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PDD Quiz Delayed

Greetings, PDD quizzers!

The PDD quiz will be delayed by one week; the next installment of the Duluth parks quiz will be published on May 22.

See you then!

A Weird Experience Writing About Great Lakes Shipwrecks

I got spooked by a coincidence while researching Great Lakes shipwrecks for a story. The coincidence involved a shipwreck so terrifying I decided not to write my story at all.

I had planned to write about each category of maritime disaster: shipwrecks, ghost ships, and disappearances. With a proper shipwreck, the fact of the sinking is undisputed, but the wreck itself may or may not ever be found. A ghost ship has been abandoned but doesn’t immediately sink, sometimes not for years, resulting in haunting sighting reports. I had written a story about a ghost ship already. Now I wanted to write about a ship disappearing. With such missing ships, a sinking is often assumed, but the ship is simply gone; it may as well have sailed into a black hole.

My disappearance tale remains unwritten. The story I was going to write was of a ship vanishing in plain sight as it sailed under the Aerial Lift Bridge. The mystery would be where did it go, and how — was it all an illusion/what is reality anyway, etc. The ship’s possible fates would include “what if the lift bridge acted like a teleporter.” The end would reveal a document recording an encounter with the ship in the distant past, describing the crew as phased half into the deck — a nod to the Philadelphia Experiment. The story would end with this horror image of the still-alive crew, instead of with an explanation. Dude this story was going to rock. All I needed was the name of this doomed hell ship and I could start writing.

Monthly Grovel: May 2022

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Homegrown is over, but the music festivals keep coming. There’s the Festival of Nordic Music, Duluth Dylan Festival, Bayfront Country Jam, Bayfront Reggae & World Music Festival and on and on. The only reliable tool to help weigh the options is the PDD Calendar.

Each month we reach out with one beggarly blog post to remind everyone that human beings and not machines are at work editing and publishing calendar events. So if you appreciate it, drop a few bucks in the PayPal account.

Zeppelins Over Duluth

From the book The First Time Germany Invaded Duluth, Minnesota by Peter S. Svenson:

“July 1, 1917: The Weltanshauung, a German hydrogen war-zeppelin, lost power over Bavaria. Captured by the wind, for the next two weeks it blew north across Europe and then the Arctic Circle. The furious crew tried fixing the engines but never succeeded. Technically, they set the World Record for the first arctic crossing by air, a feat later repeated by Shackleton.”

From “Zeppelins Over Duluth!” Duluth Herald, July 16, 1917:

“The Weltanshauung contained an internal airplane hangar with six black tri-planes that emerged from the nose of the craft like hornets. A Canadian fighter squadron looked for the zeppelin over Lake Erie and almost collided with it in the dark. It was a cliff face hanging in the sky, dwarfing them with the black-cross-on-white symbol of the German Air Force. But the Canadians lost it in confusion and fear. Soon a lake steamer spotted it drifting within sight of the North Shore of Lake Superior, toward Duluth. The authorities mobilized the American helium zeppelin, the Federalist, from its floating hangar in the Duluth harbor.

Bury Me in Hot Sauce

There is a Medieval legend of the honey mummy: holy men consuming nothing but honey until their excreta and fluids turn to honey, whereupon they die and are sealed in honey-filled stone caskets for a hundred years. Bites of their candied flesh are said to have curative powers, mystically evading definitions of cannibalism.

When I am 75, I will stop eating and drinking anything except hot sauce. After a month, my bodily fluids will become hot sauce. I will poop fiery chili paste like a sambal. The endorphins released with every bowel movement will keep me high as a kite. I will pee siracha sauce squirting like a squeeze bottle. My seminal fluid will be an organic salsa verde. My salivary glands will secrete tabasco. Weeping serrano tears from cayenne eyes, everything I see will have an apocalyptic tint. The interstitial fluid between my cells will run with fermented habanero. Since an all-out hot sauce diet is unsustainable, I will die. Fill a stone coffin with artisan ghost peppers, pureed scotch bonnets, Trinidad scorpions, jalapenos aged in wooden casks, vinegar, salt, lime, onions, and garlic. Place my body inside. Then seal it for 100 years.

Monthly Grovel: April 2022

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Zlata Chochieva? 311? Trampled by Turtles? Weird Al? The only reliable tool to help weigh the upcoming concert options is the PDD Calendar.

Each month we reach out with one beggarly blog post to remind everyone that human beings and not machines are at work editing and publishing calendar events. So if you appreciate it, drop a few bucks in the PayPal account.

The Return of the Handshake

There was a brief minute at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic when I thought I might never shake another person’s hand again. And I was fine with that. If we could take just one positive thing out of the widespread death, illness and cultural disturbance that began in 2020, it might be ridding ourselves once and for all of the compulsion to rub our palms together.

But even when I was in the middle of a long no-handshake stretch, full of wishful thinking about the future, I knew deep down that the germ clutch would soon return. And of course it did.

My prejudicial prediction was that most people wouldn’t want to return to handshaking, but a bunch of insistent jackasses would refuse to let it die. Then it would slowly become normal again and we’d all live with it. I was wrong. Pretty much everyone started extending their hands the moment lockdowns and mandates were eased. There was no resistance.

