Royally bummed in Hibbing (5×8 – 1/23/14)

1) NO QUEEN OF HIBBING?
Is nothing sacred in this icy land of ours? Why don’t women want to be winter queens anymore?

The Hibbing Winter Frolic, the celebration of all things cold, found only five Hibbing High School seniors this year interested in being the Winter Frolic Queen, the Hibbing Daily Tribune reports.

“Some said don’t have it this year, but then we talked about how people look forward to it and how it breaks up the winter. We decided that if we can afford it to just keep it going,” a board director did.

So the Frolic will go on but without any royalty. No queen coronation. No titan. No senior king, nor senior queen. The Frolic needed at least eight women to participate and they almost didn’t get enough last year, either. The committee opened it up to high school juniors, but only one was interested.

“We’re disappointed, because we love having the girls involved in the community and learning what the community is about and how it works,” said board director Penny Wilkerson. “We are disappointed, but we decided that we wanted to keep the event going because it’s tradition in Hibbing. We still want to be out there, hold some of the events and hopefully more girls will sign up next year.”

Winter is forever, but times are changing, Minnesota.
(h/t: Aaron J. Brown)

2) DISPATCHES FROM THE LAND THAT PRIDES ITSELF ON TOUGH
It’s cold, NewsCut has learned exclusively. Several school districts in the metro have closed, giving the mostly-open rural residents winter toughness bragging rights. Again.

Winter encourages our creative side. Few are as creative as my friend, Pete Howell, of Saint Paul who thinks you city slickers should make one of these:

Photo: Pete Howell
It’s a heated vest he made out of a Land’s End vest and $40. Sexy? Hardly. But apparently it’s the only way to get rural Minnesota to stop snickering at you.

More weather: The Car2Go experiment in the Twin Cities is encountering its first winter. The rentable gizmos are populating the impound lots because — since it’s not your car — there might be few reasons not to park it on a snow emergency route. City Pages says 90 percent of the fleet is still rentable in the Twin Cities, despite the casualties of snow emergencies.

Prong one: Get the customer to help. During the first snow emergency, Car2Go realized that it could enlist its members to help move cars, and instituted a trade policy: 20 free minutes of drive time to any member who moves a car to safety. Once the member emails Car2Go the perilously-placed car’s plate number, location, date, and time, Car2Go verifies the move and credits the member’s account. “We’ve seen a pretty good response,” Johnson says. “If the customer’s actually helping us, that’s an added bonus.”

Prong two: Tell members not to park on snow emergency routes in the first place. Car2Go blasts its social media accounts during snow emergencies to get the word out, and reminds members that if a car gets impounded, then the person to use it last is on the hook for towing and ticketing (though that doesn’t apply if the car was parked before the snow emergency was declared). “We’ve tried to make that clear,” Johnson says. “You can’t necessarily rely on somebody else using that car before it gets a ticket, and I think people are starting to figure that out.”

More: Free meal to warm Embarrass leads to pancake fundraiser (Star Tribune).

3) BUT IT’S NOT THAT COLD, IS IT?

According to Time’s Ecocentric column, this cold stuff isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. We’re just becoming a little softer in a warming climate.

So why has this month felt so unusually cold for so many Americans? Probably because it has been—at least compared to recent history. An Associated Press analysis found that from 1900 on, cold extremes happened about once every four years. But when the average temperature in the U.S. dropped below 18 F on Jan. 6, it was the first time the country had been that cold on average in 17 years. And that day was only the 55th coldest day in recorded U.S. history, much warmer than the 12 F average recorded on Christmas Eve 1983.

The climate has been changing, but so have we, adjusting to what you might call a new normal. It’s an example of “shifting baselines,” a term first coined by the fisheries scientist Daniel Pauly. Once a New York City January when high temperatures were 38 F on average would have seemed on the warmish side. But as the climate has changed—and it has, with winters in New York State more than 1 F warmer on average now than in 1970—so have our perceptions of what’s normal. So when we get a winter that would have been pretty average four decades ago, it feels like a deep freeze.

At the present rate, by the end of the century, schools will be closed when it reaches 32.

