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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Resolution- More Art & Hockey

Last week my mother and I had the unique opportunity to witness up close an amazing art exhibit entitled Vatican Splendors. Since late September, the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS) (only one of three exhibits in the US) has on display a massive treasure of Vatican art and artifacts. Truly inspirational and captivating!

Here’s my recommendation. Take a road trip to St. Paul and visit the Historical Society and the Cathedral of St. Paul… home to 800,000 Catholics in the Twin Cities. For a delicious downtown Italian meal visit the Trattoria Da Vinci and try their yummy pasta! Finally, catch a Minnesota Wild hockey game at the Excel Center. They have several home games in January including exciting match-ups with both Edmonton and Anaheim.

Due to popular prayer, Vatican officials extended the exhibit in Minnesota so don’t wait too long. The curtain closes on January 19th and it’s likely that an opportunity like this won’t be available for some time, if ever again. The tour takes about 1 ½-2 hours depending on the crowds. It’s worth purchasing the headphones to hear selected audio descriptions on the origins and stories behind the objects on display. Plus, having the headphones on kind of blocks out all the distracting conversations that typically occur during a guided tour like this.

For a free download message from the audio tour go this link.

Press Release Short:

Approximately 200 objects will be presented in galleries and recreated environments that enhance the visitor’s understanding of their historical and artistic significance. Items in the collection – which include tiaras; mosaics; paintings; works by well-known sculptors; papal rings and jewels; intricately embroidered silk vestments; precious objects from the Papal Mass; armor, swords and uniforms of the Papal Swiss Guard; and gifts to the popes from such notable figures as Napoleon and the Dalai Lama – are on loan from the Vatican Museums, the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the Office of the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff, the Reverenda Fabbrica of Saint Peter, the Apostolic Floreria, private collections and the Papal Swiss Guard.

"The art and artifacts in this exhibit are doubly precious – because of their deep religious significance and because of their beauty and rich cultural heritage," says Most Reverend John C. Nienstedt, archbishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.

What's your favorite hockey song?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

Looking for Christmas music? Check out Catholic Music Express or Catholic iPod.

Blessed is he who possesses Bethlehem in his heart,
and in whose heart Christ is born daily.

- St. Jerome

Sister Winter from Matthew Forrey on Vimeo.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Year of the Song

Here's a collection of songs that caught my attention this year. Nothing too eclectic or ground-breaking, just some harbor star favs, beats, and ear candy reflections. Selecting songs from imeem is rather interesting. Even though the rock category tends to dominate their site, I do see an attempt to provide for a broad selection of musical genres. Keep in mind that blogger geeks are limited to certain genres when creating goofy music playlists like the one found below.

Nobody will ever allow old school-CD quality soul, jazz, or country to be available on these sites will they?

Well, one positive is that imeem does provide direct download links to iTunes and Amazon. It's just that... well.... I mean.... man I don't want to deal with purchasing 128 or 256bps downloads anymore. Give me CD quality or heaven forbid the analog album. I'm soooo tired of poor quality audio and poor quality streaming. Blah, blah.... yeah I know that many folks find download sound quality acceptable on iPod's. When is it going to improve?

Oh why did I get rid of all those obscure 80's indie rock albums. What about the Godfathers! As one critic suggests, too much guitar and not enough synth. Kind of like my religious devotion at the time.

Alas, I'd rather be playing music at our station.

Year end promo-- Be sure to tune into 91.7 KAXE or visit our website and read about staff and volunteer music favorites. We always provide MP3 clips of recent shows and featured programs like Center Stage (MN Music). Tune in New Years Eve for a special On The River with you hosts Heidi and Tom. I understand they will be featuring many, many music favorites from 2008.

My selections below may conjure up a smile or a frown. You might dance to the music, or plug your ears to the noise. Reflect perhaps. Hopefully pray. It's all for you.....

For The Waiting- 2008

Not included but worthy of mention:
- The Acorn "Crooked Legs" (Glory Hope Mountain)
- Jonatha Brooke "There's More True Lover's Than One" (The Works)
- Hacienda Brothers "Soul Mountain" (Arizona Motel)
- Raphael Saadiq "Keep Marchin" (The Way I See It)
- Justin Townes Earle "The Good Life" (The Good Life)
- Jakob Dylan "War Is Kind" (Seeing Things)
- The Dynamites "Every Time" (Kaboom!)
- Gary Louris "True Blue" (Vagabonds)
- Fleet Foxes "Ragged Wood" (Self-Titled)
- The Mother Truckers "Quiet Night" (Let's All Go To Bed)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

That Special Place or The Waiting is the Hardest Part

Everyone has special, quiet places they cherish don’t they?

