Posts Tagged ‘Minnesota’

I Don’t Want To Vote On Marriage Law

January 15, 2012

I have a problem with the majority voting on the universal human rights and fundamental freedoms of the minority. It doesn’t matter which groups we are discussing when we say the “majority” and “minority”; what we have are two sets of people – human beings – that are different in some way.

Legislation can be introduced to help define and clarify, to put in black and white, what we hold to be universal human rights, but even without these laws in place, they are called universal human rights because we know that these are so basic, so beyond reproach or question that laws are almost superfluous. Almost. The majority can become blind to the minority. This can lead to a belief that the differences that define the the minority are somehow a threat to that which defines the majority, or that the differences of the minority are undesirable because they’re not shared by most people. And so laws can act as a safeguard for the rights of the minority for cases in which their voices cannot be heard over the crowd.

I think it is horrific that we allow any human being to have their rights curtailed by the whimsy of popular opinion. That is one of the reasons I am angry about this November’s ballot initiative in Minnesota, which leaves it up to us, the voters, to amend the Minnesota Constitution to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Other reasons that I’m angry about the proposal include the traditional objections to polluting our constitution with language that would bar citizens from their rights, because I support human happiness and this amendment would hurt gay human beings, and because I detest the political drama and fear-mongering that is caused by this American Idol-esque “let the people have a say” and “down with activist judges” posturing.

So why are we voting on whether Bob and Steve should be allowed to get married? Well, because bigoted, sex-obsessed, fearful, religious zealot nutjobs…oh, we’ll skip that for now. Let’s just go with this:

Some people (see past sentence) want to amend the constitution to “protect” heterosexual marriage from gay people, and they think the best way to do this is to amend the constitution. Per Article IX of the MN Constitution we, the voters, must approve any changes to the constitution. That’s why we’re voting on Bob and Steve’s rights this November.

But why do the bigoted, sex-obsessed, oops some people want to amend the constitution? Why is the law in the Minnesota Statutes not enough? Judges refer to the Constitution to make decisions and rulings. Right now, judges in Minnesota can point to the constitution and say that nowhere in our Constitution does it explicitly ban the marriage of gay people. This amendment would put language in place that would explicitly ban the marriage of gay people. Several states have already used the lack of this language in their constitutions to overturn statutes that ban gay marriage, thus making gay marriage legal in those states. Some people in Minnesota are trying to prevent that from happening in this state.

This is marriage law that we’re discussing, not theology. Churches can be as restrictive as they want about marriage within the confines of their religion, but every resident of Minnesota should have the right to be treated as equal to every other resident of Minnesota under Minnesota law.

So no, I don’t want to vote on the proposed amendment that would make it very difficult for gay residents to marry in Minnesota. And I don’t want you to be able to either.

But if it is there when I step into the voting booth in Novemeber, I will be voting NO, the Minnesota Constitution SHALL NOT be amended to provide that only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota.

….

And in light all of that, this is a heartening development from Friday:

From The Colu.mn:

Legislators Propose Repeal of Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment

DFL legislators in the Minnesota House introduced a bill during the legislative recess on Friday to repeal a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage from the 2012 ballot. The bill faces high hurdles as the Republicans still control the House.

Here’s text of the bill:

H.F. No. 1885, as introduced – 87th Legislative Session (2011-2012) Posted on Jan 13, 2012

A bill for an act relating to marriage; repealing a proposed amendment to the Minnesota Constitution recognizing marriage as only a union between one man and one woman;repealing Laws 2011, chapter 88.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA:

Section 1. REPEALER.

Laws 2011, chapter 88, is repealed.

Sec. 2. EFFECTIVE DATE.
Section 1 is effective the day following final enactment.

