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Archive for June, 2009

Just 238 days following election day in Nov. 2008, Minnesota finally has a second U.S. senator representing its interests.

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary
_______________________________________________________________________________________
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                         June 30, 2009

Statement from the President on the Minnesota Supreme Court Certifying Al Franken as the Winner of Last Year’s Senate Election

“I look forward to working with Senator-Elect Franken to build a new foundation for growth and prosperity by lowering health care costs and investing in the kind of clean energy jobs and industries that will help America lead in the 21st century.”

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Seven-time Tour de France winner, Lance Armstrong, doesn’t have to ride a bike. He chooses to because he knows what people facing cancer go through each day. He understands the struggle and the fear. He wants to make a difference.

So no matter what you may think of Armstrong’s comeback this year, this ad from Nike and the 31 words spoken by Lance undeniably proves he’s in it for the cause, not the attention.

LIVESTRONG.

Narrative:

The critics say I’m arrogant. A doper. Washed up. A fraud. That I couldn’t let it go. They can say whatever they want. I’m not back on my bike…for them.

Music: “Auto Rock,” by Mogwai

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A few photos from my recent trip to Lausanne, Switzerland where I spent a Saturday acting like a tourist.

Lausanne Rooftops

This photo overlooks the rooftops of Lausanne. It’s a view from the Cathedral of Notre Dame, which sits about halfway up the hill the city sits on. In the distance is Lake Geneva and beyond that the French Alps.

Gargoyle

A gargoyle sits atop the Museum of History building. Speaking of history, Napolean stayed in Lausanne and Mozart played two concerts at a theater in the city.

Lausanne Market

The market on Saturday filled with both locals speaking Swiss French, German and Italian – and tourists like me speaking any of a dozen other languages.

TourdeSuisse

The Tour de Suisse whipped through Lausanne, with the breakaway owning a four minute lead on the peloton, followed by a caravan of team and support vehicles that must have been a mile long all by itself.

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Thirty-five years. If you ask anyone how a radio show could successfully knock heads for just the past decade with online interwebbing, the likely answer would be, “It can’t.” Yet a small little radio show…a show founded here in Saint Paul, Minn., will celebrate its 35th year of production this summer.

ST. PAUL, Minn. – For the 35th anniversary of his “A Prairie Home Companion,” humorist Garrison Keillor will be in “Lake Wobegon” when he reads the news from Lake Wobegon.

But don’t assume Keillor is all misty about the milestone.

“I’m not sentimental anymore. I used to be, when I was younger,” Keillor told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday at his Prairie Home Productions office, an old radio station in St. Paul.

“The thing about sentimentality is that sentimentality gets in the way of your memory. And it’s a sort of a fog. It obscures your clear memory. I’m much more interested in trying to remember clearly what went on, who I was, what we did, back in 1974 (when the show began) than I am in warm feelings about it.”

poster_400You can read this summary of Keillor’s 35 years on the radio just by Googling the AP story. I found it on the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s web site. Just like a hometown paper to run an AP-written story about a local radio personality whose show is making history.

But back to “A Prairie Home…” I’ve only been once. Last October, as a birthday surprise, I purchased tickets and invited friends to join us in the balcony of The Fitzgerald Theater in Saint Paul. It was a warm-up show, the kind Keillor uses to determine the right comedic timing for certain skits and to ascertain just how short or long the program needs to be the following night when they broadcast it live.

For nearly three hours I found myself in admiration, laughing at the dumbest and oldest of jokes. It’s what makes Keillor’s show so popular. There’s a penchant among people to want to walk in to a show and forget their troubles at the door. They want to sit down and be entertained. They want to laugh at the slapstick and marvel at good writing, hilarious sound effects and songs performed by artists they may have never heard of before. In my case, I witnessed legend singer/guitarist Nick Lowe perform several tunes he had written for Johnny Cash. Again…awed.

So for all of Keillor’s pomposity and ostentatiousness that he’s provided Saint Paul, Minneapolis and the rest of his listening audience through the years, I say, “Congrats.”  You’ve entertained millions and in a matter of two or three hours – you help those of us who take time to leave our troubles at the door smile, recall our own simpler times and yes, forget whatever burdens we carried in with us.

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Here is evidence of the life-saving abilities provided by implanted cardioverter defibrillators (ICD).

In the video (taken at a soccer match in Europe in early June), a player drops to the field with a heart arrhythmia. Watch closely as his body jolts when his implanted defibrillator shocks his heart back into a normal rhythm.

