Retirement, driving on ice, and the death of Blondie (5×8 – 2/4/13)

The Monday Morning Rouser


Well, hi, welcome to Monday. Off to work are we? Sure, Mondays aren’t a lot of fun but once you retire you’ll be able to do those things you’d rather be doing.

Scratch that.

What would you do if you didn’t have to work? Mountain climb? Better do it quick! Lonnie Dupre, the Minnesota adventurer who turned back from his third attempt to scale Mt. McKinley alone a week or so ago, is reflecting on his attempt, saying his age may have caught up with him.

Denali 2013: Return from Lonnie Dupre on Vimeo.


Lake Minnetonka has claimed two more victims. A man and his grandmother died over the weekend when their car plunged through the ice on Lake Minnetonka.

Audrey Kletscher Helbling, who writes Minnesota Prairie Roots, reflects on this tradition:

Yes, in Minnesota we drive cars, trucks and other vehicles onto frozen lakes to access ice fishing houses or open-air fishing spots. Sounds crazy, I know. But ice fishing, in which a hole is drilled into the ice to fish, is a big sport here. For example, some 5,500 fish houses are set up each winter on Mille Lacs Lake, probably our state’s most popular winter fishing destination. Roads are even plowed, bridges placed, across Mille Lacs to allow easier access to houses outfitted with kitchens, beds and other comfy accommodations.

Her ice-fishing and ice-driving days were all good fun, she reports… until she heard the ice crack.

When is ice safe? You can’t tell by looking at it, the DNR says. Even fish swimming in a lake can bring warm water to the top and weaken the ice, it says. And a foot of ice does not equal a foot of ice. A foot of old is weaker than a foot of new ice, according to the DNR.


The Duluth News Tribune may be in some hot water with fans of the comic strip, Blondie. The paper is canceling the comic strip. That might be news. So might this: Blondie still has a sizeable following.

In a letter to Blondie fans, the DNT reports that the amount the comic syndicate charges for Blondie is much higher than any other comic — five times higher, for example, than Beetle Bailey.

The bigger issue, though, is the explanation for why we’re paying so much, which I asked of the company’s salesman on his last visit here.

His answer? The DNT is a “legacy” subscriber, going back years (“Blondie” first appeared in the Duluth Herald and Sunday News Tribune in May 1937), and therefore subject to yearly price increases. In essence, our benefit for being a longtime customer is we get to pay more.

I suggested that maybe we should cancel it and start again, but he warned me I didn’t want to do that — and launched into the story of how the News Tribune once canceled “Beetle Bailey” and the Budgeteer picked it up and made hay out of it.

I don’t know if he heard me say that’s unlikely these days because the DNT and Budge are now the same company. Regardless, if he didn’t want to talk about it then, he certainly hasn’t made much of an effort since. For at least a year I have called and e-mailed him repeatedly with no call back. So has my assistant. Zip. No response to our director of finance, either.

We shall this week be monitoring the Great Blondie Controversy of 2013.

More media: In Los Angeles, a Christmas Day photo prompts help for a woman who lost her job. (LA Times)



Last Friday in this space, I noted the work of Lindsay Gorelick, a University of Minnesota senior who parlayed her love of couponing into creating $3,000 worth to the Harriet Tubman Center in Minneapolis. Total cost to her: $38.

How is this possible? Here’s a Q&A with her.

NewsCut: When did you get this idea of donating your collection? You mentioned this was your “biggest haul.” Have you been donating before.

LG: I donate about 95% of the things I get. I have a strong belief that humans are not meant to have so much excess, we are supposed to share what we have. When many people are living without necessities, and I can get those necessities for free or cheap using my skills, I will. I donate many things including: pantry items, toiletries (for men and women), cosmetics, vitamins, etc.

NewsCut: Why this shelter?

LG: I chose the Harriet Tubman shelter because they are an amazing organization. They help women get out of dangerous situations and give them the support they need to begin a new life. I used to volunteer at a shelter in Milwaukee growing up, and I realized how little some of these women had when it came to necessities. Battered women often leave their home with very little, if any luggage. Donating these things can help make their transition a little bit easier.

