Chuck E. Cheese Band Plays Usher

It’s so silly it’s great:

Hilarious.  More info at The Detroit News.

Cheers,
Charlie

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iPhone-like “Line-Waiting” Coverage

My Twitter “line-waiting” coverage this morning:

Rumpusgoopus Walked by a line of iPhone owner-hopefuls (I wonder if they’ll get one!) on my way to work. There’s just something wrong with people. about 10 hours ago from Ping.fm

                                                                                                                                                                         

Rumpusgoopus But it’s time to stop being a curmudgeon and embrace the line-waiting coverage. First up, to Caribou to cover people waiting for coffee. about 10 hours ago from Ping.fm

                                                                                                                                                                         

Rumpusgoopus The line here is crazy! There are at least 20 people here, mostly Target workers, waiting for coffee! about 10 hours ago from Ping.fm

                                                                                                                                                                         

Rumpusgoopus Just asked the first person in line when he got there. Apparently he’s been there since about five minutes ago! Can you imagine? about 10 hours ago from Ping.fm

                                                                                                                                                                         

Rumpusgoopus The line outside the Starbucks is not nearly as long. And it’s right outside the Target too. First person in line: there since 2 mins ago. about 9 hours ago from Ping.fm

                                                                                                                                                                         

Rumpusgoopus Whoa! @jongordon is joining the waiting in line at Caribou craze. http://ping.fm/mbXh1 I need to get back there and cover it. about 9 hours ago from Ping.fm

                                                                                                                                                                         

Rumpusgoopus Hmm, my wife needs a Mac mouse. I wonder if today would be a good day to head to an Apple store to pick one up. about 9 hours ago from Ping.fm

                                                                                                                                                                         

Rumpusgoopus I’m done with the “line-waiting” coverage for the morning. Be sure to check in with my Taco Bell lunch line-waiting coverage this afternoon. about 9 hours ago from Ping.fm

                                                                                                                                                                         

Rumpusgoopus The line here at Taco Bell is out the door! Some people have been here as early as 11:39 AM! This line-waiting craze has really caught on. about 6 hours ago from Ping.fm

                                                                                                                                                                         

And today (the day after):

Rumpusgoopus http://twitpic.com/3r2r – The line at the MOA ATT store is so… so… nonexistent. And iPhones aplenty. 35 minutes ago from TwitPic

Cheers,
Charlie

Steal From Your Employer, Get Put in Charge of Payroll

Sun Country worker who took $200,000 pleads guilty

Woman pleads guilty to Theft by Swindle from her employer, Sun Country.  Woman was previously convicted of Theft by Swindle from her previous employer in 1996.  Woman was hired by Sun Country in 1998, and was put in Payroll Management and Accounts Payable.

A simple records check, people!

Cheers,
Charlie

The Nigerian Prince Wants to Rent You a House

My wife and I are currently in the process of house hunting.  Well, house rental hunting, because we want to have far more money in our accounts for down payment, hopefully more secure employment for myself, and because we’re hoping that in a year houses actually start selling at the lowered value they’re alleged to have but right now the owners are holding onto their homes rather than selling at the lower price (that was a doozy of a sentence.  Good job if you got through that the first time without having to go back).  Unfortunately, it appears that most houses/townhouses advertised for rental at this time have owners who aren’t willing to rent out the place beginning the end of August.  As such, we’re in a limbo between having given our move-out notice to our apartment complex and having a place to live come the end of our lease.

Interestingly, only a week after we made some inquiries into some places (we actually used newspaper classified ads, if you can believe.  Not only that, we actually bought a paper newspaper to look at the ads.  Who knew paper newspapers still existed?), we’re starting to see some places that might be available at the time of our preferred move-in date.

We’ve seen a few places online that look promising, but were quite taken aback by the new Internet scam.  I never knew that Nigerian princes rented out houses in addition to dying and leaving inheritances.  They’ve branched out from their regular “My husband died and we need someone to inherit his $9,000,000,000,000,000,000” emails, and now advertise on places like Craigslist using someone else’s house information in order to swindle a person to “rent” from them.

