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11 posts from November 2011


Another fact-challenged letter we won't be running

A local reader stopped in earlier this month to urge us to do more "fact checking," particularly where political allegations are concerned. This will be important, he contended, as we head into another election cycle in which the two main political parties can't seem to agree on the time of day.

He's right. We need to do all we can to make sure that we police what is said about and by those who are seeking elective office. And we're looking into some ways we can better fact-check everything from news releases, speeches and debates to letters to the editor.

In the meantime, I need to make it clear early on that we don't run political letters that make outrageous allegations or that use extremely incendiary verbiage. Below are a few excerpts from a letter we received last week. We won't be running it.

"Why has Congress abdicated their responsibility and sworn oath? Obama and his henchmen have repeatedly violated the constitution and have broken the law. Yet, no one in Congress does anything about it. 

* He has produced a questionable, if not fraudulent birth certificate.

• He has bribed candidates in close elections to withdraw so that his candidate will win.

• He has bribed and armtwisted members of Congress to vote for ObamaCare against their better judgment and against the majority of Americans.

• He has manipulated advertisers to withdraw their ads on certain shows on Fox TV that are critical of him and his agenda.

• He has refused to enforce immigration laws.

It goes on an on.

We get the same type of letters about Republican candidates from Democrats.

Please. Be civil with your letters and provide a sources for your allegations. But we'd prefer that you stick to actual issues rather than making outrageous claims of illegalities and impropriety.



Tips for the perfect turkey tomorrow

Before I check out for a few days for the Thanksgiving holiday  I thought I should pass along the following from reader Jane Scanlon of Rochester, who responded to my request for the perfect turkey recipe. Thanks, Jane. After brining my turkey in a mixture that includes brown sugar, salt, juniper berries, black peppercorns, lemon zest and bay leaves, I'm going to give her procedure a try...

You'll need a meat thermometer with a meat probe.  Instead of stufffing the bird, rub salt and herbs inside the cavity and put one onion, left whole,  two stalks of celery and two carrots cut in a couple pieces inside.  Cut a piece of heavy aluminum foil large enough to fold in half and mold over the breast of the bird.  Spray the underside of the foil.  Using soft butter, smear the whole bird, place it on a roasting rack in the roasting pan, breast side up.  Place it in a pre-heated 500 degree oven for 30 minutes.  Remove the turkey from the oven and lower the temp to 350 degrees.  Cover the breast with the molded foil and insert the probe into the deepest part.  Program your thermometer according to the directions to sound the alarm when the white meat has reached 161 degrees.  If your turkey comes with an installed thermometer, ignore it--your turkey will be overdone.  They are set for a CYA temperature.  An 18# turkey should cook in 2-2&1/2 hours.  DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN DOOR WHILE IT IS COOKING.  DO NOT BASTE.

Cover the bird completely with foil and let it rest for 30 minutes before carving.  It'll be the juiciest bird you've ever served.


Strange email from a reader who hates stadium and — apparently — me!

Below is one of the nastier emails I've received in a while. Strange, because it's in response to what I thought was a fairly innocuous and humorous column about a reader who suggested that a new Vikings stadium be built at Elk Run.

