Category: Minnesota Page 1 of 2

“Lane Courtesy”—what a concept

Via The Capricious Commuter: The National Motorists Association has declared June National Lane Courtesy Month. I’ve written about how Minnesotans don’t relinquish the left lane to people who come up behind them who are driving faster than they are. (Californians are even worse, and Wisconsinites are completely unpredictable.) So here it is: a group that believes, “The lane courtesy ethic must be reinvigorated, promoted, and recognized for the contribution it can make toward safer, faster and more enjoyable travel.” Yes! (I’m not sure I agree with everything they stand for, but I’m certainly in favor of more “driver-to-driver courtesy.”)

Of course, I think it’s extremely unrealistic to expect people in this country to truly understand the ripple effects of their individual behavior. But we can dream.

the Buffoon Governor Trifecta (TM)

It occurred to me, after the recall election, that very few people have probably experienced the Buffoon Governor Trifecta(TM) that I have. 1986-1999: Tommy Thompson, Wisconsin. 1999-2002: Jesse Ventura, Minnesota. 2003-?: Arnold Schwarzenegger, California. The mind reels.

a wretched weekend

What a wretched weekend it was. I’m just now getting over a week-old cold, one that took me out of commission Thursday when I attempted to call Californians about the environment. (I found it surprisingly difficult to work on the phone without my main tool of persuasion—my voice.)

Much worse, of course, was waking up to Friday’s news that Senator Paul Wellstone died in a plane crash in northern Minnesota. I can’t begin to describe the sadness and shock I felt when I found out one of my real heroes had died. Steve Clift of Minnesota E-Democracy has created a moving Wellstone Tribute site.

That night, I was too sick and worn-out to go to a Halloween party I’d been invited to by one of Dave’s friends (who also goes to trivia night every week). And Saturday morning I woke up too tired to go to the big peace rally in SF. Crap. I’m starting to feel better, though.

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Official NaNoWriMo 2002 Participant

Impulsively, I decided last week to devote many hours of my time in November to participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo, for short). I have a fortune cookie fortune stuck to my computer monitor that reads, “You will become an accomplished writer.” Having glanced at that tiny piece of paper every day for the last year or so, my subconscious apparently decided this is the way I can begin to fulfill that crispy prophecy.

Do you have the time to write an average of 1667 words a day next month? Why not sign up along with me? You know it’ll be fun. Winners receive, uh, nothing. Well, their names will be posted on the web site and they’ll have the satisfaction of being able to say, “Yes, I’ve written a novel.”

Watch my novel page for more updates.

lost, stressed, and homesick

“Welcome back,” you might say.

It has been a scant seven weeks since I moved out of Minneapolis, not enough time to judge if it was a good decision. Honestly, I’m just as torn as (if not more than) I was before I moved.

Of course, the four-day cross-country move was somewhat exhausting. Some of the scenery was spectacular, and some was not. [Spectacular: the Rockies, the Sierras, the Gateway Arch. Spectacularly depressing: Illinois, eastern Colorado, western Utah.]

My first few weeks in California were mostly spent floundering. Four days after arriving, I went on a quick, expensive, unplanned trip to San Diego that was not joyous at all times. Nick had left his car down there on a previous trip for repairs, and he asked if I’d like to go along to pick it up… after buying me a one-way plane ticket. (Under ideal circumstances, of course, I might have had the opportunity to say, “Perhaps we could go after I’ve recovered from the four-day cross-country move,” but I had no such option. I could have said no, but the fact he had already bought the ticket made that option awkward.)

I freely admit that I mostly wanted to go, since I hadn’t previously been to Southern California. I’m glad now that I’ve seen some of San Diego and L.A., if only to confirm I don’t have any desire to live there. I was blown away by the often ruggedly scenic Pacific Coast Highway on our trip north. Still, the combination of having nowhere quiet to sleep the first night (long story), sun-sickness the second day, and car sickness at a few points going up Highway 1 made the trip less than entirely pleasant. Oh, and my camera broke during the trip, so I don’t even have pictures.

