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Friday, January 29, 2010

Oh Thank Goodness!

The hubs was home sick yesterday and got to spend all day with me (and learn all of my what-I-do-when-I'm-home-all-day habits), and we saw a story about Scott Roeder's trial on CNN.  Roeder is the man that shot a Kansas abortion doctor in May of last year.  Today, the AP released news of the jury's decision regarding his case.  Here's the AP article (through MPR) regarding his conviction.  

The jury only took 37 minutes to decide that Roeder was guilty of first-degree murder (he admitted to killing Tiller twice--once before his trial and once on the stand).  When I read this I breathed a big sigh of relief, because the talk on CNN was that Roeder's lawyers were trying to get the judge to consider a voluntary manslaughter conviction.  From the AP article:

"Roeder's attorneys were hoping to get a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter for Roeder, a defense that would have required them to show that Roeder had an unreasonable but honest belief that deadly force was justified."

My amateur, Law and Order-fed understanding of law (and I'd love my lawyer friends and family who read this to comment) leads me to think that if somehow the voluntary manslaughter went through on this case that it would have set a terrible precedent.  It would mean that any creepy psycho could get away with murder, as long as he or she thought that their actions were justified ("unreasonable but honest belief").  Think Hitler.  Think Pol Pot.  Think Stalin.  Think Khalid Sheikh Muhammed.  

So, thank goodness this guy got what he deserved, and didn't get away with murder.  


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Coolest Thing on NPR in a Long Time

I just was in the car listening to NPR and Neal Conan's interview with Temple Grandin, a woman on the autism spectrum who has transformed the meatpacking industry by developing humane methods of slaughter.  The interview is available at 5 pm.  Well worth a listen!

Southern Minnesota Puppy Mill Raid

Here's a great video showing how much work goes into getting rescued puppy mill dogs ready for homes.  All of the dogs in newscast were from a raid on a southern Minnesota breeder on January 14th.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Hey All You Lawrence Alums!

Just got a forward from a good friend regarding an informal poll conducted by Kiplinger's magazine about the best liberal arts colleges.  Please vote for your alma mater!

Go LU!

Happy Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day!

Virtual Bubble Wrap

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

New Years Goals Update

Eek!!!  It's been almost an entire week since I last posted!  Unforgivable!  

Anyways, thought I'd start this week off (a day late) with a little update on my 2010 goals.  I'll go number by number, and hopefully won't bore you to death. :)

1. Keeping in Touch.  Yippee!  I think I'm already doing better with this.  I'm sticking to the monthly schedule on my calendar by writing letters, emails, and making phone calls.  I'm counting leaving messages because I figure I made the effort and the ball's in the other person's court.    

2. BMI Goal.  Ha.  Hahahaha.  Well, this isn't really happening.  I've had a relapse into my old, Culver's, sitting-in-front-of-the-computer ways as of late.  I did try to get back in the swing of things last night when a fellow shorebird graciously invited me to yoga.  It felt awesome, and although I'm quite sore now (stupid down dog!), I'm hoping it was enough to get my butt in gear.

3. Write More. Well, working on this.  Didn't really fulfill my "write every weekday" goal last week, and already botched it this week by not writing Monday, but the point of writing for fun isn't deadlines.  My free time attention has been more focused on CNN and the Haiti earthquake than my writing.  Perhaps I can combine the two?

4. Cook Dinner.  Getting better at this for sure!  The hubs and I didn't really go out for dinner at all last week, and were in Wisconsin with family over the weekend.  I have a lot of meat in the freezer to get through, which is a motivator on this front.  I just need to remember to defrost it.

5. Eat Primally.  Still haven't gotten back into the primal swing of things since the holidays.  I'm incorporating it slowly back in, however, especially when I prepare meals at home.  

6. 50-Book Challenge.  Going strong!  I finished two books (see list) and am in the middle of a third, albeit LONG, book (The Story of Edgar Sawtelle).  The hubs's mom gave me a whole bunch of new books that look fantastic, good ammunition for the 50-Book Challenge.  I'm going to have to take the multi-book approach and have several on the table per week to finish it up, I think.

7. Animal Welfare.  I signed up with Midwest Animal Rescue & Services to help out in all aspects but foster care.  I haven't heard from them yet, but they are purely volunteer-based, so I anticipate some sort of communication soon.  They take in a lot of puppy mill breeding dogs, which I think is great.  I also want to continue to post periodically about animal welfare issues.

8. Saving Money.  Well, we're working on this as well.  I just went in and spoke to a financial adviser today to see about moving some retirement money around so it makes more for us.  Hopefully, we can meet that 10%-15% goal soon.

9. Time Outside.  Haven't really been inspired to go outside since it's been below zero for a while, but the hubs and I did take a walk around Veterans' Park in Milwaukee this weekend with the hubs's mom and sister.   Also, the drive to Milwaukee was beautiful--there was hoar frost on the trees and the snow-covered hills were beautiful.  I've never seen a more beautiful Wisconsin winter landscape!  

