The man who couldn’t stop paddling (5×8 – 5/10/13)

Destination: Minnesota, a commencement address gets popular five years after a speaker dies, the gas game, no ring for the behind-the-scenes people, and depression in pictures.


1) DESTINATION: MINNESOTA

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Daniel Alvarez, whom I’ve chronicled a number of times during his kayak trip from Minnesota’s Northwest Angle to Key West, surely must’ve wondered what he’d do once his nine-month odyssey ended in March.

He wasn’t sure, so like Forest Gump, he turned around and went back the other way. He paddled north while deciding whether he wanted to return to Minnesota.

And, he writes, he’s decided.


I ended up deciding to turn around at Key West and try to paddle back. It was something I had thought about for a long time, mostly as a joke, but as I got closer to Key West, the idea grew more and more real. I hadn’t done much research (but, they must get those salt water freighters into Lake Superior somehow!) and I felt scared that I didn’t have the will left to push for a return trip, but when I sat down at the end to really think about it, I decided that if you want to do something, sometimes you just have to jump. It’s what I’ve been telling people all along, there are always a thousand reasons not to go, things will never be perfect, but you have to go anyway.

So, that’s what I’m doing, paddling up the East Coast. I just reached North Carolina and my plan is to go up the Hudson River in New York, connect to Lake Champlain and then Montreal, then cut across the Ottawa River to Lake Huron and Superior and then go back through the Thunder Bay route into the Boundary Waters all the way to Lake of the Woods.

I would have told you sooner, but I wanted to be sure my heart was in it first and then I got caught up racing to Charleston. Anyway, that’s the story so far. It is going to be a tight to finish before everything freezes, but if winter beats me, so be it, at least I will give her a good race.

I’m actually looking for some good environmental groups to try and support along the return route, so if you know of any I would love suggestions, I was thinking something to do with the Hudson River, Atlantic Coast, and the Great Lakes.

2) THIS IS LIFE AFTER DEATH

In just two days, 1.6 million people have watched this video, this year’s likely winner of the “most viral commencement speech video” competition.

What’s significant is that it’s a 2005 commencement speech, given by David Foster Wallace, who died almost five years ago.

The AdFreak blog has the story behind the video

3) THE GAS GAME

With the Oil Patch in North Dakota pumping oil at a rate never imagined, weren’t gas prices supposed to go down?

A gallon of gasoline Minnesota jumped 20 cents this week, to $3.89, signalling $4 gas prices this summer.

“Part of your problem is that the Flint Hills Resources refinery (in the Twin Cities) is at least partially down for repair and that has caused some supply tightness in your part of the Midwest,” Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.Com, tells the Duluth News Tribune. “Until they come back up to full production, you may see higher prices.”

But gas prices jumped 22 cents in Iowa and Nebraska, too, and nobody was pointing the finger at Rosemount.

“Prices seem to be coming back up to reflect actual costs. What looks like a spike in gas prices is actually a market correction,” a convenience store official tells The Daily Nonpareil.

The folks at the Gas Game blog nailed it with a prediction two weeks ago:


Last week was weird. Last week when I posted, the numbers pointed to a possible spike, and I called for one to happen. Well, it didn’t… except for Michigan. They did spike, but on Tuesday. So I was wrong in my prediction.

Right now, however, margins are all 17 cents or more. That’s not good, and we are ripe for a spike. What I think has been holding us back is the fact that with Chicago Spot so high, we are actually getting supplied by the Gulf Coast and their lower price. And we are still riding an artificial high since the storms and pipeline and refinery shutdowns. That being said, Gulf coast isn’t so much lower that we would avoid a spike.

So where will we go? Number indicate we could see anything from $3.899 to 3.999. Ohio would be about 10 cents lower. Keep an eye on the pump prices tomorrow so you can get gas while it’s cheap.

4) NO RING FOR ‘THE LITTLE PEOPLE’

Is the person who does the laundry for the North Dakota State University championship football team deserving of a championship ring?

The Fargo Forum reports Ciarra Beckstrand was on a list to receive a title ring, which were distributed last month But the athletic director said a a person outside of administration has to work on the field in some capacity to qualify.

It was determined the laundry person did not meet the criteria.


Taylor said Ciarra Beckstrand was not a student manager, but a laundry person. So instead of a ring, she was offered an option of a miniature trophy or a championship watch. That explanation originally did not sit well with student manager Calby Beckstrand, Ciarra’s husband, but he later was more accepting after talking with Bohl.

“If anybody is going to be sensitive to anything about managers, it’s going to be me,” said Taylor, a student assistant in college. “A manager is somebody on the field, setting up, tearing down. She’s in the laundry room, which is not a fun job. If I had known her role, I wouldn’t have approved it on the front side.”

Calby Beckstrand said Ciarra dealt with players all the time. He said he offered to pay for the ring, each of which is purchased by Team Makers booster group.

“It’s frustrating to me they would do something like that,” Krick said. “I don’t want to take away from the glory and all of that, but I worked in equipment with the RedHawks and Bison so I know the little-guy role and all of the behind-the-scenes work.”

That work, he said, including laundry at night after practice and for road games. So when the Bison would play away from home, Ciarra Beckstrand would go to the NDSU locker room complex at the dome when the team returned to Fargo. A 3 p.m. home game, they said, would keep her there until midnight.

