Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Getting Carded

Why is it that every time I go shopping for greeting cards, I find that the covers that I really like have interiors I don't like - and covers that I don't like have the interiors that I do like?

I was out shopping for some cards (multiple, for different purposes), tonight, and each time I thought I was good to go, I would take a second look and realize something just wasn't quite right.

Eventually, for one of the occasions, I chose two cards. One with a cover that I preferred, and the other with an interior I liked. I finally just brought them both home.

Then I made Christopher choose.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Short Season

I really wish that that said "shorts" season, but it doesn't.

You see, this is another whine about the weather.

We seem to have had about 2 weeks of spring - with a dash of summer thrown in over Easter weekend - and now we are back to a cold, rainy fall.

Seriously. The highs this week are only supposed to be in the 40s - 15 to 20 degrees cooler than average. The lows are supposed to be in the 30s. There's a chance of wet snow mixing in with the possible inches of rain we might get.

Luckily, I went out last Saturday and got the rest of the yard clean-up done. The downspouts are correctly attached. The peonies that are up around the house are all caged so that if the sun ever comes out and they grow they won't fall over.

There's no sign of the ornamental grasses, yet. The trees haven't leafed out. The sand cherry bush outside the bathroom hasn't even flowered, yet.

Oh, and the duck seems to have decided that we weren't quite the right fit for her and has left.

There's a special primary election tomorrow (for a county commissioner seat that opened up), so I guess maybe the weather is trying to make us all feel like it's November.

Weeks (months) like this I often consider moving back to Baltimore, where spring is an actual season that lasts more than 48 hours.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Sometimes It's Just Time

Christopher and I just got back from a wedding. It was a great wedding - the ceremony itself was both serious and funny - and the drinks were good and the dinner was nice and we had a really great time meeting people.

The guys who got married celebrated their 14th anniversary, yesterday, so they are starting year 15 as husbands. And that is kind of amazing.

But... anyway... that's not the type of timing I meant to talk about.

You see, after the ceremony and the drinks (which were had while the wedding party were out doing photos, so you know that the allotted half hour stretched for a while), and after the dinner and the toasts and the cake (because... really... weddings are all about the cake, right?), the DJ started up the music.

We actually danced during the first "all-skate" dance, since they asked if everyone who had come as a couple would come to the dance floor. And it was really nice.

And then the thumping bass beat kicked in and the DJ was starting to get everyone on the dance floor, with the caveat that they would be there all night, and no one would be leaving early.

About two songs after that, we started saying our good-byes and heading for the door. It was an incredibly fun evening and it was so great to see them get married and meet all the new people, but we were also finding that we were tired and ready to go.

But don't worry - we didn't leave early. We simply left when it was time for us to leave.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Dining Out For Life - 2014

If you haven't heard of it, "Dining Out For Life" is a program which goes on in a number of cities around the country. It's typically a one-day event, where restaurants give a percentage of their profits to charities which benefit people living with HIV and AIDS. So... You dine out, and it helps people live - "dining out for life." Get it?

The past few years, Christopher and I have made sure to get reservations early and go out to eat. We've typically invited other people to go with us, and we usually have a really good time. The restaurants that participate in the Cities are typically packed for dinner, and there's a really cool atmosphere to it all

There are volunteers on hand who greet the diners and talk to them about what the sponsor charity does (in the Twin Cities, the sponsor is The Aliveness Project), and so you get this feeling that you're all sort of attending the same party. Except that it's a party where you have to wait for a table (we waited a good 45 minutes for our table, tonight, even with a reservation) - and where there's a bill at the end.

If you're paying attention, you go into this event knowing what the basics are. And a lot of people book their reservations based on how much money the location is donating. And you just kind of do what you're doing. And you feel good about it. And you think "I dined out for life, tonight."

But Christopher and I really don't go out to eat on weeknights very much. We're usually pretty pooped during the week, so it takes a lot to get us to leave home. And this event is metro-wide, so although we're choosing places we want to eat - and with good donation levels - we're also trying to find places we think people will want to drive to. (We chose Cafe Ena, by the way - we've eaten there a few times, and the food and service have never failed to impress us - slow seating tonight notwithstanding.)

So when we invited a bunch of friends to join us tonight - who didn't all know each other - and chose a restaurant that was fairly close to us but a bit of a drive for the other four... well... we figured it had the potential to be a good night, but you never know.

