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Osseo Marching Band Festival 2013

Jun 29, 2013 in Uncategorized

I love marching bands! So I go to the marching band festival in Osseo every year. It’s only a block from my house, so its not hard to get there.  I also like to comment on the bands and rate them and see how it compares with what the judges have to say, because I am a giant nerd. However, I was at the first performance area, the judges are at the second, so they might have performed different. But its too crowded there, so I stay closer to home.

The weather was perfect, except for a couple gusts of wind which surprised a couple color guards, but they handled it well.

A couple general observations – I hate it when all the staff is walking with the bands and giving them cues. I believe the band should be independent at a comp. I hate the bands that have buckets of props with them. Some bands hide it with decorated boards and what-not, but the ones that just have big ugly bins need to come up with something else. It’s distracting.

Ok, time for my thoughts and ratings:

Richfield – Class A – simple choreograhy on the first song. Second was better. Band was good, color guard needed work.

Maple Grove  - Class AA – Such a small group for such a large school. I find this odd. Much improved over past years. Too much dancing without flags. I don’t like just dance in a marching band, it feels like it doesn’t stand up to the grandeur of the musicians.

St. Peter – Class A –  Baseball theme. Super cute and fun. Really made me smile. Band was good. guard hand some coordination issues, but still good. Entertaining.

Waconia – Class AA – Art heist theme. Great! The band and the guard were all great. The ‘set’ and props were great. Possibly best of show.

The Patriots – Class AAA – good and clean but no ‘wow’ factor.

Winona – Class A – Good. Color guard needs a little improvement but not bad. Rifles were gerat. Less wowo factor than usual.

Osseo Alumni band – Exhibition band, not competing. Improved over last year and added flags. They just had a lot of fun and were good at it.

Champlain – Class AA – The Godfather Theme. Good

Park Center – Class AAA – Snow day theme. Started with a radio anouncment of school closures due to the storm. The guard danced with shovels at one point and they had an imaginary snowball fight. Odd to see in the summer, but very fun and entertaing. Very energetic. The band and the guard had a heck of a work-out. Some timing issues in the guard.

Albany – Class A – Michael Jackson Theme. Good but no ‘wow’. Simple guard and the melody of the music was lost and drab.

Owatonna – Class AA – Good but no wow.Color guard pretty good but room for improvement.

Henry Sibly – Class A – Great! Well coordinated. Played True Colors. The guard was gorgeous. Loved the double giant flags.

Mankato – Class AAA – Really good. Great choreography. Band was great. Guard almost great. They even had some singing which was surprisingly good.

St. Michael & Albertville – Class AA – Great! Avatar theme with camo costumes. Perfect guard.

728 Cadets – Class AAA – Really good. Great band, great guard. Really great, but needs something.

Osseo – Host band, can’t compete. Big sound for few band members. Guard had shaky start, but ended strong. Good over-all.

How I would Rank them: (First is best, last is worst)

Class A: Henry Sibly, Winona, St. Peter, Richefield, Albany. Note: Winona and St. Peter nearly tied.

Class AA: Waconia, St Michael, Owatonna, Champlain, Maple Grove. All really close though.

Class AAA – Park Center, Mankato, 728 Cadets, Patriots. First three might actually be tied.

Best Band – Mankato (though I paid less attention to this category)

Best Guard – Mankato

Best Choreography- Mankato, Park Center & Waconia all tied.

Best of show – Waconia

Those re my 2 cents. Can’t wait to hear what the judges thought!

If I Could Alter History

Feb 23, 2013 in Uncategorized

I just saw the question – “if you could go back in time and alter only one thing in history, what would it be?”

My answer – Nothing.

Sure it would be nice to stop 9/11 or the holocaust or a school shooting. Sure it would be nice to stop all the genocide that’s happened over the centuries. It would be nice to save the species that went extinct. It would be nice to prevent all the tragedies that have befallen civilization. But the question was ‘alter only one thing’. If I went back and stopped any one tragedy, it wouldn’t stop any others. In fact, it may be that simply another takes its place. But even so, history is a teacher. We know now to stop the Hitlers of the world. We (finally) know now to help those with mental illness. I’m not saying we have succeeded in learning our lessons, because that is certainly not true, but we keep getting closer.

