about plants or trees or flowers or dirt or mulch, so he wanted to see what the two of us thought. So we looked at the landscapers' estimates, looked at his yard and said, "Well, we can do this for you - for a lot cheaper!" For some reason he agreed, and off we went!

Over the last few weeks we have taken some scouting trips. We went to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum for ideas, and hit a couple garden and home improvement stores. During all of these trips, B cultivated his ideas, and decided upon what he wanted. And on Saturday, it all started to fall in to place!

Saturday morning we gathered up at his house, and to start off the project, many feet of lower branches of some giant pine trees were cut out because they were dead or looked like crap. Therefore leaving a giant clearing under each tree - which will be landscaped at a later point in time. And then the other friend went home, and B and I headed off to the garden center to buy plants!

When all was said and done, we went home with the following list of items in my truck (I have pulled some pictures as examples!):

* 3 dwarf lilac bushes

* 2 weigelas

* 60 yellow snapdragons (1 flat)

* 60 verbena (1 flat)
* 2 big Lambs Ears
* 1 salvia

* 1 of something else I can't remember

* 3 random herbs

* 2 succulant creeper things that are pretty cool.

So we got these all back to B's house, and ended the day.

On Sunday, B and I got going early and went to Home Depot! The happiest place on earth! We got a laundry list of great stuff:

* 6 bags of cypress mulch

* 10 bags of top soil

* 1 container of fresh transplant-friendly fertilizer

* 1 giant container of fertilizer/weed killer

* 1 hose nozzle

* 1 pair of gardening gloves (for The Steph)

And then we planted everything! So that was Sunday.

Then today we needed more mulch and top soil. So we headed BACK to Home Depot! And bought 18 more bags of mulch and 4 more bags of top soil. And it completely filled my lil truck. It was rather awesome.

I was reminded that there are always 2 types of people at Home Depot/Lowes, pick your poison...

Type A: People that are really excited about this great home improvement/gradening/repair project they are about to start and will talk to anyone and anything in the store. They will convince you to buy a certain flower or a color paint to compliment a sneaker. Or they will offer their expert opinion on everything from lawn mowers to fertilizer to light fixtures. I have decided that I am one of these people. As is everyone in my family.

Type B: People who are really pissed off to be in the store because either something broke and they have to fix it or his wife is making him do something and he would rather be watching the hockey/basketball/baseball/NASCAR race/poker tourney on TV. These people inevitably wind up in the longest lines, don't have scan codes for prices on the one item they grabbed, and then they get stopped for approval in the self check-out line.

One other thing that always cracks me matter what you have in your basket - be it 1 tiny daisy, 87 bags of mulch, the repair kit for a toilet or a broom...the person next to/behind/in front of you in line will say, "Got a lot of work to do this weekend, eh?"

It amuses me - isn't that why EVERYONE is at Home Depot? Because they have something to do and they are going to do it with the something they will buy.

And then we went back and finished the mulching part of the job. It turned out great, B has a beautiful patio area, and he saved a ton of money using my green thumb.

Gosh, I hope everything lives!

I joined an exclusive club...

Well, not really...but I did join a fun club!

Last night while enjoying a beverage at Old Chicago, I was convinced to join the World Beer Tour club thing. It didn't take much convincing, honestly. But the whole experience was rather entertaining.

I had 1 I am now just 9 beers away from owning playing cards. 24 beers away from a clip-on watch with compass. 39 beers away from a bottle opener. 54 beers away from a t-shirt. 69 beers away from a travel mug (For beer?? That doesn't seem smart.). 84 beers away from a baseball cap. 99 beers away from a cooler. And finally, 109 beers away from a sweatshirt and name emblazoned on a plaque in the Hall of Foam.

My dad would be so proud if I were to get to that level. **tear**

Proof I'm not a traitor...

Just so you don't all think I'm a Red Sox-lover...I couldn't live with that...

Here's me working at a Devil Rays' affiliate stadium back in '97 (yes, definitely can't be a Red Sox fan if you do that!)...

Here's me at Yankee Stadium in the same summer! Giving the #1 sign!!

Friday, May 25, 2007


Haha...I can't believe there is actually a picture of me standing (gulp!!) in Fenway Park out there.. [that's me on the far left, with some of the front office staff and other interns that I worked with in my first internship in baseball in NY]
Host unlimited photos at for FREE!

In my defense, I was young, stupid and didn't know any better. It was the first summer after my frosh year of college, I was naive, bored...

HAHA! This is great. CM...thanks for bringing back the memories!

This pisses me off...

The father of Josh Hancock, the St. Louis Cardinals pitcher who died when he drove his SUV into the back of a tow truck while completely plowed, has filed a lawsuit against the restaurant that served him beer, the driver of the tow truck that Hancock hit, and the driver of the stalled car that was being helped by the tow truck driver. He is NOT suing the Cardinals or MLB - at least at this point in time.

