Ted from Owatonna (5×8 – 9/12/11)

When people do good in Faribault, the BWCA in the rear-view mirror, when the earth speaks, girls just don’t want to sing the National Anthem correctly, and spelling and security.

The Monday Morning Rouser:



Audrey Kletscher Helbling, who writes Minnesota Prairie Roots, knows him only as “Ted from Owatonna,” says he was driving along her Faribault neighborhood this weekend with his family when he noticed a fire had broken out at her neighbor’s house. So he stopped, and put it out with a garden hose.

Then he left, not giving his last name, saying he’s just “Ted from Owatonna.”


If you’re a wildfire, you couldn’t ask for more perfect weather. Just ask the Pagami Creek Fire in the Boundary Waters, which has been burning for three weeks and is getting bigger. Over 4,500 acres have burned so far.

To insure public safety the following waterways and portages are temporarily closed (closures include day use): Lakes One through Hudson, Fire, Bridge, Rifle, the Wilders, Horseshoe, Pagami, Clearwater, Turtle, Camdre, Pietro, Gull, Quadga, Rice, Isabella Lake, and the Isabella River. The southern campsites on Bald Eagle are closed. The Pow Wow Trail is closed. Sites, routes and portages will be re-opened as soon as it is safe to do so. The following entry points are closed: #30 Lake One, #84 Snake River, #75 Little Isabella River, #67 Bog Lake, #86 Pow Wow Trail, #35 Isabella Lake, and #34 Island River. Campers already in the BWCAW will be able to travel through these routes to exit the wilderness but visitors will not be allowed to enter at these points until further notice. Those visitors who changed their travel plans and exited at an alternate entry point were given assistance to return to their vehicles. Public Safety crews are sweeping the areas to be closed and assisting visitors as they move out of the affected lakes and travel routes.

Mike Augustyniak at WCCO posted this image via Twitter. The smoke plume from the fire is clearly visible from space.


I don’t know if any of these scenes in Carl Martin’s video of his trip to the BWCA this summer — posted a day or so ago — is from the affected area. I do know it makes me wish I were younger, a better camper, and sitting here writing this morning’s post in July. Goodbye, summer!

Boundary Waters 2011 from Carl Martin on Vimeo.


Of all the imagery we’ve been bombarded by in the last week, this one struck me as among the most poignant:


It’s a sonographic image taken from a soundfile of artist Mark Bain, who made a recording out of the seismological data in 2003:

This work involves a process of audification of the seismological data record, which occurred in the area of New York State, New Jersey, and New England during the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings on September eleventh, 2001. The data streams were acquired from Columbia University’s Geological survey lab, which run a network of earth monitoring stations in the area; with the closest being 34 km away from the epicenter of the event. A process of data conversion and signal translation was used to make the normally inaudible seismic waveforms both audible and to play back in real-time as the event unfolded. No other processing or effects were added to the tracks. The registration includes four events, two impacts and the two collapses along with the inbetween sounds of the drone of the earth. The heaviest impact of the collapse registered 2.4 on the Richter scale, a signal which traveled throughout the earth. This work stands not as a memorial per se but as an action of affect, where the global terrain becomes a sounding board, a bell-like alarm denoting histories in the making.

(h/t: Steve Sundberg)

Last night, the Mets wanted to wear caps honoring first responders of 9/11. Major League Baseball said “no,” rules are rules. The Mets demurred, not risking fines or the wrath of its masters. Find all of the facts in those sentences inconsistent with the spirit of 9/11.


If only we could harness the creativity of identity thieves and cybercriminals for good. The BBC reports today that the crooks have a new target. Researchers set up online domains that count on you mistyping e-mail addresses, and intercepted mail that normally would bounce back to you, mail that often has sensitive data.

Researchers were able to get data from 30% of the Fortune 500 companies. Only one seemed interested in stopping it.

For example a large American financial group may take bank.com as its corporate home but internally use us.bank.com for staff email.

Usually, if an address is typed with one of the dots missing, ie usbank.com, then the message is returned to its sender.

But by setting up similar doppelganger domains, the researchers were able to receive messages that would otherwise be bounced back.

“Doppelganger domains have a potent impact via email as attackers could gather information such as trade secrets, user names and passwords, and other employee information,” wrote the researchers in a paper detailing their work.

Only one of the companies being impersonated noticed that spoofing was taking place and tracked down the researchers.


Cyndi Lauper blows the National Anthem at U.S. Open.

