(I changed the time stamp on this to push it back to the top.)
Here's the little presentation I promised I'd have a week ago. Here's the premise: We (the media) often miss a piece of the story with the current housing crisis. Sure, it's about bank instruments, late payments, declining values, and, quite often, the sadness of losing a home and having to find another way to survive. Part of this is because of how we came to view our homes during the "boom" times. They were bank accounts we could cash out. We forgot that you can't cash out the way the things that happen in your home, end up in your heart.
If you get all misty eyed thinking about these sorts of things, then you're the person I want to hear from. Here's a little form to fill out. I'll take it from there.
For the sake of the future of the little children on the News Cut staff (OK, there aren't any little children and there isn't any News Cut staff, but let's just pretend.), I certainly hope so.
This question, in particular, creeps me out:
How often do you prefer the excitement of the Internet to intimacy with your partner?
and so does this one:
How often do you block out disturbing thoughts about your life with soothing thoughts of the Internet?
Soothing thoughts of the Internet? Oh, bandwidth, you gorgeous bandwidth! Reveal to me the underlying source code of this page. Yes. Yes. Oh, yes.
Full disclosure: I scored a 30. Which means, "You are an average on-line user. You may surf the Web a bit too long at times, but you have control over your usage."(6 Comments)
There are two current "shows that never end" on News Cut. One is the "WCCO fires Paul Douglas" entry. The other is the "ethanol tax" entry with my unscientific "study" that revealed how much more per gallon I have to spend for ethanol-blended gasoline than your basic "let's toast the Saudis" blend.
The Wall Street Journal blog picks up the theme of the latter -- without crediting, or probably reading, the genius of my 'study' -- by pointing out that at least one Web site is actively tracking this gap between the blends.
AAA, it says, has been posting the "adjusted E-85 price" as part of its daily gas price survey. Here's how the adjusted price is calculated:
The BTU-adjusted price ... is not an actual retail average price paid by consumers. According to the Energy Information Administration E-85 delivers approximately 25 percent fewer BTUs by volume than conventional gasoline. Because "flexible fuel" vehicles can operate on conventional fuel and E-85,the BTU-adjusted price of E-85 is essential to understanding the cost implications of each fuel choice for consumers.
I had calculated -- very conservatively -- a 2 or 3 cents per gallon "ethanol tax." The Journal blog says it's closer to 8%:
If that spread persists as E85 gains widespread use in America's cars, rather than the niche of vehicles now equipped for the fuel, the hidden costs for drivers would be akin to upgrading in the current gasoline-oriented world from regular to mid-grade. When was the last time you did that?
Wondering if this is the water-cooler talk at the Ethanol and Biodiesel University convention this weekend in Las Vegas?
3:19 p.m. - Dan McCullough E85prices.com posted a long commentary in the original "ethanol tax" topic (see link above). For straight price comparison, his site is pretty fascinating.(10 Comments)
Hat tip to commenter Tim T. for catching this ad looking for a weather anchor on WCCO, which, of course, fired Paul Douglas a few weeks ago.(1 Comments)
I heard a rumor this morning that gas prices were going to go up 22 cents a gallon, so since I needed gas and since I always wanted to start a panic, I raced to the pump. I was sure I would find a long line there, as happened in New Jersey yesterday (that's where I heard the rumor).
There were no lines; everyone was out trying to find rice, apparently.
I often dig the ATM receipts out of the trash at the bank, just so I can see the balances that people have in their accounts. Now I've developed a new hobby: Seeing what they're paying for gas and what blend their pumping.
There's no science here. Just eavesdropping.
A Ford Explorer:
Prius. She might've only pumped to $30, however. People still do that, but good luck trying to get the thing to stop right on the .00.
For the record, there's no 22-cent price jump coming today. New Jersey was just catching up to the rest of the county.(5 Comments)
Next month, female veterans of World War II will be given a well-deserved honor in Minnesota: a recognition that they did their part. Virginia Allen of Minneapolis would like to see volunteers officially recognized as veterans, too.
The word volunteer doesn't begin to convey her service, which took her from helping the most seriously injured fliers at a Florida hospital to rallying morale in Burma as "G.I. Jill," the antidote to the anti-American messages of Tokyo Rose.
When the war broke out, she told me recently, she knew she had to do something. "Anyone who was not patriotic was totally ignored and rejected by one and all," she said. "The more involved you were, the more important you felt because you were doing something for the country."
Allen, now 89, had graduated from William and Mary and had hoped to move to France, but the war had other ideas and she volunteered at a hospital in Florida.
"The hospital I worked in had the worst possible injured, poor flying guys I've ever seen. I was supposed to be a secretary. I was very bad at that. I could sort of type so they kept me there in the physical therapy department in order to be sure that I could handle what I was going to see. I worked with these guys and my job literally was to look at them, chat with them, and maybe they wouldn't even have a face left. Maybe they were just like a stick for a leg or something. We'd talk about, 'OK if you aren't really working out, how are we going to dance?' It was that type of lingo that went over and I soon became quite comfortable looking at bashed-up people, which is unusual since I'd never seen anything like that."
Virginia worked as a civilian employee for Army Intelligence, which gave her more information about what was going on than many of her contemporaries. And when a young soldier to whom she was engaged was killed in a plane crash in Africa, she decided she wouldn't get involved with anybody until after the war. Still, she had a sense of wanting to do more. She headed overseas.
She and her best friend joined the Red Cross, got on a special train and headed to New York and, she presumed, France. "When we woke up, we saw cornfields. We were heading west. After training at a California Marine base, she and her best friend boarded a ship, the destination of which was secret. They ended up in Calcutta. "I had seen the bashed-up GIs, thank God, because I don't know if I would've been able to make it through all that happened in India," she said.
