Tornados in Kansas




For those that have their head in the sand, there was a F-5 tornado that swept through Kansas, basically leveling the town of Greensburg, KS last Friday.


A few interesting things of note:

Sunday night they found a survivor in the wreckage. That is excellent - hopefully they find more. The stories of devastation there make one wonder how anyone could survive it. Things like 'we went in the store's walk-in cooler before it hit and when we came out the store was gone.' The fact that, at present, only 8 people have been confirmed as killed in the storm is a testament to today's state of alertness when it comes to tornadoes. A tornado this size in the early 1900s would have killed many more than 8.

Authorities have arrested 7 people suspected of looting. That in itself isn't so interesting. What makes it interesting is that two of them were wearing Red Cross jackets so as to fit in, four were soldiers from Fort Riley that were there on their own time, and one was a reserve police officer from somewhere in Kansas, also there on his or her own time. All five were in official dress so they appeared to fit right in with the authorities in place in the town. Sad.

The governor of Kansas, Kathleen Sebelius, has managed to work politics into the disaster. She's claiming that the Kansas National Guard's response was limited by their equipment being overseas (in Iraq). Whether that limited their response or not, this is not the time nor place to be pushing politics. This is the time to be working to help the residents, not pushing a political agenda.



Charlie Brown: Snoopy




I finally found a little bit of time to get out and hide some more caches today. I hid one with the family a couple of weeks ago, but wanted to hide some more in the same area and make them part of a series. I now have four hid in the area (and I have plans for probably two more that will take more time to hide than I had today). My plan is to release them to the caching community one at a time to give those interested in FTFs multiple chances. The caches are named after Charlie Brown characters. You can read more about the series or jump to the new cache.

Who knows, I may even announce the release of the next one here before Surfer Joe approves it on gc.com... Stay tuned. :)



St. Louis County Smoking Ban




I have to say that I'm happy that this is working it's way through. It's only inevitable I think.

The St. Louis County commissioners have been working on crafting language for an ordinance (now termed Ordinance 60) that will ban smoking in many public places within the county. What the current discussion revolves around is (mostly) which public places.

There seems to be a consensus that smoking will not be allowed in restaurants. The largest area of discussion is if smoking will be allowed in bars and taverns.

In the end it may not matter as the state is working on it's own ban. A state-wide ban would be more beneficial to many businesses in the county as some areas will likely loose business to neighboring counties (such as Itasca). This was an issue when Duluth imposed it's ban a few years ago - many businesses claimed that they would have to shut their doors as all of their customers would be headed to Superior. I can see it being a concern to business owners, although I don't see all of the customers heading somewhere else... The state ban may prove hurtful to counties that border other states however. Time will tell I guess.



Replacing 100th Anniversary Cache




I mentioned earlier that my 100th Anniversary Cache had been vandalized. I finally got the time and parts needed to restore it. The vandals broke part of the hasp off from the ammo box, so I needed to obtain a new (used) part and weld it back on. I also took the time to repaint the can again while I had it.

While cleaning out the can after the fire (I almost ditched the whole thing as it smelled pretty bad), I accidentally threw the combination lock away. Since they didn't break the lock it probably would have continued to work good, but now it's gone.. So the cache will have a new combination. I plan on getting it back out to the wild early next week if all goes well, although it will be in a slightly different spot (not next to a swamp in the concrete pieces). The parking/access to the cache will be the same although I'm eyeing up a spot on the other side of the trail instead.



Duluth in over it's head




First the aquarium.. For those not familiar with the aquarium fiasco that has involved the city of Duluth since day once, I'll summarize it for you. The city is financing (beyond it's original commitment) the operation of a failing attraction. Rather than simply pull the plug, they continue year after year to dump more money into it, all at the expense of the city taxpayers (of which I'm glad I am no longer one).

This week two new problems have surfaced for the city. Two opportunities to get back to government being government instead of running various tourist attractions in town.

Because of an impending labor grievance requiring the city to hire full time workers, the city is considering getting out of managing the two city-owned golf courses (Enger and Lester). These are golf courses that have never made a profit to begin with until last year. Why do the taxpayers in the city subsidize golf courses that the majority of them don't play golf in?

The second opportunity has us looking at the Lake Superior Zoo. The zoo director resigned Monday, apparently due to the fact that it was too hard to operate the zoo under the city's control (one thing he brings up is labor/hiring issues). The city is apparently looking at passing management off to a non-profit organization instead (good choice).

It's time for the city to cut loose these various money-loosing attractions. If they can't sustain themselves then why are the taxpayers paying for them?



Two men charged in death of unborn in St. Louis Park




This has been bugging me since I read it yesterday. I'm amazed that A. people are THIS dumb and B. people are this cold-hearted.

The Star Trib ran another article on it today.

Here's how it goes for those that haven't/don't want to read the article:

Boyfriend (Gatson, 22) pays accomplice (Peterson, 18) to punch Gatson's girlfriend, 6 months pregnant, in the stomach to cause a miscarriage. Gatson offered Peterson $200 to do this although he actually only paid him $40.

The baby, Destiny, was born the next day (April 22nd), about 3 month premature. She had bleeding on her brain and "other medical problems", including the strong possibility of cerebral palsy and loss of the use of her limbs. She was removed from life support after the mother learned of this.

The whole story is confusing to me (not the fact that it happened, just the mentality of the people involved). Peterson and his fiancée had just had a baby a month earlier. Gatson has a young child with another woman.

I also love the family quote at the end:

"I know my brother," Shanna Petersen said. "My brother don't hit girls. I didn't raise him that way."

Yet Peterson has already admitted to the crime. Apparently Shanna didn't do such a good job at raising him after all.

Both men are in custody with bail set at $750k. It sounds like they will be charged with murder although that may be hard to make it stick given the baby's unborn (legal) status at the time of the crime.

I would hope the courts consider the highest possible sentences for such a crime as this.



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