We’ve only seen one so far, but we haven’t made too many inquiries yet.  The ad in question copied a fair amount of information from another online rental site, including the homeowners’ names, and created an ad on Craigslist complete with a yahoo email address which included the owners’ names.  The ad itself was promising, and was not clearly a scam on its face, other than the rent was a pretty good deal (but not so outlandish that it stood out).  It did not include any phone numbers, but did include the aforementioned email address.  As such, I emailed the address asking a few questions, as well as asking about taking a look at the place.  What I received in return was the following (with name and contact information redacted):

Hello ,
Thanks for the email. I own the house and also want you to know that it was due to my transfer to West Africa, Nigeria that makes me and my wife to leave the house and also want to give it out for rent and looking for a responsible person that can take very good care of it as we are not after the money for the rent but want it to be clean all the time and the person that will rent it to take it as if it were its own. So for now, We are here in West Africa and will be staying here for the next 3 years in our new house and also with the keys of the house for rent, we try to look for an agent that we can give this documents and the keys before we left but could not find, and we as well  do not want our house to be used any how in our absence that is why we took it along with us. I and my wife came over to Africa for a missionary work, so i hope you will promise us that you will  take very good care of the house. So get back to me on how you could take care of our house or perhaps experience you have in renting home. Hope you are okay with the price of $1000 per month..ADDRESS……….XYZ, West Bloomington, MN 55437
SO IF YOU ARE REALY INTERESTED I WILL WANT YOU TO FILL THE RENTAL APPLICATIONS FORM BELOW
RENTAL APPLICATION FORM
Pls let me get this answer.
1)Your Full Name
2)Your Full Address & Phone Number
3)How old are you?
4)Are you married?
5)How many people will be living in the house?
6)Do you have a pet?
7)Do you have a car?
8)Occupation?

Looking forward to hear from you with all this details so that i can have it in my file incase of issuing the receipt for you and contacting you.Await your urgent reply so that we can discuss on how to get the document and the key to you,please we are giving you all this base on trust and again i will want you to stick to your words,you know that we do not see yet and only putting everything into Gods hand, so please do not let us down in this our property and God bless you more as you do this.
Thanks and you are welcome
Regards.
Thanks

If you’re going to create an Internet scam of any sort, shouldn’t you NOT use Nigeria?  What screams an Internet scam more than someone who claims to be from Nigeria?  I could point out the myriad of ways this just screams scam, but I should hope that even the least Internet savvy person could figure them out (although, judging by the amount of people who still visit my email scam blog posts with search terms from the scam email, a lot of people have no clue).  However, I am amused that the writer thinks that there is a “West Bloomington,” but more amused that this letter essentially says the house is empty, while the ad specifically stated that the house was currently occupied.  And why do non-lottery Internet scams almost always include some sort of “God bless you” type language?

After receiving this email, I decided to check out how they had pictures of the house as they used in the ad.  I googled the address and came up with the aforementioned other rental site.  The ad on this other side, which I assume is legit, charged $450 more in rent per month than advertised on Craigslist, did not have an email address, and did have two local phone numbers.

Again I wonder how anyone can fall for scams like these, but because I watch Judge Judy, I’ve actually seen multiple people who do.  I’m not entirely sure how this scam is supposed to work, but I assume it has to do with us sending this person a security deposit and rent, inside of house unseen, and they “promise” to send us the keys (and “the document”?  What the heck is “the document”?) once they receive the rent.

I think the weirdest part of this is that the rent for the house wasn’t such that it made it a “must rent,” so that we wouldn’t take normal precautions by actually seeing the place in person first.  But again, you never know with some people.  As far as I know, phrases from the email posted here might lead to an overflow of visits to my blog.  If that was you, c’mon now.  You must have known this was a scam, right?

Cheers,
Charlie

Adventure Gardens Miniature Golf

Ever since my recent trip to The Links at Dred Scott, I’ve had a renewed interest in miniature golf.  Yeah, yeah, such a thing is mostly for kids, but when designed right, it’s a fun test of skill and creative thinking.  When designed wrong, or rather, when not really designed at all, the activity becomes annoyingly arbitrary.  Unfortunately, most courses tend to be exercises in arbitrariness, as course “designers” tend to think that it’s good enough to just add random bumps and objects.  The best courses make you have to figure out how to get the ball to the hole through skillful aim and/or planning on how to use the objects and hills to change the course of the ball.

The Links at Dred Scott only slightly fulfilled this requirement, and because of its lack, and simply because of being reminded of how much fun mini-golf can be, I’ve found myself hankering to try out some other courses.  This desire was so strong that last week I almost tried to persuade my wife to try out the course at the Mall of America, Moose Mountain Adventure Golf, while we were there, even despite the astronomical $9 per person.  Luckily, my wife made a really good point: it was such a nice day, so why would we spend it at an inside course when we could try out an outdoor course?

