Sunday, July 17, 2005

Six Flags

We interrupt the Duluth pic-o-the-day with a brief description of my venture yesterday to the Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey. Great park! Unfortunately a lot of lines, and certainly expensive...but all in all a good experience. They also have a ton of roller coasters. I went on about a dozen different rides during the course of the day. Here is a list of where each of them rate (just the roller coasters though):

#1: NITRO: Probably the best roller coaster that I've ever been on. A lot of good things going for it: it's TALL (23 stories), LONG (over a mile, and over 4 minutes--quite long compared to other coasters in the park), and FAST as all hell (reaching speeds up to 80mph). In general, these are the critical aspects that roller coasters need to have--any additional loops or corkscrews are just an added bonus in my opinion, and like many of the other coasters in the park are overdone and distracting.

#2: MEDUSA: Also a lot of fun, this is the only coaster that I was able to go on twice yesterday. It claims to be the first floorless roller coaster on the website. Also lasts pretty long (>3 minutes) and it seems like you're always moving or turning--very fun!

#3: THE GREAT AMERICAN SCREAM MACHINE: Made good use of consecutive loops which was a thrill. Also gets points because there was a very short waiting period (it's right next to the Superman ride which gets a lot of hype) so I was a lot less annoyed by the time I got to hop on.

#4: SUPERMAN: The gimmick here is that after you sit down, your seat adjusts 90 degrees and you are suspended in midair, facing the ground, thereby giving the illusion that you are flying (like Superman!) during the ride. This actually works pretty good, there are several parts where it looks like you are about to hit the ground, and then swoop up again at the last minute. The line was a little long, but they have cardboard cutouts of various Superman villains that you can read while waiting--cheesy but kind of fun for a comic book dork like myself.

#5: ROLLING THUNDER: The old wooden coasters are actually pretty underrated--while they generally can't offer any loops or gimmicky turns, they are well-designed and fun. What they lack in speed they make up for in the rattling and jostling that occurs with the aged wood. Also I had to wait in line for only like 5 minutes, which is practically nothing.

#6: BATMAN THE RIDE: Regrettably, some of my decision to rate this so low was the abominable wait in line (over an hour, with really bad techno music blared over a subpar loudspeaker system). Also, the ride just tries to do too much--there are so many turns, loops, corkscrews, and abrupt stops & starts that the whole experience is merely discombobulating and not truly fun. I wasn't scared--just kind of annoyed.

#7: RUNAWAY MINE TRAIN: Really just a few notches above a kiddie roller coaster. Nothing too special--built in 1974 and you can kind of tell. The only good thing about the ride is it's a less intimidating "warm-up" roller coaster that people who are intimidated by the big ones can try out first.

#8: BATMAN THE CHILLER: The biggest disappointment of the park. There are a couple gimmicks with this ride which just don't work. The first gimmick is that the ride takes off and accelerates to max speed (70mph) almost immediately. The second gimmick is that the 2nd half of the ride is backwards--basically just doing the same track in reverse direction. The upshot is a jarring, uncomfortable ride where you can't tell what the hell is going on that lasts for only about 45 seconds. And yet it's one of the longer waits in the park?!?

The Verdict's Still Out--KINGDA KA: This is soon to be the centerpiece of the park's roller coasters, and is certainly physically impressive--this is the first coaster that you can see when you drive into the park, towering a staggering 46 stories (!) Sadly it was closed for the entire visit (and for the next couple of weeks for some additional construction or safety checks or something). It will allegedly bring riders up to speeds of >120 mph through means of a hydraulic launch. My only reasons for skepticism are that the ride will last just under a minute and the wait is sure to be long. Still, I have to admit that during my entire visit to the park I was enviously eyeing the massive green roller coaster and wishing that it was open...

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Duluth East High School

Here are some pictures of dear, old East: my high school. The time of my enrollment there coincides roughly with the presidential administration of the 1st George Bush (1988-1992...I realize this is not exact...).

