Monday, August 30, 2010

Practicing Gratitude

“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” — Epictetus

From the time we start talking we are encourage to say thank you when we receive something.  It is part of our culture to show gratitude for gifts received or when we are shown a favor.  Rightfully so, as we will see, being grateful has to be nourished and practiced.  As adults, we have to remind ourselves often, to be grateful and see the benefit of it.

Meaning of Gratitude:
Gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, meaning grace, graciousness, or gratefulness. All derivatives from this Latin root “have to do with kindness, generousness, gifts, the beauty of giving and receiving, or getting something for nothing.”  As a psychological state, gratitude is a felt sense of wonder, thankfulness, and appreciation for life.

Benefits of Practicing Gratitude:
Emotional Level
1. Gratitude is an emotion.
2. Gratitude is the opposite of envy.
3. Gratitude eliminates doubt and fear.
4. Gratitude produces powerful feelings of self-acceptance and inspires joy.  
5. Gratitude allows you to receive compliments without being bashful; it takes the focus away from yourself.
6. Gratitude opens your heart to forgiveness  and giving.
7. Gratitude alleviates distress and depression.
8. Gratitude transforms pessimism into optimism by having positive expectations.
9. Gratitude helps you to stay centered and trust in yourself, being more intuitive.
10. Gratitude has moral effects.

Mental Level
1. Gratitude brings you more of what you appreciate. The universal law of attraction says that you will attract into your life the things you think about and focus on.
2. Gratitude gives you more conscious awareness and brings you into the present moment.
3. Gratitude counteracts complaining and criticizing.
4. Gratitude counteracts worry.
5. Gratitude puts you in the mood for positive expectation.
6. Gratitude gives you insights into an authentic life and gives you a new identity.
7. Gratitude transcends your ego and self-centeredness.
8. Gratitude connects you to the “flow,” and synchronizes your life.
9. Gratitude raises your perceptions of the past and the future.
10. Gratitude allows to surrender.

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity. It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow."

Melodie Beattie ~ Writer

Physical Level
1. Gratitude creates positive vibration which will attract more positive things.
2. Gratitude makes the object of your desire real. Keep on focusing on it and it will come to existence.
3. Gratitude helps you cope with difficulties.
4. Gratitude promotes savoring positive life experience.
5. Gratitude keeps us from taking good things for granted.
6. Gratitude helps strengthen relationships and focus on others.
7. Gratitude protects your health.
8. Gratitude is a learned skill.
9. Gratitude as a daily ritual - science has proven it to work.
10. Gratitude helps overcome addictions.

Spiritual Level
1. Gratitude invites the grace of God.
2. Gratitude encourages kindness and other moral behavior.
3. Gratitude allows you to live in grace by accepting life as is and paying attention to the small things and details.
4. Gratitude increases a sense of confidence and self-worth, by encouraging you to consider what you value about your life.
5. Gratitude allows you to say “thank you” and meaning it.
6. Gratitude fulfills your spiritual needs and brings you into contact with your God.
7. Gratitude blesses your life in more ways you can imagine.
8. Gratitude encourages you to count your blessings.
9. Gratitude helps you overcome negative core beliefs.
10. Gratitude adds purpose and meaning to life

If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, "thank you," that would suffice. ~ Meister Eckhart
Psychologist Robert Emmons, University of California Davis, recently told us about the many benefits of practicing gratitude.
"First, the practice of gratitude can increase happiness levels around 25%.  
Second, this is not hard to achieve, a few hours spent writing gratitude journal over 3 weeks can create an effect that lasts 6 months if not more.  They also raise their energy levels and report fewer physical symptoms than those who didn't.
Third, that cultivating gratitude brings other health effects, such as longer and better sleep."

How to Practice Gratitude?
 As Psychologist Robert Emmons suggests, you can write a gratitude journal.   Set up a time each day and just write down whatever you are grateful for.

