Minnesota to Key West, why do people keep building in flood zones, more money for Minnesota elected officials, the people who dump their trash wherever they want, and how letters from strangers saved a kid's life.
First: the Monday Morning Rouser:
We are all on some sort of journey; some of us make it to where we want to go. Some of us don't.
Daniel Alvarez, whom I profiled last fall after he'd started his kayak trip from Minnesota's Northwest Angle -- the northernmost point of the lower 48 -- all the way to Key West the southernmost point -- now falls into the category that made it. He did so over the weekend, about nine months after he started.
I just wanted to let you know that I made it to Key West. I landed on a crowded beach near the supposed "Southernmost Point" and then rolled the kayak over to the monument there. There were tons of people there and even some cheering and I only wish that I could have had everyone who has helped me along the way with me so that they could have gotten all the cheers. It's the least solo solo trip ever. I was thinking about how many people have helped me along the way and felt truly lucky to have been able to meet so many great people.
You are one of them for sure. Ever since I met you your encouraging emails here or there helped keep my spirits afloat! Thank you so much. I'm not sure what I will do next, but I will let you know for sure. Keep me in the loop when you end up flying that Bob-built plane of yours across the country so I can cheer you on!
His blog, Predictably Lost, was notable (aside from its brilliant writing) for themes that cannot be diminished: the interest others took in his journey, the willingness of strangers to open their doors and hearts, and the grace with which Alvarez faced a daily struggle, often to the point where many would quit.
Oh, and one other theme: the things we've done to the treasures we were given.
(Photo: Associated Press)
Good luck on your own journey today.
From the sound of things, it's going to be another high-probability flood season in parts of Minnesota. But give some communities in the Red River Valley credit; cities have prevented homeowners from rebuilding where the water is just as likely to threaten to wash things away again.
That's not the case with Hurricane Sandy, ProPublica and WNYC Radio have teamed up to reveal. Homeowners and businesses are getting millions of dollars to rebuild in flood zones the federal government has said people should no longer build.
"Our mission is to help these homeowners and business become whole again," said Carol Chastang, an SBA spokeswoman. "We really aren't in a position to tell people where or where not to rebuild."
Minnesota lawmakers, who apparently haven't had a raise since 1999, have a revenue problem. They make only $31,140 a year but the Compensation Council, a committee of all branches of government, will bump that to $40,890 in 2015 if the plan is approved. That's still less than the 1999 amount adjusted for inflation in today's dollars ($42,849, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics).
"I wish we could have the conversation without it becoming a political football. Inevitably, it does," House Republican leader Kurt Daudt tells the Associated Press. The governor's salary would rise to almost $124,000.
Among the many mysteries of life in 2013 is why people still use the great outdoors as their personal dump. It's not like there aren't trash barrels scattered around civilization. Why, I've even heard that there are companies that will actually come to your house and pick up your trash.
So why do people use Duluth's Skyline Trail as a landfill (photo: Perfect Duluth Day)?
On PDD, "wskyline" writes:
I can't tell you how often people throw things off this outlook, and usually it is electronics like TVs, microwaves, mini fridges, etc. Every time I walk by there's something new. I really wish there was something we could do shake some sense into people to just pay the $5 to legally dispose of that kind of stuff, but I really don't know how. Any ideas?
Bonus I: I can see your house from here. Minneapolis-St. Paul and environs on March 2. Click image for the full effect. (h/t: Peter Caltner, Austria)
Bonus II: You're a runner? Anyone can be a runner. But only Cedric Givens has been a runner running backwards... since Ronald Reagan was in office. Great video here. (Washington Post)
Today's Question: Should the governor and state lawmakers get a raise?
WHAT WE'RE DOING
Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) - First hour: House Taxes Committee Chair Ann Lenczewski and Senate Taxes Committee Ranking Minority Member Julianne Ortman talk about the governor's tax-reform proposals including raising income taxes on the state's highest earners and extending the sales tax to include clothing and business services.
Second hour: Dictionaries in the digital age and other topics in lexicography.
Third hour: Author and conservationist Terry Tempest Williams discusses her book "When Women Were Birds," a meditation on the journals her mother left her when she died.
MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): Former Florida Gov.Jeb Bush, who spoke Friday at the Reagan Presidential Library about his new book "Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution." He also talks about ways to improve education, energy policy and the economy.
Talk of the Nation (1-2 p.m.) - Rebuilding the Japanese coast. Two years ago, a massive tsunami barreled over sea walls in Japan killing nearly 19,000 and wiping out entire communities. Now, tens of thousands of people are still living in temporary housing, wondering when they'll ever have a home again.
All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - Nano particles are in a growing number of common products. The virus-sized man made particles change the properties of common materials. But some of those nano particles might pose a risk to the environment. Government regulators and scientists are trying to understand the risk. But they still have more questions than answers. MPR's Dan Gunderson will have the story.
If you pay attention to the label on many spring water bottles, you'd think the water comes from the base of a glacial mountain, captured carefully by young maidens, radiant from the health effects of the restorative powers of the natural juice the earth has provided.
Where does it really come from? In the case of Poland Spring (made famous recently by Marco Rubio), it comes from the town water supply of Fryeburg, Maine, where residents are plenty ticked off that the giant conglomerate behind the label wants 45-year dibs on the town's water.
Like many small towns in New England, the water company is privately-owned and wants to lease water rights to Nestle for 45 years.
Late last week, the town turned out to urge regulators to block the lease with Nestle, which has already sued the small town five times.(1 Comments)
Someday, there'll be a fascinating study on the psychology of people who try to get stuff past airport security.
Somebody last week thought this would be a blast to try to sneak through, the TSA blog reports:
It's not really a bomb vest; it just looks like one.
It was another week of confiscation of inert hand grenades too -- seven in all.
None came out of Minneapolis-St. Paul, although people trying to sneak stun guns through came in for special mention, as did the guy who joked about having a gun.(0 Comments)
We hope by now you've seen the delightful pictures of the John Beargrease Sled Dog race up north. Find them here. Pay particular attention to this picture, showing the team of Blake Freking of Finland, MN.
One thing we've learned from the video uploaded (today) of musher Blake Freking: Mushers appear to be incredibly polite people.
Freking has three teams in the race. You can follow the progress of the mushers here. We learn that Freking left Sawbill this morning around 9:30, on a 51-mile leg.
Here's a fine essay on the man for whom the race is named.(0 Comments)
At least in New York City, you still have the right to buy a sugary drink larger than 16 ounces, even if it kills you.
A Manhattan judge this afternoon tossed the city's ban on selling large drinks, a day before it went into effect.
Here's the full opinion.
Non-New Yorkers probably want to know if this decision carries any legal weight with other cities and states interesting in regulating soft drinks to reduce what many consider to be a epidemic of obesity.
The decision isn't made on constitutional grounds -- that is: do you have the right to buy a big slurpie, even if it might end up killing you.
Instead, it was made on rules in New York first put in place in the 1600s delegating who's got the power to do what in the city.
But aside from the question of powers of elected officials, the underlying question in the decision is still a good one worth answering: Is obesity a disease that calls upon health officials to take drastic steps?
The expanded sales tax in Minnesota may not be dead after all, a key day for same-sex marriage hearings, more threats from North Korea, more green-on-green attacks in Afghanistan, a look at the comet, and so long, Percy Harvin.
Here's today's news discussion with Mary Lucia on The Current.(0 Comments)