Spare me.

Here's the rationale for each part of the lawsuit (taken directly from above article).

VS. Mike Shannon's (Restaurant)
"Mokwa [police chief] said Hancock went to Mike Shannon's not long after the Cardinals played a day game against the Chicago Cubs on April 28. The lawsuit claimed that Hancock was a regular at the restaurant bar and was there for more than 3½ hours.
'It's understood that for the entire 3½ hours that Josh Hancock was there that he was handed drinks,' Keith Kantack, a lawyer for Dean Hancock, said. 'It's our understanding that from the moment Josh Hancock entered Mike Shannon's that night that he was never without a drink.'"

VS. Driver of Stalled Car
"The lawsuit claimed Tolar [driver of stalled car] was negligent in allowing his vehicle to reach the point where it stalled on the highway and for failing to move it out of the way of oncoming traffic. A police report said the car became stalled when it spun out after being cut off by another vehicle."

VS. Tow Truck Company
"Police said Hargrove [drive of tow truck] noticed the stalled vehicle and stopped to help. The report said he told officers he was there five to seven minutes before his truck was hit by Hancock's SUV. But Kantack [lawyer for Hancock's *&^%$* father] said the tow truck may have been there up to 15 minutes, yet failed to get the stalled vehicle out of the way.
'Were the police contacted?' Kantack asked. 'Why weren't flares put out? Why was the tow truck there for an exorbitant amount of time?'"

The article also points out that Hancock "had a blood alcohol content of nearly twice the legal limit when he crashed into the back of the tow truck. He was also speeding and using a cell phone and wasn't wearing a seat belt, police chief Joe Mokwa said after the accident. Marijuana was also found in the SUV."

Here is my list of questions and observations:
1) Hancock was a 29-year old adult. He could have rejected drinks, slowed down, traded them in for soda. I know everyone will say the same crap about the pressure of the social situation, everyone is giving him drinks, etc. But you know what, he's a 29-year old adult, still. And especially taking all of that into consideration, did Hancock's dad think about the fact that his son may never have even spoken to an employee at Mike Shannon's? I would bet that other people bought all of those drinks and brought them over to him...he probably never actually ordered himself a drink - therefore never giving a server the chance to say, "You're cut off."

2) Well, obviously when 1 car is cut off by another and crashes and stalls on the highway, it's his own fault for letting that happen. Sometimes bad accidents happen to good people...sometimes accidents are really just accidents - not loaded, drunk morons talking on a cell phone slamming into tow trucks on a highway.

3) Much better for the tow truck not to stop and for the stalled car to just get slammed into by Hancock's SUV - therefore probably killing the innocent stalled car driver while Hancock walks away with 6 stitches in his eyebrow.

4) 5-7 minutes as "an exorbitant amount of time?" Seriously? And calling the police would have probably SLOWED DOWN the clean-up process. Therefore endangering at least 3-5 moronic drunk, high idiots on cell phones.

5) I suppose the fact that Hancock "had a blood alcohol content of nearly twice the legal limit when he crashed into the back of the tow truck...was also speeding and using a cell phone and wasn't wearing a seat belt...[and] (m)arijuana was also found in the SUV" had absolutely NOTHING to do with the accident. As far as I'm concerned, Papa Hancock should also sue Budweiser, the car manufacturer and the seat belt manufacturer because the seat belt didn't automatically close around his son, the cell phone company for allowing it to operate in a moving vehicle, the girl that Hancock was chatting with and his pot dealer.

6) I hope that the judge throws this frivolous suit out. And then sues Papa Hancock for wasting his time. And when the suit is thrown out, I may sue Papa Hancock for wasting my time since I had to write this blog about it.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Thank you for not parking crooked.

So a male (yes, this is relevant) co-worker walks into my office and says, "I want to thank you...for being the only female in our office that can PARK STRAIGHT!"

Here's the proof...see the pictures (taken with my cell, so they aren't the best, but they do protect the identities of the guilty parties because you can't see their license plates!), and then I'll identify the gender of the owner of each car...

Close ups of the worst violators:

Now, the wide shots of all cars, with driver gender identity:

From left to right: (Grey station wagon) Male, Female, Female, Female, Female (Bright blue sedan)

From left to right: (Grey SUV) Female, Male, Female -ME! (Red Truck)

Hmmm. We teased them. Let's see what happens tomorrow!


In separate, yet completely unrelated news...Batgirl is shutting down her blog. It's even one of the most emailed stores on the Strib online. The worst part about this is no more Legovision! Legovision should be incorporated into everyday life. A Legovision reenactment of the above parking situation would have been way more entertaining than what actually happened...

