Monday, November 9, 2009

Movin' on up

Hey there fellow bloggers,

My journey to actually getting paid to write about my thoughts has progressed!

I am now the Hennepin Theatre District Examiner for

Please check out my first article on Hennepin Theatre Trust historical theater tours at my new Examiner home page.

If you like what you see, I encourage you to subscribe to my posts at the top of the page.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Health Care Reform, What Twin Cities residents have to say

Audio link to my coverage of Keith Ellison's health care forum last month in North Minneapolis.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Needlework Knowhow

Lately the only thing that has helped me pass the part time job blues is needlework. My amazing grandmother taught me how to crochet when I was very young and I've been going in and out of crochet phases since then. It wasn't ever something I would consider myself an expert in, but it is great for someone like me who has a phobia of being idle.

About four years ago, my dear dear friend Ellie O taught me how to knit. I loved it at first, but after realizing that knitting is a much slower process than crocheting (and therefore far less gratifying for me), I rediscovered my love for crochet. I'm not sure if it's the process itself, or the fact that crocheting reminds of and makes me feel closer to my grandmother. Perhaps it's both. But lately during my long periods of time off I've been crocheting anything and everything I can.

I used to be against using patterns because I believed (and still do in a way) that 'art' does not come with instructions. Many people might not consider needle work a true art, but I'm a proud supporter of the applied arts. I believe that everything in you use in life can be beautiful. Why just hang paintings on blank walls, when the building itself can be a work of art?

But now I'm older and supposedly wiser and can recognize that patterns (and instructions for that matter) teach the tools you need to go off on your own and make more unique works of art. By crocheting with patterns (and often deviating from them) I have learned many new techniques and I've come to appreciate the importance of using a quality yarn product as well. Though, you can't beat the color selection of good 'ol $2.50 a scene Red Heart yarn (

Another thing I've come to realize is that it is ok to sell your art. I used to be very against selling any of my art or craft projects because I thought that one you added money into the mix, it would stiffled creativity or cause you to resent your art as an obligation rather than a hobby to enjoy, but I'm finding that I'm crocheting more than I could possibly keep for myself or give away to friends and in order to afford to continue at this rate, I will have to resort to selling and taking orders. A realization that I'm not so sad about anymore. I'm excited that even though I may never get a job that uses the degree I've gone into all this debt for, at least people might enjoy my crocheting enough to support my ability to continue. So feel free to commission a project from me. Right now I'm really into making purses, but I'm begining to make shawls and skirts as well. My rates are low and my quality is high. Thanks and good night.

View my ads on Craigslist!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Juneteenth, A Forgotten Holiday?

People in the Twin Cities celebrated the annual Juneteenth festival yesterday at Theodore Wirth park in Minneapolis, but event organizers still have their work cut out for them as far as educating people about the historical significance of the celebration. KFAI's Michelle Alimoradi reports.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

In times like these I'm reminded of the lyrics from one my favorite musicals, Avenue Q.

What do you do with at B.A. in English?
What is my life going to be?

Four years of college,
And plenty of knowledge,
Have earned me this useless degree.

And so it is there that I stand, right in the middle of internship eligibility and two years professional experience. How does that type of system even make logical sense? Why are there not more entry-level positions? Why do more people not have paid assistants instead of unpaid 'interns?' I would gladly sit alongside a seasoned professional in my field for barely above minimum wage if it meant that I would be gaining the type of experience necessary to actually advance in my field later.

In light of this apparent catch 22, I've decided to return to the basics. Learning to rediscover my love for writing may be the only way to maintain my current level of sanity. My reserve supply of patience has long since been consumed, my virtues, exhausted.

I even find myself at a loss for topics to write about. I won't pretend that people will remain interested in my log of personal antics and happenings for long. It's nice to break up the news with personal check ins now and then, but I know, in the long run, I have to find my areas of conviction.

Recently the issues that have been weighing on me pertain mostly to the job market, obviously. Many layoffs that have occured lately were ill-advised and exponentially harmful to the terminated workers. My own cousin was just recently laid off from his job at a television station in Flint, Michigan where he had been employed for many years. His position was eliminated due to a station merger and now he has been leadless in his job search for months. I am convinced that new legislation should be developed to prevent companies from approving drastic job eliminations without first exhausting all other options.

How have the powerful few in this country gotten away with isolating the fruits of their success from the hands of their labor-class counterparts? How has this exploitative mindset survived for so long in the land of the American dream? I am not a socialist, but I don't believe that the rich few can lay claim to the vast wealth earned by the manual labor of a less fortunate army. We must shrink the opportunity gap in this country, now more so than ever.

Perhaps the American dream has become antiquated with rapid population growth. How can this country sustain delusions of equality when there are too many people to track? Sometimes I feel as if our system has been out-manned.

My current dilemma is that I have no tangible solution. I am literally and figuratively stuck. I am also not sure if I have wandered outside the realm of my intellectual capacity or if my frustration has become temporarily debilitating. Where to turn from here?

For now, I am at a loss for other topics to explore. Feel free to offer any suggestions you'd like to hear more about.

Alimoradi out.

Monday, May 25, 2009

A Few Audio Links

In case you missed their original broadcasts, here are some links to a few of my KFAI news stories.

Here ya go.

A story I did recently on Experimental College, the twin cities chapter.

This story in on the progress of the Saint Paul Saint's request for a new baseball stadium in Saint Paul.

More to come soon.

Life After Graduation

Tonight I was watching CNN and noticed an ad for their upcoming special on life after graduation. Interested, I decided to google “life after graduation” and see what advice the tangled world web could offer to a confused post-graduation twenty-something like myself. What key advice did google retrieve?

A blog on the first 30 days after college graduation said this: “You have a lot on your plate, from searching for a job to figuring out your living arrangements to plotting your finances. With all of these variables, this can be an incredibly confusing time.” Thank you for fishing out the most obvious response master google. But could google offer me any advice on how to sacrifice my sanity amid this thirty-day crisis? Google’s response was this: “Remember, however, that you’ve achieved a lot and reached the point where you can finally live life on your own terms.” Well at least I still have my keen ability to bullshit, a skill I honed successfully throughout my pursuit of an undergraduate degree in useless theories on real life. With that I can at least feign sanity until the whole situation blows over.

I did return to the job search again this morning, not much else to do on a cloudy memorial day. But my search was quickly interrupted by Internet disconnect when my roommate decided to use the house phone to make a call. For the past few months, none of us have bothered to call the phone company to fix the fact that our Internet and phone line can’t be used at the same time. Today, I was just glad it gave me a good excuse to find some other way to occupy my time.

