All posts by admin

Eye of the Storm

By Michael Lederer

Hur­ri­cane Rita Peak. Source: Wiki­me­dia Commons

His­to­ry nev­er crawls or walks. It runs. Some­times silent­ly as if on the soft­er sands of time. Some­times we can hear its foot­steps loud­er as they hit the hot pavement.

As I write this on Jan­u­ary 19, 2017, Barack Oba­ma is still the Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States. But only just. Great Britain is still a mem­ber of the Euro­pean Union. But only just. And after the painful lessons of the 20th cen­tu­ry, nation­al­ism is still a sleep­ing giant. But only just. The giant is waking.

Since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 to the vote for Brex­it in 2016, Europe and the Unit­ed States have known over a quar­ter cen­tu­ry of rel­a­tive peace. No wars, hot or cold. Some excep­tions: Sara­je­vo, Sre­breni­ca, 9/11. But for the most part, some 10,000 morn­ings, after­noons, and evenings have unfold­ed in secure calm. But as in the eye of a storm, calm can be decep­tive. And tem­po­rary. Read more »


By Beth Ann Fennelly

Tommy’s par­ents wave from the porch as our mini­van pulls up. His dad smiles, and that’s when I see he’s miss­ing about half of his teeth.

Pho­to cred­it: Shaghaghi

Before retir­ing a few years back, Ger­ald had been a mechan­ic. Dur­ing high school, he’d appren­ticed at his uncle’s garage, then ser­viced army vehi­cles while sta­tioned in Ger­many. When he final­ly returned home he kept fix­ing cars. Worked “from can to can’t,” worked Sat­ur­days, feed­ing himself

into the maw of bust­ed trucks in unair­con­di­tioned Alaba­ma, feed­ing a wife and three kids. Even­tu­al­ly he’d own his own shop, Franklin Auto­mo­tive. In addi­tion to repairs, he had a line on “totals,” wrecks the insur­ance com­pa­ny didn’t con­sid­er worth fix­ing. Ger­ald con­sid­ered oth­er­wise. He’d buy two or three of the same mod­el at sal­vage auc­tion and Franken­stein them togeth­er. Tech­ni­cal­ly he wasn’t allowed to sell them – “brand­ed title” and all that – but he fig­ured there was no harm in it as long as the cus­tomer knew. He loved to nego­ti­ate, and that man could sell an ice­box to an Eskimo.

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The ‘D’ Word

By Sabrina Völz

still-alice-book-coverRecent­ly, I read a high­ly acclaimed nov­el writ­ten by Lisa Gen­o­va, a Ph.D. in neu­ro­science. Her first book, Still Alice (2009), chron­i­cles the descent into Alzheimer’s of Dr. Alice How­land, the emi­nent William James Pro­fes­sor of Psy­chol­o­gy at Har­vard. Rem­i­nis­cent of Char­lotte Perkins Gilman’s short sto­ry, “The Yel­low Wall­pa­per,” Lisa Gen­o­va pens a touch­ing, high­ly accu­rate, and grip­ping account of the effects of demen­tia on the body, mind, and spirit.

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Reconciliation with the Dakota Sioux in Mankato

By Roger Nichols


Every­one read­ing this blog has seen mon­u­ments to his­tor­i­cal events or nation­al heroes. But how many of you have seen a memo­r­i­al to a mass hang­ing? Out­side the movies or TV, few peo­ple today have ever seen a pub­lic hang­ing. That was not true a hun­dred years ago when crim­i­nals’ lives often end­ed at the end of a noose. The largest pub­lic hang­ing in Amer­i­can his­to­ry took place on Decem­ber 26, 1862, in Manka­to, Min­neso­ta. That day, fed­er­al troops exe­cut­ed 38 Dako­ta Sioux Indi­ans for their part in the Min­neso­ta Sioux War that had just end­ed. By some accounts, up to 4,000 whites jammed the town square or sat atop near­by build­ings to watch the mass exe­cu­tion. The crowd cheered loud­ly when the trap­doors opened and all 38 men hung at the end of the ropes. Why not take a few min­utes to find out why this grue­some spec­ta­cle hap­pened 134 years ago and how the city of Manka­to – often asso­ci­at­ed with the Lit­tle House on the Prairie TV series – has dealt with this lega­cy? Read more »

How to Haiku Part Two

By Maria Moss

“Gray wolf run­ning” by Eric Kil­by

A long jour­ney ends
when farm­ers grab their rifles
wolves in Germany


Remem­ber the Haiku rules from last week? If not, check here.

As opposed to last week’s blog on tra­di­tion­al Haikus, this blog will focus on the non-tra­di­tion­al vari­ant. While these Haikus still fea­ture a nat­ur­al scene or a part of nature (e.g. land­scapes, ani­mals, oceans), the focus is no longer on the depic­tion of a qui­et, solemn image of nature but on the dis­rup­tion or even destruc­tion of a once bal­anced and har­mo­nious envi­ron­ment. Non-tra­di­tion­al Haikus always call atten­tion to envi­ron­men­tal dam­age due to man’s inter­fer­ence in the nat­ur­al order of things.

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