When Texas Governor Rick Perry issued an executive order that all school girls from 5th grade be vaccinated with the new vaccine for prevention of cervical cancer (gardisil), an eruption of great magnitude exloded among Texas legislators,parents and others as well. One Texas legislator described feeling "blindsided" by the governor’s executive order. Parents are outraged by the state government’s blatant attempt to usurp their parental rights. It gets murkier by the hour; it is also made known that the governor’s former chief of staff is now a lobbyist for the Merck company, the makers of gardisil. As they say, "something’s rotten in Denmark" (and Austin). The questions being asked by Texans are many: the vaccine had been tested for only five years and the long-term effects are unknown. What kind of message is being sent when girls as young as 5th grade are the targets of the executive order for vaccinaton? The question I would ask, in addition to the ones cited, would be "Is this vaccine prepared with the mercury-baseed chemical that already exists in childhood vaccines and is already in serious question, relating to what seems to be an epidemic of autism in this nation. In a report from the U.S. Congress/House hearing, a book is cited "THE AUTISM EPIDEMIC: IS N.I.H. and C.D.C. RESPONSE ADEQUATE?" Long before the US House came out with this report, many healthcare advocates who seem to be way ahead of their time, asked the question: does the mercury compound used in childhood vaccines make children vulnerable to autism? Mercury compounds are known by scientists to cause damage to human nervous systems. Using a mercury compound in the preparation and preservation of childhood vaccines seems ludicrous, but it has been, and may still be, being done. The website for the US House investigation is worth exploring: type in "U.S. Congress, The Autism Epidemic" and see the website for yourself. It is chillling, as are many medical procedures that come to light and shock us when we hear about consequences that are not well-known. (does anyone remember the disastrous drug that caused deformities in unborn babies in the 1960′s? Thalidomide?) I would be outraged as a parent by the usurpation of the government mandating a vaccination for this particular virus in my young daughter; decisions about my daughter’s health and welfare are mine to make—-not a government executive who may be in the pocket of a big drug company. I have a definite feeling that this tempest under a capitol dome is about to blow up in the face of the governor who issued the order without anticipating the consequences of such a decision. It will be interesting to watch it unfold.
Somewhere among the blogs I read this morning I saw the word "Stockholm" which is in reality the capitol city of Sweden. I have not been there. I would like to go and see it for myself…but I have been to another "Stockholm". That one was (and probably still is, to some real old-timers in our community) a part of town where Swedish settlers built their homes in the early days. Like many other communities, the ethnic groups liked to stick together bonded by their common native language, their cultural and societal ways and often….they had all come over to the "new country" together. Lake Park is a good example of that. A lot of settlers came together from a village called Applebo in Sweden and they settled in and around Lake Park. To this day there are many with the original Swedish names that still live in the town. Strasburg, ND, Wishek ND, Hebron ND (as well as others I am not personally acquainted with) were also ethnic towns…same sort of bonding..language, culture, related to each other, et.al. In big cities today there are still ethnic enclaves—-many large cities have their "Chinatowns" the best known being the one within San Francisco. It is a tourist destination now but it was purely an ethnically bonded area in the beginning. Dilworth MN still has its Italian neighborhood established back when many people of Italian descent came together to work at the railroad jobs that were so plentiful at the time. I drove through "Little Italy" on a summer’s day and enjoyed seeing the orignal homes with big gardens all around them; much of the garden is devoted to growing tomatoes and peppers. Not so far from Detroit Lakes that are ethnically Finnish towns…Menagha, Wolf Lake, New York Mills to name a few of them. New Ulm is still heavily a German-immigrant town and its old city hall looks just like the buildings in any old German city..its architecture is so European and so 19th century! When our family visited southern Alaska in 1977, we saw a town that was completly like an old Russian village. The people who lived there still spoke Russian and no English. They had chosen to isolate themselves somewhere in the midst of the 19th century. We were told that they were not happy to have visitors from "outside" so we did not go into the town. They were a living reminder of the original Alaska being a Russian territory. But back to "my Stockholm…..everyone in town knew the Swedes lived there and out in the country there was a rural area known