Still Boycotting the Mall of America

I’m one of those silly Minnesotans who actually enjoys the Mall of America. I like the big indoor amusement park, I like the over-priced special exhibitions (the Star Trek exhibit was cool!). I like the indoor walking and people watching and window shopping and the Sea Life aquarium and the Mirror Maze and the giant Lego store. I like the visiting the shops that you don’t see anywhere else in this area, like the Peeps store and Paciugo Gelato.

But I did not like (ah, understatement) how the Mall of America responded to the nonviolent act of civil disobedience that took place in their rotunda on December 20th of this past year.

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Local Lefty Liberal Progressive Hippie Things

I have two reading recommendations and one restaurant review for you from the land of spoon and cherry.

Robin Marty – Joining the Other Side

Robin Marty is an independent journalist, well-known for her articles on reproductive justice. She is based in Minnesota, the author of Crow After Roe, and she has recently published an article on Contributoria called Joining the Other Side. The article is about the week she spent in Washington D.C. this January observing the annual March for Life…ugh…celebration. She speaks about watching die-ins, clinic protests, panels and sharing drinks with anti-abortion activists like Jill Stanek and Troy Newman at after parties.  [Read more…]

Bugs in the City

NOTE: The Smithsonian is crowdsourcing! Read all the way (or skip) to the bottom to learn how to become an online volunteer for the Smithsonian Museum’s bumblebee records project!

One thing that is extremely noticeable about our new location is the increase in the number of bugs inside the house. In South Minneapolis we had the occasional ant attack, and once some demon flies infested the apartment after I downloaded a desktop wallpaper, but here it seems that there are more and greater varieties of insect home invaders than we experienced in the city. It makes sense; our new house is in a more wooded area, and we now have a direct entry to the house rather than an apartment lobby entry. But what can you do? Once we got over our initial revulsion it just became a fact of life. Bought a fly swatter and it’s all good now. The cat is ecstatic to be able to put her long-dormant hunting skills back into play.

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Planned Parenthood Solidarity Event

It’s that time of the year again! Good Friday marks the annual organized anti-Planned Parenthood vigil here in the Twin Cities and it’s celebrated with much somber walking, very pray, so clutching of rosaries and wow crosses outside of the St. Paul Planned Parenthood:

Anti-choice crowd hangs out by the fence and stares at the prochoice celebration with sadness, contempt, anger and pleading.

Anti-choice crowds line the fence and stare over at the pro-Planned Parenthood celebration with a mixture of anger, contempt, pleading, sorrow, curiosity and indifference.

And on the other side – a celebration of accessible and legal abortion, comprehensive reproductive options, sex education and outreach:

A line of Planned Parenthood supporters walking with signs of support.

This year a bunch of jerks – not satisfied with marching with their anti-choice brethren – decided to make a nuisance of themselves on “our” side of the rally. As always with these harassers, they’re not satisfied unless they’re edged right up to the public property line, which was particularly annoying because they were standing between us and our food trucks. Buttheads. These special friends had a penchant for screaming about hellfire and damnation. For the most part we all minded our manners, but me, Niki and our friend Chris couldn’t resist stopping for a quick photo op:


 Happy atheist trio mocks your angry sky fairy – Mwuahahaha!

We had happy music, warm drinks and supportive signs. We took pictures and laughed and raised money and cheered and ran to give hugs when we saw friends and supporters arrive to join in the march. It was a great time.

Me and fellow clinic escort Niki M. in our clinic escort vests.

Me and fellow clinic escort Niki take a photo at the march in our vests – shiny!

Happy Lich Jesus Day, everyone!

The North Shore Trip

This past weekend the Hubby and I drove up to the North Shore, and we ended up cramming in a lot of activities. On Friday I had to work a half day, and that afternoon before we left the Cities, we took in the Minnesota History Center’s Prohibition exhibit. I did some museum tweeting, which you can see on Storify by clicking the image below. 


