Monday, October 26, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
"Oh how cute! how old is he going to be?"
"Oh! Not so cute anymore, eh?" Laughs
"Yeah, my other grandson is better looking, but of course I don't say that to THEM!!"
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
My dad bought his Harley-Davidson almost a year and a half ago. He said goodbye to any of my college tuition, and all renovations on our basement halted. He bought his ride without telling anyone but his wife. He rode it for probably a month before the rest of the family found out. The bike is a two seater, midnight blue, with chrome detail, and raised handle-bars. Similarly, when I was a child, my dad raved on and on about a midnight blue, four-door, crew cab Ford but, I was not old enough to have a sufficient college fund to spend. I feel like his Harley is a reincarnation of his Ford but, beggars can't be choosers when it comes to a mid-life crisis. At first I refused to dignify his purchase with a response. I looked at it, but wouldn't ride on it. I had always loved the Orange County Chopper show but I thought it juvenile for my own father to splurge on a motorcycle.
In June of 2008 his Harley-Davidson made it's first appearance to the public outside of my immediate family. He cruised up to my best friend's outdoor graduation party completely decked out in a skull cap, a mean Harley shirt, and steel-toe boots. Never have I been more proud of my dad's bad ass appeal. He just looked so cool. That summer he and my mother went all over Minnesota on the Harley, giving me plenty of nights to re-claim my tuition money by throwing parties. Motorcycle riders make for relaxed parent, right? Wrong. Either the new motorcycle smell has gone away, or the dog sold me out. They don't do over-night rides as often as they did.
I don't know if my dad's Harley is a mid-life crisis gift to himself or not; that seems to be my own running joke. Part of me thinks that he is trying to own the road, to scare the stupid out of jumpy Crotch-Rocket punks, and to define a new way of road rage intimidation. A few years back my family and I encountered an irresponsible youngster racing in between cars on his purple torpedo to get as much distance between himself and the police cars that were tailing him. We were on our way out of town for a much needed vacation. It had already been a chore to load the entire house into the car and then pile us on top of everything, and we were hardly on the highway when, of course, the little C.R. nailed the back end of our mini-van. He could have seriously injured my younger sister if he hadn't hit an orange construction cone on his way into our vehicle. My dad nearly threw his door off the hinges when he flew out of the car raging in his steel-toe boots. The C.R. kid is lucky my dad didn't shove his scrawny body up the mangled crotch-rocket's exhaust pipe. It took four police officers to stop my six foot six, invincible father from stomping the dazed rider into the tangled mess that was his bike. The end result of the lawsuit was that my dad had to have a bigger, louder, better bike than a crotch rocket; more leather, more straps, more mean mugs. After all, the swag is all about the riders glare: a bandanna tightened around a furrowed brow, a pair of sleek shades, pursed lips, and a firm crease around the corners of the mouth.
To all the amateurs: Don't mess with the big dogs because they will go out and buy a Harley and some Sturgis friends.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Seed producing industries have taken over the agricultural process indefinitely. No longer organic, seeds have become genetically modified, thus they are owned by large corporations by a patent. These seeds are LEGALLY protected from reproduction and redistribution in the fields. President Clinton signed the 1970 Plant Variation Protection Act enabling ultimate control over saving seeds. Each year after every crop, new seeds must be purchased or the farmer may face a lawsuit. Experts are checking these farms unbeknownst to the land owner. Any re-seeded crops are destroyed because they are protected by Clinton's congressionally approved amendments. What is outrageous is that such re-seeding can ultimately be out of the control of the farmer. Natural redistribution can happen through something as simple as the wind blowing residue across fields. Farms in South America that don't process seeds from North America have been finding crops that originate in our country. Thousands of suicides have occurred in India because Indian farmers can no longer afford to re-purchase seeds harvest after harvest. What these companies are creating is defined as cultural evolution, but what they aren't creating is progress. Progress would be the notion that humans are moving forward with positive agricultural developments, but the productivity of such practices amongst corporations is so low that what genetic varaition is producing will inevitably have a negative effect on our future in farming.
