Posts Tagged ‘Minneapolis’

Calculus: The Musical

December 8, 2011

On Tuesday a friend invite me to join him for a show at Huge Improv Theater called Calculus: The Musical. It was a small production. Two actors portrayed many different characters, there was no intermission, and there were several frenzied costume changes during the show. Both actors played guitar at points, and one had several pieces on an electric keyboard. It had all the elements that I love in a musical comedy: Witty characters, fast-paced dialogue and action, a dash of slapstick, various overdone accents, a multimedia presentation, a blending of musical styles (from classical to rap and a lot in between), and a man playing Sir Isaac Newton talking to a little action figure of himself (“Little Isaac”) and then having the action figure answer back in a higher-pitched version of his true voice. Okay, that last was specific to Calculus: The Musical and not at all something I look for in musical comedies.

As the name might imply to those among you who are particularly quick-witted, it was about calculus. As a mathphobe who never made it all the way through a calculus course I was worried that all of the jokes would go right over my head. I did miss some of them; several times my friend’s giggling indicated that something humorous had transpired on stage after some dialoguey gobbledygook about derivitives, functions, limits and infinite series. But the writer managed to incorporate calculus without making the storyline completely unintelligible to the uninitiated.

You can listen to songs from the musical at maththeater.com. Here are the lyrics from the only song that I can actually claim to have understood entirely. It’s called 5 Sizes of Numbers:

There are 5 sizes of numbers,
Big Infinity and small Zero,
And the Finite in the middle,
They’re the ones, I’m sure you know.

But now we look between Finite and Zero.
To numbers so small, they’re nothing at all,
But still a little larger than a Zero.
Their name is Infinitesimal.

On the other side of Finite,
There are numbers too large to say,
Infinites are what we call them,
They are big, in every way.

But they will never quite be Infinity,
They’re not quite as big, not even close.
We’ll use all of these numbers in Cal-cu-lus,
The numbers, I love the most.

It only gets nerdier from there. They have a song about Bernhard Reimann in the style of Eminem’s Without Me. Just sayin’.

Calculus: The Musical has been touring nationally for six years, and it stopped in Minneapolis only for a couple of days. But they have shows scheduled from now through May of 2012 in different parts of the country. I had a good time, maybe even learned a thing or two, and it reminded me that I really need to stop procrastinating and start reading that copy of Jennifer Ouellette’s Calculus Diaries that I got for Christmas and have left languishing on my bookshelf for the last year!

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Twin Cities: First Snowfall 2011

November 21, 2011

Winter is here, and so is winter driving! Or, as one friend likes to call it: “The Season During Which Minnesotans Relearn Physics.”

Well, we knew we couldn’t avoid it forever. But man, things change fast up here! I mean a day prior it was a typical sunny, cool, fall day. And then on Saturday it was all like:

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Photos in order are: 35W South, Driving Across the 35W Bridge, Downtown Minneapolis and the Stone Arch Bridge, Near Hwy 7 & Hwy 100 in St. Louis Park, Lake Calhoun, Uptown, Our Front Yard, and The Hubby in the Snow.

Yuck! But there are a couple of awesome things associated with the first snowfall of the year:

1) I made an appointment to get snow tires put on my car on Friday evening. If I was a day trader I would so have been buying stock in tire companies in Minnesota at the end of last week. I don’t know how Discount Tire in Eden Prairie managed to fit me in, but they did. Off came the worn, barely-acceptable-for-dry-summer-roads tires, and on went shiny new Michilin X-Ice 2s! Considering what the roads looked like at the end of Saturday afternoon, I felt really lucky to have gotten this chore done just in the nick of time.

2) We managed to get the motorcycle put away for the winter on Saturday morning just as it was starting to snow. We didn’t really make it to our storage garage in Mounds View before it got gross out, but we did manage to minimize the damage.

I was the driver for this little expedition and had to get all winter-geared up for the 15-mile drive in 25°F, lightly snowing weather.

I’m wearing thick socks, insulated ankle-high workboots, jeans, carhart overalls, a t-shirt, a sweatshirt, my leather motorcycle jacket, a carhart coat, lined leather gloves, a neck wrap, a fleece hood that covers my nose and mouth, and my full-face helmet.

