Archive for November, 2007

Pet Resuce-Update

 

Our foundling, Gigi, has been with us for a few months now, and as you can see, has made herself quite comfortable.

Although she does have several bouts of “the crazies” throughout the day (and evening) she otherwise hangs out in one of several warm spots she has found in the house; on top of radiators, under lamps, on my lap, and occasionally cuddled up with our old dog, Blue.

Blue has been my mostly companion for thirteen years, and was no spring chicken when I got him, putting him somewhere between fifteen and seventeen years old.

Gigi does make his life difficult at times, attacking him in his bed, and laying in wait to bat at his face with her over-sized paws as he walks by, but for the most part she loves Blue, and he takes her innocent abuse in stoic fashion.

Gigi has of late become increasingly fascinated by the outdoors. Whenever I let Blue out to do his doggy business, she’ll always make her best effort to sneak out as well. Now that it’s getting rather cold, I do my best to prevent this, as I have no desire to go out to retrieve her, but when she does get out, she’ll usually just sit on the stoop listening to the birds in the trees for a minute or two before she is desperate to get back in the house shivering with cold and fear of the unknown world beyond the back stoop.

She is now three times the size she was when we brought her in, and has increased her food intake exponentially, which also increases the ‘output’. Thankfully I have a ten-year-old daughter eager to earn more allowance who has taken on litter box duty.

Sometimes I look at Gigi, and think to myself; “What the hell is this cat doing in my house?”

But I’ll admit, I love her. It was fate that stuck her in our fence and brought her into our home.

My wife too, has come to love the cat like it was a new child. Thankfully this ‘baby’ requires neither formula, late night feedings or diaper changes.

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What the heck is an Amicus Curaie?

Several months ago, committed cyclist Steven Orsak was stopped, assaulted, and tazed, by airport police simply because he rode his bike away from the terminal.

The case has gone to trail and Mr. Orsak was aquitted on four of the five counts against him, and is appealing the final charge of “Failing to Comply with Lawful Order”. Whatever “order” that might happen to be.

In an effort to assist in the appeal, and to help foster better understanding between law enforcement and the rights of cyclists, an organization called Bike Amici has been formed.

We are people who believe that bicyclists have the same rights as motorists, especially the right to fair and respectful treatment by police officers.

We are a project-driven organization, and our first project is supporting the interest of the bicycle community through the creation of an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief participating in the case Stephan is appealing. The amicus will be an independent analysis of the issues involved for the bicycle community as a whole. It will argue that police do not have the right to stop a bicyclist simply based on an officer’s perception that it might be dangerous to be bicycling, rather than driving a car. It is being written by Joe Vacek, attorney-at-law who owns the law firm Joe Vacek, PLLC and serves on the Minnesota State Bicycle Advocacy Committee.

This is a rather high-concept step toward better recognition of the rights of cyclists, but is much required if we desire to have a toe-hold in the courts when we go to plead our case or fight against discrimination and lack of understanding on the part of law enforcement.

As the Amicus states:

Of the approximately three hundred million people living in America, fifty-seven million of them ride a bicycle. Despite almost one-fourth of all Americans engaging in the activity, many law enforcement officers do not understand the statutory and Terry rights of bicycle operators. Bias against bicycle operators by motorists (including law enforcement) has existed since the turn of the 19th century. Bicycle operators continually deal with bias, misunderstanding, and unfair treatment by ignorant Peace Officers. Therefore, this Court must exercise its power to explicitly extend the protections of Terry to bicycle operators, to ensure fairness and just treatment in traffic law enforcement.

Word. Sign up and support.

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Edina Gets A Clue

That’s to Rich for flagging this one.

For cyclists, mean streets of Edina may soon change

By Mary Jane Smetanka, Star Tribune

As a city that developed largely during the age of America’s romance with the car, Edina has no signed or striped bike routes. That’s an amazing fact when biking is booming in the Twin Cities and Minneapolis is ranked second in the country in the proportion of people who bike to work.

A new report from Edina’s bike task force has an aggressive plan to change that. If its recommendations become reality, Edina will be crisscrossed with streets that have marked bike lanes, Southdale mall will have bike storage space, and the city will have at least a part-time “bicycle coordinator” to smooth the way for bike-friendly policies. Two major bike trails, one along a railroad line and the other along Nine Mile Creek, would provide north-south and east-west passages across the city and links to regional bike trails.

Heavy reliance on cars “affects the quality of life and livability of the city, not to mention the environment,” said Kirk Johnson, a task force member. Bicycling, he said, “is a good way to get active and get fit. And it brings people out of their automobiles.”

The 121-page report looks to Portland, Ore., and Minneapolis for examples of good biking policies. It suggests that Edina could copy Portland by adding sensors that allow bicyclists to trip traffic lights at intersections, just as cars do. And it recommends painting “blue lanes” that alert drivers to yield to bicyclists when they’re turning across bike lanes. But most of the report’s suggestions to make Edina more bike-friendly involve simple measures that work with existing streets, such as adding striped bike lanes to road shoulders.