In the final sentence the writer, who identified himself as a doctor from a nearby community, invites me to call him during regular business hours. I did. The number had been disconnected. And an Internet search revealed no one in the town he listed, or even Minnesota, for that matter, with the name he listed.
Hmmm. Given the 20 or so typos and misspellings in the email, I'm going to assume the writer was in so much of a hurry that he typed in the wrong phone number and misspelled his own name. He might have even misidentified himself as a doctor. It happens.
Rarely do I have the slightest interest in sending a letter to newspaper columnist. However, your piece on the Vikings Stadium roused my ire such that I just had to write you. Before your ever do another article on the Vikings' or Twins' lust for a new stadium, I strongly suggest you read "Bad Sports". It's at the local Barnes & Nobles. The book is replete with factual accounts of professional team owners & their ownership groups collaborating with state GOP and Democratic legislators to ROB taxpayers and IMPOVERISH TAXPAYERS.The Vikings' owner is a most egregious offender in this regard.
The Wealthy Old (Predominately) Whitemen in this nation have aquired great wealth through inheritence and built upon it through myriad Felonious acts. As you consider the Vikings owner's behavior toward MN taxpayers - specifically those of Hennipin Co., I suggest he compares quite well to the insidious Koch Bros. of Wisconsin who have all but taken over the state as their own personal fiefdom. Add to that their efforts - and that of other equally wealthy thugs across the nation - to use redistricting in GOP states and 'photo IDs' to shred the Voting Rights Act and dilute the vote of African Americans & the Poor).
Your discourse on the Vikings Stadium failed to discuss the manner in which the Wealthiest of American Whitemen have used professional team ownership and Americans' LUST for Circuses & Gladiatorial Sports Events to pillage State, County & City governments and taxpayers across the nation for the last 3 decades. Your 'infotainment' article placed to the most salacious aspects of the state sportsfan and totally FAILED to even allude to how sportsteam owners rape taxpayers wherever they touch down!
As a Tim Walz volunteer since he first won election, I've come to know hundres of voters in his district. I will raise the failures of your article to them and its implications for trhem, their families and this state and see how many continue to read your column or to maintain their subscription with the Bulletin. I suggest when you pick a topic to revel in, you cover both sides of it - the 'good' and 'horrid'! Otherwise, don't discuss it...
Because of your inability to be a sound professional journalist, I and others will surely end their days with your newspaper and stick with the Internet.
Should you have any interest in exploying this matter further, call me at my office during normal business hours.
Thank You.



Gov. Dayton meets a gobbler... and a personal turkey pardon story

This photo of Gov. Mark Dayton and Ted the turkey, who is heading to Washington to take part in the National Turkey Day presentation, gives me an excuse to tell my one and only live turkey story.

When my brother Tim was in his late teens he was coming home one early fall night when a semi truck carrying a load of live turkeys on their way to a place where they were to become not so live holiday meal centerpieces, rounded a corner in downtown Brainerd too sharply. One of the cages fell off the truck. The cage was mangled, but the turkey in it was OK.

Tim stopped to see if the driver needed help. "Want a turkey," the driver said.

My brother loaded the turkey into his car and drove the three miles to our farm. Even though he'd had his beak clipped, the turkey — which we named Lucky — lived a long, happy and fat life on our place. He spent most of his days perched on stacked hay bales pretending he ruled the horse barn. He dined on spilled grain and scolded the cats and dogs when they got too close to his throne, er, roost.

Commercially raised market turkeys have a normal life span of three to six months. But Lucky lived about 10 years before expiring of what we assume were natural causes.





In search of the perfect Thanksgiving turkey recipe

Images-10The other night while we were eating dinner and discussing Thanksgiving meal options my 18-year-old son offered that he's not a big fan of turkey.

"It's dry. It doesn't have that much taste. I like ham better."

Be still my heart.

I have cooked turkey every way conceivable. I've cooked in a bag. I've cooked it upside down so the juices flow into the breast as it cooks. I've cut the breast off the bird and cooked it separately, so it didn't overcook. I've cooked it stuffed. I've cooked it unstuffed. I've brined the turkey. I've dry rubbed the turkey. I've cooked the turkey in the oven. I've cooked the turkey on the grill.

One year I planned to deep fry the turkey in a cooker my brother-in-law gave me, but my wife wouldn't let me. I think she was afraid I'd either burn the porch down or end up in the burn unit at Regions Hospital.

I've undercooked the turkey so that only the breast was done on time. I've overcooked the turkey.

Some years the bird has turned out great. Other years, it's been dry and flavorless as leather.

I guess the bottom line is that I'm still searching for the perfect Thanskgiving turkey recipe. I don't know that I'll ever please my son, whose idea of the perfect gourmet meal is one that comes with fries as is handed to you in a bag through a window. And I'll never quit experimenting. Still, I'd like to hit on a fail safe recipe that'll please the masses. The key for me is lots of flavor. Moist met and a crisp, deep brown skin.