5) DEPRESSION IN PICTURES

The latest post — after a long absence — on the blog Hyperbole and a Half should be required reading for anyone who ever told a person with depression, “just look on the bright side of things,” or even, “it gets better.”


It’s weird for people who still have feelings to be around depressed people. They try to help you have feelings again so things can go back to normal, and it’s frustrating for them when that doesn’t happen. From their perspective, it seems like there has got to be some untapped source of happiness within you that you’ve simply lost track of, and if you could just see how beautiful things are…

At first, I’d try to explain that it’s not really negativity or sadness anymore, it’s more just this detached, meaningless fog where you can’t feel anything about anything — even the things you love, even fun things — and you’re horribly bored and lonely, but since you’ve lost your ability to connect with any of the things that would normally make you feel less bored and lonely, you’re stuck in the boring, lonely, meaningless void without anything to distract you from how boring, lonely, and meaningless it is.

The strength of the piece comes with the way the story is told — Comic art.

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In just one day, the post has gotten 5,000 comments, many of which offer advice, which kind of misses the point.

Bonus I: A House of Cards spoof on the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. (h/t: Hart VanDenburg)

Bonus II: The Minnesota Orchestra probably spent a fair amount of money for a full-page ad in today’s Star Tribune to convince you that the locked-out musicians have it pretty good compared to the rest of us. Maybe they do. Maybe they don’t. But there’s a critical mistake in the comparison. See if you can spot it (Click image for larger view):

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TODAY’S QUESTION

Legislation that would prohibit frac sand mining within a mile of a trout stream or spring in southeastern Minnesota would prevent at least 10 proposed frac sand mines in the region from being developed, according to a new analysis. Today’s Question: Should the state limit frac sand mining to protect trout streams?

WHAT WE’RE DOING

There’s a membership drive underway. Some of these segments are rebroadcasts.

Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: Reaction to yesterday’s vote by the Minnesota House of Representatives to approve a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage.

Second hour: NY Times investigative reporter Michael Moss spent years investigating the billions of dollars spent by the food industry to scientifically engineer the most delicious and addictive snacks possible , and discovered how the food giants have turned such an enormous profit in the last half century.

Third hour: Tiny houses.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): Highlights of the gay marriage debate on the floor of the Minnesota House of Representatives.

Science Friday (1-2 p.m.) – A chat with the SETI Institute’s Jill Tarter, and Nobel Prize-winning physicist Saul Perlmutter.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - Minnesota farmers finally got some decent weather over the past week, and some made good progress on their spring planting. Then the rains returned, and shut down work again. Farmers are now behind schedule, but many still believe they can get a good crop. MPR’s Mark Steil will have the update.

Students at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University are getting involved in local government in St. Joseph after the city passed three laws designed to help curb underage drinking. As part of the Young Reporters Series, Will Moore interviewed students who mobilized after they learned about the new laws.

The new film version of The Great Gatsby remixes both the look and the sound of the F. Scott Fitzgerald classic. The music blends 1920s jazz with todays hip-hop. NPR will provide a conversation with the producer behind the new Gatsby soundtrack.

  • Dylan Kvasnicka

    Bonus II: PTO and sick pay?

  • John O.

    Bonus II: Professionals with PhDs? Also cites “median” salary versus “average” for 2012. Two (potentially) very different statistics.

  • Tim

    Ouch. Median vs. average? People learn the difference between those in elementary school.

    I mean, their comparison numbers are really dubious in general (the Ph.D.s I know sure work a lot more than 40 hours in a typical week, regardless of if they are in the private sector or academia, and few people get that much PTO and sick time anymore), but the median vs. average comparison is just painful to see.

  • Suzanne

    I think the mistake or false comparison in the MN Orchestra ad is “21 hours” of work per week “plus practice time.” Most musicians at that level spend hours and hours per day practicing, which would likely put their work week at 65+ hours.

  • Robert Moffitt

    #3) You don’t have to be a chump at the pump. I encourage everyone looking to buy another vehicle, new or used, to seek the best MPG you can find, and still meet your transportation needs.

    If mass transit is an option where your live/work, give it a shot.

    If you are the decision-maker for a company fleet, give me a call. There are some non-petroleum options you should know about.

  • Tom K

    Defined contribution versus defined benefit retirement plans. Defined benefit put the institution on the hook, see ‘underfunded pensions’ eventual bailout

  • Ellie

    Well according to my math, If you add up the maximum allowed sick days, paid leave, and half paid leave, you get 53.5 weeks off a year.

  • Chuck

    Bonus II, orchestra: It has been fascinating to see the different answers that readers have come up with regarding the “mistake” in the comparison for the orchestra. I guess it goes to show that the issue is never as cut and dried as you might think.

    So Bob, has anyone hit on the issue that you were thinking of when you asked the original question?

  • Dana Schumacher-Schmidt

    Daniel Alvarez could try to hook up with Hudson River Sloop Clearwater if he is paddling up that way. They are a great organization working to preserve and protect the Hudson River.

  • Bob Collins

    The answer, indeed, was “average” vs. “median.” I’ll leave the WHY of it to others.

  • Steve W.

    #1) Is trip is now reminding me of one a friend and mentor of my partner’s did a few years ago called “Portage to Portage Paddling Project” doing a circle starting in Portage, WI, connecting with the Mississippi, heading around the East Coast, through the Great Lakes and back to Portage. His exploits are blogged and the blog is still up at the name of the project.