10. More Time with the Hubs.  Ten hours in the car this weekend was great!  We also went on a date at the wonderful Wakame Japanese bistro last week (I love the Crazy Monkey Roll!). 

Well, lots of room for improvement, but I have all year, right?  Thanks for keeping me honest...feel free to nag! 

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Anyone Want a Fur Baby?

Laurelaura sent me an email forwarding information on a little Jack Russell Terrier mix named Boy one of her friends is currently fostering.  I am posting his picture and foster mom's description as a favor--anyone interested?  He'd be mine in a minute if I owned a home!

From the email:
Boy was put into the shelter drop box so we don't even know why he ended up there. He appears to be a Jack Russell mix, most likely mixed with Boston Terrier as he does have a bit of an underbite. He weighs about 20 pounds and is solid muscle.About 3-4 years old. Boy is very dog friendly and will run from a fight with another dog rather than fight. He loves to play with other dogs. Boy is a BIG fan of toys and will play fetch with any toy. He does love balls and rope toys. He likes to share his toys with other dogs and likes nothing more than a good game of tug of war with a rope toy and another dog. He will carry his toys around and invite other dogs to play with his toys. He is also people friendly, but seems to prefer the company of other dogs. He would be happiest in a home with another playful dog. He would be a great kid's dog too! 

Ahh! Sounds so cute!  If you can't take him in but know a family in Minnesota that's looking for a dog, please let them know about Boy!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Book Review Monday: The Druidry Handbook

To keep me honest about my progress in the 50 Book Challenge, I am devoting the Monday post of each week to discussing the book I read the week before.  

Last week's book was The Druidry Handbook by John Michael Greer.  Somehow I stumbled upon modern Druidry on the internet, and was intrigued enough to check the Handbook out from the library.  

When one thinks of a Druid one of two images comes to mind: A white-robed, bearded Irish guy with incense in the forest, chanting in Gaelic; or, in the case of gamers, a Night Elf or Tauren that can change into a bear, cat, treant, or boomkin, depending on your spec.  With images of both in mind, I began my study of Druidry.

Not surprisingly, what I discovered about Druidry from The Druidry Handbook was that modern druids are neither of these things, at least not completely.  Druidry today focuses on one's relationship with the Earth, especially finding and strengthening the spiritual connection we have with it.  There are three paths that Druids follow today: The Earth Path, the Sun Path, and the Moon Path.  

The Earth Path encompasses your physical connection to the Earth.  It includes finding ways to get outside, be still, and focus on the essences of nature that we overlook day to day (a patch of grass, a stone, waves).  As you travel the Earth Path, it's necessary to make adjustments to your lifestyle that reflect your renewed connection to the Earth (your basic green changes: Recycling, efficient appliances, simplifying your lifestyle, taking the bus, etc.).  

The Sun Path focuses on the cycle of the year and involves ritual and celebration.  Druids celebrate the solstices and equinoxes as well as the dates in-between them (ie: February 2nd, which is midway between the winter solstice and spring equinox).  There are various rituals and meditations for each of these days.

The Moon Path is the spiritual aspect of Druidry.  It involves meditation on your connection to the Earth, Druid mythology and symbolism, and other emotional or mental challenges you may be experiencing.  Someone who has been practicing Druidry for a while will meditate for about 20 minutes daily.  The Moon Path enhances your spiritual connection with the Earth.  

This is the most brief, general synopsis of the book I can give.  There are many other interesting things that encompass the practice of Druidry that are discussed in the book, and if you're at interested in Druidry, this book is a must-read.  I found it intriguing enough to pursue other books on the topic and see if it may be a good fit for me, at least in some aspects.  I'm not sure I'm quite ready for a wand just yet.

Greer, John Michael. The Druidry Handbook: Spiritual Practice Rooted in the Living Earth. York Beach, ME: Red Wheel/Weiser, 2006.  

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Happy National Bird Day!

Happy National Bird Day!

As a student of ornithology (yes, it's true! One month off the grid in Ely, MN!), I have a strange love of birds and birdwatching that keeps me in tune with my future elderly self.  I love listening to birds when I'm out on a hike and trying to find the source of the tune with my binoculars.  So, to celebrate Nat'l Bird Day, I'd like to share some fun bird activities from the NBD website:

Name That Tune!

Spot Your State Bird (it's the loon if you live in Minnesota)

Of course, you could go outside and try to spot some of our feathered friends, but given that it's -2 on the shore today, I bet the birds are nestled all snug in their...nests.  Installing a bird feeder near a window is a great way to spot some songbirds (as well as a squirrel or two) during the winter, if you own a home.  

Me, all I can see out my window are crows on rooftops.  I know the cats like them!

Happy National Bird Day!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Hey Jude...

A great article about people making the best of the Newark security debacle:

Make sure to watch the YouTube video!

10 Things for '010

I'd like to start the real new year (let's face it--the new year really doesn't start until you go back to work) with a list of goals that I'd like to accomplish in 2010.  I figure letting the world know about them will hold me accountable.  Here's a list of my 10 resolutions, in no particular order, as well as my "action plan" to achieve them (geez! That sounds like a teacher in-service!).