I headed down to the kitchen to put together meal numero uno for the day. I first thought of making spaghetti, but then decided to get a little more ambitious. I make this black bean stew that everybody really loves and today I noticed that I had all the fresh ingredients to make it from scratch. Giddy at the thought of spending the next hour or so cleaning, dicing, peeling and spicing, I dove into the project whole-heartedly. I roasted corn, peeled carrots, and chopped onions all morning to my heart’s content. I’m still amazed at how sharply my attitude towards cooking has shifted in the past few years. I used to despise it. Maybe I saw cooking as a fulfillment of some debilitating female stereotype. But now, politics aside, I find it so relaxing. It’s a fun little project to create something really tasty and original. Plus, I find most prepared food I buy either too bland, or shamelessly flavored with too much salt. Finding my own savory blend of spices has turned cooking into a fun little adventure.

After finishing up with my bean stew prep work and getting the mixture on the oven to simmer, I decided to tend to my new vegetable garden on the balcony. I just planted spinach and cucumber seeds and bought tomato and jalapeño plants from the nursery yesterday. I’ve got quite the little botanical oasis started on my perch. I’m pretty excited about the garden, because as soon as the fun of gardening has paid off, I’ll be able to cook with the crop. I love how the two hobbies complement each other.

Life after graduation is still in the beginning stage of course, but I believe I’m in the midst of the hardest part of the transition. My drive to accomplish tasks each day has lost the majority of its momentum. I’m staggering to complete anything and dragging along from one day to the next. I woke up at one in the afternoon today thinking it was still nine in the morning. I unknowingly slept half the day away when only a month ago I was never able to sleep past eight in the morning.

The hardest part of all of it is the vast amount of options that lay before me. I realize now that I never considered life without the structure that school provides. The concept totally blindsided me. I’m looking out at a vast gray area of competing options. If I think too much about the future, I’ll never get anywhere in the interim, if focus too much on the now, I may lose sight of my long-term goals. I feel the heavy weight of adulthood responsibility lowering down on top of me. My childhood vigor and curiosity have escaped my recollection.

I don’t really expect anyone to read about my struggle and see it as unique or intriguing. I suppose it’s more just to spell out my struggle in a more tangible way. I think getting over the hump involves a great deal of self-exploration and re-connecting with one’s old hobbies. But also I think one can find serenity by connecting with others in the same stage of life, reaching out to each other even if only to help occupy the time on the more fruitless days; when you find someone else to join in your struggle, at least you can distribute some of the weight.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Old Memories of the New Moon

It has been thirty years since Teatro de la Jeune Lune (Theater of the New Moon in French) began its journey in 1979। In that year, Co-founder Barbara Berlovitz and three of her fellow classmates of the Ecole Jacques Lecoq School of movement-based theater in Paris, France were burning with fresh inspiration. The company spent the first several years switching back and forth between Paris and Minneapolis, but after the first five years, the company finally settled in Minneapolis.

“Paris is like New York City, it’s difficult to find space…any little hole in the wall is a goldmine। “In Minneapolis we were supported,” said Berlovitz, “we [knew] Minneapolis somewhat…so if we [wanted] to rent a theater or if we [wanted] to see if we could get funding we [knew] some of the people.”

The Echo asked Berlovitz when she and her co-founders knew it was the right time to pursue the creation of Jeune Lune। “The four of us decided in our own different ways that the theater that we were seeing …was not what we wanted to be doing,” said Berlovitz, “it basically came out of discontent. We wanted to open a new path.”

Berlovitz quoted her teacher and mentor Jacques Lacoq as saying, “I’ve given you the tools to create a theater that doesn’t exist, now go out and do it।” Lacoq was experimenting with the idea of theater that originated from moving the body. Movement theater, Berlovitz explains “is an approach to acting with the idea that everything starts with movement and the voice comes after.”

This physical element became the signature trait for all Jeune Lune productions। Exaggerated and grotesque characters have adorned their stage, telling their personalities without words.

Like many smaller, experimental theater companies, Jeune Lune was not immune to financial instability। The Echo asked Berlovitz what got the company through the rough patches they experienced before the ultimate closing last summer.

“I would say it was a total commitment to our vision,” said Berlovitz, “anything that we did, we knew that we had this goal in supporting this vision that we would eventually reach।” Berlovitz mentioned that when times were rough financially, all the company members lived together or with family to save on housing costs.

The vision Berlovitz mentions was of a “theater that was for an audience of today; we were never interested in doing plays just because they were good play,” said Berlovitz. “If [they] had to change some of the text or [the setting],” that was acceptable as long as they were sharing a new experience with their audience. “Most of our shows were visually beautiful,” said Berlovitz, “I wanted [the audience] to see something they had never seen before.”
Juene Lune was nationally recognized for their regional theater efforts with a Tony in 2005 and the company has toured their work on the west coast for years in addition to their productions in Minneapolis।

Unfortunately for Berlovitz and the many loyal fans, Juene Lune had to close its doors early this summer due to surmounting debt and declining theater attendance.
“In the theater, we certainly walk the line,” Berlovitz noted, “we were never able to have a safety net of cash।”

This past weekend the company held a rummage sale at their old theater building to liquidate their assets. Tables of posters listed for $5 a piece were the only tangible remnants of the body of work that was realized in the old warehouse building. Their chandeliers still hung above boxes of old hats and dusty plywood. Buyers carried out chairs, dresses and other set pieces that they purchased for bargain prices while still carrying a look of disappointment on their faces.
The Echo asked for a comment from the workers that day, but with a stern reply were told “There is no story here…if you’re not here to buy, you should leave।”

Berlovitz looked on the verge of tears at the mention of the sale, but we quickly moved on to what this new chapter of her life has in store। Berlovitz is now working with the Augsburg theater department; she directed her first Augsburg production, Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, in 2007. She is currently directing Samuel Beckett’s Eleutheria, set to open in late January in the Tjornhom-Nelson Theater.

“It’s a great place to come to try ideas and to give experiences to the students that come out of a conceit that is very specific to a specific group of people,” Berlovitz explains, “What I can do is I can bring my understanding of the theater experience to the students here।”

Berlovitz has many projects aligned post-Eleutheria, including an all female production of King Lear at the University of Minnesota। She also mentioned that she will be working on her own original show with the help of a grant she received from the Fox Foundation.

“The thing I think about Jeune Lune, something I’ve thought about in the last few years…I think that we did things that said to people that certain things were possible, that it was possible to make a change, it’s possible to take a risk and it’s possible to believe in your own self and what you have to say. It doesn’t have to be earthshaking, as long as it’s what you have to say.”

