V-K Day

Mr. Mask Mandate, he dead:

Gov. Tim Walz said Thursday he’ll sign an order Friday ending Minnesota’s statewide mask-wearing mandate following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance allowing fully vaccinated people to stop wearing masks.

Calling it a great day for Minnesota, the governor continued to plead with unvaccinated Minnesotans to get their shots to hold back the spread of COVID-19.

“So those peacetime emergencies are done and the business mitigations are coming to an end. I want to be clear it’s not the end of the pandemic, but it is the end of the pandemic for a lot of vaccinated folks,” he told reporters.

It’s the end of many things, actually — most importantly, it’s the end of Karen Nation enforcement and forcing shopkeepers and restaurateurs into indentured scolding, at least on this particular issue. Walz’s Nurse Ratched, Jan Malcolm, admitted as much:

“When things are no longer a rule or a mandate, they think therefore that everything is safe,” she said, noting that Minnesota still has a relatively high level of COVID-19 spread. “People may translate this guidance meaning that the pandemic is over.”

Malcolm said if it were feasible to keep a mask mandate just for unvaccinated people, “I definitely would have liked to see that. I just think that it’s not practically enforceable at this stage.”

I’ll bet she would have liked that. But apparently there is a limit after all. Maybe you don’t need to laminate the ol’ vaccine card.

The economic and social toll of the lockdowns is incalculable — how many families were separated, how many graduations were canceled, how many businesses were shuttered, how many of our elderly were consigned to death in nursing homes without being able to say goodbye or even have a final hug? Meanwhile, we’ve had the joy of experiencing Walz and his coterie treat our fair state as a protectorate. Now, suddenly, we say Goodbye to All That. The signs will come off the doors as soon as tomorrow, but the reckoning is about to begin.

Feeling Strangely Seventies-Eastern-European

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

How bad are things under the Garden Administration?  This bad: we are facing a shortage of chicken wings.

Oh, sure, they’ll blame bad weather in Texas or supply line interruptions from Covid and of course, everything changed on January 6th.

But this never happened when the Bad Orange Man was President.  Just sayin’.

Joe Doakes

The number of things coming up scarce these days – from wings to plywood to ammo – all have rational supply chain explanations.

The fact that they all started in January? Right after the Harris administration unilaterally made the increase in gas prices inevitable, with ripple effects throughout the supply chain?


The Red New Deal

“Green” industries – like the jobs “building solar panels” that the current administration is telling newly-unemployed pipeline workers to try to get – are fleeing Germany for…

well, you can probably figure it out:

The number of jobs in the German renewables sector (production and installation) has fallen from about 300,000 in 2011 to around 150,000 in 2018, the German Trade Union Association (DGB) found in an analysis of employment in the energy transition.

The drop in employment is mostly due to the collapse of Germany’s solar power industry over the past decade, as many companies were forced out of business thanks to cheaper competitors from China scooping up most of the market. The number of jobs in solar PV panel production and installation fell from a record 133,000 in 2011 to under 28,000 seven years later.

Industries build around commoditizing technology – like solar panels – are inevitably going to be drawn to the cheap labor.

To be fair, Democrat policy is to skip the “cheap labor” phase of the continuum of misery, and drag most Americans straight to perpetual underemployment.

A Barrel With No Bottom. Ever.

Decades ago, in an effort to keep housing “affordable”, the city of New York imposed rent control. No existing rental unit could increase its price, absent jumping throught a Byzantine series of bureaucratic hoops.

