The Untold Story of the New Minnesota Vikings Stadium Design

vikes_birdseyeThe architect, hired to design the new Minnesota Vikings stadium was up late, working through several designs. He was frustrated. Nothing jumped out at him as “the one” design. They were all meh.
 
Rubbing his eyes one last time, he grabbed the large papers on his desk, loudly crumpled them up into one large ball of cellulose, tossed them back onto the slightly tilted table, and walked out the door for the weekend.
 
Saturday morning came bright and early. The architect’s boss, needing to take care of a few things at the office, opened the front door and walked in. Walking through the medium-sized office, he passed the late-working architect’s desk and stopped in his tracks. There before him lay the crumpled paper, lines and measurements still clearly seen on all protruding sides.
His face lit up and he dropped his briefcase on the floor, gingerly scooping the seeming mess into his arms.
“Genius!!!”

We Have Strep Throat

We skipped the flu, this year, which we seem to get at least four rounds of, every single year. But, we got strep throat.

We’re now in the second round of it. Kids have been staying home from school, going to work with Mommy, sleeping through the day, eating less (yay budget!!!), and swallowing lots of drugs. I threw away all the toothbrushes in the house (I think there were 35 of them) and bought a six pack of new ones at CVS. I alos bought new toothpaste and floss.

We’re going to beat this.

Oh…and I haven’t gotten it yet. Neither has my Fred (11) who has no tonsils or adenoids. Which reminds me, we may go all Cheaper By The Dozen (the original film) and have everyone get theirs removed in one fell swoop. I just have to find a doctor that will make house calls and will allow me to leave the house until the deed is done. No sense having a fainting wimp on their hands.

Some Days, I Despise My Daughter

Laura is the most intelligent child we have. She’s 12-years-old, which hides the fact that her inquisitive and far-reaching mind is decades more mature. Life is like a game of chess to her and she’s always seven moves ahead of me. I try to keep up, confident that I am smarter, but quickly realize that intelligence is much different than being smart.

Laura loves to tell tall tales. She’s so good at them. Quick on her feet. If you’re sitting down with her, reviewing her grades from 6th grade, and find a missing assignment that was due several weeks prior, she will have a perfect story, rolling off her tongue immediately. It’s believable too, except it isn’t. Just like an email phishing scam, there’s always one little typo that raises an eyebrow and makes you wave your mouse over the email link, revealing a shoddy website address.

Such is it with her stories.

*The phone rings.*

“Hello,” I answer.

“Hi Daddy! Guess what I just found! You’ll never believe it!”

“What!?”

“A 10 dollar bill on the sidewalk. I was out rollerblading and found it. So I went to Kwik Trip and bought a bunch of candy for you. I’ll give it to you when you get home.”

Something was weird about that story, but I couldn’t figure it out. She sounded excited, but there was an oddity to the way she was relating it. She was home sick with strep throat and just happened to be rollerblading instead of resting. Finding a penny is common, a paper bill, less so. In fact, many a person will go through their entire lives without ever doing so, excepting those times where you put on your old winter coat and find a Benjamin in the pocket, along with a few unused condoms.

Sure enough, the next day, Renaya, our 14-year-old, announced she was missing $15 from her purse.

But Laura also uses her intelligence for good. She is wonderful at teaching concepts to the younger ones, highly inquisitive about even the most simple of subjects, and never stops asking questions to answers she already knows. She simply doesn’t forget what she learns, highlighting her disinterest in certain subjects (science) when she receives poor grades. She is also extremely talented in gymnastics. She started as a beginner a month ago and has already graduated two levels to intermediate. Her coaches are shocked that she has had no formal training. Laura is just that good at what she puts her mind to.

Laura is also my daughter. I love my kids, regardless of their faults, even if I want to jump off a bridge five days a week. Unlike a bad cup of coffee, causing me to never buy that brand again, Laura can hoodwink me every single day of her life, and I will see through it as a sign she would make a great politician and an even better capitalist (though she is very empathetic). Thus, I don’t reject her and put her up for adoption.

Which brings me to Prince:

Yesterday, Prince died. The announcement swept through my social media and at work. The reaction to this man’s death was the closest thing to ubiquitous love that I have ever experienced. Even when David Bowie died, I didn’t feel this. The sentiments transcended generations. Young and old alike, wept openly, dug their old albums from dusty drawers, finding buried CD players, just so they could hear Purple Rain again in its original burning. Minnesota stopped in its tracks, quickly scheduled dance parties, and turned everything purple. Corporate meetings devolved into longing conversations of times past, remembering the days one attended a concert of this short man in heels and makeup.

