If someone wants to add a picture of the signs and tree huggers (clothes nailed to the tree to look like people hugging the trees), feel free, I didn’t have a camera along.]]>
My due date is today, and when the baby comes, I will begin six weeks of unpaid maternity leave. I not only have to figure out how to pay the bills while I’m off, but also how to attend my best friend’s wedding in Colorado, which I am a bridesmaid in. Saving up for this hasn’t been an option, with our budget being inadequate as it is, so I am taking a leap and trying something creative.
My real desire was to raise money by selling things that I have put a lot of work into, like my handknits in my Etsy shop, Squirrel Seeds, but it was suggested to me that a centralized crowdfunding page might have more success. Still, since crowdfunding sites allow you to offer “rewards,” or “perks,” I have been able to offer some of my work in exchange for contributions.
Perks for my campaign include my short story “The Washery Mage,” my novel Dragons of Arethia Book One: Tesa’s Journey, my short story collection Fairy Stories (in settings inspired by Duluth locations), your name in the special thanks section of my second novel, naming a character, and, at the very top, the very special perk of luxuriously soft and warm handknit wool socks. The stories and novels are all ebooks. I am probably going to add a sock knitting class and “how to self-publish ebooks” type class as a perk later on, for local contributors.
More info about my campaign and my books is available on my blog, Sticks and Scribbles
Any help anyone is inclined to give is greatly appreciated, whether it be through contributions or sharing the link. Thanks for your time!]]>
A few days ago, Wildwoods Rehabilitation Center got two nestling robins who were rescued from the jaws of a cat. This cat is normally an indoor cat, but his owners were packing up to move. In the flurry of packing activity, he escaped outside and in short order, had two baby birds in his jaws.
Most animals we get who have been in the mouth of a cat die within 48 hours, despite supportive care and antibiotics. If they make it past the 48 hours, we are usually home free. These two made it.
Then, the next question — would their parents still be around the nest and take them back? They were the only two nestlings that had been in the nest, so the parents didn’t have anyone left to feed and might have abandoned the nest.
We put them back in the nest this morning, and then Ian watched for several hours. Finally the mom came, and then she brought them a fat, juicy worm! It was victory snatched from the jaws of defeat, and we are thrilled — we don’t get many of those.
Are we anti cat (and dog) at Wildwoods? Not at all! We do strongly feel, however, that cats should not be allowed to roam freely outside, both for their own safety and the safety of wildlife. Cats are non-native predators, and pretty effective ones, too! Cats have been shown to be one of the main factors, along with habitat loss and window strikes, that are devastating our populations of native birds.
Why do we still accept these losses at the jaws of cats, shrug our shoulders, and turn away? Yes, it’s in a cat’s nature, true. It’s also in a dog’s nature to chase — deer, sheep, cows, etc. Do we allow this? No. Dogs who chase cows or sheep may end up with a case of lead poisoning, and dogs who chase deer will get their owners a steep fine. Why? Because cows, sheep, and deer have economic value to us.
We have not assigned a value, other than perhaps aesthetic, to our songbirds and other native birds, but they do have value. They are part of a complex web that benefits us, often in ways we do not understand, aside from the sheer joy of having them in our world. We sincerely hope that our society will begin to value wild birds as they deserve.
We also hope that we will increasingly value our cats, and not place them in harm’s way by allowing them to wander outdoors, where they may get lost, or encounter diseases, cars, dogs, humans with ill intent, as well as predators like great horned owls. Cats kept indoors live, on average, three times longer than cats allowed out, according to the Humane Society of the United States.
We are all animal lovers here. Let’s do what’s right for all animals, both domestic and wild, and keep our cats (and dogs) under control, out of harm’s way, and away from wildlife. Thanks!
The building at 531 Central Avenue in West Duluth is being torn down today. It’s been known as the West Duluth Fire and Police Station, West Duluth Village Hall, Duluth Fire Department Engine House #8 and Duluth Police Department Station #3, Waelen Brothers Garage and the home of Twin Ports Vending and Amusements for many years, among other things.
For more, read the full history of West Duluth Village Hall on Zenith City online.
Where in Duluth is this newly established landmark? It washed up on shore about 5+ years ago and hasn’t moved since.]]>
Here’s a sampling of what you have to look forward to this week on the PDD Calendar.
I’m back from my three week sojourn. Thanks to Hallie and Paul for holding down the fort while I was gone!
What’s it like to go viral? Hannah Hudson discusses the ups and downs at the Duluth Photography Institute tonight.
You know how your mom always told you to make your bed? Now you can make beds for other folks at the Steve O’Neil Apartments. There’s a bed build session in a shop in Hermantown on Tuesday.
