Posts Tagged ‘Minneapolis’

Ranked-Choice Voting

This year (2009) Minneapolis, MN is switched to a new method of voting (for local elections). Ranked-Choice Voting (RCV)  also known as Instant-Runoff Voting (IRV).

The way it works is: (Taken from an article in the Southwest Journal) In single-seat races, RCV relies on a 50 percent-plus-one rule. What that means is a candidate wins when he or she gets 50 percent of votes plus one. If no candidate reaches that off the bat, the runoff process eliminates the lowest vote getter off of every ballot. The ballots that marked that candidate as a first choice then instead have their second choices counted. That process continues until one candidate hits the 50-plus-one mark.  (link for the whole story) http://www.swjournal.com/index.php?publication=southwest&page=152&story=14559

I really liked the fact that I had more choices but I didn’t like the extra research I had to do to learn about all the different candidates. As an example I’ll use the fact that there were ten challengers to R. T. Rybak (our Mayor).

After going through the process I really hope that RCV becomes the national system of voting.  I for one am tired of the two party system where the two parties spend more time fighting than working.

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Post/Creative Writing Exercise #1

I’ve been putting off writing my “creative writing exercise”. So I thought I would combine it with a post. Every since we drew the words I’ve been coming up with all sorts of ways to use them, but not really all together in a story. I must add that I don’t think Deb is all that thrilled with one of the words on the list that I’ve started to use (explanation later). The list of words that had to be used at least once are: Zyzzyva, Baboon, Beautiful, Vacillate, Foul and Bramble. The best part about this story is that it’s true.

A Trip on the Bus

We use the Minneapolis Transit System often, it’s a pretty good system. Most of the time when we ride the trip is blasé, but sometimes the trip can be an experience. One of the best things about riding the bus is people watching. The other night we were going over to a friends house for a cookout, then walk down and watch the fireworks. The bus was so full of people that getting on was like picking your way through brambles. Even though it was a warm day and the bus was crowded no one was in a foul mood. I guess everyone was headed downtown to see the fireworks and to enjoy the festivities. Many of the people on the bus were carrying on conversations, some on their cell phones, some with people they were riding with and others were talking to people that neither Deb or I could see. Other than the bus being packed nothing out of the ordinary happened. We went to the cookout had a good time, then we walked 5 or 6 blocks to watch the fireworks. I believe the fireworks were sponsored by Target. I should really email and thank them, they outdid themselves. The fireworks display was one of the most beautiful displays I’ve ever seen. The shear number they set off was amazing and the colors were dazzling. I was in awe. By the time the fireworks were over and it was time to catch the bus to go back home it was late (which is when the ride can be an experience). The bus was fairly empty, with a few people getting off and on. One of the riders that got on was a bit tipsy (drunk would be my honest opinion). He sat towards the back of the bus and decided to have a conversation with the bus driver. To say that his voice was loud would be putting it mildly, it was about as loud as a baboon’s butt next to a beige wall, you know that loud that only someone that is drunk can talk. The conversation was hilarious, he would ask the bus driver a question, “Hey man what’s your name”. “Billy” the bus driver said. “Millie? The man repeated. “No Billy” said the driver. “Millie?!” The man shouted. Frustrated the driver says loudly “Billy with a B!” Once again the man repeated “Millie?” At this point Deb and I are shaking our heads and trying to keep a straight face. The driver lowers his voice and calmly says “Billy”. To this the man responded “Oh you’re a William”. That was the point where Deb and I could no longer keep from laughing. When we finally got to (what he said was) his stop he stood by the door looking out the door then looking back down the aisle of the bus vacillating on if this was his stop or not. The rest of the ride home was uneventful. I know that sometimes Deb and I are the ones that are being watched by other people watchers and I’m willing to bet that lately we are the ones being talked about after we get off. We carry on our conversation and we laugh and joke with each other and we have playful disagreements. Since I’ve learned that zyzzyva can also mean the last word, I end all such disagreements holding up a hand and saying zyzzyva (and laughing).

Spring Rolls In With Bocce Ball Players

Bocce-hill-shoot

Article published by the Twin City Daily Planet Here’s the link  http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/node/22417

They don’t play on a court. The play the park; up hills, down hills, under benches, and over the wood chips around the trees. They play anywhere, with the rule that you have to respect the flowers and other people in the park. They play bocce ball by the standard rules with a few modifications.

Every Thursday night a group of friends gather in a park near Lake Harriet. Each Thursday anywhere from 6 to16 people show up. This may not seem unusual, except that this group has met in the same spot for more than twenty years.

They first started playing bocce ball sometime around 1975 when a friend with Italian heritage introduced them to the game. At the time several of the players were neighbors, they started playing in their backyard or wherever they could. It wasn’t until 1988 that they began playing on Thursdays in the park.

Robert Ewing has been playing bocce ball with the group since its inception. Ewing is serious about his bocce ball; several times throughout the season the conversation of bocce ball as an Olympic sport comes up.

“Everyone knows it’s more exciting than curling,” Ewing said.

According to Debra Moore, a long time member of the group, Robert Ewing was instrumental in establishing Thursday bocce ball. “For the first several years he would call each of us every Thursday to remind and encourage us to come down and play,” she said. Even today, if someone wants to play bocce ball on a day other than Thursday they usually get Robert to start the calls.

