Archive for March, 2014

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“LIGHT RAIL, LIGHT IMPACT”?

March 26, 2014

Why is it we can blame almost anything we don’t like in our world today on the most recent recession, but we can ignore its impact in other studies if it is convenient to do so?

That’s my take on LIGHT RAIL, LIGHT IMPACT article in the STRIB this morning.

I am with Peter McLaughlin on this one. Despite a major recession for the first four years of the Blue Line’s existence,, by this, the eighth year, we’re showing lots of redevelopment along the Blue Line.

Perhaps we should question the study itself rather than its results. It only covers, coincidently, the first four years – in which development was at a standstill EVERYWHERE!

Perhaps a better model is the Green Line – not open yet and lots of activity all along the route in anticipation.  I wonder what its first four years will bring?  Light Rails 2; Cars 0 in my book!

 

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THE TRAVESTY CONTINUES

March 26, 2014

“This is an exhaustive, time consuming, and extremely expensive, and burdensome process” complained the Twin Cities Archdiocese as they asked for more time to turn over secret files of 40 priests they ADMIT were credibly accused of sexually abusing children since 1970.

The files were asked for in November; they were ordered to be released by the courts in February, and they are due March 31.

My first thought is what can be hard about forty files.  Look under “secrets files to be kept from public view”!.  Do they really expect the Courts and Public to believe these files are not now kept in a single defined space?  Makes one wonder just how many incidents per priest are in each file that it is taking more than FIVE MONTHS to locate each and copy them.  That is a bit of stretch of imagination in my book.  Do they think we believe they still copy documents by hand?

I also wonder as they whine about the “inconvenience” if they are giving a thought to the “exhaustive, time consuming and extremely expensive and burdensome process” the VICTIMS and their parents have been put through in trying to heal and move forward from these atrocities.  Unfortunately, the damage done cannot be as easily locked away “out of sight; out of mind” as can the records.

And do not even get me started on their request to interview the “John Doe One ” victim and his wife, and possibly his friends, co-workers and employers” to assess the impact of the abuse and the damage claims.  Have these people no empathy?  Why do you think the cases were filed as “John Does”?.  The Archdiocese claim they need to do this, exposing the victim publically, in order to understand the impact? . 

That sends another frightful signal about this whole issue.  Surely, they do not think they can set themselves up as the “experts” on how damaging sexual abuse can be?  If so, I suggest, perhaps they should have STOPPED THE PRACTICE LONG AGO instead of just hiding it, and putting the reputation of their church as more important. No, I think they are gambling here. I think they know how devastating this would be to the victim to share publically; and thus they expect the victim will “fade away” and their church and its pedophiles will escape punishment – one more time.

Yes, I know the plaintiff and the defendant alike have equal rights, but really?  Can this not be accomplished in some more “compassionate way?”  I would hope so, but I admit, my personal reaction is that when the Archdiocese chose the path of lying and hiding the records some 35 years ago, and made it “standard practice” to continue to do so in every case thereafter, they put some of their “rights” at risk. 

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PRIVACY

March 26, 2014

I’m ready to throw my computer out the window for all the intrusive “pop-op” ads I’m experiencing right now.  It’s bad enough that one is subjected to this almost anytime one clicks on a story of interest associated with KARE TV or MNPOST, or most anything you’ve every researched, but now after trying to do a few searches on olive oil and Crete for a project I’m working on and a few searches on Rochester and a potential future life there, I have been flooded with these interruptions.

So last week, I tried an experiment for two days.  I recorded time spent watching or trying to bypass these irritants.  I spent almost 25% of my time (YES 25%!) either waiting for an intrusive advertisement to end or trying to close the offensive window and get on with my business!    Yes, maybe it was only 20% allowing time to track/record, but either way, it was a SIGNIFICANT loss of productivity-considering in every case, I was trying to by-pass and get on with the work at hand.  THINK about how much time, if a viewer was actually interested, and then got sucked into the churn and went from one ad to the next-all beckoning from the sidebars.

