Wood Lake Nature Center: A Song of Slush and Mud

Today the Hubby and I ventured out to enjoy the springish weather at Wood Lake Nature Center. The temperature was in the mid-40s and we were able to get away with light jackets. In the past Wood Lake has been amazing for wildlife. They get an amazing variety of migratory birds in the spring and fall, and they have a “no dogs” policy so the wildlife doesn’t get spooked. The very first thing we saw when we started down the trail was a coyote crossing the iced-over marsh. It was quite a ways away, but I managed to snag a bigfoot-style shot:

A coyote is seen in the center of the picture walking across an icy marsh. [Read more…]

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. 

storifyprohibition

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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Don’t Feed the Wolves

I grew up in the southwest suburbs of Chicago. Not a lot of natural wildlife down there. My parents did take me to the Little Red Schoolhouse on a fairly regular basis, and I used to love chasing frogs and turtles in Vogt Woods near my house, but I gotta tell you: Nothing in Tinley Park can compare with the nature and wildlife that I’ve seen in Minnesota. The bluffs in Winona, the woods up North, the lakes in every direction you turn, the raptors, the fishing birds, the small mammals, the deer. And every spring and summer the migrations bring new birds through the state that I’d never seen (or noticed) in Illinois. Minnesota is an amazing place to explore.

I know a lot of people who have cabins in Northern Minnesota, because apparently that’s a thing here. Everybody seems to have A Cabin Up North, or knows someone who has a cabin. What a cool way to spend a long weekend! There’s camping, fishing, hiking, birdwatching, hunting, water skiing and tubing, and all sorts of things to do and see throughout the state. But there’s a problem in some parts of Minnesota right now – people are seeing too much nature. Specifically, too many wolf pups.

A story ran on MPR yesterday about the “Hugo Wolves” – a population of wolf pups that has been showing up along the roads near Hugo, MN. Apparently the pups are left in nearby woods by adult wolves to learn how to hunt. People passing through see them and think they look abandoned and try to Do Good by leaving them food, or they leave food out to attract the pups so they can be seen and photographed.

The DNR says:

NO - BAD HUMAN

Image is from Sakarri on Flickr and is shared by a NC-SA 2.0 creative commons license. Image shows three wolves – the Ambassador pack at the International Wolf Center in Ely, MN – with the words “NO! BAD HUMAN!” along the bottom of the photo.

Many people, especially in this area of the country, are aware of the fragile balance between humans and wildlife. We are well-versed in why it’s a bad idea to mess with natural habitats and wildlife. Feeding wolf pups can have unintended consequences such as:

  • Desensitizing wolves to humans – this means they’re willing to venture into towns or places with human traffic. When they lose their fear of humans and cities they’re more likely to get hurt (traffic accidents, humans hurting them out of fear or cruelty), or to hurt us or our pets.
  • Wolf pups are cute, but they turn into adult wolves, which are wild animals and predators. See “hurt us or our pets” in the previous note.
  • Giving pups food means they can become reliant on being fed by humans, and they don’t learn to hunt. This makes them less able to survive on their own in the wild.

So most of us are aware of why it’s a bad idea to feed wolf pups, but did you know that merely stopping on the side of the road to photograph them is a bad idea? Trust me, I understand the sad you get when you hear that. I would LOVE to photograph da wittle wolf puppies ZOMGCUTE! But when people stop and stare, wolf pups have no incentive to run away and avoid the human looking at them with big ol’ besotted eyes. The International Wolf Center in Ely, MN suggests yelling and honking at wolf pups, shooing them away. This helps encourages what they describe as a healthy fear avoidance of humans.

So, my Minnesota friends, the next time you head up to your Cabin Up North, be a friend to the wolves and leave them alone. We and the wolves will be better for it.

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.

GM2

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.

TONIGHT!

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!

mna-conf-aints-1

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 mnatheists.org):

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!

Dining Out for Life 2013

A bright and early good morning from Victor’s 1959 Cafe!

IMAG0502 (1024x632)

Aside from my love of fried plantains, I’m out with two of my best friends, the Hubby and Courtney, for the annual fundraiser, Dining Out for Life.

DOFL

Dining Out for Life: Dine Out, Fight AIDS!

I’ve been to several of the Dining Out for Life events and they’ve always been fun. Dining Out for Life Ambassadors are in every restaurant to give out stickers and information about the event.  In Minnesota, the funds raised go to The Aliveness Project, a community center in South Minneapolis that provides services to members of the AIDS community, and the Rural AIDS Action Network, which serves those affected by HIV/AIDS throughout Greater Minnesota.

TAP          RAAN

The Aliveness Project and Rural AIDS Actions Network logos. Click on either for more information about these groups.

Dining Out for Life is a project that recruits restaurants to donate a portion of each meal sold. Cities across the United States and in British Columbia have Dining Out for Life events. Many of them are happening today, but they can occur at any time. Click on the image below to go to the DOFL website to learn when the cities below are hosting events.

DOFL Sites

In Minnesota you can find participating restaurants in many major cities: Twin Cities, Duluth, Harris, Lanesboro, Mankato, Rochester, Alexandria, Stillwater and St. Cloud!

So now for the really important question: What did we order?

Me: Dia y Noche

IMAG0505 (1024x577)Eggs, black beans over white rice, fried plantains.

The Hubby: Create Your Own Omlette

IMAG0504 (1024x577)Omelette-y goodness with wild rice, cheese and peppers. English muffin with butter

Courtney: Cuban Hash

IMAG0501 (1024x559)Ground beef, creole sauce, green olives, capers, raisins. Eggs and fried plantains.

It’s not too late to participate in Dining Out for Life. Head out for lunch, maybe grab some coworkers for happy hour, take a friend out for dinner. You can find a list of participating restaurants and the amounts of their contributions here. There are many different styles and costs – even a few coffee houses if you want to participate but don’t have a lot of cash to spare. If you can get out and want to get out, then today’s your day to Dine Out, Fight AIDS!

DSC_0003 (1024x681)The awesome Dining Out for Life ambassador for Victor’s 1959 Cafe, moi and Rena Sarigianopoulos, a KARE 11 TV anchor, reporter and Dining Out for Life supporter.

Twitter hashtag for Dining Out for Life: #DOLMN (Minnesota) and #DOFL (Dining Out For Life)

Happy Spring From Minnesota!

Here are a couple of pictures of budding trees, tulips and daffodils in bloom, and robins singing in…ah, no. That’s not it.

Spring Dog Walk

A hardy Minnesotan and her hardy Minnesotan dog were taking in the sunny Minnesotan springtime this morning.

Spring Escorting

Me outside of the women’s clinic this morning. Does that look like spring clothing to you? My frickin’ toes about froze off.

Spring Please

I saw this on the Minnesota Renaissance Festival’s Facebook page. This. So much. Please.

Out In Droves – Arguing Same-Sex Marriage

House Bill H.R.1054 was up for a vote in the Civil Law Committee on Tuesday. On that day the committee took testimony from any and all citizens who wanted to share their views on the bill. Many presented their own views and some introduced themselves as representatives for a group.

I don’t often watch political committee discussions (but when I do…), but this is a topic of great interest. H.R.1054 is a bill that, if passed by the MN Congress, would give same-sex couples the right to get married in Minnesota! I also wanted to watch because August Berkshire was scheduled to speak on behalf of Minnesota Atheists. August live-Facebooked the event. Fellow MN Atheist members Greg Laden and Stephanie Zvan also blogged about the committee meeting.

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