Lobster Mushrooms

One of the things we have noticed in moving from Grand Forks to Minneapolis is that things are just bigger and more diverse. You really notice this when visiting farmers’ markets. There are so many, they are larger, and the farmers as just ethnically more diverse.

Our favorite is the Minneapolis Farmers Market. We usually go Sunday morning, have a brat for breakfast and wander through the isles. We have learned to differentiate resellers from those who sell fresh produce. The posted signs must tell you which is which.

There are so many things I have never eaten or heard of. The strong Asian presence is usually responsible. Strange looking stuff even Cindy and her willingness to try recipes she finds online has not been willing to take on.


We did decide to try Lobster mushrooms. According to the mushroom hunter, these are mostly found North of Minneapolis into Canada. Clean the dirt. Cut into pieces and fry like steak.

BTW – if you are looking for a good read, I recommend The Mushroom Hunters. Those who collect mushrooms for a living are really interesting characters.

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Sign of the times?


There used to be an informative message here. This and the other signs at the edge of our property were removed. Evidently the request that you not kill stuff in my backyard was offensive to someone. Sorry.

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Wild Rice Pow Wow 2016

Pictures only




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Scrabble is evil

I hate playing games, but I have special contempt for Scrabble. My wife’s family considers Scrabble a way to evaluate intelligence. It drives me crazy that they play these strange words that they cannot pronounce let alone use in a sentence. Scrabble at the highest level mostly recognizes experience playing Scrabble.

Ok – that might have been a little bit of sour grapes. But, only a bit.

My family plays Words with Friends – the Scrabble game you can play on an iPad. Technically, “ words” is not Scrabble because that would be a copyright violation. I can’t tell the difference.

The game has nothing to do with friendship. You should hear the language players use. These expletives are really shocking when the players are competing online. There I am quietly reading on my kindle and out of the silence come these angry utterances that disturb my concentration. The debate over whether or not games make you more violent is not really a debate as far as I am concerned.

I see that there is now a version of Words with Friends for education. Maybe this is a good idea. If kids must play Scrabble, they should learn the game in a setting supervised by adults who will teach them sportspersonship and that using words in sentences is important.



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Maybe the jobs aren’t coming back

In the heat of this political season, unemployment and the US economy are major issues. Presidental candidates each have a position and blame one thing or another (immigration, the ultra rich) in the hopes of convincing voters they have the keys to “make America great again”. What if the vision either side offers is wrong and each candidate is responding to the concerns of their base in a way that ignores reality? What if the jobs of yesterday are not coming back?

I read a commentary on the recent “recovery” that explains things in a way that make sense to me (wish I had the reference). Many employers had to lay off employees in the aftermath of the down turn of 2008. As the economy has recovered (check the level of the stock market), these employers have realized that they can generate a larger profit margin by not employing at the level pre-2008. Technology has contributed to this situation, but for whatever reason employers have realized they do not need the number of people they thought they did. This makes sense to me and it may be the reality of the future.

What if this is the new reality and politicians are just unwilling to tell us this unpopular truth?

I don’t buy the isolationist argument. The various economies of the world are now interrelated and the US probably makes out far better than most. We are too hopelessly hooked on cheap goods sold in big box stores to get into trade wars with other nations. My challenge for Trump supporters who think otherwise is to wean themselves from shopping at Walmart or Target and to find an alternative to their iPhone that is made in the US. There is a difference between dealing interactively with the economies of other countries in a fair way and accepting the way economies interact.

My reality check does not come with easy solutions. My thinking has been influenced by Tom Friedman because he seems to accept the reality of globalization. He promotes education and the exploration of new types of work.

I do think that redistribution of wealth is necessary. The US is doing far better than most may realize because the disparity in who gets what continues to increase. Trickle down has never worked so I am with the Democrats on supporting different approaches to taxation.

