2011 Woodbury photo contest

Today I submitted three photos to the 2011 Woodbury photo contest.

The 13th annual “Focus on Woodbury” photo contest runs Aug 1-31. Entries are due by tomorrow, Aug. 31.

Woodbury Magazine is accepting submissions in the five contest categories: People, Nature, Pets, Events and Activities, and City Landmarks.

The contest is open to people who live, work or go to school in Woodbury. Entries are limited to three per person.

Winning photos will receive gift certificates to Woodbury restaurants and businesses, as well as the chance to be published in the Woodbury Magazine or city materials.

Residents also have a chance to view the photos online September 10–30 to vote for a favorite photo to be dubbed Readers’ Choice.

According to Woodbury Magazine, more than 330 photos were entered into the contest last year.

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Winning at 2011 Minnesota State Fair

I am not a fan of the Minnesota State Fair and the famous fair food, but I go to the Fair almost every year since I came to Minnesota in 1999.

In the first couple of years I went because it was new for me. And I lived in an apartment on Energy Park Drive in St. Paul, not too far from the Fair. I could get on a shuttle bus right across the street from my apartment.

In the next few years I went to the Fair to take my kids and parents there.

In the last few years I went to the Fair to volunteer at MnDOT booth and to check out my kids’ winning works on display in Education Building.

This year all four items they submitted won a prize. I was surprised that my daughter won the 1st place in needlework, 2nd place in poems and 3rd place in report. I was hoping that she would win the 1st place again in poems as she did in the last two years. But instead she won the 1st place in needlework she did at school.

My son won the 3rd place in poems.

It was fun to enter the State Fair competition. I just wanted to encourage my kids to develop some skills in creative arts, work harder and do their best by entering the State Fair competition and hopefully winning something.

Time to volunteer

This week I will be busy with volunteering.

Last night I  attended the Woodbury Days’ Volunteer Meeting at Eagle Valley Golf Club House to receive my volunteer T-shirt and instructions.

Today I helped at my kids’ Lake Middle School during the Back to School event.

Tomorrow I will be at Minnesota State Fair and volunteer at the MnDOT booth.

On Saturday I will be at Woodbury Days and help at the Information Booth.

I have been volunteering at Minnesota State Fair and Woodbury Days for several years and enjoy doing it.

I like meeting new people and talking with people. Volunteering gives me the opportunity to go out and be somewhere with others. I often feel I receive more than I give when I volunteer.


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Are all produce at Farmers’ Markets grown locally ?

I love Farmers’ Market. In summer I often buy vegetables from the Farmers’ Markets in St. Paul or Woodbury to supplement what I have from my own garden.

According to the St. Paul Farmers’ Market website, “All produce must be locally grown. Value added products must be produced locally using local products. You are not allowed to buy and re-sell produce at any of our locations.”

But I have alwasy wondered about whether all produce are really locally grown. I saw vendors selling produce from neatly stacked cases in June when they are still in early growing season in Minnesota.

A few days ago I talked to the owner of a wholesale store in St. Paul. He told me he sells produce to vendors for resale at Farmers’ Markets, because our growing season is too short in MN.

I am not sure where the owner of the wholesale store gets his produce. I think it’s very likely that not all of the produce he sells are grown locally.

So if he sells his produce to the vendors for resale at Farmers’ Markets, it’s safe to say that not all produce are home grown by the vendors themselves. It’s possible that not all of the produce sold at Farmers’ Markets are locally grown.    

I don’t know the answer for sure. I am still wondering “Are all produce at Farmers’ Markets grown locally as required?”




A wish came true

On Aug. 11, I was notified that my application to the 2011-2012 State of Minnesota Emerging Leaders Institute (ELI) was approved. I am one of the 30 state employees and emerging leaders from across state government who were selected to participate in this leadership development program, designed to help participants become successful and effective in the workplace.

