Stuff I Love: Minnesota Zoo

Stuff I Love: My favorite products, music, movies, geek obsessions and more. I think these things are awesome and you should too!

The Minnesota Zoo

Here in Minnesota we have what some longtime residents still refer to as “The New Zoo.” It’s not so new any more – it opened in 1978 – but it is a lot newer than the other Twin Cities Zoo (Como Zoo, which opened in 1897).

One of the things I love so much about the Minnesota Zoo is one of the things that visitors often complain about. The outdoor exhibits are large & natural, and the animals have plenty of room to move around. I take a lot of photos of the animals at the zoo and I hate it when there’s no way to get an image that doesn’t have a fence or enclosure in it. Even though I’m obviously not taking my pictures of tigers out in the wild, I want them to at least look as natural as possible.

For a while, due to lack of funding and interest, the zoo had very little change. Then, in 2000, they hired Lee Ehmke away from New York’s Bronx Zoo to be the new director.  Under Mr. Ehmke’s leadership the Minnesota Zoo has gone from being a good zoo to being a great world-class zoo. He’s gotten old exhibits such as the Minnesota Trail spruced up and rebuilt as well as bringing in entirely new exhibits with new animals such as the new Penguin exhibit and the Russia’s Grizzly Coast exhibit.

I’ve been a member of the MNZoo for over a decade now and I am consistently impressed by each new exhibit they build. They always hold member’s nights for the new stuff so that Zoo members can get the first look at it. Another awesome feature they’ve added to member’s previews in just the last few years is an 18+ preview night. Zoos are great for kids, and kids love them. But, if you don’t have kids and aren’t at the zoo with kids it is sooooo nice to be viewing the exhibits with only adults. My membership is just an individual adult one so I take advantage of the quieter preview.

I have taken hundreds if not thousands of pictures at the Minnesota Zoo. Here are just a few of them:


Amur Tigers, October 2005


Amur Leopard, September 2008

Mexican Grey Wolf

Mexican Grey Wolf, December 2005

Red Panda

Red Panda, February 2007


Flamingo, February 2007


Ring-Tailed Lemur, February 2007

Gray Wolf

Gray Wolf, March 2008

Stuff I Love: Nook eReader

Stuff I Love: My favorite products, music, movies, geek obsessions and more. I think these things are awesome and you should too!

I’ve always been a reader. One of my favorite stories about me as a kid is from my first day of Kindergarten. When I got home my mom asked me how I liked it. I told her it was terrible. When she asked why I said it was because I didn’t learn to read. I’d been told by my parents and my sister that when I went to Kindergarten I’d learn to read and after a whole day I hadn’t learned yet. They started teaching me to read at home that night and I’ve never stopped. My entire life I’d estimate that there have maybe been 100 nights or so, if that, that I didn’t read for at least a little while before bed.

When eReaders became popular I was skeptical. There’s just something about an actual book after all. Then I got a Nook Wi-Fi. I was sold!

I still buy books I really love and want to own in paper version, as well as books by people I know or am a big fan of. But the ease and convenience and savings of the Nook have me reading more than I have in years. One of the features of the Nook that made me choose it over Amazon’s Kindle was the support for non-DRM epub files and especially the support for the Overdrive library lending system. I live in Hennepin County and we have an amazing public library here. HCL was quick to move with current trend and joined up with Overdrive to offer ebooks for borrowing. They had less than 1000 titles when I got my Nook in November 2010. Now, they have over 30,000! I never run out of books to read, and I can put requests in for the more popular book that are always checked out.

My Nook has the traditional e-ink screen rather than the newer touch e-ink screen or an LCD screen. It really is just like reading ink on paper. No eye-strain, I can read it in the sunlight, and the battery charges last forever.

I’ll never give up on paper books, but I’m also completely addicted to my Nook!