I also think we need to consider the retirement age. As an academic, I used to think the old guy who tottered around campus and refused to retire was kind of interesting. As I functioned as an administrator and then retired myself, I changed my opinion. The old guy was taking a job away from someone else. Retirement does not have to mean that you no longer contribute or are intellectually inactive. Holding one of a limited number of jobs at some point is kind of selfish. The professions at least need to take a look and see if there are ways to redefine retirement to offer both new employment opportunities and ways for those “retired” to continue to contribute.

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Hillary’s email server

I don’t know what to think of the issue with Hillary’s private server. I wish she would admit she was lazy or whatever motivated her behavior and move on. This seems such a focal point and I struggle to understand whether it is that significant or not. I have and still run an email server. My first email system was hacked and I shut it down. The present system is used only to forward email generated by my blogs and seems to be clean. I think most citizens have far less technical insight and have even less capacity to evaluate whether this is serious or not.

I understand the issue with using multiple email systems and how it can be a hassle when you work from many different devices. The university I worked for used a Microsoft email system and required changes in passwords every three months. The situation there was less about security – we were told that emails sent on the system were considered part of the public record and could be requested. My email was purposefully not to be considered secure and it was my personal emails rather than my work emails that I might be an issue. My preference had little to do with concern for the public record and more with the personal preference for GMail over Microsoft exchange.

I am not in a position to evaluate the information in the emails she received and sent. I have no idea whether she was given any directives beyond the general rules for government service. I pretty much ignored the general rules I was given because I did not think my behavior was damaging to anyone and I valued my time and the daily commitment I made to be available to anyone. I suppose if I was directly asked to change my behavior I would have changed. This is not a justification in any way, but I understand how expectations related to our online behavior are not always taken seriously.

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Superior Fish

Why is it people like to post pictures of food? I think it is because they are trying to make their friends jealous. Anyway, I have been places with food worthy of a picture and worthy of generating jealousy. Or – I may be easy to impress after living in North Dakota for so long, I am easy to impress. North Dakota was a fine place to live, but I cannot think of a food that would attract visitors.


I am not a fan of super fancy food. I am a fan of cheese pizza and Cobb salads. I took a chance this past week on some delicacies from Northern Wisconsin. On the left, you have fresh pickled herring. I do eat the stuff you can purchase in most grocery stores, but this offering was far better. On the right you see the rar,e lightly breaded and fried, Whitefish livers. Try finding this in your local grocery or fish market. Both are great with a light, summer beer.

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You are not a role model

Charles Barkley famously stated that he was “not a role model”. His point was that his behavior on and off the court that did not involve athletic performance was not an issue for others to criticize. As far as personal consequences were concerned, he was probably correct. Aside from advertising opportunities, supporters tend to be tolerant of about anything that does not land a star in jail.

I wish we could say more for our politicians – especially those who hope to lead and whose primary function is to represent the rest of us to the world. The patriotic values we promote so often seem to be poorly exemplified in the behavior of those who compete to be our leaders. Civil behavior, evenhandedness, respect, and humility are characteristics interpreted by too many as weakness or elitism,

Lacking the strength of character to admit you have been wrong is lately the trait that annoys me the most. Last night the wife of a candidate obviously plagiarized the speech given by the present first lady. This was apparent in the side by side comparisons offered by many news outlets and would make an ideal example for a classroom example. I doubt very much the speaker reviewed the previous speech and a lazy speech writer was responsible. However, supporters were quick to deny the obvious.

It is usually best to accept responsibility and not compound the consequence of an obvious inadequacy or failure. People do make mistakes. People do give speeches that were written by others. If the party line is to be above admitting mistakes, this is a sad value to promote. You are obviously not a role model we or our children should respect.

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Patriotism and sprinkles


Who gets to claim the title patriot? Those in a particular political party? Talk show hosts? My vote goes to this kid.

Donuts for all!

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Buns at breakfast


Holiday gatherings are a great opportunity for photos.

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