Today I received the confirmation and welcome letter. The first session and opening ceremony will be on September 15th at the State Capitol Rotunda.

I feel very grateful for being accepted into the program. I am so looking forward to this great learning and networking opportunity.

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Retreat at Mount Carmel

Over this weekend (Aug. 19-21) I attended the Evangelical Fall Retreat sponsored by the Minnesota Faith Chinese Lutheran Church in St. Paul.

The retreat took place at Mount Carmel in Alexandria , MN. From Woodbury, it is 2 1/2 to 3 hours of driving. Mount Carmel is a great place for church retreats, family reunions and other events.

Our invited speaker is Dr. William Ho from Seattle. He talked about the signs of the end time and how to be a good father. He is the father of 4 amazing children who all entered university by the age of 14 or younger (one at the age of 10).

This was my first time to be at a retreat. I really enjoyed everything.

  • The nature – Mt. Carmel is a place with beauty, so peaceful and refreshing. It gives people a taste of heaven as Pastor Johan Hinderlie from Mount Carmel Ministries said.
  • The presentations by Dr. Ho – He is 72 years old, but his energy was amazing. He still travels on mission trips to China and around the world to preach.
  • The fellowship with Chinese friends – I got to know some people better. The testimonies were encouraging.
  • The church service – Pastor Johan Hinderlie’s sermont on Romans 12 titled New heart for new commands or “Donuts (Do not) and buts” was short but powerful and memorable. He used a box of donuts to illustrate his points.
  • The boat ride – Pastor Johan Hinderlie gave us a boat ride on Lake Carlos.
  • The food – was tasty and healthy, with lots of salads and fruits. You get hot water, coffee, tea milk anytime you want. 
  • The convenience – Everything is close and within short walking distance.
  • The weather – It was perfect.

I posted more photos on my Facebook page.

For more info about Mount Carmel, contact (320) 846-2744 or info@MountCarmelMinistries.com.

Tracking your flight status – live and free

If you are picking up someone from the airport and want to know the status of the flight – whether it has arrived or not – you can simply enter the airline and flight number in the Google search box.

For example, entering “Delta 1668” will bring you the status information of the flight. 

But if you want to keep track of your flight – where it is at any given moment, FlightAware is the best website to use.

FlightAware can quickly and easily track a flight. It tells where in the air the plane is. The only information you need to do so is the airline name and flight number or the departure and arrival cities.

FlightAware provides live flight data, airport information, weather maps, flight planning, and navigation charts, as well as aviation news and photos. 

With FlightAware, you will never have to wonder when your expected flight will arrive. 

Faith is …

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” — Hebrews 11:1

Pastor James Baker, senior pastor of Peace Church Ministries in Mesquite, Texas, is the guest speaker at the Family Conference at Spirit of Life Bible Church this weekend. It was a great conference.

Today morning he talked about what faith is.

Faith is —

  • believing when I don’t see it
  • obeying when I don’t understand it
  • giving when I don’t have it
  • persisting when I don’t feel like it
  • thanking God before I receive it
  • trusting even if I don’t get it


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Become a future ready leader

My article Become a future ready leader (see below) was posted on the SLA (Special Libraries Association) future ready 365 blog.

Become a future ready leader

In the last few years, I have learned a great deal about what makes a great leader through intensive reading on leadership, attending workshops, interviewing leaders and witnessing a true leader in action. That leader is – Tom Sorel, Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Transportation, where I serve as a librarian. I would like to share a few things I have learned.

Let’s start with the basics of what leadership is about.

In Leadership Challenge, authors James Kouzes and Barry Posner say leadership is not about position or title, power or authority, status or wealth, being a CEO, president or a hero. Leadership is about relationships. It is a relationship between those who aspire to lead and those who choose to follow. It’s about character and what you do.

The fact is, everyone can be a leader. You are a leader in some way even if you don’t hold an official title in the organization. You are the most important leader in your organization, in your family and your life. Learning leadership skills is everyone’s business. Leadership opportunities are everywhere.