American Idol Recap

Well, as I said yesterday, American Idol came to a close last night (that means the "So You Think You Can Dance?" starts TONIGHT! And to think I almost lost my brain for a second and thought about buying tickets to see Pirates III for opening night instead of watching the first episode of "Dance." Obviously, I hadn't had my coffee yet this morning. Pirates III will have to wait for this rainy Memorial Day weekend to come).
And the winner is Jordin Sparks! Big deal. She doesn't excite me. My take - she has annoying facial expressions, does the annoying numbers thing for encouraging people to vote for her WAY too much, wears curtains for dresses for some reason (thanks, EA, for pointing out what it was that she has been wearing this season), and would be better off as a Broadway or musical singer. A friend thinks she would be better as an animated movie song singer. I don't think that's a compliment...

But anyway, now that the cattiness over the winner is done...let's get to the show recap...

* Smokey Robinson. Awesome singer, great stage presence, way too much plastic surgery. He had the shinest, tightest cheeks and forehead I have ever seen on a human being. The guy is 67. He should have at least 1 wrinkle. I don't think you could get cheeks that shiny by rolling in cooking grease. My gosh.

* Tony Bennett. The guy is about 147 years old. Ok, he's only 80, but that's close to 147. But his vocal cords are shot, and he doesn't really sing anymore. He just talks his lines, or yells them at the intense parts of the songs. Yet, just by simply walking onto the stage, people go nuts, and they cheer him on during key exciting moments just like he was still in his prime and sounds spectacular. People, please don't continue to encourage him...or any other too old singer...that tries to get up on stage and perform like it's 1954. Shouldn't we want to, and shouldn't he want us to, remember him as a great legend with a smooth, soothing voice? Rather than some old guy who has a death grip on the microphone that just yells the lines to a Tony Bennett classic?

* Bette Midler. Should. Be. Embarrassed. This keeps with my theory that old singers should not come back and perform when they are past their prime and their vocal cords have undergone some strange transformation. She absolutely ruined "The Wind Beneath My Wings" - AND IT'S HER SONG! She sounded horrible. It was amazing how bad she could sound. She was off-key, her timing sucked, I had to put my hands over my ears. It was bad. Supposedly she is replacing Celine Dion in Vegas. There's no way after last night. Worst. Comeback. Performance. Ever. Here's the proof:

* Golden Idol Awards. They weren't as funny this year. But nothing could top this moment from last year...which never gets old...and which still makes me cry no matter how many times I have seen it:

(Oh my gosh, I just watched it again. I'm crying. That is way too classic. It's still the funniest moment in television history.)

* All of the other winners. Minus Fantasia. And honestly - that was not a loss. But they were all there and they all performed. And they were all decent.

Other than that, a basic finale. Not as memorable or great as last year. Or let me take that back, last year was memorable for the great performances. I think this year was more memorable for the horrible performances from old people. But overall, an enjoyable 2 hours of television. Now, on to "Dance!"

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Reality Show Predictions

As American Idol finishes up season 87, I'm going out on a limb here for the next round of reality shows, which began airing last night. I'm going to predict both the BEST and the WORST of the Summer '07 Reality Show Season for you. So I'll save you the time and pain of watching the worst, and will give you the inside scoop on how to best spend your TV watching energy.

The Winner of The Steph's Pre-Season Award for WORST Show of the Summer '07 Reality Show Season
(I have yet to find a trophy company that can get all of those words onto a medal...maybe if I drop down to 3pt font?)
Show: Age of Love

Network: NBC
Series Premiere: Monday, June 18th
Host: Mark Consuelos of "All My Children" fame and husband of Kelly Ripa...which obviously qualifies him to host something. If only to have an excuse to get out of the house more.
Premise: 30-year old Mark Philippoussis (Yeah, you try spelling that!), former tennis star and heartthrob (notice that I am actually using the word "former" to modify both "tennis star" and "heartthrob") meets his mate in yet another version of "The Bachelor." This time, a bunch of 40+ women compete with a bunch of 20-somethings just out of college for his heart, to answer the questions "Is love blind?" and "Does age really matter?"
The Steph's Take: The answers to both questions, when regarding a millionaire washed-up tennis star whose looks have left him at the ripe old age of 30 are respectively "No." and "Yes." The only way to make the show interesting would be to bring back some of his former high-profile love interests - such as Paris Hilton...and see who can match up (get the pun!?) with the girls on the show. Or his ex-fiance! Philippoussis seems awkward in the teases for the show, is not the hottie he once was, and we all know the result already...some blonde ditzy 24-year old will win his heart. Just watch the finale...which will be a showdown between said blonde and a 46-year old brunette with a bad manicure, and that's all you will need. Needless to say, I will watch the show from the start just to prove my point. But you don't need to, I will keep you updated.

