The tyranny of ordinary objects

Kids love balloons. Why not? They’re balls that float. I remember how helium balloons from the circus seemed like they could fly to the moon. The ones filled with dad’s cigarette smoke didn’t exactly float, but they were still fun. My parents bought us a whole bag of balloons once. I struggled to blow hard… Read More →

Racing for solutions in rural EMS crisis

A financial crisis threatens rural emergency medical services across the country, especially right here in our own back yard. Increased attention to the issue in recent months has yet to improve the situation. But, at last, more leaders at every level of government are beginning to act. Their efforts will determine whether regions like ours… Read More →

‘Crossing the Divide’ with big ideas

Every day we awaken to a choice. Will today be a day for hope, vision and big ideas? Or will we stick to what we usually do? Most of the time, we choose the latter. That’s OK. Often, we have work. Other days, we are tired and need a break. But if we go too… Read More →

Skeptical Iron Rangers warm to electric vehicles in Ely

Last week, I drove an electric car for the first time. My review of the Tesla Model X can be summarized not in words, but rather as a sound: “eeeEEEAAAGH!”  That’s the approximate noise my son Doug and I made after we accelerated from 0 to an undisclosed speed on the streets of Ely, Minnesota…. Read More →

Chalamet lights up Dylan’s old stage

Northern Minnesota is cool. Literally. We’re known for our cold weather. But in terms of social cachet, we are not cool. We handle attention and celebrities about as well as we do hugs. Which is to say, rarely and awkwardly. But drama students in Hibbing recently helped our region take a bold step forward in… Read More →

In nobody we trust

Polls show that we Americans trust almost nothing. Not government, the media or corporations. Not political parties, doctors or scientists. We don’t even trust our own side of any given argument. Then again, who trusts polls? How would we know? Every day, people take to social media complaining of broken trust with their partners, friends… Read More →

U.S. Steel sale a cause for concern, also curiosity

On the Mesabi Range, we spend lifetimes hoping for change before complaining when it happens. We’re like a dog that can’t decide whether to give back the ball for another throw or to keep gnawing on it. For two generations, steel industry stakeholders lamented a lack of investment in U.S. Steel’s mines and mills. Instead,… Read More →

Western myths, morality mark latest season of ‘Fargo’

Today I’m writing about the TV show, “Fargo.” I do so knowing that this is a prestige cable series that most people don’t watch, based on a movie that tends to infuriate Minnesotans as much as entertain them. (Mostly on account of the funny accents that trigger our defensiveness, don’t ya know).  The original 1996… Read More →

Anxiety in store for 2024

The text message comes from my childhood phone number. How? First of all, no one *texts* from a land line in the Sax-Zim Bog. That’s just not possible. Second, what are the chances someone with our old number would want to text me? “Time for a Zoom?” reads the message. There’s a link.  Against my… Read More →

Year’s top words signal massive change

Why do people seem so unsettled even as measurable data shows an improving economy and wondrous new technology?  Well, the world’s on fire, both literally and figuratively. Culture and politics factor in, too. It’s hard to rest easy when we’re constantly agitated. American society seems perpetually disappointed that we aren’t getting what’s shown in the… Read More →