Some years ago — at my pre-MPR job — I met an inspiring fourth-grade teacher, who helped kids understand the geography of the world by having her students write notes and put them in a bottle. She took them to Cape Cod (she was in the land-locked Berkshires) and tossed them in.

In Galicia, Spain, a young man found a bottle in the note inside, and the teacher and the boy who wrote the note became local celebrities, and were flown to Spain. We reciprocated by raising the money to fly the boy in Spain, his family and a newspaper reporter to our neck of the woods.

That’s the kind of education you can’t get studying for a standardized test, which is why I’ve been interested since in the power of the note in the bottle.

Today, the Duluth News Tribune reports Ruben Barrera of San Antonio, who was four years old when he tossed a note in a bottle while visiting his great grandmother, has, too, made contact with the exotic, faraway land of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Hey, give the kid a break! He only had Lake Superior to work with.

It took 10 years for someone to find the bottle.

“We watched it go out until we could no longer see it,” (great grandmother Kathy) Bennett said. “The wind happened to not be off the lake that day. It was blowing the other way. Usually the waves are coming in, but for some reason it worked.

“We normally don’t throw things in the lake, I explained to him, but this is kind of a special thing because maybe someone will find your name on it.”

Bennett and Ruben pondered the fate of their message in a bottle many times during the years immediately following their light-hearted venture, but as time passed, she eventually gave up hope that it would be found.

“Over the years he’d ask, ‘Did someone ever find that bottle?’ I’d say, ‘No. It probably washed up as beach glass.’ “

There wasn’t much left of the note when LuAnn Hayrynen found it on her property. Just the phone number was visible.

Related: Message in a bottle: 10 famous floating note discoveries

You hate to see slow, agonizing deaths. A speedy exit is probably the best way to go.

The Minneapolis Aquatennial would appear to be in declining health, especially with today’s announcement that the festival, celebrating the Mississippi River and the lakes, is being cut from 10 days to four, the Star Tribune reports.

But they killed off the one thing that gave the Aquatennial some pizzazz.

The milk carton boat races.

The races started in 1971 as a publicity stunt for Kemp’s.

Most of the events at Lake Calhoun have been axed in the new lineup, which an official with the Downtown Council said will not save it any money.

The sand sculpture competition? History.

Events that will continue are power yoga, a dance party, and the River Rats waterskiing team.

There will also still be a torchlight parade to start the Aquatennial and fireworks to close it.

They’re pretty excited for Monday to come over in Wisconsin.

Starting then, they get to drink beer from Minnesota, one more brick in the wall collapsing between the two states.

Chris Drosner, who writes as the Beer Baron at, says Surly’s new brewery in Minneapolis is fueling the expansion into the State of Beer.

As is so often the case when new out-of-state beer shows up in the cooler, a new brewery is the driving force behind Surly’s expansion into Wisconsin. Surly’s new facility is a $30 million, 60,000-barrel-a-year beer factory in Minneapolis that opened in December to supplement the original brewery in suburban Brooklyn Center.

But Wisconsin had to wait a bit. After a Surly pullout in 2010 to meet demand back home, Chicago had its supply restored first in 2013. And this March, Surly turned the taps on to Iowa.

Lest you feel slighted that trucks loaded with Surly beer were rolling to Iowa — Iowa! — and through Wisconsin to Chicago before we got ours, know that if you sell beer here, you have to be ready to sell a lot of beer. The smaller markets made sense as production at the new brewery scaled up, Ansari said.

“Wisconsin’s probably one of the best markets for us because so many people know who we are,” Ansari said, citing the annual Great Taste of the Midwest festival in Madison and the frequent back-and-forth between residents of western Wisconsin and Minnesota. “We finally have enough beer. … We had to be building up because we knew we wouldn’t be able to tackle Wisconsin right off the bat.”

“Yep, it’s just beer,” Drosner writes. “But it’s some very fine beer, deserving of a place in Wisconsin’s beer coolers — or any other market.”

Related: Surly Brewing finally makes its way to Milwaukee beer scene (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)