Five by 8 – 4/21/10: After the cloud

1) This morning’s volcano coverage has mostly focused on whiny passengers stranded by Mother Nature. But behind the ash cloud of complaining is this nugget. A 13-year-old boy was stranded in Madrid when word came that his mother had died. He couldn’t get home for the funeral. A businessman who sponsors the soccer club (the boy was on it) stepped in and dropped big cash to get the young man back to Scotland in time for his mother’s funeral on Friday.

But, we’re talking about humans here so there’s this story, too. Some airlines are ripping off stranded passengers. The Plane Talking blog says some airlines are charging thousands of dollars for a ticket.

The Associated Press stops to analyze the cultural change that technology has brought us.

To today’s travelers, journeying to anywhere on the planet is a birthright. It’s hard to believe that as recently as 100 years ago, human beings who traveled from continent to continent did so only in the most extraordinary circumstances and spent weeks en route. But thanks to technology and life’s ever-frantic pace, around the world in 80 days became 80 hours.

In the sharp-elbowed World of Now – where BlackBerry e-mails must be answered within minutes, Skype video conferences are convened across oceans and fresh maguro tuna from Japan is expedited to New York City sushi bars – being unable to be there simply doesn’t cut it.

There are many stories from the ash. American Public Media’s The Story has three of them available worth listening to : A pilot who flew rescue missions through the ash of Mt. St. Helens, a woman who was stranded in volcanic ash at 14, and a marathoner who had to watch from the sidelines.

2) The Minnesota Twins are giving away CFL light bulbs tonight before their game with the they-ought-to-be-contracted Cleveland Indians. You might want to review this before going — what to do in case a CFL light bulb breaks. In a few years, incandescent light bulbs will be banned in the U.S., but are CFL bulbs the real alternative? Have you ever really gotten one to last 7 years as the labels say they should? Here’s a better idea: LEDs, the Philadelphia Inquirer says. You’d only have to change the bulb once every 20 or 30 years.

But back to the Twins. The Pioneer Press has a sweet story today about the life of the man who drew the image of two ballplayers shaking hands across the river. Ray Barton died on Sunday but his work — it wasn’t his best work, according to his family — is enshrined.

3) Keep your hands off my twigs. Albuquerque provides the “when should government get involved” test today. In the ’90s, it banned certain trees because of pollen. It hasn’t worked, NPR reports today. They’re blaming “outlaw trees.” Outlaw trees. Seriously.

4) So now we know. The brain isn’t a muscle that needs to be exercised. A team of British researchers has found that healthy adults who use computer-based “brain-training,” aren’t any smarter. Not all scientists are lining up behind this one. “Other studies have suggested that brain-training can help improve cognitive function in elderly patients and those in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease,” notes.File this one under the “what have you got to lose?” header. It won’t hurt to at least try to be smarter.

5) This is as good a time as any to hit the Wayback Machine:

Today’s sign the apocalypse is upon us: A little girl who was dressed as a princess was banned from Disneyland Paris.


Minnesota’s major political parties will endorse candidates for governor in state conventions this weekend and next. Does party endorsement help you evaluate candidates for governor?


Every two years, private pilots have to undergo flight reviews to assure the FAA that we’re still safe to fly. It’s an idea I think should be adopted for car drivers, too. Anyway, today is my day. I will not be posting today.

Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: A new report shows that in 14 of 25 of America’s largest metro areas, more immigrants are working in white-collar occupations than in lower-wage jobs, belying the common perception of the immigrant population. Midmorning looks at the diversity of America’s immigrant community, and how it might impact the coming debate on immigration reform.

Second hour: The volcanic ash crisis has cost airlines around the world millions of dollars, and the chaos has led to calls for a unified air traffic control system in Europe among other reforms. Midmorning also discusses the future of the domestic airline industry as we emerge from natural disaster as well as economic crisis

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Gubernatorial candidates Margaret Anderson Kelliher, Mark Dayton, Susan Gaertner and R.T. Rybak.

Second hour: Documentary: “Mind the Gap: Why Good Schools are Failing Black Students.”

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Political editor Ken Rudin.

Second hour: Many moments between adult children and their parents carry enormous emotional weight, but maybe none as hard as this: Talking to your elderly parent about

moving to a nursing home or an assisted living facility. “Ask Amy’s” Amy Dickinson on transitions for your elderly parents.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – A funeral for 5 of the 6 victims of the Lake St. fire is being held today at the American Indian Center. MPR’s Brandt Williams will report.

From NPR: David Russell is an award winning classical guitarist. To prepare for his new CD, he spent a full year listening to and practicing Latin American music. He’ll perform songs off his new album “Sonidos Latinos.”

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