Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Goals for 2016

Normally people pontificate on the upcoming year towards the end of the prior year. With everyone and their little dog, too, having already done that; I opted to wait a handful of week into the current year to set some goals for myself.

I feel like I spun my wheels for the most part in 2015. For better or worse I settled into a groove, or rut, depending on how you look at it. Things need to change this year.

After some unfortunate developments in 2015, I was thrust into a number of new roles within the company where I work. For 2016 I need to get better at those roles because those roles drive revenue and with a radically new ownership structure on the horizon, ever dollar will be scrutinized and that is something we are entirely unfamiliar with. What was previously a free-wheeling company with virtually no revenue expectations is now expected to be a money-making machine. Being responsible for approximately 15% of that revenue (if not more), I need to step things up.

Secondly, I need to be better about distancing myself from work. There will always be that need for taking care of problems minutes after they arise – that's the nature of a small 24/7 business. The key is knowing when to prioritize things. I have been careful in how I approached things, letting other know that I put work second but still being able to fix problems when they need to be fixed. I stay in my corner of the work world and let others fight their battles because I control my own destiny and people repeatedly state that they notice how much work I do and are impressed with how I exceed their expectations.

The third area is self-improvement. I am used to working my ass off. It comes from growing up on a farm where manual labor and long hours were the norm. I need to get back to that. I intend to step up to bat in the area of helping my parents who are no longer young. I also intend to pitch in whenever I can to help my in-laws whose health is beginning to fade. One would think that with eight children that there would always be help around when it is needed but that simply isn't the case. I enjoy helping them out and I look at it as returning the favor for them letting me have garden space at their farm.

The fourth area is my health in general. Item three will go a long way in improving my health but I also need to make smarter choices about what I eat and drink. Now don't go crazy thinking that I'm cutting out beer, wine or alcohol in general because I'm not. I actually consume those rather infrequently. I do need to completely eliminate soda from my diet and find ways to improve my overall fitness. Maybe that means more bike rides with my kids or running with them as they ride their bikes. Whatever the case, I intend to lose ten pounds this year and gain back the muscle tone which has become a bit soft in recent years.

Wait and see if I meet these goals in eleven months.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Buffer strips on Minnesota waterways = overkill

There, maybe I got your attention. In no way am I saying that buffer strips aren't needed. They are needed. The one size fits all approach that Governor Mark Dayton has shoved down the throats of Minnesotans, though, is simply wrong. Dictating that open rural drainage ditches are subject to a 50 foot wide buffer strip (on both banks) is simply wasteful.

What the public and even Mark Dayton fails to understand is that when drainage ditches are initially dug and cleaned periodically, the soil removed is placed fairly close to the banks to create what is essentially a berm alongside the ditch. This berm acts as a barrier, preventing surface water from entering the ditch directly. Instead, the surface water must make its way through the soil to tile a few feet below the surface or through grass seeded waterways which also filter sediment, chemicals and any excess nutrients from the water before it enters the waterway.

In the case of the family farm where I grew up, there is a combination of grass waterways, tile, catch basins and berms to prevent runoff and water pollution. Oh, and buffer strips measuring some twenty feet wide.

Farmers, contrary to popular belief, do care about water quality and pollution. After all, they depend on that clean water just as much as their non-farming friends and neighbors.

Just this year, though, my family farm has been strictly told that in no way can they improve the water flow in their drainage ditch which stretches nearly a mile through the farm. Instead, it seems like various governmental agencies whom apparently control the rights of a privately-owned drainage ditch would rather have this ditch slowly fill with sediment which enters the drainage ditch through open road ditches and un-bermed naturally flowing areas of this particular drainage system. In the long run, such a scenario will lead to overland flooding which will push even more sediment, organic matter, chemicals and fertilizers into the very waterways the government has stated that they want to protect.

In an era where government increasingly doubts that the stewards of the land can actually do the right thing, the government themselves are the ones who will do longterm harm.

If Governor Mark Dayton and the various legislators who support the implementation of 50 foot buffer strips would look at the true source of erosion and pollution in our waterways, they would see that closer attention needs to be paid to the state's larger natural waterways.

Efforts to protect shorelines and banks of many areas along the Minnesota River should be one of the top priorities. Anyone who has witnessed the aftermath of a flood will tell you that a stable shoreline will at least begin to decrease the mass erosion events I have seen first hand along the Minnesota River. When a river bank collapses, that soil ends up in the river. Those are the scenarios where, at least during normal rainfall events, a berm and buffer strip combination would be beneficial. Without a berm, though, any amount of rainfall will take soil, chemicals, fertilizers and pollutants to streams and rivers rather quickly.

