Sunday, November 30, 2014

More walking quotes

“I am alarmed when it happens that I have walked a mile into the woods bodily, without getting there in spirit.” -- Henry David Thoreau
“After a day's walk everything has twice its usual value.” -- George Macauley Trevelyan
“I would walk along the quais when I had finished work or when I was trying to think something out. It was easier to think if I was walking and doing something or seeing people doing something that they understood.” -- Ernest Hemingway
“I find more pleasure in wandering the fields than in musing among my silent neighbours who are insensible to everything but toiling and talking of it and that to no purpose.” -- John Clare
“We ought to take outdoor walks, to refresh and raise our spirits by deep breathing in the open air.” -- Seneca

“I always feel so sorry for women who don't like to walk; they miss so much -- so many rare little glimpses of life; and we women learn so little of life on the whole.” --Kate Chopin
“Thinking is generally thought of as doing nothing in a production-oriented culture, and doing nothing is hard to do. It's best done by disguising it as doing something, and the something closest to doing nothing is walking.” -- Rebecca Solnit
“Above all, do not lose your desire to walk: every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness; I have walked myself into my best thoughts and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it.” --Søren Kierkegaard

“Perhaps the truth depends on a walk around a lake.” -- Wallace Stevens
“Walks. The body advances, while the mind flutters around it like a bird.” -- Jules Renard
"[Walking] is the perfect way of moving if you want to see into the life of things. It is the one way of freedom. If you go to a place on anything but your own feet you are taken there too fast, and miss a thousand delicate joys that were waiting for you by the wayside.” -- Elizabeth von Arnim

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Walking Quotes

"I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in." -- John Muir

“Now shall I walk or shall I ride?
'Ride,' Pleasure said;
'Walk,' Joy replied.” -- W.H. Davies

“To walk is to lack a place. It is the indefinite process of being absent and in search of a proper.” -- Michel de Certeau

"If I couldn't walk fast and far, I should just explode and perish." -- Charles Dickens

“Only thoughts won by walking are valuable.” -- Friedrich Nietzsche

"Walking and talking are two very great pleasures, but it is a mistake to combine them. Our own noise blots out the sounds and silences of the outdoor world; and talking leads almost inevitably to smoking, and then farewell to nature as far as one of our senses is concerned. The only friend to walk with is one... who so exactly shares your taste for each mood of the countryside that a glance, a halt, or at most a nudge, is enough to assure us that the pleasure is shared.” --C.S. Lewis

Friday, November 28, 2014

Sitting Ducks

Taking a picture of these mallards at Bassett Creek Park was like shooting ducks in a pond.  They were all gathered by by the pond's culvert, where there is some water flow.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Presidential Proclamation - Thanksgiving Day, 2014

Thanksgiving Day invites us to reflect on the blessings we enjoy and the freedoms we cherish.  As we gather with family and friends to take part in this uniquely American celebration, we give thanks for the extraordinary opportunities we have in a Nation of limitless possibilities, and we pay tribute to all those who defend our Union as members of our Armed Forces.  This holiday reminds us to show compassion and concern for people we have never met and deep gratitude toward those who have sacrificed to help build the most prosperous Nation on earth.  These traditions honor the rich history of our country and hold us together as one American family, no matter who we are or where we come from.

Nearly 400 years ago, a group of Pilgrims left their homeland and sailed across an ocean in pursuit of liberty and prosperity.  With the friendship and kindness of the Wampanoag people, they learned to harvest the rich bounty of a new world. 
Together, they shared a successful crop, celebrating bonds of community during a time of great hardship.  Through times of war and of peace, the example of a Native tribe who extended a hand to a new people has endured.  During the American Revolution and the Civil War, days of thanksgiving drew Americans together in prayer and in the spirit that guides us to better days, and in each year since, our Nation has paused to show our gratitude for our families, communities, and country.

With God's grace, this holiday season we carry forward the legacy of our forebears.  In the company of our loved ones, we give thanks for the people we care about and the joy we share, and we remember those who are less fortunate.  At shelters and soup kitchens, Americans give meaning to the simple truth that binds us together:  we are our brother's and our sister's keepers.  We remember how a determined people set out for a better world -- how through faith and the charity of others, they forged a new life built on freedom and opportunity.

The spirit of Thanksgiving is universal.  It is found in small moments between strangers, reunions shared with friends and loved ones, and in quiet prayers for others.  Within the heart of America's promise burns the inextinguishable belief that together we can advance our common prosperity -- that we can build a more hopeful, more just, and more unified Nation.  This Thanksgiving, let us recall the values that unite our diverse country, and let us resolve to strengthen these lasting ties.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 27, 2014, as a National Day of Thanksgiving.  I encourage the people of the United States to join together -- whether in our homes, places of worship, community centers, or any place of fellowship for friends and neighbors -- and give thanks for all we have received in the past year, express appreciation to those whose lives enrich our own, and share our bounty with others.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-sixth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The real wealth of nations

I recently read an interesting book that I would recommend to others. In The Real Wealth of Nations, author Riane Eisler recommends we move from a dominator form of government and society, mainly headed by males, to one that is based on partnership.  She suggests we would all be better off in a society that values and supports stay at home parents, people in the caring professions, and things which foster a more sustainable means of living on the planet. She notes that throughout the world when women are better educated and have more control of their finances they're more likely to take better care of their children and foster decisions that are better for the community at large.