Then we drove 2.5 hours north on Highway 35 to Superior, Wisconsin, which is right across the river from Duluth, Minnesota. We checked into our hotel and I was ready to crash, but we somehow managed to drag our butts out to see The Monuments Men. It was awesome and totally worth the putting on of pants. [Read more…]

Winter Storm Seneca Blows Through

Last night I participated on panel about Women In Secularism for Campus Atheists Humanists and Skeptics at the University of Minnesota. My fellow panelists were Stephanie Zvan, Niki Massey – who did a guest post for Biodork a few months ago – and Chelsea Du Fresne. It was awesome – there were a lot of thoughtful questions from the (mostly male) audience. We had a chance to talk about microaggressions, how to build and support diversity in organizations, and how to recognize when you might be dealing with an MRA.

The snow had started to fall at about 1pm yesterday afternoon. The snowflakes were big and fluffy and full of water – perfect snowman snow! When we left the panel at about 10pm, we had acquired several inches of snow. But this is Minnesota and the plows were on high alert; many of the major roads had been cleared at least once.

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CeCe’s Free

I’ve been thinking about CeCe McDonald a lot lately. That’s not surprising, really, since she was just released from prison. She spent 19 months in men’s prison for killing an attacker while defending her life.

I just…life is so fucking unfair.

I ranted about CeCe’s case in almost two years ago. She was sentenced to 41 months in prison, so she’s getting out early, but still. 19 months. Every time that I think about the fact that I live in a society that sentenced a transgender black woman to prison – a men’s prison! – for defending her life against bigots who targeted her because she is a transgender black woman it makes me angry and whatever the word for sad-angry-frustrated-helpless-to-tears is. And really, really angry.

I’ve been keeping an eye on her blog. CeCe turned 25 years old in prison. That was a heartbreaking post.

But as of today, she’s out. CeCe is out and she’s going to have a big ol’ party over at Intermedia Arts this Saturday.

Welcome back, CeCe.

I’m On A Bus

With the first modest snowfall coming down in the Twin Cities yesterday, I have now switched to bus commuter mode. I like taking the bus to and from work because it gives me an excuse to be online for an hour before starting my day. And because smaller carbon footprint. And because when the roads are slick I don’t have the stress of driving on them. And because it gives me a morning walking routine; the bus stop is 3/4 mile away.

But mostly it’s the interwebs. Most of the fleet that serves the commuter lines have upgraded to include free wifi.

Wide view of the front of a bus taken by a passenger.

The morning westbound bus is always more full than the evening eastbound. I work out in the boonies and the route is very industrial park-specific, so there are only three morning pick-ups from my neighborhood and they all tend to be full. But I often take the last bus of the evening in from Chaska to Minneapolis, so I have never had to seat-share on the way home. It’s easier to use the laptop when I don’t have to seat-share because I like to flare my elbows out when I type. I have never been good at writing on a cell phone or iPad, preferring to either dictate or get all old-fashioned with pen and paper.

Today one of the fluorescent lights or fans is rattling in the vicinity of the seat behind me. It sounds so much like fapping that I actually peeked into the seat behind me to make sure that the sound was, in fact, coming from the bus. Ah, I did miss public transportation.

Gay Marriage TONIGHT!

Okay…technically tomorrow. But in less than four hours and before I go to bed tonight, so tonight.

A little before midnight I’m going down to City Hall with friends to take in the smiles and tears and wedding couture and to celebrate the history in the making that will be the first several dozen gay marriages in Minneapolis.


Two women and two men cake toppers under a rainbow

There are marriage ceremonies happening all over Minnesota, including St. Paul, Rochester, Duluth and even at the Mall of America!

Other friends are heading down to the Minnesotans United Married At Midnight party at Wilde Roast Cafe

I’m so excited. And it feels surreal. It’s just…it’s HERE! After all of the controversy, the legal and political fights, the heart-wrenching personal stories, the injustices…People are GETTING MARRIED.