The bill was submitted by Karen Clark of Minneapolis, Leon Lillie of North St. Paul, Kate Knuth of New Brighton, Rena Moran of St. Paul ; Marion Greene of Minneapolis, John Lesch of St. Paul, Mindy Greiling of Roseville, Carolyn Laine of Columbia Heights, Ryan Winkler of Golden Valley, Alice Hausman of St. Paul, Linda Slocum of Minneapolis, Joe Mullery of Minneapolis, Phyllis Kahn of Minneapolis, Dianne Loeffler of Minneapolis, Frank Hornstein of Minneapolis, Bill Hilty of Finlayson and Kathy Brynaert of Mankato

Props for the effort, but as the article points out, this is likely not going to get anywhere since the Republicans control the House, and the seated Republicans are fairly united in their support of the amendment:

Those in red boxes are Republican legislators. Source

 

A Sad Day in the Science Classroom

December 2, 2011

I opened up the Star Tribune to a sad story. From the Star Tribune:

Thursday morning, ninth-graders in the second-hour science class at Maple Grove Junior High School had turned their desks toward the science table where teacher Matthew Achor conducted experiments for the class final.

The first time the teacher dropped a match into a jug of methanol, Neuberger said the experiment seemed to work. “It made a loud boom and a little flame,” he said. “Everyone thought that was cool and clapped.”

Neuberger looked down at his paper to begin writing down his observations. “I’m pretty sure he was starting it up to do it a second time,” Neuberger said. “And the next thing I know I’m on fire.”

Several students were injured during this science experiment. One of the students, Dane Neuberger, was severely injured with second degree burns to his face.  All of the students are expected to make a full recovery, and according to the article it doesn’t look like Neuberger will need skin grafts. Only minor damage was sustained to the classroom.

Details are slim in the article, but it sounds like the appropriate actions were taken after the explosion. A fire blanket was used to wrap Neuberger and an ambulance was called immediately. The room was evacuated and the fire department was called to investigate. The article doesn’t discuss the type of bottle or the amount or type of methyl alcohol employed in the experiment.

The science behind what was being taught.

The purposes of this experiment could be to demonstrate an exothermic reaction, oxygen supply in combustions (if a narrow-necked bottle is used as heat, flame and gas exits the bottle, fresh oxygen is sucked back into the bottle, re-igniting any remaining methanol vapor), detonation velocity, expansion of gases, etc.

This video shows the experiment as performed on four different alcohols:

The way it works is that liquid methanol is put into a bottle and allowed to evaporate, leaving methanol vapor in the bottle. Heat energy – a match, in this case – is added to the bottle, causing a combustible chemical reaction. Visible flame and a loud whoosh” is heard during the reaction. The methanol vapors are ignited, and liquid by-product (H2O) is left in the bottom of the bottle.

In the article above it’s mentioned that this teacher had been performing this experiment for years, and I found several online mentions of this as an acceptable high-school chemistry-level experiment. Some sites perform the study outdoors, some indoors. I do not remember this experiment performed when I was in junior high or high school.

Science teachers – Do you use this experiment in your classes? What safety precautions do you employ? For the rest of you – Do you remember this experiment from your days in the chemistry classroom? Did you have any larger-than-intended explosions?

Mississippi River Adventures

November 2, 2011

Last Friday Aaron and I road-tripped down to Wabasha, MN to see two friends embark on a sailing adventure that started in a tiny Wabasha marina and will end in Belize, Central America (You can follow the adventures in photos and written stories at their website, Sailing to Belize). We left at 4:30am and rolled into Wabasha at about a quarter to seven. We got a tour of the boat and were treated to a really beautiful sunrise. The goodbyes wrapped up and the guys set sail. Those of us who had traveled down to see them off headed into town to warm up and get some breakfast.

After that Aaron and I split off to explore some of the landmarks along the Mississippi River. We started at the National Eagle Center in Wabasha. It’s a very pretty building with several exhibits that educate about eagle habitats, behavior and representation in current and historical cultures. The highlight of the museum is a viewing area with five of the center’s permanent eagle residents. The viewing area is open air; the eagles are tethered to an small area around their perches and visitors stand behind a low barricade only feet away from the birds. The eagles – four bald eagles and one golden have all been injured and are unable to be returned to the wild.

This eagle had been hit by a car and never regained his ability to fly. The National Eagle Center gives him a home and helps people learn about eagles.