I’ll start out by saying that we made it to Mounds View without incident. But the ride overall…what’s the word…oh yeah – sucked. The Hubby rode behind me in the car and I slowly made my way up 35W on the light layer of fresh, blowing snow. One thing that I discovered right away is that the snow was heavier and wetter than I had anticipated. I had to keep wiping snow off of my face shield, and near the very end of the ride it started icing over and had to be scraped off. Blergh. But, like I said, this was earlier in the day, so the snow hadn’t started to really accumulate yet and clog up the roads. And now it’s done.

That’s about it. The snow stayed overnight and through the weekend. It hasn’t melted yet, but the temperature is supposed to rise up to as high as 50°F by the week’s end, which should make Black Friday shopping a bit more cheery!

Jury Duty

November 14, 2011

So, I pulled jury duty for Hennepin Country, and today I’m starting a two-week term of service. I was originally on the call-in list, but I guess Hennepin County is feeling a might criminally and civil complainty this month because our group was called in on Day 1. Now we’re no longer on the call-in list; we’re in the active pool. This means I have to show up to the Government Center in downtown Minneapolis and report to the Jury Assembly room (or a courtroom) every. day. for the next 10 business days.

But – there is no court on Thanksgiving or the day after Thanksgiving (thank FSM that my Black Friday consumerism won’t be hindered by a sense of court-ordered social obligation!), and being on jury duty is a pretty easy gig.

I show up, check in, and then lounge around in a comfy room with comfy chairs. There are lots of tables, electrical outlets and pretty decent WiFi, which means that I can use the internet and charge my phone and laptop throughout the day. There is *nothing* to do if I’m not actively on a jury panel – and I mean that in the best way possible. I can read, play online (maybe catch up on some of my 2,626 twitter favorites that I’ve got racked up), play games on my phone or iPod, listen to music, watch movies or TV on my laptop, talk on the phone, and I can eat or drink in here. They also have a TV room and office. I could even pull up work email and documents if I run out of other amusements!

Missing work is the only part that is frustrating. I’m in the middle of a couple of big projects, and while work is understanding, there are still things that I need to get done in the next two weeks. Which means I’ll end up doing work at home and possibly have to go in on the weekend to play catch-up. Ah well, it’s a good job; I enjoy…hrm…perhaps that’s too strong… I *appreciate* what we’re doing and it’s worth it.

So, I may be around the interwebs a bit more than usual in the next two weeks. Say hi! And if you’re downtown (I’m looking at you Heidi and Alicia!) and want to catch lunch, I do get noon-1:30pm free if I’m not assigned to a panel.

Let the court-imposed sort-of vacation begin!

Weekend Nerd Updates and New CUP Photo Info

November 6, 2011

1) I saw Lazer Tag in Macy’s. I wanted it. Badly. The Hubby didn’t agree to the purchase. I almost had a temper tantrum in the store like a two year old.

2) Later at Target we were walking through the 50% off Halloween aisles, and I managed to convince The Hubby to try on this Batboy costume. He didn’t let me buy it for him, but I was actually okay with that.

3) We actually did buy this from the Target 50% off Halloween aisle and made the dog wear it. There’s a special kind of hell waiting for people like us.

4) I found this cartoon of Dumbo with stretched earlobes on poorlydressed.com and have been trying to find a way to work it into a blog post ever since.

5) While grocery shopping I saw this jumbo pack of lunch-size chips, and the first thing I thought was “Eat ALL the chips!

6) My new shirt came in from lolshirts.com!

7) The Hubby and I each bought funny looking shoes.

8 ) The Hubby and I played Dodgeball with a bunch of grown adults and had a BLAST. We’re going again next Wednesday. You know, if we can walk again by then. So…much…pain! Not from getting hit with dodgeballs (they’re foam, not rubber), but we’re trying to recover from the aching shoulders, spasming back muscles and burning knee and hip joints from the overexertion! Also, I have a blister on my big toe *sniff*.

