Thursday, February 28, 2013

Service Fair Adventure

The blog has been quiet because all that is out my window is gray and snowy.

At Thompson Park Lodge, West St. Paul, MN while attending the Minnesota Department of Health Oral Health Summit, February 22

Snow Covered Roof at St. Olaf College, February 28

While we don't have as much snow as other places in the Midwest, at this point winter does get tiresome! I simply didn't want to waste everyone's time complaining about it.

Today I went to St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota as a volunteer for Global Volunteers to participate in the College's World Wide Service Fair.

There were many organizations represented, but in wandering around I found only one other that really offered the possibility of doing something internationally.

We had a lot of students stop by and ask questions. There was great interest in the program in Ecuador. Apparently through something from the College students had been there before and fallen in love with the country. Near the end one young man stopped by and explained he was going to Europe anyway this summer and thought he might as well do something.

The time went by very quickly.

This was my first time on this campus and enjoyed wandering about the building. I found the campus radio station.

There is a lot of art work, always interesting to see.

The painting below is called A Matter ofTime and the artist is Jill Ewald.

Lunch was provided by the College in the nearby Viking Theater Room.

Here I found some interesting wall sculptures.

The one above is called Leif Ericsson and the one below is St. Olaf.
Sorry I did not get the artist's name.

Fun to be in a new place! Enjoyed doing this volunteer activity very much. Hope we get some new volunteers.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Saturday Night at Union Depot

For about two  years I have been driving around a construction project when going to work. The Union Depot was and now has been restored. It will be a terminus for the Green Line of the light rail and is beginning to be a stop or terminus for many bus routes.The Amtrak passenger train will be re-routed to this depot sometime within the next year.

On Saturday night a Lite-Brite mural opened. You may ask what is a Lite-Brite display? Lite-Brite are little bulbs that one can organize into making pictures. These were really fun toys.

This display is actually an art piece designed by Ta-coumba Aiken, an artist I've been following for years. Many volunteers sorted out the packages of Lite-Brites, which comes in mixed colors, and then many other volunteers helped to put the mural together. It will be in place until February 28. [Update on February 20 -- A story in MinnPost explains the mural has 596,000 lights and it will eventually be put on permanent display in a place yet to be determined.]

Found my way into the parking ramp and then into Main Hall for the first time ever.


There were kiosks for snacks and drinks as well as activities for kids.

The display set a Guinness record for being the largest Lite-Brite display created. I estimate the display is about 40 feet wide and 10 feet high.

Here is a close-up of one part of the display.

I was intrigued by the little sun that is in the upper center of this panel.

I'm anxious to go back in the daylight soon so I can get a better view of the restoration of the Main Hall.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Sun is Back!

Years ago I took a meteorology course at the Science Museum of Minnesota. I learned a trivia fact -- that February 15 is the date when the sun warms enough it is statistically impossible to keep an outdoor ice rink frozen in Minnesota. Sometime later when I mentioned one of my favorite dates is February 15, someone asked, "Is that because it's the day all the Valentine's Day chocolate goes on sale?" So I explained the trivial sun fact.

Well, the week holding February 15 has arrived and it's good.

We've been having some snowfalls and the mornings can look like this:

But the streets are beginning to look like this
as the sun begins to melt the snow.

Finally waking up AFTER sunrise, which today was 7:09 AM. My older granddaughter gets on the school bus at 7:02, so now at least she is able to walk to the bus stop with some daybreak light. 

Here's the view I see from my bedroom and living room windows.
 Sunset has now moved to 5:42 PM. My Monday night Polish class now begins at 5:30 PM, so from now on I'll be arriving in daylight. That makes life much easier, because I park in area where one has to find an electronic station to pay for a parking space. It's really hard to find and use these stations in the dark. Makes me wonder if the designers every tried them in the dark!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

$23 Billion Ketchup

I was driving around accomplishing some errands today and listening to Minnesota Public Radio. A business news story coming across is that Warren Buffet bought Heinz.

Yes, indeed this is the "official" ketchup of the United States. This is almost a brand new bottle from my refrigerator. The story prompted me to really study the label. This bottle refers one to Who knew that that was the former owner? Surely not me!

And in the fine print on the label I learned the ketchup is made from tomatoes grown from "Heinz seed."

The news story went on to explain that Heinz changes the recipe from country to country to have it match the taste palate of the country. I surely know ketchup tastes different in Central Europe. The news story said we perceive ourselves as liking somewhat bland food, but actually American ketchup is spicier than that sold in many other countries.

Well, I'm off to Romania in two weeks. Almost one of the first things I will do upon arrival is walk across the street to the grocery store and read the label on the ketchup bottle to see what company manufactured it.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Walking the Mall of America with a New Camera

My Fugifilm camera has served me well, but it's now in a drawer. It requires lithium batteries. Last year while in Romania the original battery died unexpectedly. Since then I've acquired three other batteries for this camera and had trouble with each. Recently I heard a segment on public radio about the problem of the lithium batteries in the Boeing Dream-liners. The information in the story about the problem with the batteries in the planes was exactly like my problem with the camera batteries, and caused me to go camera shopping. So now I have a new little Canon. It takes simple AA batteries, available anywhere. Today was my first big try with it.

