Archive - Aug 2013


Thunderheads, cont.

 Here are links to larger photos. The weblog tends to favor verticle pictures, and I do like wider landscapes. So, we'll link to same bales, some more bales, some more bales, a wheat field, Faaberg Lutheran Church from a distance, some geese, and a cloud rising out of the horizon.

And a soybean field

Prairie Mountains


This thunderhead, according to radar, was at this time over Duluth, 180 miles to the east.


It was difficult to capture all of this on camera as the clouds were about seven times as wide as this depicts.


In the gardens, Dear Leader's funeral pyre finally had an appropriate backdrop. 


The corn got a new lease on life with the rain two days ago. 


This was taken one mile north of the nursery behind the old Clinton Swenson place. Sadly, Clinton, a grand old neighbor, passed away yesterday. 


Faaberg Lutheran Church, Rindal. 


August 30th


Nursery employee Samantha Brown participated in the Baja race at the Polk County Fair this summer. Lance took the opportunity to create a short documentary of the event.  

Two favorites...

...playing a favorite song

August 29th


In general principle, I am against us getting involved in any more Mideast messes. We do not need to police the world. Egypt is an impossible mess. Our coming in there would make it worse. And how are we going to topple the regime in Syria without taking the side of a faction which might be just as bad? 

Democracy in Iraq? Afghanistan? What a joke. We did not spread democracy to those two tormented lands; we merely opened the door for a different form of fanaticism. 

How do we spread democracy? By being a better democracy ourselves, by not giving in to fear of fanatics and handing over our liberties in exchange for a false sense of safety. Lead by example, not force. Force hasn't worked in the past, what makes us think it will work now? 

August 24th

Dog days

These are very much the dog days of summer. Drought. Parched lawns. Drooping shrubs. Crispy corn fields. Dust. I got up this morning and took a bike ride just to enjoy the day before it gets hot.

The trip to the Cities was enough stimulation to last several weeks. Sirens. Yelling on the street, which I always assume means conflict, even when it is just people of different training having fun.

Friday evening, Lance and I met cousin Laine at Burch Steakhouse and Pizza Bar and feasted on appetizers for our entire meal. Bone marrow dumplings was one highlight. It all was fantastic. Foodie stuff. "Let's try this!" was our motto. Afterwards, we walked around the Mount Curve neighborhood where we looked up the prices of the homes which were for sale. Out of range! On one street a developer put about $8 million (we talked to a woman who lives there) towards building three homes in the same 1890s style as the others. They have been on the market for five years. Empty. We looked in the windows. The lights were on, there were fresh flowers, the one house was fully furnished. Staging for window shoppers, apparently. 

Thursday, Lance had a product photo shoot at a studio in Roseville. It was for a friend in Grand Forks who is starting a line of leather goods made from leather thrown away by the big companies due to flaws--such as a brand from the ranch, for example. Or tick bites. But the result is utterly intriguing: Handbags, satchels, wallets, etc., which are utterly unique. 

After the photo shoot, we went out to the Lyndale Tap House. The mascot wasn't there. I had smoked haddock soup, which needed salt, but with salt was very good. 

Friday morning, I met a fellow Bush Fellow at the very excellent French Meadow Cafe. It has been a while since I have trapsed around south Minneapolis sampling restaurants. I found out some inside scoop: The cafe was started with a $100,000 SBA loan that the new owner paid off in six months. 

Earlier, the Bush Foundation put us up in the very gracious and grandly restored St. Paul Hotel. It is really, really a great place to stay. Especially when somebody else is footing the bill. 

August 23rd


I am at the Barnes and Noble. The girl next to me is talking very, very loudly to her elderly father on the phone. She has to repeat everything two or three times. Everything. I was getting irritated until the conversation graduated into farce. 

It was clear that she had just brought her boyfriend home to meet her elderly parents. Dad was worried he didn't make a good impression. Daughter assured him, no. 


"Dad, I have a medical question." 

"Mark and I don't believe in sex before marriage"


"But is it possible to get pregnant through clothing?"

I assume her father is a doctor. 

"Well, I am on the pill and everything, but sometimes I forget."

Forget to wear clothing? 

