Archive for the 'Two weeks in the Skyway' Category

Sushi, new phone, Skyway Tour app, crap weather – Days 2 & 3 – Two weeks in the Minneapolis Skyway

If this is your first “Two weeks in the Skyway” post, you might like to start here.

A nice walk: Day 2 of my Skyway confinement was largely spent holed up in my condo, cranking out some looming work and reacquainting myself with the stationary bike that’s been occasionally getting my heart-rate above 80 this winter. I took a stroll after 7pm though, when the Skyway goes into its eerie Twilight Zone-esque emptiness and silence. I actually love this part of the day, because all the dithering idjits that are fixtures during business hours, blocking high traffic intersections of the Skyway while talking to friends or struggling to make their phones do something pointless, have all gone home and I can walk at an even pace, in a straight line without a care in the world.

I took this opportunity to get thoroughly lost in the North Star and One Financial buildings, sections of Skyway I’ve never explored. I tell ya, there’s food courts in some really unexpected places.

Skyway sushi: On Wednesday I was far more active. Now one wouldn’t instinctively get excited about sushi when one lives in Minneapolis, approximately 157,846 miles (or 427,484,836 kilometers) from the nearest tuna spawning grounds. And one would be well advised to question any form of food that’s served in the many lackluster Skyway fast food joints, which, for the most part, are barely edible versions of the stuff you’d send back to the kitchen if it was served to you in a restaurant. So when the words ‘Skyway’ and ‘sushi’ appear side-by-side, one would not be blamed for throwing up a bit in their mouth.

Well, I’m happy to say Sushi Do in the Baker Building, where I had lunch yesterday, is perfectly passable and their dishes are fairly priced. The spicy tuna/California roll combo ($7.75) was very satisfying and the cabaret-caliber people watching from their precious few stools is priceless. I’ll be going back.

Smartphone shopping: As I mentioned previously, my search for the perfect smartphone has limped on for something like three months. Seriously. With the quality of life of my ancient Blackberry Curve bottoming out, I finally pulled the trigger yesterday, walking purposefully into the T-Mobile shop in the IDS, pointing at the Google G2 Android phone and confidently saying “That one? I think? What do you think?”

Twenty hours later, I’m still not sure I bought the right phone. While the G2 does things that would have caused the 2001 me to wet myself lavishly, there’s a bunch of what I consider to be minor, requisite tweaks and personalized settings that the G2 seemingly doesn’t have. Or I’m too dumb to figure out how to access the 17th sub-menu that allows me to change them. I’m still in the trial and error period. If I don’t answer your call or email in the next few weeks it’s because G2 and I decided to have a trial separation period and go live with our parents.

And while the IDS T-Mobile shop employs several very helpful, charming people, the overwhelming majority of the staff either doesn’t give two shits about the best interests of the customers or, in a few cases, are simply full-on asshats. I saw not one, not two, but THREE altercations between staff and customers yesterday that actually make me, Captain Cantankerous, look like a compassionate, sparkling, customer service wizard.

Skyway tour app: In the afternoon, I met with Ed Smelser, the designer of the Twin Cities Skyway Tour app. The Minneapolis app is already done and for sale (iPhone and Android phones only), with St Paul and Duluth Skyway apps coming soon. Ed demonstrated the app’s Skyway map for me, which currently has 21 tour stops where users can punch up informational/historical videos. The videos are very well researched, enlightening and intermittently witty. In the near future, added functionality will include “plain English” directions, like a proper GPS device in your car, audibly directing users to their destination through the Skyway with nary a wrong turn. For the time being, the GPS function does not work on Android phones.

Crap weather: I privately decided not to gloat about all the crap weather I’m dodging during my two week Skyway confinement, but holy hell, have you seen the forecast? The wind-chill in the Twin Cities is supposed to get near -30 tonight and into tomorrow. Who’s the goofball now, huh?

Two weeks in the Skyway | 20.01.2011 11:11 | 2 Comments

America’s Got Talent, Target, cell shopping, cider emergency – Day 1 – Two weeks in the Minneapolis Skyway

If this is your first “Two weeks in the Skyway” post, you might like to start here.

Minnesota’s Got Talent: So, here’s a combination event I’m attending and public service announcement to anyone with a TV-worthy, tight, amazing 90 seconds of talent: America’s Got Talent auditions are taking place this Saturday and Sunday in the Skyway-connected Minneapolis Convention Center, from 8am to 7pm. They welcoming all comers. Seriously. I’ve been on the phone with them repeatedly and they keep stressing this. So, if you can dance, sing, be funny, juggle, walk on a rope, throw knives, escape from chains while hanging upside down or vividly mime any of the former, get your act together and get down there. They’re even doing “no-wait” auditions: basically a scheduled audition, so you don’t have to cool your heels out in the hallway waiting your turn. Contact me if you’d like one of these no-wait auditions, or just show up with a book and a whole lot of energy. Here’s more info.

AGT is also scouting talent in Minneapolis/St Paul this week. If you know of any variety shows, cabaret, arts, dance, open mics, karaoke or whatever, invite the scouts by contacting Sara at saraagtcasting@gmail.com or 661-619-7444.

