We are heading into the month of vacations, August. We just said goodbye to our first relatives passing through on the way to the family lake place. It's a ritual that goes back a long way and it's one we enjoy. You get a chance to catch up with  cousins, their kids and grandkids, all who've grown a foot or two since you saw them last. Their faces are lit with that fun combination of excitement and apprehension as they anticipate the dynamics that will soon evolve in the woods. They will reconnect with cousins and extended family they may or may not remember, as well as new arrivals who may vie for time and attention. Will they like all these new and renewed relationships? A lot to think about...

Not so different from the rest of us I guess. The older I get, the easier you'd think it would be to meet people and enjoy their company. But I sometimes hesitate to embrace those kinds of opportunities, preferring people and experiences that are known quantities. My better angels usually save me from veering too far toward that kind of isolationism and I am thankful they are persistent. New people and situations force you to open yourself up to new perspectives. New perspectives lead to new insight which leads to new solutions - and sometimes even new friends. Unfortunately, we Americans seem to spend much of our time polishing our existing narratives for rote presentations, not real conversations.

Some of you may remember the Monty Python routine about the man visiting a professional arguer and getting what he feels is simply contradiction. "Just saying no is not an argument," he opines, to which the professional replies, "Yes it is." They go back and forth in this vein until the professional hits a bell, says "time's up" and demands payment for his session. The major issues of our time often seem to be dealt with like this. There's no debate, just opposing sides  presenting their ossified opinions as loudly as possible. No argument, no compromise, no solution...just no. Sometimes, I fear the universal payment demanded of us at the end of those kinds of arguments will be more than we can afford. I'm not offering any big answers, but if they exist, I believe they come out of an openness to real conversation and a willingness to change perspectives. The soapbox is open.

D12 - Starling's Pop-up lab sponsored by the District Council continues to bring in interesting people and ideas to University Avenue. The latest is a presentation about aerial photography using balloons. Led by Kristen Murray, it will be offered starting today until Sunday. For times, click on the D-12 and you'll go to their website...You'll also find a map of our newly reconfigured legislative boundaries which heretofore did not include our District boundaries. Thanks to CURA intern Kristen Murray (yup, same one, she's a dynamo) we now have an interactive map which you can access from the D12 website...The Creative Enterprise Zone is continuing to get buzz in the metro. Numerous articles have showcased the area and its unique initiatives like Starling, the Wayfinding Bike project and the new development in the works. Also a micro brewery is coming to Update's property just south of the switching yards and Foxy Falafel has moved into the old Cafe Caribe space and is open for business. Owner/operator Erica Strait is excited to be in the neighborhood and reports that neighbors have already welcomed her warmly. Official opening is August 3...Amy Sparks announced that the St. Anthony Park Home Tour will be held October 6 so save that date!

listserv - we seem to be getting an uptick in thefts from inside cars with an actual car theft thrown in over the past few weeks. Some of the cars were broken into but some were left unlocked. Some neighbors were surprised that leaving a vehicle unlocked even for a few minutes could lead to theft or that people would steal things like diaper bags. Sorry, but that's how it is these days, especially in the summer. Another neighbor gave very good advice, whether you choose to lock your car or not, never leave anything in it you want to keep...tonight at 7pm there's a neighborhood training workshop at St. Olaf's Church at 2901 Emerson Ave N. they'll discuss ways to make your community safer and friendlier. Contact Jay Clark at clark037@umn.edu for more info.

StAPnotes - Get out your bibs and bring your appetites, Park Midway Bank's annual Customer Appreciation BBQ is tomorrow, Thursday August 2 from 11-2pm in their parking lot on Como Avenue. The food is delicious, the hospitality first rate and the crowd is always entertaining. See you there...Murray '04/'05 alum and epee artist, Susie Scanlan lost both her matches at the Olympics this week, but she still has a chance to help her U.S. teammates in the team competition this weekend. If you graze around, you might be able to find her match. What an honor and reward for her hard work just to make it there. Way to go, Susie!...The Schubert Club and Music in the Park Series are responsible for the art piano located in Milton Square. Try it out, it's pretty in tune or so I've been told. Julie Himmelstrup and I happened to be there when the Bugle editor and photographer were looking for faces to help tell the story, so yours truly did end up on the front page next to the grand dame of chamber music. I learned early on the benefits of standing next to greatness.

That's all for now. Take care of yourself and be a good neighbor.