Pregnant Barbie

Work is eating my brain!!! For the last two weeks I’ve been working 9-12 hour days, commuting home, having a quick snack or fast food and sitting on the couch for one episode of Futurama – which is less about unwinding and more about submitting to my cat’s demand for lap time after not seeing me all day – then sleeping for about 6 hours, waking up and doing it all over again.

In addition to my all-(brain)consuming current work assignment, Mom has been in town since June 19th! Every spare minute not spent at work, on the couch with the cat, or sleeping has been spent adventuring around Minneapolis and the Twin Cities. So far we’ve gone to the Minnesota Science Museum, roof-top dining at Stella’s Fish Cafe, on a makeup shopping spree at Bare Escentuals, to the Vali Hi Drive In in Lake Elmo (Green Lantern and Super 8), the Minnesota Zoo, wine and cheese shopping, the Twin Cities Gay Pride Parade and exploring cool restaurants so we have an excuse not to cook. Seriously, I’ve got so much photo editing to do that my Mac is going to crash before I get to it.

Life is good. Chaotic, crazy busy and good.

So, the blogging has been light here, but I’ve been wanting to post this article for about a week now. May I present:

Pregnant Barbie!?

I was chatting with some friends a couple of weeks ago about women and careers. Barbie was brought up as an example of a toy that has changed over time with women’s evolving career choices. Nowadays you can find Barbie in almost every line of work and lifestyle choice. Someone in the group said that you could even get a “Pregnant Barbie”. My first thought was, “Cool! Pregnant Barbie”, which was followed by my second thought, “Uh-oh…Pregnant Barbie”.

It was mentioned that Pregnant Barbie could even “give birth”. Double uh-oh. Please, I thought, please don’t let it come out of the belly button. The friend who was speaking didn’t remember if the baby did in fact come out of the belly button, but we all agreed that the chances of an anatomically-correct vaginal birth for Baby Barbie was probably not part of Mattel’s plans.

I came home and googled “Pregnant Barbie” and learned a couple of things:

This is old hat. Mattel’s pregnant doll was introduced in the early 2000s. A good many of you may have seen or remember commercials for “Pregnant Barbie”. I had just graduated college around this time and wasn’t watching a lot of television then, so I completely missed the entire preggers Barbie doll.

Second,  Barbie herself has never been pregnant. Mattel’s prize hog doll was spared a potentially image-crippling pregnancy; they decided to let Barbie’s friend Midge take the normal social risks of being a pregnant woman. And the public outcry against Midge’s pregnancy was predictable: How dare a doll address something wicked and dirty like pregnancy? Wouldn’t a happy, healthy pregnant doll promote promiscuity and a desire to get pregnant in young, impressionable girls?  After a few years Midge was discontinued and is now considered a collector’s item.

I found this fabulous and moderately annoying YouTube video about Pregnant Midge. The analysis is decent, but the sound effects are pretty awful. Mike Mozart raises some excellent points that are worthy of a bit of good ol’ feminist outrage:

  • Midge was originally released with a bare hand, but a later version shows Midge wearing a wedding ring. There’s no unwed teen mothers in Mattel’s family-friendly clan!
  • Pregnant Midge’s feet are molded for high heels. Because women in their third trimester always wear heels.
  • The belly is attached by magnents – Barbie can get pregnant and have kids again and again and again!

The thing that annoys me most about Mattel’s pregnant Midge doll is the misinformation that it spreads around to its target audience. If you are going to address pregnancy in a doll, why confuse a kid with a full-grown baby tucked in Mommy’s interstitial space?  Sure, there is a great deal of suspension of disbelief  when dealing with Barbies, but why do this weird kind-of delivery? Why not just create a nice, sterile third-trimester lump above Barbie’s nice sterile genitals?  The “baby bump” is probably about as much as young kids usually get exposed to anyway. I think it was a cool idea for Mattel to introduce a pregnant Barbie. However, I think that they should have treated Barbie’s pregnancy with the same general vagueness as they do Barbie’s life in general – just smooth over the “ucky stuff”.

Pregnant Barbie

Road Trip: The House on the Rock

It’s time for another adventure!