Strangely enough, these genetically engineered seeds aren't affecting just humans. It is possible for these inorganic plants to destroy other species. Monarchs, for example, aren't dying out because children like to catch butterflies. They can no longer digest the pollen in modified plants. If their species can no longer transfer pollen across a field, plants will eventually die out, along with the insects that ingest pollen out of necessity to thrive.
Thanks to organizations such as "Seeds of Change" it is still possible to purchase organic seeds. They strive to preserve seed saving just as ambitiously as corporations strive to destroy it. By continuing to produce natural products we can begin to evolutionize agriculture with positive outcomes. Those that can afford the organic seeds are not required to re-purchase them after every harvest and at the end of the season their profit would outweigh expenses making for happy farming :) (More information can be found at the "Seeds of Change" website http://www.seedsofchange.com/)
"The eye takes a person into the world. The ear brings the world into the human being"
-Laurence Oken, philosopher
Monday, October 12, 2009
-Margaret, Assisted Living
The Large Cat Exhibit was first opened to the public in 1980, it was the beginning of many of Como Zoo's renovations. As crowds make their way through the double doors and down the steep stone stairs, they enter a shrine of pastel yellows, greens, and purples. The walls and the ceiling are painted with depictions of three different cat families and twisting green and grey vines. On either side of the walkway there are huge windows opening up to the enclosures of the three specific animals. I was informed by Claire, a Como Zoo Conservatory volunteer, that the glass keeping the faux wilderness from human contact is nine sheets of bullet proof safety. I was also told that the exhibit was designed based on a tent from the Mughal Empire circa 1600 in Northern India. The reason being the Mughal Empire was the very last culture in which the lion, tiger, and snow leopard cohabited. The art of the Mughal culture was very colorful, patterned work, which is represented in the Large Cat House where the lion, tiger, and snow leopard once again coexist as they did when the Mughal Empire thrived.
The lion den consists of 4 lions. There are Garth and Winona, ages 16 and 17, who are the parents to Mufasa and Savannah. Both pairs are very bonded, even Mufasa and Savannah who are siblings. Claire believes that one lion would be very, very upset if something happened to the other. Garth has had a vasectomy so cubs are not an option, but the mating continues because the lions have no idea that they are not able to reproduce. Claire said that the zoo would never allow siblings to produce offspring, so Mufasa has also had a vasectomy to prevent Savannah from giving birth. They all lounge in a dimly lit, two room den, with a small opening connecting from one enclosure to another. Both sides of the separating stone wall have large black rocks that cover the entire surface. Behind a mesh gate there are trees, bushes, and vines that attempt to create an outdoors feeling. Cluttering the floor are plenty of toys that have clearly been very loved: a beat up, purple, kiddie pool, a scratched and worn, oversized rubber duck, a small tire swing with thick intertwined rope holding it to the ceiling, and a large tractor tire that makes for a good size reference.
For being bred in captivity, it is amazing how chiseled and bulky their bodies are. They are on the smaller side compared to wild lions, but they still evoke a certain amount of fear. Claire says that Winona is the "moody" lioness. When she gets angry or uneasy she hits at the glass, something that could easily frighten someone as close too her as her own zoo keeper. When I saw her, Winona was lounging around the tractor tire, oblivious to anything but the inside of her eyelids. Garth had taken a stance at the other side of the tractor tire, almost as if he was anticipating something.
The young girl was long gone, but Garth was still stationed in the same spot, staring past my eyes, no longer phased by the tiger across the walkway, and no longer widening his jaw to yawn. That is the way I left him, waiting for next season's crowd of spectators to burst down the stairs and into his home. They will gawk and giggle as he and Winona go through the motions of captive lions and entertain the masses with roars and flicking tails. They wont show fear, anger, or any interest at all until the crowds start to leave, and again, that one lucky person is noticed and acknowledged as Garth admires their complexity, and wonders what it is like to be on the other side of the glass.