The “market” responded to the bureaucratic muddling – at first, creatively. The rent control stayed with the the renter. When the renter died or moved, the rental rate could move with the market. But the “ownership” of the rental could be passed down through any semblance of the original renters families – so children, nephews and nieces, stepchildren, further-order descendants, and utterly phony descendants – a fraud that was almost never investigated. Also, renters (and their descendants) could, and did, sublet, and even subdivide, apartments, renting the spaces out at much better than market rates and making a tidy profit on the deal. People are pretty creative when it comes to skirting rules, and New York City government is equally thud-witted and uncreative at creating the rules people skirt. It became almost

The second-order consequences were less salutary. While rents were frozen, utilities and property taxes were not – so landlords got squeezed hard. Landlords with sufficient means sold their properties to “co-ops”, or went condo, or found the few available loopholes – and there were very few, since the powers that be (and are) in New York treated landlords as a populist enemy to be demonized for political gain. The less affluent landlords fell behind on taxes. Squeezed by the city to pay up, repairs sufferend. Eventually these landlords stopped repairing their properties in less desirable areas, which quickly became even less desirable; vast swathes of Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens and Harlem fell into deep blight, with block after block of apartments abandoned…

…in a city with an “affordable housing crisis” where even in the 1980s, it was impossible to find a place to live for under $2,000 a month in 1985 dollars (which is $4,500 to 5,000 today).

Of course, all that blight begat crime. By the late ’70s, much of New York was a shooting gallery, wit over 2,000 dead per year.

Of course, there is a lot of money in New York, and a lot of people want to be there, so the real estate didn’t sit idle for too long – begetting the third-order consequences: developers moved in, took over the blighted, abandoned real estate, and built it back up. Of course, given New York’s regulatory “zeal” and astronomical taxes, it wasn’t just any developers. It was the ones with enough money to do the building, to navigate the bureaucracy (read “Money”) and pay the taxes (read – “keep the money coming”). The up-front costs were high – and the rest was even higher.

So after decades of “rent control”, one can not live in a decent place on Manhattan with an income of less than $500,000 a year.

I write this to highlight the path that the Minneapolis City Council – known among those in the know as “the dumbest city council between Chicago and Los Angeles” – is drooling to drive Minneapolis down.

Neo-populist progressive economicallly-illiterate stupidity – a barrel that, in Minneapolis, has no bottom.

President Of Convenience

SCENE: Mitch BERG is out on his porch waiting for some food delivery. He’s committed – can’t go inside yet – when Avery LIBRELLE happens around the corner.


BERG: Uh, hey, Avery…

LIBRELLE: Stop with all the scare talk. Joe Biden is a moderate.

BERG: Biden is a moderate in the exact same sense that Brooke Shields was George Michael’s girlfriend in the ’80s.

LIBRELLE: What? Go on…

BERG: In the ’80s, various publicists circulated the story that Brooke Shields was dating George Michael – a fantastic singer who tripped every ‘gaydar’ set in the world when “Wham UK” started releasing music videos.

The “Relationship” was imposed on the couple, and the world, by the execs at Michael’s label for a bunch of reasons; in an age when being “gay” was still pretty closet-y and the likes of Freddy Mercury and Elton John kept their orientations very much under the radar, it protected Michael’s marketability. It benefitted both of their careers. It kept the whole “is he gay?” discussion from hampering record sales. And it was neither of their idea – it was a concoction of publicists working for their various record, studio and management companies, to keep everyone’s nests feathered.


BERG: Biden is the same thing. He was brought in to put a “crazy grampa” veneer on a party whose extremism has exploded like a diet Coke with a Mento dropped in. To make incipient communism less scary for soccer moms.

LIBRELLE: That’s just…

BERG: Just what?

LIBRELLE: I’m torn between “Racist” and “Anti-Palestinian”.

BERG: Naturally…

BERG’s delivery arrives.


Subsequent Order Effects

You are playing pool in a bar. You strike the cue ball with the cue stick and the cue ball moves. That is a First Order Effect. The cue ball moves in response to your striking it with the cue stick.

The cue ball rolls along until it strikes another ball, perhaps the 10. The 10-ball moves. That is a Second Order effect of your cue stick action. The 10-ball rolls along until it strikes the 8-ball, knocking it into the pocket and causing you to lose the game. That is a Third Order effect of your cue stick action. They all result from your action. They are direct, predictable, foreseeable results and good pool players know better than to take that shot.

