Weekly Photo Challenge – Ambience

This photo came up in my alternating wallpaper on this computer and immediately I thought of the photo challenge.  The quiet, peaceful ambience of a street near the Picasso Museum in Barcelona.  In the early morning hours before the hustle and bustle that is surely about to take place.  Enjoy.  Click here to see other entries in this challenge.

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The last day of the original Bell Museum, U of MN, Minneapolis

Ever since hubby talked to a U of MN employee at the fair last summer about the Bell Museum, we have been planning to go before they closed on December 31, 2016.  A couple of times our plan was foiled by the weather, but New Year’s Eve day was our very last chance and we made it!!  To say I was impressed is an understatement.  I had no idea there was this gem of a museum at the University of Minnesota.

Before you get into the building the antiquity of the place hits you.  The front doors look to be original to the nearly 145 year old structure.  The James Ford Bell Museum of Natural History opened on March 1, 1872 after the Minnesota legislature approved this:

“An Act to provide for a geological and natural history survey of the state…” and in turn, that “natural history and geological specimens be prepared, and a museum to be established at the university.”

You can read a little more about the museum at this link  although I’ll warn you that I’ve tried to play their video about the history of the museum twice and it’s not there.

There are two floors with the world famous  3D dioramas that depict scenes of typical animals in Minnesota. They are so realistic and in looking at the photos, they look like portraits but those are life-size imitations of real animals.  There is a mezzanine that displays other exhibits but we skipped it that day.  There is an auditorium on the lower level and a room with items you can touch, the Touch and See Discovery Room.  And I was surprised to see a Rainforest Gallery with live plants and trees.

I had no idea there was so much in this museum and I’m so glad we finally got there.  Hubby actually had been there as a child so it was fun for him to relive some of his younger days.  He said it looked exactly the same too.  The new museum will be on the St. Paul campus, where I work, and is scheduled to open in 2018.  One day I happened upon the construction webcam.  It’s fun to watch the time lapse movie.

Below are some of my favorite photos from our visit:

 

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My 2016 in photos

As in past years I’ve compiled a review of my year in the photos below.  I hope you enjoy.

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San Francisco in less than two hours!

Sounds crazy, doesn’t it?  Well, I lived it!  And it was the most fun four people could have in less than two hours.  This was the same weekend of my brother’s wedding in northern California.  Our flight home wasn’t until Monday evening so we had several hours to play with.  One thing we absolutely had to do was eat at an In ‘N Out Burger.  More on that shortly.

We got to San Francisco about noon and parked near Ghirardelli Square and that was a must for my niece and what a fun place that is!!  So many different types of chocolates.  You could choose from already arranged items or you could build your own with samplers. You pay by the pound and your bag is weighed at the register.  We stopped in a card/book/post card shop as well and found a few treasures then headed off to Fisherman’s Wharf. We looked around about 10 minutes, took some photos then headed back to the car because by this time we were all getting hungry.  The line at the In ‘N Out at the wharf was way too long so we got into our rental van and went in search of another one.  My niece and her husband worked together with their GPS and soon we were (almost) pulling into the lot of another In ‘N Out.  Oh, except that there was nowhere to park!! I noticed the line was out the door.  Wow these places are popular!  We ended up at one that was about 5 minutes from the airport.  Perfect, then we could take our time.  We had to park in the back 40 because, again, there were lots of people wanting an In ‘N Out burger! This time our timing was perfect.  When we got inside there was nobody in line!!  But as we sat and ate our food I noticed the line eventually going out the door again. Wow.  Check out my photos:

I’ll close with a photo of San Francisco from the plane. It’s not the best photo but it tells the tale:

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Benziger Family Winery, Glen Ellen, CA

While in northern California for my brother’s wedding over Labor Day Weekend we had the wonderful opportunity to visit the Benziger Family Winery.  And here’s the winery’s site but I should mention that I had to key in my birthday before I could view their site. Benziger winery is only a 30 minute drive from where my brother lived and we managed to get on the last tour of the day.  We arrived in time for the penultimate tour, alas, there weren’t enough spots on the tram so we had about a 30 minute wait.  While the rest of our group waited near the tram stop, my sister, my niece and I headed down the hill for wine tasting! So. Much. Fun!!!!