To be a better leader and a future ready leader, we need to move away from the traditional leadership styles that are individual-centered and to a more relationally oriented style – transformational leadership, democratic leadership, servant leadership and collaborative leadership.

This new approach to leadership means rather than having a hero who tells us what to do, we need a servant who inspires us, empowers us and helps us do the work ourselves. Leadership is shifted from “power over” to “power with.”

A true leader is a transformational leader, not a transactional manager. A transformational leader helps his or her followers become self-empowered leaders and change agents. Transformational leaders can articulate vision and values clearly so their followers, the new self-empowered leaders, know where to go and what to do.

In The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, author John Maxwell says: “To lead tomorrow, learn today. Leadership doesn’t develop in a day. It takes a lifetime.”

Starting today, cultivate the following characteristics of great leaders:

  • Characters – “Leadership is character in action.” – James Hunter
  • Competence – Your emotional intelligence is as important as your IQ, if not more important. Hire people who are competent and smarter than you. “Competence is doing the right thing, the right way at the right time.” -Sheila Murray Bethel
  • Collaboration – Seek to forge alliances both inside and outside of the organization. “Including colleagues and constituents in decision-making and problem solving strengthens organizations and builds participants’ commitment.” – David D. Chrislip
  • Compassion – Create a caring, respectful, people-centered culture within your organization. “Take care of your people and they will take care of your business, not just because they have to, but because they want to.” – Lee Cockerell
  • Connection – Connect with yourself, connect with others personally, and connect to the world. Forging the bond between people can strengthen teamwork. “Leaders touch a heart before they ask for a hand.” – John Maxwell
  • Continued learning – All great leaders are lifelong learners.
  • Empowerment – “Only secure leaders give power to others. Leading well is not about enriching yourself, it’s about empowering others. Believe in people and give your power away.”  – John Maxwell
  • Humility –Have a humble spirit. Admit mistakes and learn from them. To be the best leader is to be the best servant. Choose service to others over self-interest.
  • Humor and fun – Don’t take yourself too seriously. Have a sense of humor. Laugh at yourself so others will laugh with you. Celebrate and make work fun.
  • Inspiring and motivational – “Leaders are to influence people and inspire people to act.” – James Hunter
  • Mentoring and legacy – “When you invest in others, you gain the opportunity to create a legacy that will outlive you. The best leaders lead today with tomorrow in mind by making sure they invest in leaders who will carry their legacy forward.” – John Maxwell
  • Openness and transparency – Openness in mind, heart, policies and dealings encourages curiosity, creativity and innovation.
  • Trust – Character and competence are the foundations of trust; trust is the foundation of leadership. When you believe in people, they will believe in themselves and rise to greatness.
  • Vision, purpose and values – “Leadership is getting people to want to do what you want them to do because they share your purpose, vision and values.” – Kevin Freiberg

Along the leadership development journey and in your practice as a leader, pay attention to the following pitfalls:

  • Having tunnel vision
  • Micromanaging
  • Demanding perfection
  • Having low self-esteem and confidence
  • Having emotional insecurity and immaturity
  • Making decisions based on emotions
  • Acting as a roadblock between upper managers and employees
  • Acting differently in front of their superiors and subordinates
  • Blaming others for failures and taking credit for others’ successes
  • Making assumptions without fact-checking
  • Reacting negatively to criticism.
  • Showing favoritism
  • Being rules-oriented rather than people-oriented

Learning about leadership skills from reading and attending classes is important; learning from other leaders is equally as important. Both good and bad examples can teach us valuable lessons.

But what’s even more important in this process is application and practice. We become better leaders by applying our learning, knowledge and experience to our everyday lives. To become better leaders, we must be willing to change and grow.

Wherever you are in your organization and in your life, start the leadership journey today with the first step. Be the leader you were created to be and be future ready.

