Aug 07

Black Rain

Rainy day games with friends Gretel and Charlie

Fun and games as we wait for Noah to give us the thumbs up

WE PEER THROUGH THE STROBE LIGHT flashes that all but obliterate the road and terrain ahead of us. High beam. Low beam. High beam. Family including dog huddled in their seats. Soaking wet. Not shivering. It is summer. Defroster on high. Windshield wipers crossing furiously to wipe away the waterfall that is crashing onto our station wagon. Water on the road! Too late, we are in it. Parting it like Charleton Heston holding up his staff (or is that a rifle?). Is there pavement beneath this rippling highway?

The second time through the water we see there is more out ahead and turn off into a tiny town asleep to what is yet to come. A fully equipped fire station. Brightly lit. Engines at the ready. Boots just beneath the pole. Radio crackling in the next room. Firefighters asleep waiting for the alarm: 4000 homes are inundated by biblical floods. Continue reading “Black Rain” »

Aug 07

Finally, the truth regarding Karl Rove’s departure

This Modern World 

At last, an insightful American cartoonist GETS the real reason for Karl Rove’s resignation from the Bush Administration effective the end of this month. Click here or on image to see scalable version. To see the This Modern World archive, click here.

Aug 07

Photo Essay | Whitewater State Park

Our excellent weekend a week ago in Whitewater State Park. Photos by Dylan Sheehy.

Click on the slide show and again on the word bubble to turn off captions

Aug 07

Congratulations Gov. Pawlenty

Hearty congratulations go to the governor of Minnesota this week. Results are in. His approval ratings are UP. Gov. Pawlenty is poised to rise even further as the darling of Bush-era Republikans. What an accomplishment. For years our governor has been underfunding the highway department which has responded for years by steadily lowering its expectations for road and bridge maintenance. In the paper today a legislator reports hearing from highway officials quietly voicing their deep concern for this practice. Most recently, Gov. Pawlenty vetoes a 5 cent gasoline tax riduculing the very idea of it and rejecting DFL efforts to include bridge inspections. What one may consider is the inevitable happening in this post-industrial Republikan controlled era of “government” and a very big, important, bridge comes tumbling down. Now we see the governor on TV looking very concerned and wanting to salve the pain of those awaiting word on loved ones among the disappeared. And the people of Minnesota EAT IT UP. New approval ratings through the roof! What kind of idiots have we become?

Aug 07

Hushed silence

A Week and two days has passed now and today the remains of three of the missing are recovered. Navy and FBI divers are helping out. So Dylan and Kinzy and I, having an errand in Minneapolis, cross the river on the Third Avenue Bridge and make our way to Second Street just north of the collapse site. The crowds are not what they have been. Still, there are thousands. The Minneapolis Parks & Rec department has installed a dozen biffy’s. Trash cans overflow. The already dry grass is pounded into dust like the midway at a circus or the Minnesota State Fair. The police peremiter is established. City police officers and county sheriff’s deputies are standing under little white tents. Some workers at a steel milling plant watch us impassively from a large doorway as we come and go.

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James Hill’s Stone Arch Bridge, a grand curving railroad entrance to downtown Minneapolis now is a pedestrian and bike way. It has a spectacular view of downtown Minneapolis and the St. Anthony Falls, now nearly dried up in the drought. But all eyes are turned downriver. What we can see is the 10th Avenue Bridge. It is quite beautiful and it should be a delight to behold except that we’re not supposed to be able to see it.

THE DISASTER SITE PHENOMENA is as described in the news: large crowd of people so quiet I can hear the wind blowing across the river and the faint sound of Continue reading “Hushed silence” »

Aug 07

Drought – Minnesota Style

Back in the day … our kids were babies … we had a drought, the railroad was laying off people and the local economy in Havre, Montana, was not good. The FHA (Federal Housing Administration) owned 600 houses and was selling them cheap. Property values were dropping fast. Businesses were retrenching and folks were selling out and leaving town. That’s how I remember what a drought looks like. At least up in Montana.

In Minnesota, here in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metro area, we are some distance from the agricultural economy. We know from lawns and gardens. I have very little of the former. A lot more of the latter. And we have a lot of trees on our property. The sun rises and gives us a cloudless day every day. The temperature rises to the 90s and then cools off in the evening. It is beginning to feel like Havre, Montana.

What doesn’t get watered, dies.  Continue reading “Drought – Minnesota Style” »

Aug 07

I-35W comes to the Midway

The hegemony of motorized travel knows no bounds. Sever one of its vital lifelines and it moves blithely to an alternative. Block the alternative and the alternative to the alternative is found. Does anyone ever imagine the possibility that maybe the trip didn’t have to occur in the first place?  Continue reading “I-35W comes to the Midway” »

Aug 07

Going to Montana Soon!

Going to be a Dental Floss Tycoon.

Wendy off to her homeland.

Aug 07

Getting at the story with a little narrow notebook

They did not stand on the banks with microphone in hand jamming it into the face of an eyewitness: “Did you see any dead bodies?” Most of them have no fancy electronic gear. No cameras. No whirlygigs spinning around on their beanie hats.

Strib story: Click Here | Am I dead, I must be dead | Username = lafondblog | Password = lafond | If story no longer available, see comment to this post

They come equipped with the same narrow white spiral bound notebook that I used 30 years ago during my brief journalism career during a decidedly lower tech time. They write their notes on both sides of each sheet and with that capture history one mental snapshot at a time.   Continue reading “Getting at the story with a little narrow notebook” »

Aug 07

Republican bankruptcy

The standard Republican game plan is definitely fraying around the edges. For the national government, endless war, no end to earmarks, tax cuts, no new taxes, and no government investment in the country and people that pay for it. A modified version has been working very well in Minnesota as well. Gov. Pawlenty made “the pledge.” No new taxes. And gleefully vetoed the first gasoline tax increase since the 1980s. That same bill included stepped up bridge inspections. Every time the DFL controlled legislature has offered any legislation that includes government investment in the work of government, Pawlenty had his veto pen at the ready.   Continue reading “Republican bankruptcy” »