Friday, December 30, 2005

Now that’s over with…oh wait.

Christmas came and now its another 365 days until the craziness starts all over again. I had a very good Christmas this year and got most of the things on my list. Visiting with both sides of the family was great. Christmas Eve, Frank and I got back from Madison and the two of us headed over to my Grandma’s house in Brooklyn Park for Roast Beef and Cranberry Cake with butter sauce. After dinner, we unwrapped some presents and then proceeded to the folks’ house where we unwrapped some more presents.

Christmas Day, we made the traditional trip to Cannon Falls Minnesota for a visit with my Grandpa F.B. and relatives on the Dad’s side of the family. It was great catching up with my uncle Bill and my aunt Karen, and enjoying some delicious Ham, Turkey, Mashed Potatoes, and some awesome Christmas Cookies for desert.

Since then I have been trying to work as much as I can at Minitex and make some money over the break. I have been having some trouble trying to get up on time for work in the morning but maybe if I started going to bed on time this wouldn’t be an issue.

I am also trying to visit with friends and take the necessary steps for my study abroad in Norway next fall. I hope I can use Frank’s presents on how to speak Norwegian and the lonely planet guide to Norway. These two books will come in handy with having to learn the language and some great places to see when I am in the country.

Spring Semester starts on the 17th of January, so I have a few weeks to get some things figured out. After New years, Kristen and I are heading up to Duluth for a small getaway for the week. We plan on doing some skiing at Spirit Mountain, a little touring of Duluth, and some general R & R. I wish we could have done something more extravagant, but being that we are only college students with not a lot of money, it is rather difficult to do anything overly extravagant. Hopefully we can do something fun and exciting for Spring Break. If anyone out there in the world of Bloggerdome or the U has any great suggestions for Spring Break other than Mexico, let me know.

That should do it for this post. Hope everyone has a safe and wonderful New Year celebration. Drink, Be Happy, Drink some more!!!

See you all in 2006


Saturday, December 24, 2005

The Road into Mordor (a.k.a. Wisconsin)

Last night Frank and I made the four-hour drive from St. Paul deep into the depths of Mordor. We traveled under the cover of nightfall and shadow created by the fog. The conditions where ideal for driving with temps above freezing and very few people on the roads. We averaged about 70 mph throughout the trip and made it to our motel outside of Madison just around midnight.

It was a really great drive jamming to the Ipod and bombing down the I-94 East with the brother. We got turned around a couple of times, but we found our way after a few well placed u-turns, plus it’s easy to find your way back to the highways in Wisconsin.

Having been in the car for that long, both Frank and I were just beat but went searching for a place to get some food and a cold brew. However, after driving around for a while and not finding anything that was open we headed back to the motel to catch some much needed sleep. Had we gone another direction or headed into downtown, we probably could have found something. I think it would be better to have the Megatron take us out and show us some of the great bars in Madison the next time we visit.

This morning we woke up early and headed out to the Megatron’s house in De Forest. Meghan’s parents were very friendly and Meghan’s relatives were also great to meet. Frank had met all these people already, but it was the first time for me. I am glad that I had the opportunity to meet the entire Austin crew. Steve and Cindy made everybody breakfast which was deliciouse, and Frank and I stayed for a while and chatted with everyone before heading out on the road around 11:45 AM.

Now it’s a little passed 2:00 PM, and we are about 100 miles from St. Paul making our way home. So far the drive has been really foggy in some places, but besides the fog driving has been pretty good. There has been a large presence of the Wisconsin State Patrol, but so far they haven’t pulled us over.

Frank and I should be home by about 4:00 PM. Then it is off to Grandma Maries house and the usual Christmas Eve festivities with our Mom’s side of the family. I hope everyone is having a wonderful Christmas Eve and that everyone got all their shopping done on time!! Drop me a line about what people have planned over the break.

Merry Christmas from the Wambach boys!!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Holy Holidazzle Kristen!!!

This evening, Kristen and I took a packed train from the Franklin Avenue Station to the Nicollet Mall station in downtown Minneapolis for the annual Holidazzle parade. Before the parade, we had a nice walk from the station to Pings on South Nicollet Avenue. Along the way, we passed the WCCO News station and waved at the Anchors during their commercial break, they waved back smiling. Kristen said they waved back because I had a hot girlfriend.

Dinner was fantastic. We started out the meal with their szechuan wontons. They were stuffed with chicken instead of the usual cream cheese variety and were not as heavily deep fat fried as wontons from other Chinese eateries. For the main course, we had their signature walnut shrimp dish. It was the perfect amount of food for the two of us.

