Archive for the 'Work' Category

Montreal: beer report

Posted by Nate in Beer, Travel, Work.
Wednesday, April 16th, 2008 at 9:37 pm

The trip report wouldn’t be complete without at least a semi-comprehensive writeup of the multitude of brewpubs we visited!  You’ve already read about most of our adventures drinking through Michigan, but the city of Montreal has some gems worth mentioning.

Our first night, which Karen blogged, was spent at one of the walking-distance brewpubs, Les Trois Brasseurs.  Overall: give them a pass.  Not bad, some good "European" flavor, but points deducted for a recurring "off" flavor in all their beers except the very nice Wit.  On the plus side they offer a huge number of beer "cocktails", and Justin and I sampled the Wit plus whisky and maple syrup: a bit sweet, but hell yeah!

The next day I realized the full impact of my post on the conference site which called on all beer geeks to join up and go out – I found myself coordinating more than a dozen people as we struck out the crown jewel of Montreal brewpubs: Dieu du Ciel! (the exclamation point is part of the name!)

It wasn’t too be – hockey playoffs left no room for our posse, so we rode the Metro and walked to L’amère à boire.  It was fantastic!  They had a house pale ale on cask, an imperial stout we tried, a great dunkelweizen, and much more.  This one definitely makes the list of "stop in if you can".

Next day for lunch, determined to hit Dieu du Ciel! that evening, I talked some people into walking through the cold wind to Brutopia.  Another good choice!  We liked it so much I was talked into going there again that night with more people and found the downstairs area where they offered a really amazing I20080415042657_pict0041.jpgPA on cask and a few of their own beers in bottles.  The IPA tasted like "England in a pint" to me: malty and rich with just a nice zap of hops.  Really excellent.  And we sampled a bottle of their maple beer – also nice.  Dry and complex.  Much fun was had by everyone at this one, we lost a few of our earlier members and gained a few new ones.  Here’s a washed out picture so you can see some of the beer list behind me…  So:  go here too, and try to get the cask IPA.  The scotch ale is also a pleaser, as is the excellent mocha chocolate stout.  Mmmm.

20080416050703_img_5557.jpgFinally, we were down to the last night of the conference, and still no Dieu du Ciel!  I announced firmly to anyone that asked that I didn’t care what everyone else did, but I was definitely, no question about it, going to Dieu du Ciel tonight.  So we did – as 20080416201957_img_5562a.jpgsoon as the closing plenary was done, I grabbed Karen and we took a cab to the pub.  Another hockey game was starting soon, but we grabbed a seat at the bar (beer geeks always sit at the bar), and I started massively drooling over their beer list.  It’s seriously phenomenal: I think 17 beers on tap and one on cask.  Started with the maple scotch ale (maple’s a theme here, I think) which was truly amazing.  So good.  There was a peppercorn rye beer, a smoked pale ale, and an "indian cream ale" which was the I-could-drink-a-million-of-these winner for the evening.  We watched hockey and drank beer and life was good.

20080416050755_img_5565.jpgSpeaking of "beer geeks always sit at the bar", I happened to recognize a guy who came in after us – he’d been at Brutopia the night before!  A Canadian in town for business, he’d been making the brewpub rounds just like us!  We struck up a conversation and had much good beer talk, and you can thank him for all these pictures since our camera battery had died.  Beer brings people together, yo… :)

20080415042904_pict0004.jpgFinally it was time to leave.  Entering the US was pretty uneventful, other than a 14+ hour day of driving.  We made it Chicago after stopping in Kalamazoo to visit Bell’s Brewery – come on, I’m not gonna drive through KZoo and not stop at Bell’s!  Another beer trade for some amazing available-only-at-the-brewery bottles and we were back on the road to Chicago.

20080415042916_pict0001.jpgChicago was great, a super-quick meet and great with the crew there – who, to my distress/excitement, are almost all moving to CO in a few weeks!  Got to play a quick round of Garage Band (?), grab some delicious breakfast, and back on the road.

20080415042935_pict0003.jpgI leave you with a road trip self-portrait, snapped in the hubcap of a truck we were passing in Wisconsin.  If I did the math right, and I think I did unless I lost a receipt, the Corolla got about 41 mpg on this trip!!!  Whoa.  Guess that’s what cruise control coupled with Canada’s lower speed limit will do for you??  Anyone have a similar amazing mpg story?

Now trying to recover and catch up at work.  Always hard after the conference because I just want to work on implementing all the cool things I saw and learned and want to steal…

The REAL reason I don’t post any more…

Posted by Nate in Work.
Thursday, April 3rd, 2008 at 9:25 pm

… is because I’ve been working on this little contract project on the side:


Even if you’ve used the site before, give it a try!  The new version is infinitely more easy to use and contains tons of new features: drawing your own route on the map, collecting destinations, printing, reviews, emailing destinations to friends, and more!

