Monday, September 22, 2008

The House That George Tore Down

Sven and FrankenKristin say, "So long, Yankee Stadium!"

BTW, that woman in the background really was much nicer than she appears.

Monday, September 15, 2008

A Bridge To Somewhere

As some of you may know, we lost a bridge last year. Here are few pictures I took last summer before the clean-up and rebuilding began.

The new bridge opened at 5:00 am this morning. It took just over 13 months. I wonder how the rebuilding effort on the other end of the Mississipi is going?

Friday, September 12, 2008

I Don't Like Ike

Galveston, oh Galveston, I still hear your sea winds blowin'
I still see her dark clouds growin'
It was Sep. 12th when I left Galveston

Galveston, oh Galveston, I still hear your sea waves crashing
While I watch the lightning flashing
I drive away and dream of Galveston

I still see her standing by the water
Standing there lookin' out to sea
And is she waiting there for me?
On the beach where we used to run

Galveston, oh Galveston, I am so afraid of dying
Before I dry the tears she's crying
Before I watch your sea birds flying in the sun
At Galveston, at Galveston

*with apologies to Jimmy Webb

Monday, September 08, 2008

Organize This (A Book Recommendation)

I read this book once about a guy who spent his life as a community organizer. The guy was a real historical figure born a long time ago, I think about 2,000 years ago to be exact, and the book was intended to highlight his more important works and set the stage for what he (as well as many of his followers) believed would be a new movement, although I think the word he used was Covenant.

The book begins with several stories of the man’s humble upbringing. He was born to a single mother and step-father, a carpenter if I remember correctly. In his adult life his title was Teacher, however, from a historical standpoint, many consider the work that he did to be that of a Community Organizer. In fact, his legacy is so enduring that one could argue he may have been the greatest Community Organizer to have ever lived. Although he showed remarkable promise as a Teacher and public speaker, he was much maligned by those in power who clung to the traditional notions of determining a persons worth by their position, power, and possessions. From what I read he spent much of his life challenging those notions and, at the risk of giving away the ending, paid dearly for it.

As and adult he began traveling the region, speaking to anyone who would listen and gathering followers along the way. His message begin to resonate with those on the fringes of society, those that the people in power determined to be less than worthy, namely prostitutes, tax collectors, lepers and citizens from foreign lands. He implored the leaders of the day to consider the plight of the poor, the sick, the aged and infirm, and went out of his way to challenge those who would accuse others of wrong doing to look into their won hearts before casting aspersion, or stones for that matter.

In the end he set out a few simple guidelines, or blessing for people to live by. Some of those whom he felt were most blessed were the poor in spirit, those who mourn, as well as those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. He also held a special consideration for the meek, the merciful, the pure of heart, peacemakers, and those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness. The last one proving to be prophetically ironic as he was himself persecuted, and ultimately crucified for the sake of righteousness.

His lasting message to those who claimed to follow him and work to organize a community around his legacy was this: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit the imprisoned and welcome strangers with open arms. He believed that as his followers were able to do this for the less fortunate of society, they did it for him.

Sadly, the true nature of his work, organizing communities around a common message of love, unity and change, has been distorted, and in recent days ridiculed by those in power. His legacy does live on in the hearts, minds, and actions of many individuals today, even some who do not profess to follow him, its just really hard to find those people sometimes.

I wonder if Sarah Palin or Rudy Guliani ever read that book?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Rest In Peace

Agnes Ann Ebel
March 17, 1917 - April 22, 2008

And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, "Write, 'Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!'" "Yes," says the Spirit, "so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them." Revelations 14:13

Good-bye Grams, I will miss you.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Stand Up And Be Heard ** UPDATED

Today I sent the following letter to the poltical editor of my local paper.

Ms. Reeve,

I am following up on a voice message I left for you a few weeks ago. I was responding to something I had read in the Pioneer Press following the Super Tuesday election and was given your name by the reader advocate as the appropriate contact.

Following Super Tuesday, your paper printed several articles commenting on the strong showing by Barack Obama. One article in particular caught my attention, not for its content so much as the inflammatory language used to establish the argument.

The article, authored by Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen writing for Politico, outlined a list of reasons why Hillary Clinton should be worried by the Super Tuesday results. The opening paragraph went like this:

“Hillary Clinton survived a Super Tuesday scare. But there are five big reasons the former first lady should be spooked by the current trajectory of the campaign.”
Spooked?!? Seriously?

Needless to say I was shocked that a 21st century newspaper would allow such an obvious racial slur to appear in print. Especially in a so-called news story. Regardless of one’s feelings for Barack Obama and his fitness for the Presidency, one can’t deny the clear implications of such offensive language and the possible hidden agenda of the authors. So, with righteous indignation in hand, I attempted to contact them to share my reaction.

Because your paper didn't provide any contact information for either writer I tracked them down via the internet. does not list e-mail addresses but does provide the option to contact its reporters via a comment box on their profile page. For both Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen, I left the following comment.