With our bellies full, we quickly headed back up the Nicollet Mall and found a spot to watch the parade. It was the perfect night for a parade, not too cold, not too windy. The weather was very cooperative. All day today the temperature was above 30 at least and the wind only picked up a little at the start of the parade. The parade itself was predictable but enjoyable. It would have been more fun if at the end of the parade fireworks or laser lights would shoot out of the IDS tower or the top of the 226 South Sixth Tower. This would make our holiday celebration comparable to Times Square at New Years at least in excitement.

With Saint Nick himself ending the parade, Kristen and I made our way to the downtown Marshall Fields to check out the 8th floor display of Cinderella or possibly do some shopping before heading back to the station and Kristen’s apartment. On our way to Marshall Fields, we passed a bunch of young kids standing on a statue watching the parade. At the same time, Santa’s float was keeping pace with us and as we passed the group of kids we heard one of them shout out, “Nobody likes you Santa!!” Both Kristen and I had to do a double take and I swear I saw a kid standing next to the unbeliever with his mouth hanging open. How can kids hate Santa?? Everybody loves Santa!!

Either way, we made it to Marshall Fields and started heading up the escalators towards the 8th floor. We got to the 4th floor when we noticed the huge line for this display and decided to bail out and not wait. The two of us decided to head down to the lower level and look for some dessert and possible ideas for last minute Christmas presents. However, the Ku and I didn’t last very long in Marshall Fields. The price for their ice cream was way overpriced for their selection of flavors and the amount of their servings. You can get a way better deal on ice cream and have better quality at places like Cold Stone or the Grand Old Creamery on Grand Avenue. Plus, Marshall Fields was way to crowded with kids running wild and parents in need of a drink.

We headed towards the Nicollet Mall LRT station to catch a train back to Franklin Avenue and Kristen’s apartment. The Southbound platform was packed with people. The train overshot us and we were forced to run to the front of the back train, which filled very quickly with parade attendees, parents with strollers and little children, and regular LRT riders. As you can see from this photo below, the train was quite filled.

Kristen and I made it back to Kristen’s apartment after a quick walk down Franklin Avenue. We snuggled for a while and Frank picked me up later. Tomorrow Kristen is venturing out to the MOA to do her Christmas Shopping. I wish her the best of luck in finding presents for everyone. I will also be doing some last minute shopping myself but more importantly sleeping in because NO WORK TOMORROW!!!! Minitex offices at the University of Minnesota are closed tomorrow and the 26th of December.

Tomorrow night, Franky J (my brother) and I are heading out to Wisconsin to visit Meghan and her family. Megatron’s (her nickname) birthday is Christmas Eve and Frank thought it would be great to visit her and her family on her Birthday.

Kristen and I will have our Christmas on the 26th. I am looking forward to the holiday with all the food, family, and presents. The adventure with Frank should be fun; it has been a while since the two of us have had a road trip together.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays Bloggerdome.

I hope you were all good this year, because as the saying goes: “Santa Claus is coming to town!!!”

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

5 days till Christmas…It’s practically here

Well, with finals over for most of the students at the University of Minnesota we all begin checking One Stop for the latest update on our grades. So far I am sitting at a running total of 2 B’s, a B+, and an A for the CSL credit in Geog 3371.

I was surprised by the B+ that I received in Geog 3561 Principles of G.I.S. This class was one of the toughest classes that I had this semester in terms of theory and sheer amount of information. The labs pulled me out of the fire in this class and where very intuitive and informative. The best lab was the lab on Georeferencing areas of downtown Minneapolis and fixing the alignment of the Hiawatha light rail line and producing a map of the alignment. The task required using a layer of roads and then Georeferencing these roads on top of a layer of an image acquired from either a satellite image or aerial photograph. We matched the intersections assigned to us using Google Maps and attempted to get the least amount of errors in our referencing. Our reference points attempted to match areas that had been ground truthed by professionals with a GPS in the field. This was a task that our professor told our class that we would be doing the most of.

As for the two B’s I received, these were both Roger Miller’s courses Geog 3371 “Cities, Citizens, and Communities” and Geog 3605 “Perspectives on Planning”. These classes started out a little rocky with some pretty tough assignments. The CBD mapping was tough because of the mapping element, having never taken a cartography class and unsure about how to show density. Maybe I should have argued on the score of my district map but didn’t feel like arguing with the incompetent TA’s of geog 3371. Right after the mapping exercise the first set of study questions were due. In perspectives the first exam didn’t go very well either. Oh well, the projects in both of the classes were helpful and I hope to stay involved with both the Central Corridor LRT and the Midtown Greenway.

The class that I am waiting in fear of is Statistics. As most of you know, I had my last exam on Saturday with Statistics. I felt that the exam went ok for the most part and I am hoping for a C in the class…Just as long as I pass.

