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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Canoeing and Running

I love summer!

Today we put our new canoe in the water for its first real test. We paddled around Lake of the Isles, Cedar Lake, and Brownie Lake in Minneapolis. They're all connected and its a fantastic paddle with lots of cool critters to see; ducks, grebes, nesting geese, turtles, red-winged blackbirds, fish, cormorants, and even a black-capped night heron. Happiness!

Here's the route we took (4.3 miles according to Google Earth):

(Lake of the Isles is the one with islands and Brownie Lake is the smallest one)

We bought a We-no-nah Minnesota II used from Piragis Outfitters last fall.

I've also verbally committed, to a friend who will hold me to it, to enter my first organized run at the end of the summer. Its called the Milk Run and its at the Minnesota State Fair Grounds during State Fair and they give you a milkshake at the end. Its only 3 miles so its do-able for me. I'm already up to about 2 miles - not bad for a beginning runner for the first real week of summer.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Fashion Photo Shoot

Here are my favorite shots from my first fashion photo shoot. My genius husband set up the lighting.







Sunday, April 22, 2007

George Wright Society

Last week I attended the George Wright Society conference in downtown St. Paul, MN. The George Wright Society is for natural resource managers and interpreters. As far as I can tell most of the members are federal employees of agencies like the National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Things that struck me:
  • Climate Change is freakin pee-your-pants scary.

  • We need to make natural areas as healthy and diverse as possible to enable them to adapt efficiently to new climates

  • We are going to lose lots of species, especially at the poles and high elevations.

  • Resource managers are a remarkably competent group of folks.

Climate Change is scary scary scary. The theme of the whole conference was "Rethinking protected areas in a changing world." Dr. Lisa Graumlich and Harvey Locke each gave plenary talks about climate change, its undeniably human causes, and about how we are entering into a new analog world. Listen to a Minnesota Public Radio interview with Dr. Graumlich about this: link.

I went to sessions that focused on individual species and habitats, international cooperation, and geologic history of climate change, all of which are topics worthy of their own posts. If you want to know more email me.

The amazing part is despite the vast power-sucking nature of this potential global disaster resource managers are standing their ground staring the climate change right into its beady little eyes. There's no shirking going on here.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

More Claymation Goodness

More from craft night:

Monday, April 16, 2007

Craft Night: Claymation

Last Saturday was the first of hopefully many craft night parties.

Here is one of the videos created by a party goer:

Sunday, April 15, 2007

This Week's Athiests Talks in Review

I went to two events this week sponsored by the University of Minnesota's Campus Atheists and Secular Humanists.

Talk #1 Panel Discussion of Religion and its Effects on Women's Rights

This panel contained an impressive smattering of faiths including two atheists, a Hindu, two "Women of Virtue"* (i.e. Christian), two Muslims, and two Baha'i. But the great disappointment was that no one actually talked about the topic of the effects of religion on women's rights.

All sorts of religious rhetoric spewed forth completely unconnected to whatever intelligent question was posed: quoting scripture, citing accomplished religious women, and random personal testimonials. The atheists were just as guilty of giving ranting, self-indulgent, poorly constructed answers.

Heres an example.
The Question to Panelists: "Define what feminism means to you"
Answer from a "Woman of Virtue:" "I was gay before I met the Lord but now thanks to Jesus I've been delivered."

What the heck does that have to do with anything?!? Thats kinda how the whole talk went - at least the part I stayed for.

*The Women of Virtue have a pretty scary description on their website:
Women of Virtue is ministry that helps college-aged women understand and embrace the important biblical role women play in their families and society. The far-reaching consequences of modern feminism adversely effect many aspects of society. Our desire is to see women restored to true biblical femininity and for them to bring this restoration to a world that awaits this precious and vital dynamic.

Talk #2 Hemant Mehta talks about Selling His Soul on Ebay

Hemant is a good speaker with a clean conversational style. His talked focused on publicity - how he got it, how atheism is a hot topic, and that atheists shouldn't try to get press by insulting the religious folk.

He makes a good point that many Christians are not extreme evangelicals, actually want separation of church and state, have no interest in dictating anyone else's rights, and are therefore our allies. However, I think religion is granted way too much protection from criticism in our culture and therefore being "nice and friendly" while not compromising rationality is a mighty tricky thing.

Imagine a really rich and politically powerful group of people who are highly offended by the fact that the sky is blue because they have swept their fear of mortality under idea that the sky is green, and that will somehow save them from death. Do you just pretend that it makes no difference (as long as they don't want to force you to believe the sky is green too) because their money and power are valuable enough to contort reality in order not to offend?

It just seems wrong to act like its OK for religion to make stuff up.
More "why be nice?" discussion on the Hemant's Friendly Atheist Blog.

Lastly, my two most dreaded meeting situations occurred at this meeting. I was approached by a member of the group because I was young, and "as I could see there were a lot of grey heads" and they need more young people AND I got hit-on by a guy using the old "This is my first time at one of these meetings and I'm new in town" approach. Even though Hemant was a good speaker and the event was well conducted I think it would take a lot to get me to go back to a MN Atheist meeting.