Close-Up Photo Contest

I’ve had several people remind me that we’re not done with the CUP Contest. I love that you guys love it so much. So here’s the deal: Starting on Tuesday November 8th, I will be posting a new CUP EVERY DAY at noon (12pm Central Standard Time). We’re going to play every day until somebody reaches 1000 points. After that I’m thinking about keeping it as a regular feature, but we’ll have individual winners for each photo entry. So, keep your eyes open – somebody is going to win the CUP Contest very, very soon!

Minneapolis Chevy Sonic Adventure

October 25, 2011

On Saturday I participated in the Minneapolis Chevy Sonic Adventure. I posted about the race last week, and since then I’ve had people emailing me for more information. Apparently the race is going to be held in several cities across the U.S., and enterprising individuals are looking for clues or trying to decide if they want to get in on the action. I’m not going to share specific clues that we given here on the blog, but I’ve made a couple of lists about my experience with the Minneapolis race.

Top Ten Highlights

1) It was FUN. I had a really good time.This was an enjoyable scavenger hunt, especially for someone like me who enjoys logic games, friendly competition, a little exercise, and exploring.

2) Well-organized start. The starting location was huge and there was plenty of room for people to leave the park at their own pace when the race opened up. There was no craziness or fear of being trampled as people raced out of the area. Not getting trampled was a nice way to start the day.

3) The clues were really quite well done. I was worried that the challenges would either be too easy or impossible, but the people who were responsible for creating the clues for Minneapolis managed to make them challenging without being frustrating. We didn’t have to know the city to figure out the clues, but it did help to have a general sense of direction of where we were and where we were headed.

4) We got some exercise. My partner and I walked several miles on Saturday, which was lovely because the weather was PERFECT – sunny, a gentle breeze and somewhere in the low 70s.

5) I love group activities. The organizers handed out pale pink shirts with the logos all of the supporters written on the back. When we were walking around the city we’d run into each other and there was a sense of camaraderie. Also, there was a bit of hint-helping – you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. No one that we ran into were super-competitive jerks, and most of the teams were smiling and laughing. It felt nice to be part of the group. And one amusing thing about 500 people running around the city in pink shirts was that it confused the crap out the cabbies and other downtown Minneapolis regulars.

6) Seeing the city with new eyes. I’m pretty familiar with downtown Minneapolis, but I discovered new parks, landmarks and stores that I had never noticed or paid attention to before participating in the race.

7) They planned ahead with the no-bike rule. The organizers did not allow bikes or other wheeled transportation (with the exception of medically necessary wheelchairs). There were up to 500 people racing around crowded downtown Minneapolis on a Saturday afternoon. I am so grateful that no one from our group was on bikes; that would have been a nightmare with the pedestrian and car traffic.

8 ) Well-organized ending. When the game was over, the app and text number were disabled. It was a very clear message that the game was over and it was time to head back to HQ.

9) Treats and Prizes! At our game the organizers had a bunch of different kinds of granola bars, fruit snacks, candies and water waiting for us at the end of the race (totally not expected as we hadn’t paid an entry fee). And at our location, one of the local radio stations helped sponsored the event and handed out some swag by random drawing. Finally, the organizers awarded tickets for local events, an MP3 player and a couple of digital cameras to the top eight finishers. I’m not sure what the first runner-up won, but…

10) Someone actually won a freaking car! As I mentioned in my earlier post, the details for the race were quite vague. There was a statement about how participants might win a new Chevy Sonic. My partner and I thought maybe the top winner would get entered into a drawing, or maybe someone would have to hit a certain number of points to win the car, but no. At the end of the race they actually gave away a car to what I’m assuming was the team who ranked the highest in points. That was really neat.

Top Five Disappointments

1) Crowd control during registration. The race was advertised as starting at 11am. We showed up at 10:30 to register and were told that registration didn’t open until 11am (oh, that’s what they meant by starting at 11am). There was no help for queuing up, so at about 10:50 everyone started bunching up and pressing into a huddle around the reg tent. When emcee announced that registration was open the crowd surged toward the table. A couple of orderly lines eventually formed, but not without some shoving, nudging, elbowing, grumbling and generally jerkiness. It took the organizers over an hour to register everyone and we didn’t leave the park until sometime after noon.