We got to the restaurant around 6:45. We left at right about 10. We didn't stop talking the entire time - even when the food arrived, the six of us found some way to keep talking as we ate. And it was wonderful. It was one of those meals that makes you glad to be out and about on a school night - even with the knowledge that tomorrow morning is going to come pretty darned early, and that you've blown your meal budget until the 1st of the month.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that tonight we truly did dine out for Life. Not just in the sense of the donation we were making, but in the sense of adding some life to our week. There was tech talk as we waited for our table. There was travel talk over appetizers and pet talk over dinner. There was silliness over churros and cinnamon ice cream. And we were still talking as we walked out the door feeling like alarm clocks are going to ring too early in the morning.

Yes, we dined out for life. And it was good.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Duck, Duck, Nesting Duck?

We live near-ish a small lake. As in "you can't see it from our house, but I swear there's a lake just a few blocks that way over there." 

Every year at about this time, we start seeing ducks in the area. Most of the time, they're mallards. And, frequently, we see nesting pairs - or drakes trying to become part of nesting pairs with hens. They show up on the roofs. They chase each other around the yards. And they get completely ignored by the dog. 

Yesterday, as I was getting ready to leave for work, I looked out in the backyard and - just below the window to the office - I noticed a mallard hen hunkered down in the mulch. She was tucked between two clumps of Siberian irises and behind a flower pot which we (obviously) haven't planted yet for this year. 

I have no way of knowing whether she is making our backyard her nesting home, but Christopher apparently noticed her hanging out on our roof last weekend. And he saw her again, today, on the roof of the garage (and she was still there when I was getting ready for work). 

We're kind of excited about this. Last year, we had a cardinal family set up their nest in the bush outside our bathroom, and it was pretty amazing. 

I'm not sure how long it will be before we can be sure she's settled in. Or if anything will come of it. But, so far, it's got us excited about what might come next - which is always a good thing. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Midwestern Goodbye

I'm not sure why it is, but I'm just not good at the long, Midwestern goodbye.

What I'm referring to, if you're not sure, is the way people in this part of the country have of saying goodbye. Usually this is after "a visit" - as opposed to at the end of a phone call - which is ironic, since I typically have no problem saying telephone goodbyes for nearly as long as the original conversation. But, at the end of a weekend with my folks (such as... say... an Easter weekend), or after a night at the movies with friends, or in the parking lot after a dinner when it's 5 below zero, I can usually keep the goodbyes pretty short.

It's not that I find myself really wanting to leave the people I've been with (at least most of the time). It's just that I kind of feel like if we weren't already done talking maybe we shouldn't have gotten up and headed for the door in the first place.

Now I fully admit that my tolerance levels for this change situationally.

Seeing someone off at the airport whom you probably won't see again for at least a year? Lingering is pretty much expected. Possibly to the point of almost missing a flight.

Leaving a restaurant with someone whom you've just had dinner with and already have plans for the next time and you're connected electronically 18 different ways, and at this point you've already said that you're all tired and the next day is an early day and you really need to get to bed? In my mind the goodbye is done as soon as the hand hits the door on the way out.

I also fully admit that - in that first instance - once the "final" goodbye is said, I want it all to be over and done. I want to close the car door so I can do a quick wallow in the sadness of the departure, and then start focusing on the fun aspects of the time together and the "what will we do next time?" of it.

My final nights in Baltimore before moving to Minnesota were spent in long goodbyes. But they were purposeful. They were filling the "one last ____" roles. And when I actually drove away in the morning, I pretty much just got in the car, turned up the stereo, and headed out.

I think my favorite - and, yes, I know that's an odd way to look at it - departure was when I left Paris at the end of my teaching assistantship way back when. A bunch of people saw me off to the airport, and we said all of our goodbyes and then I stepped onto an escalator which they all had to stay at the bottom of. A couple of quick backward glances for waving, and then they were no longer visible due to the architecture of the airport.

Sentimental, but definitive.

Maybe that's what happens when a schmaltz-prone Midwesterner spends 10 years on the to-the-point East Coast. Or maybe it's a Gemini thing. Either way, we've reached the end of this post. And since I'll see you again in a couple of days (most likely), you'll forgive me if I don't linger.

Friday, April 18, 2014

That Was NOT a Diet Coke

I have never really understood the reason why restaurants put lemons in Diet Coke, but not in regular Coke.

