Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Ice and night sky

Ice on the pond took on something of a night sky look, as I heightened the darkness in processing.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Interesting ice patterns

Yesterday's snowfall on top of the ice, which already had a layer of water on top of it, created interesting patterns.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Snow comes to the park

A mind that is fast is sick.
A mind that is slow is sound.
A mind that is still is divine.
- Meher Ba


Friday, December 26, 2014

Geese in formation

Are there still Canada Geese in the region, and do they still fly in formation?  Check!

Canada Geese in Flight

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Holiday gift ideas

I discovered this on the internet today...

Christmas gift suggestions: 
To your enemy, forgiveness. 
To an opponent, tolerance. 
To a friend, your heart. 
To a customer, service. 
To all, charity. 
To every child, a good example. 
To yourself, respect.

~Oren Arnold

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Holiday greetings

Holiday greetings to one and all.  Hope that this season of peace and joy is made manifest in a world that continues to be filled with conflict.

It was just 100 years ago that soldiers in World War I put down their guns, and recognized their kinship with those across battle lines.  Let's hope for more of the same.


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Dreary start to winter

We have had an exceptional stretch of overcast days these last couple of weeks.  Yesterday was the official first day of winter, but felt much more like early spring, with temperatures in the middle to upper thirties.

It has been so dreary that I even hear the ducks pictured below complaining about the weather.  Seems even "water off a duck's back" has it's limits...

Monday, December 22, 2014

Humor and religion

Father James Martin, a Jesuit Catholic Priest, during his "On Being" interview with Krista Tippett he observed that God can be found in all things.  In addition to being more observant, he also shared how Christianity should be inclusive of humor.  One of his humorous observations is that there is good news and better news. The good news is that there is a savior of the world.  The better news is that it isn't me.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The growing gap between the rich and the other 99%

Bill Moyers recently hosted a television interview with Steve Fraser, author of an upcoming book, The Age of Acquiescence: The Life and Death of American Resistance to Organized Wealth and Power, Mr. Fraser suggests that we are in a time similar to that before the great depression, when there was a great gap between the wealthy and working poor.  However at that time the workers rose up and rebelled and formed unions.  He noted that currently there is not the same kind of resistance to this growing divide.

Ideas to reduce gun violence

With the never ending amount of gun violence occurring daily across the United States, one has to wonder just what actions could be taken to make an impact on this epidemic.  The Children's Defense Fund produced a document, Protect children, not guns 2012, where they provided some suggestions.

1.  Parents, remove guns from your home
2.  Support common-sense gun safety measures for the nation
            e.g. plug the gun show loophole
            Reinstitute the ban on assault weapons
            Strengthen restrictions on people convicted of a violent misdemeanor or a violent act as a juvenile
            Require consumer safety standards and childproof safety features for all guns.
3.  Help state and local governments protect children from guns  e.g. repeal “Stand your Ground" laws.
4.  Incorporate nonviolent conflict resolution as a part of our homes, schools, congregations and communities.
5.  Boycott products that glamorize violence
6.  Focus attention on the number of children killed and inured by gun violence
7.  Support innovative efforts to promote positive youth development

A low salt diet is also good for the environment!

I'm guessing many of us don't realize the long-term negative impact which salt use on our sidewalks and roads has on the environment. I learned a little bit about this while serving on the Bassett Creek Watershed Commission. An article in the StarTribune, Road salt use gets weighed against saving money, environment, does a nice job of explaining how important it is for the health of our waters that we dramatically reduce our salt use. One of the most troublesome aspects of salt/chloride, is that it doesn't break down and move out of the system.  It stays in the watershed indefinitely, and is harmful to fish and other aquatic life.

So, if you feel the need to use salt to deice your sidewalk, use it sparingly.  You might also head to the hardware store and invest in a salt shaker, to use salt more strategically.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Charging for plastic bags changes behavior

Even as someone that really dislikes plastic bags, I very often forget to utilize the many reusable bags I have available to me, and end up with plastic bags from the stores where I do business.  What would it take to change my behavior and the behavior of others?  Simply adding a charge of a few cents for the purchase of bags can do it!  Read more about this in the Washington Post's Wonkblog, The surprising reason why those 5 cent charges for plastic gags actually work. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Green retirement options

Wouldn't it be nice for people who like to garden to have a retirement community where they could keep their hands in the dirt, and grow a significant amount of fresh vegetables?  An international architecture studio has created the design for "Homefarm", a high density development with gardening plots all throughout the retirement village.

You can read about this visionary concept through Mother Nature Network, Agriculture-minded retirement community keeps greenthumbed residents happily occupied.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Electric cars not so green when they use dirty energy

It was interesting to discover that electric cars are actually more harmful for the environment than standard gasoline fuels automobiles.  The reason for this is that they require electricity, much of which is developed through the use of coal.  You can read more about this in an article, If you all-electric car gets its power from coal, new study says it is dirtier than gasoline.

Another myth that was dispelled in this article was that ethanol is better for the environment. Ethanol creates 80 percent more air pollution mortality than traditional gasoline engines.  Hybrids and diesel automobiles are better for the environment, given they expel less heat-trapping gas.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Foggy morning in the park

Yesterday morning's warm temperatures made for a foggy park, pictured above and below.

At left is a abstract of foam that created an interesting pattern on top of the ice.  I'm forever amazed at the amazing designs in nature. I tweaked the colors to make it a bit more vivid.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Food insecurity in America

Did you know that about one in six American's is food insecure? By food insecure it means people rare  having to struggle to afford food in addition to other basic necessities such as rent, utilities, medication, etc.  This is pretty discouraging in one of the world's wealthiest nations.