To personalize it – if I could go back in time and alter one thing in my own personal history, I wouldn’t. Everything I’ve done or experienced in my life, made me who I am today. Sure there are things I am not proud of, but that was me then and that made me who I am now. I learned from those things. Either don’t do that again, or use it to help someone else avoid a similar situation. And sometimes those things help me gain a better understanding of myself. I may not have always realized it at the time, but later it becomes evident.

Everything makes us who we are, as individuals, and as a society. If we eliminate any portion of it, we eliminate a part of ourselves.

The Great Debate – Gun Control

Dec 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

As I’m sure everyone is aware by now – a 24 year old man went on a shooting rampage in an elementary school in Connecticut today and killed 27 people, most of them children.

So of course, the great debate has started – should all guns be outlawed?

I have been wishy-washy on this topic throughout the years, but I think I’ve finally decided that I support our right to bear arms. However, I do not support the right to bear assault rifles and other military weapons. Outlawing all guns would not stop shooting crimes, for many reasons:

- There are already so many weapons in the public’s hands that it would be impossible to recover them all.

- If bad people want guns, they will get guns. If they don’t mind breaking the law by using a gun to rob or kill, then they won’t mind breaking the law that bans them from having guns in the first place. Since so many are out there already, it will just increase the black market for weapons where they will be completely uncontrolled.

- We are a nation of hunters. How do you get rid of hunting weapons? If law still allows hunting weapons, then what’s stopping criminals from using them in assault?

- If we don’t have guns, we’ll just have something else to replace it. There will be more homemade bombs, or psychos will run through crowds with swords.

- If someone has malicious intent, they will carry out a crime with or without a gun.

I don’t believe in violence, but I do believe in free choice and the right to protect one’s self. I support enforcing more difficult regulation when it comes to procuring a gun. I support extreme background checks. I support mental health assessments, if that’s what it takes. I support licensing to own a gun, tests to prove one knows the operation and safety rules of all guns and specifically the gun they own. Originally the amendment was written to support militia’s. As I said, I do not support violence, but I understand why it is important for us to have the right to form militia.

Although I support the right to bear arms, I am still not certain that owning one is right for me. I like to think it will protect me, but it is statistically more likely I will have an accident involving the gun than I will actually use it for protection. Choosing the right gun for protection is difficult. If I get something small, it may not stop the intruder. But if I get something big, I could kill the intruder, but I could also shoot through a window and hit a neighbor or someone outside. Some of the bigger guns will go through multiple walls. People have killed their spouses thinking they were killing an intruder, but it was just the spouse using the bathroom in the middle of the night… They come with a heavy responsibility. Far too few people understand that.

Well, to wrap this up, I do not feel banning guns will solve anything. If people want to be criminals, they will be criminals. No law will stop them. Sadly, violence will never be eliminated from the human race, but we can keep trying. We can fight wars with kindness and compassion. We can support a health care system that supports mental health; a system that can recognize potentially violent people and help them. We can support each other and live each day striving for peace. Violence and Peace is within the individual, not the objects in their hands.

Dear Violin,

Oct 09, 2012 in Uncategorized

Dear Violin,

You have been with me for 22 years. Over 2/3′s of my life. You have filled my life with such pleasure, yet such pain.

You brought the beauty of music into my heart, into my soul. You brought me joy as you sang for me. You danced with me in happiness. You wailed with me in sorrow. You were there for me, and forever will be. Your likeness tattooed upon me. You brought me moments of laughter while I twisted your nobs, fingered your g-string, and fondled your tail piece and f-holes.

But you pained me so. I played you until my fingers were raw and sometimes cut. My finger stunted, my nail crooked. All from you. My neck, always in pain. My wrist wracked with cysts. My jaw forever clenching. You pain me, my dear violin.

So tonight, I lay you to rest, once again. I lay you gently in your black velvet coffin, pull the cloth over your body, close the lid and bury you, beneath stacks of books and camping gear. You will be missed, my love. I only hope some day to revive you. To raise you from the dead and make you sing for me, all over again. Some day, we will be together again. But until that day, may you rest in peace.