If you haven’t seen the site before, check it out!  It’s an ever-growing map-based directory of "green" businesses in Minnesota, with an emphasis on rural locations.  Pretty cool if you’re planning on touring around MN and want to know who deserves your money…

Anyway, the new version went up today.  A few bugs to iron out and then I’m done with this release!

Why I don’t post any more

Posted by Nate in Work.
Friday, March 28th, 2008 at 6:14 am

…well, one of the reasons anyway.  I somehow put off my preparation for a presentation I had to give yesterday on Google Analytics, so the last several nights I’d been trying to condense everything I wanted to say into 10 packed minutes.  Here’s the PDF of my slides and the notes I went off of – ended up mostly sticking to that script since I didn’t have time to ad lib.

It went well, I think people got excited enough they all ran home and put Google Analytics on their website…  :)

How I Spent My Day

Posted by Karen in Weather, Work.
Wednesday, February 20th, 2008 at 10:05 pm

Mary Jo says:

As for you, what are you going to be doing that you’ll have to be outside all day? You didn’t say, and we know it’s not to pull garlic mustard plants or to do any planting anywhere.

Well I’m glad you asked!

Coordinating today’s tours is pretty much all I’ve worked on for the past couple of weeks.  The subzero temps threatened to ruin everything, but man are Minnesotans a hearty folk!  Not only did almost everyone show up for the overbooked tours, but they were all smiling and laughing and full of enthusiasm and appreciation!  I may have been shivering in my 5 layers of long underwear, but I was full of warm fuzzies.  And I got to spend the day with a bunch of amazing rangers from our local unit of the National Park Service and some great people from the Mill City Museum, and a bunch of my coworkers helped out and did an awesome job.  As if all that wasn’t enough, I’ve already received a bunch of great emails from people saying what a great experience it was and thanking us. 

Tell you more, you say?   Well ok!

River Blogging

Posted by Karen in Soapbox, Work.
Thursday, February 14th, 2008 at 11:18 am

All 3 of my dedicated Freshwater Stew readers have probably been wondering what the heck happened to it and why I haven’t posted since June of last year.  Well you know what, I’m gonna tell you what happened.  That blog was born out of excitement over my new awesome job, but also out of a desire to show my new employers and coworkers how cool a Friends of the Mississippi River blog would be.  You just can’t be married to an internet genius without eventually spouting off about Internet 2.0 and online community-building and all that hoo-hah (even if you only half know what you’re talking about).  So the big awesome news is that it worked!  At least a little bit.  We don’t have a comprehensive FMR blog (yet), but we do now have a blog for an FMR program, one which I spend most of my time working on, the Gorge Stewards program. 

Though my employers and coworkers are supportive, it is pretty much my baby.  I created it, I am currently the only one posting on it, and I feel a wee bit of pressure to make it a raging success.  And so friends, family, strangers, I give you:

Read it, comment on it, link to it, spread the word far and wide!  I know, those of you who don’t live anywhere near the Mississippi River may be thinking, I don’t live anywhere near the Mississippi River, why should I care?  To this I say, why do you hate 18 million people?  Because that’s how many get their drinking water from this river.  This here is the 3rd largest river in the world (can anyone name the 2 largest?  Anyone?), and drains 41% of the continental U.S – 31 states and 2 Canadian provinces.  Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Birder alert:  Yes twitchers, it’s true, there is already a bird post!

Holy update, batman!

Posted by Nate in Day to Day, Family, Friends, Work.
Thursday, August 9th, 2007 at 10:02 pm

Well, I finally remembered the password to the blog so I can update it (just kidding, we were just busy)…

j_bach1.jpgA belated picture from Justin’s baseball game bachelor party – he got to play a game on the field and had to try to throw balls past a goalie.  My only gripe with the Saints (hi, Cody!) is that their fabulous prizes are sometimes just medium.  Ah well, we tailgated and a good time was had by all!

veggies.jpgKaren and I are once again part of a CSA share – that’s Community Supported Agriculture.  We’re splitting the share with two friends, so we’re getting half – but believe me, it’s a lot.  Today, for instance: breakfast was CSA potatoes, green pepper, bought corn and onion and hot pepper, and friend’s tomato slices, lunch was slow-cooked cabbage and apples and spices, and so on.  Lots of veggies.

s_car.jpgSierra’s POS car finally died an ungraceful death.  I believe it’s been towed and donated as I type.  The brakes went out on her in rush hour traffic on the interstate.  Unreal.  There was just enough pressure she could slow by pumping the hell out of them…  Glad she’s safe, and glad that guy’s gone.  This shot is her getting the last of her stuff out after we abandoned it in front of someone’s house for the weekend.

brunoellie.jpgWe dog sat a beautiful white lab-ish dog from Nicaragua – via friends of Sierra but currently being minded by the Walshes while the friends hike the Appalachian Trail.  Wonderful dog, but shed an unbelievable amount of white fur.  Combined with Bruno’s we were vacuuming every other day – a terrible gray mixture of fluffy dog hair.  But she sure was cute!

s_challenge.jpgThe Mississippi River Challenge happened!  One of the most work-intensive weekends of my recent memory, combined with a lot of "hurry up and wait"…  At left is a shot of Sierra on night one describing how she’s going to attack the river tomorrow — lies, as it turned out…  phillips.jpgBut, hey, look at all those bottles!  Who could paddle fast after a night like that?  Well, look to the right:  these guys.  Steve and Jack and Trevor came in literally 10th out of … a lot of paddlers.  I know it’s not a race, but woo hoo!

kp_challenge.jpgAt left is Karen at the Fort laying down the law at the ID tent.  Nice walkie talkie…

And there you have it.  It’s been, how do you say…  busy.

