Tag Archives: Minnesota

#37 Game. Set. Match.

29 Feb

Some things in life are hard to explain.

Like how or why did I get so into tennis? No one in my family ever played the game. Heck, I don’t think anyone in the small South Dakota town where I grew up did either.

Maybe it was Wimbledon? I can remember watching tennis on TV as a kid in the 80’s. Since the only courts I’d ever seen were made of concrete, the green grass mesmerized me. I was completely enthralled by the power and artistry of the game on the green lawns of ol’ England.

My first tennis hero in the 80’s and 90’s was Andre Agassi. I loved his crazy clothes and daring style, but most of all I was enthralled by the precision of his strokes. He was like a metronome back there on the baseline – pop-pop-pop. I’m convinced he would have won a bunch more Grand Slams if it weren’t for that dang Pete Sampras!

My all-time favorite, though, is Rafael Nadal. I love everything about his game – the power, the spins, the crazy angles and more. Most of all I love that he’s a fighter (albeit one of the nicest fighters the game has ever seen).

My own game? Well, it’s not nearly as polished of course. I depend on a healthy dose of defense and speed to win a lot of matches. Whatever the final score, though, I just love to play.

I love everything about the game – trying to hit the perfect shot, working on my serve, going for angles… everything!

I read somewhere that singles tennis is the perfect game for introverts and that’s so true! In what other sport are you out there for two or three hours at a time completely on your own? Although it drives me crazy some times, I love the solitude and mental battle that goes into each match.

OK, now on to this past year! And what a year it was!

My goal was to play 60 matches. Mission accomplished – I played 67. I also made several tournament semifinals, survived a number of bruising injuries and finished the year ranked number six in my level and region (USTA Northern 4.0). The highlight, though, was winning the fall Baseline league at the University of Minnesota! That was definitely one of the happiest days of the year for me!

Anyway, I’m a bit of a numbers nerd, so here are some of the stats I kept track of during the year:

Overall record: 42-24-1 (OK, I know there aren’t supposed to be ties in tennis, but you try playing in 100 degree weather with humidity levels pushing 80! Haha)

Total games won: 654
Total games lost: 515
Total games played: 1169

Total matches played: 67
Total time (hours): 134
Total time (days): 5.58

Total miles run: 103.6 🙂

Photo: Very happy after winning the fall league!

Photo: Top of the end-of-year rankings for USTA Northern.


#34 Click! My 22 favorite photos from 2011

29 Jan

I’ve always loved taking photos, but ask me what makes a great picture and I’d probably say, “Luck.”

So, I decided to call up Sarah (of the award-winning Sarah Beth Photography) to see if I could learn a few tips from a professional photographer.

Over the course of an hour I learned all about framing, aperture, shutter speed, ISO, lens length, file formats, editing (hooray for white balance) and way more! Wow, I have a totally new level of respect for professional photographers!

The most important lesson of all? Well, there were actually two of them.

First, I need to buy a DSLR and just start experimenting. I’ve always been a little overwhelmed by all the controls on DSLR’s, but with a few tips and words of encouragement from Sarah, I think I’m ready to take the plunge.

Second thing I learned? There is SO much I don’t know about photography and photo editing! But, that’s exciting, too, because it means there’s so much to learn.

Hope you like my favorite photos from 2011. And watch out because with all these new photography tips, 2012 is going to be amazing!

Click! Click! Click!

Photo: Sunrise over the Swiss Alps – my favorite photo of the year (Nendaz, Switzerland)

Photo: Disappearing down a back alley (Nice, France)

Photo: V on our tenth anniversary (Charmey, Switzerland)

Photo: U2 live – or is it? (Minneapolis, USA)

Photo: Sunset over Lake Mendota (Madison, WI, USA)

Photo: Welcome to the hobbit trail (Montreux, Switzerland)

Photo: The Mill City district near the Stone Arch Bridge (Minneapolis, USA)

Photo: Bachalpsee high above the Alps (Grindelwald, Switzerland)

Photo: The end of summer (Minneapolis, USA)