The Twin Cities Volkssports Club sponsored a walk today at the Mall of America (MOA). I was out the door a bit after 7 AM (and hurrah!  it was daylight -- spring is coming) and was checked in and ready to walk about 7:45 AM.

We checked in at a table staffed by the club at the Walking Company store.

At this time the Mall of America is quite empty and quiet. It made me remember walking ut. Kiraly in Pecs early in the morning when the only thing that was happening was preparation for the day.

Here are some things I saw early in the morning.

The restaurant sign surely looks as if it is night.

The neon sign on Old Navy produced an interesting reflection on the floor.

The "night light" produced an interesting reflection of a Sale sign from across the hallway. One can sort of see my reflection,while taking this photo, on the lower right.

In walking about I noticed two signs of changes in male culture.

Hats are back! And I'm glad for I think they are really stylish!

Women can now get a blow-dry in malls and even airports and now men can get a shave.

10K requires 10 loops around the Mall. Every time I was on the north side I saw the carousel winking out with its pretty lights. On the 7K loop I took a detour through Nickelodeon Universe, the name of the amusement park in the middle of the MOA.

This carousel has beautiful figures.

Of course horses...

But some very inventive figures

While in this area I also again saw the Home Plate marker.

The Mall of America is built on the site of the former Metropolitan Stadium. I remember seeing baseball games here as well as going to outdoor concerts.

This photo also shows a detail of the new camera -- a date stamp. I used Photoshop to remove this from other photos in this blog entry. Now I need to figure out the camera menu to remove it from the photos as they are shot.

So I spent a good morning doing a 10K at the Mall of America and learning about my new camera.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Signs of Poland

Back to Polish classes on Monday night. Walked in and was greeted with this poster.
It seemed so good to see this. I said I would be "homesick" had I not had plans already to go to Poland again this summer.

Beside the poster was this. After class one fellow student whispered to me, "What's this?" Good lesson to me that what seems normal to me is still strange and unknown to others.

Another question I could answer or rather affirm answers others are getting is that one can not fly directly from Minnesota to Warsaw. There are several ways to do it, but it takes at least two airplanes to make the trip. 

But oh my! Concentrating for the past few weeks on the family wedding knocked all the Polish out of my head. I knew the teacher was asked in Polish, "What is your first name?" But I surely couldn't remember how to answer the question. Back to studying.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Family Wedding

I'll brag and celebrate just a bit.

Here's a photo from my daughter's wedding on January 30. My older daughter is the bridesmaid in the foreground, appearing to be looking down at her bouquet.

Below is a photo of me with my new son-in-law. This was taken as we were just about to leave the hotel for the wedding venue.

Happy day for our family.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Sun Dogs and Other Adventures

On Wednesday evening my younger daughter got married and then we had a reception after the ceremony. It was a bit after 12:30 when my older daughter and I got back to my apartment for some sleep. (Now by Poland standards this is early, but then again, I've never seen/been to a wedding in Poland on a Wednesday when most people had to go to work the next morning!)

I spent yesterday running here and there on errands and toting grandchildren around. I ended up with my two granddaughters spending the night with me. We had to be up at 6 AM to get my older granddaughter to school on time. When we got down into the garage -- (and is there anything better than an underground garage?) my granddaughter complained it was cold there. The car thermometer said 50 (10C). I told her it would be a lot colder when we got outside. By the time we got to her school the thermometer said -11 (-23C)! A good day for her to have door to door service and not be waiting on a corner for a bus!

Then I headed to the daycare center for the youngest one. By now the sun was just rising.

The little one is moving into the 4 year old talking stage and one never know where the conversation will go.

Nini: "I don't want to go to daycare."

Grandma: "Oh yes, you do. You can have stories and see your friends."

Nini: "And the alphabet."

Grandma: "Yes, the alphabet."

Nini: "And outdoors"

Grandma "No, I think it's too cold to play outdoors today."

Nini: "Oh Grandma, don't you know the moon is outdoors?"

After dropping her off, I headed to a restaurant for a quiet breakfast.

And that's when I saw the sundogs.

The whole scene was too broad for my camera. Here is one of them. Sun dogs always appear in twos, one on each side of the sun. They are made by the sun lighting ice crystals in the atmosphere. I associate them with clear, sunny, and very cold days. Makes a cold day just a bit more fun.

After breakfast I headed to the optical shop. I got new lens in my glasses, and oh my! I can see again. I had the other ones only 9 months, but my eyes really changed. I had to take my glasses off in the grocery store to focus on the items on the shelf! These kinds of things were getting quite annoying.

And there's something digital about the lens now, I don't understand how it works, but the peripheral vision is also much better.

Above are grand kids in the van on the way back to the hotel after the reception. Yes, the party's over (much to all our relief in many ways!) and now February begins.