Guest Director Liberates Augsburg Theater Department

The Augsburg Theater Department will be presenting Samuel Beckett’s Eleutheria for this year’s winter main stage production. The production will feature guest director, Barbara Berlovitz, of the Tony-Award winning Theater de la Jeune Lune. Berlovitz and the rest of the creative team have worked to create a grotesque interpretation reminiscent of the Jeune Lune theatrical auteur. Fat-suits, white exaggerated faces and gender-bending extreme characterizations breathe a bold new life into the Beckett piece.

Eleutheria was originally written in French in 1947 and was the first dramatic play that Samuel Beckett ever completed. However, because Beckett completed his existential masterpiece Waiting for Godot very shortly after, Eleutheria received little notice or mention. The play was finally published in English in the mid 1990s was first staged in 2005 at the City Theater of Tehran in Tehran, Iran.

The plot is centered on the action, or inaction rather, of Victor Krap (Brandon Ewald). At the start of the play, Victor has been in a state of self-inflicted exile for about two years. Throughout the play, Victor’s parents (Melissa Warner, Alex Hapka), his fiancé (Ali Fitzpatrick) and several other eccentric characters attempt to bring him out of his alternative state of being. This production makes some rather sharp statements, facilitated by an energetic cast, about what it takes to be “normal” and “happy.” Eleutheria (Greek for a state of liberation) questions the meaning and purpose of societal values, relationships and personal fulfillment.

The preview did not feature costumes, but the set is a clever embodiment of the plot themes. Constructed mostly of windows with opaque glass and doors that do not open, the set (design by Michael Burden), forms a symbolic representation of Victor’s state of mind.

This production is being called a “workshop” production, for which Berlovitz and Jeune Lune have been famous. A workshop in this sense means that the final product comes together through the collaborative and creative ability of the whole cast throughout the rehearsal process. The characters are studded with creative facial work, over-the-top physical expression and clever use of props.

The play will open Friday, January 30 in the Tjornhom-Nelson Theater located in Foss Center. The show will run through Sunday, February 9. Admission is free with a donation of a non-perishable food item. For information on how to get tickets for Eleutheria visit or call 612-330-1257.

Women’s Resource Center Presents Sacred Choices

The Augsburg College Women’s Resource Center recently teamed up with the Minnesota Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (MN-RCRC) to host a screening of the film Sacred Choices: Ten new things to consider. This screening took place last Friday, February 20 in the Women’s Resource Center.

The MN-RCRC promotes that “every woman should be free to make decisions about having children according to her own conscience and religious beliefs” and that “people’s reproductive choices are broader when they understand how their bodies function and when they have opportunities to practice decision-making in a safe environment with adults who care about their well-being.”

The documentary Sacred Choices reveals ten new issues for people to consider if they believe abortion goes against their religion. Images of women at pro-life rallies flood the introduction of the film. “Not the Church, not the state, women must decide our fate,” is one of the many slogans chanted by seas of pro-life protesters. Among the notable demonstrators in the film, is Whoopi Goldberg, an avid supporter of the Roe vs. Wade decision.

The topics of consideration range from general religious freedom to the obscure case of a 9-year-old rape victim in Nicaragua whose life is threatened by her country’s religious opposition to abortion.

The film offers a plethora of reluctant testimony from Islamic spiritual leaders, rabbis, Catholic and protestant priests, and nuns. Islamic scholars site verses in the Quran that suggest that a fetus does not have a sole until it is 120 days old, which is significant considering the film also states that 91 percent of all abortions take place in the first trimester. Christian Scholars also defend similar verses in the Bible, but do not site them specifically.

These pro-choice supporting clergy men and women assert that women should be able to choose how they want to participate in their own religion. They also stress that women should be able to make reproductive choices without fear that their church will cast them out. They encourage viewers to think beyond the parameters of pro-choice and pro-life and really examine why they believe what they do about reproductive freedoms.

The film juxtaposes mothers happily holding their babies at morning mass with voice-overs of the Rabbi saying that there are in fact “physical and psychological reasons to justify abortions.” The images encompass the dissonance that many feel when attempting to prioritize religious teachings, parental duty and women’s rights reproductive autonomy.

The audience was all female and many stayed afterwards to discuss personal concerns about the issues mentioned in the film. One point that was stressed in the discussion but not in the film was to education women as a form of prevention. The women felt that if more young girls were taught earlier (like they are in Europe) about sexual responsibility and reproductive responsibility that the number of women seeking abortions would significantly decrease.  More literature on this topic can be found in the Women’s Resource Center located in Sverdrup Hall or at


CCHP Body Week Features Park Nicollet Dietician

This week Augsburg’s Center for Counseling and Health Promotion presented a series of body image related programs for Body Peace week including a special night devoted to rediscovering healthy eating habits. A group of about 20 students met in the Marshall Room where Special guest Sarah Johnson of the Park Nicollet Eating Disorders Institute led the discussion on how Americans can develop a more healthy relationship with food.

Johnson mentioned a 2008 study suggesting that almost 75 percent of women in America report distorted eating, which is not synonymous with eating disorders, but is a habit that can lead to their development. In addition to bad habits, Johnson says 67 percent of women say they are trying to lose weight. She purported that men’s statistics were similar to women’s, but noted that men’s cases are often under-reported.

The nature of the dietary advice was mostly preventative. Johnson warned that ignoring physical and psychological signs of hunger (such as stomach growling, fatigue and mood change) can lead to obesity, but that developing conscious moderate eating habits will allow you to eat whatever you like with little to no impact on your weight. This is because the human body has an innate eating schedule that everyday culture systems teach us to ignore, says Johnson. She suggests that as babies we know when we are hungry or full, but as we enter daily schedules at school and work, we teach our bodies to ignore those natural cues.

The answer to solving this dilemma, Johnson suggests, is to eat consciously every time. Habits such as eating while doing homework can interfere with our ability to notice our stomach is full. If we keep track of what, when and how much we eat, Johnson says we can re-program our natural hunger cues and steer our body in a more healthy direction. She mentioned that jumpstarting this process may involve making yourself eat in the morning if you normally skip breakfast.

The major culprit for these rising eating disorder statistics, Johnson says, is the commercial media that creates mixed messages about proper eating habits. Growing serving sizes at restaurants were also blamed for over-eating trends. The Eating Disorders Institute advice is to ignore “left-over guilt” and quit eating when your body tells you it’s full.

Lastly, Johnson concluded that, contrary to popular media headlines, “There’s no food that is always bad.” She emphasized the importance of a well-rounded diet because the body needs a variety of nutrients to function, including fats and sugars. She presented statistics showing that when people restrict their diet to limit “bad” foods, it increases anxiety and preoccupation with those specific foods. By telling yourself not to eat certain foods, you can increase your chances of binge eating when you finally do eat them.

