1) No doubt, we'll hear the phrase "the traditional start of summer" uttered by newsies over the next few days. One wonders if by making major holidays three-day weekends, we've reduced the significance of the holiday.
Each year, we ask News Cut readers to tell us the story of their relatives' or friends' (or themselves, sometimes) service to the country. Please do so, in the comments section.
I don't remember his name, if I ever knew it. He was just one of the grease-monkeys up the street at the Texaco station, the one I used to ride my bike to with a pocketful of dimes to buy Cokes out of the vending machine. He was the one who looked at me funny when I bought a pack of cigarettes -- Salems -- out of the vending machine. "They're for my father," I insisted, even though they weren't. And he made sure I knew that he knew that when he said, "Sure." Then he stopped being there and a few months later another grease-monkey said he was dead. His Jeep overturned "somewhere in Vietnam," he said. That was the first time I knew someone who went off to a war and didn't come back. I didn't even know his name.
2) If you could build your house from scratch, would you put in a furnace? Would you make more energy than you use? The blog, The Adventures of Johnny Northside, provides a terrific tour of a passive solar house under construction in Hudson, with 22-inch-thick walls, blinds that open and close automatically, and a view.
The only thing missing is the pricetag. The builders also have a blog here.
3) Is there a bigger waste of time than expending energy analyzing a gubernatorial candidate's choice for lieutenant governor? Probably not, judging from the inside view provided in the story from MPR's Mark Zdechlik today. The big news in it, perhaps, is that Mae Schunk got more coverage today -- nine paragraphs -- than she got in four years of being Jesse Ventura's lieutenant governor.
"I had a fear of saying the wrong thing," Schunk said. "You know this is the media. This is going out all over the whole state. But I guess I did alright."
Sometimes I walked into his office and I said, 'governor, this dish rag is getting a little bit soiled.'" she said.
But the most intriguing quote is this one:
Schunk said she and Ventura talked about her taking on the job of education commissioner, but decided that position required full-time attention.
Which brings up the question, if being a lieutenant governor isn't a full-time job, what is it? The job pays $78,197, by the way.
Discussion point: What's the best job in Minnesota?
4) A lot of smart people have expended a lot of carbon dioxide discussing why online comments are so uncivil and what can be done about it. National Public Radio expends more. In its All Things Considered story, NPR points out that suggestion that Web sites let everything fly because that's what gets "page views" -- audience. There's good news, NPR reports. Web site editors have realized that comments are content too and are starting to take editorial responsibility for them:
The reason people come to blogs, the story says, is the best ones converse with the audience.
5) There was nobody in charge aboard the Deepwater Horizon on the day it exploded. A woman who issued a "mayday" was reprimanded.
Bonus: iPad and velcro.
Meanwhile, the iPad is launching internationally.
Imponderable: Lou Reed and his wife are holding a concert in Australia. You won't be able to hear it. It's for dogs.
After complaints from users and government officials, Facebook has introduced measures to simplify its privacy controls. Have you had a privacy problem on a social network?
WHAT WE'RE DOING
Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) - First hour: Are you glued to your job?
The recession saw a huge number of layoffs, scaring many into staying in jobs that they ordinarily would have quit. But there are signs that people are beginning to feel confident enough in the economy that they're willing to voluntarily leave their jobs. Career counselor Amy Lindgren offers advice for listeners about how to find new opportunities in a tough market and when to know it's OK to walk away.
Second hour: From his 1970 debut album to his more recent work, the songs of Loudon Wainwright III have provided a keen and humorous commentary on his personal relationships, society, and current affairs. His most recent album takes a look at the country's current economic woes. (Rebroadcast)
Midday (11 a.m. - 1 p.m.) - First hour: Carleton College international relations professor Roy Grow discusses reconciliation between the U.S. and Vietnam as we head into Memorial Day weekend.
Second hour: NBC Meet the Press moderator David Gregory interviews Gov. Tim Pawlenty on "Meet the Press, Across America."
Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) - It's Science Friday! First hour: A very similar blowout spewed oil in the Gulf for nine months 31 years ago. So why don't we have better prevention and cleanup technologies than we did back then?
Second hour: Gardening on the cheap.
All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - A class of systemic insecticides first introduced in the 1990s is now ubiquitous across the urban landscape. The use is expected to increase as people treat for emerald ash borer in the Twin Cities. A University of Minnesota researcher says there are troubling indicators the insecticide stays active longer than previously thought and is killing beneficial insects. She's starting a new research project this summer examining the impact of neonics in urban areas. MPR's Dan Gunderson will have the story.
Chris Roberts profiles Zoo Animal, one of the most well-regarded indie rock bands on the local scene. A new CD features songs with devout Christian themes, but is Zoo Animal a "Christian" rock band? Yes and no.
MPR's Tim Nelson visits Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the completion of the chapel at the cemetery
I lost my cousin Thomas Caroll Moffitt (a Marine PFC) in 1969. Son of a CPO and grandson of a WW I Doughboy, he was buried at sea. You can find his name on The Wall in DC at P-29W / L-31.
My 81-year-old father served in the Korean War of the early 1950's. He served in a M*A*S*H unit. Not the one on TV, but a real one. He has never, EVER talked about it in detail, nor will he. I am sure that seeing the horrors of war firsthand 24/7 left an indelible impression that he prays none of his descendants will ever have to endure.
I suspect that he, like many other honorable, decent and brave men and women will carry their own horrific memories to their respective graves.
My husband's best friend from high school died in Viet Nam at age 19. An article about him in the Star Tribune was entitled: Forever 19.
Too many will be forever 19.
As to the question of best job in Minnesota, I'd have to say mine. I get to do really cool stuff that helps Minnesota and Minnesotans by making health care more accessible, but also finding ways to do things more efficiently within state government. I have a super great manager and great co-workers. I get a lot of flexibility in managing when and where I work. I get paid a decent wage, though not as much as lieutenant governor. And I have great benefits.
My father, Frederick Michael Weimer.
He served as a seaman second class aboard the USS Block Island, the only American aircraft carrier sunk by the Germans during World War II.
Six sailors perished in the torpedo attack on the Block Island by a U-boat patrolling the Atlantic Ocean near the Canary Islands on May 29, 1944. But the remaining 951 Navy personnel, including my father, were evacuated safely to other vessels. He was discharged in 1946.
My father died in 2005.
Rest in Peace, Dad.
My Dad served in Vietnam in 1966 in the U.S. Air Force, flying small planes, "bullshit bombers" he called them. He never once mentioned it when I was a child. I discovered he had been in Vietnam when i was 19 (read: 1985). Mom never mentioned it either (being divorced, it was easy to avoid talking about him, and not able to hear him directly).
When visiting him a few years ago, in his new house, I was looking at pictures on the wall and noticed a little frame with 4 medals in it.
"Uh, Dad? Is that what I think it is?"
"Well, that depends. If you think it's a Bronze Star, then, yeah, I guess it is what you think it is"
It was in a little frame with the Air Force Flying Cross and two others. All 4 are from Vietnam. And, strangely, it was the Army who requested the Bronze Star.
He stated the one medal he had, that he was the most proud of wasn't either of the "big" ones. it was some "You didn't screw up too badly" sort of award ... again, from the Army. It was apparently the highest award the Army could give him without asking permission.
It was a shock to hear, after 35 years, that my father's service was far beyond what I had imagined.