Making mashed potatoes

I like to look at recipes and get ideas for what to cook for supper on the internet. I have noticed lately that I find “how to’ videos instead of old school recipes with a list of ingredients and some instructions.

A couple of days ago I landed on a video about how to make perfect mashed potatoes. I was kind of surprised because I think I learned the basics of mashed potatoes before I had double-digit birthdays.

The instructions were a bit complicated and involved a couple of extra steps. It really is simple to boil the potatoes whole or cut up, peeled or not. Once they are soft enough to mash I drain the water, add some milk and a little butter or not.

They can be seasoned or not, and them mashed with a potato masher, or in a pinch, a fork will do the job or they can be whipped with an electric mixer . . or not. Putting gravy on mashed potatoes works too.

In the video, there were a few extra steps and loads of advice. It must look like a lot of work to those who have never cooked potatoes.

Some of the advice I see online comes from writers and from content marketers and some of it comes from experts who actually have no experience. The person who made the potato video probably didn’t realize that her extra steps are unnecessary.

When it comes to real estate related articles I can immediately tell if the advice is coming from someone who is experienced or if they are a writer with no experience or a writer who did not consult an expert. I can sometimes tell by the headlines

Some of the real estate articles on national news sites are based on what people find interesting but contain no useful or accurate information. They are entertainment and nothing more.

There is a lot of mythology out there about buying and selling real estate. I totally understand where the kookie ideas that people come to me with come from. There are even TV shows that attempt to dramatize the home buying or selling process. Those shows are just entertainment for those who find such things entertaining.

It is safe to say that just because something is on the internet doesn’t mean that it is correct or true or a best practice or that it was written by someone with expertise.

Tomorrow is Tax day

Some folks will spend the weekend finishing up the taxes so that they make the deadline, which is April 15th.  I wish I had some tips but I don’t.

Our taxation system is complicated and expensive. It could be simplified and the IRS could provide free online forms and help us fill them out by putting in the information they already have.

It may never happen but it doesn’t hurt to dream. There are just too many companies that make a lot of money off of tax software and preparation services. Taxes are an important industry.

What would it be like if the income tax forms were the size of one piece of paper?

In the old days when we dropped our taxes at the St. Paul central post office in the evening or late at night on April 15th. Cars would line up and so would protesters. It was kind of like a circus with helpful postal employees would have carts out and they would line up so we barely had to stop our car to toss in the envelope full of forms and maybe a check.

Protesters would have huge signs reminding us about the evil things our taxes are spent on and how we need to make it stop. I always felt a kind of special bond with my neighbors as we lined up to drop off our tax returns.

postoffice_2 (1)The post office has moved but the building is still there and is being converted to Condos. . . . but we can still count on death and taxes and the deadline to file is still April 15th.

In one of the very last conversations I had with my 90-year-old dad before he died last winter, he asked me about his taxes. He wanted to know if I had been filing them. He worried about them and after he could no longer do them himself he worried more. Somehow that seems wrong to me but them a lot of things about our taxation system seem wrong.

St. Patrick’s day parade 2019

St. Patrick’s day is tomorrow but the drinking and debauchery shall commence today. The annual St. Patrick’s Day parade starts at noon on March 16th  in downtown St. Paul. The route begins at Wacouta and 5th St. E and moves westbound along 5th St., to Washington St., to 4th Street, dispersing for the finale between St. Peter and Wabasha streets. Spectators can space themselves anywhere along the route. Chairs and blankets are welcomed to reserve your spots.

The temperature for this annual event can be below zero or  70 above zero. This year we should have partly cloudy skies and temperatures slightly below freezing. I recommend standing in the sun along the parade route if possible.

After the parade, there will be a lot of beer along West 7th street and food too. If you are new to St. Paul I want to tell you that St. Patrick’s day is a very big deal here.

st. patrick's day prade
2018 St. Patrick’s day parade

Consider the fire hydrant

We are mostly shoveled out after yesterday’s 8.9 inches of snow. Predictably the snow blower wouldn’t start but that didn’t stop us from removing all of the snow from the sidewalk. Today I am going to find my favorite fire hydrant. I adopted it years ago. Fire hydrants make great pets.

They are quiet and do not need to be fed or walked. All I have to do is keep it clear of snow so that the fire department can hook up a hose if needed.

You can put a hat on your fire hydrant and give it a name too.

You can talk to your fire hydrant and in the summer you can have a picnic with it.

my fire hydrant

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I love St. Paul!

It is still just a dream

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2019.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

– Martin Luther King, Jr 1963

Minnesota and the Twin Cities are home to some of the worst racial disparities in the country. In metrics across the board—household income, unemployment rates, poverty rates, and educational attainment—the wealth gap between white people and people of color is significantly larger in Minnesota than it is most everywhere else. There is also a large gap in homeownership between people who are white and people of color. Homeowners have a significantly higher net worth than renters have which is one of the reasons for the large wealth gap.

There are numerous events today around the Twin Cities today in honor of King. Please consult Google for locations and times.


Dr. Martin Luther King Speaking at the University of Minnesota
Dr. Martin Luther King Speaking at the University of Minnesota –

Photograph from the Minnesota Historical Society collection