I welcome your suggestions.


What do you fear?

I got a news release today from a PR firm pitching a column from an "empowerment expert" (whatever that means) on how to overcome fear. The author, a former master Air Force sergeant named Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez — also known as the "Pink Biker Chic," lists 11 fears that she says commonly hold people back from achieving their goals.

Among the commonly held fears she lists in the piece are: Fear of success, fear of leading, fear of speaking, fear of power, fear of being alone, and fear of failure. 

The last one is the only one I think most of us have in common. Fear of success? How many of us really fear that? Not me. 

This is all way too broad for me. The stuff I fear is a bit more real and closer to home, and it varies from day to day and week to week. 

Here are a few things I currently fear:

• I fear the "supercommittee" will fail to come to an agreement, sending the stock market crashing and my 401K spiraling downward, just in time for Christmas.

• I fear the transmission will go out on my car just after the warranty expires.

• I fear grizzly bears and rattlesnakes.

• I fear my water softener has stopped working.

• I fear raw fish this far from the ocean.

• I fear small group "sharing" discussions at seminars and training sessions.

• I fear Cliff Clavin extroverts who talk loud and seem to know everything about anything, especially when they decide to run for office.

What do you fear?




Reader suggests Vikings stadium at Elk Run

A reader from Oronoco, who didn't care to be identified. stopped by today to drop off something he'd written in response to my Tuesday column about how conflicted Minnesotans feel about the Vikings stadium issue.

He suggests, not entirely in jest, that a new stadium be built on the mostly vacant Elk Run site. He writes: 

...I suggest that the Wilf family form a corporation with the Tower Investment group and build the Vikings stadium on the Elk Run property. A new interchange is nearly complete that will access traffic from the Cities and 52. Pull traffic from I-35 to the west and traffic from I-90 to the south. A high-speed rail line from Minneapolis to Rochester could be used to free traffic congestion from the north.

In fact, regional access to the stadium would be better than either of the proposed sites. I also suggest that the mentioned corporation invite Don Laughlin from Laughlin, Nev., to join them in this venture for his experience in starting a successful community.

Two more parties who would be an asset would be Donald Trump, along with Gus Chafoulias for a valuable source for local development. The combination of these individuals, or families, could eliminate the necessity of using taxpayer dollars.

The time has come for the public to cooperate with individuals with successful backgrounds and encourage them to combine their desire for growth on projects like this. I am sure the Rochester Chamber of Commerce would be willing to assist the city of Pine Island in promoting this idea once they no longer are competing for a bio science center equal to Silicon Valley in California.

Perhaps Mr. Burrill would be relieved not to have to acquire a billion dollars to get the Elk Run project started. The state of Minnesota should be relieved to have private enterprise step in to create an entertainment complex that would be the envy of any current endeavors. The benefits are many fold and I pass this thought on to those much smarter than I am to add their thoughts and ideas.

For those who think this is unrealistic, check Tower Investments' website for the proposed blueprint and see if 4,000 homes, more retail space than the Mall of America and a Silicon Valley of bio science is equally gradiose. Without a doubt, the stadium and resulting development is certainly more fitting the current times and need.

I rest my case!




Is it better to give or receive on one's birthday?

DownloadedFile-1Thanks to everyone who's wished me a happy birthday on Facebook today. I really appreciate all of you thinking about me. I even got a birthday comment from my college friend, Judy, who is part of the gang I hung out with at Mizzou and is married to my best buddy, John Norman.

For those of you on Facebook who didn't get her "Happy Birthday, Scoop" comment... That's what my floormates at Smith Hall, most of whom were engineering or accounting majors, nicknamed me because I was a journalism major. They helped me with my math; I helped them with their English compositions.

And it's good to hear that my friend Stephanie is going to ride my favorite mule, Rosie, in my honor this evening. (When my dad and stepmother pared back their equine herd so they could spend their winters in Arizona, they sent Rosie to live with friends in Kentucky.)