I’m heading downtown now to catch the MegaBus. *shudder* I’m not a huge fan of riding the MegaBus; they sell incredibly cheap seats (I bought a ticket to Madison for $5), so families with lots of kids tend to ride. Also, the last time I rode they oversold the bus by TEN SEATS, and it took the driver an hour-and-a-half to sort everything out. Also, on my last two experiences people were noisy and rude – they pushed, talked loudly on their cell phones, and wandered the cramped aisles of the bus rather than stay in their seats, jostling anyone who happened to have an aisle seat. But $5 ticket to Madison. So there you go.

My Mom, who is in the middle of an EPIC solo road trip (Southern Illinois –> Washington DC –> Chicago –> Minneapolis –> Seattle and back to Southern Illinois), is going to pick me up in Madison tonight, we’re going to stay overnight in a hotel, and then tomorrow morning we’re going here:

House on the Rock is an odd collection of rooms that contain odd collections of items perched on a literal rock in the middle of a forest south of Spring Green, Wisconsin. It factors into Neil Gaiman’s book American Gods, so in honor of the trip, that’s what I’m rereading on the bus ride down.

After we tour the HOTR, Mom and I will drive together back to Minneapolis. She’s visiting for two weeks and I’m going to take her EVERYWHERE  that she’ll let me take her during that time:

  • Minneapolis Raptor Center
  • Minnesota Orchestra
  • Minnesota Opera
  • Beyond Therapy @ Theater in the Round
  • MN Zoo and IMAX
  • Social Science at the Science Museum of Minnesota
  • MN Arboretum
  • Walker Art Center
  • MN Institute of Arts (MIA)
  • Mall of America Aquarium and shopping
  • St. Louis Park outdoor mall off of 394
  • Dinner with The Hubby’s family
  • CONvergence (She already has a ticket!)
  • Gay Pride Parade and Pride in the Park
  • Padelford Riverboat Mississippi River cruise

Did I miss any of the big ones?

So excited. Love me some Mom time.

Road Trip: The House on the Rock

Off to Cozumel!

I’m leaving for St. Louis tonight after work.  I’ll stay overnight and then hop on a 6:30am plane that will take me and Mom down to Cozumel, Mexico.

We’re staying at an all-inclusive resort and don’t have a lot of plans. We’ll sit on the beach, swim in the ocean and pools, drink yummy alcoholic beverages, eat delicious food, maybe venture into town to walk through the markets. I’m going SCUBA DIVING (omgomgomg – first *real* diving since I was certified!!!!) and Mom will hit the spa. And I’ll probably take about 1000 photos. Literally.

It’s gonna be all like

and like

and then like

and some of this

and maybe some of this

And I’m going to LOVE IT because right now in Minneapolis it’s all like:

All image sources are linked in the photos above.

And speaking of vacations…

Does anyone have suggestions for an elderly friend of mine who really wants to go on a big fancy vacation (not another road trip to a local getaway), but can’t because she panics in large crowds AND she has a sensitivity to perfumes, shampoos, lotions, etc which causes her  breathing distress (gasping, coughing, can’t catch her breath). Plane travel is pretty much out for her – even first class. She’s considered doing a train tour of America – she could have a private sleeping car. But she’d really like to do a tropical vacation and right now her only option would be to drive for days. If you have any thoughts could you leave them in the comments or email me at bio_dork (at) hot mail dot-com?

Off to Cozumel!

Dead Car is Dead

This is a boring post about my car dying and yesterday’s search for a new car. Unless you know me, plan on hitching a ride with me in the future, or care about the process of purchasing a used car, you can probably just skip to my next post which involves a comic about the placebo effect and a bit on vertebroplasty. :p

Yesterday this happened:

AAA towed me to Steve’s Auto Repair in South Minneapolis (very clean shop, all of the employees were very friendly, and a big shout out to Tim for his help). After about 15 minutes of looking the car over Tim came out and very gravely said “Dead car is dead.” No, he didn’t say that, but wouldn’t that have been fabulous? He did, however, use lots of exciting words and phrases like, “explosion”, “catastrophic engine failure”, and “thousands of dollars”.

So the bright side: Yesterday I didn’t have to go to work, I learned that I have an excuse to buy a new car, I got to take a lovely 2-mile walk in the nice sunshine and relatively warm weather, and I was able to share lunch with some friends who work between the auto shop and my home. It was a wonderful day…that’s just going to cost me about $5000-$6000. Ah, well. Comme ci, comme ça.