Next we crossed the river into Wisconsin and drove south to Alma where we visited Buena Vista Park. It shelters many different kinds of songbirds and is kind of breathtakingly gorgeous.

Just a little pretty. Panorama stitched together by cleVR. Click to enlarge.

And since we were there we made a quick stop at Lock and Dam #4 in Alma. We were hoping to see some bald eagles hunting the fish that get injured by the dam, but all we got were a bunch of ring-billed seagulls. Pbth! But I did get cool shot of the dam.

Chatty three-eyed aliens!

The next stop on our list was Rieck’s Lake Park, which is north of Alma and not quite to Nelson, Wisconsin. It is a large lake and flat, open marsh. We saw tons of Canada Geese,  Mallards, and Teals, but weren’t lucky enough to see any Tundra Swans. The view, however, was incredible.

Ducks and Geese hanging out in the lake.

Some small mammal hut – muskrat? Reick’s Lake houses beavers, mink and muskrats.

View from the Reick Bridge site.

After that we went in search of Tiffany Bottoms Wildlife area. Tiffany Bottoms is largely undeveloped and has a great and varied population of birds. We found a parking lot a few miles past Nelson on Highway 25 and started hiking. We never made it to any of the rivers that run through the area (other than the Chippewa, which our path ran parallel to), and we didn’t see a lot of birds, but we found some other forest inhabitants and a set of overgrown train tracks.

Fall Forest Trail 

Eastern Comma Butterfly

Dragonfly

Leopard Frog

Overgrown Train Tracks

After Tiffany Bottoms we headed back to Minneapolis. We had been up since 3:30am and the day’s adventures did us in. We did stop for dinner in Stockholm, Wisconsin on the way back. What a cute touristy town! We walked around a little and shopped at the trinkets stores. And then we went home. What a day!

Heat Wave

July 19, 2011

Wowza it’s hot!

I love me some warm days. I’m happiest when we have a sunny, low-humidity 85-90F day. But over the past couple of days it’s been more like 90-100F with humidity so thick that I could swim through it. I guess this is the price we pay for having so much lovely water up here.

Speaking of which, I wasn’t able to convince the Hubby to go tubing this weekend. Doesn’t this look like a great way to spend a hot, steamy summer day?

But I understand the Hubby’s hesitation. The place to go tubing around here is the Apple River in Somerset, WI. On weekends it’s usually crowded with drunken 20-somethings (and older people who act like they’re still in their 20-somethings), and subsequently by Sunday afternoon the shallow river probably has an even ratio of river water to urine. The nice, calm photo above is NOT from the Apple River. This is what a weekend jaunt down the Apple often looks like:

As a woman named Sarah describes in her blog (the photo above is from her blog), it’s pretty much Girls Gone Wild Apple River. I don’t mind some alcohol and rauchiness, but this is way over the top. Ah well.

We decided to go for a motorcycle ride instead. I found a couple of routes that wound down from Shakopee to Mankato on motorcycleroads.us. When we were riding through twisty, wooded backroads we experienced dips in temperature as we drove into and out of valleys. The roads were gorgeous, green, uncrowded, relaxing and a great way to explore MN in the summer and stay cool.

A short stop on the Scenic Byway between Henderson and Le Sueur.

Neat bridge structures near Mankato.

Lush, green farmland located five minutes south of Mankato.

Saturday Evening – Tim Minchin

Aaron and I rode our bicycles downtown from South Minneapolis and were dripping in sweat by the time we arrived at the theater (but we didn’t have to pay for parking – cheapskate win!), but the lobby was cool and we were comfortable by the time the show started.

Tim Minchin delivered a uproariously entertaining mix of standup comedy and music. He accompanied himself on piano for most of his songs, and had recorded musical backups for Statistically Accurate Love Song and the live version of his beat poem “Storm”. He did two encores: White Wine in the Sun and a cover of Hallelujah that was absolutely breathtaking. Not only can the man sing something fierce, he managed to get a room which had a high proportion of religious skeptics and atheists to croon the word “Hallelujah” with deep emotion. Nicely done, sir!

Sunday was. too. hot.

