West St. Paul Reader Member Drive

I’m in the midst of a member drive for my local, neighborhood news site, West St. Paul Reader. We do hyper-local news—like City Council, new restaurants in town, and local election coverage. We’re supported by members—neighbors, really (it’s a small suburb)—hence a year-end push to grow our support.

So far it’s a big success. We hit our initial goal last week—25 new or upgraded members—and then hit one of our ongoing goals—200 total members. Now we’re pushing for 225 members and then our big goal of 250 members—when we’ll add coverage of local school board meetings.

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2022 in Music: Spotify Unwrapped

It’s the time of year when we rehash the year with lists, so here’s my year in music. It’s courtesy of Spotify Unwrapped again, which is still a goofy, app-only, mess of a user interface. But oh well, the basics are there.

I listened to 47,914 minutes of music (more than 91% of users), accounting for 5,964 songs, 2,691 different artists, and 83 different genres. (Here are last year’s stats for the sake of comparison.) I play music while I work, often tuning the music out if I’m really focused, so that’s why I have such ridiculous stats.

Supposedly my top five genres are indie pop, pop, stomp and holler, rock, and alt z (what is alt z?).

Top Songs

  1. “Hot & Heavy” by Lucy Dacus (41 times)
  2. “Holiday (Green Day)” by Half Past Two
  3. “Glowing Review” by Maisie Peters
  4. “Love Me More” by Mitski
  5. “The Story of Us” by Taylor Swift

I’m always looking for a good ear worm, so here are some highlights from my top 100 songs:

  • “The Last Great Sweetheart of the Grand Electric Rodeo” by Sarah and the Safe Word
  • “Cannonball” by Avril Lavigne
  • “My World” by Koren Grace
  • “Who Are You” by Diet Cig
  • “Growing Up” by The Linda Lindas
  • “Raise Up” by Semler
  • “Got Away” by Kady Rain
  • “Under You” by Charly Bliss
  • “F*****g Up What Matters” by Tegan and Sara
  • “Road to Paradise” by TAT
  • “Rehab” by People Planet
  • “Full Metal Black” by The Royal They
  • “Irrelevant” by P!nk
  • “Gay Kids” by Rachel Kurtz
  • “Scotty Doesn’t Know” by Maddie Ross

My Top 5 Artists:

  1. U2 – I listened to 2,236 minutes of their music. That puts me in the top 0.1% of their listeners. No real surprise there.
  2. Five Iron Frenzy – I listened to a lot of Five Iron leading up to their Denver show, so no big surprise there either.
  3. Maisie Peters – She’s one of my favorite new discoveries this year.
  4. Taylor Swift – I don’t even think I listened to her new album that much, so it’s probably older stuff.
  5. Tegan and Sara – Between their new album and the debut of their High School TV show (which is 1990s retro wonderful), I’ve had them on repeat.

Last year my top 3 were Five Iron, U2, and Taylor Swift, so I guess things haven’t changed much?

Turning on the Heat 2022

Sitting at my desk shivering this morning seemed dumb, so I guess it’s time. We woke up to snow this morning, it’s 32 degrees outside right now, and the high is only 43. There are a couple days with highs in the 60s on the horizon, but there are also days with lows in the 20s.

2022 Mountain Bike Solo Trip

I took a solo vacation the second week of September for mountain biking, Colorado, a concert, and to visit my grandparents. I’d been wanting to get back to Colorado for a while and my new mountain biking obsession opened up a whole new world of stuff to do. My grandparents also moved into a senior living facility at the beginning of summer, so I wanted to see them. The rest of the family were busy and not super excited about this kind of trip, so I opted to do it myself.

I also hoped to see a bit of fall color, but going for the concert in early September meant it was way too early for much. That just means I’ll have to get back to Colorado for a bucket list fall color trip.

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Explore West St. Paul Days

We had a pretty fun few days with the first ever Explore West St. Paul Days event. I wrote over on West St. Paul Reader about my gratitude at seeing this community come together:

“Best of all, people kept exclaiming when they recognized West St. Paul Reader. I know we have a lot of supporters, but I didn’t expect that. People kept shouting out ‘thank you’ for our coverage and telling us how much they appreciate neighborhood news. It never gets old hearing that kind of support, and getting it in the middle of a parade was an experience I’ll never forget.”

What a fun few days.

Thankfully, we captured the magic through pictures, hiring a local student photographer to cover both the parade and the West St. Paul Rider community bike ride. We also managed to create a new postcard.

(Photo by Sam Amundson)

Protecting Gay Marriage: How to Support the Respect for Marriage Act

Nov. 15, 2022 Update: It looks like the Senate will pass a slightly watered-down version of the Respect for Marriage Act as early as tomorrow. About damn time.

In a total shocker, last week the U.S. House passed the Respect for Marriage Act, which protects same-sex marriage, on a bipartisan vote. Roughly a quarter of the Republicans joined all Democrats to pass the bill. Next up is the Senate where the bill needs to get 10 Republicans to pass. So we have work to do.

What do we do?

Anyone who values freedom, supporting the LGBTQ+ community, and civil rights should be interested in persuading senators to support the bill. This kind of advocacy has worked in the past (remember protecting the Affordable Care Act in 2017?) and we can do it again with the right organization.

What can I practically do?

I created a Google Doc listing all Republican senators and where they stand on the bill. Currently we have five yes’s and a lot of undecideds and no comments. So these senators need to hear from their constituents.

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Star Wars Has Guts (Sometimes): Obi-Wan Kenobi Series

I loved the new Disney+ Obi-Wan Kenobi series. Trying to fill in gaps between two established trilogies is a tall order and they do it really well. But it raises some interesting questions about when Star Wars is willing to take risks and how much they listen to fans.

Spoiler alert: I’m going to spill it all, so you’ve been warned.

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2022 Seattle Vacation

I’ve never been to the Pacific Northwest, so that was a major vacation destination for us. Especially when I learned how many National Parks are there. We hoped to go in 2020, but we kept putting off our planning as we heard worrying reports of a pesky virus. But we finally came back in 2022. And what a vacation—I’ll call it the summer vacation of snow and starfish.

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A work-at-home dad wrestles with faith, social justice & story.