And now...the moment you have all been waiting for...

The Winner of The Steph's Pre-Season Award for BEST Show of the Summer '07 Reality Show Season
Show: So You Think You Can Dance?
Network: FOX
Series Premiere: Thursday, May 24th (Yes, tomorrow!!)
Host: Cat Deeley (Some British chic who supposedly does other stuff, too, but I have never seen her on anything else)
Premise: The American Idol for dancers. Last year the winner got a 1-year contract to dance in Celine Dion's show in Vegas (not much of a prize if you ask me...but I don't think her show lasted the whole year he was under contract, so maybe it wasn't such a bad deal!). I have no idea what this year's winner gets.
The Steph's Take: Last year was so much fun to watch! The dancers are always amazing, the choreography is unreal, the dancers all have to do different dances - both in pairs and as individuals. So you get to see everything from hip hop to the samba to the Viennese waltz to K.R.U.M.P. It can be hysterical at times, moving at others...and just plain fun to watch. 'Nuf said. Plus, the intro music just makes you want to get up and dance in your living room!

You will all be thanking me for this advice come September.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Twins' Dump

So I am on the Twins' website today, checking out the upcoming Memorial Weekend game schedule...and this headline with a teaser catches my eye:

Twins Avoid Trouble At Site of New Ballpark
In a last-minute decision, a possible disaster was avoided when an underground sewage system was discovered beneath the site of the Twins' new ballpark. As a result, the Minnesota Ballpark Authority can be sure construction will begin soon.

Well, I was teased. I had to click.

Turns out the article mentions that there was some outdated sewer system under where they plan to build the park...and if it hadn't been noticed and fixed, the city would have stunk like Oscar the Grouch's homebase until the next Twins stadium was built.

But that's not the best part...the best part is that when you read the article, there is a little picture, like this:

And then under that is a caption, like this:
The Twins discovered an outdated sewage system beneath the ballpark's construction site. (Twins)

My questions are:


"Which Twins discovered an outdated sewage system beneath the ballpark's contruction site?"

"Is this what Mauer does while on the DL?"

"What qualifications/certifications do they have to determine that the sewage system is outdated?"

"Did he/they go through that training in the off-season?"

"Did he/they have to wear hard hats while inspecting the site or did they just get to wear batting helmets?"

Inquiring minds want to know the important things.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Jackie Robinson Day Color Confusion

I've been neglecting my blog. Seriously. But I've been busy...really, honestly, I have. And I haven't had a ton of creative/exciting stuff happen that I can write about. But I'm back. I think.

There has been 1 thing over the past 3 months that I have really wanted to take the time to sit down and write about - but I just haven't put the energy into it. But now I finally will!

Sunday, April 15th was Jackie Robinson Day in Major League Baseball. For everyone who lives under a rock or claims ignorance about who Jackie Robinson is/was...look it up Jackie's HOF page. I happened to go to the Twins game that day, and was absolutely astonished and amazed by what I a bad way. I thought at first I was overreacting, until I talked to a bunch of other people that had been there, had been to a baseball game once in their lives or had heard the name Jackie Robinson before...and I realized that my thoughts were right in line with everyone else.

It was the whitest celebration of breaking the color barrier in baseball that I have ever seen. It was a little embarrassing and shocking. And it lacked being a true tribute to a man who helped open so many doors.

Here's a run-down of what I saw:

* Tori Hunter shaking the hands of a line-up of white people (there may have been 1 black person in the line)...but with no real understandable explanation (the acoustics stink in the Dome and sometimes I have no idea what's going on on the field). The only connection I saw was Hunter was wearing #42 - Robinson's number.

* Joe Mauer (he's a white catcher) receiving his batting title recognition. (Yes - before everyone jumps on me, I know it was award weekend, or whatever...but seriously - at least recognize someone the played the same position if you don't have any black players to honor.)

* Joe Mauer (he's still white) baseball cards handed out at the gate.

* Recognition for Joe Mauer (did I mention he's white) and Justin Morneau (also white) being honored for their Silver Slugger awards from the previous season.

* A bunch of white middle school kids (BADLY) singing the National Anthem.

* 1 mid-game video tribute to Larry Doby (first black player in the American League).

* MLB-produced Jackie Robinson booklets passed out at the gate.

I'm sorry, but someone really missed a great opportunity for an amazing educational experience and tribute. I remember the year that MLB retired Jackie Robinson's was in celebration of the 50th anniversary of his debut, and it was emotional and amazing then. And could still be. Honestly, the Twins had 60 years to plan for this tribute day, if you think about it sarcastically. The date of Jackie Robinson's MLB debut is still, and will always be, April 15, 1947 - so hopefully a little more thought is put into this celebration for the 61st anniversary in about 11 months.