Friday, April 14, 2006


I was at a very interesting seminar last weekend in St. Paul, MN. One of the topics covered was the human brain and how many decisions we make each day. How many would you guess? (course that's adding to your decision load for the day ;-) According to the speaker and several authors that she quoted, the average adult in the USA today makes about 35,000 decisions each day. Most of them rather simple ones. Where will I sit, what will I have to eat at each feeding, how much, am I thirsty, should I call to let them know I'm late. Along with driving a car and what lane to be in, looking for other drivers, etc. HOWEVER kids who are in residential treatment programs make about 3,000 decisions a day.

WOW what a difference, we also talked about how folks who are just coming out of military duty, and folks in nursing homes, also have much less day to day decision making responsiblity. So imagine you're decision load going up by a factor of 10 or 5 or eve 3. This is why parents with kids at any stage of development MUST take steps to see that many decisions are made for their young ones. It's easy to push them forward and tell them to, "decide that yourself!" seems it's very important to only increase the decision making load a little bit each year that a youth is developing. It was an interesting day. How many decisions do you force upon people around you who might not be prepared to make that particular decision, or to make that many decisons in a day? It's really made me rethink how I interact with folks of every age.

Good Friday 2006

Today is Good Friday. I remember all the years of my childhood when everything stopped about 3pm in the afternoon. Most everyone found their way to a Church for a somber hour with the song, "Go to Dark Gethsemane" as the closing song. Then the rest of the day was spent in a quiet, medatative mood. Of course waiting for the anticipated Easter Morning and it's powerfull uplifting message.

I go to a Lutheran Church where on Christmas Eve we sometimes have 470 people scrambling for seats. Weekly averages run in the 120-150 range depending on the season. Yet last night at the Maundy Thursday service there were hardly 50 people in the congregation. Then 14 or so in the choir. It was a wonderful service with the theme being Holy Communion. It was well worth my time both in the experience of remembering the events of Holy Week, AND in the learning details and history about Communion.

So the question is not why didn't these people come on this important religious day, but rather, what can we do different to encourage more people to attend? In what way can we make attending on a more than 30% (average) basis more of a desire? I guess we could do seminars on solving these problems, but it makes me sad to see the efforts put in to deliver a service. By the organist, the choir, the minister, the cleaning staff, the secretarial staff that puts together the bulletin and service sheets. I'm sad that folks who identify as being members of our church both don't attend regularly AND don't tell us why they don't.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


This morning (April 12, 2006) on Minnesota Public Radio was a long piece about the Migrant Health System which is headquartered in Moorhead MN. BOY do I take exception with what the announcer was saying. First of all he was talking about how poor the migrants are that come to this area.

Talking about the fact that they make only 7,000 per year each. HMMM I wonder what planet this guy is on. First of all he's not taking into consideration that they do this in about 4 places through the year. The folks that would work in our sugarbeet fields also went to Wisconsin to pick Melons, and California to pick vegetables and owned homes and worked in Texas. One year when they left (and we had paid them some 30,000 dollars for their 2 months here) they went to town and bought an almost new pickup. I was tangling with an activist for migrants back in 1979 on KOA radio from Denver in the middle of the night in August that year.

It just happened that I knew the talk show host (we had both gone to Brown together). So after hearing the garbage that was coming out of this activist's mouth I just had to call in. When the host realized it was me, he introduced me and qualified me to the activist and the audience as being a 4th generation sugarbeet farmer in the Red River Valley, and someone who he knew to tell the truth. I explained to this guy the facts of our hiring this family (which we had had work for us for many years, who always came back here and who I knew since I was a little kid). I told him how much we paid them and then mentioned that with that money they went to town and bought an almost new pickup for 9,000 dollars. He of course instantly responded with, "well they move around the country, they need good transportation!" I countered with, "I absolutly agree with you Sir, however I thought that the THOUSAND dollar paint job was a little over the top. I don't have much financial sympathy for someone who pays a grand for a paint job on a 9,000 dollar pickup (remember it was 1979) when I'm driving an old Ford with a shift on the column!

But back to this morning's story. Anyway a featured "migrant" was a woman who had been in Moorhead for the last four years. (insert record scratching noise here) WAIT A MINUTE, STOP THE MUSIC. A migrant is a person who "migrates" who travels from place to place in a years time to find work, usually moving with the harvests or seasons. If this lady was in one place for FOUR years, she was NOT a migrant! So then what qualified her for free medical care at the Migrant Health Center? The fact that she was of Hispanic descent?

I don't fault this woman for seeking out health care, and I don't mind that it was provided to her for a co-pay of 8 to 20 dollars. What I DO NOT LIKE is the fact that we're not calling this what it is. This is a poor woman who needs health services NOT a MIGRANT farm worker passing through the Valley. I've had health coverage every month of my life since I was 15 years old. My premium started out at 12 dollars a month. Now I'm going to be 55 and my premium is approaching 600 a month. Can I dump my insurance and just show up at one of these places and get a voucher for care for under 20 bucks? It time we equalized the system. If everyone is insured, or covered in some fair way, then I only have to pay for my insurance, not participate in a wealth RE-distribution scandal. WHERE ARE POLITICANS WITH BACKBONES???