in transit, mark danielsonJournal

MovieLog: The Queen


For some reason, this movie seemed best reviewed in list format:

  1. Helen Mirren: Excellent as the Queen.
  2. Michael Sheen: Good acting, but doesn’t look anything like Tony Blair.
  3. Prince Charles: If this movie is true, he needs a good beating. Really.
  4. The Royal Family: Annoying.

I’ll give this movie 7/10. I won’t remember it because of the film itself, but because it was the last movie Lisa and I saw at the dearly missed Har Mar Theater.

Posted in MovieLog at 10:57 pm

Journal for 25 Dec 2006


So, it’s Christmas in Madison. My memory is always foggy on such things, but I believe this is the first Christmas I’ve spent without my parents. Our holiday visit with them will instead come over the New Year’s weekend.


It’s been a good visit so far. We delayed our drive down a day after Minneapolis got hit by the same storm that clocked Denver a couple of days before. What we didn’t get in the form of snow we made up for in the form of freezing rain. The 4% grade in front of our condo proved to be too much for many vehicles attempting to climb it; I stood on the front porch Thursday afternoon and watched as one driver after another attempted to reach Hennepin Avenue, only to be forced to retreat to the previous intersection in frustration. As we loaded presents into our car Friday morning, we found that one neighbor even had her parked car totaled by a careless driver sometime the night before. Talk about a crappy Christmas present.

Not surprisingly, we’ve encountered a lot of food this weekend. Friday night we joined Lisa’s parents and Michelle and Dwight for a fish fry at the Avenue Bar, a legitimately retro bar I’m sure would be huge with the hipsters were it closer to the university. The food turned out to be really good–not much of a fried fish person, I went with the Atlantic cod fish boil–but the service was tedious. (Our reservations were for 7:00, but we didn’t get seated until 7:45, and then didn’t get food until almost an hour later.) Saturday brought a trip to Firefly, an Asian-fusion kind of place a few minutes from Lisa’s parents house. It was tasty, but not really anything to write home about.

Aside from the tasty ham dinner Lisa’s parents prepared for Christmas, other food from the weekend included a Christmas Eve burger and fries at Kopp’s in Milwaukee. Lisa and I had headed there in hopes of catching the Biedermeier exhibit at the Milwaukee Art Museum, but had to abandon that plan upon learning the museum would be closing early for Christmas Eve. Stuck with an open afternoon, we improvised and walked Brady Street, followed by a quick drive around the UW-Milwaukee campus (Lisa was kind of offended by them not using red and white as their school colors) and an hour at an obscenely packed Mayfair Mall. The mall made me think it would be interesting to head to Walgreen’s at 11:00 just to see what kind of crowd was there, but Lisa managed to talk me out of that.


As far as Christmas itself, this morning brought brunch at my aunt’s here in Madison, a pleasant experience that included a lot of food I shouldn’t be eating as well as a chance to catch up with relatives. The afternoon was spent with Lisa’s side of the family, ending with a round of gift giving that netted me over $300 in Express gift certificates (holy crap). Lisa and I gave two very squeaky toys her parents’ westies, gifts I’m sure will eventually lead her parents to seek revenge in some form.


Well, it’s getting late, so I should turn in. We obviously don’t head back to work tomorrow, but I do have a bunch of work-related stuff to take care of. Merry Christmas, happy holidays, etcetera, etcetera, and so forth.

Posted in Journal,Travelog at 11:47 pm

Journal for 21 Dec 2006


Four days to Christmas, 33 degrees and raining. They say we’ll get some snow tonight and tomorrow, the remnants of the storm that paralyzed Denver, but it may not stick through the weekend.

When I was growing up, my dad always talked about how dirty the harbor in Manitowoc had become. When he fished there as a kid, it was no problem for him to see down to the bottom of the harbor, 15 to 20 feet in some cases. As my brother and I grew up in the same community 40 years later, we encountered a radically different harbor, one where Lake Michigan’s water had become dark and murky, and where visibility of five feet would be considered excellent.

When Lisa and I have kids, maybe I’ll tell them about how we used to get snow in November.

Posted in Journal at 12:09 pm

Journal for 17 Dec 2006


Well, the holiday shopping is done. I now need to go a month or so without spending any money.


I can’t say the Christmas card endeavor has gone quite as well. A quick survey of destroyed card stock indicates my piece-of-shit printer has destroyed 6.5 cards for every card successfully printed. (I’ve printed eight cards. You do the math.) There’s a good chance not everyone will be getting a card this year.

