Category Archives: Minnesota

Thoughts or photos which are strongly connected to Minnesota

A New Year, A New Start (Coming Soon)

Howdy folks,
So we’ve been back from the UK for a week now and I am already counting down the days until summer! I thought the nosebleeds due to the dry air were bad enough (after using my hands to stem the flow while hurrying to the bathroom, I now know what I’d look like if I feasted straight from the flesh of a warm animal corpse. Haunting, I tell you, very haunting…also sort of badass), but then we drove home and were greeted by snow, freezing temperatures and horrible road conditions. Thanks Minnesota for that lovely welcome, we missed you too. Yep, after almost three weeks of a moderate English winter where the worst we experienced was a few blustery days that caused us to entertain the idea of wearing a second layer, we really needed that reality check the first day back in the US. The worst part is that the weather we have now isn’t even that bad. Oh the joys of living in the north.
Anyway, I hope everyone had a great Christmas and New Year! Although the celebratory closing of 2016 was rather uneventful for us (sadly I was too ill and too miserable to go anywhere), we had a wonderful time visiting my homeland.  Seeing family and old friends after over two years was awesome. Although we didn’t explore as much as we perhaps could have, Vanna and I did what we set out to do – visit as many people as possible. And on top of that, we did have a fantastic experience in Edinburgh near the end of our trip too. Saying goodbye again wasn’t much fun, of course, and the flight home was fairly arduous (not to mention the horribly abrupt return to work and responsibilities)…but it was all worth it. I don’t regret a single moment. Except for my decision not to bring more food with us. I do regret buying only the two boxes of wine gums. They did not last long at all.
Other than that, it was a truly great holiday. BUT, as much as I would like to tell you about everything we did, there isn’t actually that much to share other than our aforementioned trip to the Scottish capital, so I’ll spare you the details (what really can I say? We went and saw my family, ate British food, watched British TV and went to a few places that I’ve already blogged about before, such as Seaham and Hardwick Hall. Interesting to us, but to you? Not so much). Regarding Edinburgh, however that story will be uploaded soon; I’m still waiting on the pictures (Vanna went overboard) but I should be posting sometime within the next week. Our day in Edinburgh was the tourist/blog highlight to the trip, so please come back for that.
Beyond that, both Vanna and I are really focused on getting back to normal life. Her studies are going well, my work is fine (actually attended our Christmas party last night) and I’m slowly finding a balance to my waking hours. I mentioned in my last post about my goals for the future, including a minimum monthly post on the blog, and I still intend to achieve that goal. It probably wont result in the blog reaching the dizzying heights it had back when I had the freedom to post almost daily, but I think it will benefit me, and if there is one thing I’m good at, it’s doing things that benefit me.
And on that wonderful note, I’ll end this post. Only a quick announcement I know, but I have three weeks of no Xboxing to catch up with. And there will be pictures and more coming soon, so I reckon I can get away with a 600 word catch up.
All the best guys,

Extended Weekend = Best Birthday Present

Howdy folks,

Happy Presidents’ Day! I love Presidents’ Day, largely because it means I don’t have to work today. A deserved break, especially after Friday’s stressful experience of working through my lunch.  How horrible is that? Not only was it the last day of the week, you know, a day when you’re supposed to ease yourself into the weekend relaxation mode, it was my birthday! Yet I had to work really hard, like it was my job or something! That’s just not right at all, is it? Pft. And, unfortunately, I think tomorrow is going to be even more hectic…

…But hey, let’s focus on the happier times; namely the events of both this weekend and last weekend. Starting with…

Ice Fishing

Good news: one of us won at the Ice Fishing Extravaganza. Bad news, it wasn’t me and it wasn’t because of our fishing skills.

As well as the fishing competition, prizes were given out for a variety of other things, like great displays found on the ice. Becky didn’t just have a prize-winning display, she also had grand prize-winning display! People came by to compliment her, take pictures of us and it, and the prize hosts interviewed her on the ice, as did the radio correspondent for the country station sponsoring the event.