Is there some unwritten rule that says this has to be done? Is it simply to keep them organized on the tray? Is it so the glasses of water with lemon don't feel they're being singled out? Truly, I have no idea.

But at lunch today, since the water came with lemon and my regular Coke did not, I squeezed the lemon into my Coke and was very much enjoying myself.

The waitress came by and asked if I'd like another glass, and I said yes. She didn't take my old glass (which still had the lemon floating in it), but brought me a brand new one. With a lemon wedge on the rim.

For about 2 seconds, I was kind of excited. I thought she'd taken the cue and decided to give my Coke it's own lemon.

Then I looked at the color of the soda. It was decidedly darker than my first Coke. Which  I knew before I even tasted it meant that the new one was a Diet Coke.

Sure enough, the first sip confirmed it for me. So I squeezed in the lemon, thinking "maybe this will help - maybe that's what I've always missed out on." Nope. Still tasted like Diet Coke. With lemon.

So I simply finished the rest of my regular Coke with lemon and decided that that was probably enough caffeine and sugar (and acid) for that part of the day.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Travel Tuesday - Paris Combo

No, we didn't actually travel anywhere yesterday. For the second night in a row, we went to the Dakota in downtown Minneapolis. Because that's the way things go, right? You don't go to a concert in months, and then you see two back-to-back.

When we were looking at seating for the Storm Large concert, I noticed that Paris Combo was also coming to town. Which is a big deal, because they mainly perform in Europe. So we got tickets to that concert, too. And that brings us to last night - our second night in a row at the Dakota.

The concert was nothing like Sunday with Storm Large. Sure, they were both jazz, and they both sang a lot about love. And the lead singer was a woman. But that's pretty much where the similarities ended.

Belle du Berry is what I would consider to be the epitome of a French woman. Sexy, self-assured, flirty, and in complete control of the situation. And although I have heard a lot of the Paris Combo music in the past - and though you usually find that live performances are just a little bit off from recorded ones - I found her to be even more in control of the music last night.

And the combo - string bass, guitar, drums, and an Australian trumpet player who also played piano - was great fun. They even did one piece where the trumpet played into/through a bowl of water. It was amazing.

In the course of the evening, we clapped along. We sang along. We gave a standing ovation before they came back for an encore.

Where Storm Large had us laughing and raucous, Paris Combo found me smiling - even if I didn't necessarily understand all of the words - and contemplating moving to Paris. Or Montreal, at least.

Find out more about them (like where they're playing or where to buy their CDs) on their website: Unlike Storm Large, I doubt they'd beat you up if you don't check them out - but I really think you might beat yourself up if you miss them.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Storm-y Sunday

This has been an odd weekend.

Our Friday night plans were modified at the last minute because some of the intended guests had family issues arise on Friday morning. Our Saturday brunch happened, but the rest of Saturday got kind of pushed off to later due to a case of the flu, and, possibly, a battle with a cold or two - but we're not discussing that. At least I got around to cutting out the ornamental grasses from last year so that the new stuff can sprout.

Today was nice. Chilly and grey, but not horrible. I finally got my taxes done (long story, but at least they're done before the 15th). Christopher got a massage. And we went to see Storm Large in concert at the Dakota Jazz Club in downtown Minneapolis.

We first encountered her as the second lead singer for "Pink Martini" when their regular lead singer was taking a sabbatical due to some medical issues. Storm handled all of the jazz and the standards with style, but added a little edge of her own.

That was enough to get Christopher interested, so he picked up one of her CDs. Then he picked up another. And a third. A few weeks back, he noticed that she was on the schedule for the Dakota, and so we checked for seats and made plans.

I really had no idea what to expect. I knew she had great stage presence and an amazing voice. And Christopher had filled me in on the fact that her solo stuff was definitely edgier. But that was it. When she was introduced as being "not shy"... well... we knew we were going to be in for a great evening.

And we were not disappointed. She went through her own renditions of everything from Cole Porter to Bonnie Tyler to - this was a surprise, I'm not going to lie - Black Sabbath. She even did a couple of her own songs. The one thing they all had in common is that they were all incredible.

It's so strange, sometimes. I mean... She comes on stage looking like she was probably prom queen once upon a time. She's able to do the sweet, melodic stuff that makes you think that she could be Snow White. And then she gets off-color as she explains that all songs, really, are love songs - so in the song she wrote where she says "I want you to die" she really wants the audience to hear that as "I love you (maybe a little too much)." (And, yes, that became a sing-along.)

