Category Archives: Media

The March of the Policy Makers

I am attending a conference in my role as a member of a regulatory board.  The focus of the conference is professional competency, mobility in employment, and international standards in ethics and professional conduct. These are quite important topics when you have to consider how to evaluate foreign trained professionals for licensure in your jurisdiction,  but my is it boring to listen to for 4 days.  When it gets too tedious I surreptitiously check my email or the Trail,  imagine everyone in weird hats, or else marching around to this Elgar Pomp and Circumstance March I Heard on MPR before I Ieft home.  I see others seated around me doing similar things, so I don’t think I am the only one who needs some stimulation.

Tell about how you handle boredom.  What is the most boring, tedious thing you ever had to do? What is your favorite march?

Death in a Jar of Salsa

I gave one of the nurses at my office a about 40 lbs. of tomatoes this year, since she wanted to make salsa. We had an abundance and I was glad to get rid of them. She said she got other tomatoes, too, and canned 60 jars of salsa. She gave me a jar earlier this week, and it was all I could do to smile and thank her when she handed it to me.  Once I got up to my floor, I flushed it down the toilet.

Perhaps I am overly cautious, but I would never can and process anything in a used Hormel ham hock jar using the original cap.  She hadn’t even removed the ham hock label.  I know that salsa has lots of acid in it from the vinegar, and that her salsa will probably be fine, but, still, this person is a nurse and there are some basic rules of hygienic food preservation that you just never violate. There was a story in the Fargo Forum a few years back about some well meaning woman in the eastern part of the state who invited people for Sunday dinner, fed them home canned peas, and killed half of the guests with botulism.  Those stories  stick with a person who does any home canning.

Tell about some gifts you would have rather not received.  Got any canning or food preservation disasters or horror stories? Am I being alarmist?

Cheap Dates

I read this in the local paper yesterday:

According to an article from USA Today based on findings from 24/7 Wall St., North Dakotans are the second-cheapest date in the U.S.

The recent report found the average date cost for each state, including a bottle of wine, two movie tickets and a restaurant dinner for two. North Dakota had the second-lowest average of $42.43, bested only by South Dakota at $38.27.

Minnesota, meanwhile, had the nation’s 23rd-highest date night cost of $109.81, while New York topped the list at $297.27.

Well, I guess there are some advantages living out here!   The article goes on to make suggestions for one of a kind, cheap excursions like going to the Minnesota State-Moorhead planetarium,  corn mazes, pumpkin patches, and an adult only Halloween party at the Red River Zoo in Fargo including a  costume contest, concessions, dance party, a cash bar and zookeeper talks with critters ($10 for advance tickets).

Think up a cheap date excursion in your vicinity. Tell about some memorable dates from your past. 

 

Disaster

October 8 was the anniversary of three terrible fires in 1871-The Great Chicago Fire, the Peshtigo Fire, and the Port Huron Fire.  There were other, smaller fires  in the region that raged the same day as well.  It was dry in the Wisconsin/Michigan lumber regions, and the conditions were just right for a perfect storm of fires.  Thousands of people died. Some posit that meteorites from a passing comet may have started the fires, but that seems unlikely.  Small fires used to clear land, as well as very dry conditions and a very windy cold front that blew through, are probably the causes.

Once, out here on Halloween about 15 years ago we had a terrible range fire in the two counties just north of us. Warm and drought conditions during the fall had left the pastures very dry. On Halloween, a very windy cold front came through and, somehow a fire started and hundreds of acres and cattle were lost.  It was terrible, but not as terrible as the fires of 1871.  I can hardly imagine what it must have been like.

A friend of mine is obsessed with the Titanic Disaster.  She even went on the 100th anniversary commemorative cruise out of England and had period costumes sewn for the occasion. She knows everything there is to know about the Titanic.  I only like hearing about disasters if there is a happy ending to the story, which there rarely is, although I must admit I spent a good chunk of my adolescence reading about the Black Death.

What disasters have you experienced. Which famous disasters fascinate you?

