Left alone for too long

For the past couple months I’ve been writing a book. Writing a book is something you do alone. Nobody really wants to talk to you about your book. They just want to break the awkward silence that comes from sitting next to an author. People want to hear that you’re almost done. They want to… Read More →

Who’s a Ranger?

Hi, my name is Aaron. I’m an Iron Ranger. I say that with some confidence. I was born here in Hibbing, the largest city on the Mesabi Iron Range. My parents took me home from the hospital to Keewatin. That’s on the Iron Range. We moved to Nashwauk, same deal. Then we moved to a… Read More →

The ubiquitous modern automobile

When I was a kid I had a metal toolbox full of toy cars. All kinds of cars. Sports cars. Pickup trucks. The General Lee from “Dukes of Hazzard.” The Batmobile. And even though all of these cars had four wheels you could tell them apart, just like you can tell people apart even though… Read More →

Change in the air; evidence on the highway

Most days you can sit by the window of the Subway restaurant in Grand Rapids, Minn., and watch pieces of wind turbines inch their way through the intersection of Highways 2 and 169. It’s quite an operation. State Patrol officers block the road. The driver must time the turn perfectly or run the risk of… Read More →

The more we know

One of the best sight gags in the 1978 comedy “Animal House” comes from the image of John Belushi in a shirt that simply reads “COLLEGE.” No specific school. Just “COLLEGE.” We learn in the movie’s closing credits that Belushi’s barely literate character goes on to become a U.S. Senator. I think of that image… Read More →

Eight years on the road

In W.P. Kinsella’s novel, “Shoeless Joe,” later made into the movie “Field of Dreams,” the farmer Ray Kinsella builds a baseball field in the middle of his corn. People think he’s crazy. I suppose he is. But the experience heals him. Even though this story is fiction you can still visit the actual baseball field… Read More →

Northland safe from Halloween horrors … or is it?

“I can’t even imagine.” I never cared for that phrase. Because it’s almost never true. What makes something horrible is not that you can’t imagine it happening, but that you can. Horror is based less on fear of the totally unknown but on fear of the imagined unknown. When you get lost in the woods… Read More →

Unlocking young minds to reach true potential

This time of year the men of my family gather around the big wood table up at the hunting shack to talk engines and tell stories. I do well with the stories, though I struggle with the engines. My father knows motors well enough to diagnose and repair any type of machine. He once explained… Read More →

Silent films rich with sound

The history of movies, like the history of the world, begins with light and shadows. At first, people recreated reality with shadows on the wall. Film made it possible to capture real images. You saw yourself, or your friend, or a famous celebrity, captured during a moment in time. The past reflected into the present… Read More →

‘Strong Towns’ fans flames of revolutionary pragmatism

Those who read “Strong Towns: A Bottom-Up Revolution to Rebuild American Prosperity” by Charles L. Marohn, Jr., a new book published by Wiley, might at first be overwhelmed by Marohn’s bad news. America’s cities are insolvent. And though he doesn’t mention them by name, his metrics would certainly implicate our own Hibbing, Chisholm, and all… Read More →