4) WAS TOO MUCH INFORMATION RELEASED ABOUT THE TARGET SECURITY BREACH?

More Target data is disappearing, but it’s not what you think.

Data about the breach of millions of credit card numbers and information is being scrubbed from the web, ComputerWorld reports, because of fear too much information has already been published. Authorities are concerned the details might tip off the hackers.

Alex Holden, founder of Hold Security, said it was the right move for Symantec to pull the report, as attackers might have been able to use the information to compromise other point-of-sale devices at other retailers.

“I was surprised that this information was posted on the Internet in the first place,” Holden said. “Besides having a Target machine’s name and its IP address, system structure and drive mapping, it discloses a very vital set of credentials setup specifically for exploitation of the device.”

Related: Target cyberattack pits banks, retailers against each other (CBC News).

5) THE SCIENCE OF POVERTY

Bonus I: You really have to feel for Eric Butorac, a 2003 grad of Gustavus. He has to go to work to work in 100-degree heat today. He’s advanced to the finals of the men’s doubles draw at the Australian Open, which is being played in Melbourne.

WHAT WE’RE DOING

Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: The University of Minnesota and the Legislature.

Second hour: The prosperity of Latin America.

Third hour: Five idea for better cities (Rebroadcast)

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm) – A program about the economics, science, and politics of fracking for oil and natural gas, from the Commonwealth Club of California’s “Climate One” series.

The Takeaway (1-2 p.m.) – TBA

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Church leaders in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis diverted millions of dollars from traditional church programs to deal with clergy misconduct. That spending, along with other financial decisions, led to lax accounting and even left the church a victim of embezzlement. Pending litigation could place the archdiocese and individual parishes in an even more vulnerable financial state.

  • MrE85

    1) “Why don’t women want to be winter queens anymore?” I blame the poor example set by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Mayor Betsy Hodges, and Rep. Michele Bachmann.
    ATC: Stay on this story, MPR. You are providing a valuable public service.

  • John

    2 & 3) I knew it, I’m not just turning into a grumpy old man. We really aren’t tolerating the cold as well. (thanks NewsCut for never fearing to report the truth).

    Now – get off my lawn.

  • andy

    2) Ya might want to leave that heated vest at home before heading to the airport….. I’m thinking the TSA wouldn’t care how cold it is outside.

  • Kassie

    Two digs on city schools calling off school today, then a video about how deaths of children in poverty are preventable. Maybe that’s exactly what the city schools were trying to do when they called off school: prevent injury to children in poverty due to the cold. It is easy to get down on schools for calling off the day when you have proper clothes for the weather.

    • Metro, not city. Pretty sure Woodbury, Minnetonka, Eden Prairie etc calling off school Isn’t about poor people. But there are poor people in Duluth too and they’re open. Maybe we should give poor people credit rather than just ASSUME it’s because they don’t have jackets (btw, the Salvation Army will give coats to anyone who needs one).

      Also you should actually watch the poor video and you’ll see it’s about disease.

      Schools are a source of free lunch and often hot breakfasts. If you don’t have a coat, your home is probably freezing and poorly insulated. So maybe good nutrition and a warm place is something we shouldn’t so quickly deny the poor by closing the one place they can find it on a cold day.

      Also, I hear the #1 path out of poverty is an education. Get to school, kids.

      • Kassie

        I live by a high school with 63% free and reduced lunch. I see the kids walking to school without hats and gloves. I ride the city bus every day. I see the kids (and adults) without proper winter clothes. I’m not assuming anything, I live in a poor neighborhood and have lived in poor neighborhoods for the last 12 years. I’ve seen the kids without proper warm clothes waiting for buses or walking.

        The Salvation Army will give anyone a coat. If you show up in October. They don’t do it all year long. And a coat is one part of being warm. And the coats they give out aren’t necessarily warm enough for weather like this.

        And I did watch the video. And I did see it was about disease. The point was that people in poverty die from preventable things. I know that many families rely on free lunches and breakfasts. I know a lot of kids are going to be hungry today. And lots of kids will be home alone. I also know that the school districts (at least he city ones) take it very seriously when they call of school due to these reasons. It is dangerously cold if you aren’t properly prepared for the weather.

