The World is Too Complicated

Some days I’m convinced the world is too complicated. The past week is a good example:

  • People mourning the undisputed King of Pop, who for the last 15 years or so traded in that crown for the King of Weird. Musical brilliance and creepiness combined. That’s complicated.
  • The ongoing crisis in Iran. Bottom line: freedom and democracy good, bloodshed bad. Beyond that, I’m lost trying to understand the political ins and outs.
  • Then there’s Honduras. Did you hear they had a military coup this weekend? The funny part is listening to people argue why one side is legal and the other illegal. I swear if you switch the names it’s the same argument.
  • And let’s not talk about the time I tried to explain Twitter to a friend at a party.

For all the complication and confusion and head-scratching, I’m glad that some things are simple:

  • Like water.
  • Like the importance of having a place to live.
  • Like adoption. OK, there’s not much that’s simple about adoption, but kids should have families. Who can argue with that?

For all the complication in the world, sometimes we need a little simplicity.

2010 Camaro Test Drive with a Mulleted American

This video is awesome. A friend of mine has been rocking a mullet for charity. He somehow finagled a test drive in a 2010 Camaro with the designer, Tom Peters. Hilariousness ensues.

Read more about the test drive and consider supporting the Camaro drive. That brave mulleted American edited the video for my water walk and helping him score a Camaro for charity is the least I can do.

(If that video isn’t working, you can also watch on Vimeo.)

Meat-Packing History in South St. Paul

Down the RiverFor the Twin Citizens in the audience curious about local history (how’s that for scaring away most of my audience?), the Pioneer Press has a lengthy story this morning about the history of Armour and the meat-packing industry in South St. Paul. It’s not clear what prompted the story (Anniversary? Slow news weekend?), but it does include some interesting nuggets:

For many years, [author and local historian Lois] Glewwe said, “Every sixth-grade class in South St. Paul was forced to tour the slaughterhouse. The little girls would be throwing up, screaming.”

I sense the beginnings of a new city slogan.

The hard-working, tough-as-nails demeanor described in the article is still part of the ethos in South St. Paul (though perhaps not reflected in the font choices of the community newsletter). The article doesn’t spend much time on it, but the city has been trying for years to fill the void left by the meat-packing industry. The city’s woes may be best exemplified in this MPR story, focusing on how Governor Tim Pawlenty’s budget cuts will adversely affect his hometown, a city heavily relient on state aid. If that doesn’t sound depressing enough, the city’s own mayor is unemployed (apparently the mayoral position isn’t a fulltime gig).

Remnants of the meat-packing industry can still be found, including the Armour gates and the stockyard exchange building (now a restaurant). The South St. Paul Riverfront Trail gives a good view of the river and the site of the former stockyard and the Makings of a City mural by Robert Zins gives an impressive visual overview of South St. Paul.

Perhaps my favorite icon in South St. Paul is the stone plaque for a missing sculpture. The sculpture is called “Legacy.”

Bald Birthday Benefit Thank You

After 30 days the 2009 Bald Birthday Benefit came to an end yesterday with the shaving of my head. You helped me celebrate my 30th birthday by giving clean water to 130 people. Wow. That’s 4.5 times the original goal. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Thank you hardly begins to cover it. To the 57 people who donated, to everyone who spread the word, to those who helped with the videos and publicity, and to those who will continue to act, pray and give to those who lack clean water, thank you.

The joyous pictures below represent the changed and saved lives that you’ve made possible. 130 times over. Words are hardly fit to express the gratitude, but thank you.

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My donation widget is gone, but if you’d still like to donate you can give directly to charity: water. (All pictures are from charity: water and their amazing photographers. You can check out their photo of the day on Twitter for more great images of lives changed through clean water.)

Never Before Have So Many Been Able To Do So Much

I love reading indie-folk rocker and Compassion-plugger Shaun Groves’ blog. Because every time it kicks me in the butt. That’s probably why I don’t read it very often (sorry Shaun). Today was no different. A post about how insignificant we are in the grand scheme of things.