Click on the image below to be taken to the Star Tribune article on tonight’s marriages. R.T. Rybak, the mayor of Minneapolis, says a few words, and you can hear from Cathy ten Broeke. She and her SOON-TO-BE WIFE!!! will be among the first to be married at Minneapolis City Hall.

1st marriage

The Weekend of Unbelievable Fun: The Second Coming

Hey…guess what’s coming up fast? It’s The Weekend of Unbelievable Fun: The Second Coming!


Image is an advertisement showing the Mr. Paul Aints logo with information about the baseball game and conference (detailed in text below), and a photo of the Minneapolis Skyline.

This will be the second year that I attend. Last year’s baseball game was a blast, and the conference had inspiring speakers presenting novel and timely information about atheism and the secular movement.

This year the Mr. Paul Aints will take the field again on Friday August 9th to play the Sioux City Explorers at Midway Stadium in Saint Paul. The party starts at 5pm with tailgating in the parking lot and the game begins at 7pm. The meetup description for the event promises between-inning atheist-themed antics (hmmm…devil worshiping in the infield and baby tastings, perhaps?), and there will be an auction of Mr. Paul Aints jerseys with proceeds to go to a local charity.

The next day – Saturday – Minnesota Atheists and American Atheists will hold their second consecutive Twin Cities-based regional conference. The conference takes place at the Ramada Plaza in NE Minneapolis, and the lineup is exciting (I’ve taken out the breaks in the list below – for the full schedule, visit

9:15-10:15 Hector Avalos: “How Archaeology Killed Biblical History”
10:30-12:00pm Breakout Sessions & Workshops
1:45-2:45 Greta Christina: “Coming Out: How To Do It, How to Help Each Other Do It, And Why?”
2:45-3:45 Amanda Knief: “Ten Legal Issues Atheists Need to Know”
4:00-5:30 Annie Laurie Gaylor: “The Religious War on Women”
7:30-9:00 All-Star Panel Discussion: Atheism and Religion: Confrontation or Accommodation – Annie Laurie Gaylor, Hector Avalos, Greta Christina, Amanda Knief, PZ Myers, and Kelli Clement. Moderated by Stephanie Zvan (Author of Almost Diamonds blog on Freethought Blogs).

The conference organizers did a good job of packing in a wide variety of topics in a few short hours – one day conferences are hard! I’m especially excited by the 10:30-noon workshops, which are being led by local atheists. Topics include science, family and raising kids in atheist households, treatment of (nonhuman) animals, mental health, addiction, and shame. For descriptions of the panels press the big red button on the frontpage of the Minnesota Atheists website.

If you’re interested in joining us, the information for signing up for the baseball game and/or the conference can be found at the MN Atheists website. The cost for the game starts at $10 and the conference starts at $30 (if you’re 25 years old or younger AND a student, you can buy a discounted conference ticket for $10). These are early bird prices, and early bird sign up ends on July 31st – in just three days! After that prices for the conference goes up to $40 (student admission stays $10).

And if there is any doubt that you’re going to have a good – and occasionally goofy – time, check out these lyrics that Paul Heffron and Jerry Rauser wrote for the Mr. Paul Aints game:

To the tune of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game

(Verse 1)
Let’s all go to the Aints game.
Let’s all show who we are.
The big red A says a lot about us.
We’re here for fun, so please don’t make a fuss.
So we’ll root for the Mister Paul Aints team.
For they accept us by name.
So it’s hip, hip, hip, hip hooray
At the Aints ball game.

(Verse 2)
Let’s have fun at the Aints game,
Tail-gate party supreme.
Hamburgers, hot dogs, and drinks for all.
Under our banner we’ll all have a ball.
We will root, root, root for the pigs’ race.
In Pig’s Eye town there’s no shame.
For it’s one, two, pick up the pace
At the Aints Ball Game!