On Sunday I decided it would be a good idea for me, the Hubby and the dog to walk 3/4  mile to the grocery store to pick up bread and OJ. At about 1/2 mile in we realized that this may not have been the most brilliant idea I’ve ever had. Luckily we had brought water for the dog, and the Hubby and I took turns going into the grocery store air conditioning before walking back. We both took showers when we arrived home. The dog flopped on the living room floor and didn’t  move much for a good long while.

So we made Sunday a Chores In The Air Conditioning Day. We did laundry, dishes, bills and bit of organizing. And…oh, and these are very exciting:

  • We booked flights to Seattle to visit my sister and brother-in-law at the end of August! We’re going to go hiking and scuba diving and exploring in the upper East (correction: West) corner of Washington state. My sis assures me it’s gorgeous out there.
  • And, and – I’m going to Dragon*Con! I have a hotel room and I booked my flight to Atlanta!

Not only am I going to Dragon*Con, but I’m going to be sharing a hotel room with two good friends from the Twin Cities. This will be my first BIG scifi/fantasy convention and I am pumped. I’m looking at the different tracks (panels, presentations, demos, etc), the featured events, contests and celebrities that will be at Dragon*Con, and my mind is blown. I need to come up with a costume. I’ve got a few ideas, but nothing solid yet.

Oh, and here’s the really awesome part – I leave for Dragon*Con less than eight hours after I get back from Seattle, which means I get to take a LOT of time off from work at once (and I can tell you all of this this because my on-site caretaker is big and mean and doesn’t take kindly to trespassers)!

Yippie! I’m super excited.

Yeah, I said yippie.

Dining Out for Life

April 27, 2011

Dining Out for Life Minnesota is tomorrow – Thursday, April 28th.

Go out to any one of a gazillion and ten participating restaurants, and the restaurant donates a portion of your food bill to The Aliveness Project, a local nonprofit agency which each year serves one out of four people living with HIV/AIDS in Minnesota. The Aliveness Project offers an on-site hot meals program, food shelf, integrative therapies, case management, holiday baskets, HIV educational services.

I’m getting up early to have breakfast at Anodyne Coffeehouse in South Minneapolis before going in to work.


And for dinner I’m going to Joe’s Garage in Loring Park with a bunch of friends.

There’s an entire list of restaurants throughout Minnesota that are participating in Dining Out for Life.

Where are you eating?

Cuzzy’s Brick House Restaurant

March 21, 2011

My work group went out to lunch today, and I found another place that serves gluten-free pizza!

A wood-fired Brick House Pizza – Pepperoni, Sausage, bell peppers, red onions, mushrooms & black olives all served on a gluten-free crust.

For those of you used to paying top dollar for gluten-free alternatives at Pizza Luce (a small Classic costs $12.59. The same pizza with a GF crust is a whopping $5 extra at $17.59), Cuzzy’s Brick House is a breath of fresh, oregano-scented air. Their small Brick House (shown above and pretty much the same as Pizza Luce’s Classic) is $12.99, and they will sub in a GF crust at NO additional cost.

Cuzzy’s Brick House is located in Chaska, MN. It’s a bit of a haul if you’re coming from Minneapolis or the east suburbs (oooo..take THAT St. Paul!)  However, their menu is phenomenal and I could see making the occasional special trip out here with friends. Cuzzy’s is several steps up from your average soup, salad and burger joint. I mean sure, you can snag any number of variations of hotdog or cheeseburger if that’s what you’re craving, but they’ve also got appetizers like Portabella & Brie Bruschetta, pastas like the Butternut Squash Ravioli, entrees like the Cabernet Mushroom Chops and a desert menu that will add a couple of pounds to your bottom just from seeing it as the waitress carries the tray across the room.

Burgers and sandwiches run in the $8-10 range and the entrees are around $10-18. Their drink prices are reasonable, and the open, classy interior makes Cuzzy’s a great place to have happy hour. Also, I’ve been told that they throw a mean weekend bar night!

Cuzzy’s also has a restaurant in downtown Minneapolis (but doesn’t show pizza in the online menu), and The Victoria House in Victoria, MN is in the same family.