David vs Goliath

Today’s post comes from Crystalbay

I’ve been MIA for a few weeks because I’m thoroughly embroiled in a fight with city hall. In this city, people aren’t allowed to have a boat at their dock unless they themselves own it. This means that my own kids couldn’t even dock here. I have no boat, and have rented it out every summer for much needed income. A local marina owner found out and filed a complaint against me. I was notified that I had to remove the friend’s boat in one week or face trial. I didn’t comply, then received a summons for a court hearing. Bottom line: I’m facing up to a $1000 fine or 90 days in jail for having one boat at my otherwise empty dock. This money is 1/4 of my annual income, so I decided to fight back.

In a group email to the mayor and city council, I begged for help in resolving this. I explained my situation. I also wrote that, short of help from them, I might have to go public. Not one responded. I’m sure that they thought I was just blowing smoke.

I made one phone call to the StarTribune. They came out the very next day to interview me. A week later, the story was featured on the front page of the Minnesota Section.

What’s happened since this is nothing short of phenomenal. 360 comments followed the article, 95% positive. Someone posted the story on a Lake Minnetonka Fan Club FB page. 250 more comments followed, 98% from people outraged by Orono’s actions. A high end attorney offered pro bono representation. Two more local newspapers wanted in on the action and two more articles brought even more support. I’ve been told that the story spread across the state and that even our governor is following it. I’ve had offers to pay any legal costs or fines. Hundreds have expressed interest in attending my public hearing on Oct. 25th. All three reporters from the three articles published want to be present for possible follow-up articles.

What began as just me and the city locking horns over my dock has taken on a life of its own, with hundreds of people angry about everything from how our tax dollars are being spent to government overreach to how seniors are treated. It seems that disdain for city councils around the lake in general was tapped into by one old lady’s predicament. It’s reminding me of the movie Network when Peter Finch got people to open up their windows and yell, “We’re mad as hell and we’re not gonna take it anymore!!!!!”

In short, my situation going public has touched a palpable and collective nerve in the community across the lake. Even if, as many are predicting, my case gets dismissed, something has clearly been awakened. All I wanted was and is to be able to have one boat at my dock.

What was your David vs Goliath moment? Have you ever had to fight City Hall?

 

 

Techno Shock

Daughter has been on our phone plan until now, and is taking a step toward independence and is getting her own phone plan. It has been four years since we upgraded our phones. We are helping  her financially with the transition. After reviving from the sticker shock of how much a new iPhone costs, I thought about my own experiences in elementary school getting trained by Ma Bell in proper phone use.

Does anyone else remember phone company reps coming to school and teaching phone etiquette and how to operate rotary phones? I remember it happened in about Grade 3.  The phones were tan and were desk models. They even brought in a slimline phone.  I was green with envy. I thought the technology was cool, since the only phone we had hung on the  kitchen wall.  I can’t imagine such training in the schools these days.

How do you learn how to use new technology?  How did you learn to use phones and  computers?  Where do you think this technology is going?  

Pick Your Mural

ND Highway 22 runs through our town north and south. In the middle of town there is a very old, ugly, railroad bridge which allows trains to travel above the highway so emergency vehicles can go under the bridge from the south side of town to the north side of town when there is a train.  It is a very low underpass that invariably floods and is impassable during rain storms.

One of our friends who is a community organizer sort of person got funding for a mural to be painted on the railroad bridge. It took all sorts of Federal and State hoops to be jumped through to get the approval, and this week the mural painter arrived from California.  He has done several murals in our town and our State.  The local paper described the project thus:

The four underpass wall panels will comprise one large mural, more than 400 feet in length, celebrating North Dakota.The walls north of the underpass will depict the landscape of the Badlands.The east wall will show immigrating Ukrainians and the west wall will show cowboys, Native Americans and buffalo. South of the underpass, the west wall will depict Dickinson State University’s May Hall and the east wall will show historic downtown Dickinson and a modern pump-jack. (Dickinson Press, October 2, 2018).

The mural artist is enlisting local students and adults to assist with the painting. I think it is a wonderful project.  How often do we get to legally spray paint on bridges?!! I just hope the Czechs and Germans from Russian don’t feel slighted that he chose Ukrainians instead of them.

Where in your community would you like to see an outdoor mural, and what would you like depicted on it?