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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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