After my exam, I ventured over to the Coffman Student Union Bookstore and sold three of my textbooks for about $100 bucks. This will help with the ski rental and cost of lift tickets for the KU and I’s trip to Duluth for a few days in early January. Plus it never hurts to have spare cash lying around in case of an emergency.

Saturday night featured an evening of eating way too much delicious food with the family including Ham, baked beans, and a fabulous batch of potatoes made by my Aunt Anna. After dining and visiting with the Fam, I swung by Kristen’s place and the two of us saw King Kong over at Har Mar in Roseville. King Kong was incredibly action packed and suspenseful but rather on the long side, in my opinion. There were also some pretty scary moments especially when the crew is being eaten by insects limb by limb or swallowed by these worm things. Other unimportant crewmembers are either crushed by stampeding dinosaurs, eaten by dinosaurs and insects, or having their heads being bitten off by King Kong. The best scene was the battle between the T-Rex’s or the Lizard King and King Kong. Near the end of the movie, we see that Kong is the only surviving member of his kind from all of the other ape bones that are in his cave. It would have been cool to possibly hear or find out what happened to the rest of his kind.

Last night, Frank, Pete, and I saw the Chronicles of Narnia over at the UA Pavilion in Roseville. Despite the hype surrounding Narnia, the three of us found it rather disappointing. The thing that ruined it for me were the actors who played the children. They were constantly whining and yelling at each other over worthless stuff. Another thing that bothered me was Liam Niesson as the voice of Aslan the Lion. What movie isn’t this guy in??? If he isn’t helping out Bruce Wayne in “Batman Begins”, he is fighting the crusades in “Kingdom of Heaven”, and if he isn’t doing that he is a freaking Jedi Master in “Star Wars Episode 1”.

5 days to go, still shopping to do and work to attend. I need to be up early tomorrow so I can make it to work on time and then get home on time too. Hopefully I can grab dinner with Kristen who has the day off tomorrow and possibly catch up on some leisure reading at Espresso Royal or Expose while the KU studies for her last exam.

Looking forward to Christmas can’t wait!!!!

Goodnight Bloggerdome


Friday, December 16, 2005

To do in the next 24 hours:

This is a to-do list of the things I need to do in the next 24 hours of the semester.

1. Study for statistics final: I have been doing this all day. I feel like I can’t go on anymore. Statistics was the worst class I had this semester. I think I felt this way about Statistics because this was the third stats class that I had in a row. Starting with 1001, 3011, and finally ending at 3022. Each time I had a different professor, a different textbook, and of course similar theories but taught in different styles. My first run with stats was with a professor from Italy, the second professor was from Russia (I think), and the third was from somewhere in Asia. I need to work on creating my formulas sheet for the final

2. Sell back some textbooks at the student union. I have some books that I have been meaning to sell back since the end of fall Semester 04. Plus I could use some small cash around this time of year. This is something I am going to do immediately after my exam. Can u all guess what book is being sold back first???

3. Go to bed, I am going to try to be in bed by 11:30 if not midnight tonight. My exam is at 10:30 AM tomorrow and I would like to get a goodnight sleep so that I am well rested for the exam.

4. Take a shower. Hygiene is very important in the motivation to studying, and a nice run through a hot shower just might be the thing I need to get the blood flowing and the neurons firing inside that pressed and perplexed brain of mine.

5. Finally, wake up on time tomorrow morning. It would be pretty embarrassing if I missed my exam tomorrow because I didn’t wake up.

That should do it for the list. I changed a few things for those who read my blog. Thought I would add a description on the purpose of this blog, and I also changed the profile picture to a pic of Kristen and I from Meghan H’s 21st birthday.

I hope everyone is surviving the rush of finals and hasn’t thought about tossing themselves off of a bridge, I know I have. Then again, that water looks pretty damn cold. Wish me luck on the stats final, I am going to need it.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

There are some mad people in St. Paul

The issue: property taxes all over the state are rising. The heaviest is in the Metro area and St. Paul residents are furious. As they should be, after receiving notice of double digit increases in the property taxes of Ramsey County. Tuesday night I attended a “Truth in Taxation” hearing presented by some of the major political players of Ramsey County. In attendance: members of the Ramsey County School Board, members of the Ramsey County Regional Rail Authority, and Mayor Randy Kelly.

These stakeholders presented the budgets for the public school system, Ramsey County, and the city of St. Paul. Afterwards, the meeting was opened to the public for commentary. Everyone was allowed to speak and everyone was allowed 2-minutes. I attended the meeting for two purposes (1) to learn how the funding of transportation will affect property taxes and how the city plans to fund projects such as the Central Corridor and the Union Depot and (2) as a resident of Ramsey County living in Falcon Heights it is interesting to see the property taxes of surrounding neighborhoods and the public opinion on taxes and the accountability of politicians.