And so we found ourselves trying out Adventure Gardens Miniature Golf at 6335 Portland Avenue South, Richfield, MN 55423.  Some of my main complaints about The Links at Dred Scott was it utter openness, its lack of atmosphere, and its arbitrary design.  Adventure Gardens corrects almost all of these flaws.  The course is located in a city park, but is off to the side mostly surrounded by trees.  That in itself is a big plus, as it creates a feeling of walking through the woods (even if the surrounding area was completely open fields).  Additionally, the water features are actually interesting, albeit sparse.  It does have a “waterfall” type feature, as well as a running “stream” and a few pools of water.  While not exactly brilliantly designed, it did add to the experience so that it wasn’t just mini-golf, it was a summer afternoon stroll.

The course itself is generally good.  Some thought has been put into creating holes for which you had to think about how to hit the ball, so that you use hills, walls, and objects to bounce the ball to the hole.  And while there was a reasonable amount of water features, the holes did not have any issue with moisture, as The Links at Dred Scott did.

However, while the holes did offer some creative thought, a lot more planning could have gone into it.  Most of the holes are extremely short, and what seemed mildly clever and interesting at the beginning becomes a bit tiring by the later holes when the same devices are used over and over again.  Additionally, even if you do hit a clever shot, you’re unlikely to gain much on a person simply hitting the ball straight.  There’s really not enough strategy or skill required for the course.
 

Click on thumbnails for larger images

The main question is whether or not I’d return.  It’s hard to say.  The normal price for a round is about $7.  We had a 2-for-1 coupon making it far more reasonable.  Given the very short time it takes to finish a round, that the holes become uninteresting with more exposure, and because the atmosphere wears a bit thin because of the surrounding open fields, it’s hard to rationalize $14 for two people. 

The course is undoubtedly better than The Links at Dred Scott, so if it’s a choice between the two, definitely go with Adventure Gardens.  Additionally, because of the better water features and design, kids will probably have more fun with Adventure Gardens.

Next up, Moose Mountain… maybe.  Again, it is the Mall of America… and $9 per person.

Cheers,
Charlie

I Finally Get Myself to Go Jogging Again… Again

And finally, I get myself to go jogging for the second time since I reinstituted my jogging regimen.  Okay, okay, it’s not so much a regiment since it’s only twice, and it’s not so much a regiment when each time has been less than a half hour, and it’s not so much a regiment since my first time was two weeks ago, but I’ve been sick, darn it.  And it didn’t fit into my schedule.  And I just ate.  Or something like that.

Anyway, it’s silly to make excuses for why I haven’t been jogging more often (although, I really was sick), since I’m only justifying it to myself… and the random member of the jogging-stapo who can run 56 miles while drinking their morning coffee (which they of course got at Caribou or Starbucks) and came across this post because I happened to add a “jogging” tag to the end.  To that person, I will never satisfy.  To the jogging-stapo (“jogstapo”?), well, they’ve moved on already anyway since I haven’t started talking about Trader Joe’s yet.

But yes, I finally got myself to go again, and surprisingly, even after it being two weeks, and with me still not feeling 100 percent, I did better than last time.  Of course, doing better than last time means little more than not feeling like vomiting after two minutes of jogging, but I take my victories as I can get them.  The jogging I did today will at least have burned-off half of the half malt I had at the Convention Grill yesterday (oy, have I been craving one today).

It really wasn’t that bad this time, but I’m absolutely nowhere near where I was when I jogged in my college days.  Back then, 20 minutes wasn’t a problem, and once I got into a routine after a few times, I was able to go 45-60 without too much difficulty.  In law school, well, I was much worse, but could still go 25-30 without the difficulty.  I don’t plan on being the hyper-mega-jogger (as is obvious since I’m distancing myself from them, making them sound all crazy, the jogstapo that they are), nor do I really plan on being a person who exercises for at least an hour every other day.  I simply just plan on jogging fairly often, where it’s no longer a rare thing.  If I only do 30 minutes at a time, no big deal.  In fact, that’s my goal.

Anyway, it’s now two times I’ve gotten myself to go jogging.  Maybe, just maybe I can get myself to go a third… in about two more weeks

And now that I’ve exercised, time for beer.