as "Swede Grove". My Stockholm was comletely isolated from the rest of the town also…it was built across the river from everyone else’s homes. The Swedes came over "to town" though; they were gregarious and much a part of the bigger community…they just chose to live next door and across the street from each other in their self-built Swedish ghetto. There was also a "Norwegian Grove" in another rural area. Even the Twin Cities…the "really big guys" in Minnesota…. were begun by two groups of ethnic origin..St Paul has always been known as an Irish community and Minneapolis was settled by Swedes and Norwegians. Even yet, the two biggest cities in Minnesota are noticeably characterized by their origins. (Do you know that the original name of the settlement that became St. Paul, was first named "Pigs Eye" ? It was named for a man whose nickname was Pigs-Eye!!) It was not dignified enough for a capitol city though!!! It is hard to imagine our biggest cities ever being small settlements and yet that is how they…and all the smaller towns and cities began. Fargo-Moorhead were twin settlements along the busy Red River during the days of paddlewheel and other sorts of river craft. The settlements were there before the railroad came through. Minneapolis was a small settlement on the Mississippi and St. Anthony Falls was where the beginning of a few small mills where grains were ground. Most of the towns along the Pacific Northwest railroad line were small railroad "camps" of tents and shacks occupied by those who were building the "Empire" of Northern Pacific. Only about one-half mile from where we now live, is a former "settlement" from the railroad building days. It was once a sizeable village with stores, saloons, churches, a school, and many homes. It is still there and people still live in the old homes. The old school has been remodeled into a rather nice home. If your town or city has a good history book about its beginnings it is well worth checking it out at the local library and reading it. My town has a very complete history book thanks to a really astute former newspaper publisher. I am forever grateful that he took the time to research it and compile it; every place has a history all its own and it is usually far more fascinating than fiction.
Yesterday prior to the hoop-lah of the REAL SuperBowl there was another Bowl Game played on Animal Planet. It was the third annual "Puppy Bowl" and I have to say that I enjoyed that one way more than the one that featured "dah bearss" and the colts. The little horsies really kicked those poor bears—-all in the downpour of southern Florida. The poor Bears went home with hoofprints all over their bodies. The Puppy Bowl worked like this: on a small miniature replica of a football field surrounded by paper "crowds" and accompanied by recorded crowd noise and Superbowl music, about 11 puppies at a time played with toys and each other. It was hilarious as the puppies often seemed like they were really playing football and tackling each other, nipping, and committing lots of penalties(tail biting, sniffing private parts, biting back legs, ganging up on each other) which were duly called by a referee dressed in appropriate football referee clothing. This ref occasionally got in to the football stadium where the hot and heavy puppy games were going on and blew a whistle for a "water bowl" timeout. He would then re-fill the waterbowl at one end zone and whenever puppies went to drink there would be a "bowl-cam" shot of long pink tongues lapping up water, and being clumsy puppies, an occasional paw- in- the- water- bowl shot also. There were also "puppy substitutions " when a puppy got too rough with the others or was being a picked-on puppy. The referee did a great job of keeping the game clean and sportsmanlike. Once the ref had to call a timeout for a puddle cleanup and that was not at the water bowl…I suppose one puppy had forgotten to "go out" before the big game and tinkled on the field at the 50 yard line. At halftime, viewers were treated to a "Kitty-Cat" Halftime Show when a tiered stage was set up on the field, with appropriate lighting…..rotating colorful lights…there were tons of hanging tinsel, lots of really good kitty toys and the Kitties put on a great show leaping on each other, leaping on toys, hissing and clawing at each other, hiding under "kitty boxes", turning somersaults and swatting at the hanging tinsel and other hanging toys on the stage. They stalked each other and every now and then, one kitty would leap off the top tier onto another kitty or a whole pile of kitties. This fan was in tears(hysterical laughter) from the show….I have never appreciated a half time show as much as this one….they far outdid Prince’s Purple Rain. They cleaned up the massive shower of confetti (grand finale) and the puppies came back to play the final half of the game. More biting, more fighting, more tackling, more sneak attacks from behind and lots of butt-sniffing, especially when a "sub" got into the game. It was the most satisfying Bowl game I have ever watched and I plan not to miss PUPPY BOWL 1V next year on Superbowl Sunday.