Another daily session can be to feel gratitude as a deep emotion.  It is not just enough to think grateful thoughts or to say thank you intellectually.  Really get to the core emotion, feeling mushy inside to the point you want to cry.  Suddenly, you will feel emotions flowing out of you, and it will be easy for you to pray for others and bless them.
Practicing gratitude comes in handy, when you feel anxiety or fear.  Witness that feeling, let is pass through you and observe it until it will disappear.  There is nothing wrong with you feeling anger or any other negative emotion.  Give yourself permission to feel the tension.  The key is not to dwell on it or even better not to react to it.
Cristine Kane suggests practicing gratitude in this way:
1. Sit quietly, close your eyes and breathe.
2. Bring into your mind something for which you are profoundly grateful. (If I’m in a bad place and can’t think of anything, my cats or dog always do the trick.)
3. That feeling, that smile that arises in you. That’s the feeling of gratitude. Let it build up.
4. Observe that feeling as an entity unto itself. Or, take you out of the picture. Put on the invisibility cloak. And let the feeling of gratitude become all that’s left of you.
5. Try to hold that energy and keep practicing it.

Another authority on practicing gratitude is Dr. Martin Seligman.  He is the director of the University of Pennsylvania Positive Psychology Center. On his website you can take a gratitude questionnaire.
The other method of practicing gratitude is to express it.  Show your appreciation to others by giving compliments or just express your gratitude to them.  Express your feelings and show your love to your friends and family.  Whatever you give out will always return.  It is the spiritual law.

Create a physical place in your home where you practice gratitude.  Prepare an altar or table where you can place your gratitude list and/or journal.  You can even place physical objects or pictures there to remind yourself of what you appreciate.
You can see that there is a reason for “Thanksgiving” every day of the year.

Monday, August 23, 2010

For the Love of Reading...

F. Skinner, a behavior Psychologist of the 20th century said:
“ We shouldn’t teach great books, we should teach a love of reading.”

During the summer months when the kids are out of school the children are encouraged to read. Even though most children are learning to read in school, the parents are always the first and most important teachers in the life of the child. It is crucial for parents to encourage and support their children’s reading efforts.

Reading is an important skill for learning language, understanding the content of the material and later on, comprehending, analyzing and evaluating that content. It is an important growth process for the child and often starts with the parent reading to the child and installing a love of reading.

Why is Reading Important?
1. Makes you smarter
2. Reduces stress
3. Promotes tranquility
4. Improves critical and analytical thinking
5. Increases vocabulary
6. Improves memory
7. Improves writing skills
8. Learn about other cultures and traditions
9. Reduces boredom
10. Have something interesting to share with others

Which Books to Read?
That is a very personal preference and I believe that those who love reading don’t need any suggestions. For those who don’t fancy reading, you have to ask yourself: what am I most interested in? Or what subject would I like to expand my knowledge in?

Bookstores are full of subject after subject. Do you like poetry? Do you like ballads, essays, realistic stories or novels? Or do you like history, biographies, spiritual or motivational literature?

Just like with anything in life, you have to develop a desire for reading and learning. Maybe a good friend can give you some ideas; or ask a trusted teacher. If you have kids in your family, maybe you like to read to them, children love that kind of attention.

What is Literacy?
Literacy has traditionally been described as the ability to read and write. It is a concept claimed and defined by a range of different theoretical fields. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) defines literacy as the "ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate, compute and use printed and written materials associated with varying contexts. Literacy involves a continuum of learning in enabling individuals to achieve their goals, to develop their knowledge and potential, and to participate fully in their community and wider society."

Literacy has never been a fixed stable concept and has a large range of definitions. Long time ago, literacy meant the capacity to speak and sing, to use spoken language eloquently for public purposes. Just about a 100 years ago in the United States, the ability to sign one's own name on a land deed or bank check was the socially accepted mark of literacy. Merely being able to mark an "X" on a deed at times made one literate.

In 1998, figures showed that 16% of the world population is illiterate (using the UN definition).

From The Literacy Company:
• 46% of American adults cannot understand the label on their prescription medicine.

• It is estimated that as many as 15 percent of American students may be dyslexic.

• 50 percent of American adults are unable to read an eighth grade level book.

• There are almost half a million words in our English Language – the largest language on earth, incidentally – but a third of all our writing is made up of only twenty-two words.

• In a class of 20 students, few if any teachers can find even 5 minutes of time in a day to devote to reading with each student.

• Out-of-school reading habits of students has shown that even 15 minutes a day of independent reading can expose students to more than a million words of text in a year.

• The average reader spends about 1/6th of the time they spend reading actually rereading words.

• When the State of Arizona projects how many prison beds it will need, it factors in the number of kids who read well in fourth grade

Where to Find Reading Materials?
Today, bookstores are pretty much in all towns, or if you don’t have one close, you can always go to the internet to shop. I like to go to second hand stores or even search thrift stores. If this does not suit you, you can always check out the public library in your city where you can lend books for free.