In yesterday's StarTribune there were several examples of how the dominator forces, primarily of males, continue to shape decisions and activities around the world.  There was an opinion piece on the famous comedian, Bill Cosby, who is accused of raping many women over the years, yet these women felt discounted enough that they didn't either come forth with their experiences, or their testimonies were ignored (Separating the art and the (scumbag) artist.

Elsewhere an article, U.N. report says modern day trafficking is on the rise, mentions children account for one in three human trafficking victims, and that girls account for two out of every three child being trafficked.  It is believed that human trafficking occurs in at leas 152 countries around the world.

In yet another article posted in the StarTribune, available on Yahoo!News, Turkish presidents rounds on feminists, says men and women not equal, we read about how Turkish President Tyyip Erdogan believes that women's 'delicate' nature means it is impossible to place them on equal footing with men.

Finally, in the sports section, one can read about the classic male dominator sport of football.  Because the University of Minnesota's men's football team is having a winning season it is suggested that their multimillion dollar facilities are inadequate (Scroggins: Kill's rebuilding brings the price of success).  Despite having a new $303 million dollar stadium, it simply is not considered to be enough in comparison to Nebraska's football training facility that includes a three story waterfall, and other first class amenities for their male athletes.  

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Mallards in flight

Sunday's mild temperatures created a layer of water on top of the ice that formed on the pond at Bassett Creek Park.  This made for some interesting reflections of the mallards in flight.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Saturday, November 22, 2014

No thanks for the corporate desecration of Thanksgiving

Did you know that many stores are now opening for business on Thanksgiving day? Seems they want to get a jump on the Black Friday shopping frenzy.  Kmart will open for business at 6 a.m. and will stay open for 42 hours.  Why are so many people furious about stores opening on Thanksgiving Day? Because this action strikes at the heart of a a number of growing areas of concern among Americans.  First, it is a decision undoubtedly made by wealthy management to open their stores on a national holiday of Thanksgiving in order to make more profit, coming at the expense of their employees, many of whom are struggling to make a living. It adds salt to the wound of the growing divide between the "haves" and "have nots".  Not only does opening stores on Thanksgiving desecrate this national holiday, it also  fuels a crass capitalism of Christmas; the historically sacred remembrance of the birth of Christ. 

Given the decision to open stores on Thanksgiving, feeding a shopping frenzy, one has to question our nation's values.  Does shopping for good deals trump time set apart for a day of remembrance and thanksgiving with friends and family?  What does it say about the rush to ever increase the onset of Christmas shopping?  Instead of a reverential reflection of a humble birth of someone who came to be a servant to the poorest, and those most in need, we've created shopping events where people literally trample over others in order to get a red hot deal.  How radically different this is compared to the life of Jesus, a prophet that comforted the afflicted and afflicted the comfortable. Seems to me Jesus would be standing on the side of low wage employees being forced to work on Thanksgiving.

Clearly the corporate office decision to open stores on Thanksgiving Day also serves as a painful reminder of the growing division of the wealthy few and the masses, including countless thousands among those struggling to make a living at Kmart, Walmart, etc.  Do you think those in upper management that decided their stores should be open on Thanksgiving will be working behind the counter, or rather enjoying Thanksgiving in their well afforded homes with their families?  

The plight of workers in these stores is evidenced when at an Oklahoma Walmart they're having a food drive to keep one another from going hungry (Walmart workers to share reactions to food bins, announce Black Friday protest cities). Consider the fact that the Walton family members, who own Wal-Mart, have wealth equal to the wealth of the bottom 42 percent of Americans combined (Just how wealthy is the Walmart Walton Family?).  The Waltons take in $8.6 million a day in Walmart dividends, yet many of their workers struggle to afford even such necessities as food and shelter. 

Wondering who these corporate businesses are that will be open on Thanksgiving day?  They include Walmart, Macy's Sears/Kmart, Kohl's, Gap/Old Navy/Banana Republic, Target, Staples, JCPenny, ToysRus, Sports Authority, Best Buy and RadioShack. The corporate leadership and direction of these companies is starkly different to stores like Costco, where it was announced: "Our employees work especially hard during the holiday season and we simply believe that they deserve the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with their families."

Finally timeless thoughts from Abraham Lincoln, who helped form this national holiday after the civil war, which tore at the fabric of the nation... "And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience ... and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union."

Friday, November 21, 2014

Dignified wages

It is pretty sad when workers at Walmart have to put out boxes to collect food for their fellow employees, while the owners, the Waltons, have a combined wealth equal to that of the bottom 42 percent of American households.  Wow, hard to fathom isn't it?

Seems to me a modern day Christmas Carol could be written with the Ghost of Christmas past/present/future visiting the Walton family. In a Forbes article, Walmart health insurance could leave a really sick worker broke, it is noted how thousands of full-time employees could become broke given one serious illness.