2880 Chaska Blvd., Chaska MN
website: http://www.cuzzys.com/
phone: 952.448.5594
email: brickhouse@cuzzys.com

MarsCon 2011 Teaser Photo

March 8, 2011

I’ve been crazy busy. Last weekend I  was at MarsCon, a fantasy/scifi convention in Bloomington, MN and this week I’m preparing for a trip to Cozumel. Rough life, I know.  Plus I have two standing engagements this week; Monday I was gaming and Thursday I’m going to monthly meeting of the Minneapolis Skeptics. That leaves Tuesday and Wednesday evenings to blog and do all those things that one does before going on vacation.

I have some fun stories and pictures from MarsCon, but I haven’t had time to write them up or to go through the photos in any detail yet. For now I’ll leave you with this photo from the very beginning of the convention. People are taking seats for opening ceremonies. My good friend Mark is in the foreground modeling his new, super-sexy Clark Kent glasses.

More to come!

~~~~~~

Oh heck, the seating photo was pretty bland. Have a photo of drunk, middle-aged He-Man from the opening ceremonies production:

Hehehe. Gotta love the fearless nerds and geeks.

What are you doing for Darwin Day?

February 11, 2011

Tomorrow is Charles Darwin’s 202nd birthday. How are you celebrating?

I’m going to the ZOO!

I’m pulling together an event with the Minneapolis Skeptics to celebrate International Darwin Day. We’re going to visit the Como Park Zoo’s primate house, chat Darwin, share our favorite evolution books, movies, and news, take pictures with our primate cousins and/or whatever else people feel like doing. We’ll be meeting inside the main entrance at 1pm, and I invite you to join us. If you come out, look for me – I’ll be the woman holding the Happy Darwin Day sign! 

If you’re not into the zoo, you could visit the Science Museum of Minnesota tomorrow between 1pm-4pm; they’re holding a Darwin Day event and showing a film called A Portrait of Charles Darwin.

And/or, go pick up a copy of Evolution: The Story of Life on Earth at Big Brain Comics in downtown Minneapolis on Saturday.  Bonus: The cartoonists, Zander and Kevin Cannon, will be signing their graphic novel about evolution at 4pm.

And finally – you can help celebrate Darwin Day and the importance of scientific inquiry by signing a petition hosted by Rep Pete Stark and the American Humanist Associateion in support of H. Res 81, which would recognize every February 12th as Darwin Day.

From the AHA website:

In a statement, Representative Stark said, “Darwin’s birthday is a good time for us to reflect on the important role of science in our society. It is also a time to redouble our efforts to ensure that children are being taught scientific facts, not religious dogma, and to fight back against those who seek to undermine the science of climate change for political ends.”

Go HERE to learn more and to sign the petition.

Happy Darwin Day!

RIP and Thanks for the Superbowl Tickets

January 30, 2011

A man in Cottage Grove, MN lost his wife last November, but she managed to give him one last Christmas gift: One-third of a $45,000 lotto winning from a pool she had played with two other coworkers.

From the Mpls Star Tribune:

She had never told her husband that in 30 years of working at a grocery store, she and two colleagues always played the lottery. Even after she got sick, Ginny kept contributing money.

Paul says one of the friends called him around Christmas, telling him he’d won a third of a $45,000 jackpot.

Awwww…bittersweet, right?  I did have to chuckle when I read about Mr. McCauly’s plans for the money:

He says if Ginny were still alive they would have used the money to see their beloved Packers in the Super Bowl.

Suuuuuure, dude. Well hey, who’s going to argue with him?  Have fun, Mr. McCauly, and I hope the Packers take it!

~

Also, I heard a funny joke that’s probably old as dirt to sports fans, but I’d never heard it before. Ready?

What do you call 60 guys sitting around watching the SuperBowl on TV?

Answer: The Bears

Bah da dum!

Full disclosure: I was rooting for the Bears.  I’m a Chicago girl at heart.

Snow Photos

November 16, 2010

I couldn’t resist taking some more snow photos from Monday morning and today.  For such an evil thing, snow sure is pretty.

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