Surf and Slide – Great Lakes Now

Detroit Public TV produces Great Lakes Now. The show speaks to me of what we share with other Great Lakes residents and how we should quit fighting about whether or not Lake Superior is the Greatest Lake. This episode focuses on ice sailing, and lake surfing (specifically the Surfistas): “It’s about stoke.”

Stock Lake Superior with Seals and Orca Whales: A Modest Proposal

To the Mayor of Duluth and the City Council: I propose that the city stock Lake Superior with seals, and a community of orcas to keep the seals in check. This plan increases annual tourist revenue by $300,000,000. I outline my proposal below with expenditures.

Seals can live in freshwater. The only population of exclusively-freshwater seals is native to the ratchet Lake Baikal in Russia, the Baikal seals. But geopolitical issues preclude obtaining breeding pairs. Therefore we need to look closer to home: Quebec has harbor seals in a couple lakes, a subspecies of the common seal called the Ungava seal. But, the Ungava is endangered so if we import them, we should establish a breeding program, increasing expenses.

Fortunately, Iliamna Lake in Alaska has a population of common seals trapped there. I suggest we capture and import specimens from that population to get ours started. Technically saltwater seals, the common seals’ adaptability to freshwater has been proven which will give them a head start in Lake Superior. I’ll throw in a couple Ungavas on the house to increase genetic diversity. Estimated cost of capturing and importing 100 breeding pairs of seals from Lake Iliamna: $3,500,000.

Chaotic Good

All names have been changed in this essay, not for each person’s privacy — just for fun.

I’m under the impression, based on the stunning aggregate of books, songs, poems, movies, and even body sprays about the subject, that I’m not the only person who truly was at a crossroads at age 17. By way of possible explanation, for many more years of my life than I’d like to admit, I labored under the very firm and very erroneous impression that I needed to be perfect in order to deserve love. What is even more absurd is the fact that, to preserve this external façade of imperturbable perfection, I believed I had to hide, disguise, or elaborately lie about most of who I was.

But by 17 years old, this had reached something of a fever pitch, the world having grown so much more complex and rife with nefarious but terribly desirable options. For example, I was a newly-minted cigarette smoker, having discovered that cigarettes were the missing piece in my anxiety repertoire. They created a self-reinforcing feedback loop in my neuronal network in which I smoked to relieve anxiety, and then smoking made me more anxious — a glorious oscillation that kept me jangly and on the edge of my seat, but also hiding episodically in the Harbormaster’s bathroom during school lunch to smoke, so no one would know I was a smoker.

UMD Ombudsperson Position

The University of Minnesota Duluth is seeking an ombudsperson who is a designated neutral or impartial practitioner whose major function is to provide confidential and informal assistance to UMD faculty and staff.

Duluth Book Releases in 2022

Zero Waste Kids: Hands-On Projects and Activities to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle
Written by Rob Greenfield
Illustrated by Alissa Imre Geis
Contributions from April Hepokoski, Zion Lights, Heidi Rose, Alyssa Binns Gunderson and Michelle Cassar
Quarry Books
Available at quartoknows.com

Be the Change: Rob Greenfield’s Call to Kids―Making a Difference in a Messed-Up World
Rob Greenfield and Antonia Banyard
April 20
Greystone Books
Available at greystonebooks.com

Eric Chandler
May 20
Finishing Line Press
Available at finishinglinepress.com

Safe Passage

For as long as I’ve been writing, and that’s been for about twenty years or so, reader, I’ve made my contact information available for people to reach out to me with questions and comments about what I write.

A couple of months ago someone sent me a message through Instagram saying that I have privilege because I can pass as a cisgender woman and also asked why I haven’t used that privilege by being more visible in the trans community. I take every question seriously—well, all the serious ones, at least, so I’ll take my time here to answer.

Passing is complicated. Even the word is complicated. I don’t use it. I blend. And there was, of course, a time when I didn’t. Being misgendered hurts. And there are trans women who are routinely misgendered throughout their transition and I’m acutely aware of that because of my own experiences early in my own transition. Is there privilege in blending? I suppose there is. Does it make my life easier? Undeniably. When I’m out in public, my identity as a woman is not questioned or rebutted at a restaurant or at a grocery store, at the clinic or anywhere I go. It gives me access. It gives me peace of mind.

The Institute for the Study of Light and Water

I am the founder and only member of the Institute for the Study of Light and Water. In truth its membership includes all who live. Data-gathering continues from my top-floor hillside apartment, the observatory. Generous windows on every side provide views of the lake and the sky. I must complete the Institute’s studies.

Monthly Grovel: March 2022

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This month marks two years of the pandemic messing up all the fun. The PDD Calendar has stayed on track throughout all the cancelations, online events and even the rescheduled events that were canceled again. Now, we look forward to better days.

Each month we reach out with one beggarly blog post to remind everyone that human beings and not machines are at work editing and publishing calendar events. So if you appreciate it, drop a few bucks in the PayPal account.

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