Photo: Evening on the St. Croix River (Afton, MN, USA)

Photo: Hiking a slot canyon (New Mexico, USA)

Photo: IMD graduation party (Lausanne, Switzerland)

Photo: Joaquin rockin’ out in the basement (Minneapolis, USA)

Photo: The toy doesn’t stand a chance (Minneapolis, USA)

Photo: Dusk falls on the Mississippi River (Reno, MN, USA)

Photo: A burst of fall color in the city (Minneapolis, USA)

Photo: Alone in the Alps (Grosse Scheidegg, Switzerland)

Photo: A perfect day on the St. Croix River (Afton, MN, USA)

Photo: Star Wars birthday cake (Minneapolis, USA)

Photo: Zooey goes for a swim (Afton, MN, USA)

Photo: Sun and “Terre Battue” (Monte Carlo, Monaco)

Photo: Window seat (Greenland)

#28 Lights! Cameras! Hippies?

27 Nov

The other day I came across a newspaper obituary for my grandfather William John Henry Reubold. I remembered most of the information, but I was surprised to read that he studied aerospace engineering at NYU and played the violin. I had no idea!

During his later years, my grandfather started recording his life’s story on a series on cassette tapes. I was there with him in the fall of 2008 when he recorded his final thoughts. It was a powerful moment hearing him talk about his wishes for his family once he was gone.

It also made me realize how many great stories are lost as older generations pass away. So, I asked my dad if he’d be up for doing a similar video history of his life.

Now you have to know something about my dad. He likes being photographed / recorded on video about as much as a cat likes taking a bath. Frankly I was surprised he even said “yes”!

He was a great storyteller, though!

Photo: A new chapter – My mom, dad and I on Long Island in the early 1970’s.

With help from my friend Eve (check out her amazing Minnesota Niche video series), I was able to record my dad talking about growing up in New York, meeting my mom, traveling the country, raising kids, and yes, being a hippy. The questions I asked are below.

It will probably take me some time to finish the video, so you’ll have to check back later for stories about living on Long Island in the 50’s, traveling the country in a van with a clam shell painted on the side in the 60’s, losing license plates in Mexico, being held at gunpoint in Texas, driving all night to California while a hitch-hiker played his guitar and tambourine, building a house from scratch in South Dakota, starting a new life in Minnesota, exploring the country (slowly!) by boat and much more!

I’m really happy that my dad’s stories (so far!) are preserved for future generations, though.


1. When and where were you born?
2. How did your family come to live there?
3. What is your earliest childhood memory?
4. What was it like growing up on Long Island in the 1950’s? What did you do for fun?
5. Did you have any brothers and sisters?
6. Were you a good kid or did you get into trouble?
7. What’s your favorite childhood memory?
8. What were holidays like in your family?
9. What was it like to be a teenager in the 60’s?
10. Where did you go to school?
11. What do you remember from your high school years?
12. Were you aware of the momentous changes taking place around the country at the time?
13. When and where did you meet my mom? What was she like then?
14. Were you really a couple hippies? What was it like being a hippy in the 1960’s and early 70’s?
15. What was your favorite road trip during that time?
16. How did life change when my sister and I came into the picture in the early 1970’s?
17. When did you decide to leave New York and what was that decision like?
18. Where did you end up and why?
19. Talk about the Atlanta years? What was life like in Georgia?
20. Why did the family return to South Dakota in 1980?
21. What was life like in the Black Hills? What’s your favorite memory from that time?
22. What was your profession and how did you choose it? Did you enjoy it? Any projects you’re really proud of?
23. In the early 1990’s the family moved to Minnesota. What was that transition like?
24. What do you remember from life in the Twin Cities in the 90’s and 2000’s?
25. Tell me about your parents – what were they like growing up and in later years?
26. You spent nearly 40 years with my mom before she passed away. What are some of your fondest memories?
27. What are some of your happiest moments or memories from over the years?
28. What events have had the biggest impact on you throughout your life?
29. What have been some of the biggest changes in the world during your lifetime?
30. Any regrets or things you wish you’d done different?
31. What is the one thing you most want people to remember about you?
32. If you had a message for your grandkids, what would it be?
33. Any questions you wish I’d ask or things I missed?