Did I mention I actually punched my printer this evening? Yup, four times. The fucker may get office-spaced if this crap keeps up.

Posted in Journal at 11:48 pm

Journal for 15 Dec 2006


Two nights, two different campus visits to look at MBA programs. Last night I headed to the Carlson School at the University of Minnesota for an information session on their part-time MBA. Especially in context of a similar info session at St. Thomas the day before, the Carlson session left me surprisingly unimpressed. Yes, Carlson clearly has a world-class program, and I don’t think anyone can reasonably argue that it doesn’t have the best program in the Twin Cities, but from the little I saw yesterday, it didn’t seem all that… professional. The presentation was severely disorganized–often none of the three speakers seemed quite clear who was going to speak next, and one of them didn’t have the common sense to stand up when addressing the crowd. Ultimately, most of that is superficial when compared to the nuts and bolts of the actual program, but it did leave the school (or, at least, those representing it) looking severely disorganized.

St. Thomas was a bit of a surprise. I visited the business school’s downtown Minneapolis campus Wednesday for a similar look at their evening MBA program. From research and some conversations with current students I knew the Opus College of Business’ reputation and general direction, but I still went in thinking of it as a backup school to Carlson. In retrospect, that thinking was kind of presumptuous, and I came out rather impressed. Unlike the Carlson presentation, St. Thomas’ was actually informative and useful. Ultimately, though, the underlying philosophies of the schools could be found in the few contrasting statements I’ve paraphrased below:

Carlson: Yes, our program is expensive, but look at the ROI. Our our students make a lot of money as a result of their Carlson MBA.

St. Thomas: We want you to be financially successful, but we also want you to be a principled, ethical leader in whatever field you work in.

Carlson: We were one of the first to require a course in business ethics. And, hey, if that’s not your thing, the 11-day ethics seminar in Europe is a reasonably quick way to get past that boring subject.

St. Thomas: We were one of the first to require a course in business ethics. Expect the terms “ethics” and “common good” to come up again and again and again.

Carlson: We’re the only MBA program in the Twin Cities worth your time.

St. Thomas: Carlson is a very good school. We encourage you to take a look at it and make your decision based on what you think is best for you.

If I were to decide what school would be my first choice solely on the basis of the information seminars, Carlson wouldn’t stand a chance. Of course, I’m not doing that, and Carlson is still the school I plan to aim for, but the distance between them no longer seems nearly as great as it once did. Granted, while St. Thomas’ focus on ethics is very attractive, the fact it’s a Catholic school makes me somewhat uncomfortable; the school likely arrived at its positions from a radically different perspective than I did, which makes me wonder how shared our values actually are.


But, of course, I’m getting way ahead of myself. Carlson is a difficult school to get in, and St. Thomas is no cakewalk, either. There’s a GMAT to study for, and a number of academic skeletons to deal with.

It’s going to be an interesting three months.

Posted in Journal at 11:35 pm

Journal for 13 December 2006


Tree update: It’s upright, drinking some water (although not as much as before the cat incident), and has been fastened with metal wires to a nearby radiator.

The cat still looks guilty whenever he walks over by it.


Cholesterol update: I’m still not on Lipitor. Discussions with relatives once associated with Lipitor’s manufacturer have brought to light the fact it’s generally not a drug one goes on just temporarily. Instead, despite what my doctor said, most who take it end up being stuck on it. For the time being I’ve resorted to eating oatmeal at least once a day and cutting out almost all animal products. Blah.

The search for alternatives continues.

Posted in Journal at 11:32 pm

Journal for 9 Dec 2006


The fucking cat managed to tip over the Christmas tree last night.

Posted in Journal,Putter at 10:27 am

Journal for 7 Dec 2006


I had an extremely frustrating day today. One issue was with my health, the other with my car.

I’ve been dealing with moderately high cholesterol for some time now, and four months ago my doctor had me go on a low cholesterol diet. Among other things, I essentially eliminated red meat, severely reduced my intake of all other animal products–quite frequently a bit of shredded mozerrella cheese was the only thing preventing me from going vegan for a day–and ate oatmeal like there was no tomorrow. Well, I had my follow-up test last week, and the results weren’t pretty: My bad cholesterol actually manged to climb 34 points while I was on the diet, and as of this morning my doctor wants me to go on Lipitor. I’ve read a lot of bad things about Lipitor (and similar drugs), so I’m not sure I’ll actually go on it, but my doctor is being pretty insistent about it.