Truly amazing. Had it not been for this young man’s implanted device, he likely would have died on the soccer field.  Ninety-five percent of all people who suffer from a sudden cardiac arrest, and who don’t have an ICD, do die.

Companies like mine (Medtronic) get harpooned by the U.S. news media regularly as reporters focus on a handful of negative issues versus the life-saving therpies technology provides to people today. Fact is, medical device technologies made by Medtronic alone save or positively impact the lives of more than six million people every year.

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I’ve spent the past six days in Switzerland.

After landing in Geneva and taking the train to Tolochenaz (where Audrey Hepburn lived for many years and where Phil Collins lives today), I integrated myself into my work and the role I was asked to do. Our International media day event was a big success.  But beyond the work, I’ve made some observations about this small corner of Europe:

  1. I’m in a country where people speak not just one language , but four (except me, I only speak English and I feel like an idiot for not minoring in French, German or some other language).
  2. The Swiss are into their hair. There’s a salon on nearly every corner of every block and many are open 24/7.
  3. The history here is ancient. It’s a little daunting to walk along the same paths that Napoleon, Lord Byran and other famous feet trod.
  4. Philip Morris and RJ Reynolds will never go out of business as long as Europeans continue to love their cigarettes. There’s a haze coming out of every bar and restaurant – as if it were the ’80s in the U.S.
  5. The chocolate made here truly tastes much better than anything made and sold in America. How do they do that?
  6. Spending Swiss Franks really doesn’t feel like spending  money at all. It’s more like spending Monopoly money. Weird.

More observations (and photos of the country) coming soon.

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The 11th edition of the Minnesota Bicycle Festival and Nature Valley Grand Prix ended today in Stillwater, Minn. Under clear skies (thankfully) and warm temperatures, thousands of spectators lined the now infamous Chilkoot Hill to watch the pro men and women battle in their respective races.

For the women, Kristin Armstrong hung on to a 12-second lead coming into the final stage to win both the final stage and the overall general classification in her last pro race in America.

The men’s race proved to be even closer, with Aussie, Rory Sutherland taken the overall but just a couple seconds in a final lap sprint to beat Tom Zirbel who wore the yellow jersey in all previous stages of the race. Phillip Mamos of Amore e Vita p/b Life Time Fitness-Velo Vie, won the Stillwater Criterium stage – also on the final lap.

Phillip Mamos pumps both fists as he crosses the finish line to win stage 6 of the 2009 Nature Valley Grand Prix. Photo by Steve Pottenger

Phillip Mamos pumps both fists as he crosses the finish line to win stage 6 of the 2009 Nature Valley Grand Prix. Photo by Steve Pottenger

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This year’s Minnesota Bicycle Festival featuring the Nature Valley Grand Prix started under clouds of drizzle on Wednesday morning, June 10. But riders refused to let wet weather dampen their objective: to reach the podium on Day One of the five-day, six-stage race.

Gold medal Olympian, Kristin Armstrong lived up to all early expectations as she completed the time trial stage in first place, blasting past several riders on her way to the finish. It’s Armstrong’s last race in North America as she winds down a stellar cycling career and launches a junior development program in her hometown of Boise.

Kristin Armstrong finishes Stage One Time Trial of the Nature Valley Grand Prix. (Photo: Steve Pottenger)

Kristin Armstrong finishes Stage One Time Trial of the Nature Valley Grand Prix. (Photo: Steve Pottenger)

“This is one of my favorite races,” a beaming Armstrong said following her time trial win. “Minneapolis is very welcoming,” she added, noting that the community and fan support at the Nature Valley Grand Prix helps her prioritize this race over others when deciding her racing schedule.

On the men’s side, defending Nature Valley Grand Prix champion, Rory Sutherland, stands in fifth place in the overall points race following the time trial and stage two criterium in Saint Paul. Meanwhile, Tom Zirbel (team Bissell) currently sits with the yellow jersey.

“Last year, we…didn’t finish too well,” said Zirbel, who put in a blistering time of 12 minutes, 36 seconds and the 7.2-kilometer time trial course, beating Sutherland by 13 seconds. “We have some stronger guys on the team this year. Hopefully, we learned from last year and will do better.”

Racing continues on Thursday in Cannon Falls, Friday in Minneapolis, Saturday in Mankato, Minn., and Sunday’s finale in Stillwater.