I spent the entire day reasearching cars. I used vehix, carsoup, autotrader, cars and keepitlocal (dot)com websites, and then I opened up google maps, searched “car dealerships” and went to every major dealership’s website. Searching was actually pretty neat; I used online searches, I called and spoke with salespeople and even engaged in two IM chats with dealers. I went through literally hundreds of cars without leaving my computer. Gee, the interwebs are handy.

Here’s what I’m looking for:

  • Price: Up to $5000
  • Mileage: 60K-115K
  • As Feul Efficient as possible – no trucks, SUVs, etc. Compact commuter car that can make the occasional road trip.

Other than that I’m pretty flexible. I have a preference for manual transmission (more fun and feul efficient) and 4-doors, but I can deal.

I found a handful of cars that met my criteria and are still available. Most of the cars are 2001-2002 models, (a lot of Saturns and Chevy’s) with 90-100K miles,  4-cylinder engines (there were a couple of V6s), and about half of these have a manual transmission. Most of them get 21-23 mpg city driving.

And then I found a Ford Focus SE. It’s a 2006 with 72K miles, manual transmission, and it gets 26mpg city/34mpg highway. It’s a really simple car. It has no tilt steering, AND it has manual locks and windows! Holy 1990’s stone age technology, Batman! <—– #firstworldproblems. It is about $6000, so $1000 more than what I was hoping to spend, but for 25K less miles and +5 years on the competition, I think that it’s the best car for my money that I’ve found so more. And once I realized that I was willing to pay $6000 for more car, I went back and reopened my searches to include cars in that price and mileage range that I may have missed on the first go around, but there wasn’t anything that caught my interest. 

I test drove it yesterday. It’s definitely a compact. The seat belt is waaaaay back, so you have to turn and stretch to reach them, and the ceiling room is sufficient for me, but the Hubby may have to recline his chair a bit to be comfy.  It only has two doors and the manual locks and windows suck, but the hatchback and folding seat backs are pretty sweet. The steering wheel is about the right angle and height for me, so I don’t have to worry about not having tilt steering. It’s chain-driven, so I don’t have to worry about changing a belt in 3K miles. It’s only had one owner, there’s no major rust and I wouldn’t need tabs until June (which would be a treat because currently I have to change tabs in January when it’s freezing and the car is covered in road slush). It’s mp3 ready. And there’s a 5-day/500-mile no worries return policy, a 1-month warranty, and all sorts of dealer perks for buying from the guys who are selling it.

So how about it? Any words of wisdom?

Dead Car is Dead

Lake Harriet Winter Kite Festival 2011

Late Report!  This was actually two Saturdays ago, on January 8th, but there’s been so much cool stuff going on…okay, I was just lazy.  Oh, naughty Zeus!


Recently the Hubby and I went to the 2011 Lake Harriet Winter Kite Festival.  I learned about the event over at 22 Words and at the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation website.

Previously on the blog I’m complained expounded on my general disdain for winter activities because…umm… you have to frickin’ freeze to enjoy them.  BUT I am pleased to announce that I had a really great time.  There were no clouds in the sky, the sun was shining and we bundled up to stay warm.  I bundled up a LOT.  I had on gym leggings, jeans, a t-shirt, a long-sleeve t-shirt, a sweatshirt, a coat, hats, gloves and my warmest boots.

We arrived at the festival around noon just as things were starting up.  There were already a few people on the ice and maybe 4-5 kites were up.  It was a pretty nice set-up.  There were several tents and stands and the organizers had arranged a free marshmallow roast, free hot chocolate and cider, they were giving away little plastic kites to kids and they were well-staffed with volunteers.  Pssst: Click on any photo to make it crazy big.


The wind wasn’t being all that cooperative, but we managed to get our little kite up for a few minutes.

Okay, I may have been optimistic when I said we got the kite “up” for “a few minutes”.

After the kite flying we headed over to the Minnesota DNR tent where they were holding ice fishing demos.