Perhaps it’s on the deck, or in the ice-house, or at the cabin. Maybe it's more specific- that corner window seat in a local coffee shop. That 3rd floor couch in a Minneapolis library. The 14th pew... about halfway down the aisle is the exact spot where the sun shines through the stained glass window and lights up the church. All of these places serve a purpose.

Shhhhhhhh. I’ll let you in on a secret. There’s one more. You may not know it yet. You may not even know what or where it is. You may even have to ask someone directions. It’s….. your local Adoration Chapel!

Fortunately for Duluthians, we have a perpetual adoration chapel located downtown across from St. Mary’s hospital next to St. Mary Star of the Sea Parish.

Adoration chapels are one of God’s greatest gifts. Here is a place to spend quality time with Jesus. Pray, vent, laugh, cry… but most of all take part in adoration of Jesus Christ present in the Holy Eucharist.

Most of the time I pray in silence. Some nights people just walk in ready to talk. A situation arises where I get to listen to a homeless or intoxicated person. This usually doesn't last to long unless...

Last month was very interesting. I walked into the chapel on a regular Tuesday night and immediately witnessed a rather vocal discussion between the 5pm adorer and a gentleman with a pronounced Irish accent. Once they realized I was here for the 6pm hour, the conversation muted. After a few minutes though, I understood the issue. An attempt to convince that the English are to blame for a variety of maladies in Northern Ireland.

It really happens folks.....

One of the greatest benefits of Tues. nights is seeing my favorite couple the Balaich's! They come every week… always with a smile. Best of all, they never forget to say goodnight.

No matter what mood I come in with, I always go away feeling blessed. Tonight being no exception.

I want to share with you a brief passage from the late spiritual writer Henry Nouwen. He’s very popular, especially with Catholics. Henry has that rare writing gift. A special ability to capture the essence of our longing for God.

This is from a collection of writings entitled “Living in Hope” (Tuesday, 3rd Week of Advent). A reflection that seems to be addressed specifically to me, given my grumbling lately. I'll spare those details for now.

I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. John 10: 14-15

[Increasingly, we feel we have less and less influence on the decisions that affect us. So it becomes increasingly important to recognize that the largest part of our existence involves waiting in the sense of being acted upon. The life of Jesus tells us that not to be in control is part of the human condition. His calling in life and ours are fulfilled not just in action but also in passion, in waiting.

When we realize that God in Jesus Christ is waiting for our response in divine love, then we can discover a whole new perspective on how to wait in life. We can learn to be obedient people who do not always try to act but who recognize the fulfillment of our deepest humanity in passion, in waiting. The spirituality of waiting is not simply our waiting for God. It is also participating in God’s own waiting for us and in that way coming to share in the deepest love, which is God’s love. ]

(For Sherilyn and your brother Nate… praying for you)

“The waiting is the hardest part”
- Tom Petty -

Oops... I forgot. This blog is supposed to be about music.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Santa's Little Trucker

Need to find a last minute gift for that sweetheart trucker gal or guy? Consider these items recently found in the Pamida clearance section….

CB Trucker cocktail glasses? 10-4 good buddy. There perfect for serving up tasty martini’s to thirsty business executives. Add olive and stir so dust doesn’t affect taste.

Trucker Music? No problem. Cue up these snappy beats and you’ll have them talking and dancing in no time.

20 Most Wanted List

What do I want for Christmas?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Forester Sale Adminstration- Pt. 2 (Yellow Birch Trees!)

Below are some photos showing one of several forest management projects I’m working on.

This forested area is located 5 miles north of Beaver Bay, MN in a large-patchy landscape dominated by northern hardwoods, aspen, and paper birch. After several field visits together, the forester and botanist agreed to prescribe a regeneration cut timber sale. Both envisioned a stand that would contain many structural and compositional characteristics of an older growth stage but still allow for selective timber management. Many of the trees are reserved from harvest including all of the conifers and the larger, older northern hardwood tree species like black ash, basswood, sugar maple, and the mysterious yellow birch.

The harvest prescription is to remove all of the paper birch, aspen, and maple less than 14" dbh (diameter at breast height) in strips and small gaps. The harvested openings will provide room for suckering and sprouting tree species like aspen and sugar maple.