I always read the "Prairie Roses" commendations in the Monday issue of the FORUM. Two of them in today’s "Roses" were especially appreciated…..the kudos to the area teachers who have been nominated as their district’s Teacher Of The Year and the recognition of Clark Tufte’s work as a retired teacher in the capacity of a community volunteer who has really made a difference. My good friend and colleague, Gail Grabow, was one of the teachers of the year in "Prairie Roses" and she is so deserving of the honor. I am sure the other colleagues of the other teachers mentioned would say the same thing about their district’s teacher because they know the teacher just like I know Gail. I learned a lot by observing Gail over the years we were teaching colleagues and I always appreciated her way of dealing with her students…she was fair, firm, and always held up high standards for them to meet. There are many of her former students out there who remember her every day of their adult lives for those reasons. Clark Tufte was a student at the same time I was, in one of our local colleges; he was a leader then and he has continued in that path for all of his career and now in his retirement. He well deserves the "Roses" he received in today’s FORUM. Now on to the Sunshine…..every day, at the end of the day, I am taking note of the gradual return of longer daylight due to what appears to be the sun returning its northward climb; in truth, the sun remains constant in its postition in the Heavens, but Earth is gradually tipping toward the sun in yet another of the natural world’s amazing cycles that repeat themselves endlessly and faithfully. I have not looked up how many minutes we have added to our daytime light but I think I will….just noticing the changes on a daily basis is interesting enough for now. When March 20-21 arrives, we will observe the sun directly in the middle of our western horizon as the day and night hours reach equality. Two years ago, we visited an ancient site on the Yucatan Peninsula where ruins of a Mayan city had been readied for visitors. The site had to be reclaimed from the relentless jungle growth and I understand that many other Mayan sites are being reclaimed every year in that same area. The most fascinating thing to me was a structure at the end of a long avenue with a window in it which was designed to capure the sunrise on March 21 (March was not on the Mayan calendar but I am using March 21 as a reference point since it was that same day on the Mayans’ calendar also) The Ancient Mayans had amazing scientific knowledge and their study of astromomical phenomena was pretty amazing. In another part of that same ancient world, people in what is now England observed the two times of Solstice at Stonehenge on the Plains at Salisbury and marked the sun’s rise on Dec. 21 and March 21 in their own astronomical observations. What amazes me even more than the ability of ancient people to study these phenomena, is the fact that such events have occurred for as long as the earth has existed. These two cycles are only a minute part of the many natural cycles that keep recurring over time periods almost too mind-boggling for ordinary human beings to understand. Another truly amazing human trait is the arrogant claim that all this happened by evolutionary accidents along the way. The relentless cycles put in place at the beginning of time are compelling evidence of a Power much greater than humans can comprehend; unfortunately many of these un-understanding humans have created a Myth to explain it all. Pride and Arrogance are two human traits that are also relentless and pervasive. We observe daily testimonies of both unfortunate traits.
