Monthly Archives: January 2012

Lights On


When you’re first learning something new, it’s a mix of adrenaline, excitement and uncertainty. A bit like being in the dark. But little by little, lesson by lesson, light pierces through the darkness. Things start to make sense.

Language is one of those things. Tonight, I volunteered at a Jesuit high school helping a senior student and her dad fill out the FAFSA for college financial aid…in Spanish. You see, when I introduce myself to Spanish speakers, I’m often met with polite skepticism as “un gringo de la granja” (foreigner from the farm). But, then I keep talking. And the skepticism fades to surprise and a smile as I conjugate the crap out of -ar, -er and -ir verbs at a respectable rate. I make no pretenses of having perfect Spanish. Far from it. I have fun with it and make jokes at my own expense, while being coached by native speakers. I expect that I will forever be learning linguistic nuances.

I have an insatiable curiosity to be clued in to Latin culture, and I have no idea where this comes from. Over the past 17 years, lesson by lesson, the Spanish language has ignited in my brain, piercing pockets of light through the darkness and creating an ear attuned to the sounds of el español. Here tonight I reflect on the lights: the lights on learning.

January 11th, 2012|Photography|Comments Off on Lights On

Pin it to Win it

Pin it to Win it

One of the things I find most fascinating in my digital job is to watch the Diffusion of Innovations theory in action. Particularly when there’s an initial barrier to participation, whether it be beta testing, cost, exclusivity (invite only) or other reasons, which then make that flashy object more intriguing and desirable. When a new social media concept emerges, there’s a sense of discovery and excitement as well as curiosity. Then, it reaches a tipping point when the phase of early adopters transitions to early majority and soon you and all your friends are signing up for something new. Because who wants to be left out of the party? Right?

Such is my experience with Pinterest, an online pin board where you can organize and share the things you love. You pin. Your friends pin. And your homepage is filled with curios that your friends, both real and Internet-introduced, have tagged. In a way, Pinterest reminds me of antique shopping…you never know what you might find on each visit.

Once you’ve got the concept, Pinterest is super simple. But is the idea “sticky?” What’s the motivation to return? Lots of great ideas are pinned on the site, but do people actually do something with them or just admire them? Or is it really about the intent to someday try them? Last week, I felt good about pinning the recipe for the decadent Caramel deLights/Samoas cookies. In reality, it sounds way easier to wait for the Girls Scouts to deliver a $5 box to my front door. By all means though if you’re bored, check out my boards. And call me when you bake some Samoas.

I’m game to keep exploring Pinterest, but I can’t waste any time. Gotta Pin it to Win it!

January 10th, 2012|Photography|Comments Off on Pin it to Win it

Mothership Monday

Mothership Wit

Some Mondays simply call for a Mothership. Trivia: Did you know the term mother ship dates back to the 19th century whaling trade, when small, fast ships were used to chase and kill whales? According to Wikipedia, the meat from several boats was then brought back to the larger, slower ship for processing and storage until the return to land.

January 9th, 2012|Food & Drink|Comments Off on Mothership Monday

Green Gables

Basilica of St. Mary

Today I was thinking about Epiphany Sunday during my photo walk. (Side note: Traditionally in Christianity, the Epiphany falls on the 6th of January, though it’s celebrated in my church the first Sunday following January 1.) I wanted to shoot something green, but finding that unlikely, I headed to the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis.

I circled the basilica hoping to frame a unique photo, but the sky was a boring winter blue. And, then I found it. A green shingled roof on the property. Bingo.

As I thought about my newly taken photo during Mass tonight, I recalled a new translation of the Catholic Mass which reads: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”

While probably not a theologically correct correlation, I wondered to myself, “Who else would I invite under my roof?” and metaphorically speaking, doesn’t all humanity live under the same roof with intertwining lives? The priest shared a message of caring for one another because we’re all in this world together.

I thought about how each of our ideas, words, emotions and actions has a rippling effect on others, in ways that are visible and invisible. I thought about the gifts of the Magi on this Epiphany Sunday—the gold, frankincense and myrrh—and how each person has their own unique gifts to share. Have you recognized your gifts? And, do you let them ripple with family, with friends, with colleagues, even strangers?

Twelve hours later, a seemingly simple, green gabled photo means more. It’s a symbolic invitation for me (and perhaps others) to share your roof, your heart, your gifts and your best self.

January 8th, 2012|Minneapolis, Photography|Comments Off on Green Gables

Power Play

MN vs. Notre Dame Hall of Fame hockey game

My college friend Brian and I went to the Minnesota vs. Notre Dame men’s hockey game. I was excited but a bit conflicted, since it was the first time I’ve seen both my alma maters play competitively. We had great seats behind the goal with the Notre Dame alumni club, so I dutifully donned my Irish gear complete with class ring, but also proudly wore my maroon Minnesota shirt. And, I cheered for everyone and jeered for no one.

Today’s photo was literally milliseconds before Minnesota made a power play goal to tie the score at 1-1 .

What though the odds be great or small,
it wasn’t a Ski-U-Mah, but Old Notre Dame,
who won overall (4-3).