2) Runners had the advantage. The name of the game seemed to be hit the most number of clues (and correctly answer them). Those who were able to keep up a steady jog made it to more places. I’m not saying that it was unfair, but those who were used to walking or jogging for long periods of time definitely had an advantage.

3) SCVNGR sucked it up BIG TIME. Don’t get me wrong – the SCVNGR app is really well designed. We pulled it up at the start of the race and all of the  locations were mapped out and the clues were all listed. We planned a route that would cover the greatest number of points in the most direct lines. The app was beautiful. And then the f*cking thing crashed. They weren’t ready for the traffic and we ran into many groups who were having trouble getting the map and clues to refresh or open up. We eventually switched over to the text mode of playing, but we lost a lot of time and a few clues in the process, and…

4) The text message mode of play is at a big disadvantage to the SCVNGR app. The text message mode of play was more reliable than the SCVNGR app for us, but WAY more inefficient. With texting we were sent to one location at a time and we couldn’t pick or choose which location it would send us to. We were sent back and forth across several blocks and had no ability to plan our route. E.g. – it sent us to 7th Street, then up to 10th street, then back down to 8th Street, then to 10th street again. That was frustrating. If they wanted to make the race more even, they would limit everyone to use of text messaging.

5) Battery Life!!! My phone had a 2% charge left at the end of the race. If it had gone any longer we would have had to stop and charge up or throw in the towel. All answers were tied to one phone – not an account that you could log in to from anywhere – so once we had started answering questions, we needed to keep using the same device.

Conclusion: DO IT.

Overall it was a GREAT day and I would recommend the race to anyone and everyone who likes this kind of competitive gaming. The few annoying things were not enough to ruin the overall awesomeness of the event. The thing that made participation a no-brainer for me was the free entry. For $0 from all of us the organizers provided a wonderful afternoon of entertainment, plus a free t-shirt, snacks and prizes.

I would suggest getting a bunch of teams together that all know each other. My teammate and I didn’t know anybody else, so we were our own little world of two. Teams were strictly limited to two people, but there were a couple of larger groups of two-person teams who all sat together before and after the race, and I imagine they had fun running into each other downtown and competing against each other.

And, you actually have a pretty decent chance of winning a car. In Minneapolis the challenge was limited to 250 teams, and one of those teams won a car. If you consider that some of the groups that pre-registered probably didn’t show up, that means each team had a better than 1:250 chance of winning the grand prize. Those are better odds than most of us will probably ever have of winning a car in other types of contests (radio call-in contests, raffles, etc.).

There are photos and video of the event over at the official Minneapolis Chevy Sonic Adventure website. And knowing what I know now…there are some clues about the types of questions and answers you might expect if the Chevy Sonic Adventure comes to your town!

Ack! I need a teammate!

October 18, 2011

I signed up for a treasure hunt that’s going on this Saturday. It’s called the Chevy Sonic Adventure, and the big prize is a new Chevy Sonic Sedan 2LT. I have no idea how big or difficult the event is going to be, but I had a free Saturday and I like scavenger/treasure hunts so I thought, why not?

Here’s the description of the event from the Minneapolis Chevy Sonic Adventure Facebook page:

Chevy Sonic Adventure is a one-day, real world treasure hunt throughout the city. Teams of two answer riddles and complete challenges via standard text message or SCVNGR app for iPhone and Android. Score the most points, and someone could drive away in an all new Chevy Sonic Sedan 2LT!

Oooo…pretty new car. Hey, you never know until you try, right?

So, now I need a partner! An oddball fascination with general or car trivia may be useful. Cheverolet knowledge specifically may be good too. And it might be helpful if you have a grasp of downtown Minneapolis geography. Maybe we can do a little research beforehand. You know, stratergize?  The website is annoyingly vague about what kind of questions will be asked, although the facebook page does promise to drop some clues prior to game day. They’re also a little cryptic about how much distance we might be covering, although the website does say that everyone must play on foot/wheelchair – no bicycles allowed.

The hunt starts at 11am at Loring Park, so all of my friends who like to sleep in on Saturdays – no worries! There’s plenty of time to roll out of bed, eat some cereal, drink some coffee, walk the dog and still make it down to the park on time. Also, the event is completely free.