#24 How to disappear without really trying

24 Oct

Step 1: Throw a dart at the map.

Step 2: Grab a collection of your favorite road trip CDs.

Step 3: Lock the door and go.

Pretty much spur of the moment, I thought, “This is a good weekend to escape – perfect weather, no responsibilities, nothing better to do.” So, on Saturday morning Zooey and I piled into the car and took off.

Most of the time we were chasing dotted lines (the map marks scenic routes with dashes) and searching for towns I’d read about in local magazines.

I had no idea how far we’d go or where we’d stop, but over the course of 420 miles we visited southeastern Minnesota, northeastern Iowa and a sliver of western Wisconsin. We stopped in good ol’ fashioned Midwestern towns like Lanesboro, Decorah and Rushford. And yes, we saw a heck of a lot of corn!

To those of us from big city Minneapolis, this part of the country is known for it’s antiques, rural bike paths, Amish heritage and hills. Three out of four isn’t bad. As someone who grew up in the Black Hills of South Dakota, I had to chuckle at what southern Minnesotans and Iowans consider “hills”!

All in all, Zooey and I had a great time discovering new places along the way, and the miles just seemed to fly by. Probably helped that the radio was on full blast most of the way. I loved listening to Radiohead while passing Amish buggies, U2’s Rattle and Hum while cruising along the Mississippi River (“And the delta sun burns bright and violet / Mississippi and the cotton wool heat…”), and my favorite techno tracks while flying down the Interstate (90, of course… it’s always 90) as day turned to night.

Anyway, hope you enjoy the photos below.

Oh, and I’d highly encourage escaping for a weekend, too, if it suits your fancy.

You just might want to pick somewhere a little more exciting than Iowa, though. 🙂

Photo: So many roads. So many options. So many corn fields.

Photo: A bit of Midwestern humor.

Photo: A pretty common site in this part of the country.

Photo: Walking the streets of Lanesboro.

Photo: Field of Dreams?

Photo: A little bit of American history.

Photo: A typical storefront in Lanesboro.

Photo: Traffic in the country.

Photo: A common site on the prairie.

Photo: A museum in Decorah, Iowa.

Photo: Zooey taking a break (and happy to be out of the car!).

Photo: High above the Oneota River in Decorah.

Photo: Bridge over the Mississippi River to Wisconsin.

Photo: The mighty Mississippi at dusk.

Photo: Picking up a perfect roadside pumpkin just in time for Halloween.

Photo: Taking one more break before heading home.

#21 Hmm, what’s that sound?

19 Sep

All week I’d been watching the weather forecast for the weekend. Is it going to be nice? Is it going to rain? Since winter in Minnesota is right around the corner (seriously), I knew I was running out of time to go camping with Zooey.

So, when the sun came out on Saturday afternoon, I grabbed my gear and hit the road. (Note to self: Next time check gear before departing.)

Our destination was Wild River State Park north of the Twin Cities. I’d never been there before, but the description of forests and prairies along the St. Croix River sounded good.

An hour later, we were pulling into our campsite – a perfect little space tucked away in the woods.

I’m embarrassed to admit this, but the last time I’d slept in the tent was about seven years ago! No problem. I had the whole campsite set up in about 15 minutes.

Before dinner, I decided to take Zooey out for a nice 3-mile hike around the park. After an initial diversion down a trail that wasn’t actually a trail, we found our way to the St. Croix River. Followed that south for a while before veering west through the forest and prairie. It was a perfect late afternoon for a hike! (Photos below)

We arrived back at camp around 6PM with just enough daylight to fire up the Swedish cookstove and make some dinner. Gotta love the Swedish cookstove! That thing is amazing and so easy to use. I actually ate really well – black beans and rice with fresh avocado and tomato. Tasted great going down… with the emphasis on going down. More on that later.