Governor Walz issues Executive Orders based on the First Order effects. He orders the bar closed to prevent the spread of Covid, the bar is closed, First Order Effect. What are the Second Order effects? The bartender and wait staff lose their jobs. They can’t pay their rent. They’re looking at eviction and homelessness, the Second Order Effect. They apply for unemployment and welfare, which increases the state budget deficit, leaving less money available for schools and local government aid, the Third Order Effect.

These are direct, predictable, foreseeable results and good Governors (in other states) know better than to implement those policies.

Joe Doakes

And if we had a caste of journalists who actually worked to tell the story, as opposed to logrolling people into compliance with the narrative they’ve been given, people would know this.


Anyone remember “Julia”?

The Obama campaign’s infantiolization of the American voter?

This video from Kamala Harris makes “Julia” look like John Galt:

This is what Joe Biden is a delivery system for.

Biden Ad – Part 2

Saw another Biden ad. Did you know Trump plans to eliminate Social Security? Really. But never fear, Joe Biden’s got a plan to save it. Good for him. You go, Joe!

Except. . . what, exactly, is that plan? Everybody knows Social Security is insolvent, but as far as I know there are only three solutions and all of them suck, which is why nobody in Washington is pushing them, not even Trump.

We could raise the retirement age high enough that people die before collecting. That would save money.

We could cut benefits low enough that there’d be enough for everybody to get a check, though maybe not enough to live on.

We could raise taxes on our kids’ incomes high enough to fund current benefits and current retirement age, but that would leave our kids destitute.

You know, Joe, before I pull the lever for you, I’m going to need some more details on this ‘plan’ of yours. Care to be more specific?

Joe Doakes

I keep yelling that at my TV/computer, several times a day.

Their pollsters just have to know that “Joe has a plan!” can only resonate with idiots.



Orwell Was A Pollyanna, Part MCLXII

Freedom is slavery.

Truth is lies.

And, to Los Angeles Democrats – in this case, Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti – homelessness is prosperity:

Babylon Bee can’t keep up anymore.

The Cupboard Is Bare

Fleet Farm, Labor Day Weekend. No .22, .223, .357, .38, .40, . 45, 5.56mm, or 9mm. Cabellas, the same. None expected. 

People who have confidence in their civic institutions do not panic about defending their families. 

Democrats have much to answer for.

Joe Doakes

As we noted the other day – people seek order.  If government doesn’t provide it, they’ll do it for themselves.  That’s not always a pleasant thing. 

Labor Day

It’s Labor Day – a transfer of wealth in the form of about .004% of most companies’ payroll to workers, given as a sop to organized unions at the height of their powers – a transfer I happily accept, like most of you, every year.

I’ll pay homage to the date with my own sojourn through the world of organized labor; my semester teaching at a local MNSCU university.

When I signed up, I was given a choice – pay $120 to the MNSCU faculty union, the “Inter-Faculty Organization” (IFO), or pay $108 for “Fair Share”, ostensibly my portion of the union’s negotiation efforts. I figured eight dollars was a worthwhile trade for a lifetime of being able to virtue-signal my DFL friends about being “a union guy”, and I paid it gladly.

As part of on-boarding, I had to attend a union orientation session.

There, the school’s shop steward – an English professor who as I recall was actually in a classroom 3-6 hours a week gave us an update on the concessions he’d wrung from the – I’m not making this up – “bosses” at MNSCU, his tone growing more impassioned, his face turning just a little bit red, a vein starting to bulge on his neck, like he was a Wobbly talking to iron miners in the 1910s about putting a safety cage on their elevator.

So – with all due respect to the union organizers who actually did make a difference with workers back when life actually was nasty, brutish and short (as opposed to some of the efforts we see today), enjoy the day.