My point being, this is a huge loss of income-generating time which translates to LESS INCOME to return to those irritating businesses who take part in this intrusive habit.  One would think their OWN marketing gurus might have sense to understand this but apparently they don’t- or don’t care- or simply think it does not matter. 

In a corporation, one generally gets paid for time at the office- productive time or not.  But I can assure you, these invasive tactics will not return income from me!  I paid my dues by giving them time to hear about their product I did not want!  As trends predict more and more independent “businesses” in the future, corporations may just want to RETHINK this plan of attack, I would think.

I cannot be the only one that has a similar reaction, or am I?

Some days, I do think it is just me…otherwise in comparison why have we made such an issue of NSA gathering meta-data?  A number communicating with a number for x amount of time – frankly, doesn’t bother me or IMPACT MY PRODUCTIVITY AND LIFE as much as the intrusions of corporations whose sole intent is to separate me from my money….all so they can pay execs $millions annually, and have a little left over of course to lobby for their own interests, and pay those marketing yahoos who are targeting me!

Yes I know…no one wants to feel Big Brother is watching over us controlling our free will.  Yet everyone wants the government to have systems that guarantee that no bad guys can plot to harm us. We do not want another 9-11. 

I’d like to hear from the naysayers how they expect the government to do that without some sort of watchful eye to stop these incidents at the PLANNING stage…not just come in and clean up after.

And, I’d like to hear from the naysayers why they are perfectly okay with becoming a Stepford Wife controlled by corporate America thru unwanted pop-op ads! 

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STUFF HAPPENS; CONTINUED.

March 25, 2014

THE DAKOTA DECEMBER RIDE

“Dakota Native Americans rode horses from South Dakota 330 miles to Mankato in December to commemorate the 1862 hanging of 30 braves in Mankato-the largest mass execution in US History.”

That is a quotation under the picture of the ride shown in the STAR TRIBUTE this morning, March 25, 2014 in the Metro Section on Page B5.

And with that I feel exonerated!

A few years ago, I mentioned this annual event to my family when I was visiting at Christmas and boy was I put in my place. That would be impossible to do, you know, and how could I be so dumb?

And just like in my youth, I fell right back into the role and accepted their criticism, and convinced myself that indeed, I had to be the dumb one. Weird how that happens, isn’t it? 

 

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“STUFF” HAPPENS

March 25, 2014

WHAT TIMING!

Obama’s in Europe as the new G-7 discusses how to get Russia in line….meanwhile, the Russians are in Minnesota for a Russia-US Innovation Conference.  The  goal of conference of companies, universities and non profits  is to “share best practices and explore ways to strengthen US-Russian trade, investment and research.  Hmmm.

A 61 CAR ACCIDCENT??!!!

Although only one person was injured, thankfully, it seems time we asked ourselves as drivers in Minnesota some hard questions!

This weather is NOT NEW to Minnesota! 

Although my brain may have magnified past winters in the 20th century into more than they actually were, somehow, I don’t think that is necessarily true.  For instance, the winter of ’92 stands out in my mind for the WORST ruts downtown ever….it was Super Bowl; it was planning for the first ever “Taste of the NFL”; and it was a challenge day after day to head into downtown from Plymouth after work to attend planning meetings – where driving REALLY got bad-and even turning a corner in the city was an issue. 

One had to first escape the deep ruts going in one direction; get your car to “Jump” over mounds of ice that defined those ruts and as the car turned , you needed to carefully settle it into similar ruts going a new direction without creating an accident..  Not long after that, I bought a Jeep!

But I digress.

We need to figure out why the pileup of 61 cars on the Mendota Bridge happened.

  • Too many folks thinking they are invincible out on the roads?
  • Too many Millennial drivers with little experience driving in this weather?
  • Too many old Boomers with slower reaction times these days thinking they are still invincible?
  • Too many all-weather tires on cars when maybe this year we should have had chains and snow tires?
  • Too many of distracted all the time by cell phones in our cars?
  • Too little instructions on “How to drive in Winter Weather” happening these days?
  • Do we need a new evaluation of how we treat roads to insure better safety?