Here’s the website. Take a look, decide if you might be up for a good ol’ scavenger hunt dealeo with your buddy, Brianne. If you’re interested, you can contact me here in the comments, or by email at bio_dork – at – hotmail.com, or on twitter @abiodork or on Facebook. Let me know soon, though, because we totally have to come up with a team name.

Yay for grownups playing!

Go Buy Tim Minchin Tickets!

June 21, 2011

Hey Twin Cities friends!

Did you know that TIM MINCHIN is going to be doing a rare live performance in Minneapolis on July 16th at the Pantages Theater???


Photo Source

Are you going? Do you already have tickets? I have tickets!

If you haven’t heard of Tim Minchin, hell’s bells, go YouTube him! He writes, plays piano and sings about rationality, sex, common sense, boobs, prejudice, sex, skepticism, boobs and religion…to name a few. Also boobs and sex. Oh, and he wrote the music and songs for a musical stage adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Matilda with the Royal Shakespeare Company. He’s a hell of a showman and comedian, and according to his website he has an enormous…sense of occasion. Yea, a man of many talents.

I’ve posted this before; it’s one of my favorite Tim Minchin songs:

I know, right? AWESOME! So get out of here – go buy tickets! They’re only $28 if you buy at the door, $40 to buy online (thanks for that kick in the ass, Ticketmaster).

If you’re in Portland, Seattle, Austin, Anaheim, San Fran, Atlanta, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Washington D.C. or Montreal, Tim Minchin is also coming your way in June or July. Check out his full calendar here.

Squee!

30DaysofBiking: Day 30

April 30, 2011

Where: South and Downtown Minneapolis (~15 miles)
Why: Recreation, Volunteer for The Dirty 30, a race to celebrate the end of #30daysofbiking
When: Saturday April 30th – Noon to 5pm
Weather: All over the board – we started out rainy and ended in a beautiful, sunny spring day
Who: Me

Notes: The Dirty 30 was a 30-mile bike race that started at noon from the Midtown FreeWheel Bicycle. One of the stops that racers had to make was at the Lake Harriet Bandshell, where they did a time trial around the lake. I rode from my house to the bandshell in a pretty steady rain and was cold and waterlogged when I arrived at 12:45. Happily, I had thought ahead and brought a thermos full of steaming hot coffee, a towel and a pair of warm pants to put on over my bike shorts.  After all of the racers went through our station me and the guy who was recording the cyclists’s times rode downtown to Grumpy’s for the awards ceremonies, aka the handing out of the cash prizes and swag. I rode back home from Grumpys along the the central corridor trail and then up the Greenway, where I was up against a very strong headwind.

I’m exhausted.

Start of the day – cold, wet, gray and cloudy. ~12:45pm

Blue skies at the end of the race. ~3pm

The ride home from Grumpys. View of the city from the Martin Olav Sabo Bridge over Hiawatha Ave.

30DaysofBiking: Day 29

April 30, 2011

We did two rides today!

First Ride

Where: Lyndale to Loring Park (~4.5 miles)
Why: Recreation
When: Friday April 29th
Weather: Night just fell, storm clouds rolling in. 55F (12.7C)
Who: Me and the Hubby

*click for greater detail*

The Hubby took this picture of me in front of our bike lights. We’re on the bridge over the Loring Park lake, and the basilica and Loring shops are visible in the background.

Second Ride

Where: Lynlake neighborhood (1.0 mile)
Why: Transportation to Bryant Lake Bowl for the Vilification Tennis show “My God Can Beat Up Your God”
When: Friday April 29th
Weather: Night, light sprinkles. 55F (12.7C)
Who: Me and the Hubby

Total Miles: 5.5 today! Not bad for a work night.

30DaysofBiking: Day 28

April 28, 2011

Where: Lyndale (1.5 miles)
Why: Recreation – night ride around the neighborhood
When: Thursday April 28th
Weather: Dark, cool, quiet 44F (6.7C)
Who: Me and the Hubby

Notes: We were digging through the coat closet, trying to figure out which coat was best suited for our crazy Minnesota spring weather and decided to have a leather motorcycle jacket ride.