        • Kassie

          As a follow up, no, the Salvation Army does not give a coat to anyone who needs one, per their website, they give coats to kids who parents can present a valid ID for themselves and their child. So, not undocumented immigrants.

        • My wife told me that factoid about the Salvation Army too. Guess what? It’s not true.

          The other option, especially in suburban schools where there aren’t a lot of kids without jackets, is to make class optional. If they’re afraid to go to school, they c,an stay home with an excused absence. Everyone else can get an education.

          True, they might fall behind a day, but they’ll have to evaluate the consequences of either decision.

          Imagine that: Young people learning how to make decisions and accept consequences.

          • Kassie

            What factoid isn’t true? I got all my information of their website. Your wife is a social worker. So if people really can get a jacket, they don’t know it, only you do. That’s not useful. That’s like me saying, “I’ll give a coat, gloves and hat to any kid who needs one, they just need to ask,” then not tell anyone. No one is going to ask.

          • How do you know they don’t know that. People walk into where my wife works all the time and ask for stuff. I mean, really, if someone is completely clueless about survival, they’re at home right now, huddled in a cold house with broken windows and no food to eat.

            How is that even remotely better than being in a perfectly warm building with someone to look after you, teach you a thing or two, give you at least one, maybe two hot meals?

          • Loretta

            Transportation is an issue. Children aren’t properly dressed for the weather while waiting for the bus.

          • And that’s a VERY easily solved issue, especially in the suburbs where the bus stops are relatively close together: (a) stay in the house and look for the bus or (b) have mom/dad sit at the bus stop with the SUV keeping kids warm until the bus arrives.

          • Loretta

            I didn’t realize an SUV was required to live in the suburbs.

          • You can drive whatever you want, but if you live in most suburbs, you’re driving something. And most every car comes with a heater. We make this problem out to be akin to the Battle of Bastogne. It’s not. There’s a school perhaps two miles a way and we can’t figure out a way to get to it without dying.

            How pathetic is that?

          • Loretta

            talk with the weather reporters. they are the ones that are telling us it takes 30 seconds to develop frostbite.

          • If that’s what the weather “reporters” are saying, you need to find new weather reporters.

            It’s -14 at the moment with a wind of nearly 5 mph. Contrary to the dire wind chill predictions, that translates to -28 — roughly the same temperature a few weeks ago that we didn’t think was dire enough, so we cited wind chill warnings that it would REALLY be like -60.

            At -28, EXPOSED skin could BEGIN to develop frostbite in 10 minutes, not 10 seconds. But, as this part is important, the wind chill chart assumes you’re (a) walking into the wind at 3 mph and (b) it’s night.

            It also assumes you won’t be able to figure out how to make exposed skin not exposed. Which, at the rate we’re going, will actually be an unsolvable problem for the coming generations.

          • Except it’s not the young people making the decision. It’s their parents. And judging by some of the specific comments in all the griping I’ve seen about the “inconvenience” these school closings cause, I’m not sure I’d bet on every parent making the best decision.

          • OK, so we’re going to deny a day’s education for thousands of students because there are some parents who won’t ask Goodwill or the Salvation Army for a coat?

          • That wasn’t my point. My point was that some parents will send their kids out ill-equipped because of the need to show how “tough” us hardy Minnesotans are or because they had to endure these conditions when they were kids (and they apparently don’t remember how miserable it was).

          • I walked the dog this morning for a half hour and it was fine. It wasn’t a June day, but I survived fine. Then I swept off the driveway. It wasn’t to show how tough I was. It was to do the stuff that needed to be done. THAT’S what a hardy Minnesotan is. It’s not showing off, it’s persisting because the alternative isn’t really acceptable.

            These parents you speak of remind me of the story of ‘welfare queens” to deny proper benefits to people Who are they? How many are there and are we REALLY going to base public policy on a small number of anecdotes?

            Persist. Bundle up. Use your ingenuity. Get to school. It’ll be good for you.

          • The nice thing about walking your dog is if you do get too cold, you can cut your walk short. Not really an option for kids walking to school or whose parents don’t have a running vehicle for them to wait in until the bus arrives.