Pretty cool, right? This was also the reason why this post took me a week to finish, as I wanted the official photos first and they weren’t on the internet last Sunday. Why didn’t I have my own? Well I forgot my camera and there was no way I was using my phone in those temperatures (the touch screen doesn’t recognize gloves and I wasn’t risking my fingers). Besides, the official photographer had a picture of me holding the big cheque so it was worth postponing the blog for that snap alone.

Well it would be…if I had the stupid picture. Despite my best (okay, not quite half-assed) efforts, I still can’t find the pictures online. I don’t know what is taking them so long, but I’ve looked on several of the sponsor websites and found nothing. Maybe I’m looking in the wrong places, or maybe they are really bad at keeping up with current events (I think 40:60 in their favour; going on the country radio website was like travelling back to the early 2000s). Whatever the reason, I have no pictures for you. Fingers crossed I can update this soon. Until then, just imagine me standing in front of a cardboard cutout (which is Tyler Lautner from Twilight dressed in army fatigues) holding one end of a big cheque. Sorry guys.

Sadly, me holding a fake cheque in a picture you can’t see is where the excitement largely ends. Here’s a breakdown of my time on the ice.


Got on the ice early yet the bay already pretty populated (not sure of the turn out, but after the event was delayed a month questions were raised over the attendance; in the end, I don’t think it suffered too much). We picked our spot, got everything prepared, and waited for the gun to be fired. Nothing much to report there.

As part of the display, however, Becky had a radio playing in order to boost her chances of winning something extra. Unfortunately her radio and the massive speaker were both tuned to the country station. This would have been bad enough, but they were also out of sync, adding to my misery. Boy, it was rough. I wouldn’t care normally – country doesn’t make me angry like it does for the poor sods who’ve had to deal with it for their whole life – but the songs played that day were utter garbage, especially lyrically. I’m not expecting brilliance but…come on. The example below wasn’t the worst I heard last Saturday, but they are the lyrics from the only song I can remember as being terrible.

Saw Star Wars at least eight times
Had the Pac-Man pattern memorized
And I’ve seen the stuff they put inside
Stretch Armstrong (yeah)
I was Roger Staubach in my backyard
Had a shoebox full of baseball cards
And a couple of Evil Knievel scars
On my right arm
I was a kid when Elvis died
And my momma cried

It was nineteen seventy somethin’
And the world that I grew up in
Farrah Fawcett hairdo days
Bell bottoms and eight track tapes
Lookin’ back now I can see me
Oh man, did I look cheesy
But I wouldn’t trade those days for nothin’
Oh it was nineteen seventy-somethin’

I hated every minute of it.

12pm – 1pm

Hour one of three went pretty quickly. Within seconds I saw my first person run by with a fish, which was considerably quicker than the first guy I saw last time, who carried their fish to the weigh station after a couple hours. Rather incredible timing to be honest, given that he’d somehow dropped a line, got a bite, reeled the fish in and bagged it in the time it took me to just lower my line. Probably went in sooner than noon, but whatever.

After that, the people with fish kept running by. After 5 minutes I’d spotted a couple more: at least double that in the next five…plus all the ones I missed. By half 12 there was at least 100 people in the queue behind me. Again, I saw only one person last time I was here in the full three hours…this was definitely a promising sign. Maybe even I would catch something!


Nope. Something nipped at my bait but at the same time I was sidetracked by Becky, who was losing her fishing rod to something in the water. She shouted something to me and I thought she was telling me to stop as I’d managed to hook her line. When I realized this wasn’t the case, my bite was done. And so went my involvement in the competition.

Becky did gather a crowd ten minutes later as she tried to reel in something huge…but when it then turned out to be a fish who’d drawn her line and someone else’s together, the bystanders wandered off. So much for that.


The rest of the event went without incident. The prize people went by, and Becky had her interviews and pictures. Otherwise, not a single bite or moment of excitement. My bait was super active though. Moving around the entire time, as if it was being chased. But it wasn’t. And that was about it.