Park Nicollet’s number one principle of intuitive eating is to reject the diet mentality. They suggest that you throw out the diet books and eat whenever you want in moderation in order to achieve your body’s natural weight. They also suggest that you “make peace with food” by stopping the dissonance between what you want to eat and what you think you should eat. And of course, supplementing your food habits with exercise is also recommended.

Other Body Peace programs included a Monday night screening of the documentary “Killing Us Softly,” which deals with the portrayal of women in commercial media. Also, showing today, Mar. 6, from noon to 1 p.m. in the Century Room, is the documentary “Starved”, which shows the journey of 5 women in recovery from their eating disorders.

Making peace with your body can take longer than a week. The Center for Counseling and Health promotions offers counseling on these and other issues throughout the year. For more information about CCHP or to make an appointment with a counselor visit their website at

Another Echo Sample

Because Augsburg prides itself on its community engagement, leadership and vocation, it is gratifying to see Auggies who have long since graduated doing their part to spread Augsburg’s mission in their professional careers around the country and the globe.

Recently the Echo received a message from a retired Augsburg Professor, Lyla Anderegg, telling us about one Augsburg Alum in particular who is faithfully representing Augsburg’s mission in much warmer part of the country. His name is John Ennen and he is running a small chain of coffee shops in McKinney, Texas. In an interview with the Echo, Ennen tells about his experience at Augsburg, what brought him to Texas and his hopes for the future of his family business.

                Ennen is a Minnesota native who grew up in Minneapolis. His family owned and operated the Ennen Supermarket formerly located where the Target Center now stands in downtown Minneapolis. Ennen attended what is now Totino Grace High School and started his college career at the University of Minnesota.

Turned off by the extremely large class sizes at the University, Ennen transferred to Augsburg in 1981 where his younger brother Bill Ennen was also studying. He mentioned that he and his brother often engaged in friendly competitions to see who could earn the highest grades. Ennen specifically recalled a course they both took at Hamline through the ACTC program in which they each strived to score the higher grade. “We both got A’s,” Ennen said.

                Ennen studied business at Augsburg at a time when the business program was just starting out. In 1981, the business degree was possible largely in part to the consortium program (ACTC) which allowed him to take many of his business courses at other schools while still getting the Liberal Arts Foundation at Augsburg. Ennen also received minors in Psychology and Economics. Ennen attributes his psychology interests to his respect for Professor Anderegg, with whom he took five courses to receive his minor.

                “[Anderegg was] one of my favorite professors and the reason I hung around and got my minor in psychology…she had a great perspective on involvement in social causes,” Ennen said. “A lot of what she taught became a part of me.” Ennen mentioned that he and Anderegg still keep in touch and that she recently attended a surprise party of his in Minnesota.

                Ennen finished his degree at Augsburg in 1984 and took a job in Canon Falls for almost two years. He then sought an MBA in Texas which eventually brought him to the Historic town of McKinney. After receiving his Master’s degree Ennen entered the corporate world working for several Fortune 100 companies. He met his wife Mary while they were both working for the Four Seasons Hotel Corporation. 

                With the help of Mary’s background in Architecture, the Ennens developed and launched their first coffee shop in McKinney called Coffee N Cream. This coffee shop features high end coffee served fresh or in take-home bags as well as Blue Bell tm brand ice cream, a flagship brand of Texas. Coffee N Cream is also a friendly place to sit and enjoy free Wi-Fi internet access.

                Ennen says this whole coffee shop idea started because “ [he] could never get sweets in the afternoons” at his job downtown. “The concept grew and took hold [from there],” he said.

                The Ennen’s now have two Coffee N Cream locations, one in McKinney and one in Allen, TX. They are also in the process of opening a second shop in Allen.

                “We want to prove the concept with this new [Allen] store,” says Ennen, “in the hopes of breaking out of corporate America.” Ennen’s concept for Coffee N Cream is to create an environment “where neighbors and friends meet,” this is also their store motto.

                The Echo asked Ennen if Augsburg has influenced him in his business career and his mission for Coffee N Cream.

                “Undoubtedly,” Ennen said. “Augsburg’s always been important to me.” Ennen says that Augsburg has really stuck with him over the past twenty years. He and his wife are dedicated to serving their community through their faith and their involvement in charities. They see Coffee N Cream as a way to give back to the community while becoming an important part of the community.

                Ennen looks to his father and grandfather’s example when running his business and wants to really bring the “family into [his] family owned business.” The Ennen’s have been married for nineteen years now and have four sons, Zachary, Jacob and twins Tanner and Garrett. Ennen’s Brother Bill, is now in the commercial real-estate development business in Naples, Florida.

                Coffee N Cream features the work of local artists and musicians in their shops and also started  a Beans for Troops program last holiday season where customers could purchase one-pound bags of their premium coffee to be shipped to the troops in Iraq. 

                The Echo asked Ennen if he had any advice for Augsburg’s graduating class this year.

Ennen replied, “[Don’t] be afraid to really pursue something that inspires you…[don’t] listen to nay-sayers,” and “step out and take that risk for reasons only you understand.”


Augsburg Professors at the Forefront of Space Physics

Professors Mark Engebretson and David Murr are continuing to put the Augsburg Science Department on the map through their extensive research on space physics. Engebretson and Murr are being sponsored by the National Science Foundation and NASA to research the patterns and impacts of weather in space. Their studies have been recognized internationally at world conferences, as well as locally in a recent Star Tribune feature. Engebretson has also had a peak named after him in Antarctica for the research he has contributed in that region and in his field (you can look it up on Wikipedia!).

Engebretson has been interested in space physics since graduate school and had the opportunity to continue his studies when he became a staff member at Augsburg. He met up with Murr while Murr was still in high school as a part of a science-related mentorship program. Murr then came to Augsburg and studied space physics with Engebretson for four additional years until he graduated in 1992. Murr was student body president in his Augsburg years and also a writer for the Echo. After he graduated, he joined the Peace Corps, received his PhD in space physics and after working for the State Department, ended up back at Augsburg to return to his space research with Engebretson.

The field of space physics sounds a bit intimidating, but what Engebretson and Murr really focus on is space weather, that is, patterns of waves of electrons, protons and magnetism from the sun that shoot through space. You can almost think of it as magnetic fronts that originate from the sun and depending on the size, can travel through our solar system and affect the planets.

So why do they study space weather and how does it affect you? The answer is mainly through satellite technology. These surges of radiation from the sun can blow out GPS data for pilots and drivers, it can knock out your satellite TV and radio signals, but most importantly it can affect the power grids of cities in vulnerable locations.

An example of this happened in 1989 when a giant wave of radiation left 130 million people in Quebec without power. The surges can knock out large networks of transformers, if power grids are not strategically networked to try can contain the damage. The surges also pose a significant threat to the navigation systems in planes flying over the poles.

