Five at 8 – 8/7/09

Face it: Things can’t get any better for you. It’s Friday and your name isn’t Denny Hecker.

1) You’re at work now, aren’t you? Trying to get your “fix” of money. Your brain thinks money is a drug. You feel better just counting it, NPR reports. One expert says “the long-lasting connection between being reminded of money and feeling less pain appears to be an elaborate example of something psychologists call priming, in which thinking about one thing can subconsciously trigger a related response.”

2) The upside of being laid off. Claudia Becque was a good marathon runner who hadn’t quite made it to highest level of competition. Her job as a nurse left little time to train. Then Claudia got a pink slip. She had just bought a house, and she was scared. But then she decided to make the best of unemployment. She dedicated her days to practice. Claudia’s times improved and she got a glimpse of what life as an elite athlete could be. She even qualified for the U.S. Olympic trials. American Public Media’s The Story has the story.

So what’s to worry about? Steve Olson’s “How to Think Yourself Free” post on his blog today is a step-by-step with dealing with the worry of, for example, losing your job. What’s the worst that could happen? What’s the best that could happen?

3) A tale of two cities. In Minneapolis, they held a funeral for a bike lane. In Boston, they’re taking on unruly bike riders.

4) When Shon Meckfessel first realized he was getting a cold last week, I wonder if he was upset about it. It saved him from being thrown into an Iranian jail like three of his colleagues, including Minnesota native Shane Bauer. He writes on the New American Media site:

I spoke with Shane twice that evening. I called him at around 8 PM and he told me they’d just been dropped off near a strip of restaurants in Ahmed Awa. A couple hours later he told me they had followed a trail up from the strip of restaurants to the waterfall, and were continuing on the same trail to camp in peace. On July 31, I woke up feeling better and decided to join my friends. At about 11:30 AM I called Shane. He told me the weather had been mild all night. That morning they had woken up early and resumed hiking along the same trail. Shane sounded very calm and content, happy to be in a beautiful environment, and made absolutely no mention of any risk whatsoever. I am absolutely certain that they had no knowledge of their proximity to the Iranian border or they would have never continued in that direction. Shane told me they were planning to turn around soon. He thought we could meet up near the waterfall.

Two text messages to Bauer were not answered, he writes.

5) I watched a lot of the funeral yesterday for Harry Patch, the last UK veteran of World War I and couldn’t help wondering if the U.S. would similarly slow down for a day to honor its last member of a generation. Would a band — Radiohead, for example — release a song in tribute to him? Would we even recognize his name (pssst: It’s Frank Buckles)?

Bonus: Because Fridays are for soft landings to the weekend, that’s why.


Starting this weekend, paying customers will once again be looking at preserved, posed corpses in a Twin Cities exhibit. Meanwhile, an Illinois woman has received the heart of a Minnesota soldier who died from wounds suffered in battle in Afghanistan. Whether for science, commercial use or to save the life of another person, agreeing to give up your earthly remains is likely to involve some soul-searching. Would you donate your body for use after death?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: The balance between animal rights and the cultural claims on animals as food. Second hour: The future of fish.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: St. Olaf College political science professor Dan Hofrenning talks about the work of the Congress and the first seven months of the Obama administration. Second hour: Patrick Bergin of the Africa Wildlife Foundation, speaking about conservation and Africa’s wild animals. It’s animal day at MPR.

Talk of the Nation (1 – 3 p.m.) Science Friday. New solar deals in the southwest, the future of human, should we try to engineer a cooler planet, the life of Frank Oppenheimer, the man behind San Francisco’s ‘Exploratorium,’ and beekeeping in an era of disappearing bees.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Tim Post looks at the Obama administration’s plan to get banks out of the student loan business and how that’s playing in Minnesota.

Euan Kerr reports on two young filmmakers who set off to find out if love exists. One of them fell in love.


This feels like a good weekend for one of our not-particularly-famous “weekend in Minnesota” photo albums. So send me your pictures and maybe we’ll put one together. All pictures should be from this weekend.


August: Let’s get rid of it. (h/t: Julie Siple)

  • MPR Reporter Brandt Williams

    I called the city of Minneapolis yesterday to ask about the demise of the Hennepin Ave. bike lane. They told me the bike lane is being shifted to 1st Ave.