It was kind of funny to watch; there was a lot of activity inside the tent, probably because it was heated.  There was one guy who looked SUPER into the whole ice fishing deal; he would glare at the hole in the ice and look up in frustration every time a kid would squeal or somebody would brush by him.  Also, we witnessed the amazing flash transformation of super-excited kids into super-bored kids.  They were practically jumping with excitement as they were handed the short ice fishing poles and the line dropped into the water, and after about 30 seconds of not catching anything they’d start to get fidgety, and then the complaining started.  I couldn’t blame them – that’s pretty much how I feel about ice fishing.

Ice fishing holes!  The first picture is of a hole that was drilled outside of the main tent.  The second picture is of an ice fishing hole that was drilled inside a small black tent.  It turned out to be accidentally cool and Tron-esque because of how the low light in the tent, the bright sun shining in from the open tent bottom and my confused camera worked together.

The other thing happening at the DNR tent was snowshoeing!  The tour guide helped the Hubby and I and another couple with two small boys get our feet into the snowshoes, which was not as easy as it might sound.  But eventually, we did it.


And then we were off.  We walked across the ice to a bird sanctuary located on the north end of Lake Harriet.  The guide lead us off trail so that we could experience snowshoeing through fresh snow.  It was a neat feeling; I sunk down further in the snow than I thought I would, but the broad, flat shoe distributed my weight so that I didn’t sink down to my knees as I would have in regular boots.  And, I only fell once.  Ta-da!

The snowshoeing tour was about 30 minutes long.  After we got back to the DNR tent we walked around and did a little kite and people watching.

And to end the day we roasted a few marshmallows:

There were a ton of people with some very pretty cameras on the ice that day – gigantic lenses and camera bags galore!  These websites have some fancy pictures that I suspect were taken with SLR cameras that had…like…zoom…and adjustable apertures…and stuff.

Star Tribune

CityPages Blog

This Flickr Stream

An awesome video that was filmed with an old-timey effect.

Lake Harriet Winter Kite Festival 2011

Hot Head, Cool Landlord


I’ve had an icky cold for the past couple of days.  I thought I had gone through the worst of it by last Friday, but it came back with a vengeance on Sunday.  Or maybe it’s a new cold; I don’t know.  So I haven’t been real motivated to put a lot of thought into blogging.  I mean really, what’s to tell?  On Friday I hacked up a lung, on Saturday I went to Walgreens for more NyQuil.  There, that pretty much sums up the last couple of days.

Sketch by

I did get to see some friends at a couple of holiday fundraisers this weekend.  The Saturday fundraiser was fun, but by Sunday evening my head felt like a big, empty balloon. I had to preface every conversation with “I’m getting over a cold, don’t get too near to me!”

That’s always a popular phrase at parties.

But they had medicinal whiskey for me, so I made it through.  I’m a trooper.


I actually made it to work on Monday, but only for half a day. Between the hacking and the nose-blowing and the resulting disgusted looks from my coworkers, I finally slinked out of the office around 1pm.  I went home and slept for a while, and my one big contribution to the human race was taking the trash out later that evening.


To end my fabulous day I discovered that my apartment’s towing company had kidnapped my car from the six-spot parking lot sometime during the evening.  Apparently they didn’t see my parking pass AND didn’t recognize my car, so they towed me.  I mean, I’ve only been parking there for 5+ years, and to be fair, my car is fairly non-descript:

You wouldn’t remember seeing that bumper every day for however long you’ve been patrolling the lot, right?  Criminy, it’s only a six-car lot!  It’s not like you have to memorize the Blue Book to remember who parks here!

It was around 9:30pm when I called them to confirm that they had indeed towed my car.  I wanted to come in and get it right away, but they made me schedule an after-hours appointment to pick up my car at 11pm. Seriously, doesn’t that sound like “Gee, I’m right in the middle of this basketball game, doll.  Can you wait?”  I hung out with some nice night-owl friends for a while and then made my way over to the impound lot.  The owner was there when I arrived at 10:55pm, and after producing copies of my title, insurance and valid driver’s license, he brought my car around.  When I opened my car, my parking pass – which I had placed in the passenger-side dash – was on the floor of the passenger side.  I maintain that it slide off during the tow, the driver swore it wasn’t on the dash when he doubleANDtriple checked for it.  I ended up paying $275 to get my car back.

