Archive - Nov 2003


November 16th

One church saved

A woman named Judy Kotrba from near Thief River Falls called me earlier tonight with a heartwarming story. The church near near her home farm northeast of Grygla has been closed for forty years. It was falling in disrepair. When Judy's mother was dying, she said, wouldn't it be nice if the church was restored to its original condition.

Tell-all books

A member of the household staff of former governor Jesse Ventura has written a book "to set the record straight" about what it was like to work for the Ventura family in the governor's mansion. Jesse spent hours watching TV in sullen silence. His wife Terry tried to get trooper escorts to go to the Mall of America for sales. Son Tyrel held wild parties in the mansion. Jade was a well-behaved sixteen-year old.

November 15th

More baseball notes...

The Twins traded their steady catcher A.J. Piersynski, to San Francisco. This was inevitable, given that phenom catcher Joe Mauer is chomping at the bit. But I will miss A.J.'s intensity, his ability to foul the ball off with two strikes, and his feeble looping base hits to left field. I really do look forward, though, to seeing Mauer develop. He has a sweet swing, he's great defensively, and--no small matter--he is a gentleman with the umpires. A.J. was not, and it worked against the Twins. Mauer, a native Minnesotan, is more smooth.

Steroids in baseball

The test results are in: a substantial number of major league baseball players tested positive for steriod use this season, even though they knew well in advance that they were going to be tested.

I have always suspected that Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds blasted their way past Roger Maris a couple of years ago thanks only to their use of "supplements." Barry Bonds in particular, a svelte player in his early career, all of a sudden became unnaturally beefy. Is it any coincidence that he also turned sullen, another effect of steroids?

November 14th


Most people don't realize that columnists have no control over the headlines newspapers put on their columns. Sometimes the headlines make me wince, other times they make the column more complete. Most of the time, I don't look. No matter what, I don't envy the editors who have to come up with headlines for my columns. It would be much easier if there were just a masthead with my name and "Down on the Farm" on it.

Close call

I just heard this morning (the electrician is here, and brought the news from town the old-fashioned way) that a local lady had a bullet come through her wall and bounce around her house last weekend. It passed only inches from her head. They found the hunter who shot the bullet, and he was pretty shook up over it. Makes you want to leave for the weekend. Or wear a helmet and a flak jacket around the house.

Hunters arrive

Last weekend, a dozen hunters (we call them the Waubun boys) hunted our land. They've hunted here 25 years. They know the land and always take a bunch of deer, although I haven't heard how they did this year. I just know that they dropped off a turkey in thanks for letting them hunt, as usual, which is appreciated.

Watching CSPAN2

A poor substitute for baseball, but it'll do. My friend Garth, a political junkie, called the other night to tell me there was a filibuster on the tube. So, I tuned in. Sen. Harry Reed (D-NV) had been on for seven hours. By the time I turned on the TV, he was reading from a book had written years ago about the town of Searchlight, Nevada. His purpose, of course, was to prevent any other business from taking place on the Senate floor.

November 13th

Thursday dawns bright and sunny

Fresh snow, blue sky, sunshine, icicles, hoar-frost on the swamp willows. A sparkling winter's easier to get out of bed when the sun shines through the bedroom window...MPR at full volume doesn't wake me up if its cloudy...neither does a stiff cup of now approaching the bottom of a tin of Folger's...I suspect the grounds at the grounds of a tin lack freshness...I expect a good jolt tomorrow morning when I open a new tin...of Hazelnut!

November 12th

Education reform

The state of Minnesota is once again revamping its education requirements--those mandates and orders from on high they hope will filter down to the classroom. After struggling for years with the ambiguous, bureaucracy-laden "Profile of Learning," a morass of fluffy ideas which confused more than it clarified, now the governor has put a traditionalist in charge who is going to require that kids memorize state capitals and know the Monroe Doctrine.