Qin Tang is a librarian at the Minnesota Department of Transportation. After graduating from college in China, she studied in Germany for five years on a scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service  receiving her MA in German. She came to the U.S. in 1991 and fell in love with libraries as she spent countless hours reading and using the Madison Public Library to learn English. She received her MLIS from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 1994. Qin has worked in public, academic, corporate and government libraries. She was profiled in the March 2007 issue of Information Outlook – “A roundabout route to Minnesota”.  Qin is also a writer and blogger. Read her article “There is no place like the library” and connect with her via LinkedIn or Twitter @TangQin.

The Healing Power of Water

My article The Healing Power of Water was published online in the August edition of The Edge.  A previous article on green living was published in the April 2010 edition.

The Edge is a monthly magazine published in Twin Cities that explores all aspects of
holistic living – the experience of living authentically, the integrative
approaches of complementary healing, eating consciously, the arts, metaphysics
and the intuitive arts, our integral connection with nature, spirituality and
the mysteries beyond.

I enjoy reading this magazine.

Here is my Aug. 2011 article in The Edge:

Every morning, the first thing I do, or before I eat anything, is to drink a glass of water. Ever since I read the book Your Body’s Many Cries for Water, by Dr. Fereydoon Batmanghelidj, several years ago, I make sure that I drink lots of water to avoid dehydration and to stay healthy.

Our body needs water to flush out toxins as well as to keep the system flexible, lubricated and running smoothly. But on some days when I am very busy, I either forget or don’t take time to drink enough water. The busyness of life gets in the way of doing what is good.

Getting my two kids to drink water is also a challenge.

“I am not thirsty,” they often respond to my request of drinking water, though I can tell from their dry mouth and dark colored urine that they clearly are dehydrated.

There are so many choices of drinks out there. Soda, juice or sugar drinks are all so much more attractive for kids than plain water.

I see dehydration as a common thread to our health problems as the result of our busy life and modern lifestyle.

Dehydration is mainly caused by not drinking enough water to replenish liquids lost from breathing, sweating and urination. Vomiting, diarrhea, blood loss and other illnesses and diseases can also cause dehydration.

What are the signs and symptoms of dehydration? Thirst, dry mouth, dark colored urine, dry skin, skin flushing, fatigue or weakness are some of the initial signs and symptoms of mild dehydration, when the body has lost about 2 percent of its total fluid. When the total fluid loss reaches 5 percent, the following signs and symptoms of dehydration can appear: decreased urination, increased heart rate, increased
body temperature, extreme fatigue, muscle cramps, headaches, nausea, tingling
of the limbs, etc. When the body reaches 10 percent fluid loss, it can cause severe dehydration with symptoms such as muscle spasms, racing pulse, dim vision,
painful urination, confusion, difficulty breathing, seizures, chest and abdominal pain and unconsciousness. Ten percent fluid loss and above can be fatal.

The average person loses between two and three liters of water a day through breath, perspiration and urine. For our body to function properly, we ought to drink at least eight glasses of water.

Don’t wait till you feel thirsty to drink water. By the time you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated.

According to Dr. Batmaghelidj, a dry mouth is not a reliable indicator of dehydration. The body signals its water shortage by producing pain. Dehydration actually produces pain and many degenerative diseases, including asthma, arthritis, hypertension, angina, adult-onset diabetes, lupus and multiple sclerosis.

If you suffer pain or other illness due to dehydration, don’t expect your doctors to find the cause. What doctors usually do is to give you medication to kill the pain and treat the symptoms, not to find the cause of the problem and eliminate it.

Dr. Batmaghelidj’s message to the world is, “You are not sick, you are thirsty. Don’t treat thirst with medication.”

Healthy living starts with something as simple as drinking enough water. Our health is dependent on the quality and quantity of the water we drink.

Water has the power to heal the body and to sustain life.

Please do not let the busyness of life and the modern lifestyle get in your way of tapping into the healing and life-sustaining power of water every day.