“One of the biggest threats of space weather,” says Engebretson, “is that it’s just going to knock out one of our satellites.” In a society that is becoming increasingly reliant on satellite technology, it is important to know how to protect our investments in space from radiation surges. The study of space weather actually began initially in order to engineer better space instruments.

 “If you’re going to send people to the moon, you have to know something about the environment you’re going to be exposed to,” says Murr.

Because the surges are so powerful and so far impossible to harness, Engebretson and Murr are working to develop more sophisticated ways to predict when and where the surges coming, thus enabling countries to better prepare for imminent danger. They likened their research to hurricane research. “The gulfstream occasionally has hurricanes…and you like to know when the hurricane is coming,” says Engebretson. “Satellite operators like to know when severe weather is coming from the sun [so] they can turn down the voltages and make it less likely that the satellite is going to be damaged.”

The ways that space physics can affect you have to do with the magnetosphere around the Earth.  “Basically the magnetosphere is invisible,” says Engebretson, “so we have to figure out how to study invisible things.” But fortunately for them, there is one way you can observe the magnetic waves: auroras. Auroras are ever-present rings of electrons coming down from outer space and crashing into the earth’s atmosphere. When the electrons collide with the atmosphere they create the ambient colorful light show that most people associate with them.

Engebretson and Murr have received a million dollar grant just to monitor the activity of these auroras through instruments that they have placed in the arctic areas of Northern Canada. Murr and Engebretson actually have the second largest collection of instruments, second to a Japanese researcher, to collect data about these auroras. They also collect data from satellites in space.

Through the culmination of this and other data, Murr and Engebretson have come to the conclusion that space weather, like earth weather, has a cycle. Earth’s weather cycle lasts one year, but the sun’s weather cycle lasts about 11 years to repeat.

“At some rough level,” says Murr, “there’s the seasons of space weather…one’s more active and one’s quieter, but just like [Earth] weather… you’re more likely to have storms during one season than another, but every once and a while you get a freak snow storm in May.”

The two have also been involved with research that looks at sunspots as an indicator of particular kinds of weather. “Sun spots are kind of rough indicator of solar weather. They’re not what drives it,” says Engebretson, but they are the only thing you can see from the ground.

There isn’t as much variation in types of weather in space like there is here with different types of precipitation. The main variations of solar weather pertain to the size of the radiation storm and the location where the storm will affect Earth. Their main goal is to be able to predict with greater precision the magnitude and location of a radiation threat.

Murr noted the technological irony that tends to stifle their progress. “I think one of the interesting things is that you have this 11 year cycle of activity and at the same time you have this increase in technology that’s continuously going on…the fact that it’s eleven years, it’s just long enough that people can forget about it. Each time we get surprised.”

What Murr is saying is that as technology advances and becomes more complex it becomes harder to cover all the areas of vulnerability within our technological world. Every time the most turbulent part of the solar weather cycle peaks, there is new technology that we don’t know how to protect. Murr used the example of how the surge in GPS usage in the past few years that could cause a potential problem during another major radiation surge because the technology was not as wide spread during the last solar cycle.

Engebretson and Murr are on the forefront of their field, but they say that overall, their area of study, given its global nature, is very interactive. They look forward to future international conferences where they share their findings with other countries. But in the long run, Augsburg has served as a nurturing home for their studies. As Engebretson said at the start of our interview, they are not just teachers, they get to be ‘real scientists’ as well.



Michele Bachmann says Latin on money is anti-American

This is not a real news article, this was for the 2009 Joke Edition of the Augsburg Echo. 

In addition to Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s recent support of an amendment that would ban the U.S. from ever replacing the U.S. dollar for foreign currency, the well-revered Republican Congresswoman is also authoring a bill that would ban the use of Latin on the current United States currency. Bachmann defends her proposed bill, which has yet to receive any approval from introductory committees, saying that she is tired of U.S. citizens being taken advantage of by the illegal Latino community in this country and is calling the use of Latin on U.S. Currency “anti-American.”  

            The bill would seek to ban the line “E Pluribus Unum” from the U.S. quarter dollar, meaning “out of many, one.” This phrase, added to U.S. currency in 1795, was first coined by the Virgil (famous for the Aeneid) in his poem, Moretum. Other phrases that would be omitted by the bill would be “Annuit Coeptis” and “Novus Ordo Seclorum,” meaning “he approves our undertakings” and “new order of the ages,” respectively. Both phrases were also coined by Virgil and are included on the one dollar bill inside the Great Seal of the United States. Details on how to reconcile the inclusion of Latin in the Seal, but not on the dollar, have yet to be released.

Bachmann declined to comment on this discrepancy, but instead stated, “If the illegals won’t pay our taxes, we won’t be paying homage to their ancestors. Our forefathers wrote the Constitution in English for a reason,” says, Bachmann. Also, in the bill is a clause that would change the official pronunciation of ‘tortilla’ to include the phonated ‘L’ sound.

            Bachmann, who claimed earlier this year that the United States is running out of rich people, is certainly appealing to her staunch constituency of the dying affluent nature. Certainly the liberals can identify with protecting an endangered species.

Bachmann first received wide-spread press coverage when she questioned the patriotism of the now President Barack Obama on Hardball with Chris Matthews. More recently Bachmann channeled her efforts towards stopping other anti-American legislation such as universal health care for children, which is obviously just a ploy to cheat hard-working Americans out of their tax dollars so illegal immigrants can have free health care, claims Bachmann.

With regard to her most recent bill on anti-Latin currency, Bachmann is gearing up for harsh opposition. “This will be a tough battle, but we have to show those Latin-loving liberals that we Patriots have will not stand for this system abuse,” said Bachmann earlier this week. Afterwards she was seen posting a “Vote Democrat, it’s easier than working” bumper sticker on the back of her limited edition Lincoln Navigator.

What’s next from the Minnesota Congresswoman? Besides touting to the New York Times that global warming is nature’s fault, our capitol correspondents say there is talk of a birth certificate verification process for imported vehicle purchases, international money wiring and employment in the restaurant industry. Will any illegal immigrants be able to free-load off the United States tax dollars in this country? Not under Rep. Bachmann’s watch. 

Jungle Sheds Sinister Light on Hitchcock

Coming from a theater student who knows little about the history of film, Hitchcock Blonde (written by Terry Johnson, Directed by Joel Sass) at the Jungle Theater was an enlightening glimpse at the contributions Alfred Hitchcock made to the movies we see today.

This play about film employs a unique integration of film into theater that goes beyond moving pictures projected on a screen. The set (design by Joel Sass) transports the audience to three different places at three notable points in time. Scenes in 1919 show Hitchcock when he is just starting out. The scenes in 1959 show Hitchcock after his recognition as a pioneer of the film genre. Finally, scenes from 2003 show how film buffs of today are still fascinated and influenced by the work of Hitchcock in both the artistic and personal realms.