Keep in Touch with Far-Away Friends More Often
Well, this really shouldn't be hard, but that's what I say every year and I totally suck at it, so I need to really lay it out.  On my Google calendar, I've listed all the people I've lost touch with and would like to talk with at least on a monthly basis, giving them a time and date slot based on their work schedules, time zones, etc.  I've set up the calendar to email me two days before to remind myself that the call is coming up.  So, even if they don't pick up, I know that I've done the best that I could, and can shoot them an email instead.

Get My BMI Between 18%-20%
Right now it's sitting between 24% and 26% (eek!).  That needs to change ASAP, so I intend to stick to going to the gym and working out Grok-style: Low-impact activity 3-5 times per week (yoga, pilates, walking, slow biking, and slow swimming all count), 2-3 days of strength training with the medicine balls, and 1 day of sprinting every 7 to 10 days.  Hopefully, that will do it.  I've been pretty good about going to the gym for yoga and pilates classes; now, I need to get myself pumped up for lifting.

Write more
I really enjoy writing, but it always takes a backseat to other "priorities" like the gym, hanging out with friends, work, watching Hulu, etc.  I'd like to devote more of my personal time to writing--be it blogging, fiction, poetry, or something else.  I'd like to get (Mis)Adventures of the Captive Kitties going again (I haven't touched it since the first blog post!) and see if I can come up with any coherent ideas for a picture book.  I'm aiming for blogging on (Mis)Adventures at least twice per week.

Cook Dinner 
At least five times per week, no excuses.  I like to cook a lot, but it's wicked hard to get myself motivated after work, especially when I come home ravenously hungry and attack whatever is inside the cabinets.  This is a money-saving resolution and a health resolution. It is intricately tied to my next goal.

Eat More Primally
I got away from the primal diet over the holidays, and definitely noticed several negative consequences of doing so.  I gained weight, slept less peacefully, broke out more, and ate a lot more (stupid carbs!).  The hubs and I also spent a ton more money since we were eating out more rather than cooking.  So, I'm gladly making more of a commitment to eat more protein, less carbs, and a ton of veggies in 2010.

Take NavyGirl's 50-Book Challenge.
My friend who writes the blog Marrying the Navy has decided to try to read 50 books in 2010 (harder than it sounds!), and I've decided to join her in the challenge.  I'll keep a list of books that I've read on Western Shorebirds to track my progress.  

Become More Active in Animal Welfare
Many of my readers already know how passionate (read: bizarrely obsessed) I am with animals.  I devoted a week of posts to the sad issue of puppy mills in Minnesota last year, and hope to become more involved in animal welfare in 2010.  I can accomplish this by blogging more about animal issues, volunteering with different animal rights groups that support my views, and (hopefully!) working in the field for a shelter in some capacity.  

Try to Save Between 10% and 15% of the Household Take-Home Pay  
Kiplinger's magazine has a crazy table in its February '10 issue that shows that if you save less than 5% of your pay, you can plan on working indefinitely during retirement age; 5% to 14%, work part-time; and 15% or more, be work-free.  I think getting at least 10% into a savings account, 401(k), and Roth IRA is a noble goal for 2010.  Having this goal in mind will also keep us honest about saving for a new home.

Spend More Time Outside
I'd like to do more of the things I love but don't make time for, like backpacking and canoeing.  The hubs and I like to take walks around Lake Calhoun, but I'd love to get up north and spend some quality time in the woods listening to the songbirds and on the lake with the loons.  

Spend More Time with the Hubs 
Especially time that doesn't involve a computer or television.  We've gotten into this rut where we rarely do things together that aren't media-based or errand-based.  I'd like to go out to dinner (versus pizza delivery), enjoy a concert or a show, and the occasional movie (again with the media!).  This also is connected to the previous goal.  The hubs isn't what you would call an outdoors guy, but I'd still like to show him how awesome northern Minnesota is.

Wow! That's it I guess.  Thanks in advance for helping me stick with my plan!     

Friday, January 1, 2010

Welcome, 2010!

The hubs and I are really excited about all the things that 2010 may hold.  A new home, new fur babies, and finally feeling like we're making money instead of just getting by.  2009 was a good year, and a lot happened in those 365 days, but we're happy that 2010 will be mellow and we will be able to sit back, relax, and enjoy married life.  

To help Western Shorebirds welcome in 2010, I'd like to take a census of my readers.  I know that you're out there because I hear off-hand comments regarding posts, but I'd like to have a more concrete idea of my readership (I'm sure it will be a humbling experience).  To those who are already followers, thanks!  If you're not, please help me out and do one of the following:

a. Follow Western Shorebirds using Google Friend Connect (and make me feel popular :-P)
b. Write a short comment (an emoticon would be sufficient) as a response to this post.  Post topics would be welcome, as well.  

Thanks in advance!  Here's to a wonderful 2010!