The Long Way Home 1.20.2023

After becoming empty nesters, Becky (the one I call “The Kid.”) and I discovered that having dinner out was easier than making meals for two at home. Living in the Las Vegas valley, southern California, and suburban St. Louis over a couple of decades, we had a full menu of restaurant options.  Within a few miles drive we could choose from steakhouses, Italian, Mexican, Asian, oyster bars, and even Greek restaurants. Not to mention a range of sports bars and casino buffets. And if you’re ever in the St. Louis area, the prime rib at Andria’s Steakhouse in O’Fallon, IL will spoil you for any other prime rib. Sitting down in a restaurant allowed us some uninterrupted time to check in with each other, put our dreams on the table to be analyzed together, and try to figure out our roles as parents and grandparents. The Kid didn’t spend hours preparing meals and when we got home there were no dishes to wash. Often we’d look around the restaurant and try to figure out the stories of the people
The log cabin is the quintessential icon of Northwoods living. Brought to the United States by Scandinavian immigrants in the 17th century, log homes became essential to the rapid settlement of a young and wild country. Isaak Beran Isaak Beran is continuing the log cabin tradition with his own log cabin building company in Grand Marais, Beran’s Handcrafted Log Cabins. His grandfather owned a log cabin that captured the imagination of the young Isaak.  Beran grew up in LaCrosse, WI. His father, described by Beran as a builder, was a longtime Athletic Director in his LaCrosse day job. His mother was a teacher. His brother, an engineer by trade, assists Berans with log and trusswork calculations for the cabins he builds. Unlike others in his age group, Beran took a job at a dairy farm when he was in high school, a job that kept him busy for six years. He’s not afraid of hard work. In 2014, Beran attended the Great Lakes School of Log Building in Isabella, MN, taught by Ron Brodigan, where

The Long Way Home 01.13.2023

Sitting down to write this column I contemplated several topics. Some reflections from my days consulting for and coaching small business owners might be helpful to some.  Overpopulation, with a nod to overtourism. When I was in high school overpopulation was a scary topic, an existential threat we were told. The world population in 1969 was 3.6 billion. Last year it was 8 billion. Yet we rarely hear about an overpopulation problem today. A worthy topic, but not for now. Resource depletion would be fun. Years ago I was told to buy lakeshore property since “They ain’t making it anymore.”. None of these topics jump-started my willingness to leave smudged fingerprints on my wireless QWERTY keyboard.  Then, like a miracle, a topic presented itself, on Facebook of all things. Sunday I was presented with a post asking the question, “What’s the worst movie you’ve ever seen?” I never answer these types of “question” posts from anonymous sources, but a FB friend did and it showed up for me to c

The Long Way Home January 6, 2023

 On New Year's Day, folks like to review “the best of…” from the previous year. The best movies, the best books, the best concerts, and the best sports highlights. Boring. I barely remember what I had for breakfast on any given day, so remembering something from the last 12 months is a problem. The older I get, the more often I wallow in nostalgia for the good old days. In my case, that would be the decade known as the sixties-the boomer years. When I’m lucky, I find a like-minded 60-something to wallow in the nostalgia swamp with me. Facebook is great for that. I follow pages that present nostalgic photos and memories of Edina, Bloomington, and Richfield where I was born and raised. Those three cities were literally brand new in the 1950s.  Pictures of Eddie Websters in Bloomington, the Mann France Avenue Drive-In theater in Edina, The Smorgasbord restaurant in Richfield, and the Southdale Mall which centered it all, remind me of the places where I had personal experiences. That’s

The Long Way Home 12.30.2022

If you’re reading this column you are likely a survivor of the Great Snowstorm of Christmas week 2022. With four days of wind, snow, brutal windchill, and blowing snow, you could say the storm was massive, unending, whopping, and huge--and not really Great.  This storm started early Wednesday and disrupted travel and life on the North Shore just days before Christmas. It didn’t gasp its last until Christmas morning.   Having lived the majority of my life in Minnesota, I am confident in claiming the Great Snowstorm last week is the worst in my memory--at least in duration. There may have been worse storms, but I don’t remember seeing four full days of snow and gale-force winds. Last winter I was deliberately and gainfully unemployed, having chosen to avoid going anywhere that required a time commitment in case of a winter storm, winter weather advisory, or lack of daylight. There were a couple of storms that were doozies, but I didn’t have to drive in them. The Bohunk signed up for some

The Long Way Home 12.23.2022

Well, it’s that time of year again. The sun rises at a quarter to eight and disappears less than nine hours later.  With the weather we’ve been getting, the clouds have made the depressing lack of sunlight, short as it is, even worse.  And the snow. Enough already. On a happier note, the sun is moving toward us again since Wednesday and longer days are coming. The Winter Solstice, a cause for festivals and celebrations for millennia, has led to many of the holiday traditions in modern times.  Ancient cultures viewed this time as one of death and rebirth. Christians adopted it as the time of the birth of their savior. Seinfeld adopted it as the birth of Festivus. And so it went. Yule, the predecessor to today’s Christmas, began as an ancient pagan winter solstice festival. People celebrated with a 12-day feast and burned a Yule Log that stayed lit for all 12 nights. Can you sing the 12 Days of Christmas? We Swedish people began a festival of lights, called St. Lucy’s Day, which honors a

Cook County Ranked First in Per Capita Spending for General Government in 2020 by State Auditor

The Minnesota Office of the State Auditor reports that in 2020 Cook County ranked first of 87 counties in per-capita spending for General Government. Cook (pop. 5,600) spent $806 per capita. Neighboring Lake County (pop. 10,905) came in at 13th place spending $452 per capita. The State Auditor has been analyzing and reporting on local government revenue and expenditures for many years.  In a January 15, 1998 editorial, the Minneapolis Star Tribune called out Cook County for its number-one ranking in the 1997 report. In 1997 Cook County spent $379 per capita on General Government. The next highest county in 1997 was $233, 39% less.  “General Government” excludes spending for Public Safety, Highways, Sanitation, Human Services, Health, Culture and Recreation, Conservation, and Economic Development. In Cook County, General Government spending is less than a quarter of its $19.9 million total expenditure ($3,562 per capita). Lake County spent a bit over $26 million or $2,391 per capita. Co

The Long Way Home 12.16.22

 Is it really possible that news reporting could be free of bias? “Just the facts Ma’am,” is the oft-quoted line of Sergeant Joe Friday, played by the actor Jack Webb as a Los Angeles cop on the television show “Dragnet.” But a report in a newspaper, magazine, radio, or television could never contain all the facts of a particular story. So the reporter and her editors select stories they think the audience wants to see and then select the facts deemed most relevant to tell the story that will fit into the time or space available. I’ve seen stories published about issues that are important to me and I know they did not contain all the facts. Not because of deliberate bias, but because no popular media journalist could have a full understanding of any issue. Let’s say trucking and logistics. Important industry for sure, but not something people generally understand. Even those working in it. So a journalist usually makes the mistake of reporting what they think are both sides of an issue