A cure is something everyone is looking for; it could be for something as simple as a cold to something as complex as an unknown disease. For my step family and I it is the latter. Every year, we get together with thousands of other hopefuls and walk. Every person is with us for a different reason whether they are surviving, celebrating, or survivors. We laugh and cry with people of every background imaginable, but we all share one thing in common: every person involved has been touched in some way or another by breast cancer. For my family and I our movement started in December of 1996 when we lost my Aunt Sara to her battle with cancer. Our first year of the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure was difficult. We went with our generic race shirts and "In memory of Sara Filar" pinned on our backs. In the beginning it was hard to see survivors dressed in pink throughout the crowd when our own fighter wasn't able to join them, but it has become easier throughout the years. Now when we walk we celebrate my aunt's memory as Team Sarah. Our shirts have her photo ironed onto the sleeve, we have a gigantic sign that announces our place in the crowds of participants, and we hug the survivors that we used to envy. It is a beautiful thing to see, coming over a large hill in the last stretch of the race, hundreds and hundreds of people joining together for the same cause: to find a cure.
Nancy G. Brinker founded Susan G. Komen for the Cure after losing her sister to breast cancer after a very ambitious battle. Susan spent her time in treatment looking for ways to make breast cancer easier for other women. Near the end of Susan's life, inspired by her sister's compassion and strength, Nancy promised Susan "that she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer forever". This promise has lead to over one billion dollars since 1982, making the Susan G. Komen foundation the largest source of nonprofit funds for a breast cancer cure. Though they are making a huge impact on developments, nearly 10 million women could die from breast cancer in the next 25 years without a solution. Nancy's promise was to end breast cancer forever, the science is possible, and it is just a matter of time.
Breast cancer is not something that is fully understood, and as of now there is no easy treatment. All women are susceptible and majority of the women that are diagnosed have no risk factors except for the obvious factor that they are aging females. It is very rare, but according to the Susan G. Komen foundation, in 2008 it was estimated that men would account for about 1,990 of the diagnosed.
There are two specific types, Invasive and Non-Invasive (Ductal Carcinoma in Situ). Invasive breast cancer takes place when the abnormal cells in the ducts spread outside to the breast tissue. This allows the invasive cells to spread into the lymph system in a process called metastasis. Advanced stages can lead to cancer cells spreading to organs such as the liver, lungs and bones.
Non-invasive breast cancer occurs when the abnormal cells remain in the milk ducts and do not spread to the breast tissue. It is possible for DCIS to develop into invasive cancer. This is why it is extremely important for women to take part in yearly mammograms and self checks; as with every disease early detection can be one of the most important factors in recovery. Before the 1980's new cases of breast cancer only rose by about one percent a year, likely because of a lack of awareness and less screening. It is shocking to hear that since the eighties the number of diagnosed cases has risen to 192,370 in 2009, but the mortality rate in the last 30 years has decreased significantly. This means that women are getting the necessary exams and breast cancer is being caught in the earlier stages making treatment more successful.
The Race for the Cure is held annually all across the nation and in recent years they have extended to international affiliates, holding races in countries such as Costa Rica and Italy. In 2009 roughly 45,000 people participated globally, reaching $4.3 million dollars. The Twin Cities Race for the Cure is held every Mother's day in Bloomington. The festivities kick off in front of the Mall of America with stands that are spread across a parking lot, all of which are representatives of the many corporate sponsors. Amazingly enough, each year another sponsor is added, more gifts are given out, and more space is needed to accommodate all of the affiliates. Boxes of food and water are emptied in seconds. Bananas, yogurt, and Nutri-Grain bars are stuffed into fanny packs and empty strollers as participants head to the starting marker. At 9:00 A.M. the 5K walk starts and together, survivors in pink and loved ones in white, we traipse 3.1 miles proudly declaring our support. Sue's Sidekicks, Love for Lori, Team Healthy Hoots, Cure Cutie's, Nancy's Blazer's, Pirates of Pink, Renee's Renegades, and more, all making a difference for the next woman diagnosed with breast cancer.
The best defense against any disease is to be well-informed. Information on Susan G. Komen for a Cure can be found online at komen.org or komenminnesota.org. There are so many ways to support. Donate to the foundation, Buy a bag of Amy's Blend coffee beans from Caribou, collect designated Yoplait yogurt lids, and even better, join thousands of others in the 2010 Twin Cities Race for the Cure.
