Category Archives: Other

Minnesota's Most Endagered Place – the Upper Post of Fort Snelling

This is Minnesota’s Most Endangered Place – the Upper Post of Fort Snelling. It was abandoned years ago. And today, in the shadow of the Minneapolis International Airport control tower, it stands as a monument to waste and neglect. Several weeks ago, me and my brother Paul E. Olson took these pictures. Check ’em out. We found a little surprise about halfway through the evening.

An aerial map

The Hospital

The entrance to the hospital. Note the stonework and the granite steps.

The barracks

This building was open until 2006. It contained a pool hall, a three lane bowling alley, and a ballroom upstairs for concerts. In the late eighties I was doing PT with the Marine Corps in the polo grounds across the street, and a bunch of weekend warriors set up an M-60 (that’s a belt fed machine gun) on the steps and fired blanks at us. They were trying to scare the green guys shitless, and it worked.

As we were shooting the building next to the gym, Paul pointed in front of us and said, “Look at that! Right in front of you!” I was clueless. “What? A bunch of grass and weeds.” He said, “No, look at it. Look close. It’s marijuana.” No kidding, we were standing in a marijuana field.

I don’t know how it got there, but I’d guess either kids used to go back here and party and they tossed their seeds on the ground or it is left over industrial hemp from the First World War. I assume this is federal land so I don’t know who’s responsible for growing the illegal plant. Maybe they should arrest the land owner ;-).

The gas lamps outside the barracks.

Officer’s row comprises about a dozen brick Victorian homes.

It’s a shame to see these handcrafted homes wither away with time.

The married officers lived in these Victorian homes with their families.

The bachelor officers lived in this barracks.

To see more high quality photography like this…

please visit Prints available.

The Best of the Net 9-28-08

Turn Your Weaknesses Into Strengths – Do you find your weaknesses difficult to overcome? The way we think about weakness fuels procrastination and fear. It keeps us from acting in our own best interest. In this post, Leo describes how you can turn your weaknesses into strengths by re-framing them. The first time I saw this method used, I was in a funk over not having a college degree, when I met a powerful CEO who didn’t have a degree. I asked him how he did it and he said, “not having a degree is one of my biggest strengths.” He went on to describe why he believed that. I haven’t thought about weaknesses the same since. Most limitations are self-imposed by your own lack of imagination.

Success is More Complex Than Failure – I’ve become a huge Hugh McLeod fan in the last month. This post demonstrates all the qualities I like about his thinking. Hugh cuts through all the popular psycho-bullshit in ways that reach out and slap you in the face. We all hear the mantra – ‘simplify’. If you’re a busy type A, maybe you do need to simplify. But if you struggle to get off your butt, you don’t need simplicity, you need a little complexity in your life. Here is the fact… success is complicated. It is complicated to win. Sure people who are great make it look easy, but it isn’t easy. It never was. Simple, cheap, fast success is a lie. The reason great software is simple isn’t because it was created by keeping things simple. The next time somebody tells you to ‘keep it simple’, tell them, ‘keeping things simple is complicated. Simple things are not created by simpletons, simple things are created by hiding complexity from simpletons.”

The 12 Biggest Personal Finance Mistakes – This is advice that few of us want to take. It requires honesty, vigilance, and self-discipline. But if you follow it, over the long run, you should overcome most financial pitfalls.

The Millionaire Quiz – Do you want to understand the millionaire mindset? This post will help.

Shiller on the Bailout – What amazed me about this video is how  Shiller has no valis reason to back this bailout. And he admits it! but still wants it! A 700 billion dollar crapshoot? Not even an educated guess, a wild one. Late in the interview he appears to say that he doesn’t like the bailout because he doesn’t understand how it could work, and then immediately says, “But it is better than doing nothing.” If he doesn’t
know what will help, and he doesn’t know what will hurt, he doesn’t know anything. Why doesn’t he just say that? The only people who say anything concrete are the Austrian Economists. At least they can articulate the problem, the solution, and the logic behind it.

The Speech Bush Should Have Given on the Bailout – The Last Psychiatrist is another site I’ve grown to love over the past few months. This post is indicative of the quality of the content. It’s honest and it’s intelligent and it will make you think.

Stephen King – Daily Writing Tips shares a few gems from Stephen King’s On Writing. I see Stephen King as the master of our time. He belongs in the same category as Twain and Hemingway, unfortunately he’ll never gain that level of respect because of his genre.

Around the Internet 9-19-08

Violent Acres has been one of my favorites for a couple of years. But in her rant Personal Branding is a Load of Garbage, she writes…

Apparently, Dan Schawbel is a self described ‘personal branding
expert.’ Less hip members of society might be wondering now what,
exactly, is ‘personal branding.’ Lucky for us all, douche bag Dan
Schawbel defines this little bit of idiocy for us.