The Great Wisconsin Brewery Tour

Jun 04, 2012 in Uncategorized

Jason, his friend Jake, and Mike and I went on a beer adventure through the great state of Wisconsin this past weekend. We went to Milwaukee and back, visited several breweries from the low-key to the all-out and tried over 70 beers in 3 days.

Friday we set sail from St Louis Park at 8:30am and made our way to the Leinenkugels Brewery in Chippewa Falls. We made the 10:30am tour and promptly started taste testing. It was really neat to see the hold historical building and also how they crammed it full of new gear. They seemed to be very efficient with their space. I didn’t think I’d actually be able to find any unique brews here, but I was pleasantly surprised. They had mixes of their beers! You can take two beers, Summer Shandy and Berry Weiss, mix them and make a fantastic pink lemonade! They had several other mixing options as well. Much fun to be had. Also new, was the Wee Heavy Scotch Ale. I love scotch ales, so I found this to be delish.

Next stop – Central Waters Brewery in Amherst – It was small and intimate with a tap room right in the middle of the brewery. No need for a tour, you can see it all from your seat in the tap room. Half the town was there and they were all friendly. They had 10 beers on tap and I tried them all! My favorites were the Brewhouse Coffee Stout and the Illumination Double IPA. We had seconds of those.

After that was Ale Asylum in Madison. We had 9 rather large pours to sample and a delisious dinner. I was not a fan of most of the brews personally, but Mike seemed to like most of them. None of them really stood out to me except the Gold Digger Blonde Ale, and that was only because it was quite gross. Blech.

Last was Tyranena in Lake Mills. We had 9 samples here. Honestly, my taste buds were getting a little worn out by this point, but I trudged on in the name of The Great Wisconsin Brewery Tour. The atmosphere was amazing here. We all sat outside, but could hear the live band inside and the weather was perfect as the evening was coming to a close. My favorite beer here was the Dirty Old Man Imperial Rye Porter Aged in Rye Barrels. Yum!

Finally we make it to the hotel in Milwaukee were we were greeted with less than stellar accommodations. It wasn’t terrible… I think the building was probably brilliant when it first opened, but then they seemingly forgot to hire a maintenance person. But it was cheaper than most in the area, it had a free shuttle to much of downtown and it accommodated all the necessary functions of staying in a hotel.

Saturday we started with the Miller Brewery Tour. The only reason being that it was interesting to see a brewery on the massive industrial scale. The tour guide wasn’t great, but tour was a little dry, but it was still nice to see the operation and how they used many old buildings as well. The samples were terrible, as expected. In fact, we didn’t even get all the free samples we could have had because we just didn’t care.

Lunch was at The Ale House which was all Milwaukee Brewing Company. Lunch was great, the beers were great, the view of the canal was great. The menfolk thought the view of ladies in low cut shirts was great as well. We had a sampler of 7 beers. All were very good. And then there O-Gii – - AMAZING! It is a wheat beer made with Rishi Tea. Absolutely unbelievable. And also the most expensive growler we’ve ever purchased, but it’s worth it.

After lunch we rushed to Sprecher were we took the standard tour and the reserve tour. This brewery is rather rustic with 2nd hand equipment and raw finishes. But they also seem to make good use of a small space. This tour was the most informative by far when it comes to how to make beer and the chemical reactions that take place in the process. The reserve tour consisted of 10 beers paired with 10 different craft cheeses from around the state. This kinda blew my mind. It was amazing how a cheese and beer could compliment each other in such a drastic way. My favorite beer was the Abbey Triple. My beer tasting notes literally say “Beergasm”. I nearly spit when I tasted it because my mouth was unsure how to handle such greatness. Delish!!

After this we rushed to see the MIlwaukee Art Museum. We didn’t have time to see the art exhibits but I was more interested in the architecture of the building than what it held inside. The museum is by Santiago Calatrava who probably my favorite designer of all time. For those that don’t know – this building has wings. It was too windy on Saturday for them to be open which was sad, but it was still an amazing site to see.