Where I work, Second Harvest Heartland, we distributed 89 million pounds of food to people in need from within our region.  Much of this food is donated by area corporations such as General Mills, Cub Foods, Target, Walmart, etc.

In addition to generous donations of food, thousands of volunteers helped feed those in need through Second Harvest.  Last year volunteers contributed time which was equivalent to 70 full-time employees.

You can read more about this from NBC News, America's real hunger game: 50 million in crisis.

Friday, December 12, 2014


The only waterfowl that have remained at Bassett Creek Park are a flock of mallards.  They are restricted to a small patch of open water by a culvert, leading under Highway 100.

Plastic overload

A large study recently concluded that our world's oceans contain over 5 trillion pieces of plastic.  Given our world population of 7.2 billion people, that is an average of 700 pieces per person. (The Washington Post, Good job humans: The oceans now contain 5 trillion pieces of floating plastic).

Even though the plastic in the ocean was estimated at 250,000 tons, that number pales in comparison to the estimated 288 million tons of plastic that is annually created around the world. Pictured at left is the number of 100 ton whales the ocean's plastic represents.

I've often found various forms of plastic littered around Bassett Creek Park and in its ponds.  This plastic is sometimes ingested by fish or can become a means of entangling fish and ducks.

While recycling plastic is helpful, it is even better for the environment if we simply produce and use less!

Something to consider.... When we throw something away, where is away?

Plastic bag in pond at Bassett Creek Park

Thursday, December 11, 2014

St. Paul's Union Depot

Union Depot... how would you like to have to sweep that floor?
Old stairwell steps

Steps heading down to the tracks

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

More pictures from the conservatory

"Paper Flower" Bougainvillea spectabilis - in training since 2005
Ferns and reflection

Water plant with reflection from roof

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Como Conservatory

Foggy first impressions at the conservatory at Como Park.  Things cleared up once the lens adapted to the warmth and moisture.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Living wages

Did you know that you can still pay employees a livable wage and make a decent profit?  Many of us may be familiar with the Costco story, and how they're treating their employees well, and doing very well as a business. WinCoFoods is a discount supermarket in the western United States that is employee owned and generating enough in revenues that many of their workers now have retirement plans with company stock worth over a million dollars.  What a wonderful contrast to Walmart, where instead of sharing the profits with employees, the Walton family, who owns much of Walmart, has wealth equal to the bottom 42 percent of Americans combined.  The Waltons take in $8.6 million a day in dividends, while many of their workers struggle mightily to make ends meet. In fact, it is reported in a Forbes article that  Walmart employees cost the tax payers an estimated $6.2 billion in public assistance.

You can read more about the WinCo Foods company in a Forbes article, Millionaire Grocery Clerks: The amazing WinCo Foods story.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Boko Haram violence continuing in Nigeria

Did you know that this past year approximately 10,000 people were killed by the Boko Haram in Nigeria? This is similar to the number of civilians killed in Iraq, where the US lead coalition is fighting ISIS (Nigeria's Boko Haram Violence is Comparable to ISIS in Iraq).

Candle lighting at service remembering
our brothers and sisters in Nigeria
I attended a prayer vigil earlier this evening at Lake Nokomis Lutheran. The service was focused on bringing attention to the people of Nigeria being persecuted by this group, many of whom are Christians.  Boko Haram, a militant Islamist group, based in NE Nigeria, which is translated as Western education is evil.  In addition to murdering people who don't ascribe to their radical version of Islam, they are also burning churches and coercing boys and young men to join them, under threat of death.

This conflict hits close to home for many Lutherans in the Minneapolis Area Synod, who have sister congregations in Nigeria.  At the service we heard impassioned letters from Nigerian pastors calling on us to pray for them and the rebuilding of their churches, many of which have been burned to the ground and many of the members who have been killed or have fled the region.

Over 200 school girls are still missing after they were kidnapped by the Boko Haram in April, 2014.

We were invited to urge our government to put pressure on the Nigerian government to stop the Boko Haram.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

You know it is cold weather for a run when....

You know it is cold weather for a run when...
  1. You choose to run in felt lined sorrels over Nikes… warmth over weight!
  2. Instead of the regular contact lens solution, you use the purple ultimate, all season kind, good for temps down to 35 below zero, to keep your lenses from freezing to your eyeballs
  3. You wear so many layers that your arms’ and legs’ ability to bend is significantly compromised
  4. The sound of crunching snow underfoot is louder than nearby rushing street traffic
  5. The vast fog you create from exhaling threatens your navigational skills
  6. The only living things you see are leafless trees, who you’re pretty sure would have headed south were they not so well rooted
  7. The distinctly male organ contracts to a pre-pubescent size
  8. The frost that develops on your eyelashes and brows gives you the look of a flocked Klondike Kate
  9. You burn twice the number of calories as a run in warmer temps, in order to keep your blood from freezing over
  10. Instead of the usual cool down of walking around the block, all that is necessary is a brisk walk the length of the driveway to the front door

Monday, December 1, 2014


On my way to church I discovered an intriguing reflection emanating from Bassett Creek (below).  Sometimes it seems reflections can be even more interesting and beautiful than the actual image which is being reflected.

Most every week I enjoy a chance to reflect while walking to and from church.  Yesterday, with a windchill below zero, it still was  beautiful and refreshing.  Good, warm clothing helps!