‘Lock the doors, kids, we’re driving through rural Minnesota’ (5×8 – 8/15/12)

Revealing rural Minnesota, everything on a stick, is energy independence possible, crop-dusting season, and sometimes you have to just keep rowing.


If there’s one thing I’m learning from MPR’s series this week, The Price of Safety, it’s that the idyllic nature of rural Minnesota isn’t all that idyllic. Am I naive to believe the rolling acres of the beautiful country is a place where you can leave your door unlocked? I guess.

Yesterday, Molly Bloom profiled the use of guard llamas to watch over property in Park Rapids to help keep the druggies and other criminals out.

Jennifer Vogel’s latest installment details a land where cameras stand watch over the cabins and lakefronts, and private security firms patrol the vast farmland.

If you squint your eyes, it’s almost like…. well, you know.

It a fine series that you can find here, and which leaves you with just one question: Where can I still go in Minnesota where you don’t have to lock the doors?


The Minnesota State Fair’s pregame show — the Iowa State Fair — is underway.”A vast, sweet, savory, shameless wonderland that operates on its own terms,” the New York Times says in reviewing the latest “on a stick” fare at the fair.

Put anything on a stick and you’ll sell more of it, we learn. But you’ve got to get the idea past the on-a-stick police:

Lori Chappell, the fair’s marketing director, said officials look for items with the promise of longevity. The vendor proposing deep-fried Coke, for instance, was rejected as a potential “one-hit wonder,” she said, in part because it had no other offerings on its menu. (The treat was to be made by pouring Coca-Cola syrup into batter, deep-frying the mixture, then pouring more syrup onto the finished product.)

The pork chop on a stick is the most truly Iowan food at the fair, which is meant to celebrate the achievements of Iowa’s commodity producers, Ms. Chappell said. Iowa is the country’s top hog producer.

That may explain a surge of interest in another item: the double-bacon, double-deep-fried corn dog on a stick, for $5. It is a hot dog wrapped in a slice of bacon, then immersed in hot oil until the bacon is crisp. After it cools, it is dipped in a cornmeal batter flavored with bacon bits, then deep-fried again. It is surprisingly flavorless, with the thick coat of cornmeal overwhelming the meat within.


In Ohio yesterday, Mitt Romney promised America will be energy independent by the end of his second term in 2021 if he’s elected president.

Sound familiar?

Question: Do you see any possibility that the U.S. will someday not depend on importing energy?

Related: The rise — and possible fall — of wind power. (Washington Post).


For the last few weeks, the crop dusters have been working over Minnesota’s farm fields. A pilot walked away from a crash yesterday in Hanley Falls.

What’s the big danger when you’re a crop duster? Check this video shot last week. Note all the power lines and wires.

The crash in Hanley Falls was apparently caused by hitting a guy wire.

Here’s a profile of a crop duster in Iowa…

Crop Dusters LLC from Dale Vande Griend on Vimeo.



Jenn Gibbons has completed her quest to row a boat 1,500 miles around Lake Michigan. She left on June 15 to spread awareness and raise money for an organization — Recovery on Water – a rowing team for breast cancer survivors.

Like most of these types of endeavors, she had a website that documented her quest and also provided a tracking mechanism to allow people to see her current location.

That ended when she was raped.

“All I know is I’ve been able to keep going..” she said yesterday.

See the video about her quest here. Trust me. You want to watch it.

Bonus I: How can high school student Missy Franklin get $200,000 for her gold-medal performances in London and still retain eligibility to swim for an NCAA school, when football players get penalized when boosters sneak money to them? That’s the way the NCAA rolls.

Bonus II: Is there really not a cemetery you’d recommend for NPR’s Dead Stop road trip, Minnesota?


As covered in the MPR News series “The Price of Safety,” tighter budgets are forcing many Minnesota communities to reevaluate the money they’re spending on public safety. Today’s Question: How should public safety figure into a community’s spending priorities?


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: A new ABC poll shows that more independents favor President Obama then his challenger, Mitt Romney. Are these independent voters truly independent, or actually closet partisans?

Second hour: The campaign in Iowa.

Third hour: In 1966 Julian Rotter published his famous IE scale. This measured whether the subject had an Internal Locus of Control – believing that they could affect the course of their life, that their choices would have an impact on what happened to them – or an External Locus of Control, in which case their life was guided by luck or fate and they themselves had little power to change things. The test has been developed in many ways since then, but it is still widely used today and the notion of Locus of Control has been particularly influential in healthcare. The BBC reports.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): From the Aspen Ideas Festival: the chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers Alan Krueger. He talked about the lack of middle-class jobs.