Seriously. It was an amazing 2 hours of music and stories. If you want to hear what she sounds like - or look at pictures or check her tour dates - her website is here:

I'd highly recommend it. After all, for as sweet as she looks when she's smiling, I don't think I'd ever want to get on her bad side.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Expectations Versus Reality - A Friday Food Edition

You know those "7-layer" bars that people make?

They're the ones with some kind of bottom crust - is it cake? is it graham cracker crust? - and then sweetened condensed milk and stuff.

Well, I've been craving them, lately.

I'm not sure why. I mean... We never really had them when I was growing up. They simply weren't in the family repertoire. So we had them from time to time - mostly at other people's houses, I'm guessing. But, still, they hold a special place in my heart. Probably due to the mystical quality of the 7 layers of stuff.

I mean... On top of the crust and the sweetened condensed milk, there are two kinds of chips (chocolate and butterscotch), nuts, and coconut. Which - because we can all do math when we're paying attention - is only 6 layers. But they're still called 7-layer bars. For me, I think the 7th layer is a layer of nostalgia.

You see, because I've been craving them, I decided to make them yesterday for dessert tonight when we were having people over.

I admit that I swapped out the graham cracker crust for an Oreo-crumb crust, because I knew that chocolate would go over well with the people who would be eating them. But aside from that I followed the recipe. And I kept thinking about how good they were going to be.

And when I took them out of the oven they smelled amazing. They looked great.

Tonight they cut easily and came out of the pan with no hassle, and I thought "this is going to be amazing."

And it was. For about a bite. And then I kind of started thinking "Wow. This is too sweet. And the texture of all the components is weird."

Okay. Yes. Over the course of having them on the table for a couple of hours I had a second one. And although I was more prepared for the taste, I actually found the second one to be a little less appetizing. I suspect that was because the nostalgia had worn off and I was eating the reality, instead of the imagined bars.

Oh, well. Nothing like ending your week by having reality come around and bite you in the bar.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Wallflowers, Season 2

I haven't mentioned, yet, that the web series that I was so enamored of last season has come back for a new season!

There've been some cast changes - including the fact that they're now on person number 3 playing one of the leads - but overall it's the same idea. It focuses on a bunch of people who have better chances of dying in a plane crash than finding love who are - possibly inexplicably - still looking for love.

I was sad to see some of the people go, and it may take some time to get used to the new folks, but overall the feel of the first episode of season two is really nice. It's got some strangeness, but also a couple of really sweet moments. And it even has some incredible music that you might not find anywhere else.

So, I guess what I'm saying is that you should go over to and check out the new season. I think you'll like it.

And, if you don't, I'll even refund your money.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Entering the Jetson Age

It's funny how people complain about the futuristic things that we were told we'd have, but that we don't have, yet.

Everyone wants flying cars. Hoverboards. Light sabers (although... wait... those aren't from the future, they're from long, long ago).

And then you look around and start to wonder a little about how far we've come.

Dick Tracy wrist communicators? Check.

Moving sidewalks? Check.

Robots that vacuum? Check.

Meals cooked in seconds - or completely replaced by pills? Check.

Bionic body parts? Check.

Video phonecalls? Check.

I've been thinking about that last one for the past day or so, because my parents and I had our first "official" Skype "phonecall" yesterday. We'd tried it out once before, but it was kind of a lark that time. Not a full-length weekly call. Yesterday, though, was the full call.

On many levels, it was very nice. It was good to be able to see them. It was good to be able to show them things around the room as we talked. It was free - which is not a bad thing.

It was also very weird.

Usually, in the course of a 45-minute call, I will wander around the house while we talk. I'll finish washing dishes, or I'll throw in a load of laundry. Can't really do that while on a Skype call on my laptop. (Granted, that would be aided by a smaller device, but my electronics mostly go up in size from my laptop.)

I also admit (though I didn't, yesterday), that I ran to grab a different shirt to wear before I answered their call. I had been wearing my pajamas, and I looked like crap. I seem to remember Jane Jetson having multiple images of herself she could put up on the screen. I may have to work on that.

There were also a few Internet-based issues. Like the fact that a couple of times the call froze or - worse, yet - there was a point where we were out of sync, so mouths and voices weren't working together.