When we got back to Oakland, I continued to live in the living room, which is obviously not as appropriate a situation as the English language might imply. My computer was on a very low table, making working on my portfolio site and finding a job difficult. And, of course, we were actively looking for a new place.

Making things worse, the freelance job that apparently fell in my lap while I was still in Minnesota fell out of my lap on the 10th. [Roughly a week earlier, Nick, Windy, and I signed the lease for the house in Berkeley.] The organization’s board postponed approval until their next meeting, October 15th. (Coincidentally, my next rent check is due the same day.)

I don’t mean to sound like I’m complaining, especially not about my roommates. It was gracious of Nick and Windy to share their space with me and to find a new place simply because I was moving out here. I’ve had a pretty good time going to baseball games and movies, playing Madden NFL 2003 for the PS2 (oh, evil time-sucking habit), going out for dinner, and playing nearly genuine Irish pub trivia.

Berkeley seems like a nice enough place to live, and I’ve loved the Bay Area since the first time I visited. Under the right circumstances, I know that I would love living out here.

Right now, though, I really miss the familiar. I miss being around Amber. (Since I am of course eminently missable, it’s unsurprising that she misses me as well.) I miss my friends in Minneapolis and Madison (still more numerous there than in Minneapolis), not to mention my friends in scattered regions of the country. Of course, it’s great seeing Kim & Dave, Tree, and Nick & Windy—I would never have been able to move out here without knowing a few people. And I miss my parents. Perhaps I underestimated how much I’d rather be nearer to them—at least close enough to drop by more than once a year.

I don’t think that I’m inordinately negative, in general; I usually fall somewhere between realistic and optimistic. However, maybe my feeling lost, stressed, and homesick is understandable, considering I turned my life upside down.

My decision to move might turn out for the best. At the very least, it certainly has helped me determine—or made me admit to myself—what I think is really important.

after 3 days on the road

From Wednesday at 9 a.m. CDT to last night at 10 p.m. PDT, I drove from Minneapolis to Oakland (via Valley, Madison, Hartford, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and with the help of Nick, who drove roughly half the trip). The drive was enlightening—I feel like I know a little bit more about the country I live in—but exhausting. The highlights included Denver and the Rocky Mountain National Park; the lowlight was the entire state of Utah.

Today I’ll allow myself to take the day off, but tomorrow I have to get to work.

last days in Minneapolis

Jason at the Minnesota DNR on his last day.

Today is my last day at the Minnesota DNR.

Tomorrow is my last day in Minneapolis.

The last couple weeks have been hard. The last couple days have been harder. Somehow it’s even harder to leave here than it was to leave Madison. Maybe that’s because I’m going so much farther away from pretty much all the people I love. Maybe it’s because there’s a lot more buildup. Maybe it’s harder because, unlike when I was in Madison, I’m pretty happy with where I am professionally. I really like the people I’ve been working with at the DNR, and I really like the projects I’ve been doing on the side.

I have faith, though, that there’s good work for me to do in California too. And, damn it, it’s an adventure.

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Anger-inducing discovery of the day: Someone stole my rear bike wheel last night. Update: Actually, my bike wheel was not stolen. Again, a quick-release lever was stolen from my bike, this time for the rear wheel. As for the wheel itself, it took me about a day to realize that the wheel—which, at first, appeared too large for my bike—that I discovered on my front porch and tossed angrily on the (fenced-in) front lawn was, in fact, my wheel. I bought another $10 part and reattached the wheel, to my relief.

I must be nuts

I have done squat on this site in the last month. Wow.

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Perhaps that’s because I’ve been preparing for this fact: I’m moving. Rather, I’m about to move. (More precisely, I plan to relocate in the near future.) This will be the biggest move of my life, from Minneapolis to the San Francisco area—Oakland, to be exact, at least at first.

You may know that I’ve been talking about this for a long time. You may not realize when I’m going. Though this one is not quite as sudden as my last move (from decision to move in one week), it is coming up quickly. Let’s call it August 13th: roughly one month from now.