                Warning, plot details are revealed in this review, but we don’t spoil the ending.

                The show begins in 2003 with the story of Nicola (Heidi Bakke) and her Professor, Alex (J.C. Cutler). Alex takes young Nicola as his apprentice to restore his most recent discovery: never released Hitchcock films from Hitchcock’s personal library. He coaxes Nicola, despite her initial reluctance, to come with him for a summer in Greece to restore the films.

Though the two do discover some of Hitchcock’s previously undocumented film breakthroughs in the process, the disturbing motivations behind Hitchcock’s signature blonde ingénues begin to transcend into the mind of Alex. As Nicola and Alex dissect the lost archives, they catch a glimpse into the psyche of Hitchcock where an allusion can often be more desirable than the real thing.

                Playwright Terry Johnson emphasizes the autobiographical nature of Hitchcock’s works and sheds lights on a man who preferred to remain behind the scenes. The play also pays tribute to Hitchcock’s technical breakthroughs in the film genre. For those who know more about film, perhaps less of the technical jargon will fly over your heads. But understanding the film vernacular is not necessary to comprehend the motives of the playwright or the director.

                The lighting (design by Barry Browning) in the 1959 segments portrays the dramatic tones of this film era. The shadows and contrasts are sharp and dramatic, highlighting specific elements on the stage much like frames of film distinguish one shot from another. There is also a distinct sinister tone in the lighting that is emphasized by the chilling performance of Hitchcock himself (Tom Sherohman).

                Heidi Bakke’s portrayal of Nicola makes the character extremely easy to fall in love with, as the script demands. The script is a pleasant mix of education and entertainment that is likely to engage a wide variety of audiences.

                The show runs through March 8 at the Jungle Theater. More information on this play and ticket availability can be found at 

Online Journalists Fight for Equal Status in House

This article was originally featured in the Augsburg Echo

A battle over access to the Minnesota House of Representatives has been waged by the Online Media community in the Twin Cities after finding that on Feb। 9 of this year, Huffington Post reporter Sam Stein was called on by President Obama at a White House press conference। This display angered many Minnesota online journalists who currently do not have the same privileges in the Minnesota House of Representatives that Stein was awarded in the White हाउसCurrent House policy in Minnesota prohibits online-only media from obtaining the same press credentials as their colleagues who work in television, print, or radio।

The current House Majority Leader, Rep। Tony Sertich, DFL, told the Minnesota Independent last week that the House doesn’t have a “fully defined policy of what online media is. If it’s somebody who designs their own Web site and comes down to the Capitol… we could be deluged with walking through the door saying, ‘I’m the online media, let me have floor access.’ You think the House chamber is a ruckus … now, wait till all the bloggers get here and show up en masse.”

Despite opposition from House leaders, the Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists released a formal statement in support of Online-only media equity, saying that “If the Legislature is concerned about the conduct of individual reporters, existing rules and procedures can be utilized। If the problem is one of space, then the criteria for distributing media passes should be equitable for all journalists, not arbitrarily discriminatory based on an outlet’s medium.”

Independent online journalist and producer of MyFreeRadioNation।com, Martin Ownings, shared his experience at the Minnesota House with KFAI Radio news this week. On two separate occasions, Rep. Sertich’s staff asked Owings leave events which did not require any press credentials for admittance. Owings says there are no current rules restricting cameras at these types of public meetings, but that the discomfort with the presence of his camera was palpable. When Owings resisted their request he said he was told,” if you don’t come with me, I’ll have you physically escorted out.”

“A representative from the Sergeant at Arms office approached me and said ‘You’re gonna have to come with me’,” said Owings। When asked if Owings thought the reason for his dismissal had to do with his well-known online video blog (or vlog), he replied with a resounding “yes.”

Last week, several members of the online media community gathered to lobby the Minnesota House of Representatives for equal access to press credentials for the House press conferences। Owings, who attended the hearing, said that the sponsor of H.R.A 007 (the rule amendment that would include online media in the House) was temporarily dismissed because the chief sponsor, Rep. Steve Smith, Rep., could not attend the proceedings that day. Owings has received no personal responses to his calls to Rep Sertich, but his legislative aide, Lisa Radick, told Owings “that they are trying to do everything they can to come up with some rules that would pertain to online journalists.”

Owings maintains that this issue “transcends political ideology and speaks to our first amendment rights to freedom of the press.” He added that “these are public institutions that, for better or worse, need to be transparent in their dealings,” and that the House members’ current policy is an “injustice to the people of Minnesota.”

Dr. Dale Taylor Talks Music and the Brain

Dr। Dale Taylor, the Interim Music Therapy Director at Augsburg College, will be holding a seminar on Music and the Brain on March 25 at 3pm on the Augsburg campus. While concrete location and format of the seminar are still being decided, the seminar will focus on explaining the biomedical theory behind music therapy. In addition to Dr. Taylor’s extensive research background in the area of music and the brain, he also ran his own practice for many years and taught music therapy at the University of Minnesota. In preparation for this event, Dr. Taylor spoke with The Echo about the fundamental components of why music therapy has proved successful.

Dr। Taylor first noted the advantages of using music, rather than simple speech commands, to engage the brain during speech therapy. He went on to explain how using music therapy for speech development works by using a complex stimulus (music) to activate more areas of the brain than only talking. “Any use of language symbols will activate certain specific parts of the brain such as the visual memory centers, the primary auditory cortex, and then the main language centers,” says Taylor, “but when you add music…it uses any and all of those structures plus a lot of [association and cognitive area] that is not activated when music is not there.” This fact, Dr. Taylor says, has been confirmed through the use of brain scanning technology.

Dr। Taylor also added that research shows a positive correlation between the total amount of brain activation during an exercise and the success of completing the goals of that particular therapeutic exercise effectively.

But how and why is music so effective at activating brain functions? Dr। Taylor says research shows that “when music is played, even if [the person is] just listening to music, but certainly when the person is actively involved in the music production, the auditory cortex in a sense broadcasts that information to the rest of the brain and the different parts of the brain respond according to their normal jobs.” In this way, Taylor explains, “music changes the neuro-impulse pattern of the brain,” like generating an external heartbeat for the body.

Dr। Taylor refers to the common foot-tapping reaction people have when music is played. He points out that many people respond this way without even being aware of it and without trying to consciously control it. This foot-tapping is an example of how the auditory cortex, which is responsible for creating the concept of sound in our minds, can activate other parts of the brain which then respond through their respective functions. In this case, the foot-tapping would be attributed to a response from a signal sent to the motor cortex.