We ended the night by taking the hotel shuttle to Stubby’s Pub & Grub for dinner. This is not a brew pub, but they had 53 wonderful beers on tap. Again, dinner was delicious. Mike and Jason had a few different flights of beer which I tasted, but I had full glasses of Boulder Nitro Mojo and Southern Tier Mokah. I was in heaven, or an opium den as Mike said. It was great.

Sunday morning we checked out of the hotel and went back to the Milwaukee Art Museum to see the wings of the building open. That is truely an awe inspiring site. I can’t imagine the engineering that went into that structure. It was gorgeous. The building was amazing, the weather was beautiful. It was a wonderful time for me. Thanks to the boys for allowing me to enjoy the sight, even if you couldn’t appreciate it.

The next stop was New Glarus. We first stopped at the original location of the New Glarus Brewery only to be reminded that it had moved the majority of its operation to a new location. So we went to lunch at the Glarner Stube which had authentic Swiss food, and of course, beer. The cheese curds were beyond belief! I never thought it was possible for a cheese curd to be so amazing! Again, I was proven wrong. The food was sooooo filing, we were all in serious pain by the time when we left. After that we headed to the new location of the New Glarus Brewery and were utterly amazed. We drove up a long private lighted drive, see an amazing homestead in the distance, and come around the corner and BAM, there’s a giant Swiss-styled brewery that looks beautiful enough to be a private resort in the Swiss Alps. We enter into the gift shop, peruse a bit and then head into the self guided brewer tour. Jason and I walked in first and our jaws dropped to the floor. We just spun around in a daze disbelieving the sights before us. Slate tiled floors, 4 massive copper brew kettles, stainless steel tanks the size of silos, and the most amazing maze of stainless steel piping one could image – all shined to a mirror finish. Room after Room of tanks and equipment. Miles of piping running over head and throughout. A freaking robot for stacking kegs! It was so beautiful, I could have cried. We drank their Belgian Red as we staggered through the brewery, drunk on the amazing sights, not the beer. It was an amazing end to an amazing trip.

I said it a lot, but I’ll say it again – A-MAZ-ING!!!

 

Wonderful Weekend!!

May 28, 2012 in Uncategorized

Mike and I spent the weekend at the family ‘cabin’ with his parents, bother and his daughter, grandfather and several aunts and uncles. The ‘cabin’ is 3 trailer homes on 80 acres of mostly forested land in east-central MN. The whole weekend was wonderful with many doses of happiness throughout! To name a few:

- lots and lots of thunderstorms Saturday night/Sunday morning

- Sunshine on Sunday

- Slacklining

- Helping my 3 year old niece ‘slackline’

- Painting my niece’s nails.

- No access to phone or internet

- Doing whatever the heck I wanted, when I wanted.

But the winner for Daily Dose of Happiness on Sunday was later in the evening when my brother-in-law Spencer and his 3 year old daughter, Libby, and I were running around the yard, taking turns chasing each other. There aren’t many things happier than a cute as heck giggly 3 year old girl, but this moment was actually about Spence. I always considered Spencer my brother, and never really felt the need to qualify the relationship with ‘in-law’, but something about that moment really drove home the fact that Spencer really is my brother, not ‘in-law’, just my brother. It’s not because I’m married to Mike and I ‘have to’ like him, but because I truly love Spencer as my brother. I am an only child, so I never knew a sibling bond, first hand, until now.

Monday’s had 2 DDofH moments. The first runner up is brought to us by The Beatles – Happiness is a Warm Gun. Mike and Spencer and I started the morning with a little target shooting. I was terrible, but apparently that’s because the gun just didn’t fit my hand right. I’ll have to try out a few different styles and find the right one for me, someday. The winner for the day was the drive home. I spent the first hour staring at the forests as we drove by. The sky was blue with big puffs of clouds, birds were leisurely soaring, the trees were tall, the forests full and regal, the clearings peaceful and green. The ditches were full of water and the streams over flowing, but it was all an amazing show of nature. I was actually a little saddened as we approached the city and the forests of trees turned into forests of buildings, the clearings turned from lush and green to hard and black pavements…

Happy Moments

May 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

This morning I was reminded that some of my happiest moments are walking outside in the morning. I stepped out this morning and it was pleasantly cool, but not cold, and smelled of spring. Everything was damp from the rains from the previous two days. The sun was out, but not yet bright. I could have stayed in that moment forever, just taking it all in.