Some Animals

A family watches their grandmother die, through a window – if they’re lucky.

More often, they are barred from the hospital where their loved one spends their last hours.

Thousands – possibly as many as 30,000 – cancer patients die because their needed care has been, and is being, deferred due to absurd coronavirus restrictions. Nobody has even estimated the toll for other diseases.

A father is barred from his pregnant wife’s ultrasound. This isn’t just missing a cute gender-reveal or a heart-warming first-encounter; the wife has had several miscarriages; a lot of mental health is riding on this test. No dice, Dad. Wait in your car until summoned. Put a mask on, while you’re at it.

Nancy Pelosi gets a blow out.

You have just discovered the meaning of socialism.

They Were Expendable

All the people working from home because of the Democrats’ Covid-19 response think they are essential. No, their jobs were declared essential to prevent widespread unrest, but the individuals performing the function are not essential. They are largely  interchangeable personnel units.

If a job can be done from my basement in Como Park, it could be done from a warehouse in Bombay, India. Think about this Summer as a giant dry run for outsourcing your job.
 The Luddites were right, in the end.

Joe Doakes

That’s true in all too many cases – although there are quite a few jobs where that has historically worked out very badly, mine (fingers crossed) among ’em.

But is this something that’s being harnessed to pave the way for “Universal Basic Income”? Which is another term for “Universal Dependence on Government”?

Casualties Of “Woke”. Or…

A few weeks ago, I joked – well, “joked” – that you could that most of the destructive rioters were upper middle class white kids, closely linked to the Twin Cities’ political class.

How could I tell this?

Because Allianz Field, home of “Minnesota United” soccer club, and a mere block from stores that were burned or looted wall to wall, didn’t have so much as a single graffito on it.

We’ll come back to Allianz Field in a moment.

The strip mall that adjoins Allianz, the “Midway Center”, essentially the Midway’s “main street”, was damaged extensively in the riots – but not comprehensively.

That hasn’t stopped the mall’s owner from terminating all the leases in the complex.

Jenny Hui got choked up earlier this week when talking about the family business being shut down.

She’s 28-years old and essentially grew up inside Golden Gate Cafe.

Her parents opened the restaurant in St. Paul’s Midway Shopping Center shortly after they emigrated from China decades ago.

“They worked super hard all these years to build everything we have now,” Hui said. “It’s devastating to see it go out like this.”

But the aftermath of civil unrest last month left parts of the Midway Shopping Center significantly damaged, and the landlord has informed tenants that he intends to terminate their leases.

The Pioneer Press obtained a copy of a letter dated June 25 in which the landlord cited a clause in the lease agreement that allows him to terminate in the case of extensive damage. He noted that all personal property must be removed from the premises by July 1

Now, stop me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t “MN United” looking to clear that shopping center out of the way to make way for its own development plans – plans that cater only dubiously to the neighborhood?

Major League Soccer’s Minnesota United principal owner Bill McGuire is involved in the property, though owner Rick Birdoff with RK Midway wrote the letter to tenants. Neither responded to requests for comment.

The Midway Shopping Center sits in the shadows of the newly constructed Allianz Field soccer stadium, home to Minnesota United.

Convenient, huh?

A Look Ahead To Government Healthcare…

…with a side helping of “Blue Minnesota always tries to emulate New York”.

City-run nursing homes in NYC became wretched hellscapes during the worst of the pandemic:

“It was just heartbreaking,” said one of the RNs, a mom of four from Wisconsin who spent about 17 days at the Coler Rehabilitation and Nursing Care Center.

“Patients were in deplorable conditions — very, very dirty, bed sores, terrible odors,’’ the FEMA-contracted nurse, 38, told The Post.

“During my shift, I was placing my initials on the adult diapers. When I would return the next day, the patients would have an additional adult diaper on over the one with my initials on it, saturated urine through both and through the sheets.’’

She and several other nurses, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they tended to coronavirus patients in the facility’s long-term-care section.

