Always protect the dog, people!

“Miss Rev” is the official mascot of Texas A&M University. Here’s her official bio:

Reveille I came to Texas A&M in January 1931. A group of cadets hit a small black and white dog on their way back from Navasota. They picked up the dog and brought her back to school so they could care for her. The next morning, when “Reveille” was blown by a bugler, she started barking. She was named after this morning wakeup call. The following football season she was named the official mascot when she led the band onto the field during their half-time performance. When Reveille I died on January 18, 1944, she was given a formal military funeral on the gridiron of Kyle Field. She was then buried at the north entrance to the field, as all Reveilles are, facing the scoreboard so that she can always watch the Aggies outscore their opponent.

In today’s (Saturday’s) game against SMU, a receiver was barreling toward the old girl after an incomplete pass. That’s when a cadet threw the best block of the day in college football.

Corps_Blocking_Rev

(h/t: Good Bull Hunting)

When Daniel Alvarez, who kayaked from International Falls, Minnesota, to Key West, Florida, and then paddled back, was last in contact with me, he sent me this picture on the occasion of some health problems I had which prevented me from flying airplanes and making a journey I’ve always wanted to make — from St. Paul, over the Chicago area, the corn fields of Indiana, the shore of Lake Erie, and up over the Allegheny and Berkshire mountains to my hometown not far from Boston.

Daniel Alvarez

It’s a man he met while hiking the Appalachian Trail — something I’ve wanted to do but never developed the nerve nor youth to do so.

“I’d actually seen him before at a trail event and he had an artificial leg,” he said. “It was super technical looking and had sponsor’s stickers all over it, but he didn’t have it with him when we saw him on the trail.

I asked him about it and he told us it had bruised his stump, so he had to ditch it for a bit to let the stump heal. He got a pair of crutches so he could keep hiking. He was going southbound into a section of the trail that is fairly remote and called the “hundred mile wilderness.” I’ll never forget seeing him walk away on those crutches, finding a way to keep going.

You get it, right? It was his way to say “keep going even if people say you can’t.”

And so I did and a few months ago, my medical problems resolved themselves with a little shove and I was able to fly again. The previous scrapped attempt at a long trip back in a single-engine airplane over sometimes unfriendly terrain was still possible.

Of course, I’d confided in Daniel when he paddled through South St. Paul nearly two years ago that I was a little nervous about this.

“If you’re not nervous, you’re not going far enough,” he said.

I’m not defying death and I’m not the first person to fly an airplane he built himself halfway across the country in one day, so in the big scheme of things, it’s not a big deal. It’s simply crossing a barrier.

But I’m charmed, really, by this idea that a guy without a leg walking the Appalachian Trail, inspires a guy who paddles a canoe the length of the Mississippi River, who inspires a guy to get in an airplane and fly to Point B.

The guy without the leg? He’s got no idea. And neither, probably, does the person who inspired him. These are the connections we simply don’t realize exist. And yet, here we are.

All of this is a way to say I won’t be posting today. I’m hoping to launch around 8 a.m., if I can beat the rain out of town and reach Massachusetts by dinner. If you’d like to follow the progress on a map, go here.

I’ll try to post some pictures of the things you can spy from above the trees when I make a fuel stop near Fort Wayne, and write a longer description when I reach the home port.In the meantime, use the comments section below (Sorry, people who are reading this on the MPR app, you can’t access comments) and describe your dreams deferred, dreams reached, and goals yet to be achieved.

That is to say: Make a connection.

Update 11:29 am — On the ground in Auburn, Indiana. Somewhere over there in this picture is Chicago. Weather concerns kept me on the ground for an extra hour. Next stop — maybe — is Elmira NY area.

This is that huge quarry you pass on I-290 (I think it’s 290).

Update 2:10 p.m. EDT – Hello, Cleveland! Transponder issues meant air traffic control couldn’t “see” me on their radar. “We have numerous arrivals (at Hopkins Airport) at 10,000 feet,” he said. I was flying at 9500. I never saw anyone.

Update 4:15 p.m. – The longest leg of the journey was Auburn, Indiana to Sidney, NY, north of Binghamton, nestled in the beautiful Adirondacks.

Update 4:40 p.m. EDT – Crossing the Hudson River. That’s Albany way off in the background. It’s hazy but it’s always hazy on the East Coast.

