Those fabulous electrical thinking machines

We know the philodendron as a pleasant, low-maintenance plant suitable for shady gardens and indoor display. But have you ever wondered what it could do with a machete? Now we don’t have to guess. Visual artist David Bowen recently rigged some sensors to read the natural electrical impulses of a plant, in this case our… Read More →

This little light

Back in the 1960s, my grandfather deployed a simple fix for an old septic system prone to freezing during a particularly frigid northern Minnesota winter.  Anyone who’s experienced a frozen septic system knows why this is important. It’s the difference between pouring coffee into a mug and pouring a chocolate milkshake onto the bathroom floor…. Read More →

Deer find safety in my sights

The people of northern Minnesota spend most of the year trying not to hit deer. Our eyes carefully sweep the tall grass along country highways and wooded streets. Reflectors on mailboxes cause us to lay heavy on the brakes, fearful that deer eyes are staring back at us, ready to run out. Quite often the… Read More →

The hard work of political change on the Iron Range

Last Tuesday brought to a close a long and fascinating chapter in the political history of northern Minnesota’s Iron Range. A new era now begins. Amid the din of political punditry and the fan of my overused computer, a friend called to tell me that former State Sen. Doug Johnson died that morning at the… Read More →

Range’s icy disposition toward Twin Cities pushes rightward swing

I know some readers might miss my election night liveblogs, but I was quite relieved to be free of that job this year. For one thing, St. Louis and Itasca county results didn’t really start coming in until midnight. Most races weren’t really known until 3. I slept through all of that, woke up Wednesday… Read More →

Soup and the elusive art of simplicity

The hallmark of modern life is complexity. How are you? Busy. What’s next week look like? Busy. When’s that going to change? Heart attack, dementia or death, I suppose. I could try yoga but I can’t account for what my digestive system will do if I stretch like that. I could meditate. That actually works…. Read More →

Love of country

Love of country takes many forms. For some, it means flags and oaths, patriotic rites observed on hallowed occasions. Buy a star-spangled t-shirt to show others where you stand. Feel good wearing it. Retailing at $5.99, this shirt traveled farther than most of us will in a lifetime, but we will complain if it costs… Read More →

Tensions over potential mine closure boil over days before election

I wrote several different versions of a post yesterday after news broke and then unbroke regarding the potential closure of Hibbing Taconite. Fortunately, I was too busy to post any of them before newer information came in. So today I wrote a piece for the Minnesota Reformer analyzing the complex economic and political storm brewing… Read More →

New disc golf course in Balsam Township

Please indulge a proud dad moment. Our oldest son Henry Brown was featured on WDIO News last night for his Eagle Scout project. Raising almost $7,000 in cash and in-kind donations, with the help of 24 volunteers, Henry built a nine-hole disc golf course at Balsam Community Park near our home in the woods. He… Read More →

The spirit of Paul Wellstone, 20 years later

I think a person’s politics should be a journey, not a destination. While my politics have mostly stayed on one side of the mountain, they’ve made quite a few switchbacks along the incline. Am I a radical big time liberal or is it just that I like school? But I do recall the speech by… Read More →