The Duluth East track & field (this is where we had our home track meets) offers a great view of Lake Superior off in the distance.

Other Fun Facts about East:

*Founded: 1927 *School Colors: red & grey

*Mascot: the Greyhound *Name of Annual Year Book: The Birch Log

*"The Red Line" is the term for a red line which marks the boundaries of the school property, beyond which it is legally permissable for students to smoke. Those who smoked beyond The Red Line were therefore called "Red Liners". I'm not sure if the term still exists.

*Duluth East High School is the most populous of the 3 public high schools in the city (the other 2 being Duluth Central and Duluth Denfeld)

Friday, July 15, 2005

Sammy's Pizza

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Famous (infamous?) Lakeside pizza joint Sammy's Pizza.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Copper Top Church

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The First United Methodist Church, much better to known to Duluthians as the "Copper Top Church", stands atop the scenic Skyline Parkway.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

8th Street Video

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One of the great mysteries of Duluth: why is 8th Street Video located on 9th Street (the address is 1032 E. 9th Street)? The world will forever ponder...

In other news, a long-overdue congratulations to my main man Chuck Munyon! He brought home the bacon last Wednesday during the finale of the WB's Beauty and the Geek by winning the final challenge along with his partner Caitilin against his arch-nemesis Richard and her cutie partner Mindy. $125,000 should go a long way towards paying back those medical school loans. Stay tuned to the WB tonight at 8pm for the "Aftermath" show--you know I'll be there!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Ordean Swimming Pool

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Ordean Junior High School is where I attended school from grades 7-9. In fact, I was part of the penultimate 9th grade class of Ordean (two years later the Duluth school board system shuffled the deck, and again in Ordean houses grades 6-8). Not that I knew or cared to know at the time I went there, but Ordean is named after wealthy Duluth businessman and entrepreneur Albert Ordean, who made his fortune in a variety of investments, including banks, groceries, lumber, and the railroads. He died in 1928 and left a good chunk of public land to the city...later this land was transferred to the Duluth School Board and the Ordean School was built from 1954-1956. Prior to its purchase by Albert Ordean, the land on which Ordean School now resides was originally slated to become an additional 6 holes for the nearby Northland Country Club!

On a more personal note, the history I associate with the Ordean pool is Jason Hammerberg intentionally eating an entire box of Cocoa Puffs cereal in order to puke into the pool at the beginning of gym class, which he performed successfully. He was the hero of the school for the day, as we all got out of gym class that day while the pool was being cleaned!

Monday, July 11, 2005

London Road McDonald's

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Many a Happy Meal was eaten at the London Road McDonald's.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Club Saratoga

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The 'Toga, located in Canal Park, is a wholesome house of entertainment featuring live jazz during the days, a strip club at night...

Saturday, July 09, 2005

1414 Vermilion Road

1414 Vermilion Road, the (former) Hellman manor. Here's a nice shot of the house I grew up in, sometime in early May (just kidding)...

Friday, July 08, 2005

Kozy Bar

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A landmark sleazy bar in downtown Duluth, the Kozy Bar is also a hotbed of crime and debauchery.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Duluth School Board Building

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"Old Central" is a cool old building in downtown Duluth. It was once a high school but in more recent times has been converted into the administrative offices for the Duluth School Board, as described more extensively below:

"Duluth Public Schools Central Administration Staff are housed in an historic building commonly referred to as 'Old Central,' because it used to be Central High School. The structure is a wonderful example of Romanesque architecture and includes a clock tower. The clock came from Paris, France and the chimes were programmed to sound like the famous chimes of Westminster in Great Britain. The building was completed in 1892 at a cost of approximately $460,000, and dedicated with nearly 1500 people in attendance. Secretary of the Interior John W. Noble visited Duluth and made the following remark about the school, 'Your new high school is the finest building of its kind I ever saw. There is no public school building equal to it in the United States.' At the time, Duluth had a population of approximately 50,000 and was a city of 41 churches, 34 schools and 100 saloons."