Update 4:55 p.m. EDT – The beautiful Berkshires, where I made radio before moving to Minnesota. See that large building? That’s the old General Electric plant in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, on the New York border. It was at one time the largest power transformer factory in the country, until “Neutron Jack” Welch shut it down, and put 5,500 people out of work.

Update 5:20 p.m. EDT – A circle over my mother’s house. She said she sat out all afternoon to watch for me, then went inside. She missed the flyover.

Update 5:28 p.m. EDT –Then over ye olde hometown and a landing at the old airport.

A man I went to Sunday school with 45 or so years ago picked me up. We haven’t seen each other since we were in school. That’s my hometown.

Total flight time was about 7 hours, taking about 10 hours overall.

Not sure when I’ll be back because of the weather between here and Minnesota. I may just have to establish a NewsCut bureau at my mother’s kitchen table.

Update Saturday 9/20 - A few more pix:

You can’t hide a nuke plant. This one is west of Rockford.

Suburbia makes pretty designs. Somewhere around Joliet.

Cedar Point Amusement Park near Sandusky, Ohio. There are a few other islands off to the left in Lake Erie.

You can do interesting things with mountains and valleys. Reservoirs, for example. The Schoharie Reservoir, in the Catskills southwest of Albany NY, was the 13th reservoir that was built so the people of New York City could flush their toilets.

Can we even talk about race in Minneapolis?

That’s the question to debate in the wake of Minneapolis police chief Janeé Harteau’s decision to pull out of a “listening session” last night to address concerns by people of color in the city.

“People had discussed agitators set inside the meeting, those whose goal was to get arrested, that regardless of what was said or done, they were to be disruptive and that was further confirmed by some Facebook posts about direct action,” she said.

The session was going to discuss the allegations that African-Americans are being intimidated by police in the city. That’s a worthy subject, for sure.

But is it the kind of topic that can be discussed without confrontation?

“I’m very comfortable with public protests,” City Council Member Alondra Cano told MPR News reporter Curtis Gilbert. “And I think that’s part of the work we do. It involves folks expressing their freedom of speech. I guess she just felt that the risks were a little too high, and that she couldn’t really gamble on this one.”

Nekima Levy-Pounds, a professor at the University of St. Thomas law school, moderated the forum that went on without Harteau (or mayor Betsy Hodges, it should be noted).

On her Star Tribune blog, she called Harteau’s absence “deeply disappointing.”

In order to shift things in the right direction, there are a few things that need to happen:

1) We need to hold the chief accountable for her withdrawal from the community listening session by demanding a public meeting that includes the mayor and the chief to explain the circumstances surrounding the chief’s absence;

2) We need to inquire of the mayor about the scope of her plans to ensure police accountability over and above the implementation of body cameras. Last night’s forum demonstrated the breadth and scope of the problems are much deeper than body cameras alone will be able to resolve;

3) We need a comprehensive assessment of the overall effectiveness (or lack thereof) of the Minneapolis criminal justice system that looks at who is being stopped and searched on the streets, the rate of charging of low level, nonviolent offenses such as lurking, disorderly conduct, trespassing, and obstruction of legal process, the annual costs to the city of such low level arrests, and the health-related and economic impacts on individuals and communities when subjected to such punitive treatment. (We do not need another study, but a critical examination of data already available.) The results should cause us to repeal ordinances that contribute to the problems and revamp the system, where needed;

4) We need a coordinated community response that includes capturing negative police encounters on video, making rapid reports of such encounters, challenging unlawful stops, searches, and arrests in court, and showing up at City Hall until we see the changes that are needed; and

5) We need our Caucasian brothers and sisters to stand with us in demanding police accountability. It is not equitable for communities of color to both suffer the effects of police misconduct and then to accept full ownership for addressing problems that we did not create, nor have control over. White people should be just as outraged by police abuse as people of color and resolve to work diligently to address these challenges, as a matter of human dignity.

None of those things will be accomplished without Harteau. But they probably wouldn’t have been accomplished with theater at the meeting, either.

Harteau is suggesting that those at the meeting were interested in creating an “incident” to rally around.

Maybe. Maybe not. But her reluctance to appear is certainly a signal of the disconnect between the African American community and the city’s police department and our continuing inability to talk about racial issues.