Spirit Valley Days kicks off on Wednesday and runs through Sunday. The first day features Bill Bastian, a Miss West Duluth Pageant and a Classic Car Show.
Red Herring marks the 30th anniversary of Purple Rain with a viewing, “unpretentious film analysis” and a dance party afterwards on Thursday.
The Two Harbors Kayak Festival runs Friday through Sunday with events operating out of Burlington Bay in Two Harbors.
And, in case you aren’t getting outdoors enough, the 28th annual Brewhouse Triathlon is this Saturday.
So what are you doing this week? Can we tag along? Any upcoming events that you want to promote? Let us know.]]>
Looking at this map, from the article linked below, it appears that Duluth is, statistically, one of the happiest cities in the United States. I completely agree with that assessment. Charlottesville may be the official “happiest region,” but you could easily substitute “Duluth” for “Charlottesville” and have an accurate description of why our city is such a great place to live in.
Richmond is America’s most contented area – with New York its unhappiest
Happiness is a place called Charlottesville, Virginia]]>
It was then, upon my journey back over the glorious Canal Park bridge, I discovered to my horror a sailboat stuck on the structure being held helpless by the current as I tried to untangle her cables and glanced over toward the 70-odd gapers helpless to resist their reality-TV moment playing out before their eyes.
The bridge announcer called out to the helpers, “Sailboat helpers, don’t hurt yourselves!” before he announced that help was on its way. And arrive help did, as it only took the Coast Guard just shy of 20 minutes to stow their whiskey bottles, poker tables, and strippers below deck from where they’d been docked along the Knife River skinny dipping, and do absolutely nothing while a friendly golden retriever in another high-powered boat took charge of the situation and made the audience applause in delight by freeing the distressed vessel.
I heard some passersby exclaim their moral superiority and righteous indignation over these yahoos who’d entangled their boat on the bridge. So I ask you kind readers, was this an act of sheer brainlessness, or do accidents sometimes just happen? Stay tuned for photos of the disaster.]]>
Drone fly over of the Thomson Dam and Munger Trail foot bridge on the St. Louis River near the entrance of Jay Cooke State Park. This is also home to the UMD Outdoor Program Outpost on the St. Louis River/Thomson Reservoir.
See more Duluth Drone Videos – Click Here]]>
The city of Duluth has determined that the ski jumps at Chester Bowl will be coming down due to safety concerns. A public meeting will be held July 31.]]>
“We are in a low margin, high touch industry,” Orman wrote to customers today. “As busy as we were, it was really hard to make money.”
Meanwhile, the West Duluth Business Club announced there will be a new farmers market in West Duluth on the lot of the former Westminster Church. Beginning this week it will operate every Thursday into October, from 3 to 7 p.m., on the corner of 45th Avenue West and Grand Avenue.
“In the beginning it will host between 6 and 10 vendors,” West Duluth Business Club President Charlie Stauduhar wrote to club members. “Please, if you can, show up on Thursday and thank the vendors with your support.”]]>
About a half-hour drive northwest of Duluth, in the unincorporated community of Saginaw, Swamp Sisters summer restaurant kicks out breakfast and lunch grub to fleets of mostly white-haired patrons who fill the gravel driveway with their cars and assisted-living-community shuttle vans. It’s open for about two months each year, on Fridays and Saturdays only, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., on the swampy old Armstrong farmstead. And all of that, of course, makes this place awesome.
The point was made abundantly clear on this website years ago that the elderly dominate breakfast restaurants, as they should. Why would anyone want to deal with a young person until after the first meal of the day has settled, right?
The featured Swamp Sisters menu item is Bonny’s Swamp Skillet with buffalo sausage raised by sister Suzi and her husband on their farm two miles away. It’s good eatin’, but the food is a bit secondary to the experience of it all. An old codger might fumble up to your table spilling cups of water while trying to serve them, and the thought that maybe he was just thrown into duty without warning because the place is swamped is confirmed when he tells you, “I’m trying not to do a good job so they won’t ask me to this again. I’m supposed to be fishing right now.”
It’s that kind of relaxed chaos that turns breakfast at the Swamp Sisters into an event. You can’t swing by the place on your way to work and grab a short order. You have to take the morning off and go on a trip to the country, then roam the grounds and wait for a table to open up. It’s the kind of thing that has too much personality to ever be franchised.
Closing weekend is already upon us: Saturday, July 26, is the last day to visit the sisters in 2014. Call ahead to get dibs on a caramel roll with pecans harvested by sister Jean in Alabama. They sell out pretty much every day.