All of this goobly-gook is a clever way of saying that instead of going
to the effort to become a certain sort of person, we can just insist
that we are that sort of person until others give in and believe us.
Instead of developing our personalities into something with substance,
we can simply buy all of the proper accessories needed to project the
right ‘image.’

I have to call hypocrisy here, this is coming from a woman that writes posts about how she likes… well… you’ll have to read it (not for the prudish). Of course, she doesn’t put her name on her writing, BECAUSE IT WOULD RUIN HER PERSONAL BRAND!

It is kinda like Amanda Chapel using Twitter and Blogging (Strumpette) to tell us how worthless social media is.

Maybe they should both hop on Al Gore’s private jet and fly to Earth Day.

On a related note:

O’ Reilly asks if the Web 2.0 party is over.

Bruce at Keener Living writes about how important it is to allow yourself to fascinated. He reminds us how we take amazing simple things we do and see for granted. Some people think this is tripe, but that’s because they don’t want to think about it – creativity, origins, and consciousness. All amazing mysteries. No one can explain these things without using mysticism or dumb random luck. I find the discussion humbling.

Leo gives young people advice on starting a writing career. He’s a successful writer with 18 years experience. Leo is master at writing consistently useful, inspiring content.

I recently found Alex Blackwell’s blog the Bridgemaker. I can really identify with his message:

Bridgemakers learn compassion through their own endurance of pain. We all have the capacity to be Bridgemakers when we make the choice to show compassion and grace to others.

Shilpan Patel asks us to reject the cult of celebrity. The cult isfueled by exploiting the mediocrity of our own lives, and creating a fantasy land of exciting real-life soap opera stars, while at the same time insuring that we stay mediocre and addicted to watching someone else live. But instead of living in this media created la la land, we need to break the chains of self-imposed mediocrity and boredom and create remarkable lives for ourselves. Turn off your TV. Turn off your news. Live in your real environment, not in the MSMs artifical, contrived, mental prison. It is designed to keep fat, dumb, addicted, and frightened.

Being Yourself

I’ve seen some new faces around here and some of you may wonder what this blog is about.

After reading Mark Dykeman’s latest post, I printed How to Be Creative by Hugh McLeod of and read it for the umpteenth time. If you haven’t, I suggest you read it too, it’s fantastic.

Six of McLeod’s points seem to have a common theme:

11. Don’t try to stand out from the crowd; avoid crowds altogether.

18. Avoid the Watercooler Gang.

19. Sing in your own voice.

22. Nobody cares. Do it for yourself.

26. Write from the heart.

27. The best way to get approval is not to need it.

I think he’s saying the same thing I said in a recent tweet

Be yourself dammit!

In his article, Hugh McLeod reminded me of the one thing that gnaws at me about blogging… it’s the thing I struggle with… maybe some of you do too…

I’m not a personal development blogger, a productivity blogger, or a spirituality blogger.
I’m just a guy blogging about what I learn. I try to express myself in a way that’s useful to you, but I write about what I’m thinking about (and I’m kinda ADD). Some of it may be wildly inconsistent. My goal isn’t to be consistent. I’m not into dogma.

My goals are:

  • To learn
  • To meet interesting people and engage them in interesting conversation

That doesn’t mean I don’t write about productivity and self-help. I do – sometimes. But if you’re looking for a blog that sticks to the positivity niche, there are other blogs I recommend, and are among the most respected blogs on the internet.

I value personal freedom, and I want to share my journey with you. But that journey isn’t always going to be smooth and inspiring, sometimes it might be strange and disagreeable. I have no desire to be hip and I couldn’t be if I wanted to.

This blog is about anything I learn, value, or am interested in that could be of value to you.

You are going to find things here you disagree with, and I will not try to offend, so I hope you stick around for the conversation, because I love intelligent people who disagree. That’s what makes good conversation. Disagreement strengthens the mind.

Echo chambers are a bore. I will try to ensure you don’t find one here.

The Best of the Internet 8-25-08

I haven’t done an internet round up in a while, so here is some of the best stuff:

  • Tina Su quit her day job. Read about how she made her Dream a Reality. Congratulations.
  • Clay Collins is starting a new project to help you finance your freedom. Clay has guts. Now he is going after the biggest problem facing people – trying buy back their freedom. I look forward to his new project.
  • Chris Brogan writes about the importance of being funny. I like funny. I’ve been warned not be silly with this blog because it hurts my credibility. Is it ironic that the word blogger looks like booger or that the word blog sounds like something you should have surgically removed? Like, I just had a blog removed from my abdomen. Not funny? Lewis Black said blogging is just mental masturbation… Enough?
  • Louis Gray tells us what we need to know to avoid social media overload. Like nearly all Louis Gray’s posts on Web 2.0, it’s golden. I’m overwhelmed, but I’m not, because i just need to manage myself better. I’m also overwhelmed trying to understand what’s available and what’s needed, this post puts it all in perspective.
  • Another article from Charles Murray on how college prolongs childhood. If any of you have read Peter Drucker, you may remember that he didn’t want to enroll in the university, but his father insisted (he wanted to go directly into business). When he did enroll it was nearly free (not because it was government funded) and he didn’t have to attend a single class. That was in Austria in the 1920s. It was a place to grow your mind, not a factory to create degrees.
  • Matt Cutts at Google give us three tips for “company blogging.” I like his last one – Don’t Post When You’re Angry. That’s why I don’t post as often as I should, I’m angry all the time 🙂