While my day in general wasn’t as bad as my doctor’s appointment, it wasn’t good, either, so I looked forward to catching a movie at the HarMar Theater this evening. The theater has always been one of my favorites in the Twin Cities, but unfortunately was set to close today after a number of decades in business. Mostly in act of sentimentality, I wanted to catch one more film there, and Lisa and I settled on the 6:55 showing of The Queen. Unfortunately, my car decided to throw a wrench into those plans in a very creative and extremely annoying fashion. Namely, the radio wouldn’t turn off. Now, granted, this didn’t prevent me from driving the car, but it did give me concerns about the battery, as the radio wouldn’t turn off even after I’d turned off the car. Or removed the keys. Or pulled the fuse for the radio.

I spent 10 minutes after arriving at HarMar trying to get the radio to turn off, missing my last opportunity to photograph the theater’s bright, twinkling signage in the process. Not wanting to miss the movie, I headed inside, leaving the car dark, locked, and with a blaring radio. (Did I mention the volume control stopped working as well? Yup.)

Back at home a few hours later–the radio having been on the entire time–I headed out to the car with a flashlight and some pliers, and one by one removed every fuse in both of the Saturn’s fuseboxes. Regrettably, this did not kill the radio, and so the car now sits outside in single-digit weather with the radio drawing off the battery. (Of course, the obvious solution would be to unhook the battery, something I had to do rather frequently when I was driving an ’87 Caprice wagon with electrical problems, but the Saturn seems to require some weird tool I don’t have available to me.) Hopefully it’ll start tomorrow so I can get it to the Saturn dealership. If not, it may be a long Friday.

Posted in Journal at 11:37 pm

MovieLog: A History of Violence


I have to admit to being a bit confused as to why A History of Violence was as well-received as it was. It’s not a bad film, but it’s not a particularly good one, either. The acting was kind of tepid, and it was chock full of cliches: Good natured, honest working folk in small town America–is there a dark underside? Of course there is! On top of that, the movie, set in Indiana, doesn’t make the slightest effort to hide the fact it was actually filmed in Canada. Hello, road stripes, people!

Final verdict: It’s good it’s out on video. That way you don’t have spend real money on it. 6/10.

Posted in MovieLog at 12:22 am

Journal for 3 Dec 2006: A Painful Start to the Christmas Season


Well, it was a good weekend, I guess, although it could have been better, and definitely could have been less painful.

Friday evening brought a visit to the Minnesota History Center for my employer’s annual holiday party. It was a cool and enjoyable affair, unfortunately marred by the underside of my tongue getting stuck on my lower braces. When it first got stuck I wasn’t immediately sure what had happened, and when I opened my mouth for Lisa to take a look I was greeted by an expression that could only be described as unmitigated horror. I quickly made my way to the bathroom, and as soon as I looked in the mirror I understood why. I don’t know what those little knobs on the underside of one’s tongue are called, but I managed to get one not just wrapped under the lower brace wire, but also threaded back through two of my lower teeth.

My first thought was pretty simple: I’m fucked. That little knob had been stretched out almost an inch, a feat I’d previously hadn’t known was possible. I tried moving it with one of my fingers, but it was tied tight. For a moment, I actually wondered if a trip to the hospital was in order, but in one of those strange coincidences, I just happened to have a paper clip in my pocket that evening. I bent it open and used it to unthread my tongue, a slightly bloody and extremely painful little operation. About a minute later my tongue finally popped loose, and I was free to deal with the problem of blood pooling in my mouth.

So, uh, it was a fun evening.


Today, as it happens, was Christmas tree day. Suffice to say what was meant to be a brief excursion to pick up a tree, plus a couple stops to see what new lighting decorations are available this year, somehow snowballed into an eight-plus hour, $200 excursion that ended with a huge tree and nine strings of energy-efficient LED Christmas lights that don’t quite match each other in color. The original plan was for us to decorate the tree tonight, but in the end it was enough for us to just get it up and lit. The actual decorating, plus mulled apple cider and other delightful holiday crap, will have to wait until tomorrow.

Posted in Journal at 11:41 pm

in transit—a lame attempt at a homepage since 1996—is a service of Mark Danielson and
© 1996-2006 by Mark Danielson. All rights reserved unless specifically noted.