Feeling alive yet? (5×8 – 1/20/11)


It’s cold? In January? In Minnesota? I’ll be darned. Who could have possibly foreseen this? Weatherpeople are dusting off “brutal” from its long summer slumber. Here’s our little secret: We love the cold because we love complaining about how cold it is. But our prideful looks betray our claims of misery.

Why else would we point out how cold we are compared to the rest of the world? It was -1 this morning this morning in the Twin Cities (and in the cold spot king — Embarrass, Minnesota) and it’ll get worse… or better, depending on how honest you are. Current temperatures in the rest of the world. At 6 this morning:

Moscow: 13 degrees

Oslo: 23 degrees

Anchorage: 15 degrees

Yellowknife (Canada): -22 degrees

Calgary: 7 degrees

Reykjavik, Iceland: 34 degrees

These are opportunities, people!

Fridge sledding was actually a break in a volunteer effort to rehab a Minneapolis apartment house. (h/t: The Adventures of Johnny Northside)

Who’s got it right? Jeffrey Adams of International Falls, who penned (at least until the ink froze) today’s MPR commentary:

A really cold day is bracing and dramatic. The very molecules in the air slow down. Sound becomes sharp and intense. A snow blower can be heard for blocks. An axe splitting cordwood sounds like gunshots. More often than not, the sun shines, trebling its impact on the eye by reflecting off the blanket of snow on the ground. Get up early enough, and you might catch sight of a snow dog, an effect of the light caused by the sun reflecting off ice crystals in the air. Nature’s great disasters make us feel small and mortal. Cold? Cold just makes me feel alive.

Challenge time: Send me video of taking advantage of the cold. Pond hockey? Let’s see you do that in June. Anything will do, even if it’s you slurping soup.

If you can’t think of anything,well here, you big sissy:


“I am writing a guide to white people, essentially a guide to, obviously, a very specific type of white people,” Christian Lander told MPR’s Euan Kerr yesterday.The kind who listen to public radio.

Ruh Roh.

White people, he says, are an underutilized resource in America. And if you’re not white, it’s easy to extract favors.

Listen to Euan’s interview:


Timewaster: Lily the Bear, is close to giving birth again. Nothing will warm you up faster than a bear giving birth. Here’s the Webcam.

Meanwhile, in Missouri, a hospital has come up with a way to connect parents to their infants in the hospital intensive care unit. A camera broadcasting via the Web:

“Some of these parents live two and three hours away and cannot just come to the hospital whenever they want,” a hospital spokesman says. “You can imagine leaving your baby here for months and not able to be with it. They can see the baby and see that it’s doing OK and being taken care of. It gives the parents an opportunity to be involved in the baby’s care.”


Professor Con Slobodchikoff and his students went out into prairie dog villages, hid behind bushes, and stuck out their microphones whenever a human, or a dog, or a coyote, or a hawk passed through. They recorded calls that the prairie dogs made in response to different predators, NPR’s Robert Krulwich says. Then he took his recordings to a lab and used a computer program to analyze the sounds. And they’ve figured out the language. Details are here, along with a quiz to see if you’re any good at the language.


The Minnesota Daily reports that more universities are using software to compare the papers that students turn in with content that’s found on the Web. But the head of an Apple Valley company that writes papers for students — yes, that’s cheating — says his clients can’t be caught.

Bonus: The chances are everything we were told about video games in the past is wrong. The latest unraveling of the narrative: Video games don’t make kids become fat slugs.


A provision of the health-care reform law requires large chain restaurants to post calorie counts for items on their menus. Will the calorie count on menus affect your choice of which meal to order?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: The Obama administration took a lot of heat over a provision in the new health care law that incentivizes end-of-life planning for doctors. But proponents of end-of-life planning argue that it empowers patients and families, and could equal cost savings to the health care system down the road.

Second hour: David Shenk,, author of “The Forgetting: Alzheimer’s; Portrait of an Epidemic.”

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Sen. Al Franken.

Second hour: “Creating Civility,” a public conversation with Krista Tippett, host of On Being. (recorded Wed. evening at MPR).

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Sovereignty, and secession. When is breaking up the best option?,

Second hour: Maxine Hong Kingston, iconic author of “The Woman Warrior”, turns 65, and considers the journey.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Some “green companies” in greater Minnesota are doing well. While things are just now showing signs of improvement for most manufacturers, companies like Silent Power in Brainerd are cashing in on the shift to green technologies. MPR’s Tom Robertson will have the story.

  • bob

    Buddha was misquoted when he said, “Life is suffering.” What he actually said was “Winter in Minnesota is suffering.” You can do all the cheerleading and spin doctoring you please about how fab Winter is, I’m with Buddha.

    Embrace? Fuhgedaboudit. The only true anodyne to Winter in Minnesota is a desert motorcycle ride.

    BTW, thanks for the “big sissy” pic.

  • Bob Collins

    Crossing Bob off my list of invitees for the outdoors winter wiffleball game.

  • bsimon

    After nearly 18 years of living here, I’ve finally acquired some cross country skiis. With a couple times out doing that and a couple runs, I’d swear the cold doesn’t feel as bad this year, even this morning. I’m expecting tomorrow to feel more brisk, but after that, everything over zero will feel positively balmy.