Archive for June, 2008

Saturday was the epitome of summer fun!! After my 5K we lounged around for awhile before deciding to bike 7 miles to the Como Zoo, wandering around until closing time and then riding to the Stone Arch Bridge Arts Festival. Sadly the festival was closed but we continued our meandering bike journey and discovered some new islands along the Mississippi River before enjoying Chipotle on Nicollet Mall downtown. We arrived safely home in time to enjoy the thunderstorm that took out 10,000 people’s power across the west Metro. That is a lot to pack into 5 hours including 20 miles on the bike!

Como Zoo

Butterfly Garden

Views of Downtown from the Northeast Side


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This past weekend was the Minnesota Bike Festival which had several different cycling competitions throughout the metro-area. One of the major events was a criterium course in downtown Minneapolis. This 4 stage of the festival was aptly called the Minneapolis Downtown Classic. We watched with friends Kristofer and Amy and had a great Friday evening. Here are a few pics from the night – all taken with my cellphone!

Women’s Race

Men’s Race
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For the full review please visit Team Cross Runs.

Here is a short excerpt:

One highlight of the meet was that Carrie Tollefson competed in the 1500 trying to get her Olympic “A” standard.

Back to my race! I went in with no expectations having done no speed work in a long time and having done a 10-miler the day before. I knew I was going to get lapped several times since my PR is 18 and change. But my team needed me to compete so that we could score – so I took one for the team!

I ran a 19:51 in case you were too lazy to go read the longer review!

Congratulations to Barack Obama for finally clinching the Democratic primary. Let the fun of the general election cycle begin!! I’m sure this fall’s Olympics will provide a needed respite from the political talk.

Throughout the primary season it has been interesting to watch Obama electrify crowds and become the first black presidential candidate. Throughout the last six months I’ve had conversations with a variety of people, from a spectrum of backgrounds about Obama and the primaries in general.

Often in these conversations someone would say something about the fact that Obama’s candidacy shows that we have overcome racism and all the hard work of the civil rights movement is finally over. I would sadly inform them that while the vast majority of America has moved beyond overt racism there are still large pockets of downright hostility towards black individuals.

Until moving to Minneapolis I would say that much of my life has been spent in places where racism is fairly common, except for my year in New Jersey. (I would broadly define places as counties or areas, not specific towns) I was raised to see all people as equal but there were pockets around my county where racism was still prevalent. My time in central Indiana was surrounded by racism, even in my generation and those younger than me. It is a different type of racism, though.

I think sadly all of this is highlighted in a series of attacks against Obama staffers and offices throughout Indiana. Now maybe these types of attacks happened throughout the country and my ear (or eye) was peeked because of the mention of Indiana, but who knows. The Obama campaign I think rightly tried to downplay the incidents to prevent a national media storm, but we can’t deny the reality – racism still exists in this country. I would say that it still occurs both covertly and overtly.

I’ll let you read the Washington Post article yourself, but I spent several years working in Muncie and a total of 7 years living and interacting with the broader East-Central Indiana area. Nothing in the article really surprised me – which is sad.

But in historical retrospect it isn’t surprising since in 1924 a KKK member was elected governor of Indiana and the midwest actually had a larger KKK presence than the South. Indeed Marion, IN is home to the last known lynching in America and resides between Muncie and Kokomo – both mentioned in the WP article. Kokomo also hosted the largest ever rally of the KKK.

What do you think about the current state of racism?

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This is a funny forward that I haven’t seen yet so I cleaned it up and made it postable!


Listen up City Slickers!

  1. Pull your droopy pants up. You look like an idiot.
  2. Turn your cap right, your head isn’t crooked.
  3. Let’s get this straight; it’s called a ‘dirt road.’ I drive a pickup truck because I want to. No matter how slow you drive, you’re going to get dust on your Lexus. Drive it or get out of the way.
  4. They are cattle. They’re live steaks. That’s why they smell funny to you. But they smell like money to us. Get over it. Don’t like it? I-70 goes east and west, I-71 goes north and south. Pick one.
  5. So you have a $60,000 car. We’re impressed. We have $150,000 corn pickers and hay balers that are driven only 3 weeks a year.
  6. So every person in rural Ohio waves. It’s called being friendly. Try to understand the concept.
  7. If that cell phone rings while an 8-point buck and 3 does are coming in, we WILL shoot it out of your hand. You better hope you don’t have it up to your ear at the time.
  8. Yeah, we eat taters & gravy, beans & cornbread. You really want sushi & caviar? It’s available at Jim’s bait shop.
  9. The ‘Opener’ refers to the first day of deer season. It’s a religious holiday held the closest Saturday to the first of November.
  10. We open doors for women. That is applied to all women , regardless of age.
  11. No, there’s no ‘vegetarian special’ on the menu. Order steak. Or you can order the Chef’s Salad and pick off the 2 pounds of ham & turkey.
  12. When we fill out a table, there are three main dishes: meats, vegetables, and breads. We use three spices: salt, pepper, and ketchup. Oh, yeah…. We don’t care what you folks in Cincinnati call that stuff you eat… IT AIN’T REAL CHILI!!
  13. You bring ‘coke’ into my house, it better be brown, wet and served over ice.
  14. You bring ‘Mary Jane’ into my house, she better be cute, know how to shoot, drive a truck, and have long hair.
  15. College and High School Football is as important here as the Cavs and the Knicks, and more fun to watch.
  16. Yeah, we have golf courses. But don’t hit the water hazards — it spooks the fish.
  17. Colleges? We have them all over. We have State Universities , Community Colleges, and Vo-techs. They come outta there with an education plus a love for God and country, and they still wave at everybody when they come for the holidays.
  18. We have a whole ton of folks in the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines. So don’t mess with us. If you do, you will get whipped by the best.
  19. Turn down that blasted car stereo! That thumpity-thump crap ain’t music, anyway. We don’t want to hear it anymore than we want to see your boxers. Refer back to #1.
  20. 4 inches isn’t a blizzard – it’s a flurry. Drive like you got some sense in it, and DON’T take all our bread, milk, and bleach from the grocery stores. This ain’t Alaska , worst case you may have to live a whole day without croissants. The pickups with snow blades will have you out the next day.
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I am finally sitting down to write a much overdue update about our life in Minneapolis! I guess the absence of an update means we have been busy but that isn’t a really good excuse. I can’t really use the weather either since it just now getting consistently gorgeous outside. Today it is currently 80 with lots of bright sunshine!