She ended up in Agra, a desert outpost full of C-46 cargo plane repairmen where she set up a Red Cross club, broadcast as G.I. Jill, and worked to keep morale up. "I took the GIs to see the Taj Mahal, we held dances, and we went to leper colonies."
"I was over at the hospital one night because a GI sent for me and he asked me if I would write a letter to his parents because he had a rotten cold. I sat down beside him and we talked, and he really looked terrible. The next day he died. It was the first (case of) polio among GIs. Then we had an epidemic," she said. To keep morale up, "you simply did not advertise it. We held volleyball games, we dug a golf course out of the ground, horseshoes, anything we could think of. Nobody knew how to treat polio."
"You don't have time to think of your morale, you're too busy to think about their morale. That's the thing that saved us. If they were down we had to dream up something. We even had a program called 'manners.' These guys requested that over and over again. We did it as an experiment," she said.
Her G.I. Jill radio program competed for the same audience as Tokyo Rose: the American G.I. Virginia said she never thought about countering Tokyo Rose by trying to direct propaganda to Japanese soldiers. "We didn't give a hoot what they heard. I didn't want to be responsible for giving them any information at all. We could break down an awful lot of the stuff that she was telling us as just hogwash."
"Did you listen to her?" I asked.
"Yes," she said. "Whenever I had a minute."
"Did you see her as your competition?"
"We were coming from two different places. And she lied and I didn't," she said.
Through the war in China-Burma, Virginia Allen did her job, putting on shows, playing music, teaching manners, writing the last letters home for soldiers. She is one of 16 people to be put in a Library of Congress collection on the China-Burma theater of war, considered the "forgotten theater."
She wants to be sure the volunteers in the war aren't forgotten, too.
"We are treated like veterans in every way except we have no benefits whatsoever," she said. "There were a number of people who needed help, who really would've liked to have been able to go to a veterans' hospital for help. (They treated) us as veterans whenever it looked good, but never really recognized us completely as veterans. We went off to war. There were guys who were enlisted who (had to be ) dragged to go off... hated it. We could've stayed home and danced with all those people. That was the easy way out."
"You were required to be brave. There were people who dropped out and went home," she said. "But most of us didn't."
Audio highlights with Virginia Allen
Over the next few weeks, I hope to provide a handful of profiles about the women who went to war. If you have any suggestions for the series, please contact me.
If you went to the Minnesota State Fair in the '60s, chances are you saw skywriting for the first time. Or maybe you saw the biplane pulling an advertising banner over Memorial Stadium at a Gopher game. That was Chuck Doyle at work.
Chuck died today in St. Cloud. His son, Chuck Jr., penned a tribute to him which crossed my cubicle and I'm pleased to share it with you.
Charles Peter "Chuck" Doyle was born to be a pilot and stuntman. Impressed with Charles Lindbergh's 1927 solo flight to Europe, Doyle talked his father into taking him to the Minneapolis Airport where he was given an air ride in a Navy trainer. In his teens, Doyle owned a Harley Davidson motorcycle and cut classes at Washburn High School to ride to the airport and hang out. In the summer after his junior year, he offered to trade the motorcycle for flying lessons, but instead was given work helping to rebuild airplanes. He soloed in an airplane that summer and borrowed money to purchase his own Travel Air biplane. During the 1933 fall homecoming football game at the high school, Doyle buzzed the field and was promptly dismissed from school. He would finally graduate from Washburn in a colorful 2002 ceremony!
At the airport, Doyle earned a living working on airplanes, selling tickets for barnstormers, and performing daredevil stunts. In 1935, Doyle made his first parachute jump at the Minnesota State Fair and towed his first aerial banner for Griffith Shoe Polish. He had learned the fine art of skywriting from local veterans and rigged his plane to fulfill local Pepsi Cola assignments. In addition to the flying, Doyle also began to take part in other thrill show events at fairs and celebrations across the country, performing such stunts as driving his motorcycle through burning board walls, head-on auto crashes, crashing airplanes through 'houses' built within fairgrounds, as well as climbing from his speeding motorcycle to an airplane by means of a rope ladder hung from the airplane. He used his motorcycle and ramps to jump over cars long before Evel Knievel was born. Despite the spectacular lifestyle, Doyle was never injured.
During WWII, Doyle worked briefly for Northwestern Aeronautical Corporation in St. Paul, building gliders that were used by the Army to land troops behind enemy lines. Despite having no college education, he was hired by Northwest Airlines in January of 1942 after Pearl Harbor as a training instructor and taught at Rochester, Minnesota. When Northwest was contracted by the Army Air Transport Command, he was assigned to fly Northwest transports in Alaska, making flights as far out as the Aleutian Islands.
Following the war, Doyle bought war surplus aircraft, flying, restoring and racing them at Reno NV. Many of his airplanes found their way into museums, including three in the Air Force Museum at Dayton, Ohio, and a Curtiss Pusher aircraft that hangs in the MSP Airport's Lindbergh terminal. Doyle's airline career with Northwest continued until his retirement at age 60 in 1976 after 34 years, but his flying career wasn't over. From his home airstrip in Apple Valley, Doyle continued to sky-write and tow banners. The airstrip's signboard heralded "UFOs Welcome." He owned and flew dozens of aircraft and had his hand in many Minnesota aviation projects, including the publishing of a Minnesota aviation history book.
When the City of Apple Valley condemned his property for a highway right-of-way, Doyle moved his planes to Fleming Field in South St. Paul. He knew everybody in aviation and lived flying and restoring airplanes every day of his life. Both Chuck Jr. and Brian were taught to learn to fly by their father and are pilots and continue the family's tradition for the love of aviation Shannon would fly only with her Father but respects their love for flying.