When a ditch is more than a ditch

One-hundred and four years ago, the iron mines around North Hibbing ran hot with thawing hematite while the early June weather proved every bit as unpredictable as today’s. The gates to the city seasonal parks swung open in torrential rain, but people still walked through them to sit on the benches. Because, after a long… Read More →

Employment outlook improves for Minnesota teens

My first job interview took place on a barstool in Eveleth. I was 16, in fresh possession of a drivers license and itching to make some money. The classified ad read “Pizza Delivery Driver.” I called the number and within hours was sitting next to the owner at his bar watching him taste-test the beer… Read More →

Great Northern Radio Show returns to Reif Center in Grand Rapids June 22

You might have noticed it’s been quiet at the blog these days. Regular readers can probably guess why. I’m busy with the book (more on that to come) and the radio show. Today I announce the next Great Northern Radio Show. I produce this live variety program for Northern Community Radio. The show will happen… Read More →

After gaining permits, PolyMet leaves some investors in the cold

It looked good on paper. A small Canadian company would mine copper, nickel and other valuable minerals in northern Minnesota. They vowed an innovative process to meet some of the most rigorous mining regulations in the world. Moreover, this company promised jobs for a rural region that needed them, a place that boasted a workforce… Read More →

Northern Minnesota can take a hike

I don’t go “hiking.” I have, however, been lost in the woods for several hours. You tell me the difference. In both cases, the goal is to not die. By the end, your feet ache with every step. The feeling when you finish? Accomplishment! And a good excuse to eat something imprudent. Maybe hiking’s not… Read More →

Can you be a man without a tow hitch?

I know what you’re thinking. You see my picture here and you’re saying there’s the very image of a man’s man. A paragon of virility and masculine strength. Hey, guilty as charged. But I’ve got a confession to make. I am one of a surprisingly large number of Minnesota men who carry a shameful secret… Read More →

Beware Socially Transmitted Digitalizations

I’m going to talk about social media. It’s a risky move. Talking about social media outside of social media often makes it sound silly, petty and insignificant. A colossal waste of our collective time and resources. The killer of democracies and the destroyer of reason. And of course, it’s not all of those things. At… Read More →

Tyranny by copycats

If you walk the halls of power long enough you start to realize how closely they resemble the halls of your high school. Here we find fragile egos, self-absorption and a profound desire for good grades without homework. Our frustration with legislative bodies comes not from their wickedness, but from their mediocrity. So many people… Read More →

Everything is wet

So, let’s play some word association. Note your reaction to the following words: damp; moist; squishy; slush; sludge. What do these words have in common? Well, they’re all pretty gross, that’s for sure. They’re also associated with spring in Northern Minnesota. The Center for Disease Control doles out medical expertise every day. One of the… Read More →

Places and names

When I was 12 my grandparents took me to southern Pennsylvania and western Maryland to meet my grandmother’s family. We toured the rolling hills of the surrounding countryside, including the Sideling Hill Cut near Hancock, Maryland. Engineers gouged this 340-foot deep passageway through the heart of a sturdy Allegheny mountain more than 50 years ago… Read More →