Essentially, the richness of most musical stimuli (as opposed to more common simple stimuli) causes a chain reaction initiated from the auditory cortex in the brain that increases total brain activity। The effects of this increased brain activity allow easier access to important brain functions, like critical cognition, and in turn help patients access their brain’s full operating potential. In this case, one can see why the brain/muscle metaphor is so appropriate in explaining brain functioning; the more you work out your brain, the stronger it gets.

There are a wide range of treatment areas where music is utilized for therapy and rehabilitation including cognitive therapy is the case of memory loss, speech therapy, physical therapy and chemical dependency treatment।

Dr। Taylor explained that “in working with people who have cognitive disabilities or learning disabilities, or neurological disorders…without music they may be calling upon certain parts of the brain that may be damaged or may be decreased in function…but when we involve them in music, the brain can re-learn those tasks using much more brain tissue than it would normally be using without the music.”

He also mentioned the issue of functional neuro-plasticity, which basically translates to your brain’s degree of flexibility in handling tasks। Some therapeutic methods are designed to increase this flexibility of the brain among the different cognitive structures. By increasing this flexibility, Dr. Taylor says we can “transfer jobs that are normally done in damaged parts of [the brain] to undamaged parts…[shifting] jobs to parts of the brain that are functioning normally, even though those parts would not normally be involved in that task.”

Chemical dependency treatment differs slightly from other music therapy treatments in that the activities are directed more towards distracting the brain from damaging thoughts and redirecting the source through which the brain receives gratification for certain cravings।

“With chemical dependency, our goals and objectives primarily are to get the person to realize that they can function well without the reliance on the chemical dependency without needing to escape to the altered state that chemical dependency give them,” says Taylor।

Another technique Dr। Taylor mentions is used by some music therapists is encouraging patients to use “music to enhance the brain’s own production neurotransmitters which stimulate parts of the brain that generate feelings of pleasure…and those neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin will do somewhat the same thing as the illegal drugs or pharmaceuticals that people take.”

Another tactical variation a music therapy involves the type of music a therapists uses to achieve a particular result। Dr. Taylor says, “For instance if we’re working with someone with a gate disorder, all we need is [a click] to help organize the rhythm and tempo of the patient’s responses. However, when we hear and entire symphony or an entire orchestra playing symphonic progressions of chords, that will not only involve the parts of the brain that have to do with music, but it will also activate long and short term memory and the limbic system of the brain.”

The limbic system controls the brain’s conscious and unconscious emotional responses to outward stimuli through changes in chemical production। In this way, music directly affects an individual’s emotions because these chemicals change when music stimulates a change in our outward neuro-impulse cues.

In addition to an apple a day, Dr. Taylor advises the use of music as a preventative measure to control stress and to promote good emotional health. For more information on this music therapy research, visit or other resources are available in the Lindell Library.

Private Review, Silenced Protest

On Saturday, October 4, the Board of Regents held a private meeting in which they voted ‘yes’ to extend President Paul Pribbenow’s contract for another six years। This decision took place after the faculty had voiced concerns about the Board’s lack of consideration for faculty input in the decision-making process.

In an interview with President Pribbenow just after the decision was made, Pribbenow was asked to comment on the review process which led to his contract renewal and his thoughts about the faculty and students’ roles in such decisions।

“It’s not my process,” Pribbenow said “[The Board’s] contract with me is not a public deal…we have to draw some lines of governance, it’s about how we deal with authority।” Pribbenow’s understanding is that the board’s job is to act in Augsburg’s best interest and that they must review “all aspects of the college, not just faculty concerns.”

He also mentioned that faculty had more input in his review than other presidential review proceedings in the past। This was the first year that the Faculty Senate Chair was asked to give input for the review and two other faculty members, Robert Groven and Matthew Rumpza were also consulted.

In past reviews, Pribbenow said the review was conducted solely by the Board of Regents using a rubric-style evaluation where the President would be rated on specific areas of performance on a scale of 1-5।

When asked if Pribbenow thought there should be further consultation of the faculty and student body in the review process he responded that he agreed their opinions should be heard, but that was why they included the Faculty Senate Chair as a representative of those opinions। Faculty Senate Chair Vicki Olson confirmed that she was never explicitly asked to consult her fellow senators for their input.

“Opening up [the process] more generally is turning the review of the President into a public opinion poll,” said Pribbenow।

Faculty member, Kathy Swanson, in an earlier interview with Echo said “[she wished] there had been opportunities for extensive conversation among representatives of many constituencies…[Faculty] Senators did not seem to know of the evaluation by the Senate President until [Olson’s] response to the Board had been written and the process was nearly completed।” The President responded that this was “not something that gets announced.”

There was, however, and e-mail sent out by Board Member Mike Good on October 1, three days before the vote to renew Pribbenow’s contract। Good stated that “Although the Board understands that some may differ about who should participate in the process, it has no reason at this time to consider any changes in this year’s process.”

According to Article IX of the Augsburg Faculty Handbook which states that “The Faculty will consult with the Board of Regents, at the discretion of the Board of Regents,” there has been no apparent violation of Augsburg’s officially observed policies। Despite this careful observance of the verbiage, Good still prefaced his e-mail by saying there had been “some apparent confusion among some faculty members about the recent performance review process.”

Though several members of the faculty told the Echo that they had concerns about the amount of say they were given in the review, they asked that their concerns remain anonymous.
In an e-mail from Faculty Senator, Christina Erickson, Erickson noted that the faculty had two ways by which they could express their comments and concerns about the review of the President to the Board। They could either send their comments to their division chairs who would then forward them on to Chief of Staff, Christine Szaj, or they could send their comments to Szaj directly. Szaj would then report these concerns to the Board.

Faculty Senator, Mark Engebretson, when asked what the faculty’s specific concerns and comments were, replied, “We haven’t seen those letters [or] a summary of them.”
According to Engebretson, the channels that were set up through Szaj for reporting faculty concerns during the review process were not linked to the Faculty Senate। “No one came up and volunteered to me any of their concerns,” said Engebretson, and “I didn’t go knock on doors asking ‘are you concerned?’”

Engebretson express his confusion when asked whether he thought Augsburg faculty felt comfortable expressing their opinions on these presidential matters Engebretson replied, “That puzzles me, something is causing some fear। Augsburg speaks out much more than other places and that’s our strength. We want to be the kind of place where people can express their frustrations.”

But Engebretson offered his best guess concerning the current stifled discourse on campus। “Whenever there’s a president change, there’s a change in the comfort zone… the perception is that things are broken, but the structure hasn’t changed a bit.” Engebretson also added, however, that “the perception matters, [we] can’t just say there’s no problem…but how are we going to find out things if you don’t talk to [the Senators]?”

