Thursday, April 27, 2006


One month!

So we have been here one month. One month of getting to know the Twin Cities, meeting an enitrely new crew at work, and starting to fall in love with a beautiful part of the world.

It has been fun getting to know our new home. I did indeed miss being in the Midwest, but Minnesota is clearly a different place than Illinois. Our focus this week has been exploring St. Paul, and that has shown us some attractive neighborhoods that are clearly urban, but certainly not in the Chicago or NY sense. They appeal to us because they seem to be good places for us to raise our kids but not lose touch with the urban centers that are here in the Twin Cities. We know not where we will end up, but there is a lot to like here, and I have a feeling that we will find what we want.

So much has happened in a month, but it has gone by so fast. Tomorrow, we receive our first dry grocery load at Trader Joe's (mmmmm.....cheese crunchies), so we will be rarin' to go in the early morning hours tomorrow.

The kiddos seem to be right at home, and my wife has done an outstanding job.

God has led us to a church we think will be our home, and the importance of that is difficult to overstate. We were quite certain that He had led us here, and so much of what has happened this month has added to our confidence. We are so happy to be here, and we look forward to exploring Minnesota more and seeing all it has to offer.

The weather here has been amazingly good. 60's and 70's, blue skies, and spring bursting everywhere. It seems odd that the day we got here, snow covered this cold prairie, and now the new life has spring has asserted itself with such boldness.

Makes me want to grab a canoe and start rowing...explore the lakes...ah jeez, I like it here.

Saturday, April 22, 2006


My first Minnesota utterance

Those of you who have spent time in Minnesota can attest to the certain lilt in the speech up here. I heard myself say something the other day wherein I caught myself sounding Minnesotan. I was getting on Highway 100, ready to get home to the fam, when I came upon a rather horrific traffic jam. I then, without mental prompting, uttered these words, "AAh jeeez..." I have heard this said by natives, and now I too have uttered it, in accent.

The metamorphosis has begun.

You betcha.

Friday, April 21, 2006


Specialist Log, Stardate 42106

We have been here almost four weeks, and here's the scoop...

I just finished my third full week of work. It's official...we open the first Trader Joe's in Minnesota on May 15. Today, we received our clearance from the health department. We are seeing the pieces come together. Right now, all the shelves are up...we just need stuff to put on them! The main focus next week is making sure the store is decorated. It has been a good experience to see how all these pieces fit together to make a store. If I ever am in the position to open a store as a captain, it makes my head hurt to think how many things I will need to remember. Right now, I am happy to have my title as Specialist, and I am happy to learn from Cap'n Hugh.

I have immediately become interested in the Twins. I love baseball, and I have suddenly become very interested in a team I never cared for before I moved here. It goes to show that no matter how tainted and meaningless Major League baseball my seem, there is still a wonderful provincialism which surrounds a team.

In case you wondered, the photo is my kiddos and beautiful wife on the shores of Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis. Though I knew Minneapolis to be the "City of Lakes", I have been amazed by the almost omnipresence of water in this town. It makes for so many wonderful vistas and great outdoors experiences.

Life here has been great. And the internet (I must begrudgingly admit) makes so much possible. Here, I can communicate with loved ones in Ukraine and Los Angeles. Here, I can talk to friends in Chicago and converse face to face with loved ones by conference call. My wife and I are so excited to call this new place home. It was mentioned to me my first week of work that we are an outpost for Trader Joe's. We are farther away from any other store than, well, any other store. But the sense of excitement to be pioneers (in a very 21st century, non-gangrene sort of way) is wonderful, and my wife and I are glad to make a new home for ourselves here in this city on the prairie-this City of Lakes.

Thursday, April 13, 2006


Holy Week?!

As usual, God seems to have drifted down on my priority list. Lent and Holy Week have been overshadowed by my life changing move to the Twin Cities. Looking back, how I wish I had even taken a few more moments to reflect on the gravity of this time and the magnitude of Christ's sacrifice for me and His church.

I have been going through an anthology of lenten readings, and the refocusing on Christ's sacrifice for me is paramount. How do I allow a festival which I have repeated throughout my life to become alive and vital for me again? My wife's post inspired me this evening. I must refocus upon the life giving power of this sacrifice of Christ. I am as a deer panting for water, and I thirst for the life giving blood of Christ. It is gory, and it is basic. Yet the truth of it is transcendant. God gives spiritual life by suffering physical torture and death. He who turned water into wine and called wine His blood has turned His blood back into water, and it is this Living Water which gives us life.

The depth and metaphor could go on. But what makes it so horrifying and glorious is that it is no mere metaphor. This really happened. We are condemned to death. His blood really does give us life.

Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,
Have Mercy upon us.

