Category Archives: Wander with Me

Various asides and observations from life in Minnesota.

@Lenovo Engineers Should be Pounding Rocks!

It’s funny, when I purchased my Lenovo Yoga Pro 2 a couple years ago, I thought I was buying a computer designed to work.  Hahaha!  The joke was on me!  This piece of shit has been a disaster from the get-go.  My fault for not returning it immediately, I suppose, but I presumed incorrectly that a new computer would at least kind of work.  Right?  Wrong.

For starters, there are many applications and programs that Lenovo’s screens will not accommodate.  Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, for example.  Suggested solution?  Buy a separate monitor.

Then there is the problem with the touchpad.  It doesn’t work.  A Lenovo user cannot drag or select or do just about anything he might expect to do with a touchpad.  It’s a known problem, I’m told, but no solution.

The monitor twitches and flickers…sometimes it goes out entirely!  Poof!  When that happens, it is a good idea to wait for a few seconds.  It might come back.  Or, maybe the computer has just died again.  Either way, shut down and restart.

Staying connected to WiFi is a pipe dream.  Lenovo Yoga Pro 2 erratically disconnects and loses the WiFi settings entirely.  Sometimes you can reset WiFi and hope for the best, but often there is nothing left to do but restart.  Often this does not work, however.  In that case, I’ve found profanity and a hard shut down does the trick.  (Lenovo is not a computer to own if you have small children nearby.)

Then there seem to be software issues — probably not Lenovo’s fault — however when my software works perfectly well on other computers, I wonder.

I hate to complain, but I have owned some horrible computers in my life (I was a Dell owner, for crying out loud!) and none of them match Lenovo for piss-poor performance.  I don’t doubt that I won’t be able to finish this po…

“Rods and Stones” Event at Roselawn Cemetery is No Big Deal

Roselawn Cemetery in Roseville, Minnesota, has caused some controversy by planning to host a “Rods and Stones” car show at the cemetery this weekend.

That seems like a fine idea to me!

I don’t find it particularly offensive or disrespectful. In fact, I might argue the opposite. Why not have events at cemeteries? Most people only go to a cemetery to attend a funeral or maybe on anniversaries. That feels like a ritual of obligation to me. And more than that, I think people are way too easily offended. Respect comes in many different shades and in the end — quite literally — a cemetery is something like a community of people who once came from many different backgrounds, beliefs, and personalities. At any rate, a cemetery exists in time and place — it has substance and history — and it didn’t emerge ex nihilo as a sacred place. We need not pretend otherwise to be respectful.

I found this nice interview with Keith Eggener published in the Atlantic several years ago. He studies the history and culture of cemeteries. Professor Eggener puts things in a more tolerant perspective. It looks like he has published a fantastic book on the subject, too!

Some Pictures of Wood Ducks and a Goose

I know a person probably shouldn’t post anything unless he has something to post, but what’s wrong with wood ducks!  There’s plenty of good stuff elsewhere on this blog…despite the fact that I am the only contributor.

Tonight you caught me in an exercise, an experiment.  I am looking for a gallery feature that gives me more than a caption option.  Dare I say I would like something similar to the photo gallery feature in Facebook?  This doesn’t quite cut it.

Enjoy the duck pictures — and the goose — if you can.  I will be back.

If Dying Reefs are a Sign of a Sick Ocean, Dying Restaurants are a Sign of…

Calhoun SquareThis story is about restaurants in Minneapolis, but I’m sure it applies to other cities as well.  Here in our Uptown neighborhood yet another attempt at upscale dining quickly crashed, closing less than a year — far less than a year — from its opening.  Parella closed today, citing lackluster sales.

Parella isn’t the first in the neighborhood.  In fact, it isn’t even the first in that location.  Two previous attempts to replace Figlio, the long-standing king of the block, have failed.  You would expect otherwise.  Parella is — or rather was — located in one of the busier parts of town, bordering some of the most affluent neighborhoods in the city and surrounded by growth.  It is easy to imagine upscale diners weary of destination dining to take advantage of something a bit more upscale down the block.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be the case and I think it has more to do with the business environment in Uptown than it does the wants of those who live in the neighborhood or even those who do not live in the area.  Trust me, you will rarely hear upscale suburban diners suggest checking out Uptown.