I am happy to report that I behaved in a fairly calm, rational manner during the whole “How about I tow your car far, far away, then you give me lots of money to give it back to you” game.  The only time I was…brusque…was when I gave the guy $280 for the $275 fee, he looked through his wallet and then pronounced that he didn’t have change.  He gave me the single that he had with him and told me, “It is what it is.  We don’t keep change on hand after-hours.”  Srsly?  I turned my back on him and walked away at that point.  He did offer to give me the last $4 if I wanted to drive back to the impound lot on the next day.  Did I mention that the garage is in Bumbledink, Nowhere?  Jackass.  I would have to spend $4 in gas just to get out there and back.

So today I called my SuperHero LandLord, Dan.  Dan really is awesome.  All of his renters have direct access to his cell phone – how cool is that?  Dan has been known to replace carpeting and appliances within days of a request.  When renters move out he contracts to have the unit sparkle-cleaned from top-to-bottom, and before you move in he’ll paint the walls whatever color you like.  He recently put wood flooring in at a new renter’s request!  Last summer he ripped up all the old asphalt in the crumbling parking lot and replaced it with concrete.  I mean, this is just a run-of-the-mill nine-unit apartment building located in an okay part of south Minneapolis.  I’d guess most of us make low-middle to middle class incomes.  It ain’t the Ritz, is what I’m saying, but he treats his renters and the building really well.

So I called Dan about the towing sitch.  Dan employs the company to make sure non-renters aren’t using the parking lot, but after I laid out the events of the night he must have felt that I had a case.  I did tell him that I would no longer feel safe parking in the lot if the company was going to be towing cars with properly displayed passes with only a “I didn’t see one when I look so I towed it” mentality.

So he fixed it.  He MORE than fixed it.  My SuperHero LandLord Dan is crediting me the $275 on next month’s rent AND he negotiated a procedural change to with the towing company: They are going to register all renters’ cars so the driver’s don’t have to rely solely on visual verification of a properly displayed pass.  Hooray SuperHero LandLord Dan!  I have a feeling Santa is going to be very good to him this season.

I would like to give My SuperHero LandLord Dan a huge ticker tape parade like this one that John Glenn received for his historic space flight in the Mercury-Atlas 6 space mission, but I’ll probably just send him a really nice Christmas card and a kick-ass box of Godiva chocolates or something.

Hot Head, Cool Landlord

Not for the faint of tastebuds

Yeah, this had “I have a bad feeling about this” written ALL over it.

Me: Hey, what should I make for dinner tonight?  Hmmm…I love tacos, and I love crab meat – hey, I should combine the two!

Me to Myself: Ummm…are you sure you want to do that?  You might ruin perfectly good crab meat, or perfectly good taco seasoning mix.

Me to Me to Myself: But, I like fish tacos.  And I like shrimp tacos.  So crab tacos would probably be tasty.

Me to Myself: You’ve only eaten seafood tacos made by professionals.  In restaurants.  Have you ever attempted to make any sort of seafood taco with canned seafood meat?

Me to Me to Myself: No, but I have eaten canned crabmeat and it’s pretty tasty.  And how hard can it be to make seafood tacos?  It’s the same thing as beef or chicken tacos, except with seafood. 

Me to Myself: Have you ever used a pre-made taco mix on any seafood before?

Me to Me to Myself: Well, there was that one time with the shrimp…

Me to Myself: You were drunk, you don’t even remember what that tasted like.

Me to Me to Myself: True…

Me to Myself: Soooo?

Me to Me to Myself: You know what?  I’m going to try it anyway.

Some time later…add a little lettuce, tomato, a dab of sour cream.

Me:  Here we go!  Canned crab meat tacos! [eating commences – nom, nom, nom – a slowing of chewing, a hard swallow and a pause] Ugh… this is horrible!

Me to Myself: *sighs* You never trust me.

Me:  I hate you.  [Mumbled grumbling.  Chew.  Swallow.  Repeat.]

Not for the faint of tastebuds

Presidential Rally at U of MN

Here’s the write up of my experiences at President Obama’s rally on the University of MN campus this past Saturday.

The Line

Wow, The Line. 