“Spoken words are the symbols of mental experience, and written words are the symbols of spoken words.” ~~ Aristotle

History of Libraries:
Philanthropist Andrew Carnegie said, "There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the Free Public Library, this republic of letters, where neither rank, office, nor wealth, receives the slightest consideration."
Public libraries support their constituents in many ways, especially in leaner economic times.

Collections of knowledge are as old as time. In ancient Mesopotamia which is today’s Iraq, about 5,000 years ago, they found a collection of 30,000 clay tables. 1,300 BC Egyptian collected papyrus rolls. Books could only be replicated by copying the hand written words. Aristotle supposedly amassed a large private collection.

The Great Library of Alexandria (Egypt), under the direction of King Ptolemy, desired to have copies of all the books of the world – translated into Greek.

In Rome, under Julius Cesar, 200 BC, wanted to create a public library. In modern times libraries were first supported by universities.

The oldest library in America began with a 400-book donation by a Massachusetts clergyman, John Harvard, to a new university that eventually honored him by adopting his name. Another clergyman, Thomas Bray from England, established the first free lending libraries in the American Colonies in the late 1600s. Subscription libraries - where member dues paid for book purchases and borrowing privileges were free - debuted in the 1700s. In 1731, Ben Franklin and others founded the first such library, the Library Company of Philadelphia. The initial collection of the Library of Congress was in ashes after the British burned it during the War of 1812. The library bought Thomas Jefferson's vast collection in 1815 and used that as a foundation to rebuild.

It wasn't until waves of immigration and the philosophy of free public education for children that public libraries spread in the US. The first public library in the country opened in Peterborough, New Hampshire, in 1833. Philanthropist Andrew Carnegie helped build more than 1,700 public libraries in the US between 1881 and 1919.

How is Reading Taught Today?
Phonics approach.
The phonics approach teaches word recognition through learning grapheme-phoneme (letter-sound) associations. The student learns vowels, consonants, and blends, and learns to sound out words by combining sounds and blending them into words. By associating speech sounds with letters the student learns to recognize new and unfamiliar words.

Linguistic method.
This method uses a "whole word" approach. Words are taught in word families, or similar spelling patterns, and only as whole words. The student is not directly taught the relationship between letters and sounds, but learns them through minimal word differences. As the child progresses, words that have irregular spellings are introduced as sight words.

Multisensory approach.
This method assumes that some children learn best when content is presented in several modalities. Multisensory approaches that employ tracing, hearing, writing, and seeing are often referred to as VAKT (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, tactile) methods. Multisensory techniques can be used with both phonics and linguistic approaches.

Phonics vs Whole Word
The alphabetic writing system evolved with letters representing sounds, not concepts. A “systematic” phonics method teaches students the letter-sounds and basic spelling rules at the very beginning of school. In whole-word, the child learns to recognize and understand the complete word or group of words in context with other words or pictures and the human brain learns or infers the phonetic rules.

How can Children with Dyslexia or ADD/ADHD Learn to Read?
Educators have long discovered that there is no single method or single combination of methods that can successfully teach all children to read. Therefore, teachers must have a strong knowledge of the children in their care in order to create the appropriate balance of methods needed for the children they teach. The multi-sensory teaching approach helps children to learn through more than one sense. Traditionally, reading is taught through hearing or seeing. A dyslexic child may experience difficulties with either or both of these senses. Persons with learning disabilities who need work on reading comprehension often respond to explicitly taught strategies which aid comprehension such as skimming, scanning and studying techniques.

How did the Written Word Develop?
The earliest form of writing could be called “picture writing;” this type of writing has been discovered on cave walls and dates back thousands of years. Picture writing evolved into character writing in certain cultures throughout the world. Many Asian countries use this type of writing in modern times. With this type of writing, each symbol or character represents a concept. Character writing does not depend on how the concept might look, as in picture writing, or on how the word may sound, as in alphabetic writing. One of the disadvantages of this type of written language is the sheer number of characters that must be memorized, as every word is represented by a different character.

Over history, humans have found methods to represent their spoken words with written symbols.

6,000,000 BC -- Spoken language is a natural, biological form of human communication that is over 6 million years old.

6000 BC -- Reading is an invention that is only 6000 years old. There simply hadn't been enough evolutionary time, yet, for the human physiology of reading to be perfected.