Smartphone shopping: Yesterday’s first Skyway outings were visits to both AT&T (Baker Building) and T-Mobile (IDS) to talk phones (Blackberry Torch and Android Something-Amazing respectively) and plans. The pros and cons for these phones/plans have become so convoluted, minute and evenly weighed that I’ve become paralyzed with indecision. Except my current phone is on its death rattle, so I must make a decision. Sarah at AT&T is way cuter than Kyle at T-Mobile, so it may just come down to that.

Groceries at Target: After that descent into hopeless confusion, I did my weekly grocery run to Target. Here’s the problem with Target: they have pretty much all the essentials and sometimes even a variety of the essentials, but they seem incapable of keeping the shelves stocked from week to week. For example, last week they didn’t have onions. Onions! How do you call yourself a grocery and run out of onions? They go with everything! Also, they like to change brands every three months, just to mess with me. The minute I find a brand that I like, they replace it, usually with something inferior. So, I’m frequently reacting and adjusting to Dale the Inventory Dude when he impulsively decides that the pennies cheaper Dribbly’s Tasteless Ham Product might sell better than the Super Awesome Delicious Smoked Ham that I’ve been happily buying for six months.

Strongbow scarcity: After a matinee showing of “The Green Hornet” at Block E, I made the snap decision that the salmon tart waiting for me back at home would be nicely paired with eight Strongbows, so I stopped in at Haskell’s (where I’m the mayor on Foursquare by the way, no big deal), which is when the first “Oh f*ck” moment of the Skyway test happened. Haskell’s, unthinkably, unbelievably, criminally, sadistically, was out of Strongbow in 17-ounce cans. They did, however, have two six-packs of Strongbow in 12-ounce bottles, which totally suck because that means I have to get up from the couch more frequently. I snapped them up anyway, because I didn’t want to have to eat salmon tart with water like some kind of idiot. Haskell’s won’t get more Strongbow till Thursday. Hold me.

Two weeks in the Skyway | 18.01.2011 11:34 | 3 Comments

Goofball with a purpose – two weeks in the Minneapolis Skyway

At 7:20pm yesterday I returned from a weekend in Madison, Wisconsin comprised mainly of drinking cheap wine to excess and occasionally picking up juggling props and throwing them around in creative ways. The otherwise unexceptional event of my return was enlivened by two things: the fire alarm in my building malfunctioning at an uncivil volume and the fact that it was the last time I would suffer Minnesota weather for two solid weeks without actually leaving Minnesota.

As part of a feature story that I’m writing, I have voluntarily confined myself to the downtown Minneapolis Skyway System as a combination goofball stunt and case study. Being that I have lived and worked in Skyway-connected bliss for nearly three years, I’ve had ample opportunity to engineer my life so that, if I really don’t feel like it, I don’t have to go outside – for anything.

For decades, the Skyway has been a convenience and curiosity, allowing shoppers and some lucky workers to pass their days while comfortably protected from our occasionally unenviable weather. But with the Skyway’s slow expansion and the addition of critical resources (namely a passable grocery inside Target), the Skyway has evolved in recent years into something approximating a proper neighborhood where, with the right timing and resourcefulness, all the usual errands can be accomplished and a reasonably rewarding life can be led. At least I think it has. And thus the confinement test.

Now it would be fairly easy, if somewhat tedious, to just hunker down for the entire two weeks, burning through my Netflix queue and ordering Luce twice a day, but that would completely miss the point. I have everyday stuff to accomplish. Errands to run, shopping to do, events to attend, social obligations to satisfy and, above all else, a practical life to lead. I’ll be using this blog to keep a (hopefully) short, daily journal, with accounts of what I did and, if it was unusually challenging, how I did it.

I would also like to take this opportunity to invite everyone who lives and/or works on the Skyway to leave comments with tips for their Skyway essentials, be it shopping, food, drink, entertainment, nail salon, whatever. And, for the feature article, I am in fact seeking out people who both live and work on the Skyway for short interviews. If you are, or know, one of these people, please get in touch.

Here are my self-imposed confinement rules:

•    I can, for whatever screwball reason, open a window or stand next to an open door, but I cannot break the threshold.
•    Though I was sorely tempted to do so, I did not race out before the test began and stockpile all the things I’m pretty sure that I can’t get on the Skyway. I generally get by on the relatively meager food selection available at Target on Nicollet Mall (and the farmers market in summer), but I supplement this once a month or so with a run to Rainbow for a little variety. However, in the interest of not contaminating the test environment, I’ve omitted this step.
•    I can take advantage of everyday resources outside of the Skyway (the mail, pizza delivery), though without overt abuse – eg having Lunds deliver $200 of groceries.
•    If a Skyway that I’m occupying spontaneously bursts into flame, I can go outside in order to save my life, but I must hold my breath and hop on one foot the entire time.

I have, in the past, gone somewhat disturbing amounts of time without stepping a toe outdoors during our less-than-balmy months, but this two week test will shatter my current record of nine days. It’s fair to say that I have an unusual affinity for the Skyway (check out my previous Skyway-love posts here, here and here), so it would be a stretch to claim that this test will be a personal hardship, though being that I’ve never stayed confined to the Skyway for so long, who knows?

And away we go.

Two weeks in the Skyway | 17.01.2011 11:49 | 8 Comments