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Finding a Purpose Greater Than Yourself

We live in a country that values the individual. Republicans generally take this idea to the extreme, suggesting that it's up to the individual to make his- or her way in the world. Who really ever makes it in the world alone without the support of others? If you can say that you have, why don't you pat yourself on the back. I won't call you a liar...

At the same time, both Obama and McCain suggest that individuals need to work for causes greater than themselves. That's the only way to better a nation, and on an individual level, that's the only way to true, lasting happiness.

Republicans, however, have a problem with people working together if the government is used. Why? The government is just a structure. It's just you and me, really. We often hear that the government wants to spend your money. What kind of b.s. is that? We have elections to decide the agenda for the country. Once the agenda has been set, why are we surprised when a price tag is attached? Why don't people understand that the things people need cost money? Education, health care, defense, scientific research, etc. It all adds up. Taxes take "your" money, but it's not like the money is being shot off into space.

Even so-called pork projects have merit. We often hear that Congress spent $3 million to study the mating habits of bears. Why is that a bad thing? What that $3 million is actually doing is supporting science, and I don't see why supporting science should be labeled as "pork" or wasteful. Do you??

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Summer Day Trip #1: Caledonia, Minnesota

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I've lived in Minnesota for over ten years, sure, but that doesn't mean I've actually seen much of the state. Like most people, I know what I know, and I go where I go. And that's the extent of it. But once I resigned myself to the fact that I wasn't going to make it to Alaska this summer, it occurred to me that I had plenty of sites to explore in the immediate region.

First stop: Caledonia, Minnesota. Where's that? It's a small town in the southeast corner of the state. Before I opened my Rand McNally Road Atlas, I had never heard of it, and before I punched the town name into Trip Advisor, I didn't know if there was anything there worth visiting.

Distance from home: About 75 miles.

Challenge #1: Leaving by 6:30 a.m.

Challenge #2: Taking my dog, Atticus.

Actually, Atticus is a good dog on a road trip, but the forecast indicated that it was going to get into the 90s. I wanted to leave early in the …