Burnsville Robotics Team

I spent the morning at Burnsville High School watching the Robotics Team work on their project, a robot that can stack recycle containers. The students use some sophisticated equipment to accomplish this task. 20150122_195832_sm I was fascinated by the 3-D printer. They make many of the parts they need with this machine, parts that they designed. In addition to building the robot, the team is also developing a presentation and a display about their work.

The project has to be done in six weeks, so the students and their adult mentors spend extensive time working on it. It means all day Saturday as well as many hours during the week.

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“City Lights”

Organist Aaron David Miller played the music to the silent movie “City Lights” at The House of Hope Presbyterian Church this afternoon.  Mr. Miller did an impressive job of accompanying the action on the screen.

“City Lights” is said to be one on the best of Charlie Chaplin’s movies.  He wrote, directed and starred in the masterpiece.  He also composed the music.  The movie dates back to 1931 and is one of the last of the silent era. It is amazing to see how how involved you can be even though there are no words to hear.  Really great family entertainment.


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Memorial Service for Richard A. Jensen

The Memorial Service for Richard Jensen was held on January 3rd at Easter Lutheran Church by the Lake.  It was an incredible tribute to a man who touched so many lives around the world and left a very strong legacy.

The offciants were Reverend Kristen Capel, his niece, of Easter Lutheran Church and Reverend David Berg, a former student and colleague, of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Rochester, MN.

The service included the singing of “Borning Cry,” a song John Ulvisaker  wrote and composed while collaborating with Dick for the video series, Waterlife.   The composer played the guitar for the service.

An impressive host of people participated in the celebration of this man’s life.  Among them were Bishop Patricia Lull of the St. Paul Area Synod who delivered greetings from the ECLA and Dr. Mihreteab Gebrehiiiwet who talked about his recollections of his teacher at the Mekane Yesus Seminary in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The blessing at the end was a recording of Richard Jensen singing “As You Go On Your Way,” a tune composed by John Ylvisaker for him to sing at the closing of each Lutheran Vespers program.

He is survived by his wife, Bonnie,  their three children, Doron, Dodi, Derek, and grandchildren.

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It’s A Wonderful Life A LIVE RADIO PLAY

I attended the matinee performance of It’s A Wonderful Life A LIVE RADIO PLAY at the St. Paul Hotel on Wednesday and thoroughly enjoyed this event.  The afternoon begins with a delicious lunch. Then the cast starts singing a host of familar Christmas songs before getting into the story of  It’s A Wonderful Life done as a radio presentation.

You can hear it on WCCO Radio (830 AM)  this Saturday at 7:00 with a rebroadcast at 5:00 on December 24 at 5:00.

A wonderful activity for the holiday season.



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Minnesota Hmong New Year Celebration

I attended the second day of the the three day Hmong New Year Celebration in St. Paul today.   It was a nice day and  one estimate had around 50,000 people in attendance. Many of them wore the traditional clothing and jewelry, which is ornate and very beautiful.

I  was privileged to particpate in the Opening Ceremony.

After that, there were speeches, singing, dancing, and the Miss Hmong MN 2015 program in one area.  Another had food, games, and more entertainment.  A third section had lots of vendors.

The representative from the Minnesota Historical Society said that there are 66,000 Hmong living in Minnesota, this is the largest concentration of Hmong in the world.  Next year will be the fortieth anniversary of the Hmong people coming to Minnesota.  MHS will open an exhibit in March that will highlight the Hmong experience. 

A great way to start the New Year!








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Veterans’ Day Observance at Keystone Communities

Keystone Communities in Eagan held a very special observance of Veterans’s Day.  Their featured speaker was a Korean War Veteran who gave a detailed talk on that confrontation. 

Then each resident who was a veteran was recognized and some background on their military experience was provided. Every veteran received a flower after the reading.  Their names were called according to the branch in which they served.  First, the Army veterans were identified and then the Eagan Men’s Chorus sang the their song.  Next the Navy veterans were recognized and then the chorus sang the Navy theme.  And so the program continued until all branches were covered. There were quite a few veterans in the group.

The event concluded with pie, coffee and a lot of socializing. 


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Intergenerational Working Group Forum

This past Tuesday, I participated in a forum sponsored by the Intergenerational Working Group at DARTS.  Members includes the Children’s Defense Fund, AARP and several other organizations .   Here is the link:       











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Mammoth Meeting On Railroads

On Tuesday morning, a joint meeting of the House Transportation Policy, Transportation Finance, Commerce and Consumer Protection , and Agriculture Committees along with the Senate Transportation and Public Safety,Commerce, and the Jobs,Agriculture and Rural Develpment  Committees met in the State Office Building.  The meeting started at 10:00 in the morning  and adjourned about 2:30 in the afternoon.

We heard from every perpective on the state of the railroads, particularly those that run in Minnesota.  Commission Zelle and Dave Christiansen of  the Minnesota Department of Transportation started off with their report on railroads.  Businesses impacted by the railroads talked about their experiences and expectations.  Representatives of the employees talked about their experiences and challenges.  An Amtrak official explained that almost all their routes are coming in behind schedule because of the huge problems caused by the trains carrying oil. They are seeing a reduction in passengers as a result. Last were the officials from the railroads who explained their operations.  

It appears that that the main problem centers on train operations in North Dakota. While the railroads are expanding their rail infrastructure, ordering new equipment and hiring new personnel, all that will take a few years to accomplish and not much improvement is seen until then.   That means the crisis will continue unless some extraordinary measures are taken.

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Union Pacific

IMG_20140911_111531I recenty met with some officials from the Union Pacific and this car definitely attracted my attention.  

They said that their business has increased in all areas and they are ordering new cars as well as training new personnel every month. These are good-paying jobs.  I recently talked with a retired engineer who told me that his income enabled his family to live comfortably and both his sons now work for the railroad.


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This week, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) is meeting in Minneapolis. The agenda is brimming with interesting workshops and speakers. One session featured Sir Ken Robinson. He advocates an educational system where creativity and individual talents flourish. He has authored some books that can provide details on his approach.

NCSL_Yo_Yo_MaWorld renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma was one of the presenters on Turnaround Schools. He played a musical selection prior to the presentation. That was a real treat!

The speakers talked about the positive impact that happens in schools that have incorporated art in their curriculum. This program is going to be used in some schools in Minnesota.

There were so many compliments about the Summit, visitors were impressed with Minneapolis, the Convention Center, the friendliness of everyone. So whether you were on the planning team, staff, legislators, volunteers, or providing assistance in any manner to the Legislative Summit Attendees and their families, know that your efforts were very much appreciated.




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