Talk of the Nation (1-2 p.m.) – The Political Junkie.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Solving the problem of malnutrition in developing countries isn’t just a matter

of providing more food. Calories are not enough. Now, the focus is shifting to foods with specific nutrients. Public health experts have discovered one particular crop that provides the most bang for the nutritional buck. NPR has the story.

  • Bob Moffitt

    Achieveing energy independence isn’t really important. The benefits that can come with the effort — cleaner air, new industries/jobs, reduced greenhouse gases, etc. ARE important.

    So far, Romney’s energy policies seems to be a rehash of “Drill, Baby, Drill.” Obama seems to be offering something more.

  • Bob Collins

    I think there are some interesting questions that go beyond the bumper stickers, though.

    You’re a mining family in West Virginia, for example. The benefits of a cleaner energy for the many are certainly apparent, but what’s the plan for putting food on the table tomorrow?

  • Ken Paulman

    Romney actually said North American energy independence.” Which would include Canadian oil and hydropower. Subtle, but important difference.

  • // Where can I still go in Minnesota where you don’t have to lock the doors?

    Short answer: Apparently, nowhere.

    I remember growing up spending summers on Lake Sallie in Shoreham (~10 miles outside of Detroit Lakes). The only locks on any of the cottages were on the *outside* for locking up at the end of the season — and mostly for keeping critters out. Folks that lived there year-round didn’t have any locks that I remember. Only a few of those cottages remain; they’ve been replaced by, well, never mind.

    The “lock” on our lake-side front door consisted of a butter knife leveraged between the door jam and the door. But that was only during storms to keep the front door closed so the rain wouldn’t blow in.

  • essjayok

    #4 This is worth reading as well: http://row4row.org/?p=2145

    What an inspiring woman: “I still believe that there are more good people in the world than bad.”

  • Tyler

    I’m an Obama supporter, but it’s worth pointing out that we’re “drilling more” than before he was president – in the Gulf, in Alaska, and in the Dakotas (fracking).

    On the other hand, we’re also a lot closer to opening NEW nuclear power plants than we were under the previous administration, so that’s good.

  • Gary Thaden

    “They always fill me with a certain horror. It is my belief, Watson, founded upon my experience, that the lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside.”

    -Sherlock Holmes, The Adventures of the Copper Beeches

  • Tim

    Gary beat me to the Arthur Conan Doyle quote. I knew I had read it before, but couldn’t recall who wrote it. It sums up my feelings very well, particularly the expanded version where Holmes explains his opinion further.

    Human nature is the same everywhere. There’s no reason to believe that people who live in rural areas are somehow more virtuous and morally upstanding than those who don’t. It’s just that there are fewer people around, which goes both ways (less people to commit crimes, but also less people to see them and do something about it).

    Personally, I always lock my doors, wherever I am and whatever the situation. It’s just something I’ve always done and it doesn’t have any meaning to me.

  • BJ

    4) Didn’t you interview a crop duster out of Hanley falls a week or so ago. PS I was in Hanley Falls a few weeks ago, there are no falls in or near Hanley Falls PPS The Minnesota Machinery Museum is VERY worthy of a visit to Hanley Falls.

    Locks – Wife finally broke me of the habit of not locking the house doors. I was of the mind set that the ‘stuff’ in the house isn’t worth the hassle of fixing the broken door or window. Car doors still are unlocked 30-40% of the time, would be more if the remote lock thing wasn’t around..

  • Kim E

    5. What is wrong with people in our stupid rape culture that a man thinks that a feature on a woman’s charity website to track her progress around the lake is actually an invitation to find her alone and rape her. I’m just waiting for the chorus of “She should have known better than to do this alone” starts. Women (and men for that matter) should feel safe to do anything they want by themselves, but idiots like this make that impossible.

  • kennedy

    Re #3 – USA will be energy independent when all the cheap, imported sources are exhausted.

    That’s one reason I favor limited drilling of domestic deposits. Right now, oil is still relatively cheap. Let’s use someone elses supply when they are selling it cheap. That way when supplies really get tight, we will still have our local supply secure in the ground.

  • Bob Collins

    // Didn’t you interview a crop duster out of Hanley falls a week or so ago.


  • Kevin Watterson

    Grew up on a farm, parents still live there. We’d always leave keys in the cars or the house unlocked even if we’d be gone for a week to go see relatives. Everything is locked now. It started with the meth wave about 10 years ago, people had cars stolen from their driveways, houses robbed for ingredients. Even the farm gas tank had to be moved into the barn, locked and put behind a locked door.

  • kay smith

    My uncle had his old keys-in-car car stolen from his driveway back in the 1960s. My mother’s ancient keys-in-car car was stolen from her unlocked garage 10 years ago. Both events happened in a town of 250 in southern MN.