Every game ends with handshakes and a heartfelt “good game” all around. Then it’s back to the lawn chairs for a break before another round kicks off. The players don’t officially keep records of wins and losses (although some players keep private tallies). Even though they have played holding umbrellas in the rain and some games have lasted into the dark, forcing players to use flashlights and even the light from cell phones to see the balls, the group denies being “serious” or “dedicated” bocce ball players.

That may be so, but they are serious and dedicated friends. Many of these friendships go back 30 years or more. Two of the men that play, Robert Ewing and Tim Ryan, have been friends since the first grade. Ryan says he finds it hard to believe that it has been 50 years since he and Ewing met. Some of the original players have introduced their spouses, kids, and even pets to the game.

For the group of friends the games are also a good time to talk about current events, check on how everyone and their kids are doing, and to make plans to go hear music, play golf, Domino’s and Acquire.

The bocce ball group also holds a tournament around the summer solstice known as the Tournament of Roses. Typically more than twenty people will show up for the “big event.” To qualify for the Tournament of Roses you have to play in at least one Thursday game (although this rule isn’t really enforced). Prizes, usually hand made by one of the players, are awarded to the winning team.

For the last 15 years many of these same friends have also been getting together for a September bocce camping weekend. A friend also hosts an annual Memorial Day weekend camping and bocce ball tournament in Wisconsin.

The group of friends has become a mainstay for some park goers. One man that the players have gotten to know because he has been walking his dogs through the park for about 15 years, says he knows “spring has sprung” when he sees the bocce players.

This year spring sprung on April 9 when the bocce season opened and will last until October.

Bocce Ball And Friends

bocce-hill-shoot(Tricky shot, pallina on the side of a hill.)

In a Minneapolis park, on Thursdays, a group of friends start to gather. This may not seem unusual or special except for the fact that they have been gathering here in the same spot for more than twenty years. Every Thursday they come together to play bocce ball. Each week anywhere from 6 to 16 people will show up, this last Thursday April 23 rd, 13 people (10 at the start of play) were there including myself.

They first started playing bocce ball sometime around 1975, when a friend with Italian heritage introduced them to the game. At the time several of the players were living in the same house (four-plex) or next door (a tri-plex) to each other and they started playing in their backyard or where ever they could. It wasn’t until sometime around 1988 that they started meeting on Thursdays in the park to play. None of the players can tell me why Thursdays were chosen.

Before the game starts teams have to be decided. This is done by first throwing out the pallina then all the players grab a ball and line up. The call for teams will be made, in this case with 10 players the call was the 3 closest and the 2 farthest would be on the same team and have control of the pallina first. The other team gets to chose the color of balls they want. Then everyone throws their ball at the same time. Some how they always seem to keep track of their own ball. If you come late a coin is tossed to decide your team, heads is red.

They don’t play on a court, they play the park, uphills, downhills, under benches, and over the wood chips around the trees. They play anywhere with the rule that you have to respect the flowers and other people in the park. The rules they play by are the standard rules with a couple slight modifications.

They have a big tournament around the summer solstice known as the Tournament of Roses. Games are two on two with double elimination. Typically more than twenty people will show up for the “big event”. To qualify for the Tournament of Roses you have to play in at least one Thursday game. Trophies are awarded.

Many of these friendships go back 30 years or more. Two of the men that play, Robert and Tim, have been friends since they were in the first grade, 50 years ago. Some of the original players have introduced their spouses and their kids to the game. Dogs are welcome as well.

Tom, a man that the players have gotten to know because he has been walking his dog(s) through the park for abut 15 yrs, knows “spring has sprung” when he sees the bocce players. This year spring sprung on April 9th, when the season opened. The season will last as long as the weather holds out, sometime in October.

Several times throughout the season the conversation of bocce ball as an Olympic sport will come up, “everyone knows it’s more exciting than curling!”

Every game ends with handshakes and “good game” all around. Then it’s back to the lawn chairs for a break before another round kicks off. Records of wins and loses are not kept (officially). It’s just friends enjoying each others company and enjoying a truly friendly, yet competitive, game of bocce ball.

Even though they have played holding umbrellas in the rain and have had some games last into the darkness of night, using flashlights and even the light from cell phones to see the balls, they deny being “serious” or “dedicated” bocce ball players and after playing with them I agree. What they are is serious and dedicated friends.

Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day

stpatsday3 (Pictured left to right, Some woman who just wanted to be in the photo, Terry, Robert (me), Deb, Robert (the Leprechaun King) and Tim)

Is there any better way to enjoy St. Patrick’s day than at an Irish pub with a few friends? Maybe, but today I find it hard to think of one. I was going to write this last night when we got home but I was sober enough to know that I was too drunk for that to be a good idea. If you are ever in Minneapolis Minneasota (on St. Patrick’s Day or not) I strongly suggest stopping by The Local and ordering a Big Ginger and an order of fries (other food there is good too). The Local sells more Jameson Irish Whiskey than any place in the World! I do have to warn people that if you are here on St. Patty’s day and you do stop by The Local it will be packed. Minneapolis (as I’m sure other cities did too) let people ride the buses for free after 6 O’Clock last night which not only cut down on traffic but probably saved lives (keeping drunks from driving). We watched the parade, had a few drinks and just chatted with friends new and old. Though I must admit that riding a bus while “slightly” intoxicated was more fun than I thought it would be (at least for me I’m not sure how the regular passengers felt about it). It was a last minute decision to go anywhere and it was a bit abbreviated (just a few hours) but it was still very enjoyable.