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The Ski Hut

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Hope people are checking out the mustache pictures! For those who haven't seen me in awhile, I am back to my clean-shaven self.

We shall now return to the Duluth pics-o-the-day...

This is a picture of a fine sporting goods store, The Ski Hut, located on 1032 East 4th Street. Duluth is home to some of the most wonderful cross-country skiing trails you'll ever find. I recommend the Lester-Amity Creek trail in East Duluth.

Monday, July 04, 2005

More Mustache Pics

Because you demanded more...

Police lineup of the usual suspects...

The testosterone rages...

Team Brown celebrates Sameer's greencard status...

Separated At Birth?

2005 Mustache Competition Winners!

Congratulations to all of you who participated in the 2005 Hospital of University of Pennsylvania Internal Medicine Housestaff Mustache Competition this year! Who was the winner of the competition, you might ask? The answer is: everybody with a mustache is a winner! This year's competition featured a smorgasbord fo sumptuous facial hair, and it was difficult to determine whose mustachery was the most awe-inspiring. After many long deliberations, there was a TIE for the champion: congratulations to Dave Portnoy & Mike Shashaty!

“Stache with an Attitude”
2005 Mustache Co-Winner and Defending 2004 Mustache Champion Dave Portnoy

“The Mad Russian”
2005 Mustache Co-Winner Mike Shashaty

with the following most honorable mentions...

“The Babe Magnet": Scott Halpern

"The French Poodle": Nate Hellman

"Mustache Most Likely To Belong To A Child Molester": Pete Gabriel

"Doin' It Fresh-Off-The-Boat-Style": Sameer Khandhar

The Depot

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"You haven't seen Duluth until you've explored the St. Louis County Heritage and Arts Center's Historic Union Depot, better know as simply the Depot. This former Union Railroad Depot was built in 1892 by the Boston firm of Peabody, Stearns and Furber. By 1910, the Union Depot was serving seven different rail lines with up to 5,000 people passing through its doors daily. In 1971, this beautiful landmark, in the French Norman architectural style, was listed on the national register of historic places. After it served its last train and underwent major renovations, the Union Depot reopened in 1973 as an area cultural center. Now called the St. Louis County Heritage and Arts Center's Historic Union Depot (our nickname is still "the Depot"), the historic part of the building houses exhibits by four different museums and its theater wing functions as a studio and administrative home to five performing arts organizations." (take from The Duluth Depot website)

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Sir Benedict's Tavern by the Lake

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Sir Benedict's is one of my favorite bars in Duluth. Sipping a beer on a sweet summer Duluth day in front of Lake Superior is a great experience. There is frequently live music as well, often bluegrass or folk groups.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

The Ice House

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There is partially submerged structure off the coast of Lake Superior near Canal Park which everybody always called "The Ice House". I'm sure it has some sort of historical significance, but damned if I know. I remember it well because we used to swim out to the Ice House in the late summer (the water was only stingingly cold then, as opposed to numbingly freezing anytime before July) and jump off. In fact, I once got in big trouble with my friend Chris Johnson when I lost the car keys in the nearby boulders (not surprisingly, I was not supposed to be engaging in the activity of jumping off "The Ice House".)

Friday, July 01, 2005

Fond-Du-Luth Casino

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Nothing says "class" like the Fond-Du-Luth Casino, which is across the street from R.O. Carlson's Used Bookstore ("Duluth's Finest Tourist Attraction). I like to think of Fond-Du-Luth as the Atlantic City of our fine state of Minnesota.

We'll take a break from our Duluth pic-o'-the-day fest pretty soon in order to bring you photos from the HUP (Hospital of University of Pennsylvania) Internal Medicine Residency Program Mustache Program. Suffice it to say that mine looks positively ridiculous.