If you were at all interested in knowing why it is snowing on October 12th, I will tell you. I am sorry to inform you that you completely threw off the cosmic balance of Minnesota by turning 1st Avenue into a two way. The snow is a direct consequence of your bull-shit use of stimulus money. Today is Monday, the first Monday since the road change, and I can tell you from my own experience that your big idea sucks. I saw only one car utilizing the opposite side of the road to head North, and I must say that they are very gutsy human beings. My original plan for this day was to continue driving as I usually would: passing stupid idiots as I please in my usual multiple lanes, ignoring the yellow line, and surley I could have done just that because as you can see from my previous statement, I only saw one car on the other side of the double yellow. Lucky for that daring soul, my grandma told me that my plan was stupid, as I am telling you that your plan is stupid. Someone could have died. Thanks grandma for your wisdom.
I read the Star Tribune nearly every day and have yet to find a story that explains to me the following things:
Who pushed for the 2-ways?
Who voted for them?
And, is this a result of the new stadium?
Because baseball fans, unlike most football fans, are not mildly stupid and can infact find their way through downtown by reading the signs. The old signs did not say: 'No parking in the middle of the fucking road monday thru friday 6am-9am, 4pm-6pm, and every other leap year'. for fuck sake, correct me if I'm mistaken, but I'm pretty sure they said "ONE WAY" with a big black arrow pointing in the direction of the one way. I hope that the city officials were NOT the football loving idiots that couldn't understand the concept of one-way traffic or our city is in dire need of a change in authority. If you want directions to the metrodome I will paint you a big red line to follow. I don't think you can miss the marshmallow that is conveniently located right off of a 35W exit specifically so people like you don't get lost....ZINGGG. According to our city once you get past the metrodome you don't know how to navigate the streets any longer. so sad.
I will continue this after I take my Nutrition test, in my Community college, which is located directly at the end of your stupid changes. My next complaint it going to be that mother fucking light at the intersection of Hell and the 394 exit into downtown. WHERE IS THE GREEN ARROW????
At the intersection of 12th street and 1st Avenue where 394 traffic USED to have to turn left, they can now speed straight ahead... There are agitated students yielding to the boisterous vehicals, waiting for three or four light changes only to be late to class and ridiculed. It was convenient when we were legally able to turn left on red, that is clearly no longer a possibility. BUT, I have noticed after sitting at that damn light for 10 minutes that the cross traffic has been yielding when their light turns green to allow all the pissed off commuters to make a left hand turn on a red. How nice of them. I'm currently waiting for some self-righteous bike rider who is finally driving their car to ruin all of the nice by smashing into a pissed off student. That is a fight I want to see if it means I will get a fricken green arrow. I refuse to wake up an extra half an hour to wait at your stupid intersection. Why don't you spend another 10,000 dollars on a green arrow. I assume that your simple explanation for this problem would be to take Hennipen avenue the whole way to school but I would rather not run over a self-righteous bike rider or get myself hit by an even more self-righteous bus full of bike riders avoiding the snow. I think my solution to the green arrow issue is to give a homless man a construction slow/stop sign and a few shots of mexican piss.
Can you tell I don't like bikes? I would be perfectly fine with them if I didn't feel like I was going to kill one because they weave in and out of my line of vision. I've seen a drunk guy ride his bike more gracefully than the people cycling downtown. Do they get the right of way because they are incompetent? is that the same reason buses get the right of way? They now get a full lane to themselves. Why don't we build them an underground tunnel? That would extremely conveniece my life and all the other irritated drivers.
I will end for today with one question. What are you going to do with all the dead drunk people? They don't look both ways. And that weird parking shit you have going on in the right lane is going to only enlarge the problem for their designated drivers. I will tell you right now that personally, I am going to refuse to pick people up from the bars on 1st Avenue unless they walk all the way to Washington. I am NOT dealing with that madness. Correction: your madness. Basically, it's going to come down to a lot more drunk people driving home. Good luck with that. Not my drunkards, not my problem.