The virus-sickened patients were already living at the site when the nurses arrived and not among the COVID-19 sufferers who were ordered sent to the facility by Mayor Bill de Blasio because of a shortage of hospital beds amid the pandemic. The patients brought in from the outside were put in a separate wing of the site that had been closed.

The conditions were a direct result of Governor “Fredo” Cuomo and Mayor “Ratso” DiBlasio’s bureaucratic d**k-measuring contest back in March – further proof that politics is not just (as Kevin Williamson says) the worst possible way of allocating scarce resources, but in times of crisis, the deadliest as well.

Killing The Patient To Save It

I spent a little time watching some of the local TV news and weather drones chattering about Earth Day yesterday.

I know – I forgot to celebrate it, too, right?

And the line among the various weather drones, in noting that pollution is at record lows around the planet, was simultaneously predictable and a crushing face palm;

“it just shows what people can do to Fight climate change when they set their mind to it”

Yes. When the economy slows to a record halt, vaporizing trillions of dollars in personal and institutional wealth, throwing millions/tens of millions, really, into at least short term poverty and possibly much worse, with industries shut down and hundreds of thousands of small businesses vanquished over a little more than six weeks, the air will get a little clean.

What Do They Want? A Cookie?

So among all the bad news about the pandemic, it seems there is a silver lining: the administrations in Minneapolis and Saint Paul are being forced to stop playing Sim City with real money and people, and actually do he things city governments are supposeed to do.

Or, well, try. Emphasis added by me:

In Minneapolis, meetings to discuss the hotly debated Upper Harbor Terminal redevelopment have been postponed. Discussions about millions in funding for neighborhood organizations and reimagining the city’s transportation networks have been pushed to the summer.

In St. Paul, the pandemic prompted the city to postpone public hearings on a tenant protection ordinance and a ban on conversion therapy. A community meeting on the future of Ayd Mill Road was canceled and replaced with an online video.

The coronavirus is causing a major slowdown for the two cities, which have in recent years raised the minimum wage, overhauled zoning and made other changes consistent with a progressive policy agenda for workers and the environment. Now, they’re scrambling to find ways to meet the immediate needs of struggling residents while protecting their own workers.

In bold, you almost literally see a shopping list of “progressive” virtue-signals – gone (until the spigot turns back on).  

I’ve said it for years – especially since the Walking Dead was the most popular show on TV:  catastrophe makes everyone a conservative, one way or the other.   

“It’s nice to want to change the way things happen, but we don’t have the luxury of promoting change at this point,” said Minneapolis City Council Member Lisa Goodman. “We have the responsibility to make sure we provide the basic services of the city.”

And, when conversations on those more ambitious goals resume, they won’t look the same.

And one can hope that the people of MInneapolis and Saint Paul, when they see how badly the Cities take care of the basics after a decade of no practice, react to that change in the “conversation” by changing the way they’re governed.

Likely? Absolutely not. But if we don’t have hope, why bother?

Social Distance Update

Joe Doakes from Como Park tries his hand at one of my patented dramatizations (c):

Mitch Berg is walking through Menards, looking in vain for dust masks so he can sand the Sheetrock repairs where he was banging his head against the wall after reading Penigma’s email, when he sees Avery Liberelle wearing a giant hula hoop hung from strings over her shoulders.  He tries to slip into the nuts and bolts aisle, but she sees him.
Avery:  Merg!
Berg: Uh, hi Avery.  What’s with the hoop?
Avery: It’s my social distancing perimeter. Why aren’t you wearing yours? 
Berg: Uh . . .
Avery (darkly): Everyone should wear one. My aunt died of Covid-19: so they said.

Berg: (clicks his tongue sympathetically)!!!

Avery: (in the same tragic tone) But it’s my belief they done the old woman in.

Berg: (puzzled) Done her in?