Do we all need to take a minute and rethink that “Time is of an Essence” that propels us dangerously about the metro? 

Being ON TIME is not worth putting lives at risk – so says the person that ALWAYS has to be early for fear of being late!  Truthfully, I don’t know the cause or the answer; but it seems to me it is a sizable WAKE UP CALL we all should be concerned about!.

RIDE

 

 

 

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THE BUSINESS INSIDER

March 24, 2014

There are those that find the Monday edition of the STRIB to be lacking.  Yes, some sections are smaller; like the “Business Insider” but why is that surprising?  Not much “breaking news” happens on Saturday and Sunday in the business world…but there are usually some great features and great learning opportunities through-out the few pages.  Take this morning, for instance:

THE BAT

Yet another advance in energy; the Buoyant Airborne Turbines float 1000 ft. in the air and can power a dozen homes.  They do not do this as cheaply as a wind farm (where costs are low as 4 cents per kilowatt per hour make it more affordable than coal in Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana. Anything that helps those three environment-polluting states is a big positive)!  Nevertheless, 18 cents vs. 35 cents per kilowatt per hour is a BIG step forward in Alaska.

I’m sure my dad is somewhere observing all this development from the WIND FARMS to the BAT…I’m just not sure if he’s sharing in “colorful” language how foolish this is…or, if he has already figured out  how to make a few improvements!  But one thing I do know, wherever he is, Hap is monopolizing the conversations with his thoughts on these new turbines.

 

A FORMER AUGSBURG STUDENT, NBA PLAYER, DOIN’ GOOD

Meanwhile, a round of applause and more is due Devean George for the Commons at Penn Avenue.

Almost twenty years ago, a drive-by shooting killed his 11-year old cousin and motivated George to “become a success, make the NBA, care for his family and create a better community.”

With George Group North, he has been doing just that.  He owns apartment buildings, has refurbished houses and built “Marketplace & Main” , a residential/retail complex in downtown Hopkins.  He is involved in several non-profits, stays connected to Augsburg, and now has launched the “Commons at Penn Avenue” .

Tiffany Glasper, CPED, says it well:  “This is a good project because it activates an inactive corner that has been a magnet for loitering and crime.  People and activity deter crime.  And Devean has gone beyond what most developers do to work with the community.”

The NBA as well as other Pro Sports Teams should listen up!  Many of you might do well getting to know this man and his work.

“WORK OF ART”

7401 Metro Boulevard in Edina…you know the area-that sea of buildings between Hwy 100 and France Avenue that all look alike?  Not what you would consider a cultural spot in MSP!

Nevertheless, a law firm housed on the top floor in one of those buildings remodeling with their values in mind, and has created some buzz:

Commitment to Client:  With client privacy in mind, they included new enclosed, frosted glass conference rooms on either side of the entrance to the firm…no more parading clients through a sea of employees.

Commitment to Teamwork and Collaboration among employees called for redesigned work spaces, and,

Commitment to Community is visually displayed by works of art by artists with developmental disabilities.  The non-profit Partnership Resources teamed with the Walker Art Center to provide not only the art itself, but meet-the-artist opportunities at the firm.

Nothing big and splashing, but I am liking this; it could be a model for a new century in the business world!

DRILLING DEEPER ON POLYMET

We know the Polymet copper-nickel mine has raised controversy:  How does one balance 20 years of 350 jobs and lots of tax income revenue for the State of MN with a 200-year threat to the northern Minnesota watershed?  Each of us, based on interests and needs as a strong opinion.

Terry Larken, a private consultant, provided us with a summary of Risk Evaluation from the May 2010 issue of Professional Safety Magazine.  The four categories sound simple, but perhaps difficult to judge.