Mississippi River Challenge update

Posted by Nate in Day to Day, Work.
Thursday, August 2nd, 2007 at 6:42 pm

bridge_wide.jpgThe news helicopters got to the bridge site pretty quickly last night and all the stations were running as many live shots as they could before they cleared the airspace for rescue helicopters.  It was in one of these live shots, finally a wide perspective from above, that I realized how much of the bridge had gone into the river.  I asked Karen, "what’s that going to do to your event this weekend??"  She just shook her head – clearly, there would be no canoes and kayaks going through that stretch of the Mississippi.

mississippi.jpgThe Coast Guard has closed the river from mile 848 to 857 (mile 0 is the gulf).  I think 857 is right about at the end of the channel that the Corps of Engineers keeps clear to a 9 feet depth for barge traffic, so the northern closure is essentially at the end of the navigable river.  The south side (see map at right) is just two miles north of Fort Snelling — the intended overnight halfway point for the Challenge — near the Ford Lock and Dam.

This afternoon the Corps of Engineers worked to lower the river at the bridge collapse site by opening some of the roller gates at the Ford Dam.  This sped the flow upstream and dropped the water level 2 feet for recovery workers trying to get access to the debris, and I imagine it means the downstream side of the dam will see a similar rise in level.  Apparently that section of the Mississippi is only at 15% flow right now anyway due to drought, and this would put it closer to non-drought conditions.

So FMR was faced with a decision: cancel the entire thing, change the route, or do a partial event — and then wait for the Coast Guard to approve whatever new plan they came up with.  From their site this afternoon:

"We are sensitive to the range of emotions that follow tragedies like this — we are feeling them with you. We understand that some of you may no longer have the desire to participate in the Mississippi River Challenge this year, but we are also hearing from many paddlers and volunteers who do want to continue with the event this weekend — and that we understand as well."

Their website is yet to be updated, but I just heard from Karen that they have heard back from the Coast Guard and decided to go forward with the second half of the paddle as planned, putting in at Fort Snelling on Sunday morning.  There will be more details forthcoming, but I feel like this is the right decision — for a number of reasons, but primarily because of their transparent, sensitive, and very deliberate considerations during the decision making process.  It’s going to be an emotional journey down the river, but I think it’s important to go forward — albeit respectfully and carefully.

Support a paddler, protect the river!

Posted by Karen in Family, Work.
Monday, June 25th, 2007 at 11:59 am

Nate’s sister Sierra (the Pinolera), my brother Steve, and my dad have all accepted the challenge – the Mississippi River Challenge!   On August 4th and 5th they will all paddle the Twin Cities section of the Mississippi River to raise money for Friends of the Mississippi River.  Nate and I will both be volunteering at the event, probably helping out at rest stops along the way and coordinating the fun at Fort Snelling, where paddlers camp on the 4th. 

How can you be a part of this amazing event you ask?  Why, just look to the right!  Help Sierra, Steve, and Pa Phillips meet, nay, EXCEED their fundraising goals!  Click on the link and donate away!  Every little bit helps, and it all adds up to help us do a whole lot more work for this mighty river! 

(And a big thank you to those of you who have already donated!)

Garlic Mustard Omission

Posted by Karen in Work.
Tuesday, May 1st, 2007 at 2:33 pm

I realized that I completely neglected to mention that another Schroeder participated in the first garlic mustard event at Pine Bend.  The Pinolera was my super volunteer for that event, and participated all on her own free will, no coercion involved.  And sorry Nate, but I think THIS is what kicking ass really looks like!

Duo Team Attack on Invasive Species, Part 1!

Posted by Karen in Work.
Monday, April 30th, 2007 at 1:37 pm

I finally roped Nate in to one of my work events!  He has been conveniently "out of town" for all of the events so far, but found himself with no excuse this past Saturday.  And so… Duo Team attacked garlic mustard!   I say  "Part 1" in the title, because I fully intend to rope him in to other such events in the future.  It was awesome for me to have someone help haul all the gear and get set up, not to mention that he’s a handy guy to have around when it comes to things like hanging banners in high places.  And though he seemed sort of resigned to his fate at first, he hadn’t been pulling garlic mustard for very long when I heard him saying to himself in true Nator fashion, "I kick ass at this!"  I think he has a bright future as a Friends of the Mississippi River volunteer. 

(For more on the actual event, go to Freshwater Stew!)