Here’s the menu:
Even if you don’t have dogs (or are a responsible owner and already know that you shouldn’t leave your dog in the car), please be aware of other cars in parking lots. If you see a dog in distress, you can call the police/animal control, or contact the store to have the vehicle owner paged. Please do not assume the owner will be out in time – death can occur within minutes!
And true, the thoughtful dog owner may thank you for your concern for their animal by denying the danger of hot cars and flicking you off, but at least you may have helped the save the dog’s life by getting their ungrateful asshole owner called out of the store.
How Hot Does it Get in a Parked Car Dr Ernie Ward]]>
I spent part of the weekend at a reading of “William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, a New Hope,” a merger of theatre nerds and science fiction nerds. The reading took six hours, including time to eat. But maybe Star Wars is better with soliloquies. Maybe. With friends.
I was lucky to be at CON-vergence, a nerd convention in Bloomington, over the 4th weekend, but maybe more to the point, CON-vergence was lucky to have Duluthians. Volunteers from Duluth largely ran the overnite shift on the Coffee Shop for the Con, keeping nerds caffeinated. And Duluth nerds brought Tea Dueling, a sport that made its Minnesota debut at Berserkon 2014, to CON-vergence. (Hat tip to Claire, Lisa, Jason and Katherine for pioneering this sport.)
Summer is Comicon season. (Duluth is home to some great comic artists, including Clint Hillinski and John Hoban.)
While San Diego warms up, Barnes and Noble is doing some parallel events nationwide. Ann Hoak (Community Relations Manager at the Miller Hill Mall store) arranged for nearly a dozen sample chapters of forthcoming books to be available for free for the kickoff weekend, and more events (including a Batman event) are coming.
I usually cough and spit about corporate stores, but I like Barnes and Noble for three reasons: 1. Any resistance to Amazon is good resistance. 2. I love that this location has a full-time community relations manager, working to plan events and partnerships for authors, local schools, and more. 3. Sentiment. I used to work at a B&N, and probably, I internalized some of the store rhetoric. I still get sentimental when I remember how school groups used to do a day in the store, in which they arrived through the shipping entrance, were “unboxed” and received, sorted and shelved as if they were books.
That said, Comicon week is a good time to visit other local shops, like Collector’s Connection and Rogue Robot. Rogue Robot hosts a Monday Tabletop Gaming group, planned by Kate VTB, that is a lot of fun.
Next week will be the apex of Nerdliness in Duluth: Nerd Nite.
Clay Helberg is presenting on Mobile Magic: How to do Amazing Things with your Mobile Device
Matthew Beckwell is presenting on Internet Radio: Running a station for fun (but definitely not profit)
Steve Farnham is presenting on Oz (L. Frank Baum and His Weird World)
Nerdliness intersects with all sorts of other subcultures in Duluth. Theatre, of course (Lawrence Lee is one of the lynchpins there, and I am hoping that Zenith City Browncoats will be out in force at Nerd Nite). Music and Literature, too (authors AF Bat, Lucie Amundsen, and Chris Etheridge have been seen playing board games at Rogue Robot, while musician Emily Jayne has played some cruel Munchkin).
So maybe celebrating nerd culture is really just celebrating Duluth.]]>
Pretty much everything happening this time of year is part of a festival or concert series, so as we highlight items this week from the PDD Calendar, we’ll just pretend everything is part of a festival, even if it isn’t.
The Bayside Sounds concert series continues on Wednesday with
North Shore Sounds and Superior Singers performing at Billings Park in Superior. Earlier in the day, the Brothers Burn Mountain play a lunchtime gig as part of Lake Place Summer Sounds in Duluth. The Wednesday Night at the Races events for the kiddos begin on Wednesday as well.
On Friday there’s the Free Range Film Festival, Movies in the Park, the Current broadcasting live from the opening of Endion Station Public House and hosting a concert featuring Low at the Red Herring Lounge as part of CurrentFest, and the bars on North Tower Avenue host a Grand Reopening Celebration as part of the Superior’s Downtown Strip Isn’t Under Construction Anymore Festival.
Saturday events include the All Pints North Summer Brew Fest, the Board Across the Bay Race and Festival, Carlton Daze and the Mudman Race as part of Extreme Obstacle Course Daze.
And calendar editor Lawrence Lee should be back on the job at any moment, beginning PDD’s Back to Normal Fest.]]>
There once was a satirical website at duluthtourism.com that was far more sophomoric than funny, but famously raised the ire of Duluth’s then-mayor Herb Bergson, who asked the city attorney to look into the legal means to have the site shut down.