While agricultural practices have come a long way in the past twenty years, there is still room for improvement. I know that the voice of one person who has seen the value of a berm/sensible buffer strip combination will never change the minds of a politician who rarely ventures outside of the 494/694 loop. Maybe, though, common sense will prevail before a 200 acre farm loses an additional 17 acres due to the forced implementation of 50 foot wide buffer strips.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Reflecting on 2015

With life as hectic as it is sometimes, there is often little time for reflection. As I sit writing this I am actively procrastinating on no less than half a dozen projects both for work and on a personal level but that's how I have always operated. It is also how 2015 has gone for me. I am sure that if I were to dig deep enough and carefully analyze every minute detail of the past year that I would be able to pick out a vast array of accomplishments. Maybe this feeling of unaccomplishment is due to a birthday next year which for whatever reason is troubling to me. I'm not turning forty years old but it's still disconcerting none the less.

Sure, 2015 was definitely marred by turmoil. There was a situation in my professional life which rocked my world not even before I had celebrated one full year at what I still look at as being one of the most amazing jobs I have ever worked at. That job has given me freedom, opened up a world of possibilities and at the same time tied my stomach in knots due to the actions of one who caused heartache and tremendous loss felt across a wide area.

Those actions truly stuck with me. With that event occupying a piece of my mind, I was less able to enjoy what was normally a fantastic weekend with some of my best friends. It was still a great weekend but those tragic events were still very fresh in my mind. I am, however, looking forward to our 2016 weekend and  actively making plans because life truly goes on and while the events of 2015 definitely stung and left me with more questions than answers, it's not wise to dwell on the past.

There were plenty of highlights. My first grade daughter was voted into the student council at her elementary school. My two year-old son got his first haircut at the hands of his mom. He also developed a deep liking of tractors -- so much so that he often sleeps with one in his crib. My daughter learned to ride her bike without training wheels.

Overall, my family is in a far better place than we were three years ago when I was just beginning my foray into the world of marketing and we found out that we were expecting the birth of our son.

I earlier said that this year has often tied my stomach in knots but it has also been far more relaxing than previous years. We finally had a year without large, time-consuming projects. We vacationed on the Hawaiian island of Kauai with two of the best couples anyone could ever ask for as friends. We replaced the tires on both of our vehicles (hey, not everything can be hugely exciting).

We also tackled a handful of small projects which had been bothering us for years. The kitchen ceiling was replaced. The living room ceiling was redone with tin panels. I fixed a few cosmetic electrical issues. I plan on redoing some of the grout in the master bath. I stained 300 linear feet of fence by hand. I finally built the workbench in the basement which I had been planning for over a year. I got back into selling fall decor (mainly pumpkins and gourds) but doing that reminded me of my teen years when that was a cash cow for me.

I took our kids to my parents' farm this fall to show them what the fall harvest was like and managed to get both of them into the combine with me driving. Showing the what I used to do when I was some twenty years younger was huge. It also showed me that I still remember how to operate the farm equipment just as well as I did in the 1990s.

With that being said, 2016 looks to be a great year. We look forward to a calmer year filled with even more accomplishments and landmarks. I hope for good health for my parents and my in-laws. I look forward to more frequent gatherings with friends and family and a year full of personal accomplishments!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Jaclyn Swedberg Rocks A Red Bikini On The Beach

The 2012 Playboy Playmate of the Year showed off her stunning figure in a tiny red bikini on the glorious beaches of Miami, FL.

Jaclyn Swedberg in a red bikini at the beach in MiamiJaclyn Swedberg in a red bikini at the beach in MiamiJaclyn Swedberg in a red bikini at the beach in MiamiJaclyn Swedberg in a red bikini at the beach in MiamiJaclyn Swedberg in a red bikini at the beach in MiamiJaclyn Swedberg in a red bikini at the beach in Miami

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Minnesota State Fair Food Bingo

The Minnesota State Fair is known across the country for being a mecca of sorts for food on a stick. The portability of food on a stick, coupled with the variety of deep fried everything makes the Minnesota State Fair a ten day orgy for your taste buds.

With that being said, it' was high time for someone to come up with a basic but fun game centered around the crazy food available at the Minnesota State Fair. While you can find highly organized maps detailing where to get the newest fair food creations nearly everywhere and websites have detailed every category of food available at the 2015 Minnesota State Fair, the time is right for a bit of chaotic fun in the form of Minnesota State Fair Food Bingo.

Just like any other form of bingo, you can play horizontally, vertically, diagonally, blackout (or what I call "food coma") or take the easy route and go for four corners.

Download the card, share it, print off a hundred copies and leave them around the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.

minnesota state fair food bingo card