Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Lot’s to think about without telling you what to think!

November 20, 2008
-Thanks to Gary Eichten for the title of this post. The past 6 months I have been listening to a lot of Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) and National Public Radio (NPR) on my commute to Lakeville in the early morning hours. I always liked their tag-line of “Get out of the car smarter than when you got in”, but lately with all the economic turmoil you end up getting out of the car more frustrated than when you finished reading the Star Tribune. But more about politics, including my thoughts on the election, energy, and the economy later in the blog.

Currently I am in lay-off from Northern Pipeline Construction Company (NPLCC), reflecting upon the season and trying to think of how I should prepare for my next move. Oh Possibilities!! I wish I had someone to tell me what to think/do especially with the bad news on the table about the economy and the ever-looming threat of Unemployment reaching 8 or 9%.

About a month ago my brother Frank and I were talking about my season at NPL, while working on his basement. For example, the major themes I learned and challenges that I was encountering. Before answering him on what I learned, I paused, and then looked him right in the eye and said, “Wow Andrew, you really can’t tie Knots!!” We both erupted laughing and I went into my usual “Oh poor me” routine of which I am famous for. It has been a steep learning curve, diving straight into the deep end of construction, and being “Greener” than grass. Honestly it (Inability to tie simple knots) has been the most frustrating part of the job and something that I will have to dedicate time to in the off-season if I want to continue/survive another season.

The construction industry certainly has agreed with my body. Since leaving my last job seven months ago, I’ve lost over 30 pounds through sheer work and am almost back down to my weight in High School of 180 pounds. It also agrees with me in regards to satisfaction. To see the end result of a days, weeks, or months worth of work and what we accomplished; as opposed to advocating for something that may never come; such as my obsession with bringing High Speed Rail (HSR) to the Upper Midwest.
-A quick side-note on HSR. The California High Speed Rail bond measure on this Historic election season successfully passed!! It may take five to ten years for the results to trickle over to the Midwest, but hopefully California’s investment will have benefits for the rest of the country. As I stated on a message board on election night about this topic, “This is an issue where “Left Coast” envy can potentially be a great benefit”. I am fully willing to let California run quarterback on bringing rail renewal, just please, please, please don’t blow it. A great blogger, Robert Cruickshanks, has done a great job championing this issue, posting almost daily updates right up to the election. Those interested should link over and scroll through his posts.

Typing from the cold Northwoods of Minnesota, just sitting by a lake (Small nod to John Pryne) I find myself in the usual predicament. It seems that every six to seven months I am tired of whatever it is that I am doing and ready for a change. While I am able to find employment in that time period; there isn’t something that holds my interest or passion, and I (like many people my age and in the working world) face the music of paying the bills or going back to school to further my education to land the “passion” driven job that will keep me satisfied.

Fast forward to where this blog picks up, December 3rd 2008, and I am in my favorite coffee shop: Espresso Royal, typing away and getting set to head over to the West Bank of the University of Minnesota. I am considering revisiting my passion of High Speed Rail (HSR), especially with the recent developments that I alluded to above.

Well enough whining “poor me”, onto some topics I have been meaning to write about…

The Election;

About two years ago, I wrote a post on where I thought development in the Twin Cities would progress; this was before I really knew much about Barrack Obama. I quote the following from that post:

November- 2008: The Bush Presidency is over. Democrats reclaim the White House with anybody but the following: Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, John Edwards, or Joe Lieberman. In a stunning turn of events John McCain is elected and becomes one of the best things to happen to both Republicans/Democrats by being a great moderate President kicking the evangelicals out of the Republican Party and brining in more allies to assist with Iraq.
(Events are fictional, but I really hope they happen.)

In the fall of 2006, while studying abroad in Norway, on-board a train to Sweden; I listened to Barrack Obama’s book: The Audacity of Hope. I found myself nodding along with everything he talked about: Our need to change our politics, our policies from energy to economic, to social and etc. But mostly that as Americans, and as a people there is more that unites us than divides us. Like most Democrats, he became my Candidate and I am very happy he won the Election.

So what’s the point of posting the quote from 2006? John McCain was not the moderate/Maverick that we thought he’d turn out to be. He aligned himself with the Bush policies of the past 8 years, which now W is trying to say is not his fault, Nytimes or Washington Post, and he poorly vetted Sarah Palin for his VP, when someone (admittedly) like “T-Paw” Pawlenty of Minnesota would’ve probably won him more states. Also, Joe Lieberman has become a "independent Democrat"/Republican Hawk

Anyway, I am excited to see what Obama brings as the 44th President of the United States of America.

Onto Energy. There has been a lot of talk about renewable energy and the need for new power sources, reducing and eliminating foreign oil etc. One of the plans that has become quite popular and heavily advertised is the T-Boone Pickens Plan. The Texas Oil Billionaire has spent large amount of his fortune on wind farms in the Texas Pan-Handle and now awaits capitol for Transmission Lines to distribute the power to supposedly 300,000 homes. A similar problem exists in Minnesota; the need for major investment in Transmission lines to distribute power from renewable energy sources such as the large Wind Farms in Southwestern Minnesota. What ties the two together? That both of these plans should incorporate investment in High Speed Rail Infrastructure to carry the power as well as passengers if feasible. That way, the service would be using power from renewable sources, providing new areas for development and redevelopment, and reducing the need for short-haul air travel all at once.

I know I know, enough about the HSR but I had to get it off my chest. :-D

Not much to say about the economy except that we are officially in a Recession and have been for at least a year…Big surprise there I guess. Good deals on HDTV’s if you can afford them, I am hoping to snag one this year if given the opportunity.

Keep your heads up and ears to the ground when it comes to deals.

That’s all I got for now, got to get moving to the West Bank, and I have to walk or take the Campus Connecter because I no longer have a U-Pass :-(