In an e-mail response to this same issue Professor Kathryn Swanson responded, “While it is true that there have been many colleagues who have disappeared from campus in the past few years, responses of "I prefer not to" and "I dare not" (respond) remind me of Bartleby in Melville's story and the compact majority in Ibsen's, Enemy of the People. These responses are worrisome because they indicate a chilly climate rather than an open environment, inviting to varying and differing responses. Indeed, this questioning of process and assumptions underlies the very model of critical thinking we work to inspire in our classrooms. Instead, we are reminded of Senator Bachman's recent (and regrettable) call to "make a list" of colleagues who seem out of sync. I argue that, in fact, these colleagues who do dare to ask questions and request authentic transparency represent the spirit of free inquiry that is at the heart of all academic work.”
The concerns that were reported to the Echo anonymously were from tenured and non-tenured faculty and addressed the President’s managing style, ability to raise funds for the college, a $400,000 renovation of the President’s house and a budget deficit between six and seven hundred thousand dollars for the 2007-2008 fiscal year।

Financial Services Director, Tom Haglund, commented that “[Augsburg] is basically a break-even institution” and that President Pribbenow was hired specifically for his fund-raising abilities। When asked about the budget deficit for 2007-2008, Haglund responded that under President Frame there was a perceived surplus. Haglund was hired in October 2006, three months after President Pribbenow. Haglund said that over time the new accounting team under Pribbenow “chipped away” at the perceived million dollar surplus which “evaporated under different scrutiny.”

The funds allocated for the $400,000 renovation of the President’s mansion were approved in early 2006 when the million-dollar surplus was still perceived to be real.
Engebretson does not directly blame Pribbenow for the current financial concerns. “Whenever the messenger delivers bad news, he [has] to beg not to be beheaded…Pribbenow has been the bearer of bad financial news.”

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Back to the Basics

Hello all, again it has been far too long.

I think that my return to blogging will consist of the traditional online-diary-vent-about-my-emotions-like-everyone-else-cares type entries. I am going in this direction because I'm getting a little burnt out on politics and I could use a visit back to the time when I thought that everyone else agreed with my sensible ideals (let me dream, ok?).

So I've taken a long break from blogging because I've been diligently showing up to my internship 3 and sometimes 4 times a week at KFAI Radio (you can listen to us at I absolutely love working in radio. It's the first time I've felt like I'm learning any immediately applicable skills, like how to use ProTools, how to write scripts for radio, etc. You know, stuff you can actually put on a resume. I enjoy the diverse group of people that volunteer here at the station. It's a great way to meet non-Augsburgians of all ages and demographics (however liberal they may be). Plus, I've always been one for behind-the-scenes type community service and this internship is about as far in that direction as I can get. I have been approached by a few people who recognize my name from the radio, but I'm just another anonymous voice to most listeners.

As of today, I have exactly one month until graduation. This has been a very formative year for me, or at least I hope the crap I went through this year is going to benefit me in the long run. The biggest academic news I got this year was that I was eligible to apply for Summa Cum Laude, which for those of you who don't know is some high-brow Latin honors label that goes on your final transcript. There are a few other formal ceremonies they make you sit through as well. Initially, I was ecstatic to hear this news, but now it's become just one more thing to stress me out in my final days of undergraduate studies. Now I'm back to stressing about my GPA and worrying what my family will say if I fail. This was something I assure you I did not miss for the past year or so when I let my academic over-achieving mind loose for a while. I'm thinking I'll probably still receive the honor, I'm not thinking that it is well-deserved. I realize now that making good grades has more to do with work ethic than intelligence, and that really unnerves me. I just want to be done with school. I'm tired of the constant knowledge checks. I just want to get out there and see what I'm capable of in the real world. That's the only proof that brings me real satisfaction anymore.

But thinking that way just bring about more stress. I read in the Star Tribune this morning that the job gap in Minnesota is 10 to 1. Meaning for every 10 people looking for work, there is one job available. This is not a good time to be graduating. Lucky for me though, if I go to grad school I can get my loans deferred, but I haven't even started looking at schools and who knows if there will be any financial aid left by the time I do. I'm hoping to keep my sales job at the Ordway for a while, but they are cutting hours and positions, so my hopes of working there full time are withering.

There is always the option of leaving Minneapolis and chasing the jobs wherever they go, but I feel that picking up and moving now would only end up costing me more money in the long run; and one thing I don't have a lot of right now, is money. Though the thought of leaving the Minneapolis climate is enticing. I've always wanted to go to New York City (who doesn't right?) and that idea is starting to creep back into my head. We'll see how that develops.

In my personal life, I'm headed towards some closure with Adam. He recently informed me that he was de-friending me on facebook, I guess I can take that as progress. I have mixed feelings about it. He couldn't seem to accept that I needed a break from talking to him for a while, his only options were to be friends right now or break off all communication forever I guess. I'm sad that someone I've invested so many emotions and so much of my time over the past few years can't give me a little time to heal, but I'm not willing to let myself get thrown back into the relationship again. Which was what I feared would happen if I started speaking to him again so soon after the break up. It took me a very long time to realize that I too, would fall victim to stupid young love. I thought I knew everything and that we would end up together forever, blah blah blah. But hey, at least I won't have to do that twice. The sad thing is that in another life, if Adam and I had met under different circumstances, I think we would have made great business partners. I have a tremendous amount of respect for his intelligence and work ethic, but emotionally we are polar opposites.

I'm now trying to move on in that aspect of my personal life, but I fear that I might have dug myself into a small hole for the time being. I'm not sure what to do about it. There's that part of me that doesn't want to be too cynical, because that brought me no satisfaction in the past. But on the other hand what good has blind optimism ever done me? I'm trying to stay away from the fact that I'm doomed either way. The biggest problem I face is that I don't trust myself to make good decisions right now. That is the worst feeling I've had in a really long time, particularly in this situation. I suppose I will have to deal with that situation as it develops.

Another new addition in my life is my yet to be named baby kitten that I recently picked up from an Elvis impersonator in front of Rainbow Foods. The little kitty is small enough to fit in one hand and therefore, I do not know yet if it is male or female, but I'll keep you posted. Last night it slept curled up under my chin for most of the night (though I kept waking up to tiny little claws on my eyelids every now and then...) It gets separation anxiety pretty badly because I think it was taken away from its mommy a little too early, but it's eating soggy cat food and drinking milk regularly, so it's probably ok. Next big obstacle of course is the litter box training. The little stinker has already pooped on me and my roommate and seems to think that the litter box is just a big food dish. I keep finding chewed up pieces of litter in its water dish. What fun little baby animals are.

Well that's a long enough update for now I suppose. Hope you enjoyed a more light-hearted entry this time. Hasta Leugo.