Fargo Flood 2011 – Another One for the Record Book

The Fargo flood of 2011 looks like it will land in fourth place in the all-time record book. The water needs to get back down before we can totally get back to normal, but everything is now pointing in the right direction. Wow … when this one is done I will have experienced three of the top four top crests in Fargo.

The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the Lord, over many waters.

Psalm 29:3 (http://bible.us/Ps29.3.ESV)

Learning How to Say Thank You

Judy and I feel it’s very important to teach our kids to say “Thank You.” Not just the polite “Thank You” when someone opens a door for you, but also a thoughtful “Thank You” that takes a little time and effort. It’s that approach that led me to encourage Andrew to write a thank you note when he was given an extra screwdriver. It turned out to be both a thank you note and a piece of art:

Andrew's Thank You

There’s lots of smile value in this note!

Rules for Government

Putting all partisanship aside, I think it would be good for elected officials at all levels to note these words from Proverbs 17:26:

It’s wrong to penalize good behavior, or make good citizens pay for the crimes of others. (http://read.ly/Prov17.26.MSG)

The Black Hills Passion Play is No More

Well, hopes of creating one family memory this summer have been dashed. It’s looking like this summer’s family vacation will find us heading to western South Dakota, and I was really hoping that our plans would be able to include a visit to the Passion Play in Spearfish, South Dakota. It’s one of my own earliest family vacation memories, I was looking forward to providing that experience to our kids as well. But it’s not to be.

I searched the Internet, and my searches hit dead ends. Uh Oh. Is it not in production any longer? My next step: an e-mail to someone at VisitSpearfish.com:

Hello, We are just starting to plan our summer vacation and I looked for info on the Passion Play. I remember going to that production when I was a kid, I was hoping to find info about it online, but I’m not finding anything. Is the Passion Play still in production?

The reply (in part):

Thank you for contacting Visit Spearfish, Inc. with your visitor inquiry. We regret to inform you that the Black Hills Passion Play retired August 31, 2008.

Bummer. I was really looking forward to sharing that experience.

Well, now the best I can do is use the Internet to take a stroll down memory lane. In doing so, I uncovered at least part of “the rest of the story” that I would have never known as a kid. Here are some of the interesting things I found:

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passion_play

The Black Hills Passion Play was performed every summer for almost seventy years in Spearfish, South Dakota; this production was an American version of the Lünen Passion Play that was brought over in 1932 by immigrants who claimed that it had been produced since 1242.[7] The production was Americanized by seventh-generation Passion Player Josef Meier, who toured it around the country before bringing it to Spearfish in the 1930s; until its last performance on August 31, 2008, the show was produced under the auspices of Meier’s daughter Johanna, a world-famous opera singer who had her debut in the play at the age of five weeks.

An article from Time magazine, published during World War II, gives an interesting historical perspective on the production: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,777543,00.html

And here’s a wonderful writeup of the play’s history and purpose: http://www.catholicdigest.com/articles/travel/no_sub_ministry/2009/03-31/passion-for-the-passion. This article revives some of my more vivid memories of the Passion Play:

With Lookout Mountain as a backdrop, the play’s magnificent three-block-long stage readily transports viewers back to the days of Christ. All the characters and animals of ancient Jerusalem are here: donkeys, water girls filling jugs, flocks of sheep, Roman soldiers on white horses, unscrupulous merchants, and cages of doves.

Portrayed by an interdenominational cast of more than 150 people, the play’s imagery is both simple and profound. As the Last Supper fades to black, the Lord’s chalice begins to glow, the symbol of his blood illuminating the very essence of Christianity. Each of the 22 scenes — triumphal entry to Resurrection — unfolds into the next, with no intermissions or set changes.

When the Christus is carried into the tomb, the shrouded body imparts a personal revelation for many playgoers. “The Bible was no longer words; it became flesh for me,” one viewer said.