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Spring Weaning

Last week was kind of my spring weaning; in winter there's not much to do outside, it gets dark way early, and everyone stays holed up inside so I latch onto the teat of the internet. I just finished a week where I didn't touch my laptop at all. It was awesome, I didn't feel like I was missing anything and I had more time to read, run, hangout with my husband and friends, and just relax.

Now everyone is crawling outside, blinking big "precious-moments" eyes at the sun, and running around filled with joy that spring is finally here!

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Big Wave - part II

My obsession with giant waves continues.

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Who Cares about Easter?

Today is my Birthday!


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Get schooled in Dressage

In a past life, I was very "horsey" so I know good when I see it - plus the announcer seems pretty impressed.

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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Yoda Says

Today these two articles were posted today on a Minneapolis local news website.

Gang Violence on the Rise
Protest draws both sides to the abortion clinic

As Yoda would say, "Interesting the similarities..."

(Yoda image credit: from through a google image search)

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Norway seems to be one of those blameless countries, like they're doing everything right. A country full of happy, healthy, long-lived, uncannily attractive, goodhearted people, right? Well, the whales know better.

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Friday, April 06, 2007

Archived Goodies

I pulled some never-before-posted pictures from the photo archives. Click for more info.





Wednesday, April 04, 2007

I don't know whats gotten into me...

I've been posting comments on this christian blog: The Line

I did a google blogs search for "Sam Harris" and got sucked in. The author of this blog seems to have the exact opposite view as me of the Harris vs. Warren (author of The Purpose Driven Life*) debate published in Newsweek which I didn't even post about because I thought Warren has such weak responses - like playing tennis with someone without a racket as Harris said in his internet debate with Andrew Sullivan.

I think I'll keep posting in that blog until things get ugly.

*I have actually read chunks of The Purpose Driven Life because my in-laws sent us a copy. It was amusing for a little while but thats about it. I've been wanting to send them A Letter to a Christian Nation because turn-about is fair play, right? But I honestly don't think it would do any good.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Thank the Doctors

Today's Scenario:
Theist having a heart attacked is rushed into a hospital.

Doctors and nurses meticulously operate on the theist for grueling hours and hours to fix theist's heart.

Theist wakes up from surgery all fixed up and says "Praise the Lord! I'm healed!"

Doctors and nurses are thinking "Well, F*ck"

Why don't people thank their doctors when they recover from serious illnesses? I've been noticing a lot of people crediting god for their recovery from illnesses. I totally understand being grateful, but how about thanking the doctors?

I'll take a stab at answering my own questions. Perhaps its because the person who was sick doesn't really understand exactly what was wrong or exactly how it got fixed therefore it seems miraculous when they get better. However, the doctors who cure people do understand exactly what's going on - its not mysterious or supernatural - its smart people putting their brains to good use.

Even if you're a theist, a doctor who cures your cancer or fixes your heart is totally worth thanking. Especially since the doctors are the only ones you know for sure did anything to help, and you know darn well they're not the ones who made you sick in the first place.

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Monday, April 02, 2007

The F-Bomb

Oh, its on now - humanist vs. atheist WWF style

Harvard’s Humanist Chaplain, Greg Epstein used the phrase fundamentalist atheist in a press release promoting the upcoming New Humanist conference. Reading between the lines he used the phrase to put atheists down and make humanists look better.

Here's a good smattering of links for all the juicy details:

Overveiw by the Friendly Athiest
Brian Flemming drops his own F-bomb
Greg Epstein's lame response on the conference website
New York Times article about this whole deal

Atheists, even Dawkins and Harris style atheists, are not fundamentalist. There is nothing dogmatic about the atheist perspective. Atheists just come off as jerks because we're rebuking what has been protected by culture for generations.

Isn't it weird that it's considered arrogant and rude to question someone's unsupported faith-based beliefs? Is it rational to believe that a god/man who was born from a virgin rose from the dead and ascended into heaven AND someday he'll return to earth to lay the smack down so you better worship him or you'll go to hell?

Its weird and irrational and totally messed up.

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Today's Mineral: FeS2

Fools Gold!
(its April Fools day - get it? huh?)

I'm gonna milk this April Fools day thing for all its worth and yank the carpet out from under you because today's mineral is actually Marcasite!

Marcasite is a polymorph of pyrite (AKA fools gold). Marcasite has the same chemical composition as pyrite but a different crystalline structure.

Pyrite is isometric (cube shaped).

Marcasite is orthorhombic (cereal box shaped)

Yay for mineralogy! Special kudos to anyone who leaves a comment identifying other polymorphs.

(I stole the pyrite image from Wikipedia, the marcasite photo from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls website and the animated gifs from

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Yoga Clothes Photo Shoot


My husband and I did a photo shoot for our friends at Foat Design. This is my favorite shot, the lighting was being a little grumpy for us. We had done a practice shoot to get the lighting right but that was in the daylight and this shoot was at night. The pictures are still good but require some photoshopping to get what we want. I'll post those when they're done.

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