As I write this, the details are continuing to pour out, audible to at least twenty people. 

"So as long as I am on the pill and I am wearing clothing, we should be all right." 


"Oh, hi Mom!"

Apparently somebody heard Dad's end of the conversation and grabbed the other extension in a hurry. 

The world is bizarre. I don't expect you all to believe me, but this is happening. Loudly. In Barnes and Noble. 

UPDATE: Now it all comes out. She has had a couple of drinks and her boyfriend Mark didn't want her to drive home, so she is hanging out in a coffee shop. 

And now: "Mark's parents are super Christian so it is important that I am a Christian, and they are glad you are a Christian, too!"

Just keep your clothes on, girl. 


"Well, actually, I called to tell you I am engaged!"

"Dad, are you there? I am ENGAGED." 



Street scene

somali woman.jpg

A Somali woman watches the street preachers 1/2 block down and across the street from her.  

Two medical ideas

Here is a fascinating article on the connection between the stomach and mental health. I was an anxious kid and gulped Rolaids by the dozen. Eventually, I developed an ulcer which, thanks to the then-recent introduction of ranitadine, healed within a year of diagnosis. From that point on, I have seldom had stomach problems, although I later fought a couple of month-long bouts of depression. 

What I have always suspected is just what the article postulates: Stomach problems can create anxiety and mental stress, and not just the other way around. I have noticed when I have had temporary stomach upset due to illness or bad food that it immediately causes my mental state to tank. Getting the stomach in order can bring the mind around as well. 

On the matter of heart disease, a world-renowned heart surgeon says in this article that the present cures are as bad as the disease. In particular, the excessive use of statins to lower cholesterol (he says 25% of the population is on them!) has done nothing to reduce heart disease. 

Food for thought. 

August 22nd

Empathy Failure

Ever since I worked as a page at the Minnesota legislature in 1995 (full-time pages in the Minnesota House range in age from college grads looking for openings at the Capitol to retirees wanting to expand their horizons) and watched as about a dozen Republicans giggled their way through a debate on transgendered people, I have made a person's attitude towards the issue a litmus test: If you immediately get grossed out and giggle at the mention of a person born with ambiguous gender--if you make immediate judgements such as "I guess I can understand, but only if they try to..."–-you don't have enough empathy to make decisions for the rest of us and should get your bigoted ass out of elective office. 

Here is an excellent response from a Christian perspective which I think the fundamentalists and other neanderthals might consider. I have met several transgendered people in my life and there ain't nothin wrong with 'em. They don't need to be told that they need to struggle to conform with God's plan for their body, as the fundamentalists do. They just need (and deserve) unconditional acceptance of who they are. Why this is so difficult for self-professing Christians, of all people, mystifies me. So often they rise up to defend the status quo, the rules, and conventionality in general, when the founder of their religion was a revolutionary who had no time for convention. 

This is yet another example of empathy failure in the world of modern evangelicalism. Instead of demonstrating the radical love, forgiveness and acceptance so obviously demanded by their founding prophet, they go into panic mode when confronted by people who are different, demanding that they conform. 

I think their anxiety, their stern "concern," stems from the fear which grips middle-aged parents: What if our kids get ideas and don't turn out normal? A lot of hatred and ignorance is perpetrated in this world by people in the grip of this fear. 

I remember when a local mother found out that the theology of the Lutheran church she attended denied the literal existence of hell. 

"Well!" she snorted, "How are we going to get our kids to behave?" 

Her kids were little angels, but that didn't seem to matter. You still need hell to keep them that way, according to her warped, self-centered thinking.  

These desperate middle-aged parents, above all, want their kids to be conventional. I would say they value their kids' conventionality over their safety, or at least have confused the two. 

I struggle to understand the desperate anxiety people on the religious right have to get everybody to conform to 1950s social norms, none of which are actually laid out in the Bible. Such norms can be found there only if you maintain massive blind spots and pick and choose your verses.

How many nuclear families with 2 children living in a single-family home appear in the New Testament? None that I have encountered. 

I wouldn't waste one minute of time on the religious right if they weren't so close to the levers of power. It appalls me that we even have to spend time and energy making sure they are properly discredited for their sheer indecency