Getting along after a snowstorm, can the NHL survive, end of the American ascendancy, a choir’s dream, and maybe the ‘cloud’ isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Sunday’s snowstorm has now transitioned from the “Isn’t it Pretty” stage and entered the “If You Can’t Drive Any Faster, Move Out of Minnesota” phase.
The roads have not been in particularly good shape, of course, unless your definition of “good shape” is a washboard that rattles your teeth. As much as I appreciate getting where I’m going, we have to stop and think about what we’re doing here. On secondary roads, we’re driving on packed ice. We might not be sliding right now, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be checking our deductibles if we start to. A good way to avoid that is to slow down.
And it’s true, some people don’t know how to drive in the snow. We’re not born with the ability. Yesterday on the way to work, a car on I-494 couldn’t have been going more than 30, with a pack no more than a foot behind her and every other car. As I passed her (I don’t know why they couldn’t have), the look of terror in her eyes was unmistakable. She was young. This might’ve been her first experience.
Sure, she might be better off staying home, but she might not have had the choice. She might need the money to feed a family. Today, she’ll probably be a little better at it. That’s how it works.
The Star Tribune’s Letter of the Day, however, confirms that we’ve reached a predictable phase of snowstorm recovery. The writer laments people who snowblow their sidewalk’s snow back into the street:
This is a fine example of the “my personal convenience is more important than my community’s welfare” attitude that is unfortunately so prevalent in our culture.
Snowstorms give us the opportunity to allow us to declare how tough we are; they also allow us to remind each other how nice we are.
A couple of posts on the Facebook pages of some work colleagues provide warming examples.
From Ali Lozoff:
Warning, bummer update: I just saw a man in a motorized wheelchair stuck in the snow in the Franklin & 4th intersection, with cars barely veering around him. (Those who know me well will know why this hits so close to home.) As scary and difficult as the roads and sidewalks are for the majority, PLEASE take extra special care to clear paths for those with mobility issues, and give them lots of room to maneuver.
She drove around the block but by the time she back to the intersection, he was gone. One of Ali’s friends posted…
I saw this guy too! And when we realized he was stuck we saw a good samaritan stepping up to push him out. Right around 8:15ish…
Colleague Luke Taylor also discovered who we are…
Two nice things I saw tonight:
1. On Minnesota Street in downtown St Paul: A woman driving a car got stuck on a slippery patch of snow. When the traffic lights allowed, three guys from the bus stop ran out and pushed her car to a dry spot where she regained traction.
2. On Marquette Avenue in downtown Minneapolis: A woman at the bus stop offered a pair of gloves to another woman who, blowing on her exposed hands to try to warm them, clearly had none.
What makes a Minnesotan a Minnesotan in the wake of a snowfall — charging down the highway, or giving someone a pair of gloves?
It’s only December and we’ve got a long way to go.
Related: Don’t be shy about shoveling.
More snow: One person’s pain-in-the-neck snowfall is another person’s salvation. Reader Eric Chandler got his first XC skiing miles of the day yesterday Snoflake near Duluth.
“People swarm to this place that George Hovland still runs,” he reports. “The snow brought out the people in droves and George’s parking lot was full and he was bustling around getting the place going (at age 86) after this latest pile of snow.”
“He’s a legend, 1952 Olympian, and KidSki at Snowflake every weekend introduces over a hundred kids to XC skiing every Sunday for 6 weeks through every winter. I’m lucky enough to be a volunteer KidSki coach again this winter.
“Snowflake’s a great place and George runs the place as a gift to the skiing world. I’m grateful to George and the fact that he uses his land to spread the gospel of XC skiing.”
Here’s a 2001 story on him, when he was a mere babe of 75.
The NHL has canceled more games, this time through the end of the year. Some businesses around the Xcel Center say they’re at death’s doorstep. The strike has reached the “we’re not coming back” stage for hockey fans. They’ll be back. Sports fans who swear they’ll never come back, always come back.
But they’re making a big splash with their “Just Drop It” campaign this week…
You’ll be back. And sports owners who lock out their players know you’ll be back. That’s why lockouts last so long.
A National Intelligence Council report got very little coverage yesterday but raises a significant question: “Are we ready to no longer be so special?”
The report, cited in the UK’s The Telegraph, says with the rise of countries in Europe and Asia, “‘the ‘unipolar moment’ is over and Pax Americana – the era of American ascendancy in international politics that began in 1945 – is fast winding down.”
How fast? Fewer than 20 years.
With a growing population and rising incomes, the planet’s demand for water, food and energy will grow by 35, 40 and 50 per cent respectively by 2030.
“We are not necessarily headed into a world of scarcities, but leaders will need to act to avert such a future,” said Christopher Kojm, chairman of the National Intelligence Council.
A wealthier China and India will likely need to rely more on food imports, driving up international prices. Families in low-income nations will feel the pinch hardest on food, likely fuelling social discontent, the study said.
The National Intelligence Council estimated that the world will have nearly 8.3 billion people in 2030, up from 7.1 billion now, but that the average age will be older – with potentially giant consequences.
WCCO gave a present to a gospel choir whose dream got stiffed by the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Timberwolves, like many sports teams, charge groups and individuals to sing the National Anthem before games, and the Coon Rapids Gospel Choir didn’t have the dough.
So, as part of a holiday promotion, the TV station fulfilled a different dream instead. Who needs the Timberwolves?
Wired.com has the story of what really happened yesterday when Google’s Gmail went down: it transmitted destruct codes to Chrome, Google’s browser.
Think of it as the flip side of cloud computing. Google’s pitch has always been that its servers are easier to use and less error-prone than buggy desktop software. But the Sync problem shows that when Google goes down, it can not only keep you from getting your e-mail — it can knock desktop software such as a browser offline too.
Chrome prides itself on “sandboxing” itself, so that a problem with a single webpage can only crash a tab in the browser, and not bring down the entire program. But that’s just what happened with Monday’s bug. It clobbered the entire browser.
“That’s definitely a big and unusual problem because if the browser shuts down, that’s a failure of the whole model of Chromium itself,’ says Kevin Quennesson, CTO of online photo service Everpix.
“When you bridge authentication and identity and the cloud to a desktop application, you then get occasionally these very weird failures,” says David Ulevicth, the founder of OpenDNS, a cloud-based infrastructure services company.
Translation: It’s going to happen more often as you relinquish control of your desktop applications to someone — and somewhere — else.
Bonus I: How big a house do you really need?
Bonus II: Lyle Lovett is NPR’s latest Tiny Desk Concert…
Poll numbers show an approval rating of 60 percent or higher for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who says she wants to leave office after President Obama finishes his first term. She has said she is not interested in another run for president, but observers speculate that she may change her mind. Today’s Question: What should Hillary Clinton do next?
WHAT WE’RE DOING
Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: Inside the jobs report.
Second hour: Time and money management.
Third hour: Travel gurus Keith Bellows and Rudy Maxa discuss the healing or transformative benefits of travel.
MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): Little War on the Prairie, the 1862 US-Dakota War.
Talk of the Nation (1-2 p.m.) – TBA
All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – NPR will report on a role model who knows how to keep fellow ex-offenders from returning to prison. Probation counselor Clark Porter is uniquely qualified. His experience includes armed robbery, 15 years in federal prison, and then enrolling in college.