Avery: Y-e-e-e-es, Lord love you! Why should she die of Covid-19? She come through diphtheria right enough the month before. I saw her with my own eyes. Fairly blue with it, she was. They all thought she was dead; but my father he kept ladling gin down her throat til she came to so sudden that she bit the bowl off the spoon.

Berg: (startled) Dear me!

Avery: (piling up the indictment) What call would a woman with that strength in her have to die of the bat flu? And what become of her new straw hat that should have come to me? Somebody pinched it; and what I say is, them as pinched it done her in.

Berg: (to Avery, horrified) You surely don’t believe that your aunt was killed?

Avery: Do I not! Them in that nursing home would have killed her for a hat-pin, let alone a hat.

Berg: But it can’t have been right for your father to pour spirits down her throat like that. It might have killed her.

Avery: Not her. Gin was mother’s milk to her. Besides, he’d poured so much down his own throat that he knew the good of it. (To Berg, who is in convulsions of suppressed laughter) Here! what are you sniggering at?  Science denier!  (Avery stomps off, knocking things off the shelves with her hoop).
End Scene
Joe Doakes

It’s barely fiction, to be honest.

Urbocentric Problems

A reader emails:

Several months ago, when white, urbanist homeowners were busy advocating for rental housing for everyone else, I would ask why. Why would we advocate for renting over ownership? I never got a good answer- it was determined to be mostly racist to ask the question, which to me seems to be more of a racist answer than the question is.

Anyway, now with COVID-19 shutdowns, I started to see this hashtag pop up- #cancelrent

I searched the hashtag on Twitter. More than 80 within the last hour.

The biggest complaint seems to be that it is now suddenly wrong for someone else to earn money by “doing no more than allowing you to have a place to live.

Great, then it’s settled. Can we stop building luxury $2000 per month apartments and go back to building single family homes or at least make the apartments that are being built condos or both?

I’m a little concerned that the generation that thought milk came from cartons, now thinks housing, healthcare, and benefits descend from the skies in velveteen treasure chests on the backs of unicorns.  

Tone Deaf

Moments after the president signed the biggest bailout bill in American history – which included tens of millions of dollars for the Kennedy Center – The Center laid off the entire National Symphony Orchestra:

Hours after President Trump signed a stimulus bill that includes $25 million for the Kennedy Center, its president Deborah Rutter told the National Symphony Orchestra that their paychecks would end this week..

In a conference call Friday night, Rutter told orchestra leaders that the 96 musicians would receive their last paycheck on April 3 and that they will not be paid until the arts center reopens. In addition, she said their health care benefits would stop at the end of May if the arts center is still closed at that time. The announcement was characterized by several NSO members as a shock.

While the orchestra is out on the streets, does anyone want to place any bets on how many key Democrat party figures and donors will get a boost from the taxpayer bonanza?

“Julia” 2030: Good Morning, Brave New World

The dream was always the same. Set in a gray miasma straight out of Ingmar Bergman, there was not so much sight as sound; an endless clanking, like the way the radiators in her parents house used to clank and bang on the first cold day of fall, when she was a child. A shrill whining, like the badly-worn brakes on the bus she used to take to work. And behind it all, a dim chorus that sounded like hundreds of people chanting in the distance; “Si, se puede! Si, se puede! Si, se puede…”

Her eyes blinked open, alighting on the first rays of dim winter morning sun filtering through the windowshades onto the wall, reflecting wanly off the indifferently-white paint on the wall, welcoming Julia to another day.

Her foot stuck out from under the quilt – but just for the moment for Julia to register that Christ, it’s cold out here. She could barely remember feeling warm, at least not in this apartment – she shuddered at the thought of the electrical bills she was paying, had always paid, ever since 2021 when she got her first job out of college in time for the “Green New Deal” to pass. Bundle up for the planet, she thought, laconically remembering the slogans that first winter, four years ago.

She shook it out of her head and pulled her foot back under the quilt.