The Hubby and I left the house at 11:15am.  President Obama was rumored to be speaking at about 3pm, and local dignitaries and politicians would start speaking about 1pm.  We figured we’d get in line around noon and have a couple of hours to get seated.  As we were leaving the apartment, we heard an MPR correspondant says that thousands of people had already lined up to hear President Obama speak.  I really had no idea what thousands of people might look like, but we had heard that the Fieldhouse could hold 7,000 people so we decided to try our luck in line.  It turns out that thousands (lower-case “t”) in a stadium is nothing, but when you make all of those people stand in a single/double-file line Thousands (big freaking capital “T”) is a hell of a lot of people.

We rode our bikes from our home in LynLake to the rally on the U of MN’s East Bank.  The Fieldhouse is at 18th St. and University Ave.  We rode up University and parked our bikes when we came to road blocks at 16th Street.  We started to walk east up University toward the Fieldhouse, but were redirected by security.  Crowd control was pretty lousy from where we started – there were no signs or rally volunteers to direct us to the end of the line.  We had no idea where we were going, and so we decided to follow the small group ahead of us who were wearing U of MN sweatshirts and jackets and saying words like Obama, line, and Washington Avenue.

Below is a map of the East Bank campus.  The red line is the path we walked from our bikes to the end of the line.  The yellow circles are the Fieldhouse where President Obama spoke and the overflow seating in the Sports Pavillion where the Hubby and I ended up – more on that later.  The blue line…that was The Line.

These are some pictures from The Line.

This was our first view of The Line as we came around the west side of Northrup Auditorium.   This is the NW corner of the Mall.

After walking down the Mall and around Kolthoff Hall, we finally found the end of The Line outside of the Wiseman art center.  We were actually on the Washington Avenue footbridge for a while.

Ah, chalk art advertising!  I’d forgotten all about this college campus mode of communication.

This was when we turned onto Church Street.  I believe that’s Lind Hall on the right.

Trekking between Lind Hall and the Engineering buildings.  Doesn’t that statue look like it’s saying “Yes We Can!  Only a few more feet!”

After walking a few blocks along Washington Avenue we took a left at Walnut Street and filed up past the McNamara Alumni Center and back down the Aquatic Center. 

The Umbrella Tree – Rally volunteers were announcing that no umbrellas would be allowed inside the Fieldhouse, so this tree was being decorated with pretty ornaments. 

Next we took a jaunt up Scholar’s Walk.  It was here that we started hearing rumors that the Fieldhouse had filled to capacity and that the Fire Marshall was rerouting us to overflow viewing.  A good number of people left the line, but I’d guess about 500 people or so stayed and filed into the Sports Pavillion to see President Obama speak on a big screen.  By this time it was almost 3pm so we had missed all of Mark Dayton’s speech as well as Senators Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar. 

The big screens were actually two screens back-to-back so that each side of the bleachers could be utilized for seating.  The absolute worst infomercials were playing while we waited for President Obama’s speech to begin!

*sigh* This was as close to our President as we got.  But hey – the seating was comfy and we had an excellent view of the screen.

The Demonstrators

One of the things that I really like about big political events like this are the demonstrators.  I like seeing people get out and get excited about their views, projects and groups.  So I was a little bummed out that we saw less than ten groups demonstrating.  I mean – captive audience, people!  I only saw two “anti” signs – one against the current administration and one against democrats.  I saw two anti-war groups, a small contingent from the Minneapolis Urban League advertising an upcoming event, one guy with a sign about ending violence against Coptic Christians in Egypt (?), and there was one Green party group handing out fliers.  The most organized group was from the MN Committee to Stop FBI Repression.  They had people along the entire route handing out fliers  to bring attention to the September FBI raids on seven Chicago and Minneapolis homes of anti-war protesters.

The lady with the yellow sign is not so happy with the way things are going in our country. 

Yay! This is the kind of thing I was hoping to see.  The Radical Roosters had a small group of people dancing and chanting up and down the Mall.

“Democrats Flush Away Prosperity”  Is that why my toilet sometimes gets clogged?

A protester against persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt.

One of the many anti-FBI repression protesters.

The Talk

According to the MNDaily, approximately 11,000 people attended the President’s speech, which lasted about 30 minutes. 

The energy in the Sports Pavillion wasn’t very high.  One lady came in before the speech and gave a half-hearted try at riling up the crowd.  She yelled “Is everyone fired up…”  and a few people chimed in “And ready to go!”  She yelled a few more times and each time a few more people joined in, but it didn’t really get going.  Everyone was pretty quiet and probably subdued from standing in line for 2+ hours and then finding out that we weren’t going to see the President in person. 

