5 x 8: Are you afraid to take a vacation?

It’s opening day of the Minnesota State Fair. I’ll be working in the MPR “store” from 1-9 p.m. Stop by and say “hello.” Bring some Sweet Martha’s Cookies.


Some American businesses have figured out a way to keep people from taking so much vacation time: Giving employees unlimited vacation time.

The Boston Globe reports that as more companies remove restrictions on the amount of time off an employee can take, fewer employees seem to be taking advantage of it. If they’re taking any time off at all, it’s about the same amount they had before.

“When you only have a limited resource, you feel more compelled to use it,” one tech worker in New Hampshire said, explaining why he hasn’t taken any vacation time.

The paradox is people who are successful and driven enough to land jobs in these companies are likely to be overly responsible and hard working, so that they’re less likely to take the vacation even though it’s there,” said David DeLong, a Concord workplace consultant and author. “The workloads are so intense today that many employees feel that they can’t afford to take time off.”

You caught that, right? If you’re “successful” and you’re “responsible” and you’re “hard working,” you don’t take the vacation.

The bottom line? The American worker is afraid. If you have vacation limits, you can at least make a claim that you have to “use it or lose it.” When you have no limits, even a short vacation seems like a risk.

“There is skepticism on what’s really at play here,” Pete Morse, a labor and business attorney, told the Indianapolis Business Journal last year. “There is concern, either imagined or real, that your manager does not embrace this. That your manager wants to see butts in the seats. They don’t want you to use this.”


Authorities are already circling the wagons in the wake of the news police in St. Louis park tasered a 76-year-old nursing home resident who died from the fall.

The Minnesota Department of Health, which oversees nursing homes, wouldn’t comment on whether it is or isn’t investigating the case, because… well, who knows what thought process goes into such a statement; of course they’re investigating the case.

The most surprising statement in the Star Tribune story on the incident is this one, however:

“I think we’re going to see more incidents like this,” said Rodrigues, the long-term care ombudsman for California.

Seriously? Why? Because we can’t figure out a way to subdue old people besides using a stun gun on them?

From the archives: Death by taser
Another taser death


John and Missy Porter of Fargo want to adopt a child with special needs. That makes sense; he’s a special education director for a school system.

“I think we’ve always had a special place in our heart for children with disabilities or special needs,” Missy Porter tells the Fargo Forum. “I think this is perfect for us.”

Except that the cost of international adoption is sky high. So the Porters are holding a yard sale to try to raise money for the addition. Their three kids are selling lemonade to help.


News organizations have been reporting details of the civil war in Syria for months, but Americans don’t seem that interested in it, even with yesterday’s apparent gassing of civilians.

For some reason, the war doesn’t register here.

This video (offensive to some people) could change that. “I’m alive,” the little girl repeats.

Her name is Younma, according to the Washington Post. The health worker says she’s been psychologically traumatized by the death of her parents at the hands of toxic gas.

The U.N. Security Council couldn’t even agree on a strongly worded statement about using chemical gas to kill innocent civilians, NPR reports today.


It’s the beginning of the end for human banking. Bank of America has announced it’s eliminating drive-up tellers at bank branches. The bank says it’s not a cost-associated decision; people don’t want to bank with humans anymore, apparently; not when they can use ATMs or apps on their smart phones.

Bonus I: Ron Kelsey: The seed sack saver (Daily Globe)

Bonus II: In praise of the prairie (streets.mn)

Bonus III: Louisiana sinkhole swallows trees in a swamp.

Bonus IV: Antoinette Tuff: Meet the Woman Who Prevented a Mass School Shooting this week.

Bonus V: Sven Sundgaard talks about his rabies scare ( City Pages)


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and former Saint Paul Mayor George Latimer. From the State Fair.

Second hour: Home repair advice.

Third hour: Talking Volumes rebroadcast with Abraham Verghese.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

The Takeaway (1-2 p.m.) – NSA surveillance of U.S. citizens.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – One of the ways rural Minnesotans are trying to recreate vibrant communities is to enhance the action revolving around local food. About two years ago in Bemidji, two people started up a small local food enterprise to give people a commercial kitchen to make money off their jams or pies. We circle back to see how locally-grown food has become a way to bring together diverse groups and to expand nutrition education to families.

Many climate scientists believe that urgent action is needed to reduce global carbon emissions. Professor Judith Curry is not convinced. This climate expert parts company with her colleagues. But she goes out of her way to reduce her own carbon footprint. NPR profiles the controversial climate scientist.