Category Archives: News

I Shouldn’t Say This, But . . .

Today’s post is from Steve Grooms.

They say confession is good for the soul. But, then, “they” say a lot of things that aren’t true.

I’m more inclined to think that a little confession can be a little good for the soul. I have stuff in my past that I could admit to, but wild horses couldn’t drag that out of me. I also have tiny things I can confess without getting me thrown in jail or embarrassed.

The StarTribune recently ran a column that invited people to make small confessions. Many did. I can’t find it now, but they were of this sort: “I don’t care how many times the name is changed officially, it will always be Camp Snoopy for me.”

Some readers made their small confessions and then said they felt better about themselves. If making many such confessions could make me feel better, I’ve got enough questionable stuff to confess that I should be able to make myself love myself.

But in the spirit of confessing to small but wrong ideas, I’ll get things started with a confession that will probably provoke outrage with some Baboons. I like the best hydroponic tomatoes better than “real” homegrown tomatoes.

I used to assume homegrown tomatoes were incomparably better than the things we can buy in stores. Then I got a bunch of “real” tomatoes grown by a friend in Port Huron. They did not—to me—test much better than the best hydroponic supermarket things, and they kept far better. My “real” tomatoes went soft and foul on me within days of being picked. Meanwhile the hydroponics in my fridge tested great almost two weeks after I bought them. I’ve had this experience before. So, with some guilt, I admit to preferring those store-bought hydroponics that have such an awful reputation.

I’ve got more, but perhaps that will do. What about you?

Do you have anything to confess?

 

 

Old Favorites

Two iconic restaurants in St. Paul will be closed by the end of this week. This saddens me, because I love a good neighborhood restaurant, and hate to see them replaced by the chains or the glitz that seems to accompany so many newer restaurants. (Even although I’ve never lived in St. Paul, these two were well enough known that I had made my way there all the way from Robbinsdale.)

The St. Clair Broiler, a burger and malt place (visited by Al Gore), closed at the end of September after 60 years in business. Back in the late 70s, we used to meet a St. Paul friend for a burger at the Broiler, followed by a movie in a theater on the same block, if memory serves. A St. Paul Pioneer Press article  reads: “With the recent boom in neighborhood restaurants, staying competitive has been a concern for the Broiler, which underwent an extensive menu change and decor refresh in 2015 in the hopes of attracting some younger customers. Apparently, the gamble didn’t pay off, as the restaurant was no longer profitable…”

And it breaks my heart that Muffuletta is closing this weekend, Nov. 11 being its last day after a run of 40 years. A European style bistro, its wonderful outdoor patio was a huge draw in the mild months of the year, and the indoor space was cozy in the winter. If I could, I would drive up for one last brunch with a friend (including a nice glass of wine), followed by shopping at Bibelot and a tour through Micawbers Bookstore, both on the same Como Avenue corner. Apparently upcoming street construction is a factor, but even this icon hasn’t been a money maker for some years. Sigh.

What are some of your favorite places that are no longer with us?

Fall Back

It’s that time of year again; Daylight Savings Time ends tomorrow and we all (well most of us anyway) in the U.S. get to fall back an hour.

Apparently in all the years that we’ve had DST (starting during World War I and then reinstituted during World War II), no one has been able to do a definite study that proves one way or the other that DST saves energy. It’s a bit of a pain; way too many clocks if you count all the electronics and the clock on the stove is very finicky. Last spring it took me almost 5 minutes to get it changed.

There is one big benefit of DST at our house; we use it as a reminder to change the batteries in our smoke detectors and our carbon monoxide detector. Because of this we know that the batteries are always in good shape.

What are you going to do with your extra hour?  (apologies to Arizona, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, USVI, Guam and Samoa)

They All Fall Down

I found this on You Tube yesterday – got to it from one of my favorite science blogs.

This is amazing to me for a couple of reasons. First off, it’s not just the work of laying out all the dominoes.  You don’t just come in one morning and start randomly setting up dominoes.  Something of this complexity needs to be mapped out ahead of time and I means seriously mapped out.  You have to know exactly how much space you need, you need to know how much time it takes for domino trails to fall, you need to know how many of each color, you need to know how to set them up so you know what they’ll look like when they fall down… a pretty long list.

But I think one of the most amazing things is that you don’t really get to test this. It took a team of 19 individuals from around the world a week to get it all set up.  There is no test-run.  You pull the first string and then you hold your breath for the 12 minutes it takes.  You really have to have confidence in your abilities to take part in something like this.  I’m not sure I have enough obsession or emotional strength for it!

What feat of engineering do you admire?

 

Making Predictions

I was happy to wake up on September 24 and find that the world hadn’t ended as David Meade, biblical numerologist, had predicted. I believe he recalculated after he found things were still the same on the 24th as they were on the 23rd, and predicted another date for our demise  on  October 15th.  The rogue planet Nibiru, violating all physics principles, is predicted to collide with earth and set in motion all sorts of rannygazoo.   We shall have to see what happens. I believe that is the date of  Blevin’s book club.  At least you will all be together.

It isn’t easy to make accurate predictions.  Our world is so random that people search for certainty and cling to the idea that we can make sense of the universe. Consider poor Harold Camping,  the evangelist and radio host who made multiple predictions of the Earth’s end in 2011,  and who finally admitted in 2012 that he was sinful for even trying to make such predictions, falling back on Matthew 24:36 “of that day and hour knoweth no man”.

I am often asked as part of my work to make predictions regarding human behavior.  Psychologists have a myriad of tests and ways of making such predictions, but it is never completely 100% accurate. I know that people who score certain ways on tests of cognition and memory probably have dementia.  I know that people who score in certain ways on tests of emotions and personality probably have certain  mental health diagnoses.  I feel pretty certain predicting that parents with drug and alcohol use disorders  who previously neglected and abused their children will probably do the same thing if they continue to abuse substances.   I can  predict, however, with almost 100%  certainty, that if people are allowed to purchase machine guns, those guns will fired off.  That is probably the easiest thing to predict, and you don’t need an advanced graduate degree to do so.

When have you been able to say “I told you so”?

Waiting For The Smoke To Clear

The header photo was taken September 12, mid afternoon,  in New Town, ND. The site is the Four Bears bridge over the Missouri River, and the haze is smoke from Montana and Canadian forest fires.  It has been a long, smokey summer.  I believe that the smoke made it all the way to the Twin Cities, too. Tonight the visibility here is predicted to be about 2 miles, which is quite reduced from normal. I can’t imagine how awful it must be for people living in western Montana. All we can do is wait,  and hope for precipitation.

A friend of mine from the Flathead Reservation in Montana says that the only thing that will put out the fires is snow. I am happy to report that snow is predicted in the higher elevations out there tonight. It rained here today and it didn’t dissipate the smoke at all. All we can do is wait it out.

This has been a summer of waiting on the weather-waiting for rain that never came, waiting for it to cool down (it was 98° here yesterday) and now waiting for the smoke to go away.  It is a lesson in human insignificance and the power of nature.

What are you waiting for?