I thought that President Obama’s talk was pretty standard fare.  He implored the audience to get out and vote, and to support Mark Dayton in the upcoming November 2nd elections.  He highlighted the government’s successes of health care reform, the federal stimulus, bringing troops home from Iraq and credit card reform, and reminded people that he’s got ambitious plans for improving the deficit and unemployment in his next two years in office.  He attempted to drum up enthusiasm and urged the audience not to forget all of the hard work we did in 2008, and to not lose the enthusiasm that has brought us to where we are today.

A few remarks did get audience-wide applause, but ours usually ended well before the live audience had wrapped it up next door.  For a while we thought we might have a visit from one of the bigwigs because bomb-sniffing dogs were led around the aisles and people sitting by one of the far doors were being individually scanned with metal detector wands.  But alas, as soon as the President’s speech was over people shot up and walked for the doors.  

All in all, it was a good experience.  It was definitely exciting to be surrounded by so many pro-Obama enthusiasts, and it was neat to know that President Obama was visiting my city.  The pain of The Line was tempered by the group think that We Were All In This Together.  I wish that the speech hadn’t been quite so standard; I had watched video from his other stops in Las Vegas and California and a lot of the same material was reused, but what can you do?  The wins are the wins, the challenges are the challenges, we are where we are right now. 

I’d do it again.  But I’d definitely queue up earlier!

Presidential Rally at U of MN

Off to see President Obama!

I’m so excited!  I’ve never been to a political rally of this magnitude!

The Hubby and I are leaving here in about 10 minutes (as soon as he can rip me from the computer) to go down to the University of Minneapolis East Bank.  We’re riding our bicycles down to the campus because parking and traffic are going to be atrocious.  We’re going to mill around the Field House where President Obama is scheduled to speak at about 3pm, hopefully snap some pictures of the crowds.  Doors open at 12:30pm  Mark Dayton will also be speaking.


Off to see President Obama!

ValleyScare 2010

It’s that time of the year when the Valleyfair amusement park becomes ValleyScare

Many of the parks smaller buildings are transformed into haunted houses for ValleyScare.  Their gaudy, brightly-lit displays are switched out for black paint, fake blood, windows covered with black curtains, cottony spider-web gauze.

Spiders, skulls, bats, rats, gargoyles, vampires, devils, pumpkins, ghosts, witches and devilish half-man/half-monster creatures are planted all over the rides and food vending buildings.

The “worst” part of ValleyScare is the hordes of teen actors who are hired to dress up as zombies and monsters to frighten the guests.  They’ll sneek out from behind signs and start dragging metal buckets on the ground behind you, or they’ll lumber over from across the road to block your way.  Or they’ll just walk quietly behind you until you turn around and then moan or yell in your face.  The zombie below had no pretense or guile (that’s zombies for ya) – he just ran full out and screamed at the dude in the hoodie.  Hey, it seemed to work!

Look at the ants on the roof of the taffy shop – ugh!

This turned out to be one of my favorite photos from last night.  ValleyScare has fog machines located all over the park, and this photo captures the dusk lighting through the mist of the fog.  It’s very creepy and empty. 

Because it was Sunday, and because I arrived before the sun had set, the park was empty except for a handful of other patrons and an entire staff of zombie actors.  At many times I was one guest to four or six zombies, which really made the park feel like the end of Zombieland.

Tombestones in front of the tilt-o-whirl.

My favorite ride is the Renegade – it feels like the fastest roller coaster in the park!  Unfortunately, it’s allllll the way in the back of the park, which means I had to run the entire zombie guantlet.  I don’t mind the whole jump-out-and-scare-you thing, and it’s actually fun when I’m with a group of friends, but when I was by myself they’d jump out, I’d shriek, and then there would be this awkward pause where we’d both think, “Okay….we’re two adults standing here, one of us in a silly custume….now what?”, and I would scuttle away to be received by the next monster.  On the way back from the Renegade (yup, it was still awesome!) I cheated and followed close behind a group of three workers in ValleyScare ride operator uniforms so that I wouldn’t be attacked. Zombie camoflage WIN!

ValleyScare 2010