But, overall, I think it's going to be a good thing. I'm lobbying for them to get in touch with people who live at long distances so that they can have free video calls and see the kids who are growing up and all that stuff.

Of course, my parents are currently more technologically advanced than I am, since they have a tablet, and I have a laptop. So at some point I'll need to take my own advice and try some of these new things.

For now, though, I'm going to go back to grumping about not having a flying car. Or a personal teleporter. Or a car that folds up into a briefcase so I don't have to park - that would save me a good 5 minutes every morning, which I'd be able to spend doing something old-fashioned, like sleeping.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

An Uncommon Saturday - Errands, Pottery, and Matthew Morrison

If I'm being honest, the "errands" part of the day is relatively common for me on a Saturday. Because the pup tends to wake me up on Saturday mornings, I usually just go ahead and throw on some clothes and a hat and go run errands just as the shops are opening - before everyone else is there.

Typically, though, that's only 2 or 3 errands. Today, it was 10. Spoiler Alert: I actually got them all done and was home by 12:30 this afternoon.

Just to give you the quick rundown, here is the list: ATM for cash, Haircut, Trader Joe's, UPS Store, 1/2-Price Books, Surdyk's (wine store), Bone Adventure (pet supplies), Macy's for the flower show, Post Office, Art show (okay... not really an errand, but it was on my list). And, yes, I had my list broken out by when places opened, so that I could maximize the time.

I'm very happy to say that I left the art show for last, because a cousin of mine (well, she's a "first-cousin-once-removed-in-law" - but "cousin" is much easier) was showing her pottery, and her husband (my first-cousin-once-removed) was there with her. Added bonus, two of his cousins (again my first-cousins-once-removed) were there at the same time I was. So I definitely spent more time there than anywhere else.

I refuse to confirm or deny whether or not I purchased the bowl in this picture. Just because it was photographed in our kitchen is no proof of anything:

After a bit of a nap - strictly for the sake of the pup, I promise - I got up and got ready this evening and went out for the most uncommon portion of the day: Matthew Morrison in concert with the Minnesota Orchestra.

The first half of the program was the Orchestra playing their version of showtunes - so it was "Candide" and "Cavaliere Rustica" (which is probably misspelled, but I'm too tired to google it), as well as "My Fair Lady" and "The Sound of Music." I love when they do this stuff, but I do kind of wish they'd find some showtunes from the last half century... (Maybe some symphonic Sondheim? or even some orchestral arrangements of "Les Mis" if they want something a bit more well-known these days?) It was incredibly sweet, though, to watch the older couple next to me hold hands during these pieces - and the gentleman next to me hummed along (just slightly off-key, which made it even better, really).

The second half of the program was all about Matthew Morrison. If the name is familiar, it's probably because he is the teacher on "Glee." But he's actually done a bunch of theater, including being Tony-nominated for his role in "The Light in the Piazza." Before he came out on stage, the voice-over was introducing him, and eventually (I was sitting near-ish the front) we could tell that he was actually doing his own introduction from just off to the side of the stage. And that's kind of what the evening was like.

(His promo photo from the MN Orchestra website - the hat worked much better in person)

He was suave, cutting some great dance moves in a perfectly-tailored tux. He was funny - self-deprecating in that "but now I'm cool" way. He was debonair and flirty, and had just a bit of a naughty glint in his eye the entire evening as he worked his way through jazz and theater standards. He jumped off the stage for a quick dance in the aisle with a (very lucky) young woman while singing "Sway With Me," and he jumped up on the director's podium and danced with the conductor during one of his other numbers.

I got the feeling that he was really enjoying himself - and that fronting a big band (an orchestra is sort of a big band, right?) is where he kind of belongs. And since he was enjoying himself, the audience did, too.

The evening ended with a single encore - "Singin' in the Rain" - which he performed complete with an umbrella and some more serious dance moves.

About 14 hours after I first left home this morning, all of my weekend errands are done, I may or may not have a new bowl, the pup is ready for another nap, and I have a bunch of old standards running through my head.

Yet, I'm kind of glad that this was the uncommon day, because tomorrow I'm going to be pooped. Happy, but pooped.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

This Too Shall Pass

I really want to say that I'm sitting here looking out the window and thinking of how pretty the snow is outside. The flakes are huge, and there's a little bit of a breeze, not a wind, and so it's all just kind of floating past the windows.

