Talking and Listening in Minneapolis


So Friday morning, we swam in the hotel pool after breakfast. Then we went into town and had lunch with Heather Flowers at the Acadia café, whereupon I gave a well-attended lunch talk about my Bronze Age project to staff and students at the U Minn Anthropology Department. Good to reconnect with Prof. Peter Wells, and I received a tea mug! I've already put it to good use as everything on our hotel's breakfast buffet, plates cups cutlery packaging, is disposable. (We're re-using our table gear day after day.)

Heather then took us on a road trip to Swedish immigrant country around Lindstrom where we saw bison and white-tail deer and eagles, and finally up to the interstate park on the Wisconsin border where we saw a beautiful stretch of the St. Croix river (above) and loads of interesting kettle-holes in the basalt. Then back into town for gaming night with the undergrads at Nica Carillo's place. We were fed pizza and cake and played Apples to Apples and Settlers, and I had a blast!


Saturday was the first day of the annual Undergraduate Anthropology Conference at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, a great big park with a convention centre. Rebecca Dolmon drove me there and I spent the day hearing interesting talks, hobnobbing with people and checking out bits of the as yet leafless park. Finally I gave my own talk on gold in 5th, 6th and 7th century Scandinavia, which was very graciously received. Though I really don't like having a manuscript like I did. I keep getting ahead of the text and talking about things that are later in the script. I should just have written down the five main points on the back of my hand and spoken as prompted by the pictures I had collected, like I'm used to these days.


Yesterday morning Mike Haubrich drove me & YuSie to the studio whence the Minnesota Atheists' Sunday radio show is broadcast, and we met with my Sb blog neighbour Greg Laden. Their hour-long on-air chat with us went by really quickly: my first live radio appearance, and I liked it a lot. Listen to it as a podcast! Afterwards we joined 20 non-believers at a great progressive brunch place and had a long chatty meal together. Very nice people! And Greg's little son is a real sweetie.


The proud father then drove us the the Arboretum where we caught three more talks and mingled for a while, before Heather and her hubby Gabe drove us back to the hotel. We went to the nearby Mall of America for a decent Cajun fish dinner and wandered about for a while in search of shoes for Junior, but we soon got tired and fled back to our room. We'll make a new attempt tomorrow, and then fly home.

My heartfelt thanks go to the students and staff of the Department of Anthropology for inviting me to speak here, to all the friendly and charming people who have taken such good care of me and YuSie, and particularly to my new friend Heather Flowers!

More like this

Doc Martin (Oh surely I can't have been the first person to do that!), it was a great pleasure to meet you and YuSie at brunch yesterday. You must be exhausted, being that nice and that available to so many people clamoring for your attention. It'll probably feel pretty good to get back home and rest a little. I'm glad you had a chance to see some of the points of local interest and meet some of our gang (as I said at the time, I'm not much of a joiner, but still think of them as "my people"). And YuSie, if you read this blog--I enjoyed talking with you about music and such. If you two are ever planning to be in the Twin Cities again, feel free to email ahead and Lynn it would the pleasure of Lynn and me to who you yet other sides to the area. It's not all bison and Apples to Apples.

And I've bookmarked the site now, Martin, so you can count on more frequent visits from me. Again, pleasure meeting you, and I wish you safe travels and good memories from your visit.

By Greg Peterson (not verified) on 11 Apr 2011 #permalink

Good that the journy worked out so well, and that you and so many great people had time to meet!
BTW, just how many hours do you cram into a day? 36?
And Greg Laden does not nearly look as diabolical as I had expected.
In the fourth picture (the Arboretum) I spot a curiously organic-looking structure in the background. One of Doc Laden's experiments with a Triffid? Jack Vance's "The Houses of Izm" springs to mind.

"my own talk on gold in 5th, 6th and 7th century" -The dwarf community in Ankh-Morpork has many songs about gold, as it is their favourite subject. Hence the popular song "Gold", and the traditional ballad "Gold! Gold! Gold!"

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 11 Apr 2011 #permalink

Greg, many thanks! Let's stay in touch!

Birger, that wicker house sort of made me think of Dr. Seuss.

In the old _Hobbit_ text adventure game, you would every now and then be informed that "Thorin sits down and starts singing about gold."

I recalled something when reading "a beautiful stretch of the St. Croix river (above) and loads of interesting kettle-holes in the *basalt"
About half the continental USA has a natural defense against "acid rain" from pollution because of limestone buffering the pH value of groundwater. If these parts are on igneous rock and the "fallout" plumes from industry in the East and Norheast stretch across Minneapolis you could expect problems from reduced pH values -for instance, death of symbiotic mycorrhiza would make the trees much more vulnerable to drought (this is why parts of the Kola peninsula have lost the trees). The lush park seems to indicate that the dominant winds keep the Minneapolis area safe.

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 11 Apr 2011 #permalink

The peculiar vegetative sculpture is by an artist named Patrick Daugherty.
I've seen some of his stuff here and there in the US.

Glad you enjoyed your stay in Minnesota, Dr Rundqvist!

(OT) Just found this about a 800-year old grave: "Swedish king exhumed to solve grave mystery"
It concerns the grave of king Magnus Ladulås ("Lockbarn") -so named because he introduced the rule of law and banned the practice of the aristocracy to "get supplies" during their travels by looting the local farmers.
He and his father Birger strenghtened the central authority and made Sweden a bona fide nation. After his death his sons started bickering among themselves, allowing the aristocracy (=robber barons) to regain some of their clout - a bit like Democrats vs. Republicans, really.

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 12 Apr 2011 #permalink

I'm really glad you guys visited, it was great to hang around with you for a while, and the show has gotten high marks from the regular listeners.

I think we maxed out at 30 people at the brunch (including babies) but there was some in and out so the total number was more like 33 or 34. That is a high number for that particular meet up; I've only seen more when PZ is in town.

"Me and Greg have the same hair configuration. SILVERBACKS!"

Naah, its an evolutionary adaptation to cool the central processing unit. It is common among the smartest 1 percentile. (looks in mirror, notices full head of hair) Damn!

"I've only seen more when PZ is in town"
Yeah, but some of those are gawkers who wonder if he is really going to eat babies, being atheisty and all.

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 13 Apr 2011 #permalink

The man has to eat *something* you know, and he certainly isn't having any wine and crackers.

Hahaa, as befits the chairman of the skeptics society, you got comment number thirteen!!! (waits eagerly for news of meteor/lightning hitting Swedish bloke travelling through USA)

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 14 Apr 2011 #permalink