No snow on the roads meant pulling the sled up the hill and across to the car was horribly difficult. There’s no relevance to this…I just wanted to mention it.

So, better than last time I went, but that’s not exactly saying much once you consider how freezing and miserable 2014’s event was. Maybe 2017 will be better?


The most special day in February…my birthday!

Friday was definitely the hardest day of last week, mainly because of the work issues I mentioned before. After that we went to St. Cloud for an Indian meal at an Indian restaurant called Kohinoor. Ultimately this experience was fine, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t disappointing. I don’t really want to go into it, but essentially I wanted more and expected more. I miss the Indian food I used to eat in the UK!

Despite this longing, it was still a good evening. We went to the mall afterwards, where we wandered around, tried on some clothes, bought some board games (a topic for another day) and then shared a cinnamon roll. What else can I say? Birthdays are just another day for me now, only special because I receive gifts (which are gratefullly accepted, no complaints there) and can escape chores (good old ‘birthday weekend’ excuse). And to be honest, that’s enough for me.

As for yesterday, well that was spent with family. Nothing special. Between you and I, Vanna’s birthday in March is a more important day, and I’d rather do something for that than this corporate falsity of a holiday. Hopefully everything will come together in time…but I’m saying no more about that. Who knows who is reading?

Anyway, that’s the latest from our lives. Nothing much more expected in February, just work, work, and more work.

Speak to you next time!


Fall/Autumn Pictures!

Even More Photography On The Citadel

Howdy all,

To celebrate the fact that Fall lasted longer than a whimper this year, (last year we had a nice September and then the cold set in), Vanna and I went for a walk a couple of days ago to document the changing colours of the leaves.  We didn’t get many pictures, but it certainly was gorgeous. Still is, in fact; driving to Crosby today was worth it for the views alone. Anyway, here’s the slideshow.


In other news, I have a job! Well, almost. They still need to complete background checks (a slow process so far, my fault for being a foreigner) so I’m not going to say anything more until I have a confirmed start date. It’s very promising though. A great opportunity, and it doesn’t involve filing(!), so yeah, I’m happy.

I also applied for my second Bioware writer position earlier this month*. Although there…

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Trivium Gig Review!

Howdy all,

Boy, what an eventful week Vanna and I have had! First we had our trip to the cities, which involved hours and hours of clothes shopping PLUS my first Red Lobster experience, and then, once we got home, we’ve had to deal with car problems, job interviews, and vet trips! The excitement (because bills are super fun and exciting, right?) hasn’t quite ended just yet, but while things are quiet I’m going to take the opportunity to talk about last Wednesday’s Trivium gig. As there were three acts (including Trivium) I figure I’ll break the review into three. First up…

Wilson: Mill City Nights in Minneapolis was the venue, much like it was when Trivium last toured in Minnesota. We arrived on time, bought our Trivium t-shirts (most important detail!) and then listened to Wilson, an upbeat heavy rock/metal band out of Detroit.  They were entertaining, had some good songs, got the crowd pumped up; what more could you want from an opener? The singer even brought out a massive drum and then jumped off the stage and crowd surfed…so yeah, we enjoyed Wilson. They were fun. Drumming was a little simple, but they had some cool solos, and the vocals were decent.

The best thing about Wilson, though, was that they didn’t overstay their welcome. The same cannot be said for the second group, however.

Tremonti:Tremonti was formed by Creed guitarist Mark Tremonti. Cool fact if you like Creed, bad news if you don’t. Why? Because Tremonti’s fame meant his band performed for over an hour! In fact, they were on longer than Trivium, and that’s just not right.

Ugh, I try not to be negative about bands, but when it comes to Tremonti, I can’t help it. Their act started well enough, but soon got very, very, very boring. The occasional instrumental aside, there is nothing positive I can say about Tremonti. The vocals were boring, they had no stage presence whatsoever, and it didn’t take long for all the songs to sound exactly the same. I tried to like them, but I just couldn’t. And any goodwill I still had for them soon disappeared once we hit the hour mark and the singer said they ONLY had three more songs left. No. Get out of here Tremonti. You suck.