4000 BC -- Sumerian Logographs were simple pictures of objects and activities written on clay tablets.

2000 BC -- Phoenician alphabet contained consonants only

1000 BC -- Greeks added vowels to the alphabet. This is the same alphabet we use today – and it is humanity’s greatest inventions.

200 BC -- Aristophanes' plays add punctuation

700 AD -- lower case characters by Medieval Scribes

800 AD -- paper and wood block printing presses were developed in China.

900 AD -- the last major upgrade in text took place: the insertion of spaces between words. Also developed by Medieval Scribes, this invention made it possible, for the first time, for the vast majority of readers to be able to read silently. Prior to this, most readers had to read out loud in order to be able to read at all.

800-1300 AD – papyrus scrolls were replicated in Egypt and sold as books.

1500 AD -- Arrival of the printing press, invented by Johannes Guttenberg in Germany.

2000 AD -- ebooks to be read online

Long before the written word, in primitive times, stories were passed on from generation to generation by word of mouth. Many of the fables and fairy tales we know today were based on those old stories. Since the invention of the printing press, these stories have become an integral part of the childhood of generations.

Around 300 BC, in Greece lived a storyteller named Aesop  who collected fables about animals, and stories on how to solve human problems.

During the 19th century, Hans Christian Anderson  gathered stories in the countryside of Denmark which are still read today.

During the same time in Germany, the brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm  published a collection of fairy and folk tales.

When did Reading and Writing Become Essential for Human Life?
Today, at least in our country, everybody has access to an education. Reading and writing and understanding the written word are crucial even for the least educated person.

"Learning to read is like learning to drive a car. You take lessons and learn the mechanics and the rules of the road. After a few weeks you have learned how to drive, how to stop, how to shift gears, how to park, and how to signal. You have also learned to stop at a red light and understand road signs. When you are ready, you take a road test, and if you pass, you can drive. Phonics-first works the same way. The child learns the mechanics of reading, and when he's through, he can read. Look and say works differently. The child is taught to read before he has learned the mechanics — the sounds of the letters. It is like learning to drive by starting your car and driving ahead. . .And the mechanics of driving? You would pick those up as you go along." — Rudolf Flesch, "Why Johnny Still Can't Read," 1981

In today’s job market, an education is crucial for any job seeker. With the advent of the internet in 1980’s, reading and writing became even more crucial to participate in the world wide web.

Some Interesting Statistics about Reading:
The following statistics about book publishing and reading were found on,/ the Web site of self-publishing guru Dan Poynter. They'll give you an idea of what you're up against if you want to write books for a living.

1/3 of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives.
42 percent of college graduates never read another book after college.
80 percent of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year.
70 percent of U.S. adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.
57 percent of new books are not read to completion.
70 percent of books published do not earn back their advance.
70 percent of the books published do not make a profit.
(Source: Jerold Jenkins,

53 percent read fiction, 43 percent read nonfiction. The favorite fiction category is mystery and suspense, at 19 percent.
55 percent of fiction is bought by women, 45 percent by men.
(Source: Publishers Weekly)

About 120,000 books are published each year in the U.S.

A successful fiction book sells 5,000 copies.
A successful nonfiction book sells 7,500 copies.
(Source: Authors Guild,

On average, a bookstore browser spends 8 seconds looking at a book's front cover and 15 seconds looking at the back cover.
(Source: Para Publishing,

Each day in the U.S., people spend 4 hours watching TV, 3 hours listening to the radio and 14 minutes reading magazines.
(Source: Veronis, Suhler & Associates investment banker)

I like to finish this exploration on the love of reading with this poem by Rudyard Kipling:

The "Five Ws" (and one H) were memorialized by Rudyard Kipling in his "Just So Stories" (1902), in which a poem accompanying the tale of "The Elephant's Child" opens with:

I keep six honest serving-men (They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When and How and Where and Who.

May reading inspire you and allow you to explore whole new worlds and let it stimulate your imaginations. May it also transform into the person you were meant to be.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Solitude with God throughout the Ages

Old Testament Age:
“Guard you heart for it is the wellspring of your life.” Prov. 4:23

New Testament Age:
“Pay attention to what you hear (be careful of what you hear), the measure of what you give is the measure of what you get.” Mark 4:24

Completed Testament Age:
“For a person to polish his heart to the point that it becomes as clear as crystal, he absolutely must spend time in direct conversation with his heart. It will be a time of intense loneliness, but the moment that we become close to our hearts is the time of prayer and meditation. It is a time when we can take ownership over our hearts. When we isolate ourselves from the noise around us and allow our thoughts to settle, we can see into the deepest parts of our hearts. It will take a lot of time and effort to go all the way down to where the heart has settled. I will not happen in a day.”