It is Feb 4, it is my youngest grand daughter’s 12th birthday, it is Super Bowl Sunday (our newest National Holiday) and it is 20 degrees below zero Farenheit!!!! Global warming, anyone? I find it increasingly fascinating and amazing that many politicians are adopting the view that we are doomed by Global Warming!!! The icebergs will melt, we will drown, we sill suffocate on CO2 and we will pay the price for our wanton acts that are producing this Global Warming. Balderdash! Tommyrot!! I get to use two of my all time favorite words….the Global Warmer Alarmists are playing a political football game…drawing attention to themselves, tossing the concept of Global Warming around like a football–kicking it, passing it, hitting each other to get this new wonderful political football but most of all they are fumbling it. REAL Climatologists and Weather Scientists are cautioning that this cycle of warming and cooling of the earth is part of long long cycles that have been repeated many times over in the recorded history of planet earth….one extremely warm cycle in the past was achieved without any help from mankind which was insignificant, polulation-wise, at the time it occurred. There were no SUVs or other vehicles creating CO2 and there was no industry contributing either, yet the earth warmed in a long cycle to the warmest it has been in recorded climate history. Interesting. I have done a lot of research recently on this hysteria that is "going around" like a flu epidemic. According to serious climate scientists, we are in a warming cycle that began about 18,000 years ago after the last great Ice Age, which had prevailed for 100,000 years. Those kind of statistics make one feel rather insigificant as a causer of either global warming or cooling. I used a very complete website at www.clearlight.com to read up on the concepts of earth warming and cooling. It is fascinating and worth reading through the vast amount of material, just in case you are feeling guilty about your role in the current global warming cycle which is probably going to last a long, long time if past climatological history is any indication. Have you ever wondered why Greenland is named that? In the time it was first "discovered" by Viking explorers, it truly was a "green land"(globally warm cycle) and very good for farming and settlement, which the Vikings did at that time. Later as the earth entered one of the periodic short cooling cycles, Greenland returned to its former state, being covered with snow and ice and became inhospitable for the Viking settlers who abandoned their coastal farms and villages. One has to look at some very long cycles to make judgements about global warming or cooling. The information is out there.
I did something this morning that I have NEVER done in my whole life! I participated in a county spelling contest…not as a spelling participant but as a "Pronouncer". My retired-from elementary school sponsored the Becker County spelling contest this year and I was delighted to help out with the morning’s activities. These bright young people get some recognition for being very good at acacemics…especially spelling and vocabulary. In a world where most of the glory goes to kids who are in athletics…at least in small and large towns around here, it would seem that way…this morning’s students are recognized for their word abilities. Many town’s reputations seem to depend on how good their school athletics program is doing as seen by large billboards which sit for many years after the fact…." (name of town)….District (number) Champions: 1987" Or…"Home of the (league name) (Football/Basketball) Champions, 1993" I was so happy to see the students who have done well in spelling, reading, and other acadmic endeavors have a moment in the spotlight this morning. They were all girls this year and they bravely took the 50-word written test plus a ten-word tie-breaker and then, after a break, stepped up to the microphone for the most daunting part of the test….spelling ten words orally. They all did so well. I only knew one of them—-she was still a primary girl when I retired…but I felt great empathy will all of them and was pleased to see them carry themselves so well throughout the morning. Parents , Grandparents and others were there to support them and that was also heartening. These students ranged from fifth graders up to eighth graders. They represented their schools most ably and all of them had a good time doing it. It caused me to remember my own visit to a long-ago "Spelling Bee" in my county when I was a sixth grader. We had to endure an old-fashioned "spell-down" and the last one standing was the winner of the oral part of the "Bee". I like the 10- oral words each better; each students gets the same ten words and it seems more fair. In spite of having to go out in the bitter cold weather, I came home with a warm feeling inside…..seeing these students do so well in the county spelling contest is going to keep me cozy for a long time. Hooray for spelling! and vocabulary! and reading!…..good spellers are also those who enjoy reading…and good readers become good writers…and spellers. It all goes together so neatly and those kids will grow up to be very literate adults for the rest of their lives.