My task as the sale administrator is to make sure the logging crew implements the set of instructions written up for the sale. But of particular interest to me as one who loves silviculture (and who can't seem to find a job in it, or even utilize my Union to challenge it) is how to regenerate the elusive, yet very unique yellow birch.

The silvicultural literature out there suggests four main requirements that are necessary for yellow birch to regenerate successfully and grow into mature trees:

1. Adequate seed trees and seed to regenerate. Check.

Although it’s rare to find in Northern MN nowadays, this stand has the seed trees! Many large diameter, mature (some decadent) trees are found throughout this area. Le Magnifique!
Yellow birch typically has good seed crops every 2-3 years and this season appears to be exceptional. Upwards of 1-5 million seeds/acre can be dispersed in a good year. Most don’t take however.

These are seeds (pistillate bract) I collected today before old man blizzard explodes over the North Shore.

2. Adequate seedbed conditions. Question mark.

The literature is very consistent here. Although seed can grow and germinate on stumps, mossy logs, and decayed wood, the best conditions is exposed mineral soil. According to the USFS Silvics manual (one of the traditional i.e old school... sources of silvicultural information):

"In undisturbed stands, yellow birch can only regenerate on mossy logs, decayed wood, rotten stumps, cracks in boulders, and windthrown hummocks because hardwood leaf litter is detrimental to its survival elsewhere (45). In June most seeds germinate in compacted leaf litter that birch radicals and hypocotyls cannot pierce (10). Drying of the litter during the growing season kills most germinants. The remaining seedlings later succumb to frost damage or are smothered by the next leaf fall. Unless stands have been burned or heavily disturbed by blowdowns or logging, abundant birch regeneration is normally restricted to edges of skidroads or landing areas on well-drained sites. On less-well-drained soils, sufficient moisture remains in the leaf litter to result in adequate establishment if advance regeneration of other species is removed."

Harvesting this sale was not allowed during non-frozen ground conditions. That restriction was prescribed to ensure that soils and herbaceous vegetation would be protected. Perhaps the greatest benefit of this regulation is the protection of the shallow (fine) roots of desired reserve species. One problem with frozen ground harvesting however is that the skidding process doesn’t necessarily scarify the soil adequately enough. It appears that only the main skid trails have leaf litter removed and exposed mineral soil. One way we can get around this is to underplant yellow birch bare-root seedlings and other preferred species directly into the ground.

3. Adequate light and other environmental conditions for optimal growth (post-harvest). The literature suggests small openings or gaps from 0.1 to 0.6 acres in size. Check.

Given the nature of the felling and skidding patterns, a variety of gap sizes are present. This should allow us to try a few different regeneration strategies including different planting configurations.

Adequate control of and protection from competitive species including vegetation and animals. Unknown.

Rabbits, deer, aggressive raspberry shrubs, sugar maple, and other damaging agents all play a role in preventing that little yellow birch seedling from maturing into a sapling and eventually... a fully grown tree.

I get asked this question a lot. When will you know if this project’s successful? Some new forester 10 or 15 years from now will have to answer I suppose. Guessing the DMT needs more stressed out program foresters to help the ECS specialists with this too....

Now… enjoy this from the other elusive "burch"

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Found...One Dollar Bill

Here's a great little find from the streets of Duluth.... near a neighborhood dining experience that connects books to people and so much more.

The upside down dollar bill tells all in December. Check this out- Found Mag

What have you found lately?

When you awake finds Duane Allman attempting to tease out a gut bucket from the swamp! Gator Country

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Forester Sale Adminstration Pt. 1

Foresters throughout the State are busy administering timber sales and for me this means more opportunities to get out of the office!

Since we haven’t received much snow lately, most of the upland forest mesic soils in Northern MN have had time to freeze properly. Occasionally there are small inclusions ( wet areas ) however that aren't adequately frozen just yet. These might be located in one of the main equipment traffic areas like a skid trail or a haul road. One way that foresters allow loggers to operate across these wet areas is by recommending the construction of a "slash mat bridge".

Typically, a slash mat bridge contains a grouping or piling of small logs, brush, and/or branches that are placed on top of a semi-frozen drainage or wet area. This allows equipment to travel over the sensitive area without seriously damaging the soils. Properly constructed, a slash mat bridge minimizes compaction and prevents rutting.

Skidder with a drag of aspen crossing a wet ash drainage -
slash mat bridge installed

Stay tuned over the winter months for more examples of foresters and loggers working together to manage and sustain Minnesota's forest resources...... if we make it through December.

It's hopeful anticipation mixed with economic blue.