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Beautiful, suspicious, hospitable


Fri, May 16th, 2008
Posted in Commentary

The city of St. Petersburg, Russia, is so unbelievably magnificent it is difficult to describe, and truly a study in contradictions. We were only there for ten days, so these thoughts and observations are far from comprehensive. I do not choose to write a history or a travelogue; those can be pulled up from the internet. The truly meaningful part of the trip was the people.

Just a note about the setting, however, before the more specific memories. Founded in 1703 by Peter the Great to be his "Window on the West," the buildings on the primary streets in the historic parts of this city of 4 to 5 million people were built in the 1700's and 1800's. The architecture is the most ornate, Rococo I've ever seen in a large area. We often forget the sufferings, loss of life, and endurance of the city and the country during WW II. Despite being heavily shelled and bombed (read Harrison Salisbury's "900 Days: The Siege of Leningrad" if you have not) the buildings look much as they did before. The palaces, cathedrals, and museums are masterpieces.

The people we met and observed during our mission trip ran a gamut, as they would in New York and other cities. Before we went, we were cautioned not to smile at folks, especially those in official positions, such as customs officers and police. That proved to be true; waiting in line to clear customs, we and the others did not crack jokes, talk loudly, or smile at the agents when our turns came. The officials did not look at us, other than to scan our faces and photos, didn't speak or welcome us. There are many police on the streets and sidewalks, and guards inside the museums and palaces. We did not speak Russian, and it would have been scary to be stopped.

Probably a remnant of the Lenin/Stalin and Cold War era suspicions and regimes from the 1920's to 1990's, people on the street don't look at each other much, smile, or show courtesy on the streets, in stores, or public buildings (again, maybe not so different in our large cities?).

Having said that, many people we met, particularly in the churches we came to support, were lovely, warm, and hospitable. Russian people seem stoic, but they also seem to be emotional underneath when you get below the surface. They greeted us with hugs, and said da sveedaneeya the same way.

I'd like to present a few thumbnail sketches of some of the most memorable folks we met.

Our host, the Superintendent over the eight small churches with who .....
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INC. for President

Fri, May 9th, 2008
Posted in Commentary

I figured out the problem with political races- human beings are just too flawed to withstand such scrutiny and pressure. We get to see all their weaknesses, their peculiar family members that remind us of our peculiar family members. We hear about ..... 
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Why Bio?

Fri, May 9th, 2008
Posted in Commentary

In an increasingly competitive world marketplace, every region must identify and build upon areas of strategic advantage. Here in southern Minnesota, the bio-sciences offer us that edge. What is bio-science?

Bio-science applies biological te ..... 
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Farmers aren't to blame for increased food costs

Fri, May 9th, 2008
Posted in Commentary

In a world of finger pointing, farmers have had to shoulder the blame for the increased costs of food, when in reality, the facts point to other influences that contribute to the rising costs. I would like to share some statistics with you:

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Why not a greater Rushford?

Fri, May 2nd, 2008
Posted in Commentary

It is worth mentioning, that according to the Minnesota Design Team, of all the greater Rushford residents who took part in the recent brainstorming exercise, R-P students made the most lasting impression.

High school senior, Carina Schiltz, ..... 
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It's time for an "elite" president

Fri, Apr 25th, 2008
Posted in Commentary

Political discourse, besides becoming more confrontational, has become more Orwellian. It seems almost a requirement to name programs in a manner that obscures their intent.

The Clear Skies Initiative, that has obstructed the Clean Air Act ..... 
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The marvels of small things

Fri, Apr 18th, 2008
Posted in Commentary

Take a look at your desk/work table. Notice all the small, marvels, things you can hold with one hand, which make our lives easier. Many of them have been developed in my lifetime, or not long before. A few are very ancient. I wonder how many other ..... 
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The beginning of the end

Fri, Apr 18th, 2008
Posted in Commentary

The news from our leaders regarding the war in Iraq continues in the same old vein: just hang in there, it will all turn out OK. General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker, during their appearances before Congressional committees this past week, essent ..... 
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Everyone loves a loser

Fri, Apr 18th, 2008
Posted in Commentary

Our collective mean streak sure does show itself on television. I know you think we're nice people. I think I'm nice, my friends are nice and some of my relatives are nice but somebody is enjoying the blood sport of televisions "You are a Loser!" fr ..... 
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