Driving and taxis

• "Uptown Minneapolis" is south of downtown.

• Most traffic lights are on the corner curbs, not overhead in the middle of the street.

• Don't take the directional indications of "35W" and "35E" too seriously.

• Minnesotans are notorious for not knowing how to merge onto freeways, finally heaving the car into your lane at the last minute while going 25 miles an hour. We brake for on-ramps -- if not for pedestrians.

• No honking! Around here, laying on your horn is the equivalent to deliberately rear-ending someone.

• "The Crosstown" means Hwy. 62, which goes east-west on the southern border of Minneapolis and is a common airport route.

• Taxi tips: You can't hail a cab from the street. You have to go to a designated taxi stand. During the convention, some of those stands may be closed or moved. Some cabs have glowing lights hard-wired on top. This does not mean they are available.

Notorious landmarks not worth the effort

• Mary Tyler Moore house. It's a private residence and has changed too much.

• Larry Craig bathroom stall at the airport. Really, what do you expect to see?

The rivalry between the Twin Cities

• Never, ever refer to St. Paul as Minneapolis.

The reverse never happens, so no worries there.

• St. Paulites say: Minneapolis is where we

play, but St. Paul is where we live. Minneapolitans say: Minneapolis is where we live and play.

St. Paul is ... someplace in Wisconsin?

• People from Minneapolis find navigating St Paul to be difficult.

People from St Paul just don't believe in navigating Minneapolis.

Eating and drinking

• Soda is "pop."

• Seltzer is "soda water."

• Casserole is "hot dish."

• Bars are places to drink, also 50 percent of desserts made in Minnesota are bars (lemon bars, pumpkin bars, etc.).

• Do try: Wild rice, walleye and lefse (thin Scandinavian potato pancakes rolled with sugar and butter).

• Try at your own risk: lutefisk, smelly whitefish cured in lye.

Minnesota expressions

• Yep. You bet.

• "Oh, fer," as in "Oh, fer nice!" or "Oh, fer gosh sakes!"

• "Ish" = "ick" or "gross."

• "Not too bad" = Amazingly great! not to be confused with ...

• "It's not that bad,'' the stock answer to any question about living here.

• DFL stands for the Democratic Farmer Labor party.

• You want to come with?

• A "hockey haircut" is a mullet. Even our governor used to have one.

• Can you borrow me five bucks?

• Schmoozing: In Minnesota, this means brown-nosing, not just chatting (we're suspicious of extroverts).

• "We'll be up at the lake" or "the cabin." Like there's only one. And it's always "the cabin," even when it's a house.

• "Up North" is anywhere north of the Twin Cities, but "the North Shore" is along Lake Superior between Duluth and the Canadian border.

• "The Cities" is the Twin Cities metropolitan area to anyone who lives outside of it.

Safe conversation starters

• Whatcha driving these days?

• Crop art (artwork made from nothing but seeds and other plant parts -- now showing at the Minnesota State Fair).

• The weather. (No, it won't snow while you're here. Uh, well, at least it shouldn't.)

• Hating the Packers.

• When you're going to close down the cabin, up at the lake (or at least take in the dock).

• The eighth wonder of the world, skyways (those elevated downtown sidewalks).

Risky conversation starters

Anything money-related.

• Bridge safety.

• Loving the Vikings.

• Northwest Airlines becoming Delta.

• Ethanol.

• Garrison Keillor's latest column.

• Prince vs. Dylan.

• Outdoor vs. indoor baseball stadiums.

Pronunciation guide

Edina: Ee-DINE-ah

Wayzata: Why-ZET-ta

Shakopee: SHOCK-a-pee

Nicollet Av.: NICK-o-lett

Roof: Vowel sound as in "look"

Social customs

• Start saying goodbye at least 15 minutes before you really have to leave.

• Replying to an RSVP request is considered an optional courtesy.

• When in doubt, be indirect.

• Be prepared to face passive aggression around every corner. If a Minnesotan tells you something is "interesting" or "different," you can be sure you've been insulted.