~ From As A Peace-Loving Citizen – Biography of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon

Mankind has always been seeking a closer relationship with its Creator. In the olden days, very few people could read and the bible wasn’t translated until the 15th century. Studying the word is only one way to get closer to God.  Religious people have always found a way to retreat into solitude to pray and meditate.

"Men and women begin to become great when they begin to take time quietly by themselves, when they begin to practice solitude."

~ Catherine Ponder, Author and Minister of the Unity Church ~

For most people it is very hard to sit still, with no sounds or activities around, just sitting and letting the mind go free. Author Brian Tracy suggests: to make it a habit to try it in sessions of 30-60 minutes. He argues to try it for any length of time (20-30 minutes) until you feel completely relaxed. Don’t have any food around, telephone, or even music, just stillness. He believes that any question or concern on your mind will come to the surface, like your subconscious mind will give up a deep seated emotion or secret. You will get solutions to your problems or just some great ideas to make your life more comfortable. Mr. Tracy assures that it works 100% of the time, with patience and practice. 

"We hear voices in solitude, we never hear in the hurry and turmoil of life; we receive counsels and comforts, we get under no other condition."

~ Amelia E. Barr, British American Novelist ~

With all of the modern devices and electronics it seems to get harder to find quietness. None-the-less, this quiet time can also be good to reduce stress and promote health. It seems like a double winner!

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Family Who Eats Together Stays Together

-- By Becky Hand, Licensed & Registered Dietitian (Spark People)

"Come and get it!" It may be dinnertime, but when was the last time your family sat down and enjoyed a meal together? With music lessons, ball practice, play rehearsal, and work schedules, it can be tough. Rounding up the troops for an evening meal can be almost impossible! However, research is beginning to show that eating as a family has great benefits for your children and teenagers. Here are 8 more reasons why you should try to sit down together 5-6 times a week, whether for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Reason #1: Communication and Well-Being
Conversations during the meal provide opportunities for the family to bond, plan, connect, and learn from one another. It’s a chance to share information and news of the day, as well as give extra attention to your children and teens. Family meals foster warmth, security and love, as well as feelings of belonging. It can be a unifying experience for all.

Reason #2: Model Manners (and more)
Family mealtime is the perfect opportunity to display appropriate table manners, meal etiquette, and social skills. Keep the mood light, relaxed, and loving. Try not to instruct or criticize—lead by example.

Reason # 3: Expand Their World…One Food at a Time
Encourage your children to try new foods, without forcing, coercing, or bribing. Introduce a new food along with some of the stand-by favorites. Remember that it can take 8-10 exposures to a new food before it is accepted, so be patient. Trying a new food is like starting a new hobby. It expands your child’s knowledge, experience, and skill.

• Include foods from other cultures and countries.

• Select a new vegetable from a local farmer’s market.

• Have your child select a new recipe from a cookbook, web site, newspaper, magazine or check out the recipes on SparkPeople.

Reason #4: Nourish
Meals prepared and eaten at home are usually more nutritious and healthy. They contain more fruits, vegetables, and dairy products along with additional nutrients such as fiber, calcium, vitamins A and C, and folate. Home cooked meals are usually not fried or highly salted, plus soda and sweetened beverage consumption is usually lower at the dinner table.

Reason #5: Become Self-Sufficient
Children today are missing out on the importance of knowing how to plan and prepare meals. Basic cooking, baking, and food preparation are necessities for being self-sufficient. Involve your family in menu planning, grocery shopping, and food preparation. Preschoolers can tear lettuce, cut bananas, and set the table. Older children can pour milk, peel vegetables, and mix batter. Teenagers can dice, chop, bake, and grill. Working as a team puts the meal on the table faster, as well as makes everyone more responsible and accepting of the outcome. Improved eating habits come with "ownership" of a meal.

Reason #6: Prevent Destructive Behaviors
Research shows that frequent family dinners (five or more a week), are associated with lower rates of smoking, drinking, and illegal drug use in pre-teens and teenagers when compared to families that eat together two or fewer times per week. Even as older children’s schedules get more complicated, it is important to make an effort to eat meals together. Scheduling is a must.