Trivium: It took three hours, but finally the main attraction arrived on stage! Once again, Trivium were (was? Just sounds stupid!) awesome. The sound wasn’t as good as last time, and a few of the song choices were somewhat questionable, but to be honest, I’m just nitpicking (I blame Tremonti).  We loved the gig, and we loved Trivium. Had it been any other band, we wouldn’t have stayed through Tremonti’s act. Trivium though, they are most definitely worth waiting for. It was a great performance. I only have two regrets; I wish Trivium had come onto the stage sooner, and I wish they’d stayed there longer too. I wanted more!

Uh, what else can I say? Well I think we (the crowd) did a fantastic job; Paolo (Trivium’s bass guitarist) even tweeted that we were joint best crowd on the tour…so that’s something to be proud of. I realize I’ve only seen a handful of bands live, but I have to say that Trivium are far superior to everybody else when it comes to entertaining the audience (take note Tremonti and In This Moment). They made us want to be loud and raucous. I can’t wait to see them again!

And that’s about it…oh wait! I almost forgot, but at the end of Trivium’s gig, Vanna got one of Matt Madiro’s drumsticks! She really had to fight for it, but she snatched it out of some other girl’s grasp so we now have two Trivium drumsticks (Vanna got the old drummer’s stick a few gigs back) along with several plectrums. We’re building quite a collection! Well, Vanna is. But I’m married to her, so it’s my collection too, right? Even if it isn’t, I have a badass Trivium hoodie that came with the album, and that is arguably as good as a drumstick (the album is pretty fantastic too!).

So that’s the news from our latest Trivium experience. What’s next for us? Well, I have another interview tomorrow, and I’m working on a second game story for another Bioware writing position. I think I applied too late for the first job (the ad closed two days after I posted) but this position might work better for me anyway.  And now that I have some experience of Twine, I should stand a better chance of getting it…providing I apply in time, of course! Anyway, I’ll post a link to my second story sometime next week.

A’right, I think that’s it. I’ll speak to you guys later!







*Edit: One thing I hate about writing gig reviews is using the correct terminology regarding the bands. To me, it should be “Trivium are” not “Trivium is.” I realize that’s wrong, but it is a difficult habit to break. So, uh, apologies for any grammar mistakes above.*





Cultivate Festival…From The Outside.

Another Photography On The Citadel

Howdy all,

Sorry for the slight delay for this post, had some reports to transcribe…and I forgot I still had pictures for you.

Anyway, after our trip to Duluth, Vanna and I finished our anniversary week (I realize this was a while back now…) with a visit to her grandparents in the cities. On Friday we went to a car show, and then on Saturday we attended the Cultivate Festival in Minneapolis.

Well…sort of attended it. Because of the crazy amount of people going to the festival, we ended up parking over a mile from the park venue. After a long walk – humidity and heat only made it feel longer – we eventually arrived late to a jam-packed Loring park. The thousands of people did not deter Sharissa or Vanna, but it was too much for me, especially as I already wasn’t that keen on the festival…

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Grand Marais (North Shore Part 4!)

Another Photography On The Citadel

Howdy folks,

Here we are at the fourth and final photography album of our anniversary trip to the North Shore. It’s been quite a journey, but it had to end eventually, right? If it is any consolation, I couldn’t have picked a better place for the finale.

So, after stops at many waterfall/river based locations, we headed to our final destination: Grand Marais, the coolest small town in America. Here’s the slideshow!

Grand Marais is such a beautiful town, isn’t it? So picturesque, so…perfect. It was a shame we had to leave so quickly. It’s definitely somewhere I want to go again…ideally for more than a couple of hours. In some ways, it reminded me of home. I really, really liked it there. And even though the experience was painfully short, I’ll treasure the memories.


Ah well. Maybe next summer we’ll go back. I know Vanna would like that too.

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