I had really hoped to personally experience this production one more time as an adult, to fully appreciate it from both an artistic and spiritual perspective. Time moves on, but it’s a disappointment to me that this is one event that will no longer be experienced.

“North Dakota Nice” During a Traffic Accident

Our office is near a busy intersection in Fargo, and that means every so often we have the opportunity to do some rubbernecking and see a traffic accident unfold. That happened last week, and I keep finding myself thinking about that accident and the “North Dakota Nice” that I observed afterwards. First, the accident details: the accident appeared to have involved an older gentleman whose car was pulling a trailer and somehow ended up in a left-turn lane on the wrong side of the median, and two other vehicles (ironically, they were courtesy vehicles from two different auto dealers here in town).

While the cleanup was underway I noticed the “North Dakota Nice” traffic pattern … or what one of my coworkers called the zipper pattern. One lane of traffic could move forward with no obstructions, the other lane was blocked by the accident. Of course many people in the blocked lane didn’t notice the reason for their sudden stop until they were upon the accident. So the drivers in the free-moving lane of traffic would, without fail, work the zipper pattern: the person in front would let one person in from the blocked lane and then moves on, and the pattern repeats itself with the new leader at the front of the line. (It’s so much easier to see that traffic pattern in action than it is to write about it!) And with that pattern in play the traffic kept moving at a somewhat normal pace.

That’s part of what makes living in North Dakota such a pleasurable experience. I don’t know if courtesies like that are commonly extended in other parts of the country. I suppose they are, but it just seems like it would happen here in North Dakota more than other places.

What do you think? Do any of you out-of-staters care to comment?

Connecting Dots Before Election Day

First dot: This excellent editorial titled Nothing Left to Covet. You can see the first bit of the article at www.worldmag.com, here’s the important part:

Fact No. 1 is that only 3 percent of all the taxpayers in the United States pay more in income taxes than the other 97 percent combined. Fact No. 2 is that even if you taxed that 3 percent of our population at a rate of 100 percent of their income, you wouldn’t produce enough additional revenue to cover the deficits our federal government is now incurring each year.

One more powerful point made in the editorial:

…at the end of the day, even if the tax law gets changed so that rich people have to pay 40 percent of their income instead of just 30 percent, the coveters end up with virtually none of that difference.

Second dot: Last Sunday’s sermon about Envy was very powerful and ties in very nicely with the editorial mentioned above. The sermon not only resonates on a personal level, but also on the larger national level when combined with the editorial.

It’s worth a listen, and a good reminder about how destructive envy can be. Pastor Matthew’s blog compliments the sermon and has more on the subject too.

Third dot: There will be no vote before election day to extend the tax cuts enacted by President Bush. I really dislike the way the term “tax cuts” is being thrown around. It makes it seem as though the high-income earners are being unfairly taxed by not paying enough … when in reality the percentage they pay is much more than us “common folk.” The higher tax rates for larger incomes is “politically correct” envy.

Fourth dot: Election day. This is when it all comes together. All the cowardly members of Congress who are too afraid to take a vote on extending the Bush tax cuts equalizations will need to answer to “We the People.” They’re willing to put what’s best for the country aside in favor of their own personal political agendas (called “reelection campaigns”). I can only hope “We the People” have enough spine to offset their cowardice.

A Real-Time Look at Social Media Growth

Recently, I ran across an interesting experiment put together by Gary Hayes, a web programmer and blogger. Using Flash, Gary created a social media “counter” that tracks, among other things, how many Facebook postings, tweets, and YouTube uploads are taking place in “real time,” based on the most recent growth rate data available for social media.

The application itself is pretty remarkable, and so are the numbers Gary uses to run his calculations. For example, every minute, 20 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube. Every day, 50 million tweets are sent via Twitter. An incredible 900,000 blog posts are created daily. And 2.5 billion photos are added to Facebook every month.

See more at http://www.personalizemedia.com/garys-social-media-count/.

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