Bad ice on the rise

This winter, Minnesotans pursue an unrelenting quest for justice. Check that. Just ice. Just some halfway decent ice. This year’s January temperatures ran warmer than average. In addition, heavy snowfall during the early freeze produced poor, if not outright dangerous lake ice conditions across Minnesota. You know it’s rough because the requisite “area truck falls… Read More →

The power of stories, true or not

Human beings are more than just ambulatory bags of meat. We are ambulatory bags of meat with stories to tell. In fact, deep down, that’s what’s really separates us from other mammals. No matter our language or technology, we transmit wisdom through stories. That’s evident in the oral tradition of early humans. The mythology of… Read More →

No war will end all wars

One of the strongest contenders for Best Picture at this year’s Academy Awards is Sam Mendes’s “1917.” The movie combines a traditional war story with a remarkable filmmaking trick. The viewer follows two British soldiers on an important mission during the darkest depths of World War I. Editing makes it seem as though the film… Read More →

Endless political season actually starts

The other day I flushed a public toilet and it just kept running. I’m not talking about one of those politely gurgling high efficiency toilets you might install in your house. This was an industrial model, the kind that can send a cantaloupe to the water treatment plant at the speed of sound. I wondered… Read More →

Refugee debate strays from reality

I recently spoke with a Northern Minnesota military veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. In casual conversation he described his efforts to help an Iraqi translator and his family get to America. This Iraqi man took enormous personal risk to work alongside U.S. forces. Now, he and his loved ones face even greater threats… Read More →

Warm through winter

My son Henry and I joined our friend John Latimer for the Audubon Christmas Bird Count last month. Our day started at 7 a.m. and 24 degrees below zero. Most birds, obviously smarter than us, huddled somewhere out of sight. We spied a beautiful bevy of ten swans and a lonely goldeneye on a small… Read More →

2020 predictions column: time for an otter one

“Twenty twenty,” says the ophthalmologist. “That’s my vision?” I ask excitedly. “No, you’re as myopic as a rhino,” she says. “That’s the year to write on your check.” I can’t believe it. It’s 2020 already. The year that we once believed would be “the future.” But here I am, going to the eye doctor like… Read More →

Old man turns 40

When I was a senior in high school our band went on a field trip to Chicago. One of the stops was Six Flags Amusement Park. The park had one of those “Guess Your Age” booths where you won a prize if the carnival worker failed to guess your age within four years. I was… Read More →

Last minute gift of the Magi

Scene: A desert rest stop south of the the Euphrates River. A low wage employee speaks from behind a counter. Clerking midnights at the oasis grass station is the worst. It’s when all the weirdos come through looking to refuel their camels. Let me tell you it takes all kinds in this world. Like the… Read More →

‘Woke,’ but little ‘progress’ in 2019 top words

A new word can be as rare and exciting as a new continent. And like a continent words change shape with time and pressure. Language does not merely represent reality; it creates reality. Each year the Global Language Monitor tracks words found online. They catch new words, usage trends, and the ways in which our… Read More →