In reality, I’m moving out of this apartment in two weeks to make way for Holly, Amber’s new roommate (and a friend of hers since elementary school). The move will be pretty cheap; my parents are going to provide a vehicle and some storage space for my biggest stuff (that I can’t sell in the next two weeks). I’ll come back and work for two more weeks, staying on the very comfortable couch in my soon-to-be-former living room, after which I’ll pile my necessities into my ’99 Acura and go west. My new roommates, Nick and Windy (pictured elsewhere), who will conveniently be in Wisconsin at the time, will ride along, providing driving relief and moral support.

So that’s it—I’m quitting my secure, steady, relatively good job. I’m leaving my comfy apartment with a roommate I get along with really well. I’m driving myself headlong into destinations and experiences unknown.

On the one hand, I must be nuts. On the other hand, I actually have a much better plan than I did when I moved here. Of course, when I moved here, I followed no plan at all.

What is life without change and risk? I really don’t want to live my life passively. I admit that less drastic change would almost certainly be less stressful, but there’s something extremely attractive about the kind of stress known as “adventure.”

I admit that a tiny kernel of fear remains buried in my heart. And yet the reactions of some of my friends, family, and acquaintances—essentially, “If I were your age, and I had the opportunity to move out there, and I weren’t tied down to a bunch of responsibilities (read: children and a house), I’d go in a second,” or simply, “I admire your guts”—help me remain confident that this is a really good idea.

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I could write a hundred—a thousand—more pages analyzing all the issues surrounding this move. Maybe I’ll try to do a little each day (but my gut feeling is that I probably won’t).

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You know what’s really, really good? “Oh, Inverted World” by The Shins.

impending departures

Lots of good news today:

Not that Ventura being governor will matter much to me when I move out of Minnesota. At least my future former co-workers (?) won’t have to deal with such a hostile administration, assuming Pawlenty loses. [Update: Pawlenty won. Layoffs followed.] (And I hope not to be in a position again to be directly affected by Supreme Court decisions that protect canvassing.)

I won’t miss the way Minnesotans merge onto the freeway. Isn’t “acceleration ramp” another name for “on-ramp?” I don’t think they teach that here.

Top Ten of 2001

As this very strange year comes to an end, I believe it’s entirely appropriate for me to compose my year-end Top Ten List. I’ve decided to end the year focusing on the positive. Maybe I should break it out into categories, but I’m just too lazy.

  1. Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring twice in one weekend, with Nick and the gang on Sunday
  1. Surviving the year despite one or more incidents in which being in a car could have gotten me killed
  1. Hearing that my brother was hired as a police officer in North Carolina
  1. Seeing a baseball game in Milwaukee with my brother (and spending time with my mom, and my dad, and the rest of my family, the rest of the year)
  1. Enjoying the Land of Evermor in Baraboo, Wisconsin with Amber
  1. Discovering new (to me) music by Built to Spill, Quasi, Death Cab for Cutie, Guided by Voices (um, and, oh yeah, seeing the Minders and Of Montreal in separate shows)
  1. Visiting Seattle in the summer, and seeing Jonathan (and going to the web design conference, at which I got to meet Zeldman briefly)
  1. Launching gohlkusmaximus.com
  1. Trekking out to Ohio for the Sloan shows in Detroit and (especially) Cleveland, and road-tripping with Will
  1. Enjoying a sunny, lazy day at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park in early April with Amber

Barely missed the top 10: my summer road trip to Chicago and Columbus; the end of the state employee strike; finishing the design, though not the production, of the new Minnesota DNR web site. Fairly far off the top 10: shaving off my six-month-experiment full beard (but that was a good thing—believe me).

Happy new year, everyone. See you in 2002.

day 14 – it’s over.

Those negotiations turned out to be all that was needed to end the strike. The negotiators on both sides worked practically around the clock from 1 pm Thursday to 3 am Sunday morning.

Tentative terms of the contract. We go back to work tomorrow morning. I for one am glad. [Now how to approach my line-crossing co-workers? I’m not going to be mean or anything. I didn’t even use the word “scab.” Who knows what union leadership will say, though?]

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