It's covering up the lawn, which - after being almost completely devoid of snow just this morning - has since been pebbled with sleet. And snow is prettier than sleet. So that's nice.

I'd also love to say that, if the calendar said October, I'd be fine with it. But in October as the snow comes down and first covers the ground, I tend to think "here we go... six months of snow."

I watched the weather, tonight, to see how things are panning out for the next few days. Tonight... well... it's not looking great, but at least the worst snow is supposed to be north and east of us, and we're really "only" looking at 4-7 inches of snow.

I keep reminding myself that those are total snowfall numbers - not accumulations. Because on warm and/or treated surfaces (like roads, theoretically), much of the snow we get in the next few hours should actually melt.

A larger-than-average number of people I know seem to be taking trips this month. I keep seeing pictures of beaches and sunshine and fruity drinks. And - as we've discussed in the past - I'm happy for them. Really.

But then I look out the window and realize that the grass hasn't turned green, yet, and the trees are barely even budding, and just as I had almost started to get myself to think of how pretty it is, I think "It's the third of April!"

I know that this will go away almost as fast as it comes down. The weather guy I was just watching actually used that as part of his forecast this evening - after telling us how bad the commute could be tomorrow morning, he started pointing out that with the weekend's expected highs the snow should be gone by Saturday - Sunday at the latest. And next week we should have days in the sunny 60s.

So I know that this will be gone soon. And I know that this happens almost every year (last year, we had snow into May). But that doesn't mean I have to be happy about it as I sit here watching the pretty white snow cover the non-greening grass.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

MNPass and the Trooper

(Let me start by saying to Mom and Dad that I did *not* get a ticket because I wasn't doing anything wrong. Okay. With that out of the way...)

In Minneapolis, if you're someone who occasionally (or daily) has a problem getting out the door early enough to deal with morning traffic and still get to work without getting scolded, you can pay for a "MNPass" account so that you can drive in the carpool lane.

As you might have guessed, I have a MNPass account. And, with that, I have a little transponder thing that is attached to my windshield (just behind the rearview mirror), which gets scanned when I use the carpool lane. At which point it beeps at me to let me know that I've been tagged, and then it pings with the MNPass people to let them know to charge me.

There are days when my entire drive into downtown is 25 cents - which, unfortunately, is typically on days when there's no traffic, so you don't really need the extra lane for the sake of saving maybe a minute or two. There are also days when it can be up to $8 - in which case, you probably still will top out at 40 miles per hour, but that's compared to 10 mph or thereabouts for the rest of the traffic.

Because I'm a legal kind of guy, it gets really really frustrating when you see people going in and out of the MNPass lane with only one person in the car and you can visibly see that there is no transponder. When I see those, I always wish there would be a Highway Patrol car around to pull them over.

With so many people away on spring break the past couple of weeks, I actually have seen some Troopers hanging out on the inner shoulder of the freeway, and I was very happy to see someone get pulled over last week on Wednesday.

I saw another on Friday, and moved a bit to the right to give him space, then pulled back into the MNPass lane. Two more cars came behind me, and then I saw the Trooper pull out. I watched the first car move out of the lane. Then the car behind me moved, and I slid over to the right to let the Trooper pass. Until he pulled in behind me.

Speed? 58mph. MNPass transponder? Up-to-date. Adrenaline a little high, but mainly I was just a little confused. I mean... I know that one of my brake lights comes and goes, but I hadn't been braking, so I couldn't imagine that was a problem.

As the Trooper came up to my car, I opened the door and immediately apologized for doing so - but my driver's door window died last January.

The Trooper (I believe his badge said his name was C. Benz?) leaned in and - practically before he even got to my door - started to apologize. Then he asked to see not my license or insurance, but my transponder. Sure. Not a problem. 

He came back a moment later and handed my transponder back to me. Again, he apologized for the inconvenience, and explained that my transponder hadn't registered when I passed him, and it was placed such that he didn't see it - until he was already pulling me over.

I thanked him and explained that I was happy to see Troopers pulling people over in the MNPass lane, because it bugs me when people use it for free - and without multiple people in the car.

Before he walked away he apologized, again, for the inconvenience - while I again assured him that I wasn't overly bothered.

And, since the MNPass was keeping me on time for my arrival at work, the stop didn't even make me late. Definitely worth the 75 cents I spent that day.