The site mostly featured altered images with dim gags like Bergson inserted in front of the NorShor Theatre with the marquee reading “Gay Porn Nite.” Once the mayor had a fit, the creator of the site took the offending posts down. Nothing remains there now except a parked page from GoDaddy, attempting to sell the domain at an inflated price.
In the meantime–releases! We released 3 robins a few days ago, including the one who had funky butt bumps from parasitic flukes. The bumps disappeared after treatment with antiparasitics and he and his buddies were good to go! Yesterday, the little chipping sparrow who came in with an injured wing was released, and today, one of the flickers graduated. And all of the mice are grown and gone. Yay! 2 more robins are almost ready. We are going through scads of earthworms and mealworms.
The little squirrel in the picture is a young Franklin’s ground squirrel. We love these little guys! They whistle like birds, live in colonies, and spend a lot of their life underground and hibernating. They are omnivorous, and eat not only greens and other veggies, but also love insects and grubs. Plus, they have the coolest mutton chop whiskers. Read more about them here.
We also have a baby chipmunk, 6 little eyes-closed red squirrels, 3 young voles, bunches of young cottontails, and 9 young raccoons.
We got a young Cooper’s hawk from Robin yesterday. And of course, we have lots and lots of recuperating pigeons!
And I think that’s everyone!
For answers, editors suggested we listen to scientists. This was sound advice, but it raised a question: Which scientists? It was scientific analysis that led to the cancellation of the Yucca Mountain, Nev., dump site plan — that and the staggering 2008 cost estimate of $90 billion, which was up from $58 billion in 2001, according to the New York Times. Yucca Mountain was chosen by Congress in 1987 and was vigorously pursued to the tune of $9 billion for decades. But then a long string of scientific show stoppers proved the site unsuitable, and the Obama White House and Energy Department gave it the ax.
A look at the record shows that most of the frightening risks and daunting technical problems that disqualified Yucca Mountain apply to this region’s stable but water-logged granite bedrock.
For example, in August 1999, proof that the inside of Yucca Mountain occasionally flooded came in the form of zircon crystals found deep inside. “Crystals do not form without complete immersion in water,” said Jerry Szymanski, formerly the Energy Department’s top geologist at Yucca. Szymanski said, “That would mean hot underground water has invaded the mountain and might again in the time when radioactive waste would still be extremely dangerous. The results would be catastrophic.”
In 1997, Energy Department scientists announced that rain water had seeped 800 feet from the top of Yucca Mountain and down into the repository in only 40 years. Government scientists said earlier it would take hundreds or thousands of years to reach the caverns, according to a 2007 New York Times report.
In 1995, government physicists at Los Alamos National Laboratory dropped a bomb on the Yucca plan, charging that wastes buried there might erupt in a radioactive explosion and scatter deadly fallout to the winds or into groundwater or both, as the Washington Post reported in 1998. Drs. Charles Bowman and Francesco Venneri found that catastrophic dangers would arise thousands of years from now — after steel waste casks dissolved and plutonium began to disperse into surrounding rock.
In 2001, after 14 years of work, the General Accounting Office reported that Bechtell, the Yucca project’s managing contractor, admitted there were 293 unresolved technical problems with geology and with waste cask design that would require years of study.
In 1990, in the Milwaukee Journal, the National Research Council said the Yucca Mountain plan was “bound to fail” because it demanded a level of safety that science could not guarantee. This condemnation didn’t even mention the risks of moving highly radioactive material around the country on barges, trains and trucks, passing through 40 states and 100 major cities for 25 years. The specter of a transport accident near the Great Lakes or anywhere has been justly dubbed “Mobile Chernobyl.”
Replace the earthquake problems at Yucca Mountain with the dauntingly vast amounts of water here — not the least of which is the world’s largest body of fresh water, Lake Superior — and consideration of the region for the storage of nuclear waste seems laughable. Federal guidelines say the presence of fast-flowing water disqualifies any potential radioactive waste site.
It was telling that “water” did not appear anywhere in the News Tribune’s editorial. Keeping water away from radioactive waste is the principle object of any long-term storage because water corrodes waste canisters and could carry radiation into the surrounding ecosphere and food chain. Current law requires any repository prevent such dispersal for 1 million years.
The Land of 10,000 Lakes at the head of the Great Lakes is far less suitable for waste storage than even a desert mountain.
John LaForge, a native of Duluth, has worked on the staff of the nuclear watchdog group Nukewatch, based near Luck, Wis., since 1992. This commentary was originally used in the Duluth News Tribune, Jan. 25, 2012.]]>