“I wanted to comment on something I read in your Feb. 6th column regarding the challenges Hillary Clinton is facing from the Barack Obama campaign following the Super Tuesday elections. You wrote:

“Hillary Clinton survived a Super Tuesday scare. But there are five big reasons the former first lady should be spooked by the current trajectory of the campaign.”

Spooked?!? Seriously?

Surely you must be aware of the obvious historical use of that word as a racial epithet. Even assuming that your intentions weren’t to subtly disparage the first African American in the history of the country with a legitimate chance of winning the presidency, it is difficult to understand how you, and your co-author, and your editor, could allow such a racially loaded term to appear in print.

Were there really no other options? The Microsoft Word program I am using to compose this E-mail carries 10 synonyms for scared in its thesaurus. Any one of which would have had said the same thing without setting a discriminatory tone, unless that was your objective. I hope not. Given the tenor of the article, I’ll grant you the benefit of the doubt and presume that you weren’t attempting to bias the readers with prejudicial language but instead fell victim to an unfortunate word choice.

To paraphrase Spiderman, “With great privilege, comes great responsibility.” As white folks, we rarely suffer the micro-aggressions so familiar to people of color. And because of that we must be even more cognizant not to commit them.”
Upon submitting my comment I received an error message indicating that my comment contained “inappropriate language”. Here I am trying to contact national political reporters about their use of racially loaded terms in the most diplomatic way I know how and I’m flagged for being inappropriate. The irony was overwhelming.

After stewing over the issue for several more days I decided that I would try to contact the Pioneer Press, as they too had some responsibility in allowing the article to run. I called the reader advocate and was given your name and number. I left a message over two weeks ago and have not heard anything since. I also tried to guess at what might be an e-mail address (based on the domain name) for Mr. VandeHei and Mr. Allen. I have not received any acknowledge from them either.

It would be easy for me to simply let this issue go. Afterall, these types of micro aggression don’t really hurt me. However, as I reflect further, I’m reminded of the famous poem “First they came…” by Pastor Martin Niemöller, which concludes, “And then . . . they came for me . . . And by that time there was no one left to speak up.”

I’m speaking up now.


South St. Paul, MN

I recently received this response from the political editor of my local paper.

Hi Sven,

First, let me apologize for not getting back to you. I did get your voicemail and in the midst of the activity of the past few weeks neglected to call you back.

I appreciate the efforts you have gone to to make us aware of your concern. We have a partnership with Politico and you're right, they aren't our staff writers. I would be happy to forward this on to those writers and their editors.

My guess is there was no intent, but you raise a good point that that word is a bit loaded, especially when used in the context of writing directly or indirectly about a black person.

I appreciate your view, will pass it along to Politico and again I apologize for not getting back to you.
If you want to discuss this further, feel free to call me. I promise to respond.

Political Editor of the local paper

P.S. It's interesting. I think we ran another Politico story this week in which the Republicans are trying to figure out how they can talk about/attack Obama should he become the nominee without appearing racist.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Listen To Her Heart

They say the camera adds 10 pounds. In this case I think the camera also added 10 beats per minute.

The Lid Twisters 1.26.08

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Fast As You

The Lid Twisters - 1.26.08

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Where Have All The Hours Gone?

How to tell if your kids' hockey is taking over your life:

 You base the next purchase of your new vehicle on whether it will hold six kids, six sticks, and six hockey bags.

 You know the location of every hockey store within a 400 mile radius.

 You relate directions to places by the nearest arena.

 You know every single kid on every single team your child has ever played on... but you don't have a clue who his school mates are.

 You feel lost when you have a free weekend.

 Your spouse waits until you decide where to sit and then chooses a spot on the opposite side of the arena.

 You become a partner in a skate sharpening business to save money.

 You can justify complaining about someone who gives hundreds of hours of volunteer time to coach your son or daughter.

 You ground your kids for a week (except for hockey practice).

 You rationalize spending $159 on a Synergy for a 9 year-old but won't spend $5 on a birthday card for your wife.

 When someone asks how old your children are you respond, "I have a '94 and a '97."

 You have had to use a grandparent to take kid #1 to a tournament because Dad was in a different county with kid #2 at a tournament and Mom had kid #3 two counties away in a 3rd tournament - all in one weekend.

 Practices make up a very large part of your social life.

 You buy gloves according to how loud you can clap in them.

 You find yourself missing the parents of your child's team mates during the off-season.

 You refuse to make any plans with your friends until you check your kids' hockey schedule.

 You take out a home loan to pay for all the equipment and expenses.

 You plan the birth of your next child so he/she has a good "hockey birthday".

 Your new baby's first word is Zamboni.

 All your computer passwords begin with "hockey" or contain your child's jersey number.

 You purchase a new $135.00 stick because the old one "didn't have any goals left in it."

 You knows a few 5 year-olds that are good but "lack focus".

 You’re kids ask if Christmas is "home or away".

 When your have to decide between a game or first communion you ask the church what your options are.

See you at the rink!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Coaching 101

Hockey season begins this week and I will once again be coaching both my son's and daughter's teams. As a public service to parents and players everywhere I offer this testimonial by NHL star Chris Chelios on the important role of youth hockey coaches.