Our tram took us through the vineyards and stopped at particular places giving us wonderful views of the countryside and to give us more information about the Benziger vineyard and how wine is produced.

The tour guide talked about the use of biodynamic farming at the winery and we stopped at an example of this where native plants are used.  Here’s more information on biodynamics from wikipedia:

Biodynamics has much in common with other organic approaches – it emphasizes the use of manures and composts and excludes the use of artificial chemicals on soil and plants. Methods unique to the biodynamic approach include its treatment of animals, crops, and soil as a single system; an emphasis from its beginnings on local production and distribution systems; its use of traditional and development of new local breeds and varieties.

We saw holding tanks and finally the caves where the wine is stored in mostly oak barrels.  This was my second favorite thing from that day, the first being the wine tasting.  I wish I could reproduce the fantastic aroma once you step inside the caves.  Imagine being surrounded by the smell of old oak.  It was divine!!

It was a gorgeous day full of sun and warmth and family.  It’s a day I will never forget.  If you’re in northern California do take the time to visit a winery, I was so glad I had this opportunity.  If I’m in the area again I’m definitely going to go the Benziger winery.

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Rest in peace my brother

I’ve had a heck of a year!!  Two weeks after my adorable cat Fritz died I headed west to attend the wedding of my brother with his long-time companion (22 years!).  It was a fabulous weekend, the weather was perfect and everyone was so happy.  Then tragically my brother passed away on October 14th.  He learned that he had pancreatic cancer in March. He had surgery to remove the tumor and then he was supposed to start chemo. That kept getting postponed as he had one setback after another.  He was to start again the day after we all left northern California, 9/6.  I believe he had a mini-stroke and just went downhill after that.  My sister and I attended his memorial service the weekend before Thanksgiving.  We both talked about our brother and then asked if anyone else wanted to say a few words.  Our cousin from Chicago spoke about his early years with our brother. They were five months apart and spent their first eleven years together. Then Aunt Lilah, my father’s sister, told a few tales about him too.  It was a nice weekend and there were close to 70 people at his memorial and that was nice to see.

Below is what I spoke about my brother.  And below that are a few photos.

I’m Joel’s younger sister and we’re 13 years apart so we didn’t really know each other that well but he was always there for me and I can’t believe that he’s gone. I had a difficult time when David Bowie died, one, because it was such a shock and two, because, well, there was always David Bowie!! As far back as I can remember, there was always David Bowie so it really hurt to learn that Bowie was gone. And before Bowie, there was always my brother and now they’re both gone. They were the same age too. But I want to focus on the fact that Joel was always there for me, beginning with our father’s death when I was 11. I have a vivid memory of us at the funeral and Joel put his arm around me to comfort me. Then when our father’s dog needed to be put down I called my brother because that dog was the last tangible thing that I had of my father. And I just couldn’t bear to do that task so Joel did that for me. He was there when I bought my first car and he was there for my high school and college graduations. He was there at the airport when I left for a year of study in Spain. I’m not sure if he knew how much I appreciated him always being there but I did tell him how much I loved that he gave me away at my wedding. He was the perfect choice. And because of our age difference you can hear someone on my wedding video saying “that must be Mr. Nadler”. Well, they were right but I think they thought he was my father.

I’m still not quite over David Bowie’s death and I know it will take me a while to process that my brother is no longer here. But he lived a good life and got married to the love of his life just over two months ago. I was so happy and grateful to be able to attend the wedding to see him one last time. I know that he died happy and he was so loved. And really, that’s all any of us can hope for. Well done my dear brother. I love you and I miss you. Rest in peace.

While in northern California for my brother’s wedding we visited a vineyard. Look for a future post about that. Here’s a sneak preview and one from his wedding in September:

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Electoral college electors: Vote your conscience!!