However, Larken made a good point as he used the North Dakota Bakken oil fields to show that an economic activity originally judged to have “acceptable risk” has become an “unacceptable risk” because of the National Transportation Safety Board report that oil trains used to transport the oil now represent an unacceptable public risk.

Larken then walked the reader through three important questions, advising that if all the answers are YES; then we have acceptable risk.  But if not, then “no amount of economic activity/reimbursement could justify its existence.”

I like this approach; no emotion; just the facts…a 21st century interpretation of that old BI real/win; worth/risk analysis model I still use on occasion.

I will leave you with his parting comment:

Let’s agree that once you crack open hard-rock sulfide ore, you must prevent it from leaching into one of the finest watersheds on the North American continent.  Ever.

“MOVERS AND SHAKERS”

Whew.  All that, and I have not even gotten to Sweden’s music makeover through Spotify and its streaming service, nor the “Movers and Shakers” column yet!

With both past and current clients in the Medical Device world, the work featured in Movers and Shakers certainly caught my eye.  I learned that the Technological Leadership Institute at U of M has a new program to “prepare students to understand, anticipate, and manage innovation challenges in the global medical device industry.”

This 30-student program has been designed to give students “knowledge of the industry, of regulatory and global trends needed for a sustained, competitive career advantage individually, and then for their organizations and give them an enhanced capability for innovation and growth for their companies.”

That’s admirable and forward-thinking.  I wonder what role U of MN Rochester might have as this rolls out.

 

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SHIPPING CONTAINERS

March 24, 2014

CONTAINER RE-USE

The STRIB may have slanted the comments of Pat Higgins, Mpls. Building Official regarding the LOT-EK plan being recommended by Akquaracy & Scott Patingo…or perhaps Higgins, indeed has grave reservations about the proposed plan to create the biggest shipping container building in North America…Nevertheless, I’m sending out a BIG YES for the futurist thinking.

Whatever the case, the extra scrutiny is most likely warranted, as Minnesota has no experience with this medium and indeed, we need to ensure “structural integrity, durability, fire resistance and…energy conservation standards”.

But I am celebrating the forward thinking!

One of the few design books I am NOT planning to part with is a recent Taschen compilation of the best Temporary Architecture around the world.  [Temporary being a relative term-generally emerging to mean “not built to last for centuries”, i.e. out of marble and stone. J]

Amongst the structures featured from around the world are indeed those made of shipping containers.  It is the one medium I regret I was not able to work with in my events career as they are so versatile and such a fabulous “reuse” application!   Not to mention, available and “cheap!

In Sao Paulo, containers housed an international video art exhibition in Villa Lobos Park; in Spain, they were used as housing modules by the Municipal Society for Urban Rehabilitation; in Tweksbury, New Jersey, they became a three bedroom two-and-a-half bath prefabricated QUIK house.  In Italy, a push button five room home was created from containers; in New York they became “pop-up” stores, and in Alicante Spain and in Boston, Lot-ek and PUMA ised them to create a mighty impressive store for retail and for events.  Copenhagen housed the North Harbor Exhibition in containers, and then re-purposed them for additional cultural events and for event space.

I suggested they be used by Target once for an exhibition in the MCC; and I am sure once Marilyn Nelson and team secure the Super Bowl, there will be some great application opportunities for those festivities.  After all, we did a tent on the frozen lake at Carlson Towers for CBS (I think it was) the last time we hosted Super Bowl!

So hopefully, we will not say NO without some good thought and investigation.  The North Loop warehouses have become apartments and condos, stores, coffee shops and restaurants. What better compliment to the area than to use the shipping containers that once filled all those warehouses with product to help complete the story of the area’s roots!

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THE NEW BOOM OF PUBLIC TRANSIT

March 23, 2014

“Due to demographics, high gas prices, a recovering economy, and faster, more convenient service, transit use is soaring.”

What a welcoming way to start a new week to read that in the STRIB this morning!

