Grading on a curve

When our boys were younger we went on vacation to the Black Hills of South Dakota. We took them to one of those old timey Gold Mine attractions where they got to pan for real gold in authentic local sludge from a nearby creek. The tour guide told us we could keep any gold we… Read More →

Bass-booming dinos warn against historical assumptions

People have an odd relationship with time. The future, as imagined, seems dreadful. Can’t believe how bad it will be, especially for other people, doubly so for the children. Maybe our children, but especially other people’s children. Those little bastards really have it coming. The past, meanwhile, was ideal. Don’t you remember how it used… Read More →

Return to suffering

This isn’t the sports page, so I hesitate to talk about sports. Not everyone scorches time tracking the intricacies of professional athletics. There are more important things in the world, such as gambling and Netflix.  But I think everyone understands the nature of disappointment and suffering. If we’re being honest with ourselves, we’ve all stared… Read More →

The future comes free in 2023

“Grey’s Anatomy” is a lie, I tell myself. There is nothing less sexy than an actual hospital. Soiled linens. Tubes pumping who knows what into heaven knows where. Some patients gasp for life; others whine for a better breakfast. Beleaguered staff members might collapse in a heap were it not for the slurry of adrenaline… Read More →

‘Gaslight,’ ‘denier’ top words for 2022; no, really!

If an abuser can’t control their partner, they might instead try to control their reality. To control reality is the ultimate power, one easily exploited in the wrong hands.  So it can’t possibly be a good sign that the Merriam-Webster Dictionary lists “gaslight” as its 2022 word of the year. Nor can we be any… Read More →

For the unmerry on Christmas

As Dec. 25 approaches, regional writers of my ilk begin searching for whimsical ways to describe a Christmas holiday that so dominates America’s public calendar. In previous years I’ve penned stories about my kids, shared my own Christmas memories or tried my hand at holiday farce.  Obviously not everybody celebrates Christmas in the religious sense,… Read More →

The true stories and lasting injustices of ‘the noble experiment’

United States history remembers the period between 1920 and 1933 as Prohibition. During these years the U.S. Constitution barred the production and sale of alcohol.  Historically speaking, thirteen years is neither a short time nor a long time. It’s an aberrant generation, frozen in time. Prohibition became the only constitutional amendment to be repealed. This… Read More →

Season of the long nights

I’ve been seeing a lot of cable television ads for motion-detecting LED lights. Apparently, we all desperately need to flood our yards with torrents of photons upon even the slightest provocation. Consider the homeowner’s greatest known threats, a garden-lusting rabbit or a bumbling potential thief (wearing a tight fitting knit cap so you KNOW he’s… Read More →

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 →