Shaun gave us a reminder that today we are directly responsible for very few of our basic needs. Providing food, shelter and clothing is pretty easy. You don’t have to toil in a field all year to get your food. We don’t spend every morning gathering food for the day. As Shaun said:

At no other time in history have other people been so capable of meeting my needs for me. Strangers are doing all my life-alteringly significant chores and leaving me with nothing to do but wake up every day and simply ask “What do I want to do?”

You and I have more time than anyone has ever had.  More education.  More money too.  So now what?  What will today be about?

Continue reading Never Before Have So Many Been Able To Do So Much

Walk for Water Video

On Sunday I carried five gallons of Mississippi River water (weighing 40 pounds) two miles from the river to my house. All to bring awareness and support to the one billion people throughout the world who don’t have access to clean water.

Here’s the video:

Do Something
Water=life. If you’d like to do something, you can:

  • Donate. ($20 provides clean water to one person for 20 years, but donate whatever you like. Every bit helps. Donate now.
  • Pray. If that’s your thing you can say a prayer for the one billion people who don’t have access to clean water. Pray that the 4,500 children who will die today because they lack clean water wouldn’t have to.
  • Act. You don’t have to carry water or shave your head, but you can do something. Tell your friends about this issue. Support the Water for the World Act. Cut back on your own water usage (no, it won’t directly help those without water, but it’s an act of solidarity).

More information: charity: water | Pioneer Press article | Day after thoughts | Why I did it | Photos

Big thanks to Jake Nyberg at Three Volts for the editing, as well as the other folks who helped out and the many who have donated. Thank you.

Enjoying the Como Park Lily Pond

Last week I stopped off at Como Park with Milo for a quick walk. I spent most of my time at the Lily Pond, a place that has neither a pond nor lilies. It’s just a 100-year-old empty concrete pond with an old concrete and stone bridge. It’s kind of forgotten among Como Park’s other attractions. I think I enjoy it so much because it has that abandoned feel and hints at something older that’s been lost as the surrounding park has changed around it. I feel history at that bridge in a way I don’t at other old places.

A while back I hung out at the Lily Pond with Lexi, so it seemed appropriate to do it with Milo this time around.

Lexi on the Bridge
July 23, 2007

Kevin & Milo @ the Lily Pond
June 2, 2009

The Crusades Were a Bad Idea: Let’s Not Do It Again

Update: I’ve been Snoped. Ouch. It appears the stats in this video are of questionable accuracy. They’re not denied outright, but there are significant questions. Despite all the rhetoric (my own included), perhaps the real question this post should raise is how should we respond to news of the growing population of a different faith? I’d contend that the negative overtones of this video aren’t helpful. End update.

I saw what I consider to be a bat-crazy video today. Take a look and tell me what you think:

Continue reading The Crusades Were a Bad Idea: Let’s Not Do It Again

It’s Fairly Strenuous

Up the RiverbankYesterday’s walk to the river was indeed “fairly strenuous.” I’m definitely feeling it today.

I know the two miles I walked yesterday carrying five gallons of water (weighing in at 40 pounds) doesn’t directly accomplish much of anything. When it stops raining and dries out a little bit I’ll just end up dumping that Mississippi River water out on my lawn, maybe use it water my hostas. I’m certainly no hero for doing it. More than anything it’s a good reminder that I need more exercise.

But what I love about it is the feeling of solidarity I get when I see pictures like this or this or this. Now I’ve felt what they go through. I have a tiny taste of what that must be like. It shifts your perspective and puts the whole thing in a whole new light. Knowing what they go through is one thing. Experiencing it is another. And hopefully that experience results in action on their behalf.

In a few days hopefully we’ll have the video up and you can get a better handle for that experience as I huff and puff my way up the river bluff.