Less than 1 percent of Edina residents bike to work, the report estimates. Among them is Johnson, who two years ago sold his car and began biking the 18 miles back and forth to his job as a software projects manager in downtown Minneapolis. He did it for environmental, money and health reasons, and he said he hasn’t been sorry.

Rain or snow or stifling heat, he rides to work. In two years he has lost 25 pounds, and the 43-year-old said his doctor reports that his blood pressure is that of a high-school athlete.

“It’s fun,” Johnson said. “I didn’t know I would like it more every day.

 

I really like that last quote. It is so true. riding just gets better everyday. It’s like going to the gym. Somedays you really don’t want to do it, perhaps for a number of good reasons, but once you mount the bike and start pedaling, all those apprehensions just melt away.

 

As far as one of the Twin Cities most conspicuously wealthy suburbs getting with the program, all I can say is; It’s about time.

 

Getting anywhere SW of France and Excelsior has always been like taking your life into your own hands. Even side streets are crowded with oversized SUV and rather unforgiving drivers who see anyone on a bike over the age of twelve as a target for ridicule.

 

I’m particularly impressed by the acknowledgment that the city was largely created with the needs of a burgeoning car reliant culture in mind.

Perhaps someday soon we’ll see communities created to meet the needs of those of us who choose a safer, sustainable method of transit that connects people with their surroundings rather then insulating them.

 

Happy Thanksgiving.

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Forbes Magazine Ranks Minneapolis #1 ‘Most Affordable Place To Live Well’

Forbes Magazine has just ranked Minneapolis  the number one “Most Affordable Place To Live Well” out of the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the country. The ranking was based on housing affordability; cost of living ; access to arts and leisure; and a quality of life index that measures the strength of schools, quality of health care, and crime and poverty rates.
What pushed Minneapolis to the top of the list?
In the last quarter, 61 percent of the areas homes that were sold were affordable to the median household earner, according to the National Association of Homebuilders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index.
Compare that to one of the least affordable cities San Francisco where only 5.7 percent of the area’s homes are affordable to the median income earner.

 

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Sunday-Funday

I took the family out for The Minnesota Cyclo-Cross State Championships yesterday out at Bassett Creek Park.

This year’s event was organized by Hollywood Cycles, Kenwood Cycles, and Birchwood Cycles; hence the name Major Wood Productions.

This marks the end of the 2007 competitive cycling season, and is always very fun, even if you are just there to watch.

Unfortunately, in my efforts to make sure my family would be comfortable at the venue, I forgot my camera.

Too bad too. Race highlight of the day; Tight barriers at the top of the course made for some awesome bunny-hop action in the “A” race.

One guy made it over a few times, then after successfully leaping the first, hit the second and did a full flip, picked up his bike, took a whiskey shot hand-up and got back on for another lap.

Check photo set HERE

He redeemed himself next time around, clearing both barriers, but when he came down his front tire came all the way off the rim. He picked up his bike, ran to the pits, and next lap came around on a different bike.

He finished the race…well.

Sorry for the lack of footy.

Watch This Instead. Its equally cool.

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Pawlenty announces aid for foreclosure counselors

From Associated Press

 

Counselors who help homeowners avoid foreclosure are in line for some extra state and private aid.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced the funding at a news conference with housing leaders. The aid includes $1 million from the state and $800,000 from private and local sources. Pawlenty says it should prevent 5,700 foreclosures next year.

 

Pawlenty says the subprime mortgage crisis is a major problem in Minnesota. Some estimates say 80,000 families are expected to fall behind on mortgage payments by the end of this year, and 20,000 are expected to lose their homes — twice as many as last year.

This is good news, but the idea that twice as many people this year will be affected by foreclosure woes as were last year is….disconcerting, and means that foreclosures and home auctions are going to be as common and ubiquitous as open house signs next spring.

If you are currently struggling to make your payments, or are in an adjustable rate mortgage that is due to adjust and dramatically increase your monthly payment, there are programs to help you.

Use the Contact Me tab above and I’ll put you in touch with a reliable loan officer who can explain the available options.

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Anyone want to buy an Uptown Condo?

As I’m sure you all know, there is an overabundance of condominiums on the market right now. Agents and brokers representing these properties have been pulling out all the stops to get agents to show and hopefully sell these properties.

I got a postcard in my mailbox today from one of the newest developments in the heart of Uptown.

Lumen on Lagoon

In many cases, incentives are focused on the potential buyer; free association dues for up to two years, finishing upgrades like granite counters and hardwood floors, things like that that help buyers get off the fence and make an offer.

Other times the incentives are directed at selling agents like myself in the form of cash bonuses at closing.

This one was a little different. Lumen on Lagoon is currently offering a 2 year lease on a new 2008 Jeep Wrangler for the buyer AND the selling agent when someone purchases a new condominium before December 31st.

I don’t really need a new car, but my wife’s ’88 Corolla is looking pretty tired.

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