Royally bummed in Hibbing (5×8 – 1/23/14)

Is nothing sacred in this icy land of ours? Why don’t women want to be winter queens anymore?

The Hibbing Winter Frolic, the celebration of all things cold, found only five Hibbing High School seniors this year interested in being the Winter Frolic Queen, the Hibbing Daily Tribune reports.

“Some said don’t have it this year, but then we talked about how people look forward to it and how it breaks up the winter. We decided that if we can afford it to just keep it going,” a board director did.

So the Frolic will go on but without any royalty. No queen coronation. No titan. No senior king, nor senior queen. The Frolic needed at least eight women to participate and they almost didn’t get enough last year, either. The committee opened it up to high school juniors, but only one was interested.

“We’re disappointed, because we love having the girls involved in the community and learning what the community is about and how it works,” said board director Penny Wilkerson. “We are disappointed, but we decided that we wanted to keep the event going because it’s tradition in Hibbing. We still want to be out there, hold some of the events and hopefully more girls will sign up next year.”

Winter is forever, but times are changing, Minnesota.
(h/t: Aaron J. Brown)

It’s cold, NewsCut has learned exclusively. Several school districts in the metro have closed, giving the mostly-open rural residents winter toughness bragging rights. Again.

Winter encourages our creative side. Few are as creative as my friend, Pete Howell, of Saint Paul who thinks you city slickers should make one of these:

Photo: Pete Howell
It’s a heated vest he made out of a Land’s End vest and $40. Sexy? Hardly. But apparently it’s the only way to get rural Minnesota to stop snickering at you.

More weather: The Car2Go experiment in the Twin Cities is encountering its first winter. The rentable gizmos are populating the impound lots because — since it’s not your car — there might be few reasons not to park it on a snow emergency route. City Pages says 90 percent of the fleet is still rentable in the Twin Cities, despite the casualties of snow emergencies.

Prong one: Get the customer to help. During the first snow emergency, Car2Go realized that it could enlist its members to help move cars, and instituted a trade policy: 20 free minutes of drive time to any member who moves a car to safety. Once the member emails Car2Go the perilously-placed car’s plate number, location, date, and time, Car2Go verifies the move and credits the member’s account. “We’ve seen a pretty good response,” Johnson says. “If the customer’s actually helping us, that’s an added bonus.”

Prong two: Tell members not to park on snow emergency routes in the first place. Car2Go blasts its social media accounts during snow emergencies to get the word out, and reminds members that if a car gets impounded, then the person to use it last is on the hook for towing and ticketing (though that doesn’t apply if the car was parked before the snow emergency was declared). “We’ve tried to make that clear,” Johnson says. “You can’t necessarily rely on somebody else using that car before it gets a ticket, and I think people are starting to figure that out.”

More: Free meal to warm Embarrass leads to pancake fundraiser (Star Tribune).


According to Time’s Ecocentric column, this cold stuff isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. We’re just becoming a little softer in a warming climate.

So why has this month felt so unusually cold for so many Americans? Probably because it has been—at least compared to recent history. An Associated Press analysis found that from 1900 on, cold extremes happened about once every four years. But when the average temperature in the U.S. dropped below 18 F on Jan. 6, it was the first time the country had been that cold on average in 17 years. And that day was only the 55th coldest day in recorded U.S. history, much warmer than the 12 F average recorded on Christmas Eve 1983.

The climate has been changing, but so have we, adjusting to what you might call a new normal. It’s an example of “shifting baselines,” a term first coined by the fisheries scientist Daniel Pauly. Once a New York City January when high temperatures were 38 F on average would have seemed on the warmish side. But as the climate has changed—and it has, with winters in New York State more than 1 F warmer on average now than in 1970—so have our perceptions of what’s normal. So when we get a winter that would have been pretty average four decades ago, it feels like a deep freeze.

At the present rate, by the end of the century, schools will be closed when it reaches 32.


More Target data is disappearing, but it’s not what you think.

Data about the breach of millions of credit card numbers and information is being scrubbed from the web, ComputerWorld reports, because of fear too much information has already been published. Authorities are concerned the details might tip off the hackers.

Alex Holden, founder of Hold Security, said it was the right move for Symantec to pull the report, as attackers might have been able to use the information to compromise other point-of-sale devices at other retailers.

“I was surprised that this information was posted on the Internet in the first place,” Holden said. “Besides having a Target machine’s name and its IP address, system structure and drive mapping, it discloses a very vital set of credentials setup specifically for exploitation of the device.”

Related: Target cyberattack pits banks, retailers against each other (CBC News).


Bonus I: You really have to feel for Eric Butorac, a 2003 grad of Gustavus. He has to go to work to work in 100-degree heat today. He’s advanced to the finals of the men’s doubles draw at the Australian Open, which is being played in Melbourne.


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: The University of Minnesota and the Legislature.

Second hour: The prosperity of Latin America.

Third hour: Five idea for better cities (Rebroadcast)

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm) – A program about the economics, science, and politics of fracking for oil and natural gas, from the Commonwealth Club of California’s “Climate One” series.

The Takeaway (1-2 p.m.) – TBA

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Church leaders in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis diverted millions of dollars from traditional church programs to deal with clergy misconduct. That spending, along with other financial decisions, led to lax accounting and even left the church a victim of embezzlement. Pending litigation could place the archdiocese and individual parishes in an even more vulnerable financial state.