It is hard to know where to begin to try and cover about 5 months of time. This week Christy will switch from a day/night rotation to a full night shift. This was her choice and is almost like a promotion. It is weird to think that being awake every night is a move in an upward direction, but the ability to have a consistent schedule and not be switching back and forth each week will be a great change. She is enjoying work very much. It is a nice change from one of the
toughest ICU’s in the country to a pretty sedate Post-Partum unit. On average she takes care of 3 mom’s and their babies each night.

Things are starting to settle down for me at work as well. We currently have 8 days of school left, so there is a lot to finish up with students and many of the volunteers have already left for summer vacation (the problem with college student volunteers!). We had some large events over the past few weeks that have taken a lot of energy and work. Last week we had a Somali Family Night and Sanford on Display – which showcased work from all our students. I am starting
to feel connected and part of the staff now, just as we part for the summer. My summer should be interesting, since VISTA’s sign on for a year of service we have to “work” over the summer even though our fellow staff members don’t necessarily have to. I was blessed to meet a guy at a recent VISTA conference who works with a non-profit housing organization that is providing youth enrichment programs over the summer (with a mostly Somali population). I will be spending my afternoons working with them while doing some work with the Sanford Job Corps during summer school in the morning. The Sanford Job Corps is an interesting program that has become my biggest project. It is a fund-raising program that allows students to perform service in the community, through which businesses and homeowners donate money to the school. That money is saved in an account and is then given to the student to use for school-related activities. I have gotten to know some of those kids pretty well. I’ve also been working with the Student Council helping with their service projects and such around the school.

It hasn’t been all work and no play. We have tried to fully embrace the Minnesota weather and all its extremes. We gritted through one of the worst winters in a long time which included -34 wind chills and a few feet of snow. Through it all though we had 0 snow days off from school! We tried to spend a lot of time outdoors and found ourselves taking hikes, walking across frozen lakes, snow shoeing, and even driving the car out on a lake! We have also gone camping two different times. The first was bitter cold at night and we actually got an inch or so of snow on the second night which turned a great camping trip into a great adventure as dawn broke with brutally cold winds which later dropped 5 inches of snow in the area we camped but 18 inches a
little farther north! As spring has taken its sweet time in settling in we have continued to enjoy the outdoors, but with less clothing on! In fact yesterday we enjoyed the mid-70’s and took a 23 mile bike ride which included 5 of the Minneapolis lakes, a waterfall, and cruising along the Mississippi River. I have also taken up bike commuting and joined the hundreds of bike commuters on the 80 miles of off-road bike trails (off-road meaning paved trails not on the streets). It has been fun but does provide its own unique challenges.

We think we have found a church home but are still looking at a few other options. There are a lot of churches in the area, most are Lutheran. So we have a lot of options it is just trying to make sure we have found one that fits our beliefs. We started working with a group called Somali Adult Literacy Training (SALT) that is a part of World Relief and provides literacy and citizenship training to… Somali adults (go figure!). We’ve done this for a couple of months and
have gotten to know some of the students but have also made friends with many of the fellow tutors and leaders who are also Christians and committed to engaging the community around us.

As the weather broke and we saw our grass for the first time in March we have also slowly gotten to meet our neighbors. In fact today while eating lunch, picnic style on the front porch with Kristofer and Amy, we had some kids ask if they could have some food. We ended up giving
them some of our cupcakes in an ice cream cone and chips. It was fun to meet some of the neighborhood kids. One of them drank some of the pickle juice at my suggestion – he didn’t like it! Yesterday we met another kid while sitting on the chairs in our community garden. He
wanted a dollar – which we didn’t have – and then proceeded to invite us to church, where he said you could take several boxes of granola bars and stuff them in your coat!!! He was quite funny and we enjoyed his company for awhile. Yes, there are adults and we have met many of
them. There was a neighborhood block party a few weeks ago where we met many of the neighbors. We have planted a little garden in our back yard and another plot in the community garden. We hope to enjoy cherry tomatoes, lettuce, cabbage, herbs, and much more later in the

I almost forgot a quick running note. I joined the largest running club in the state and also a USATF team. We have been running in a USATF Championship Circuit around the cities. It has been a lot of fun although there is some stiff competition. I ran a half-marathon in April in 1:36 – not overly happy with it but will take it! I have also registered for the Twin Cities Marathon and look forward to completing it in October!

This has gotten quite long but I think I covered most of the highlights. Be sure to check out our website for more information. I’ll put the full list of links below.

We’d love to hear how life is going for you so please write or call.

God Bless,
(link to the video of our house – when there was still snow on the