I’m not a very prolific Twitter user. This might seem odd for someone whose work involves social media, but most of that work is actually done through my office’s account. We don’t use personal Twitter accounts at work, and at home I tend to spend more time on Facebook, where the intricate privacy options allow me to exercise a bit more discretion in terms of who’s allowed to see what (a big plus when your work is politically sensitive).
What I probably would tweet about, if I bothered to make time for it, is St. Paul stuff — people, places, events, etc. Fortunately, St. Paulites who want to know what’s going on around town have some much better options than me. Here are a few of my favorites:
Chao Xiong (Star Tribune)
Beat: St. Paul and Ramsey County public safety
Twitter handle: @ChaoStrib
Frederick Melo (Pioneer Press)
Beat: St. Paul urban life, politics, neighborhoods
Twitter handle: @FrederickMelo
Ben Garvin (Pioneer Press)
Twitter handle: @bengarvin
Mara Gottfried (Pioneer Press)
Beat: St. Paul public safety
Twitter handle: @MaraGottfried
Julio Ojeda-Zapata (Pioneer Press)
Beat: Technology (with an eye on the local angle)
Twitter handle: @ojezap
Emily Gurnon (Pioneer Press)
Beat: Ramsey County courts
Twitter handle: @EmilyGurnon
Know some other good ones? Post them in the comments.
One advantage of living in St. Paul is the parking situation: since there are never any people here, you can basically park wherever you want. Even in Lowertown — the one part of downtown St. Paul that shows regular signs of human activity after 5 p.m. — you can usually find an open meter space. Street parking is ample, and generally free after 4:30; this means that, unlike in Minneapolis, you can have a night on the town without getting bilked at some overpriced parking ramp.
Until last weekend, I believed it was basically impossible for anyone with a modicum of intelligence to park illegally in St. Paul. On Friday, however, my wife and I apparently stumbled upon the one block in the entire city that has a weird, arcane parking restriction in place: Wall Street.
Specifically, I mean the stretch of Wall Street between Fourth and Fifth Streets, right next to the St. Paul Farmer’s Market. We parked there for about an hour and a half while we had dinner two blocks away at Trattoria Da Vinci. When we got back, there was a $33 parking ticket jammed under my windshield wiper. Huh? We double-checked the restrictions printed on the meter; nothing was there to indicate we were parked illegally. My wife checked the other cars parked in front of us; all of them had been ticketed too. Confused, I walked a little further up the street and finally noticed a sign stating that parking was prohibited between 6 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday.
Not a bad deal for the city, I thought. My wife and I go out to dinner in Lowertown on a Friday evening, they get $33 of my money. But why? Maybe it has to do with the farmer’s market. They’re probably trying to keep people from blocking delivery trucks on Saturday mornings — which is fine. But why can’t I park there on a Friday evening? The vendors aren’t going to roll up at 7 p.m. Friday, unload their merchandise and then wait around in the cold for 12 hours.
I’m surprised the uber-proactive Lowertown Entertainment District isn’t lobbying the city to change this. It’s an unusual, annoying rule that could discourage potential business patrons. Yeah, I know; it’s my fault. I should’ve paid closer attention to the street signs. But seriously, has anyone else ever heard of a street in downtown St. Paul where you can’t park after 4:30 p.m.? And if they’re going to have that restriction, why not print it clearly on the meters so people notice it? Better yet, why not have a parking enforcement officer put hoods on the meters? I mean, since they’re obviously in the area anyway…
One of the fringe benefits of working at the Legislature is having a front-row seat to all the activity that goes on in and around the Capitol Building. Usually it’s some kind of protest, but there are a couple of unique events that happen every year that always make me stop and look. Yesterday, the Minnesota Street Rod Association held their annual rally on the Capitol Mall. I don’t know what it is about these guys, but they always seem to pick a day when the weather is absolutely perfect. While the House was engrossed in a protracted debate on — appropriately — a transportation policy bill, I walked outside and snapped some pictures.
In hard times like these, it’s wise to get your kicks for free whenever possible. Yesterday, Patty and I (along with an eager group of friends) took Summit Brewing Company’s almost-too-good-to-be-true complimentary tour of its St. Paul brewery — and I have to say that it’s about as good a time as you can have for free anywhere.
Be advised that if you want to take the tour yourself, you’ll probably have to book it a few weeks in advance, as open slots fill up quickly. The tour is popular, and the source of its popularity can probably be summed up neatly in two words: FREE BEER.
Let me emphasize that that this is neither only sole nor the best reason to take the tour. There is an educational aspect to the Summit Brewery tour that any true beer enthusiast will appreciate. (I, being among other things the proud owner of an autographed copy of Doug Hoverson’s excellent Land of Amber Waters: The History of Brewing in Minnesota, consider myself an enthusiast, if not a connoisseur, of beer.)
The tour guides, who are all volunteers (technically, though several of them said they are unofficially paid in beer) know a great deal about not only the brewing process but also the history of brewing. If you want to know why India Pale Ales are so hoppy or what the difference is between craft breweries and microbreweries (think production volume), the tour guides can tell you that and a whole lot more.
Of course, for those philistines who have no real interest in the art of brewing (shame!), the introductory lecture and the walk-through of the brewery itself are something you’ll just have to endure before you get to the free beer part of the tour. Summit is incredibly generous in letting patrons of their brewery sample their products. Each tour participant is given three tokens at the door, each of which is good for one “sample” of Summit beer. Luckily, Summit’s idea of a “sample” is pretty much a full-sized beer. My advice: bring along a spouse who doesn’t drink. That way you get extra tokens!
The above is one of many “traffic calming” artistic street signs currently located on George Street on St. Paul’s West Side. Patty noticed them on her way to work one day. According to this report by WCCO, the signs don’t really accomplish their intended purpose of slowing traffic, but they definitely add some eccentric charm to the neighborhood.
You can see my pictures of the signs here.
For the, er, benefit of all Twin Citians…
Created using info obtained from Vita.mn. Also check out RNC Bars.
The amount of cool places that I continually discover within just a few miles my house never ceases to amaze me. Tonight Patty and I took a walk through some trails at the Dodge Nature Center in West St. Paul. It’s an environmental education center for school-aged children, but it also offers free hiking trails for the general public. Apparently, it’s a bit under-used; as with most places we go to in St. Paul, Patty and I were literally the only people there tonight.
I didn’t really know what the place was before we went (I’d never even heard of it before), and I was pretty amazed to walk up to the map board, look to my left and see a hawk, an owl and a Bald Eagle sitting in a series of raptor mews. (Man, that eagle! I’d never actually seen one up close before. They are beautiful — and huge.) Apparently, the birds are all injured or imprinted. We also ran across a functioning apiary (bee colonies), animal barns, ponds and a variety of wildlife. We only walked through about a fourth of the trails there; we’ll have to come back for the rest.
Any place you can walk around and run into a Bald Eagle is pretty cool, so you outdoor enthusiasts out there should check it out for yourselves. One word of caution: I did pick up a wood tick. MPR says there is an abundance of them this year because of the cool, wet weather. Yay for Minnesota.
More pictures here.