Reason #7: Improve Grades
Children do better in school when they eat more meals with their parents and family. Teenagers who eat dinner four or more times per week with their families have higher academic performance compared with teenagers who eat with their families two or fewer times per week.

Reason # 8: Save Money
Meals purchased away from home cost two to four times more than meals prepared at home. At present time the restaurant industry’s share of the total food dollar is more than 46%. Due to scheduling, commitments, and activities, families eat out several times each week.

It is time to bring the "family" back to the dinner table. Sharing dinner together gives everyone a sense of identity. It can help ease day-to-day conflicts, as well as establish traditions and memories that can last a lifetime.

My comment:  “What’s for dinner?” is a big question for most families. When my kids were growing up at home, we had dinner most every night. Even when ball games happened or other events were taking place away from home I would cook something we could eat when we returned home. I believe it is crucial for kids to have regularity with their meals and can enjoy a home cooked meal. They didn’t always agree and thought of me as old-fashioned, mainly because they saw their school friends grow up and hear them eating out a lot. Now, as adults, they told me on several occasions that they appreciated the times we had together. That’s what attracted me to the above article
Here are some more links about eating together as a family:,9171,1200760,00.html

Monday, August 2, 2010

Minnesota Humor

On a recent trip to Minnesota, I was introduced to Minnesota Humor. Minnesota is known for its 10,000 lakes and mosquitoes.

Minnesotans are a hardy breed of people who have learned to adapt to a variety of weather conditions, and a geography that supports four distinct ecosystems. They do so with a sense of humor and sophistication that’s uniquely their own. 

You’ll find many influential and famous people that were born here, many successful Fortune 500 companies that were started here, lots of interesting places to visit, and a great many traditions and outdoor activities that take place year around.

Minnesotans many ancestors came from the Northern European countries, thats why they identify with the Vikings (see picture right, a statue by the museum in Alexandria, Minnesota).

Many people have also heard of Garrison Keillor, of A Prairie Home Companion fame, and his cool wit.

Here is some of the ways you know you are from Minnesota:

You say "You betcha" instead of you are right.

Your daily meals are breakfast, dinner, and supper.

You drink POP, not SODA.

You laugh out loud every time you see a news report about a blizzard shutting down the entire east coast.

Down south to you means Iowa.

The only reason you go to Wisconsin is to get fireworks, to fish, or to buy beer on Sunday.

You've gone trick-or-treating in 3 feet of snow.

You know about Ole and Lena jokes

You know how to spell: M-i-s-s-i-s-s-i-p-p-i because the big river starts here.

Some other fun facts:

Minnesota was named after the Dakota Indian word "minisota" meaning sky tinted waters.

Minnesota is the 12th largest state at 84,068 square miles.

We have more than 10,000 lakes! There are 15,291 lakes that are over 10 acres in size.

On March 3, 1849, Minnesota was designated a U.S. Territory.

The Minnesota state bird is the loon.

The skyway system in Minneapolis allows people to live, eat, work and shop in nearly five miles without ever going outside.

The Mall of America in Bloomington is over 9.5 million square feet in size.

Because of its thousands of lakes, Minnesota has 90,000 miles of shoreline, more than California, Florida and Hawaii combined.

Lake Itasca, the source of the Mississippi River, was discovered and named by Henry R. Schoolcraft in 1832.

Here is Mac’s original story:

I was driving back home one night early October after I got a car wash in town. As I drove around the bend down by the lake I saw a police car which turned around and started flashing his lights behind me. I pulled over, and the officer appeared by my car window. He said: “Can I see your driver’s license, sir?” He started asking: “Mac, why are you driving so fast? Do you know that you were driving 72 miles/hr. in a 45 mile zone?” Mac’s answer: “Officer, you would not believe me if I told you.” Officer: “Try me.” Mac: “I got a car wash in town, and since there was no traffic out here I wanted to dry off the car before getting home.” The officer, who didn’t know Mac from town, started walking back to his police car, checking Mac’s records. He came back, handing back Mac’s license. He said, “Mac, I checked your record, and you have a clean record but can I give you some advice? Next time, find a better method of drying your car.” And he let him go.

Obviously, the officer had a good sense of humor.

You can see that I had a good time in Minnesota and enjoy the Minnesotan humor.