And yet, I told everyone, honestly, that I didn’t know the man. I didn’t know his music and I didn’t have any appreciation to what he meant to the art form. I was fairly public about my ignorance, which meant that I began to receive links, audio clips, and videos of Prince’s music in my inbox, through text, any number of messaging apps, and even comments on this blog.

While that was all well and good, I don’t appreciate singers by just listening to their music. I study them and enjoy their music as an extension of who they are. As such, if someone’s music is an alter-ego to who they really are, I don’t get as much appreciation from it, no matter how talented.

Prince is full of contradictions. He sang about sex, very graphically, and later in life, became quite religious. The spirituality showed in his music. He discouraged people from using vulgarities, and had morality arguments that lined up quite nicely to the Religious Right. Yet, at his concerts, he would sing all of his songs, including what would be considered anathema to a Jehovah’s Witness, to which faith practice he was a dedicated member. He believed in chemtrails, spouted conspiracy theories about American antipathy toward religion in the public square, claiming other countries celebrated religion openly. Yet he was a loud mouthpiece for fairness in the music industry. He was a vocal opponent to America’s version of unbridled capitalism, even going as far as claiming that the common folk are still “on a plantation.” And he talked a lot about Jesus, yet had a disregard for the feelings and needs of others.

In short, Prince was a gentleman that I would give a wide berth.

Yet I look at the messages of his music, interpreted in a myriad of ways by his millions of fans. I look at how he touched their lives in very palpable ways, especially the lives of my ex-fundamentalist friends who used his words of encouragement to “just be themselves and screw everyone’s opinions” to help get out of the bondage of hen-pecking religious types who wanted to keep them in the fold. I see people using his earlier admonitions to “fuck” as a way to remember to enjoy intimacy with their partners when life goes to shit. I also see how his music, just for the sake of good music, is capable of “getting people through a day.”

And so, just like my daughter, I will not reject the man.

 

Nominating Jesus: A GOP Conundrum

IMG_3175When Antonin Scalia died, the GOP lost its collective mind. Here was their champion of all things religious, dead. No longer did they have the most reliable vote on the Supreme Court, there to vote their way on abortion, gays, money in politics, health care, and anything else that helped the Republican Party to keep their bigoted boot on the necks of those they felt were different.

So they came up with all these foolish reasons why Senators should refuse to vet a Supreme Court nominee by Barack Obama. They made up reasons out of whole cloth, saying things like, “We don’t vet nominees in an election year.”

But a thinking mind understands that this is just tomfoolery. The GOP is hoping beyond all hope, that the Democratic nominee for President, falters and loses to the GOP nominee. They hope the country’s tide turns toward them. They don’t say it, but everyone knows they’ll come up with a new excuse, come November, when Hillary Clinton wins the Presidency. In fact, if the winds of obstructionism continue as is, we might be looking at an 8-judge Supreme Court for the foreseeable future.

Obama looked at the playing field and handed Mitch McConnell an olive branch – a moderate candidate. Someone that might be palatable to both sides, yet unacceptable to either end of the political spectrum. But Mitch dug his heels in. No Supreme Court hearings during Obama’s term. That was the mantra.

In reality, this has nothing to do with tradition. Nothing to do with a reason for not vetting a nominee, no matter how convincing the reasons are. No. It has everything to do with being against everything that a Democrat is for, regardless of what the GOP has been for, historically, even if they once found themselves on the positive side of what they are now against.

Consider Jesus.

Let’s say Obama was able to muster up the courage to nominate a figment of people’s imaginations. A man who once lived, allegedly, and is now dead, had he ever lived, hearkening back to the ‘allegedly’. An historical figure that religious tradition says rose from the dead and is now in heaven, looking down upon the masses, making sure we don’t masturbate. Yeah. One of the good guys.

I can hear them now:

Can you believe Obama? He nominated a man to the Supreme Court who is against capitalism, throwing out the money changers from the temple. In fact, if Jesus was in government, he would dictate what the church is and isn’t allowed to do.

Jesus was a wine drinker. He took perfectly good water and made it alcoholic.

Jesus said he came not with a sword. He would get an F rating from the NRA.

