People who jump in lakes in January (5×8 – 1/28/13)

The people with a heart, life lessons from a death on Superior, guns and the illusion of protection, immigration and the dairy farm, and the power of eggs.


The Monday Morning Rouser: Mavis Staples.

1) THE PEOPLE WITH A HEART

It doesn’t take much to write a check to a charity. But jumping in a lake when it’s 13 degrees out to get you to write a check? That takes a special heart.

Over the next several weekends, thousands of people will participate in the Special Olympics Polar Plunge. On Saturday, the Plunge came to White Bear Lake. Here’s a bit of an honor roll of people with big hearts…

Related: Polar Bear Plunge in Spicer (video).

And there’s Larry Selman, who has died. Larry spent most of his life raising money for other people.

2) LIFE LESSONS FROM A DEATH ON SUPERIOR

Famed fishing guide Jim Hudson died this weekend when his snowmobile fell through the Lake Superior ice off Bayfield. Even with as cold as it’s been, some ice isn’t safe.

He made this video a month ago.

He was married to the photographer who took this iconic photo last summer…

“All he wanted to do was to teach others about the lake and the importance of preserving and taking care of it,” Hannah Stonehouse Hudson told the Duluth News Tribune. “He was living his dream.”

He had been a cop, but quit to pursue being a fishing guide.

“He taught us to love life and never do something you don’t love,” his wife said.

3) THE ILLUSION OF PROTECTION

Writer Charlie Quimby, who divides his world between Minnesota and Colorado, I believe, has written an outstanding essay on the challenges of managing mental illness and he guns. He should know. The essay is about the day his father killed himself.


He was a leader in the bank and the community, and he was supposed to be strong. He sought help, but he was also reluctant to let his illness be known. His sense of failed responsibility to other people only compounded his distress.

Far away in Minnesota, I was told there was nothing I could do here to help, that he was not himself and I should wait to visit until he was better. We all thought he was going to get better.

And then we got the call to come home.

One morning my father awoke, started his morning routine, waited for my mother to get into the shower, and then he went downstairs to the family room with a gun.

We’ll never know if he’d planned his death all along or if it was an impulse. A reaction to his medications. A final loss of hope. Or, the most chilling thought of all, that he feared harming someone in his family when reality and nightmares crossed over into each other.

Almost 30 years later, we’ve each made our separate peace with not knowing.

Quimby says we should be wary of passing laws that appear to offer protection but fail to “address the realities of isolation, irrational thought and the ready availability of the most lethal means of suicide.”

Related: Confessions of a liberal gun owner. (NY Times)

4) IMMIGRATION WOES AND THE DAIRY FARM

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The dairy industry may be at the center of a push for immigration reform. In the dairy state — Wisconsin — more than 40 percent of the employees are immigrants and 90-percent of them are from Mexico.

They aren’t migrant laborers, however. Their jobs are year-round, and that’s the problem. They can’t get the H-2a visa they’re required to have to work in the U.S.

“It’s not a surprise to any of us that some of the workers on dairy farms today are not legal. It’s an uncomfortable situation for both them and their employers,” Jim Holte, president of Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The situation calls on a familiar theme — U.S. citizens don’t want the jobs.


Farmers say most people don’t want to milk cows or take care of animals when, for the same starting wage of $10 to $12 an hour, they could find a job that’s less physically demanding.

After a printing plant in Waterloo closed and left hundreds of people out of work, only a couple of them applied for jobs at nearby Crave Brothers Dairy Farm, which requires staffing 24 hours a day, 365 days a week.

It’s challenging to find qualified help, even in a rural community where many people were born and raised on a farm, said farm owner Mark Crave.

Related: Deal reached on immigration plan. (NPR)

5) THE POWER OF EGGS

A girl’s family was going bankrupt, so she turned to the only solution she could think of: eggs.

Bonus I: Images of women at the front lines. (Lens blog)

Bonus II: What does your daily cup of coffee say about you? (BBC)

Bonus III: Ever wonder why your city has a planning department? Every story that comes out of the Oil Patch seems to enhance its status, because the Oil Patch of North Dakota appears out of control. Today’s story comes from the NY Times, which reports on how hospital debt is soaring because people aren’t paying their bills.

Bonus IV: How to feed the homeless:

Bonus V: Minnesota native Paul Dye on his retirement as flight director for NASA.

TODAY’S QUESTION

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators has drafted a set of principles to rewrite the country’s immigration laws. The legislation would cover border security, guest workers and employer verification, and a path to citizenship for the 11 million people already in the country illegally. Today’s Question: What would you change about U.S. immigration laws?

WHAT WE’RE DOING

Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: Climate change policy.

Second hour: All about hospice.

Third hour: Sebastian Faulks “A Possible Life.”

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): From the America Abroad series: “Obama’s Foreign Policy Challenges: The Next Four Years.”

Talk of the Nation (1-2 p.m.) – Why North Korea works so hard to maintain the U.S. as its mortal enemy, and what drives these latest threats.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - Lawmakers begin analyzing Gov. Mark Dayton’s budget plan today. The MPR Capitol team is monitoring the meetings.

As the country debates how to reduce gun violence, emergency room doctors have succeeded in reducing the number of gun-related deaths. The success comes from having to deal with bullet wounds on a regular basis, and from a few basic procedural changes. NPR will report on how smarter trauma care is saving more gunshot victims.

MPR’s Marianne Combs profiles another “art hero.” Maria Genne takes her modern dance troupe into V.A. hospitals and senior assisted living facilities and infuses the elderly with new life and vigor using music, movement and song.

Representatives for Minnesota students want to restructure the State Grant program to give part-time students a more equitable share of the money. MPR’s Alex Friedrich will have the story.