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Can I get a bike over here? May 13, 2010

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I recently saw this video from GOOD and whether it be from lack of sleep or just a predisposition towards bicycles, I was really struck by this video.

The video shows a high level of bike traffic in Utrecht, Holland and suggests that it is indeed possible for us to give up our cars and use pedal power as a primary mode of transportation. Americans in general are reluctant to give up their cars, it must have something to do with the freedom. But as we all look for ways to go green I think it’s important to remember that changing your lifestyle actually means changing your lifestyle. If you really want to reduce your carbon footprint buying recycled paper is good, but choosing not to burn gallons of fossil fuels on your way to work is even better.

Coming from Minneapolis, this concept of biking is not new to me. Minneapolis has been named the most cyclist friendly city in the U.S. and has the highest number of bikers. So now I don’t know whether to say “Be like them” or “Be like us.” But either way I thought I would call attention to this very simple idea.

Ride your bike more. It’s good for you, it’s good for the environment, and it’s good for showing off your butt in tight bike shorts. We can all do more to reduce our impact on the environment, and biking is one of the simplest and most beneficial solutions.

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Maybe not so advantageous May 13, 2010

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A few days ago I wrote a post about the advantages of Iowa weather compared to the snow that was falling in some parts on Minnesota.

I would like to retract that statement.

Iowa weather changes rapidly, or so I thought. It has been nothing but rain the past week, and while that’s good for studying, it’s extremely depressing and not an enjoyable way to end the year.

I have been wet, cold, and thanks to finals, extremely miserable this past week and I am really starting to question if the sun is ever going to come back out. I haven’t seen it for days and I’m starting to fear the worst.

So while Iowa is still milder, I think I would take some cold if it meant I could get a little sun.

Two years? Really? May 13, 2010

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By the end of the day today I could be done with 50% of my college career.

That sentence might not seem odd to anyone reading this, but let me tell you, that’s terrifyingly strange.

It seems like it was just yesterday that I was unpacking my stuff and moving in for freshman year. Or rewind the tape a bit further, it actually feels like it was just yesterday that I was still in high school. These last two years have flown by and I’ve experienced a lot of cool things and met a lot of wonderful people.

Looking ahead to the next two years, I am excited to see what the future has in store for me. I hope to be in Ireland at this time next year and who knows what other adventures I will have undertaken.

I know how cliché all of this sounds, and I’m sorry for the sentimental reflection, but it really is a wonder that I am where I am today. All I can do is thank all the wonderful people in my life and look ahead to things to come.

And while I’m ready for the future, a large part of me still says, “Two years? Really? Has it been that long?”

WCCO’s Don Shelby retires May 13, 2010

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I just read this article from the Star Tribune and it saddened me greatly to learn that Don Shelby will be retiring from WCCO.

I always enjoyed Shelby’s newscasts because he was a true professional who still seemed to have fun doing the news. He had the face you could trust and he was a very big part of WCCO for 32 years.

The article is touching and I think I found this to be the most endearing part:

He said the favorite part of his job, “aside from the journalism,” was his annual 10-day posting at the State Fair, calling it “a chance to see the people in person. Those 10 days rejuvenated me.”

He wouldn’t be Don Shelby if he didn’t want to get out and connect with the people of Minnesota, because whether he knew it or not he connected with them almost every night.

My hat’s off to Mr. Shelby both as a journalist and a human being. WCCO won’t be the same without him.

Police brutality May 10, 2010

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The following two videos only recently came to my attention and needless to say I am outraged by the Minneapolis Police Department’s unnecessary use of force in both these cases. Please watch the videos and then read my comments that follow.

Both of these videos show outrageous examples of police brutality and I for one can not stand idly by and let these incidents go unnoticed or unchecked. If the police are going to brutalize and attack citizens, either innocent of their suspected crimes or not, they MUST be held accountable. The police are supposed to protect and serve the community, not beat and brutalize its citizens. The city MUST launch an internal investigation into both these cases and justice MUST be served.

But too often the officers in these cases go unpunished in the manner they truly deserve. I am reminded of the police officer who in 2006 shot and killed 19-year-old Fong Lee. Lee was shot eight times in the back and the officer planted a gun on the victim. Officer Jason Andersen was cleared in court of any wrongdoing and given the department’s Medal of Valor.

Police brutality is nothing short of civic terrorism and it must by stopped.

Please, if you see these videos, send them to friends and help speak out against police brutality.

Happy Mother’s Day! May 9, 2010

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I love my mom.

I’m not afraid to say it, and neither should anyone else. Mothers give us the love and encouragement we need to reach our goals and achieve our dreams. Mothers are the cornerstones of families and renew our strength when times are tough. They are there to give us advice, or just listen to our problems. Mothers are our most valuable resource.

But there are many people out there who have never known their mothers or have very little contact with them. Some people will never meet their own mother. These situations remind those of us who are lucky enough to have mothers in our lives of how fortunate we truly are. If you know someone whose mother is no longer in their life, offer them your support, a friendly and accepting face, and the care that they are missing from their lives by not having a mother around. There is no replacement for a mother’s love, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be there for someone and love them like they deserve.

And to all those mothers out there, thank you for being the strong and beautiful individuals that you are. Thank you for giving us those things we need to succeed. And an especially big thanks to all the single mothers out there who often struggle to make their child’s lives better. You are all heroes.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Some Benefits May 8, 2010

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I am in Iowa.