Bonus: Cliff Robertson died over the weekend. The actor is probably best remembered for his portrayal of JFK in PT109. I remember him for 633 Squadron (can’t embed, but click link to watch the trailer). It wasn’t a very good movie but in 2006, it was featured one evening at an outdoor theater during EAA’s giant airshow at Oshkosh. As it started, an apparently-drunk person was slowly walking in the dirt roadway in the field that doubled as a movie theater, causing a car behind him to shine his lights in our eyes.

“Hey, c’mon, get out of the way, we’re trying to watch a movie, here,” an acquaintance from Lake Elmo yelled.

But he wasn’t drunk; he was just old. It was Cliff Robertson. He sat down with us for a drink of water and for a few minutes we sat with Cliff Robertson watching Cliff Robertson on the screen, while he told us about a particular scene.

After awhile, he thanked us for the water and the company, got up and shuffled off.


Relatives of a man killed in a hit and run involving Joe Senser’s car have suggested that the former Vikings star’s family is getting preferential treatment from police. Today’s Question: Does our justice system give equal treatment to rich and poor?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: The legal fight against terror in a post-9/11 world.

Second hour: In the summer of 1916, Dorothy Woodruff and Rosamond Underwood, close friends from childhood and graduates of Smith College, left home in Auburn, New York, for the wilds of northwestern Colorado. Woodruff’s granddaughter, Dorothy Wikenden, tells the story of these two pioneers.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Economist Ed Lotterman explains the Federal Reserve system and why it’s so controversial.

Second hour: New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, who spoke Friday at the U of M Humphrey School about his new book, “That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World it Invented and How We Can Come Back.”

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: TBA

Second hour: TBA

  • Mona

    Bob, excellent analogy on amore.

    You nailed it right down to the concertina ‘player’.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Bob – Thanks for carrying on with the positive posts. Particularly after a day filled with media induced memory masochism.

    I like to think of Ted from Owatanna as Everyman from Minnesota. Of course there are exceptions, but I would like to believe that he is the rule. Not a Hero – just a guy doing what needs to be done.

    That’s how people of his ilk think of themselves, and perhaps if we thought of ourselves that way as well, that kind of behavior would truly be the norm,

  • Jim, your point about the use of the word “hero” is an excellent one. I have long-thought the word is overused and here I go and overuse it myself in my post about Ted. Can I claim emotions overriding correct usage in this case?

    I agree that any of us driving past would have done the same–stopped and put out that fire. But that does not diminish the fact that I believe Ted deserves public recognition for his actions.

    I’ve been contacted by the Faribault newspaper, which is now working on a story and helping with efforts to identify “Ted from Owatonna.”

  • Jim Shapiro

    Minnesota Prairie Roots – Great story on Ted. He deserves credit for his meritorious action, although my guess is that he wouldn’t expect or want further publicity.

    I have strong reactions to the term HERO, ever since it was co-opted and used to describe anyone and everyone who signs on the line and gets paid to kill or die in a country that they probably can’t find on a map.

  • BK

    Gosh, leave it to me to play devil’s advocate, but why didn’t the neighbor put the camera down and put the fire out herself?

    I would hate to think that my neighbors would stand around, although excitedly, and take photos or roast marshmallows, while my deck burned to the ground.

  • Bob Collins

    You have to click the link and read the story. As she clearly points out, her role was to make sure the people got out of the house. Ted grabbed the garden hose.

  • KBunyon

    “I did not get many actual fire photos as I was more focused on making sure my neighbors were out of the house than in photographing the scene. But here you see wood chips burning under the deck.”

    Well if Jesus doesn’t walk on water, there it is printed in black and white, plain as the nose on my face, between photo number one and photo number too.

  • I was not the first on the scene of the fire. Ted was and was using the one available water source to extinguish the fire. I did not start shooting pictures until my neighbors were out of the house and I was confident the fire was under control.

    I also comforted Kristin and made sure she and her daughter were alright before I began taking photos. I also called Kristin’s husband for her.

    So to infer that I was just standing there all excited about taking fire photos is not the truth. However, with a background as a journalist, it is second nature for me to grab my camera. I happened to be working in my office when my son alerted my husband and me to the fire. My camera was right there and I grabbed it as I ran barefoot out the door.

    I could easily have shot photos of flames shooting up from the wood chips and deck. I did not/ could not do that given my first concern was for my neighbors.

  • KB

    Thank you for the clarity M Prairie Roots.

    Did you ever find out as to how the fire was started?

  • KB, please read my follow-up post today for an answer to your question about the apparent fire source and for a detailed account from Ted Leon of Owatonna. He called me last evening and I interviewed him. I extended a professional courtesy to The Faribault Daily News by holding my post until after their story went online.

  • KB

    Mn Prie Rts,

    I can’t seem to locate your follow-up.