Remember Zumbro Falls (5×8 – 10/12/10)

Why have flood-ravaged communities been forgotten? Also: The ‘gift’ of cancer, the joy of work examined, shiny weather objects, and a new player but old results for the Vikings.

This morning at 9, I’ll be live-blogging the Minnesota gubernatorial debate, being held in the MPR studios with host Kerri MIller of Midmorning. The people who do the Poligraph fact-checking application for MPR will be whispering sweet falsehoods in my ear. And we look forward to an online conversation with you, too. Come back here at around 8:45 for the pregame show.


Perhaps this is the day a federal employee signs whatever paper he/she needs to sign to send some federal disaster aid to southeast Minnesota. What is it about Zumbro Falls that has residents staying even though people have said the town is basically gone, because of last month’s floods? Audrey Kletscher Helbling, on Minnesota Prairie Roots, talks to one woman whose house is filled with four feet of mud, and she has no place to live with winter coming. Someone should tell FEMA.

In Hammond, meanwhile, a woman says President Obama “should get off his butt.” Find more excellent reporting here.


In a new TED video, Stacy Kramer says her cancer was a gift.

A commenter takes issue with the assertion:

Incredible courage, but she wouldn’t want to change the experience? She wouldn’t want to skip the pain, fear, suffering, cost and other hardships, and instead be healthy and enjoy her life? Think about that. I’m reminded of what Dan Ariely said about pain, how the end of the experience is the part that sticks in one’s mind, and i think this is a clear case, now she’s fine and feels great and that overshadows everything that came before.


Here’s a conclusion that needs to be nailed down once and for all: Does working keep your mind sharp? A new study says there’s a connection between people who don’t retire and their memory. The study gave people 10 nouns to remember, then asked them 10 minutes later to repeat them. In countries where people work longer, more people remembered the words. But it’s not as cut-and-dried as one might think. The study couldn’t identify what it is about the working world that’s responsible. And it may well be that people who don’t retire already have more cognitive skills than people who do not.

What’s your plan? Retire? Or keep working?

More work: Recently Morning Edition aired the story of an Oregon company with a strong smell. Mountain Rose Herbs is the nation’s second-largest distributor of organic dried herbs. The aroma of hundreds of botanicals permeates just about everything. It inspired the show’s staff to go to Facebook and Twitter to ask listeners about jobs they’ve had, where they brought the smell of work home with them.


Weather geek Cathy Wurzer calls our attention to this new tool from the National Weather Service. There are lots of shiny objects for long-range outlooks for several locations in the upper Midwest. From what I can tell, for example, the temperature in St. Cloud next year will likely be lower than the mean from 1971-2000.


Randy Moss must be waking up with a new reality today. He talked himself off a 3-and-1 team and on to a 1-and-3 team. The Vikings lost last night — or was it early this morning?

And Bret Favre had nothing to say about the great sexting scandal of 2010. Catch Randy Moss being Randy Moss in this piece from NPR.Here are the highlights. What’s Plan B, Vikings fans?


Minneapolis officials will study the garbage of randomly selected homes this week to see how much of it should have been recycled. How careful are you to recycle everything you should?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – Both hours: Gubernatorial debate.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: TBA

Second hour: First district congressional debate sponsored by Debate Minnesota. Incumbent DFLer Tim Walz, GOP challenger Randy Demmer, and IP challenger Steven Wilson are participating.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Following the source of campaign cash.

Second hour: Bassist Victor Wooten talks about the language of music, his new audio-book “The Music Lesson.”

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Tim Pugmire will have a recap of this morning’s gubernatorial debate.

MPR’s Bob Kelleher asks: If the moose population is declining in northern Minnesota, why are they having a moose hunt in October?

  • kristy

    Hey NewsCut/Bob:

    regarding cancer vs not having it:

    the pain of carrying a child, what it does to the body and ending in painful birthing somehow gets forgotten when couples have sex (the fun part?) and have more children.

    Prob the same brain process. The end is what women remember, even tho the journey can be horrible.

    it’s probably why babies are so darn cute.

  • bsimon

    “In a new TED video, Stacy Kramer says her cancer was a gift.

    A commenter takes issue with the assertion”

    Michael Vick recently said the same thing about prison. I’ve heard people say the same thing about losing their jobs. Alcoholics talk about hitting ‘rock bottom’. Does anybody want these experiences? Of course not. But sometimes that’s what it takes to make important changes in our lives.

  • bsimon

    “What’s your plan? Retire? Or keep working?”

    Anecdotally, my paternal grandmother worked well past retirement age, but started deteriorating rapidly once she did retire. Our theory is that working kept her ‘sharp’. My father and father-in-law are both retired, in their 70s and are still ‘sharp’. But they’re also extremely busy with various activities that keep them 1) physically active and 2) mentally engaged with others.

    My plan is to follow the latter example – try to retire early and find something I enjoy doing to keep occupied & mentally stimulated. I suspect the retirees who end up sitting at home alone, or generally inactive, are the ones who deteriorate rapidly. Use It or Lose It.

  • Jeanne

    When I went to the link and read the Zumbro Falls story and saw the photos all I could think of was the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The pictures of piles of debris stacked in front of yards where homes once stood is all too familiar. The homes that sustained will be uninhabitable (primarily because of the mold) and will need to be gutted, cleaned, and redone. Winter will be knocking on the door, sooner rather than later. Somehow people are under the impression (albeit as false one) that once the flood waters recede that people are out of danger.

  • David G

    re Stacey Kramer: Her statement seems to be somewhat common among cancer survivors. And for those that feel that way, I’m not sure you can separate the “journey” from the destination.

  • John P.

    I suspect that it’s the brain activity and not the fact that you’re at a “job” that keeps your brain in gear. An engaging and interesting volunteer activity or hobby might well be better for the brain than paid work. In my experience, it’s the retirees who become couch potatoes that run into trouble.

  • John P.

    Two thoughts on the flood response.

    1. People in a disaster always feel help is coming too slowly when it’s not there immediately. That’s not to say that it could and should not come faster, but in the middle of a a disaster, help probably can not come fast enough.

    2. Being grateful for cancer makes me think about my years as a Scoutmaster, oddly enough. Bad camping trips are the ones you remember. I used to annoy the boys by yelling “Come on guys! We’re making memories!” You tell stories for years after about the horrible weather, the insects, the mud. I think you feel stronger for getting through those things and feel some pride. You find you are stronger and more resourceful than you thought. I think illness provides a similar experience. It shows you how strong you can be, and gives you time and cause to reflect on what matters.

  • AP

    Re: Stacy Kramer.

    Cancer can affirm something we all know but won’t face: our time here is finite. Accepting that turns each moment, even the unpleasant ones, into a gift.

  • Jeanne

    Well said, AP.

  • Jim Shapiro

    In re Stacy Kramer’s view of cancer as a gift:

    An overtly positive restating of Nietzche’s “That which doesn’t kill me makes me stronger”. More power to her.