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The Man in the High Castle: A One Minute Review

The Man in the High Castle Amazon Sudios

We are Philip K. Dick fans at Cinema du Chien and one of our favorite Philip Dick novels is The Man in the High Castle (1962). It seems reasonable, therefore, that we would be curious about Amazon Studios‘s adaptation of the book and, two episodes in, we’re ready to deem it good, not great.

Visually The Man in the High Castle (2015) is fun to watch, despite the violent, grim story. While it is an alternative history scenario, it feels like a period piece that melds 1940s urban chic with dingy 1960s Soviet Bloc destitude.

The acting is fine, even quite good, but it feels all wrong to me. Unless a character is getting the sh#t beat out of him (so far all men), all the characters are a little too smug and beautiful for people supposedly living under the tutulage of brutal fascist regimes. (Even DJ Qualls looks studly.)

Overall the characters are rather two dimensional, the story similarly flat and predictable. Nontheless, there is plenty of action and diplomatic gamesmanship, just not a lot of surprises. Expect a lot of shootings, beatings, and wet pavement, a noir film in living color. The Man in the High Castle is one of the best mediocre films I have seen in quite some time.

What Will Happen to All of that Urban Sprawl?

Derry_and_ThompsonMy work takes me all around the Twin Cities, quite literally all around the cities.  Several days a week I drive through the outer suburbs — the exurbs — of the cities and beyond.  What I see troubles me.

As recently as 20 years ago, some of the once-small towns that are only 30 or 40 miles from the city have added sprawling subdivisions, ugly rows and cul-du-sacs of large, bland houses.  Some of these once-small towns have added strip malls, too, but it seems that Wal-Mart has killed the strip mall as much as Main Street  in some of these newer developments. It is mostly housing that has splattered in specs and gobs all across the landscape.  It is everywhere and growing.

And I wonder:  What will happen to all of that stuff?

I wonder because the future is stacked against these exurban developments.  The wastefulness of them makes little sense to younger generations who prefer to live in urban neighborhoods, eschew automobiles, and seek the simpler conveniences of the city.

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The Comic Narrative of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer plotted on a Freytag Curve

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer plotted on a Freytag Curve

It is a bit blurry (I’m sorry), but if you squint and take your time, you can see how I plot the narrative of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964) on a Freytag Diagram.  Use this to help chart the dramatic structure of this classic holiday program!

Briefly…I have argued that Rudolph’s story follows a classic comic narrative, as you can plainly see.  The comic narrative is one in which our hero — in this case Rudolph — begins in a comfortable existence of balance and security until something comes along to disrupt that balance.  Rudolph isn’t slapstick comedy, it is more subtle.

Compare Rudolph with something like I Love Lucy, For example.  Every episode involves some event that throws events out of sync resulting in chaos, which we laugh at and confuse with the essences of comedy.

But in the classic sense, comedy is about a downward turn in fortunes which bottoms out and — happy days! — fate turns and prospects improve, bringing our hero back on the upswing until he (almost always he) returns to balance and security again.  When you diagram the dramatic structure this way, the chart creates a smiley face.  (Do you see it?)  Downward from one end, upward on the other.  A smile.

In comparison, classic tragedy is just the opposite.  Things seem to be going great for the hero, his fortunes are on the rise, until he does something ridiculous like marries his mother and kills his father — a tragic error, if there ever was one — and he is knocked back down to earth again…and worse.

Travis Bickle, from Taxi Driver (1976), though somewhat flawed, is a classic tragic hero.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer also has other classic dramatic elements like a chorus and eirons, but we don’t have time for that now.

Oh…Rudolph is starting now.  I best let you go so you can watch and follow along on this chart.