This is not a political blog but I feel this is serious enough to create a political post on my blog, and this would be perhaps the second time I’ve done this.  I’m going out on a limb in an attempt to save my country, my world and this is likely a long shot but I have to try! Yes, America apparently voted in the chump but did you know that doesn’t become official until the electors cast their votes on December 19?  I’m not necessarily hoping that they’ll vote Hillary in, though that would be nice because I know in my heart of hearts that she actually did win.  I believe there was enough “hanky panky” that went on and that this election was stolen, just like in 2000 and 2004.  But that’s a story for another day and plenty has been written on this subject.  It is my hope that there will be enough petitions and voices that when the electors vote on December 19 the chump is ousted from the most important position in the world.  HE HAS NO BUSINESS IN THAT ROLE!!! Every day since the election he has proved it even more.  For those of us paying attention, he indeed showed it throughout his campaign.

A little education on what the electoral college is can be found here.  What I’d like to point out is that the founders of the United States created a “fail safe” in the constitution for exactly the situation that we in the U.S. find ourselves in.  Robert Reich, via Michael Signer at this link (updated 11/29/16), perfectly explains each point and why the electors should vote their conscience instead of the way the states voted.  Here is his explanation:

Should conscientious electors decide against Donald Trump when they turn in their ballots December 19th? Michael Signer (below) has a credible argument they should. Constitutional history makes clear that the founders had three main purposes in designing the Electoral College.

1. Stop a demagogue from becoming president. At the Constitutional Convention, arguing in support of the Electoral College, Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts said he was “against a popular election” for president because the people would be “misled by a few designing men.” In Federalist No. 68, Alexander Hamilton wrote that the electors would prevent those with “Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity” from becoming president. They would also stop anyone who would “convulse the community with any extraordinary or violent movements.”

Check one against Trump.

2. Stop foreign interference in an election. The framers were extremely concerned about infiltration by rivals including Great Britain. In Federalist No. 68, Hamilton wrote that one major purpose of the Electoral College was to stop the “desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils.” He said that the college would “Guard against all danger of this sort … with the most provident and judicious attention” from the electors.

Check two against Trump. There’s incontrovertible evidence Russia interfered in the campaign by hacking the email accounts of top Democratic officials and cooperating with WikiLeaks’ parallel campaign to undermine Hillary Clinton campaign. Meanwhile, Trump has business entanglements in Russia and other foreign countries, the extent to which are unknown because Trump has not released his tax returns.

3. Prevent poor administration of government. In Federalist No. 68. Hamilton wrote that “the true test of a good government is its aptitude and tendency to produce a good administration,” and for that reason, he said, the electors should be “able to estimate the share which the executive in every government must necessarily have in its good or ill administration.”

Check three against Trump, who has no government experience and whose character and temperament – as revealed both from his personal history and his campaign – are arguably inconsistent with good government.

4. One additional factor: Hillary Clinton is on track to win the popular vote by over 2.3 million votes — nearly 5 times Al Gore’s narrow margin over George W. Bush in 2000.

Modern-day conservatives favor so-called “originalist” understandings of the Constitution, looking to history and to the original texts of our founding documents for guidance. On this basis, electors have every ground for refusing to make Donald Trump president of the United States.

Indeed, there has been much written on this subject as well.  Just googling this morning I found this:

This presidential elector will vote her conscience on December 19

Updating to add this: Why I will not cast my electoral vote for Donald Trump.

From that article: If no candidate gets to 270 Electoral College votes, then the decision will go to the House of Representatives, as it has happened twice in our nation’s history.  And this is ultimately what I’m hoping for. For if the electors choose Hillary, even though I know that she actually did win this contest, I am quite certain there would be violence and likely people would die.  That is the only reason I am against this scenario.

There is also Bret Chiafalo who narrates this video which describes the electoral college and what those electors can do to save our country and the world from this demagogue.

Other writings on this subject include Time’s piece: The electoral college was created to stop demagogues like Trump.  And this one from The Atlantic: The electoral college was meant to stop men like Trump from becoming president.  And the Huffington Post: The electoral college was designed to prevent Trump. You can make this happen.  This one suggests that we actually write the electors and ask them not to vote for Trump. I prefer to remain anonymous so I signed a petition or two.  Change.org has one here.  And evidently this petition is the largest in change.org’s history!!

Editing to add this interesting story of a 19 year old elector: Teen becomes 7th faithless elector to protest Trump as president-elect.

Please sign the petition and share.  There is too much at stake!!  This American and the world will thank you.

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