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It’s official: My oldest child has graduated from high school. Her commencement address was remarkable (see short clip below). I’ve included a couple photos of her as seen on the Target Center jumbotron talking to 600 of her peers and an audience of 3,000 parents, siblings, grandparents, and friends.

Here’s the introduction and first couple minutes of her remarks (I’m a terrible hand-held camera operator – just FYI).

Here’s the last 1:45 of the speech.

KG JumboTron

The Maple Grove High Graduation Ceremony was broadcast by cable access Channel 12.

KG Jumbotron2

She’s a superstar, what can I say?!

Text of speech:

“Our Crimson Identity,” by Kayla Grothaus

You know, I was looking through the yearbook the other day and suddenly, it felt like I was staring at pages of faces of people I’d never seen before in my life. So I began to think about it and I realized that in my time here at Maple Grove, I have only gotten to know a small group of people. Maybe a couple dozen or so out of the 2 thousand involved in our school community, out of the nearly 600 students who sit here on this floor.

And, I thought, how strange is it, really, that here we are today, celebrating one of the first huge milestones in our lives, together… When some of us haven’t even met yet! I mean, I don’t know who would invite 600 strangers to their grad party!

But as I look out on this room, I realize that we aren’t really strangers. Not at all. Because somehow, it just feels right that today we wear the same clothes – the same cap, the same gown. We bear the same colors: our crimson and gold. It represents a piece of who we’ve been the past few years and who we are right now and who we will be forever. And as much as I would have loved to have gotten to know more of you, the peers I share this wonderful day with, I am content to know that we share one thing in common, one thing that will be unique to us and only us, regardless of where we find ourselves in the coming months and years.

It is our Crimson Identity that unites us. We discovered it three years ago at that homecoming pepfest. And I’m willing to bet that the Class of 2007 might still try to deny it, but we earned that spirit jug. Why? Because in those 45 minutes, we forged the character and began the legacy that is the Class of 2009.

Since then, we have grown and matured and learned and for this short while, our lives have become inextricably intertwined. Every time we went to a football game, or a school play, or any of the dances, and every class we’ve attended, or cafeteria lunch we ate, our experience has been shaped by all of us: the people who go to our school, people we may not know.

Obviously, it is this collective us who make up a class with whom we are all quite familiar. But as a senior reflecting and reminiscing on the high school experience, standing on the precipice that is graduation, preparing to enter the adult world, one thing has become very clear: In life, it is incredibly easy to get lost in the crowd, to forget the role we play and contribution we make to the big picture. I’ve realized that high school was never just about me and my friends. No, it was about each of us in line at lunch, or on our feet screaming the battle cry, or in our classes, writing papers and giving those presentations.

For each of us, we reached a point when we asked “What’s it all gonna add up to, anyway?” When we wondered where or how poetry explication is going to have value in our lives. And I realized that, for our teachers, it has never been just about World History or Geometry. They have dedicated themselves to preparing us for the world we are about to step into. Because of them, we are able to comprehend the fact that we aren’t alone in this universe. That there are seven billion people out there who are just as willing and able to work as hard as you and I. But fear not, because our teachers know what it takes to go above and beyond, what it means to really strive for excellence. And I know just as well as I know about sine, cosine, and tangent, that our teachers did everything they could to supply us with the knowledge and skills it will take for us to really go far in life.

Because our teachers…they have been there. They have done that. They have seen students from the class of ’08 and ’07 (and years before) walk this stage. They have shaken hands and given hugs. And, thanks to their efforts – thanks especially for their patience – they have seen former Crimson graduates succeed in college and careers and in life. They are not strangers…they are our mentors. Our logic and rational voices.

And if there was anything I think they would like to impart with us before we leave it is this ancient Greek tradition: E tan e epi tas. For you see, when the Spartan warriors left their homes to fight Xerxes, their women handed them their shields and said: “E tan e epi tas” It means, “Come back with it or on it.” It was a matter of pride and glory, of honor and perseverance. Come back with it or on it. Today, for us, it means to go out into the world with the skills we’ve learned and do the things we can be proud of, then return home and say, “Yes. I gave it my best.” Even if the outcome isn’t all we hoped for, we will have invested ourselves and used the skills and tools we’ve learned. And in doing so, we will return home with the same honor and glory that the Spartans once had. We will uphold that Crimson Identity, and as classmates, as comrades…not strangers…we will pay tribute to the legacy that is the Class of 2009.

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