Saturday, April 08, 2006


The Problem of Bonds

So it turns out another baseball season is upon us. As a new resident of the Twin Cities, I will no doubt begin to take an interest in the exploits of the Minnesota Twins. However, as a baseball fan who finds himself between words (still maybe a Dodger fan, not yet a Twins fan), some of my interests veer in the direction of larger baseball issues.

I have never liked Barry Bonds, though I think him to be the greatest player of my lifetime (with the possible exception of Ken Griffey Jr.) I do not pretend to be God, nor have I read the latest indictments by journalists. I could argue about steroids, but what's the point? Baseball has done itself in through its own continual disregard for its fans and the preservation of the game. If the comissioner were to come down hard on Bonds (which part of me would love to see), he would need to come down hard on (probably) hundreds of players.

So where does that leave Bonds? It leaves him as one of the legions of athletes who do not live up to what we want them to be. Some great heroes do: Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken come to mind. Others we are content to leave them on the field as great ball players, and we leave them there. Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle come to mind. But some are enigmas. Barry Bonds carries on the tradition of players like Ty Cobb and Ted Williams who are superior to everyone in their craft, but treat the media and their fans with contempt. Bonds may have never fought with fans or be grossly racist (as Cobb did and was) or lined foul balls deliberately into the stands (as Williams did), but his complete disregard for the integrity of the game shows that he has no regard for the fans. The fans in San Francisco who choose to greet him with standing ovations deserve him. After all, a player of his caliber who lacks character deserves all of our admiration for his craft, but none of our affection.



Many have seen me as a master of the obvious throughout my life. I'll admit, I am fascinated by things that most people would either find mundane or obvious. One of the things that always has fascinated me is that almost all major cities are by bodies of water. Again, this is obvious. Water is pretty high on the list of priorities in any civilization. Even Los Angeles, a city wherein 3 million people dwell in a desert climate, locates its downtown by the LA River (not to mention its proximity to the Pacific Ocean). Las Vegas is only possible due to technology. If it had been founded 200 years ago, it would no longer be in existence.

Which brings me to my photo here. St. Anthony Falls (seen in the photo) is the only natural waterfall on the Mississippi River. It is located in downtown Minneapolis. Today, I stood on the Hennepin Avenue bridge overlooking the falls. I had not had a chance to see the falls as of yet. As one stands on the bridge, one sees the downtown Minneapolis skyline on the West Bank of the mighty Mississippi. As I stood there, I realized, "This is why this city is here." It is only this aberration on the Mississippi which brought all of the skyscrapers and culture into existence. This is mundane and obvious. However, how could something so mundane and obvious lead to such a community?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


A new quiet

To my fresh eyes, Minneapolis is a quiet place. Granted, I live on the outskirts-perhaps if I lived in the heart of the city, I would feel differently. The recent tragic shootings in Uptown and the ongoing troubles facing any urban center show that this is anything but an idyllic place. But it does seem relatively quiet. I lived in Chicago and loved it, but I could never accuse it of being quiet. Growing up in LA, it is not as dense as Chicago, so there is not the same barrage of people, but no one would call it quiet. So far, in this place I have called home for a mere week and a half, I have noticed a certain serenity which seems totally out of place in a metropolitan area. Maybe it is the near omnipresence of water. Even at the off ramp on my local highway there is a small pond and meadow. Across the meadow, I see homes whose backyards run up against their own private pond. Water creates a kind of serenity that nothing else can.

I have much to learn about my new home. After all, quiet can be found anywhere if one seeks it. I do not pretend to have even a hint of a notion of this town's true substance. But, it is interesting what we all have as first impressions. It will be even more interesting how this impression pans out. But for now, I am experiencing a sort of urban quiet I have thus far never experienced.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


The need to read

For those of you who have read my couple of posts, you know I read the Great Gatsby last month. I am compelled with a need to get back to the written word. Right now, I am attempting to read Huckleberry Finn, and since work has started again, my pace has been slowed significantly. But, every little bit helps. I am also reading (along with my wife) a great anthology of mediations on Lent (you can take a look at her blog if you are

The cultivation of this discipline becomes more obviously necessary as cable TV has entered my life for the first time in 6 years (our apartment provides it as part of our rent). The bombardment of utterly useless images (as well as some useful ones) encourages me to interact with books again. My daughter loves reading now. And someday, after she has become bored with it due to the fast paced entertainment around her, maybe she will be, as her old man was, provoked to go back to the written word.

Sunday, April 02, 2006


Crazy Kids

My kids are indeed crazy. My daughter is an OCD in the making. She insists upon order. Not just any order, but her order. If this is not followed, we will hear about it. It is this characteristic (among many others) which endears her to me, and makes me laugh to boot.

The boy is a people person. The kid can't help but smile away when he sees people. This will allow him to build bridges in the future I'm sure-though I know not where said bridges will go.

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