Cheers,
Charlie

The Quest for “Our Place” – Part 3: Convention Grill & Fountain

The title to this series has been a bit of a misnomer.  So far, it has been not so much a quest for “our place,” but rather a quest for a burger to replace Grandma’s as the best in the Twin Cities.  Grandma’s had two things going for it, it had wonderful burgers, and it was a great restaurant/bar to hang out.  As such, when it closed, the quest began and somehow became completely focused on the burger, with the “hang-out” portion being only incidental.  That will have to change.

It will particularly have to change because I do believe we’ve found a burger very nearly as good as Grandma’s.  This time, number ten in Citysearch’s Top Ten Burgers in the Twin Cities for 2008: The Convention Grill & Fountain at 3912 Sunnyside Rd., Edina, MN 55424.

The Convention Grill is of the malt shop variety rather than a bar and grill.  The menu is very limited, and consists entirely of burgers, a few sandwiches, and multiple ice cream options.  It’s a sit-down restaurant with a pay-as-you-leave policy.  Since it’s a malt shop, it’s inherently not what we’re looking for in “our place.”  However, it does have the other thing we were looking for, the exceptional burger.  Even better, it has two other items that are almost more worth a mention.

To reiterate yet again: “As I’ve said before, the best burger is not a pre-formed patty with ‘special’ toppings.  The best burger is juicy with just a decent kick of bite from the grill.”  And this is exactly what the Convention Grill offered.  I had a California Burger (lettuce (for me, sans lettuce), tomato, pickles, mayo) with swiss and grilled onions.  The burger was the closest thing to Grandma’s I think I could ever find.  The burger was very well cooked, with that bite from the grill (or, more correctly, griddle), I’ve been looking for.  The onions were flavorful without being overwhelming (although, I had to take half of them off since the burger was loaded with them), and the tomato was strong enough to add juice and flavor without taking over the flavor.  The pickles left a bit to be desired, as I prefer regular hamburger chips and these were more traditional fresh cucumber pickles, but did not detract.

I left the Convention Grill wondering exactly why the burger was extremely good, but didn’t quite reach Grandma’s level.  My wife and I have come to a consensus that while the burger wasn’t dry, it wasn’t as juicy as Grandma’s normally is either.  That said, however, the burger was still very good.

Almost more importantly, though, were the fantastic fries.  I’m generally not a french fry connoisseur, I leave that to my wife, but one bite into the crispy fries made me a believer.  The fries were exactly what I’ve been trying to make at home.  Freshly cut from real potatoes, fried to the point of crispiness, and not over-fried, these fries are what the State Fair fry places try to make.  The fries weren’t greasy or too salty, and did not have the harshness that “fresh” fries can sometimes have.  They were simply perfect.  A warning, though.  We ordered a half-order of fries, and that was far more than we ever could have eaten.  After our meal, we had failed to finish off enough fries to bring the fry level down to that of the lip of the basket they came in (on our second trip we ordered only a side order. As shown in the above picture, the side order of fries is still more than enough for two people).

I could already recommend the Convention Grill very highly after just these two items, but there’s one thing that makes it exception: the malt.  There’s a place in Bloomington I used to regularly visit when I was younger called The Shantytown Grill.  It was a bit of a dive, kind of like what I’m looking for now.  The menu was full of at least 24 different burger choices, and they had absolutely fabulous malts.  The malts were creamy even when melted, and didn’t have the generic vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup taste you get at most places.  The place was eventually purchased by new owners, who stripped half of the burgers off the menu (one of which was my favorite), and eliminated the one-of-a-kind malts off the menu.  The burgers that were left were the unspiced, pre-made patties, with odd toppings. 

Needless to say, with one exception, I haven’t been there since.  I no longer feel that loss.  I do not feel that this is an overstatement in any way, and any one who knows me will probably be very surprised by this, but these malts are as good, if not better, than the malts the Shantytown Grill used to have.  I had given up looking for a replacement, with Culver’s being the closest thing so far, but the Convention Grill malt is a more than suitable substitute.

As for the “our place” aspects, the place is a bit blah as far as that goes.  It’s rather close, and parking was fairly easy in their lot (although, when busy, I can see it being hard to get a parking spot).  Most of the booths are wood, which was nice, but as stated above, it’s just a malt-shop.  It cannot become the go-to place when it’s night and we’re looking for a place to have some good food, a drink or two, and hang-out for awhile.  On the other hand, the quest for “our place” can now officially begin sans the unnecessary burger requirement.

Cheers,
Charlie