            Since the school administrators I saw on the news last night said there’s no risk of schedules being disrupted by today’s cancellation, I think the districts made the right call. Kids risking frostbite seems like the less acceptable alternative to me. Sometimes it’s OK for the “stuff that needs to be done” to wait a little bit.

          • You need to come out to the suburbs sometime, Mark. It’s really not that hard to get to school — at least in my suburb — safely. Very few kids walk , even if they live just a few blocks away. heck, at the high school, kids drive their own cars there. In a year or so, they’re going to be at college, where school isn’t generally called off when it gets cold. Good luck, kids.

            That they can’t figure out how to bundle up when it’s cold, certainly answers the question why increasingly, they have no clue how to solve for “X.”

          • Maybe it’s just me, but I’m not so old that I don’t remember what it was like to wait for the bus for elementary school or walk the half mile to middle school. I was bundled up properly and you know what? It still sucked.

            I’ll agree that high school kids probably didn’t need today off from class, but as far as I know, the districts don’t really have the ability to cancel school for just the younger kids, do they?

          • Maybe the best lesson the kids of Minnesota could learn as we prepare them for the real world is sometimes things just suck.

          • Perhaps. I’d venture to guess those kids who would learn that lesson probably have ample other opportunities to do so.

      • Mary

        Woodbury Elementary School, 25% free and reduced lunch. There is poverty in the suburbs as well (source MDE website).

        • Yes there is but not much and the schools are very close to homes and most everyone has a car, there being garbage for public transit in Woodbury. There’s no reason people can’t get to school safely when it’s cold in Woodbury.

          • JRS

            I can’t decide if I should feel worse about assuming that everyone in the suburbs drives an SUV (and probably have SmartWool socks and LL Bean shoes too) or that all the kids who go to Harding are poor or have parents who neglect them.

          • Kassie

            I’m a little creeped out that you seem to know which school I was talking about that was by my house, when I never named it.

          • JRS

            I know some people at the NSA.

          • Kassie

            I grew up in the suburbs. Both my parents had to leave for work long before I needed to be at the bus stop. I walked the few blocks to school every day. They couldn’t let me sit in their warm cars at the bus stop, nor could they drive me to school. You are just trolling at this point.

          • Yes, children can certainly disrupt a person’s routine. That’s the way it goes. So make other arrangements. Can someone in the neighborhood give them a ride, perhaps? This isn’t hard, as dozens of school districts who didn’t close today attests.

          • John

            I assume that those same parents who are unable to be at the bus stop in the morning would have to take today off or make some hard decisions about whether or not the kids are old enough to be home alone vs. getting in trouble at work.

            We were lucky enough this round of cold that we could work it out with a neighbor and a dependable sitter we’ve found. Last round – burning vacation time because my kids are definitely not old enough to be home alone was the only option. It is going to cut into our ability to take time off to do things this summer, but that’s life with kids.

    • Dave

      I just don’t understand children not having proper winter attire. This may sound cruel, but IMHO, if you can’t provide the very basics of a coat, hat, and mittens, you have no business being a parent. You should not have children if you are unable or unwilling to do the very, very, rock-bottom least for your child.

      We got my kid’s winter coat (and snow pants) at Once Upon a Child. It’s used, not perfect (although the pants are), but works fine, and looks decent. It’s cute. It’s pink. It was $10. It’s big enough to fit her for a couple years.

      Ten effin bucks.

      • What about people who lose their jobs, had some medical emergency or had some other catastrophe strike AFTER they’ve had kids? What about when kids lose hats or mittens as they often do? I don’t think it’s as simple as just saying some parents are unwilling to do the least for their child, although we’ve certainly seen examples where that’s been the case.

        • Dave

          I work with a person who was a student teacher at an inner-city minneapolis grade school. She said there were many kids who didn’t have basic winter gear. Now, did every one of those kids’ parents win the bad-luck lottery as you described?

          • I don’t know. I also don’t know what purpose it serves to judge. Perhaps we should worry more about how to help the kids that are stuck in those circumstances?