January 7th, 2012|Photography|Comments Off on Power Play

Spontaneous Challenge

Clock at University of St. Thomas - Minneapolis campus

Of all my many middle school activities, I was only on one team. A team for geeks. (It’s true.) I feel safe in sharing this, thanks to the Geek Squad for bringing back the geeks and making them cool. The kind of team that does Thinking Cap Quiz Bowl, Knowledge Master Quiz Bowl and the sort. The kind of crew that’s complimented more for nice neurons than great guns.

This 1994 spring team was for Odyssey of the Mind (OM), a long-term creative problem solving competition. We chose a literary challenge to write and perform a 10-minute play with specific criteria. The six of us were singing mice (with mice accents, obviously) in an opera in Sydney, set of course at the Sydney Opera House. The plot was one of crime and intrigue and sung soliloquies, which I’ve since forgotten probably for good reason. Ironically, our grand finale was inspired by a common sports expression that “the opera ain’t over till the fat lady sings.” Which, of course, was how the tale of opera singing mice in Sydney ended. Naturally.

The second part of the competition was known as “Spontaneous.” Teams would meet in front of a panel of judges in a closed room and be given an on-the-spot spontaneous problem to solve. You’d get a word or phrase, image or concept, and your team would answer Family Feud-style to see how clever you could collectively be. The more original = the more points. And you so want points. When time was up, you’d solemnly swear not to spontaneously share the challenge or be disqualified. (No joke…OM is serious business.)

In the spirit of a Spontaneous challenge, look again at the photo above. What do you see? (When you decide to take a timeout, my answers are below, but please, no judging.)

  • Clock  [Tip: go for the easy points first!]
  • A face
  • A sprocket
  • Measure of time
  • One moment in time
  • Frozen hands
  • A sign of the times
  • 12 signs of the zodiac
  • A full circle protractor
  • A Twister board with a gold spinner
  • A 12-person in ground, public seating area
  • 525,600 minutes
  • A 4-H camp song (From minute to minute, 4-H is really with it. From hour to hour, 4-H has got the power.)
  • Tik Tok by Ke$ha (though I rarely wake up in the mornin’ feelin’ like P. Diddy)
January 6th, 2012|Photography|4 Comments

Periodical Reading

Periodical reading

To say I enjoy reading magazines is an understatement. More accurately though, I subscribe to a lot of magazines. With my travel schedule (personal and work) the past couple years, it seemed more sensible to get a $10 subscription than pay $4.99 per magazine. But lately, there just hasn’t been much time to read them.

I keep thinking that someday soon winter will actually set in. And, I’ll be ready. My 57 magazines and me.

January 5th, 2012|Photography|Comments Off on Periodical Reading

Pure Milk

Milk - J.J. Curry

My earliest memory of milk (no, we’re not going there!) was in Kindergarten. The teacher’s aide (and staff tooth extractor) would pour milk into 25 wax-coated cups after recess and tell us to “Drink your bubbles!” Which was more fun than it probably should have been.

Actually, milk has a special place in my family’s history. My namesake and great-grandfather, J.J. Curry, would milk cows twice a day and deliver bottles to homes around his South Dakota town. He was both a dairyman and farmer until 1935, when as my grandpa would tell it, J.J. came to a crossroad and had to decide “Was the family’s future in milk production or cornfields?” The outcome: a box of 5,000 unused milk caps and 77 years later, a family seed corn business that’s still going strong.

January 4th, 2012|General, Photography|Comments Off on Pure Milk

Geographic Disorientation

Minneapolis Skyline


Chicago Skyline

From rivers to rails and back again. Tonight I visited the birthplace of Minneapolis…St. Anthony Falls, the only true waterfall on the Mississippi River and the source of water power for sawmills, textile mills and flour mills that would build a city in the mid-1800s. Contrast that with Chicago, a city whose railroads contributed to its rise as a major transportation hub connecting the eastern and western U.S.

One side effect of moving includes a lingering sense of geographic disorientation. By day, I’m in Minneapolis; by night, my mind is in Chicago.

In random moments between being asleep and fully awake, I’ll make a mental checklist of the errands to make, the stores to visit and the roads I’ll take. And, then it hits me that I’m 400 miles away. From Chicago. I won’t be taking the Eisenhower, the Blue Line or Butterfield Road. Or, it suddenly occurs to me that my favorite pizza I’m pining to share with pals is now either a 7-hour drive or a “free” Diet Coke and a bag of pretzels away (if you’re lucky). My daily discourse with McFamily friends has shifted to Likes and comments. And, the two fitness centers (and regulars there) I often saw 5-6 times a week are no longer part of my routine, nor are my running buddies who helped me break a 3 mile plateau to finish my first half-marathon last June.

My four years in Chicagoland were the longest I’ve lived at the same mailing address in my adult life….many memories, stories and laughter shared, and friendships made. These are things not meant to be left behind, but to carry forward. And thanks to technology, I’m ever connected to those who have shaped my life in large ways and small.

It’s said that changing jobs (in addition to a relocation) can be one of the most stressful experiences you have. Luckily for me, it’s been a fun and relatively smooth transition as I find my new groove. I’m thrilled to once again call myself Minnesotan. You betcha.

January 3rd, 2012|Minneapolis, Photography|Comments Off on Geographic Disorientation

Light Squared

ght Squared

The sun came out, but I still welcomed the Skyway on my walk to the IDS Center, the tallest building in the state of Minnesota. Here you can see the glass canopied atrium of the Crystal Court.

January 2nd, 2012|Photography|Comments Off on Light Squared