The Long Way Home 9.15.23

As America’s political evolution moves from campaigns to courtrooms, I recall these lyrics from the late Jimmy Buffett’s song “Son of a Son of a Sailor.” As a dreamer of dreams and a travelin' man I have chalked up many a mile Read dozens of books about heroes and crooks And I learned much from both of their styles I too have read dozens of books about heroes and crooks. I’ve also known my share of both, and I’ve seen how the system works to make heroes out of crooks. The media has an unending source of titillating stories with a former US President, a hero to many, and his advisors under criminal indictment in various venues. Many of my fellow citizens are channeling their inner constitutional and legal brains to tout whatever BS they heard on the latest podcast.  Let my channeling begin. Americans love to ignore, stretch, and even break the law. We drive five mph or more over the speed limit. We fudge the numbers on expense reports to our employers and, as often as possible, on o

The Long Way Home 9.8.23

Word of the week is Ambivalent.  A few decades ago, I thought that ambivalent meant “I couldn’t care less.”  A wise man put me right and pointed out that it describes when you have conflicting and strong feelings about something. It’s how you love and hate an alcoholic father or abusive mother. One thing I’m ambivalent about is tourism. Other things, too, like winter and capitalism, but that can wait for another column. Some of you know that I’ve been inspecting boats at a few of the public boat landings that have aquatic invasive species. I’ve met more than a few tourists, enjoying almost every encounter. I like people generally, despite not wanting to be around them much. I meet people who just stop to look at the lake at each of the three boat landings on my route. At the Lake Superior landing in Grand Marais, a friendly couple of Baby Boomer vintage approached to ask some questions. With my official-looking hi-vis vest and a placard on the car, I guess they thought I might be helpf

The Long Way Home 9.1.23

It seems like politics, a thing necessary for civil society, is all-pervasive. Whether social media, cable television, podcasts (whatever those are) or family dinners, we can’t escape it.  I live in fear that I sometimes get too personal in this column, worried I might offend the three people who read it every week. And now, I’m jumping into politics.  No wonder I wake up in the middle of the night. Half my lifetime ago, I decided to participate in politics. I’d witnessed the unintended consequences of federal deregulation of trucking. I’d even testified before two Congressional committees on behalf of the trade association representing my industry.  Having met and spoken with electeds and their staff, I was confident that this dumb freight broker from Minnesota could take action. Grassroots politics in Minnesota starts with partisan precinct caucuses in the winter before national elections. People who live in a precinct show up, sign up to receive propaganda, and volunteer for activit

The Long Way Home 8.25.23

I recall that my mother looked forward to receiving the newsletter of Richfield Lutheran Church in the mail each week. It listed those who suffered health issues needing the intervention of prayer. Who was married, and who was buried. It contained a schedule of worship services. And it reminded her to sign me up for Daily Vacation Bible School. The weekly mailing eventually ended while I was still a minor. Mom had to attend church each Sunday to get the printed bulletin with the same information instead.  She loved to get the mail. Mom read everything almost to the day she died, from furnace duct cleaning mailers to political flyers. You’d see her poring over it all and pondering what they had to say.  Most people aren’t like Mom. The cost of printing and postage to mail newsletters has hurt many groups over recent decades, just like it ended the newsletters from RLC. But that hasn’t stopped organizations, from businesses and government to non-profits, from trying to communicate with t

Singing Sheriff of Cook County--Pat Eliasen

Pat Eliasen is on his third term as sheriff of Cook County, but he’s been playing music since he was in grade school in Grand Marais. He started off playing trombone in the sixth-grade band, an instrument that kept his attention for only a year or two.  He discovered the guitar in his teens, and it has been part of his life ever since.  Pat says his hero is Eddy Van Halen, the late lead guitarist of the rock band Van Halen. In 1991, Pat became the lead guitarist in a local band with three other guys that was called “Oversize Load.” The band was driving to an early gig when they saw a truck on the highway with a sign that said “Oversize Load.” The guys thought it would be a great name for the band since trucks were out there giving them free publicity. More than 30 years later, the band is still performing together. Now a trio, the band is known as “Mysterious Ways.” Mike Pratt and Matt Bronikowski round out the group with Pat. Pat also plays guitar and sings for the “Minnesota Brass Ho

The Long Way Home 8.18.23

An article about the income gaps in our state by Madison McVan in The Minnesota Reformer caught my eye. The Reformer is an independent, non-profit news organization in Minneapolis that publishes online. Income and wealth disparity has increased for the last few decades but has worsened recently. For those in the lower levels, It limits social and economic mobility. It often affects a person's life expectancy and access to essential services.  According to Madison’s reporting, Minnesota is in the top five states with the highest average income, yet half the population earns less than $62,500 annually. These figures came from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.  The US Census Bureau puts the median household income in Cook County at $65,045. Almost 10 percent of the population in Cook County lives below the poverty level, which is about $30,000 for a family of four.  In the Arrowhead region, the income gap threatens tourism and health care.  In the case of tourism, the wealth ga

The Long Way Home 8.11.23

Like most of you, I hadn’t heard the phrase “bucket list” until the movie by that name in 2007. Starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, Bucket List was the story of two men who were dying and went on a road trip together with a “must-do” list. As buddy movies go, it was a pretty good flick. It was also one of the last movies I paid to see in a movie theater. But I digress. The bucket list became a thing, even for people who never saw the movie. We all have things we’d like to see or do before we go. Making a list, and checking them off as you go, seems like a good thing.  But it also adds stress you don’t need in your golden years. I talk with many people in my job as an Aquatic Invasive Species Watercraft Inspector. The other day I met a robust older man in his 80s at the landing on Devil Track Lake. He lives in Idaho but grew up in Colvill, my current home township, and told me stories about the area I’d never heard.  When the conversation strayed from the past into what “woke” e

Ten Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer's

Alzheimer's is a brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking, and reasoning skills. Old age causes the same thing. The Alzheimer’s Association's list of ten early signs and symptoms follows below. If you suffer from some of the following, you should contact your primary care physician. who can determine if further testing or referral to a specialist is needed. 1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life. 2. Challenges in planning or solving problems. 3. Difficulty Completing familiar tasks. 4. Confusion with time or place. 5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships. 6. New problems with words in speaking and writing. 7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps. 8. Decreased or poor judgment. 9. Withdrawal from work or social activities. 10. Changes in mood and personality. The Alzheimer’s Association offers ten ways to help a family living with Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia. 1. Educate yourself about dementia. 2.