The thoughts of a writer.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Deep Snow Hike

We went hiking today in the wildlife refuge. The snow is knee deep! We didn't get too far, it was too exhausting!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Mall of America

Yesterday my wife and I spent the day at the Mall of America. We went with our friends Mike and Sue.

We toured Underwater Adventures.

Then we ate lunch at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company.

In case you didn't figure it out, that's me imitating Forest Gump.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Protect Your Nuts

For the band Christmas party tonight, we discovered that Dave and I had picked the same "holiday" shirt...

Merry Christmas Jim!

Merry Christmas to my brother Jim, who spent Christmas (and then some) at the airport keeping it safe for humanity.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Snow!

It has been snowing for two days and is supposed to continue for another day or two. We're pretty good at dealing with it here in Minnesota, so it hasn't prevented us from going to any Christmas parties!

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Parkway

This is a peak at Burnsville Parkway. My condo looks out at this view--which is quite nice during the Christmas season. Both sides of the parkway are decorated with lights!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Looking For Christmas

Cutris is looking for the true spirit of Christmas.

As "Christmas" (i.e. the various parties/gatherings) has been changed repeatedly this year, I am beginning to feel somewhat "humbug" about it. Of course, at work, we can only refer to Christmas with the words, "Happy Holidays."

As I hammered through an uncooperative software upgrade today, all I wanted to do was go get "lost" in the woods for awhile.

"'Tis the season..."

Remember in the "Charlie Brown Christmas," when Charlie Brown asks if anyone knows what Christmas is all about? Linus does a pretty good job of answering that question.
I love that scene.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Don't Kill the Cougar!

While there are a lot of great things about Minnesota, there is a history of shameful handling of wildlife that wander into areas populated by humans. One might think we would have more respect for our wild animals, but that is obviously not the case, as large animals (wild or domestic) that enter towns and cities are routinely gunned down with extreme prejudice.

Recently, a cougar spotted in the Twin Cities area (see links below) has been in the news with great frequency. News crews are dispatched and trigger happy, public safety officials seem to be drooling to get a shot at this "interloper." In Minnesota's defense, surrounding states seem to be quite adept at killing any last cougar they can get their sights on as well.

Back in 2005, I met a trio of brothers in Murdo, South Dakota, at the Rusty Spur. One of them was a rancher, and he claimed that cougars were known to attack his horses. This could certainly be a concern if you were a rancher, but I am somewhat shocked that a single cougar in a suburb in a supposedly, "wilderness state" such as Minnesota should cause such a panic, fervor and blood-lust!

As a volunteer park ranger in the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, I can tell you that I would consider myself very lucky to see a cougar while hiking in the bottom-land forest. Would I be freaked out or scared? Maybe a little. But isn't the world a little richer when there are magnificent creatures like cougars in it? The likelihood of one attacking me is extremely remote. In fact, the coyotes that roam these areas are more likely to attack, and I have rarely even seen one--though I know they live there.

In 1987, I had the honor of spending a week camped on Admiralty Island, in S.E. Alaska. The large population of coastal brown bears allowed my friend John and I to stay on their island, without harming us. Standing across from an 800 lb. bear, knowing that there was no fence, moat or barrier between us was undoubtedly a highlight of my life!

So I ask, no I plead with everyone, to let the cougar alone! It doesn't want to be around people. It's lost and wandering and free and beautiful! Why should one, single large cat be seen as such a threat to the thousands and thousands of people who have usurped its ancestral land? Jeez people! Wake up and allow room in your hearts and your world for one of God's most spectacular creatures!


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

7 Keys to Happiness

In my life I've learned a few important things.

1. People usually do the exact opposite of what they need to do to get what they want most.
2. True love is hard to find and is worth making sacrifices for.
3. A moment spent trying to understand the viewpoint of someone you disagree with, is almost always time well spent.
4. Forgiveness is the ultimate gift to everyone, including yourself.
5. Don't let your pride ruin your happiness.
6. Don't hurt the people you love.
7. Recognize that "always being right" can "cost" a lot.


Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Snow Day!

The school district I work in called a snow day!
My wife works in a school district further north (away from the storm) and has to go in.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Old Mountain Dew Ad

I remember this from when I was a kid!

I photographed this old sign in an antique gallery in Redwing, Minnesota.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Elevator Restrooms

I'm not sure why you would put restrooms in an elevator, but apparently elevator restrooms do exist.

Unless the elevator ride is exceptionally long, I don't understand why restrooms would be necessary. Likewise, I see no advantage to having restrooms move up and down, unless it is a way so that not as many restrooms need to be built. Maybe that's it! If you need a restroom, push the button and one will come up or down (from another floor) if it isn't in use.

I'm still not clear as to how the water pipes are incorporated into an elevator, unless they are chemical toilets and need to be emptied periodically. This would likely be done on the lower level.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Holiday Gift Idea

I've tried unsuccessfully for years to get my family to stop buying Christmas presents. I like getting together with everybody, but the whole commercialized, gift thing makes it stressful!

In the case of children, that's different. Kids love Christmas presents!

For the rest of us, unless we want to "break the bank" buying nice, expensive gifts, most people don't need that $10 or $20 gift. They can just buy it themselves!

I used to give gift cards for dinner at a nice restaurant. Then, I realized that there were potential problems with this as these cards might have time limits, etc. Even more reason to be careful with gift cards, is the number of establishments that are going out-of-business! Buy a card from one of these places, and your recipient may end up with nothing!

So last year, I decided to give to charities in the names of my family members. In fact, last year money was donated in my name to charity as well! We started a nice trend I think.

So if you want to do some good and make Christmas shopping easier, give to charities in the names of the people you would normally buy presents for. Just tell the charities (very specifically) what you want (i.e. receipt, gift card/acknowledgment).

And for any charities out there, if someone wants to donate instead of buying Christmas presents, make sure to promptly address these requests, or you may not get the donation next year.



Wednesday, December 02, 2009

A Cutris Christmas Story

One day, Cutris received a call from Santa Claus.

Santa asked Cutris to help him find his magic reindeer, Rudolph.

Unfortunately, Cutris went the wrong way, and ended up at the mall.

Someone called security, and he was given the "big boot."

So, he decided to look for Rudolph out in the woods.
Suddenly, Cutris realized that he was lost and it was getting dark.

So, he used a tree to build himself a shelter.

He spent the night in his simple shelter.

In the morning, Cutris found Rudolph eating some lichens outside the shelter!

Cutris called Santa, and he came and got Rudolph.

Then they all lived happily ever after.

The End

Woods, Nordegren, Grubbs, Uchitel, Moquin

Were you looking for gossip about Tiger Woods?
Sorry! Fooled you! Burn! Ha ha!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Arrivals & Departures

The hawk is the messenger from heaven and the eagle flies closest to the creator. They often show up when we need them. They come during ceremonies. They also seem to be abundant during births and deaths. My new nephew is a week old. When we went to see him the morning of his birth, My wife and I saw eight or ten hawks on the drive to drop off his siblings with their dad and then to the hospital. I always notice hawks when I drive, but this quantity was unusual.

I sometimes wonder if the renewed interest in spirituality (among some members of society) is due to the increased population of "messenger" birds (since the DDT ban); or are the birds more abundant because of the fact that our higher consciousness sees their value?

Recognizing the "magic" sets you ahead of the crowd. We live in houses, cities, etc. that are man-made. We can only experience reality by accepting the natural world. If we choose to accept these things, the world, life and death, all gain new meaning.

Life and death, after all, are similar events. Picture an airport, and the departures (death) are sad places. On the next level, arrivals (birth) are joyous. Interesting how an airplane is kind of like a big bird isn’t it?