This man is not for low taxes, but requires the poor to pay what the government asks, regardless of overreach.

It would be fun to watch.

 

Prince Has Died

IMG_3174As everyone knows by now, the Purple One is dead. According to reports, he died at home in Chanhassen, Minnesota.

I didn’t really know much about the man, being that my life was so sheltered as a young’un. I do remember all the jokes when he changed his name to “The Artist Formerly Known As Prince” and then back again. I remember his fight with the music industry, though none of the details stuck. I remember him performing at the Super Bowl and it being one of the most musically religious ceremonies that halftime show has ever experienced.

But I didn’t know the man and his music. My uber-religious mother would drive us past his complex in Chanhassen, point out his golden pyramid, and tell us how horrible he was, not believing in God and causing others to worship him. And, in a way, that stuck with me. I had an aversion to him and his music for no apparent reason – just that I had no interest to indulge.

My generation was all about The Backstreet Boys, NSync, BBMak, and Brittany Spears. We did bubble gum pop music with no meaning in the lyrics. All about empty love. Now, all the music is about empty partying, with a few pandering songs about being everything you can be, without telling people the truth – you can’t do or get everything you want to. You can dream, but this life decides to crush your dreams, more often than not.

And yet my friends loved Prince. They are all over my social media accounts, telling me so. I’m receiving texts of how meaningful he was, an era in himself.

I must study this gentleman.

RIP, good sir. You touched many lives.

I’m An Atheist and You Do Not Know Me

EFD-00003-2Many a pundit, many a Religious Right yeller, many a preacher, many an opportunistic blowhard, many a pandering politician, declares what an atheist is, their words laced with conviction and passion. And as they do, they reveal their ignorance. I laugh heartily at their feeble attempts at defining who I am.

I am not angry at God. I did not choose to be an atheist because of the horrors of my childhood. Had people been better toward me, growing up, it would not change my position.

I do not treat morality as a crap-shoot, allowing anything and everything, with post-modern relativity. I have the same moral compass as a religious person – me. No matter how much one attempts to prove their moral compass is a book, or even some guiding sky fairy, they cannot get past the obvious hole in their arguments – morality must still be filtered through themselves. Yes. They are the final keeper of the moral gate.

I love sex. Yes, with my wife. I am married to exactly one woman. I don’t have sex with anyone that moves, just because I can – as can a religious person. I choose not to have sex with those who do not want to have sex with me because having sex with someone who doesn’t want to have sex with me is the most repulsive idea I can think of. Well…that, and drinking a cup of cold coffee.

I do have sex with other women. I do tell other women that I love them in whatever way love is defined between us. But that’s an entirely different subject altogether. It’s complex and very elusive to a hard definition.

I don’t spank my kids. If I can’t hit an adult, I don’t see why I should be allowed to hit a child.

I do yell at my kids. But they yell and swear back at me. I don’t like this about me, but I am proud of them for learning to stand their ground against a much smarter adult in the room. They’ll learn, one day, that I’m always right, and yet they’ll continue to debate me – simply to hone their debate skills.

I hate mowing the lawn.

I don’t drink alcohol to get drunk. I drink it for the taste. In fact, I have thought of quitting it completely, but I kind of like the social aspect of making people a good drink. I get drunk for the kids a few times a year, but aside from that, I’m not much into losing control.

I have never done drugs. I won’t do them. I just have zero interest in the idea.

I’ve never had an abortion. I’ve driven people to abortion clinics and acted as their escort. Once, I even felt like a woman should have continued her pregnancy, but ultimately, it was her decision.

I stole gum when I was a kid.

I have read the Bible from cover to cover at least 20 times.

I’m pretty normal, just like a religious person. I just have to blame my faults on myself and rely on me and those I trust to help me bribe the authorities to get out of a pickle.

 

A Black Woman on the $20 Bill!

This is great news. Finally, we don’t have to be saddled with a gaunt, old dude (with pretty great hair, I might add). We’re getting Harriet Tubman, a more current shaper of our nation, someone who represents the true freedoms that all humanity is purportedly proffered by our Constitution.

This is a good thing. She was a good egg.

Now, Jackson, the current face of the bill, wasn’t a sorry sap, himself. He was like a Bernie Sanders in anti-big bank populism, and hated by all his colleagues like a Ted Cruz. He kept South Carolina from jumping ship by the same threats Lincoln did, though Lincoln had the misfortune of actually having to carry them out, Jackson, on the other hand, winning by diplomacy.