I have not heard yet what Phil the Groundhog did this morning in Punxatawny, Pennsylvania..whether he saw his shadow or not. On a day like today I do not want to know how much winter we have yet to endure. Just the name "Groundhog Day" reminds me of one of my favorite paintings by Andrew Wyeth who titled one of his notable works, "Groundhog Day"….it is one of his starkest paintings which simply looks out a window in one of his favorite neighbor’s farmhouses. It is the starkness that makes it so lovely. Today also reminds me of a real Groundhog Day adventure many years ago in Lewiston, Idaho. Buffaloguy and one of his good friends, Jon, went to Lewiston that day for some forgotten purpose and got sucked into a Groundhog Day prank on the long winding main street of that small city along the Snake River. Going to Lewiston was always adventurous, because from where we lived (on high ground) one had to descend into the Snake River Valley via the most ess-curve-y two lane highway in my memory. The downhill drive to Lewiston was always scary because of the snakey highway down to "The Snake" (river valley) When the two guys arrived in town, they were walking along Main Street and saw a small crowd gathered around some sort of attraction. It turned out to be a small table with a cardboard box on it. The box was full of what appeared to be air holes and a sign on the box said,
"See The Groundhog" . They approached the box stealthily since they fully believed they were about to see a real live groundhog (woodchuck) Knowing that such an animal could be extremely hostile if awakened from its winter hibernation, they peered cautiously into the box———to see a package of pork sausage! This explained the small crowd around the table; they had all been tricked too, and were just waiting for others to do the same! Of course there was a hilarious burst of appreciative laughter as the latest two were fooled into looking into the box. I have never forgotten this incident, and once, many years ago, I pulled the same thing in the school library on February 2. I put a package of pork sausage in a box full of airholes and made the "See The Groundhog" sign but I was even more dramatic….adding "Caution! Do Not Wake Him Up!" Every class that came in that day eventually noticed the box and probably over 100 elementary students got to "see the groundhog" that day. As soon as the first one saw "it"…they rushed to get others to look. It was a repeat of the street scene in Lewiston, Idaho in the early 1960′s. It is fun to have fun, especially when it is pretty innocent and does not humilate anyone. It is still dark but from the thermometer’s reading of only minus 4 this morning, there must be a cloud cover and Phil would not see his shadow here today. Hurray! We will have springtime in 6 short weeks!! This year, I want to believe!!!
I learned something new from a good friend this week. Baking cookies on cold days warms up the kitchen and maybe the whole house when you feel the furnace is not quite keeping up the comfort level. The products must also be tested (the cookies, hot off the pan with a glass of milk) to see if the quality is satisfactory. Now I sound like a home economist or maybe even Betty Crocker….test the quality of the product! In other words, eat cookies hot off the pan even if you burn your mouth in the process. I took my friend’s advice today and baked chocolate cookies from a so-easy recipe I have also learned about recently. You take a box of cake mix (I used Pillsbury dark chocolate mix) add one egg, 1/2 cup of soft butter or margerine, 2 TBS of water if the mix is a chocolate one; stir til everything hangs together and then drop by the teaspoonful on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees and————-your kitchen will be warm, you will be happy and then you can lie down with a wooley or fleecy blankie and read a good book, watch a choice video or DVD or turn on your favorite TV network or Cable Channel or Dish network channel—–enjoy the cold weather. I forgot to say that you should also add 1 cup of chips…chocolate, vanilla, or choc-vanilla stripes chips. Additional advice for today (Feb. 1): Do NOT look out the window…there is horizontal snow blowing and it looks bad, especially for all of us Brown Winter Wimps who are not at all broken in to this kind of day. I have heard what the local meteorologists are saying about the next three days or so. If Punxatawney Phil (the national Groundhog) were here on the windswept plains of the Red River Valley, he would not even COME OUT of his burrow tomorrow. I wonder how they do that every Feb 2? Do they turn a hose on in the burrow, and get the poor critter to come out that way? Do they keep him in a cage all winter and simulate hibernation conditions? I feel so sorry for that poor Groundhog when they hold him up in the air like a prize pig…you can tell he is just humiliated. They should at least put some little clothes on him so he would look like a little Leprechaun or some such thing. If anyone lifted me up in the air, minus my clothes, on Feb 2. I would come down biting, scratching, kicking, and otherwise mutilating my "handlers" Poor Phil—-he could use a couple of warm chocolate cookies and a nice warm blanket.