But I will be returning to Minnesota in just over three weeks, and needless to say, I can’t wait. I miss Minnesota and my hometown of Minneapolis so much.

But after my final exams are finished on Friday, I will be making a short two-week trip to Malaysia. I can’t wait to get out of the country and experience a new culture and warm tropical climate. Then after that, I return home.

I say all this because I have been musing about these different places and wondering what makes them each unique.

And over the past few days I saw something on the Star Tribune and other sites that caught my eye.

Minnesota has snow.

Yes it might be mid-May, but that has never stopped Mother Minnesota from showing the country why she is the coldest and perhaps most unpredictable state in the union. Snow in May is certainly not unheard of, but after living in Iowa for the past two years I was actually surprised to hear it. Perhaps this mild Iowa weather has affected my expectations of what Spring should feel like.

And somewhere in that jumbled rambling mess of text lies my point. There are benefits to living anywhere. Iowa is mild, Malaysia is hot, and Minnesota can be anything depending on which way the wind is blowing.

It all comes down to what you want in life. And although I am a Minnesotan for life, I think I’ll take the warmer temperatures of Iowa and Malaysia over mid-May snowstorms. Sure it’s still Iowa, but at least there are some benefits.

On Earth April 22, 2010

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Today is Earth Day. That one day out of the year where we all plant trees and maybe somebody busts out a Maypole or two. And as much as I love our planet, I find the concept of global environmental rejuvenation to be somewhat far-fetched.

I do not deny global warming. I do not deny that we as humans are contributing to global warming. And I do no deny that continued global warming will lead to our downfall.

But I do deny that we have control over the environment, which most “Go Green!” and other such campaigns seem to assert. Think about it. We are being told that by using a tote bag at the grocery store and not buying plastic water bottles that we can save the planet from its own destruction. And while this would certainly slow human impact on the environment, the simple fact is this: nature doesn’t really care what we do.

The Earth has been transforming for billions of years. It once had a toxic atmosphere, and it was once covered in ice. For the time being it is a temperate place that is indeed growing warmer. But why do we think we can stop that? Why, as a human race, do we think we have conquered the Earth and now have the power to simply stop its natural processes?

Once again, I do not deny global warming, and I agree with the Go-Greeners in saying that we need to live in a more responsible way. But the fact is the Earth is going to change no matter what we do.

And here’s the scary part: yes, that might ultimately mean the end of our species. If we cannot adapt to our changing environment then we will not survive. Or on the optimistic side, maybe there will just be very few of us left. This has happened to countless species throughout Earth’s history. Why do we think we are any different?

So while I don’t want to ruin the progressive and productive spirit of Earth Day, I think it is important that we see ourselves as part of this planet, and not in control of this planet.

But here is the positive part. While we can’t control the planet, we can adapt to it. And I think that is what Earth Day should be about. Forget about your carbon footprint for a second or trying to understand what that truly means, and just try to imagine a way in which we can all live on a planet that looks different than it does now. Imagine a global society that has responded to new environmental challenges and has succeeded in continuing life. Think big-picture, or the biggest of pictures. Simply put, think about how we can live on a planet as volatile and dynamic as Earth.

Although I believe that we can slow the planet’s change, we cannot stop it. So the goal now is to adapt, just like everything else on Earth.

Always coming back home to you March 12, 2010

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Tomorrow morning, way too early in the morning in fact, I will be heading back to the city I love: Minneapolis, Minnesota. I am excited to see my family and friends, but really, I miss the city itself.

I miss the diversity, the skyscrapers, and the liberal politics. I miss the kindness of strangers, the lakes, and Twins and Vikings fans. I miss the parks, the radio stations, and the restaurants. I miss the people, the atmosphere, and the Mississippi river. I miss my city.

My time in Iowa has made me appreciate the little things that make Minneapolis unique. Sometimes they are hard to see. Sometimes you would never notice them because it’s hard to imagine living differently. But take it from someone who has been away too long, Minneapolis is truly wonderful, and its inhabitants are truly lucky to live in such a place.

In future posts I will try to highlight more of Minneapolis’s unique and amazing features and show you that there are few places better to live.

For now I will leave you with our city’s theme song. I apologize for the lack of video, but remember that looks don’t matter, it’s about the message. Enjoy.

Das Flugtag? March 3, 2010

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Energy drinks are not really my thing. Sure, when I have a paper to write, or when finals week comes around one or two manage to find there way into my backpack. But overall I would just rather refrain from the overly processed sugar and gluco-who-knows-what that goes into those cans.

But my concern in writing this post is not to dissuade people from enjoying the liquid lightning and uncontrollable jitters of energy drinks, but rather to persuade people to get more involved with them. I’m looking at you Twin Cities.

On July 24, 2010 Harriet Island will host the Twin Cities’ first ever Red Bull Flugtag. You might not recognize the name (or even the language) but you surely have seen the commercials. And tell me this doesn’t look like fun:

So let this post serve as a notice for all you aspiring aeronauts out there. Get your team and crafts together, and even if you have a fear of flying, make sure to check out the event and let’s make the first ever Twin Cities Flugtag a huge success.

Information about applying can be found following the link below. Applications due April 16.

http://www.redbullflugtagusa.com/TwinCities2010