Indeed, Millennials and older Boomers take advantage as public transit sees a boom in ridership and yes, I agree…it’s a quality of life issue!  No traffic to consider, fight, or sit through; no worries about gas prices, parking availability, and cost, or even “where is it and how do I get there?” And certainly, it is nice to be oblivious to that nagging worry especially on icy roads of “what if I have an accident, or what if my car doesn’t start?”  But it is much more than that.

First and foremost, the weather or not wanting to drive does not make me a prisoner in my home; and even worse, a prisoner of the television.  Ugghh!  I may not have achieved it yet, but it is still an overarching goal learned at the Mayo Clinic that I am active and exercise the same amount of time that I am plunked in my easy chair in front of the Boob Tube. And indeed, not all buses to where I want to go depart from the Entrance Circle at the Churchill!  So a daily walk of an hour gets me on my way to balancing the 1.5 – 2.5 hours in a day I am “catching up” on the world via a TV screen.  Add to that, time spent walking to the bus stops, and I earn an added bonus!

I’ve mentioned several times how much more I have seen of the city and its surrounds in the past year as I can look at the surrounding neighborhoods rather than keeping my “eyes on the road”.  I head for a new destination, and I feel like I am on that familiar “City Tour” I knew so well in cities all over the world during my “incentive travel” life.   More important, the $4800 I saved between 2012 and 2014 allowed me to pay for my own medical care and not become dependent on government assistance with that….and maybe this year, it will help me move!

And equally important, I treasure those times when a conversation starts up between me and another passenger (usually with a Millenial-we Boomers still cling a bit too much to OLD habits! – Don’t make eye contact; don’t speak to strangers J) I hear new perspectives and I learn.

In other words, Public Transit gives me a better life!  It is the one thing that concerns me as I consider relocating to RST….their existing system is NOT QUITE  a replica yet of what we have going on here in MSP.

So when I hear the Mayor talk about problems with noise created to build the SW LRT, I can only shake my head and wonder.  That’s pretty irrelevant in the big picture-although realistically, I know I am taking that comment a bit out of context. 

Nevertheless, although it is only a PIPE DREAM, I think it’s time to take a hard stand on the SW LRT.  Maybe we need a city-wide vote or a vote by residents impacted that live within one mile either side of the route, or a vote using some other equitable measurement.  If the majority of the resulting stakeholders do not want the LRT; give it up with a moratorium of x years freeze on any consideration to build; then use the available dollars to invest elsewhere in the emerging system.  Yes, I am aware there is an issue with already approved Federal dollars for SW LRT…but I’m just dreamin’, remember?

The fact that a few are holding the city hostage is not acceptable, in view of today’s news in the STRIB of escalating costs to build the SW LRT for every new period of delay.

Then in my dreams, we also move forward and declare no cars allowed within a defined border of downtown – perhaps the circle created by intersecting interstates- without a permit.  It worked for the Horse and Carriage; maybe it’s time to start the same for cars! 

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ARTISTS ON THE VERGE 5

March 22, 2014

Yesterday, inspired by the STRIB article entitled “Going techno at the Soap Factory”, I decided to add a stop on my walk to view the      ART(ISTS) ON THE VERGE  installation.  What a good decision that was!  This mash-up of history, art, science and technology had me smiling and wowing!  Good Job Soap Factory, Northern Lights, and the Jerome Emerging Artists Commissions!

“Builders of the Universe” gave me a fun welcome; “Poor Tastes Good” was thought-provoking as it told the story of sugar in Minnesota’s Red River Valley, and then “Survival Tactics” captured me …and I mean, I had to enter every section of the installation and experience the tendrils movements personally. This immersive interaction with the roots convinced me scientists are on the right track studying how plants COMMUNICATE via high-frequency acoustic vibrations from their roots when under stress!  Who knew?