I used to take the bus to work and my walk to the bus in the morning was the happiest part of the day. My favorite morning ever was during a light rain in the fall. The air smelled of fall, a simple sweet perfume. Leaves were both on the trees and on the ground so that the trees still looked decent, but the colors were changing and leaves were scattered about the ground. The rain tapped at the leaves with a soothing pitter-patter. There were still enough leaves on the trees that they provided some cover. The light drops splashed in the puddles on the fallen leaves. Each leaf had it’s own puddle. The sun was up, but the clouds diffused the light. Colors were vibrant. It was still early enough that very few people were out yet. The world was quiet. The neighborhood was mine to enjoy, all to myself. I could have walked in the rain, or just sat under a tree and watched nature at her finest for hours.

Whenever I need a reminder of the beauty of this world, this is the moment I return to.

Its been too long – again

May 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

It’s been too long since I have posted anything… again…

So where to start?! I have no idea, there’s too much and not much going on all at the same time.

So how about you tell me – what would you like to hear about? Day to day randomness? My philosophies on this that and the other? Random stories about me, random stories I make up? Let me know! I’m not sure what direction to take this blog anymore.

Dear Friends

Nov 09, 2011 in Uncategorized

This past week I’ve really been reflecting on my friends.  Especially those I’ve had for 10, 15, even 20 years and more.  I realize (over and over again) just how lucky I am to have you.  And just how sad it is that I don’t stay in touch enough. You guys (er, gals) (since it’s really only my closest friends that read this, I’m gonna talk directly to you) (grammar faux pas!) … a’hem, let me start again. You mean the world to me.

I think back to how we met, the things we went through together, the good, the bad, the ugly; times I wish I could go back to or repeat, times I regret and wish I could do over. I think back to all the times you were there for me. The times I was an absolute jerk and you forgave me.  The times you supported me.  In high school and college, I was a complete mess and you stood by me.  You were there for me and truly cared for me.

You let me freak out when I needed to.

You rushed to my side during the darkest times of my life.

We road tripped together and somehow survived.

I destroyed our friendship and yet you forgave me.

You were the entertainment, the life of my party.

I pushed you onto your face, I stabbed you in the face (All Accidentally!), I apparently had it out for your face… yet you’re still my friend.

You were my duet partner.

You were my (upside down) Doctor Mario opponent. You filled my summer days with games.

You were my teammate.

You were my daily entertainment. My after-school distraction from homework.

You were, and most certainly still are, my second family.

I am so truly grateful for you and for everything you’ve been and done for me over the years. I love you with all my heart.  You are my friends, my family for life. Thank you.

The OCM

Jun 05, 2011 in Uncategorized

Continuing on my natural kick, I thought I’d try the OCM – The Oil Cleansing Method instead of traditional make-up remover and face washes. Commercial face washes use harsh chemicals to fight acne, and they never seem to work for me, so I thought – why not try a natural method? So I did/am.

The OCM uses a mixure of oils for cleansing. I have been using a mix of grapeseed oil, jojoba oil, and almond oil. Recipes on line say to use caster oil, but i haven’t been able to find that yet. Using about 1-2 tsp of the mixture I rub it into my face like I would with other cleansers (though, no suds). I can use it on my eyes and the makeup melts right off! One my face is all oiled up, I soak a rag in super hot water and then cover my face with it, letting the steam draw out the oil and it takes all the nasty’s with it. I repeat this step 1-2 times to get it all.

My skin is soooooo soft! My pores look smaller, my skin looks healthier. It’s amazing. I’m not 100% OCM because I still have some of the old wash and I often wash my face in the shower and find the OCM difficult in the shower because I can’t use super hot water for my face without scalding everything else.

With the combination of no ‘poo and the OCM, I find my skin is healther, I have fewer breakouts and when I do have breakouts, they heal quicker than ever. I continue to try new natural methods and haven’t been disappointed yet. Next on the list – make my own deodorant :)