Isaac Asimov in 1982, Scarfman, and the Exatron Stringy Floppy

More OG (Original Geek) stuff today. I love this Radio Shack advertisement for the TRS-80 Pocket Computer with Isaac Asimov from 1982 (click for a larger version):

Isaac Asimov TRS-80

How about these Arcade clones Defense Command (Missile Defense), Scarfman (Pac-Man), Super Nova (Asteroids), Cosmic FIghter (Galaxians) for the TRS-80 sold on cassette tape for $20.00. I had all these games when I was kid. I think my dad pirated them for me.  I doubt he ever spent $20.00 on a game (click for a larger version):


Here is the Exatron Stringy Floppy alternative to cassette and disk storage. This was available for the TRS-80, Apple, and the PET. I never had one, but I dreamed of having something 15 times as fast as cassette (click for a larger version):


Were You Born Free or Programmed?

A lot of you are geeks like me, so I am going to start posting some tech related stuff.

From a March 1984 copy of Basic Computing:

I’m a geek from waaay back! Here is the table in my room in 1978. The child in the picture is my nephew who is 6 years younger than me. I was 9 at the time and he was 3. Note the cassette player I used for loading and saving programs. Gotta love cinder block and lumber shelving!

When Life Isn't Fair–Read This

Tonight I tried to teach my son a lesson about life, but again, he taught me the lesson.

Stick with me, you’re going to like the payoff.

My son has been in MMA (Blended Kenpo) for 8 months and he still hasn’t earned his first belt. His instructor is tough and expects a lot. My son is close to earning his first belt, he has the moves down, and when I asked his teacher if he was ready to test, the teacher replied, “he still needs to learn the the Stack and Guard Pass.” I was surprised, because the kids who had just earned belts didn’t know the Stack and Guard Pass.

So why is it different for my son? I thought it wasn’t fair that he had to learn a move that others didn’t.

I decided it was a opportunity to teach him that life isn’t fair.

So at the dinner table tonight, I said, “you have to learn a move that other kids didn’t, just to earn the same belt, and I know that it isn’t fair. But that’s too bad, because sometimes life isn’t fair. If you want the belt, you’ll have to learn it anyway.”

My son replied, “You’re right dad. It isn’t fair… to those other kids.”

I said, “No, it’s not fair to you.”

He said, “No dad, it isn’t fair to them, because I get to learn more than them.

What Do You Want Out of Social Media?

Scoble just published a post (Has/How/Why tech blogging has failed you), which sums up how a lot of people feel about blogging in general. Like Scoble, we should question why we are blogging and if it is taking us where we want to go.

Before I read Scoble’s latest post I was contemplating this question:

What do I want from blogging and social media?

And this is the answer:

I want to meet interesting people, engage in interesting conversation, and share interesting stuff with them…

And it’d be nice to make some money in the process, but money isn’t the goal.

Friendfeed will help me reach my social media goals. The more I use it the more I love it.

Take a look at my feed on friendfeed and you will see how useful it is. You can see my Reddits, Diggs, Stumbles, Tweets, Bookmarks, and blog posts all in one spot. You can comment on them and vote for them with the “like” button. You can follow some of the top social media mavens like Muhammad Saleem, Zaibatsu and Jon Phillips and see what’s hot before it breaks. And you can do this without checking a hundred different websites or feeds.

Right now I am trying to find a way to implement friendfeed on my blog, but I think it is going to take a redesign.

I haven’t figured it all out yet, but I know enough to endorse it and encourage you to join friendfeed. Let’s build a bigger community.

(Hat Tip to Robert Scoble and Paul Buchheit)

Ergotron – Ergonomic Wellness Through Innovation

You guys out in the blogosphere spend a ton of time on your computers and you need to take care of your neck and your eyes and your back and your wrists and well… yourself, because hours in front of a computer can wreak havoc on your body.

We have some cool things going on at Ergotron (that’s where I work) that will help keep you well when you spend time at your laptop or desktop.

We just created this hilarious video (it’s funny – it really is – I swear – watch it) which clearly illustrates why you need to go dual with a laptop and monitor and get them off your desk and make them height adjustable:

Another cool thing is… we have a CEO who blogs! When Joel took the leadership position at Ergotron he created a set of expectations and behaviors he felt we must embrace to become a great company. #7 is We Will Accept No Walls or Barriers Between Us and Our Customers. His openness to blogging reflects our principles and is one the reasons I am proud to say I work at Ergotron.