Saturday, October 27, 2007

Adventures in Freedom

Four trips to Europe have ignited my interest in what it means to be part of the European Union. Poland entered in 2004 just 4 days before I arrived in May. When I returned in May, 2006, I could already see signs of change. Much road construction was underway all with signs indicating the EU was one source of the funding for the road improvements. I discovered I could buy a chocolate bar at the airport for 2 zlotys, but someone from the EU would have to pay 3. And to make sure I was entitled to the price of 2 zlotys I had to show my passport. But more importantly I learned that nearly every child in one of my classes had a primary relative -- brother, sister, mother, father, aunt or uncle -- living and working in England or Ireland.

Now since the recent election in Poland comes news that the Polish government will now probably become a signatory onto the EU statement of Fundamental Rights. Take a look at this web site:

It is very interesting reading. Take a look and see if we have all these fundamental rights in this country.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Running Away from School

As adults, don't we all want to run away for a bit? That's what I did this afternoon. We are midway through the semester, and it been busy and at times difficult. Then we had the weather -- 19 days of rain so far in October. After doing two meetings and seeing the sunshine I decided to run away for the afternoon. At Fort Snelling State Park I walked the Pike Island Trail. This takes one to the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers. The Minnesota is coming from the right and the Mississippi from the left flowing then towards the 35E bridge in the distance now as the Mississippi River. Running away is a great adventure.

Adventures in Misunderstanding

Yesterday my students were assigned to discuss the book, Middle of Everywhere, by Mary Pipher. This book provides concepts for working effectively with immigrants and refugees. I looked around the room and realized that 11 of the 23 students in the room were themselves immigrants or refugees -- mostly refugees. I thought, "this is going to be good." Wise comments yes, but also funny things. We laughed over the following story. One student recounted that his mother, newly arrived in the country, accompanied him on errands. At the ATM, he took out some money. His mother observed that and began to berate him: "Son, if you could just go to a machine and get money, why did you wait so long to bring me for a visit?"

Monday, October 22, 2007

Surprise Adventures

Today is my birthday and I have to teach! Much to my amazement a colleague arrived in the classroom with balloons, cake and soda -- or as many people in Minnesota call it, pop. Can't remember when I've been surprised like this before. We'll eating cake all day for many of us are going to dinner together to honor a colleague who left our faculty. The restaurant graciously said, "Bring the cake."

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Adventures in the night

I fell asleep on the couch. Suddenly at 2:30 AM someone was banging on the front door. I noticed the time and thought for some reason my younger daughter had come home from work here rather than her apartment. I asked, "Who's there?" A man answered, "A neighbor." I immediately knew no neighbor would be banging like that on the door at 2:30 AM in the morning, and further more wouldn't be trying to open the door. I said, "Go away" very firmly! The person continued to attempt to open the door, so I said again, "Go away or I'll call the police." The attempt continued so I grabbed the cell phone and called 911. The dispatcher stayed on the phone with me until the police arrived. During part of this I heard someone also attempting to open the back door.

When the police arrived, they showed me someone had apparently tried to run through the plantings along the side of the house, and tipped over all the flower pots and tripped over the downspouts. They told me they would be doing drive arounds and "Go back to sleep." That is easier done than said after that experience.

I did fall asleep again eventually and awoke to find it daylight. I looked at the clock and found it was 9 AM. I was puzzled about why the cell phone alarm didn't go off at 7:30. I found the cell phone was in permanent 911 mode. In other words after I hung up, the only number that could be called again or the only action was 911 until I made a positive action to change the menu. This is really a good feature, but was unexpected. Good thing it's Sunday, and the whole event wasn't further compounded by being late for work!

Update: Talked to the neighbors and they heard men talking between our houses. They were just about to call the police when the squad cars arrived.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Adventures Here

October 13 goes down as a glorious day in the Twin Cities. After a month of nearly steady rain, today dawned with moderate temperatures and glorious sun along with the height of fall color. Adventure here: Driving along Pierce Butler Road about 7:30 AM, I drove by a person who looked as if he or she had just escaped from a science fiction movie. The person was wearing a silver helmet which shone in the sun. The rest of the outfit looked like the movie idea of what one wears in outer space. Have no idea what sighting was about. Guess this just proves that if you look, you can have an adventure even on a quiet road at 7:30 AM!