There were many residents who voiced their opposition to these higher taxes, although they understood why they are occurring. Many areas in the United States are experiencing the fiscal squeeze, particularly in Minnesota where we have a Republican Governor that has vowed to keep a “No New Tax” pledge to please his lapdogs at the “Tax Payers League of Minnesota” and the rest of the Neo-cons who have hi-jacked the country at the start of the new millennium This is in keeping with the national trend of removing state and federal programs and forcing local municipalities and counties to bare the cost of providing basic services and funding higher education. So while I understand that people were upset about their taxes going up, they were complaining to the wrong people. Many of them should have contacted Governor Pawlenty and our state senators telling them how these no new tax pledges are hurting our cities and forcing residents from their homes due to rising property taxes that cities are raising to close the gap.

As I mentioned, I attended the meeting in the hopes of learning more information on transit funding for St. Paul. By attending the meeting, I learned that a transit levy is the latest proposal for funding of transit improvements in St. Paul. I had thought that the county had suggested the use of dedicated 1/2 cent sales tax to transit funding. As many know, much of the highways and road networks are heavily subsidized by the federal, state, and local governments. How can transit get a piece of this economic pie? By following the example of cities such as Denver, Phoenix, and Portland who all have major transit investment underway through dedicated sales taxes, we can join the cities reinvesting in their older neighborhoods and planning for new residents.

I am going to try and cut this short so that it does not become a rant. However, if St. Paul does not figure out how to get LRT or some sort of new transit on Univrsity Avenue and the necessary improvements to the Union Depot, it will be much harder and much more expensive to build the transitways envisioned by the Metro Council for 2030, it may be 2050 or even 2060 if we are lucky based on current trends.

Let’s capitalize on the success of Hiawatha and get this done for the state, for St. Paul and its residents.

Thank you

Andrew Wambach

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The final stretch

Next week will mark the end of classes for the University of Minnesota and the end of the fall semester for my third year here at the U. I, like many other students, cannot wait for Winter Break and the potential of spring semester. This weekend will be the final push. Tuesday the 13th will be the worst day with two presentations both in Geography courses but different topics. One will be on the Central Corridor and the work I did with Transit for Livable Communities and the other will be on the Midtown Greenway project in Minneapolis that I studied for my perspectives on planning course.
So far I have had a pretty good week. The week started out with a rush to finish the CSL journals and the individual paper for the CSL project. My journals ended up having a length of about 19 pages, while the individual paper ranked in at 5 pages. The final project was all due at the beginning of class on Tuesday. I spent the better part of Monday night frantically putting the finishing touches on the reports and then heading to bed around 3:00 AM. This has become my falling asleep time, though if you look at the post time, it will read 4:30 Am by the time I am done. Tuesday I handed in my project, however, my group member had not finished his journals or his individual paper on time, however, it seemed that a lot of people hadn’t finished there projects on time. What a disorganized class. I swear the TA’s in 3371 haven’t a clue to what is going on. Judy knows her stuff I will giver that, but the other TA I am not even going to talk about because he may read this (unlikely but still) and I don’t want to upset anybody.
I also had an exam on Tuesday in my perspectives on planning course and I feel that it went pretty well for not having any of the questions that I prepared for on the exam. However, some of the material that I had covered related to the questions that were asked, and so I did my best to answer the questions with the material I had.
I missed LOST tonight, hopefully I can get a chance to watch it tomorrow night, and lord knows there is nothing on TV Thursday nights.
Hopefully I will have a chance to have some fun this weekend, though prospects look grim with work still to be done on presentations and rehearing them as well as requirements in statistics. I just hope that I pass that class, the stuff they have us doing with this Rweb programming makes no sense and would be much nicer if we were using programs such as SPSS that all involve drop down menus or even Excel. But no, instead we are to learn programming code from a TA who rattles them off a million miles per hour and is surprised when we ask him to repeat stuff.
I swear, I am never taking another stats class after this one, anything else I need they will have to teach me on the job or I will teach myself. I am debating about learning how to master Excel and possibly teach myself the program over the summer.
Since it is winter, it would sure be nice if it snowed more often. Sure its freaking cold out, but that just means it gets really cold at night (currently 9 degrees outside and 59 inside) and only to about 30 degrees during the day, wait not even that, today the high was somewhere in the teens.
Now I am just rambling, time to get this blog posted.

Good luck to everyone on their projects and finals next week


Monday, December 05, 2005

where did my blog go

This is a test to see if my blog comes back up. Let's see what happens.