          • Dave

            Kids need coats. Parents should know this and figure out a way to get their kids a damn coat. How do you want to “help” those kids? I am a bleeding-heart liberal, but even I draw the line somewhere. I refuse to believe that bad luck is the cause of kids not having coats. It’s bad/irresponsible parenting.

          • Like Kassie pointed out above, sometimes it’s not knowing what opportunities are out there or where they can go for help. How about instead of spending our time judging parents, we ask them what we can do to help/point them in the right direction?

          • Dave

            It’s not about judging. That’s a strawman. And it’s not about “opportunities.” How about parents just do things that are expected of parents? Honest to god, if you don’t know how to get a coat for your child, you should not be a parent. You should not need hand-holding to perform this task. It’s that simple. This is a basic function of a human member of civilization.

            I shudder to think about my kid’s generation if there are so many of them who really have such hopeless and clueless parents. The future won’t be pretty.

          • Kassie

            I think part of the problem is people do not understand that yes, $10 is not what people are willing to spend on their kids to have a coat. They don’t get their kids taken away because where would they go? The foster care system already has too many kids.

            The second thing is that most of the kids I see without proper winter gear are teenagers. They can’t just get a coat at Once Upon a Child. They need full size adult coats. And hats. And gloves. And scarves. And that costs more than $10. And if you have to chose between which kids get warm clothes, you probably chose the small ones.

          • JRS

            Or if you have to decide between buying food, paying the heating or electric bill, or buying warm clothes for the kids. Especially if you live in a not so new house with not enough insulation. These sub-zero days have a real effect on those decisions for a lot of people.

          • Dave

            You see them without coats. Do you happen to ask them if they have coats but aren’t wearing one? I see people do that all the time, and NOT poor people.

          • Kassie

            The kids I see usually have some sort of coat on, just not a proper one. No gloves. No hat. And no, I don’t ask them “where is your hat?” And while I can’t look at someone out of context and decide if they are rich or poor, I do know that if you live in the apartment building behind me, you don’t have a lot of money. Or if you are on my bus and don’t have something covering your ears on a day like today, it is likely that you aren’t the upper class elite.

  • Dave

    The jacket thing is a neat idea. However, I find that my torso is the best-protected (and warmest) part of me when I’m outside in this weather. I need something that will keep my feet and my hands warm. Also, something that will not light on fire.

    • I will attest to the effectiveness of A pair of SmartWool socks and LL Bean’s snow sneakers. You’ll never lose feeling. I’m still trying out the runners bit with latex/vinyl gloves under polarfleece mittens.

      • Dave

        Sadly the snow sneakers are sold out on their site. Do you get the laced or the strap shoes?

        • Laced. I used these things when I was delivering newspapers for 10 years and just ordered new ones because the bottoms were perfectly smooth soles. Kinda dangerous. But warm!

  • DavidG

    How long will you be able to wear that jacket in item 2 in the city before Homeland Security takes you down as a potential suicide bomber?

  • quick13

    The cold temps put schools between a rock & cold place. I ride the LRT with a lot of High Schoolers and unfortunately there are a very large percentage of them who do not have any form of warm/winter coat, only sweatshirts, and a surprising number have no winter accessories like scarves or mittens either. And I do not think it is the arrogance of not wearing them, I do believe it is just not owning them. So which is more important, a warm meal at school, or not freezing to death or getting frostbite? Hard to say. Easy to say “bundle up its not that cold” when you have a nice warm parka to do so.

    • I presume, since you’re mentioning LRT, that your’ talking city schools. That’s a different beast than the suburbs and the percentages are different. Maybe the majority of kids in a school system don’t have jackets, so, fine, call of school when it gets cold. But for the most part I suspect that’s not really true in the suburbs that called off class today and it’s illogical to deny an education to all children because some do not have what they should have in Minnesota in the wintertime.

      Perhaps in those schools you mention, there should be a campaign to get parkas and mittens and loves to them in time for the onset of winter, which — of course — we can see coming from months away.

  • Dave

    You guys want to hear from some REAL weather wimps.

    OMG. Read some of the comments here:

    https://www.facebook.com/fcpsva/posts/10152147973552500