But off he goes into the dustier pages of history, no longer leering at us, as we spend our twenties, if we can even afford them.

America is moving forward.

Update: Yuck. Jackson sucked with respect to Native Americans. Screw him. Welcome, Tubman!

 

When Humanity Makes You Sick: A Rape Story

The New York Times and NPR have a story about an 18-year-old girl who took nude pictures of her 17-year-old friend, then met some guy at a mall, who happened to be 29, and decided to get together with him. The man allegedly plied the girls with a bottle of vodka, getting them drunk, then took them to a house and raped the 17-year-old.

A few minutes into the rape, the 18-year-old started live recording on Periscope. A friend saw the live feed and called the police. Now, the man and the older girl are facing a multitude of charges.

But this story smells like rape apology. While there is plenty from the grand jury indictment to show that bad decisions were made, the language from the prosecutor feels very much like the classic mantra, “Why didn’t she scream?”

The problem is, a rapist can be both dangerous and unpredictable. The 18-year-old claimed she began to tape the encounter on Periscope, hoping someone would contact authorities and make it stop, as well as to collect evidence. Both of these came true. This is a silver lining in an otherwise horrible story.

But the prosecutor wasn’t having it.

“[The 18-year-old] did not call 911”.

Regardless of all the other evidence that the prosecutor says points to the older friend consenting to the rape of her younger friend, that sentence right there is enormous in its gravity. Here is a man, 12 years older than the girl he is raping, having overpowered her while she was drunk, 11 years older than the girl doing the recording – and the prosecutor is questioning why nobody called the police?

 

The girls are still physically alive today, potentially because they precisely did not call the police. Nobody knows, really, what would have happened if the 18-year-old had decided to call the authorities. Death, maybe? As sick as it sounds, playing along with a rapist and working the system to smartly broadcast an S.O.S call, was arguably a very good move on the older girl’s part.

Again, I don’t know. Apparently the prosecutor seems to think the video shows that the older girl was very much into the experience. But the way he nonchalantly suggests she should have called 911 is hogwash.

But that isn’t the worst part.

[T]he prosecutor, said [the older girl] had apparently hoped that live-streaming the attack would help to stop it, but that she became enthralled by positive feedback online.

“She got caught up in the likes,” he said.

And that should make you sick. There were actual humans, ‘liking’ the live rape.

Creative Sex: Skirting the Rules of Her Parents

IMG_3157I took this picture of the important parts of my bride, while she was waiting to go under the knife at The Mayo Clinic today. As she disappeared down the hall, in the care of a super-medical team, my thoughts drifted to our younger days together. Two young and passionate lovers.

It was July, 2001. I was addicted to this beautiful girl. Every thought of mine was directed toward her. I lived to breathe in her scent, kiss her warm and soft lips, and do all the things that normal lovers do, wrapped naked in each other’s arms.

Except, we had to sneak around. Her parents were religious, as were we, leaving every session of love a cesspool of guilty feelings washing over us, keeping us from fully enjoying everything to be enjoyed. It was in this atmosphere that we decided to drive to every corner of the state of Minnesota – 1600 miles – camping together, alone, with no chaperone.

Her parents were worried, and rightly so. No kids, hot for each other, had the capacity to camp together without engaging in the evil sexing. But we convinced them that we were stronger than any kids they had ever known, even though we’d been having sex for months already.

Every single campsite we stopped at, we set up two tents, took pictures of those tents, then jumped into one of them, and made love for hours. That trip was one hot memory of smells and tastes and sensations and love. And lots of giggles as we creatively photographed sleeping quarters, us in genteel posed positions, looking American Gothic. We called her parents often and told stories of ducks and geese and water and mosquitoes and barely holding hands and no kissing and longing gazes into each other’s eyes and our super-human strength of abstinence.

And they believed every word.

God I loved that week.

The Doctor Just Called: My Bride is Doing Well

She has a heart. I was surprised! 😉

Mayo doctors have conclusively diagnosed her with AVNRT and know the spot to ablate (burn). The doctors have put her to sleep now so she won’t “feel the Bern,” and will be ablating, re-testing, re-inducing, then continuing ablation, until they are confident everything is good.

Then, she’ll have a 30-min wake-up time, a 4-hour lay flat time, and then home. She’ll more than likely not have to spend the night, which is good. She has a lot of laundry to do at home.