She heard a brief “snork” of a cough from the other half of the bed. Her boyfriend of six months, Ian Joshua Kohlman, was still sleeping. Julia thought about curling up closer to him for a little warmth, before ruefully remembering that he – who graduated the previous spring from the U of M School of Social Justice and Victimology Studies, the first class to go all the way through their master’s degree completely free of tuition, and had just been laid off from his job as an associate barrista, just wasn’t very warm. She looked at his scraggly mop of hair, gathered into a greasy man-bun at the back of his scalp, and thought “I have no idea where we’re going to make up the $15 an hour we’re losing now“, before sadly wanly hoping he’s have better luck looking for a job in his field, and life’s passion, of social justice activism through performance art, and silently doubting it, noting how little use she’d gotten from her free birth control in the past two months – partly from Ian’s depression, which his friends told Julia had always been a facet of his personality, but had gotten worse as his job search dragged on and on.

Slowly, the sounds started filtering in from the units above and below the third-floor appartment in southwest MInneapolis that Julia and Ian shared. The neighbors downstairs were chasing their three (she guessed) children around trying to get them ready for school The neighbors on the other side of the bedroom wall were apparently having a spirited argument about their toothbrushes. And the neighbors above, apparently, were Ukraining clog dancers doing their morning warmups. A couple of teenagers were bellowing at each other in the hallway outside. Through the frosty bedroom window looking out over Queen Street, an MTC bus stopped for a passenger in a wheelchair – the steady beep beep beep beep beep beep of the alarm shaking the last of her 6:30 AM cobwebs away.

Julia lay for a moment, before realizing the day wasn’t going to live itself. She mentally counted down “Three – Two – One“, and slid out from under the covers, her slim figure draped in long underwear and a sweatshirt against the cold that the quilt could never quite smother. She grabbed a top, some underwear and a pair of jeans from her closet, and two-stepped to the bathroom, shivering, turning on the water, putting her hands underneath the unsatisfying stream, waiting for just enough warmth to justify jumping out of her bed-clothes quickly, in time to warm up a bit before the stream of luke-hot hot water from the unit’s “eco-friendly” water heater turned luke-cool, then cold. She felt her opporunity, and showered and washed her hair quickly.

But not quick enough, the stream turning uncomfortably frigid as she rinsed. She gritted her teeth and finished before jumping out, drying off as fast as she could, shivering, and getting dressed.

She stepped back into the bedroom and grabbed her coat, seeing the “Che Guevara” t-shirt that, she wistfully remembered, Ian had been wearing when they met.

No time for regrets“, she thought, pulling on her stocking cap and walking through the kitchenette. “The sink is dripping, the fridge is fridging even less well than usual, and the window insulation is leaky“, she thought, grabbing a cricket and quinoa bar, wondering what they were getting for their $1,800 a month for the one-bedroom apartment.

She fished the keys out of her purse and walked out into the hallway, the teenagers still bellowing nonsense at each other from opposite ends of the hall, and walked to the elevator, stabbing the button with her finger as the teenagers obscene chatter got faster and louder. Finally, the door opened, and she got into the car going down.

A man from a higher floor was standing in the corner of the elevator car. A vague feeling of unease tugged at the corner of her consciousness – the man, in his fifties, always smelled a little of booze and decay, and always left her feeling uneasy – a feeling that, unbeknownst to her, was utterly justified, as he leered at his young neighbor, not really worrying in his somewhere-between-drunk-and-hung-over haze if she noticed or not, as the elevator – which, although ten years old, was already showing its age – lurched to a stop on the first floor. Julia stepped out quickly, turning to walk to the lobby.

She paused for a moment, pulling her wool cap, scarf and gloves, the smells of the lobby – cooking, cigarettes and a faint waft of urine tickling the edges of her senses as they did every morning. “This was supposed to be a nice building”, Julia though – and then remembered, “It is“.