NewsCut: How’d you get into couponing? How much time does it take. How long did it take to assemble this haul?

LG: I started couponing about a year and a half ago. I started because I am a college student, and I wanted to stretch my dollar further. I am an economics major, and I absolutely love working with numbers and prices. Numbers and math come naturally to me, so it is easy for me to figure out how to maximize my savings using the coupons that I have. This project took me 5 months, and I put in about 8-10 hours a week.

NewsCut: Have you gotten other people into this idea? Has Reddit helped you?

LG: Couponing is something anyone can do. Most people do it on a smaller scale, but any savings are good savings! My roommates clip coupons sometimes, and I give them to my mom to use for her shopping trips. Extreme couponing is a little intimidating for most people, but I tell people: start out small. Just use 3 or 4 coupons at the grocery store. Even a few coupons can make a difference for the total cost!

Reddit is a very cool online community, and they have expressed different opinions about my donation. Some people are very negative, calling me horrible names or a saying that I am a thief. However, most redditors have been very receptive to my project, and a few of them even messaged me on how to donate themselves!

NewsCut: After this particular donation, are you going to start on another and, if so, who will benefit?

LG: I am starting another project, which will be a donation to the Simpson house which is a homeless shelter for men and women. I am hoping to collect another $3,000 worth of supplies for donation.

NewsCut: Are you from the Twin Cities originally? What’s your major and post-graduation plans

LG: I am originally from Milwaukee, WI and I moved here for college. I go to the University of Minnesota, and I am studying applied economics. After I graduate this May, I am planning on going to culinary school.

NewsCut: Any advice for people who want to mirror your effort here?

LG: If people want to donate or help someone else, find something you are good at and use it. It doesn’t need to be couponing. If you are really good at art, volunteer to teach an art class for kids at a homeless shelter or battered women’s shelter. Using your talents to help other people is one of the best ways to make this world a brighter place.


Some behind-the-scenes shots of Friday’s concert of the locked-out Minnesota Orchestra musicians, celebrating their Grammy.

Related notes: Music teacher finds ‘community feeling’ at Oil Patch school. (Fargo Forum)

Bonus I: “The farmer” spot on yesterday’s Super Bowl. Winner?

Bonus II: How Oreo got its Twitter ad up so fast.

Image of the Day: It has it all, really. (Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)



President Obama is visiting Minneapolis today to promote his plan to reduce gun violence. Parts of his initiative are expected to have a tough time getting through Congress. Today’s Question: Can you think of a middle-ground solution for gun violence?


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: Poor kids and selective schools.

Second hour: A 12-step solution for the GOP.

Third hour: Self defense and guns.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): Live coverage of President Obama’s appearance in Minneapolis.

Talk of the Nation (1-2 p.m.) – TBA

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – A recap of President Obama’s quick visit to Minneapolis to tout his gun proposals.

Iran’s police brutally cracked down on protesters following the countrys 2009 elections. Since then, pro-democracy activists have fled from the streets to cyberspace. And some have fled the country altogether. But the police have followed them all. NPR looks at Iran’s crackdown.

  • Kassie

    The concert of Osmo and the Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra on Friday was amazing. I’ve never seen a crowd so riled up at a classical concert before. I just hope it is not the last time Osmo and the musicians play together. I fear the worst.

  • Disco

    When it comes to driving on ice, I think it can be explained in part by simple personality differences between people, risk-taking behaviours in general, and how risk is assessed. I have known people in my life who assess risk as: “bad stuff doesn’t really happen to me.”

    I have not been ice fishing since I was probably ten years old. I still regard it as one of the most unpleasant recreational activities ever invented (though I was too young at the time to understand that the real purpose of ice fishing was the inebriation). But even back then I was leery about going on the ice, and at that age I was certainly not taking in account things like number of days below freezing to get an accurate assessment of the risk. I just never felt comfortable being out there. You mean we’re driving two tons of steel onto a frozen lake?

    Other people don’t give it a second thought. They’re usually the ones who wind up at the bottom of the drink.