Zooey was terrific the whole time – just hanging out and enjoying the sites and sounds of the forest.

After dinner, we went over to the amphitheater for the evening ranger program. I’m such a sucker for ranger programs. Good times!

Back at camp, I started another fire and just chilled out for a while.

That’s when things started getting crazy.

I was sitting there thinking, “I had a great day hiking, setting up camp, cooking dinner, going to the evening program… but now it’s only 8:45PM… should I just go home now? Hmm, sleeping in my own bed sure sounds nice.”

So, I put Zooey in the car and took down the whole camp in the dark! I was down to the last tent pole when I turned off the flashlight and stood there for a moment in the moonlight.

“What the hell am I doing?” I don’t know if I said it out loud, but I was sure thinking it. “I wanted to go camping and now I’m standing here packing up. This is ridiculous.”

So, I took everything back out of the car and set up camp – AGAIN – in the dark! Yes, if you think that sounds crazy that would be a fair assessment. 🙂

Around 9PM Zooey and I ducked into the tent to go to sleep. I knew it would be a pretty chilly night, so I tried covering her with a blanket. She was having none of it. She was up and down and up and down for about 15 minutes before finally settling down for the night.

As soon as I lay down, I heard a noise.


“Damn it! The air mattress has a hole in it!”

Now, it’s only a two-inch thick mattress, but it sure helps when sleeping on the hard ground. How do I know it’s hard ground? Because after 10 minutes the air had gone out of the mattress and I was laying on it.

Nonetheless I thought, “I came out to go camping and damnit I’m gonna camp!”

After trying to get comfortable for what I thought was 20 or 30 minutes I grabbed my phone to check the time. 11:15PM.

“OK, that’s it. I’m outta here.”

Yes, at 11:30PM I broke camp in the dark – AGAIN!

Zooey and I got home at 1AM and I have to tell you, my bed never felt so good! (And no, I don’t feel bad at all about bailing in the middle of the night. Makes for a better story anyway.)

P.S. I don’t know what it is about me and beans from a box, but it’s a good thing I decided to drive home in the middle of the night. My stomach was not at all happy this morning. Talk about The Bighorn Chili Incident Part 2. 🙂

Photo: Hitting the trail.

Photo: “T” in the forest.

Photo: The scenic St. Croix River facing Wisconsin.

Photo: Taking a break on the prairie.

Photo: The Swedish cookstove in action.

Photo: Exhibit “A” – beans and rice from a box.

#14 Now we’ve got Momentum

31 Jul

OK, so most of the items on this list are things “I” wanted to do throughout the year, but this one was truly a group effort.

During the Spring of 2011, the Institute on the Environment (where I work) launched the Momentum 2011 speaker series. Our goal: Bring three of the world’s leading environmental thinkers to the Twin Cities for an evening filled with entertainment, information and inspiration.

We kicked off the series with eco-entrepreneur Majora Carter and the Ananya Dance Theater. Next up was the highly-entertaining (and surprising talkative for a Swede) Hans Rosling with comedian Cy Amundsen.

My favorite of the bunch was the last one, though – deep sea diver Sylvia Earle with musician Mason Jennings.

Throughout the series, I had the good fortune of driving all of the speakers around town for a series of meetings and interviews we’d arranged. Majora was a lot of fun and really polite, while Hans was a bundle of energy and questions.

Sylvia was probably the most insightful, though. I had a great time asking her questions about exploring the ocean, fighting to change policies and getting people to care about the environment. She truly is a living legend and I feel honored to have been able to spend time with her.

For me, Sylvia’s presentation  was also the most inspiring of the bunch. On a couple occasions I had to hold back the tears. She had such a powerful and simple message – “When you know. There’s no excuse not to act.”

If you haven’t watched the video from her talk, please take 30 minutes and check it out. You won’t be disappointed.

Thanks team, for putting on such a fabulous, and yes, successful event series. Can’t wait for Momentum 2012!

p.s. Here’s another GREAT video with highlights from the whole series.