She looked out the glass door, feeling the chill radiating into the lobby from the murky dawn-ish outdoors as the stiff February breezed pushed against the building’s facade, trying to exert mother nature’s control over the high-density urban landscape. Julia thought about taking a sick day, briefly – but the reflection of the guy from the higher floor gave her the motivation to push through.

There’d been a snowstorm three days before. Julia trudged through the snow, on the sidewalk that hadn’t been shoveled since the snowstorm two days earlier. The sky was still twi-dawn dark, but promised to be clear and mercilessly post-blizzard cold, Julia though, walking down Queen to get to the bus station, walking through the single-file groove the other people on the street had left yesterday, packed and a little treacherous, walking to the Yellow Line station.

She crossed the street without thinking too hard about it – there were few cars in this inner-city neighborhood, and the little glorified lawn mowers that a few people did have, jammed into the limited parking on the “new urbanist” street, didn’t fare well on streets that hadn’t seen a snowplow yet, and likely wouldn’t – and walked up the long ramp to the train platform, which was still slick and icy from the storm, “and most likely will be until the sun melts it in a few months“, Julia thought. A couple of drunk men were loudly arguing down at the other end of the platform, as about a half dozen other people huddled against the cold, hoping to be left alone.

“Yellow Line – next train six minutes” said the LED sign, the one of three on the platform that still worked. “Great“, Julia thought, as she wedged into the plexiglas shelter and hit the “heat” button, her face briefly tilting upward, hoping for a ray or two of warmth from the french-fry-warmer style light that blinked on above, discretely trying to keep the two loud drunks just inside the corner of her vision. “Every f****ng morning“, she thought, letting the thought tail off, silently trying to scrape a piece of cricket bar off her teeth with her tongue. The platform had been getting worse and worse, even in this “good” neighborhood of southwest Minneapolis – but a wave of muggings, assaults, rapes and general bad behavior had followed the completion of the Yellow Line a few years earlier.

Still, better than trying to drive ,or waiting on a bus“, she thought, shuddering at what some of her former co-workers had paid for parking downtown, back when there was still parking downtown.

She startled from her reverie as a Yellow Line train rounded the bend and pulled up to the platform. She pressed the door button, and the door slid open. Julia stepped inside…

…and looked, in vain, for a seat. They were all full – about half with commuters, huddled up, grateful to finally be out of the cold for the next 20 minutes; the rest with the same crowd of homeless men, sleeping, sometimes across a couple of seats. One, half-awake, smoked a cigarette, the smoke causing Julia’s throat to itch and stifle a cough. She grabbed a hold bar and held on, waiting for the train to lurch forward.

But the lurch didn’t come. The drunks stood in the doorway at the other end of the car, carrying on their argument as the wave of cold washed back over the packed commuters, the shapeless slurry of words lost in the muted wave of groaning before the drunk stepped back to the platform.

The train finally lurched forward. A mostly-empty vodka bottle rolled down the aisle – from the smell of the car, much of it had already spilled.

But for the next 90 seconds, until the train got to its next stop, there’d be a little warmth – broken eight times by the doors sliding open at each stop as the Yellow Line wended its way downtown. As the train crossed a freeway bridge, it ground to a halt. “Not again“, Julia groaned, as commuter heads shook with resigned frustration.

Finally, the train pulled into the Warehouse District station. A short, sharp eddy of wind greeted Julia as she stepped onto the platform, stripping away the little coccoon of smoky, vodka-tinged warmth of the train, as she walked toward her office, the chilly staccato of her gait mirrored by the other commuters, and contrasting with the tentative amble of the homeless and the hung over.

“Haaaaaay, you got a dollar? My sister’s car broke down, and her daughter is with her out on the freeway”, a panhandler slurred as Julia walked down the ramp.

“Sorry, no cash”, she murmured through er scarf as she moved, just a little faster.

It was a Monday. Julia, a web designer, had a big project presentation at 2PM. It was going to be a long morning.