We’re Adopting!

So we’ve had enough depressing bridge collapse talk around here. How about something happy?

So Abby and I have decided to adopt! We’re just starting the process so it’s a long way off, but we’ve made the initial step. We’re exploring both domestic and international adoption so I don’t have a lot of specifics yet (being so open makes things pretty non-specific). But no matter what it will take a while and will be expensive.

We’ve talked about adopting for a while and now it finally seems time (we haven’t broken Lexi, so apparently we’re ready for someone else’s kid). I’ve always thought that there are so many kids in the world who need a home–as a simple practical matter it makes sense. As a moral matter it just blows me away sometimes.

So we’re starting to figure it out. Of course we have lots of questions. And will have more questions. And if we figure anything out we’re happy to answer your questions.

Westboro “Church” Picketing the Bridge Collapse Funerals

I’ve never wanted to throw up so badly in my entire life. At the same time, I’ve never wanted to take up arms so badly in my life.

The infamous ‘God Hates Fags’ group from Westboro Baptist “Church”, led by Fred Phelps, has announced plans to picket the funerals of those who died in the I-35W bridge collapse.

I don’t even want to quote from their press release, but basically Minneapolis and Minnesota by extension is a haven for homosexuals so God hates us. Plus when this group picketed in Minnesota before somebody stole their picket signs, so the bridge collapse is our punishment for persecuting these missionaries (urge to vomit rising). Plus they want their stolen signs back (I wish I was making that up).

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Blame I-35W Bridge Collapse on Pigeons

Here’s a new theory for the I-35W bridge collapse–blame the pigeons. Apparently “piles of pigeon guano” may have impeded inspectors from discovering the true state of the bridge:

Heaps of corrosive pigeon droppings obscuring parts of the bridge’s steel supports have been a bane to inspectors at least since 1994, documents show. The birds were nesting in welded steel box sections of the superstructure, gaining access through the same holes used by inspectors to peer inside to look for cracks. In 1999, MnDOT covered the inspection holes with plastic screens, but the problem persisted.

“The interiors of the box members have severe pigeon debris,” MnDOT workers wrote in their 2006 inspection report. (Star Tribune

Armchair Quarterbacking the I-35W Bridge Collapse

The armchair failure analysis that’s happening in the wake of the I-35W bridge collapse kind of makes me laugh.

  • We’ve had good stretch of 90+ heat in the Twin Cities, therefore the bridge couldn’t handle the expansion and collapsed. Please. In July 2006 we had more days above 90 than we did this year, never mind the stretches that were much hotter. I would expect any bridge would be designed to handle expansion in temperatures well above 90.
  • With the construction on the bridge and the lanes narrowed from eight in each direction to four the imbalance caused the failure. What?!
  • With bumper to bumper traffic on the bridge it had to carry the weight of traffic at a standstill as opposed to traffic at full speed. Weight is weight, no matter the speed. (poorly paraphrased from several different online forums)

I’ll be the first one to tell you I’m no physicist and can’t explain what happened or how it happened but some of these theories are so bizarre, as if the bridge had certain tolerances that we just happened to push too far on August 1. I suppose in a sense that’s what happened, but it’s most likely in conjunction with a major failure. The way people are talking it’s as if any bridge could fall over if we get too many days over 90 degrees or if too many fat people walk across a bridge at the same time. You don’t blame the heat or the fat people, you blame the structural failure.

For all the talk of “structural deficiencies” and the what not, this is most likely a bridge that had some issues but they didn’t appear to be catastrophic. Turns out we were wrong and it was catastrophic. But I don’t think there’s going to be any smoking gun of Joe Blow didn’t tighten a bolt or overlooked this massive hole in the steel truss. And while improving infrastructure is important, it’s not like this bridge would have been first in line for replacement if we had millions or even billions to spend on infrastructure. They talked about replacing it by 2020. We had systems in place and those systems were followed. Obviously those systems will now be closely inspected and hopefully some improvements made if possible

But bottom line: I think this was a simple accident. I doubt many changes in procedure or funding would have changed that. There are no conspiracies here or scapegoats we can easily blame.

Of course we’ll know for sure in about a year when the report comes out and we can all stop doing armchair failure analysis.

Trapped Bridge Collapse Victims

This is insane and heartbreaking:

Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan said cars are still trapped beneath the water under crumpled concrete and that some bodies are in there.

During rescue operations Wednesday night, divers saw victims in submerged cars as darkness postponed the work.

Dolan said this morning at a news conference that several rescue workers had to make the difficult decision of leaving them there because it was unsafe to attempt a rescue.

He said several of the trapped motorists asked his officers and fire fighters to say goodbye to their loved ones.

“The recovery involving those vehicles and the people who may be in those vehicles is going to take a long time,” Dolan said. “We’re dealing with the Mississippi River. We’re dealing with currents, and we’re going to have to do it slowly and safely.” (from the Star Tribune, emphasis mine)

Update: CNN included this bit:

“There’s an individual case where an individual was severely injured and was talking to a medical personnel and was able to say his goodbyes to his family [before] he passed on,” Dolan told a news conference.

I hope that means there weren’t any victims left alive in submerged cars that rescuers had to give up on due to the darkness. That’s what the Star Trib report makes it sound like, and that’s just horrifying. The CNN report is still heartbreaking, but sounds like a situation where nothing could be done.

I-35W Bridge Collapse Aftermath: What Can We Do?

It’s the next morning and the dead/injured toll has risen (9 dead, 60 injured, 20 missing). I’m feeling a similar kind of shock I felt after 9/11 (though not nearly as extreme), where I can’t tear myself away from the coverage. I know there’s not much new to report, but I keep wanting to check in, to search for more photos, more video, more snippets of something.

I’m also feeling an incredible voyeuristic/rubbernecking thing where I want to go down there and see it for myself. I think a lot of people feel the same way. I keep trying to think of something productive I could do–donate blood, donate money, pray. None of it seems solid or real enough to matter (though I know it does).

  • I want to find out if there’s one of those impromptu memorials where people put up photos and flowers and light candles.
  • I want to know if I can go down near the scene without causing more problems.
  • It’s ridiculously early for this, but I think there should be some kind of permanent memorial, a statue or a sculpture or something, there on the shore of the Mississippi.
  • I want to go to a memorial/benefit concert or just do something.
  • I want to find a way to funnel this voyeuristic feeling and impulse to go down to the scene into something productive. You just know loads of folks like me are thinking the same thing and the Stone Arch Bridge is going to be packed, I’d bet even into the weekend. I wish there was a way all those people could do contribute to something productive and uplifting.

I-35W Bridge in Minneapolis Collapses into Mississippi River

Wow. Breaking news as the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis collapsed during rush hour, sending as many as 20 cars into the Mississippi River below. From the pictures it looks like the entire length of the bridge fell, not just one section, with parts of the destroyed bridge submerged and parts above the water.

A few concerned relatives called to make sure we were OK, and we’re fine. We hadn’t even heard about it until we got the call. It’s actually pretty rare that we take I-35W, even more rare that we’d take that bridge. Though ironically, Lexi and I took that bridge on Tuesday and were in the area near the river on Monday (see a pic with a vague view of the bridge).


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Best Tacos Ever: Los Cabos in West St. Paul

My wife has already mentioned it, but there’s no reason I can’t second her: Los Cabos in West St. Paul, Minn. has some of the best Mexican food I’ve ever had. It’s a tiny little restaurant but it oozes authenticity, especially with the chairs and tables made from leather and branches (you really have to see it).

My favorite (so far) has to be their hardshell tacos, hands down. And it doesn’t hurt that they serve Coke and Pepsi in glass bottles.