[Ed: And thank goodness I didn’t know growing up. Chores in our “urban garden” were scary enough due to the incessant danger from bees, bugs and worms!  Had I known those potato roots were talking to one another as I attacked a potato hill, pitchfork in hand, in that first step to “start supper” before Mom got home from work, who knows what might have happened! 🙂 ]

By this time, I needed to be on my way, so I may need another visit to pay some attention to the two remaining exhibits “still Life” and “General Delivery”.

Nevertheless, I was duly impressed; once again Northern Lights.mn succeeded in doing something WELL that I’ve strived to accomplish not so well in the event world…to experiment “at the intersection of art, technology, and digital culture with a focus on net-worked based practices that are interactive and/or participatory”. And I am convinced, that once again, they are able to do this because they pay attention to the “art” part of this objective..

It seems the event world has a hard time bringing all of this together cohesively.  We get lost in the digital applications because they are a new medium, and lose sight of the desired end result.  Hence, we fall into those awful moments when a client screams “where are the “interactives”-not at all understanding that interactive engagements are built on content and message and are a means to the end-engagement and learning; not an end in themselves. Then again, that’s hard to do without any content…and, I am beginning to believe, without the emotion of the art connection.

 

 

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THE WORLD ACCORDING TO PUTIN

March 21, 2014

“So long as there aren’t the political circumstances, like now, for an important format like the G-8, then there is no G-8…Neither the summit nor the format”

Chancellor Angela Merkal then announced that the “European Union was readying further sanctions and that the G-8 forum of leading economies have been suspended indefinitely.”

And with that, BOTH the EU members and the US started sanctions against Putin & Russia, and President Obama clearly stated there’ll be no military actions; but US and allies will mobilize all diplomatic resources.

For those of you that have already positioned this as a “repeat of actions that didn’t stop the Nazis”-take note.  I’d say Angela Merkal and other EU leaders most likely have a clearer memory and a picture of today’s reality than do you.

Will sanctions alone work?  Who really knows.  I am an avid “once a KBG’ always a KBG kind of person so I have my doubts. But nevertheless, we have a responsibility to try all options before we start clamoring for a confrontation that puts our military and country into yet another war.

Yesterday, I advocated for a strong refugee plan-led and financed by the EU members so that Ukraine does not become further weakened by the cost and burden of that.  Just relocating 25,000 troops and their families out of Crimea will be a great burden to them as they juggle not only that, but also the seizure of their warships and continue to plan for what they fear will happen next – a Russian invasion and takeover of the Ukraine as well.

So, here’s another thought for all the Americans who think we know best.  Who is better at “Advertising” and Consumer Spin in the world than us?  Why not rally our spin doctor experts to assist in a counter plan to what Charles Lane of the Washington Post has labeled “The World According to Putin.”?

First step might be to change the nomenclature.  This is NOT a Putin vs. Obama dustup; so lets nix the “Obama’s war” labeling and start calling it what it is:  “Putin vs.The Free World.”

Don’t dwell on the fear factor, but make good use of Putin’s KGB background; and be careful about labeling it “Russian” bullying.  Keep the Russian people engaged and not climbing on Putin’s bandwagon.  Reality, not nationalism, needs to guide the Russian people.  Avoid stirring up their pride; memories of life under the Communists will be more effective, I think.

Use the Washington Post editorial as the starting point.  Take the Putin 40 minute dissertation apart word for word, line by line.  Show what’s FACT; point out the Putin interpretive twists and what is totally fiction.  Don’t spare anything.  Every untruth and contradiction should be identified; then draw the parallels between  the communist USSR and the  Russian “reality” under the KBG and Putin today.

Then take this truth and LAUNCH IT as an advertising campaign…not just here and in Europe, but everyway we can throughout Russia.  “Life in Russia” or “The World According to Putin” or some emotional, catchy, and memorable theme that ties Putin to the bad times of the KGB and the USSR.

Be relentless!  Use every communication and social media method we can.  Let’s see if we can “conquer” the KGB Russians the same way we “conquer” our own citizens.  Guns and death are not the only alternative.  We need to change their minds. We need to use our talents – not to move a new product, but to change world thinking!