It used to be, before Facebook and Twittter and Linked-In, etc., etc., I could celebrate my birthday without anyone outside my family knowing about it. I didn't care to make a big deal out of my birthday — still don't. But I have to admit that it's a nice excuse to catch up with long-lost friends and far-flung relatives.

But here's a question: Who came up with the tradition of birthday boys — and girls — bringing treats for everyone in the workplace or classroom. I got some ribbing today from coworkers for not bringing donuts or cookies. Isn't that supposed to be my coworkers' responsibility?

To be fair, one of my coworkers on the Editorial Board did bring a giant cupcake that we shared among the five of us. But should I have brought bagels or cookies, too? 

Just askin'...


Are two-for-one sales intentional deception?

I'm going to start a new feature on this blog. I'm going to call it — Case, or no case. I frequently, through letters to the editor and email, get complaints from readers alleging mistreatment by retailers, law enforcement, government officials and others.

I don't mean to budge in on the Answer Man's territory, but I want to do what I can to help folks. So, I'll play Judge Greg every once in a while.

Today's case was submitted in the form of a letter to the editor that will appear soon in our print edition from a Rochester woman.

She complains that when she was shopping for a $10 gift at the mall, she spotted a sign that read,  "Two for $15." She thought, "Perfect, $7.50 for one." But when she got to the checkout they charged her full price — $22.50. The clerk told her she had to buy two to get the deal.

She went back the area where the item was shelved and, sure enough, there was a sign in tiny letters that read, "Ticketed price for one."

Eleanor writes: "Legal? For sure. Intentional deception? Absolutely."

For what it's worth, here is my take on this. Whenever I see a two-for-one sign, or a 10 for $10 sign, I take it literally. I assume that you have to buy two or 10 to get the deal. But if I don't want, say, 10 one-liter bottles of Diet Dr. Pepper I ask a clerk if I can get just one bottle for $1. Usually, as the customer mistakenly thought, I'm given the sale price.

You could argue that the retailer is trying to pull a fast one over on the customer by making him assume he has to purchase 10 bottles of pop to get the deal. But I don't buy it. Savvy shoppers ask questions.

So, I have to take the side of the store on this one. There was no deliberate deception. After all, there WAS a sign explaining the deal, albeit small.

What do YOU think?



Letter writer updates status of ill, abandoned cat

On Nov. 2, we ran a letter to the editor from Sharon Schultz of rural Elgin, who for the second time in recent months took in an animal that had been abandoned not far from her home. Here, to refresh your memories, is the letter — followed by an update from Sharon...

Once again, in less than a month-and-a-half, a cat has been dropped off in the country, and wound up at our house. The poor little cat, who seems quite young, is pretty sick. Its eyes were all matted and looked like he's been outside for quite awhile. Such a pretty, fairly long-haired orange cat.

The last time, two kittens were dropped off and Camp Companion was good enough to find a foster home for them. We have a very old cat, dying at this time, so tomorrow the two cats are going to the vet. If the old one is in pain, we'll have the vet do what is necessary. The new cat, after the vet takes care of it (and we pay all the bills), will stay with us. We will have to protect it from our dog, who is three-fourths husky (and wants to kill cats). We already have four cats and they are still safe after a year-and-a-half. That has taken a lot of work on our part.

AGAIN, I say, you people who assume that everyone will take care of the animals that you should have never had, please take them to a shelter or find someone to take them.

Please, everyone, have your animals spayed and neutered and make sure they have all of their shots. The words I have for you cannot be printed in this newspaper.

Sharon Schultz

Sharon called today to report that she took the cat to the vet, and it was diagnosed with an HIV-like virus. It would have been fatal had it not been treated. Medication was prescribed and the cat improved almost immediately. Sharon says the animal is eating well and is "just a beautiful cat."

Sounds like the abandoned animal has found a good home. But Sharon is still angry at whomever abandoned the animal.