You can read more about this sad situation from Moyers and Company, Tax-Dodging Wal-Mart holds another food drive for its impoverished workers.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Sidewalks: what a beautiful addition to a city

As someone who walks to work and loves to run and bike, I've come to greatly appreciate sidewalks.  Now, as we are working to become less car centric, the city of Edina, adjacent to the city of Minneapolis, is making plans to add sidewalks.  Not too surprisingly older residents are upset by this proposed change, "Longtime Edina residents 'up in arms' over plan to build more sidewalks." I know that in the past having written in the local newspaper in support of sidewalks in the city of Golden Valley there was a similar negative response by some long time residents.

People may have chosen to live in Edina to have a more secluded life in the suburbs.  However as the Twin Cities have grown dramatically in size they're no longer living in the outer fringes.   I hope that these oppositional citizens soften to this proposed change and get in step with plans to make their city more pedestrian friendly.

An earlier blog of mine, Sidewalks help to build community, also discusses this topic.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Lake Minnetonka

Juvenile Bald Eagle soaring over the lake
Buckthorn leaves in ice
Ice chunks along the shore

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Minneapolis Institute of Arts

With the weather being cold and snowy, yesterday was a beautiful day to visit the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.  What a a wonderful resource this is for our community.  The MIA is free and open to the public.

A view out the second floor window, looking south toward downtown Minneapolis

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Tips for enjoying the winter months

Who would have thought that a cool weather climate like Denmark would also be the happiest country on the planet, according to the United Nations?  An article, "How 'hygge' can help you get through the winter", suggests possible reasons for this nation's state of good mental health.  Some of the variables include:

  • Health care coverage for all
  • High rate of gender equality
  • Relatively clean air, assisted by half of the citizens of Copenhagen commuting by bicycle
  • Sixth highest per capita gross domestic product in the world
  • Minimum of five weeks of paid vacation
  • A value of taking time for simple things and togetherness, that is expressed in the concept of "hygge".  

With this morning's temperature of 9 degrees it is a good time of year to evaluate one's lifestyle, so as to enhance mental health.  I took time to bake some home made bread and muffins.  It help partially to warm the house, while smelling and tasting good.  

Friday, November 14, 2014

Be careful of your inputs

Snow comes to the park
I was reminded of one of my favorite passages from scripture yesterday: 

"…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things… And the God of peace will be with you." 

-Philippians 4:8-9 

The speaker at a Youth Leadership benefit, David Horsager, noted that input leads to output. It was a good reminder to careful what you listen to, watch, drink and eat.

PS  Thank goodness the election season is finally over!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Rail is alive and well

There are some who have suggested that rail died in the last century.  These are people who generally don't believe in the value of investing for the common good.  Well, it seems that everywhere around our area that rail is very much alive and well.

A story on MPR News noted that the Burlington Northern Sante Fe line, serving Minnesota and many surrounding states is bursting at the seams with demand, "Despite service woes, SNSF posts strong earnings". The financial value of this railroad is so great that one of the nation's most savvy, long-term investors, Warren Buffett, bought the whole operation in 2009.

Closer to home, a newly opened light rail line between the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul had over one million rides provided just during the month of September of this year.  This was well over projections. You can read more about this in an article, "All aboard: Metro Green Line ridership tops 1 million in September".

As we look to reduce our carbon emissions rail has become an increasingly important means of transportation.

Interesting ice contours

Newly formed ice on the pond at Bassett Creek Park.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Water, Snow and Ice

Yesterday's snow and cooler temperatures had a dramatic impact on the pond at Bassett Creek Park.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Juvenile Heron

A young heron was stationed this morning at its usual position by the culvert leading out of the pond at Bassett Creek Park.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Northern Shovelers

Northern Shovelers were swimming in the pond nearby this Canada Goose.  It was hard to capture
them during a moment when their bills weren't in the water, "shoveling it in".

Friday, November 7, 2014

Grading teachers

It has become popular to pick on teachers and the teacher's unions these days.  One of the ways this is done is by grading the teachers based on their student test scores.  To help understand the complexity of this issue I would advise reading "Walk a mile in my teaching shoes", written by a teacher who works at an elementary school in North Minneapolis.

Elsewhere, in the Washington Post, an article describes how a highly effective teacher was suddenly rated as "ineffective", thanks to student results on standardized tests.  (High-achieving teacher sues state over evaluation labeling her 'ineffective').

What seems most disturbing, in addition to the lack of respect given to teachers, is the vast number of schools with high concentrations of children living in poverty.  The inner city high school I attended back in the 1970's had a pretty good mix of races and students across the economic continuum.  Sadly, we how have many more schools that are no longer racially and economically diverse.  White flight has created schools with extreme affluence in the suburbs and exurbs, while many, often closer to the urban core, have high concentrations of poverty.  There are a great many schools in Minneapolis where 80 to 90 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced rate school lunches, with the average being over 60 percent (Meal Eligibility).  By the way, the number of students qualifying for fee or reduced rate meals at Bethune Elementary, the teacher who wrote the newspaper commentary, 100%.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Park Pterodactyl

Witnessing the Great Blue Heron in flight reminds me of images of the prehistoric Pterodactyl.