2 Ely Men Sentenced to 3 Years In Prison for BWCAW Incident




Two Ely men, Barney James Lakner, 38, and Andrew Olson, 20, were sentenced in Ely on Monday to 3 years of prison for their roles in the "nighttime shooting rampage" of August 7, 2007. They are the last two adults to be sentenced in the case involving 5 adults and 1 juvenile. The juvenile, 17, has yet to be sentenced.

The judge, District Judge Kenneth Sandvik, rejected pleas of leniency from those convicted and their families, citing the nature of their crimes.



Guns at a Texas School?




This can't be good...

The school district in Harrold, TX has authorized teachers and staff members to carry concealed handguns if they meet proper requirements (authorized to carry by the state and the school district and properly trained).

Their argument is that the schools are about a 30 minute drive from the sheriff's office in the county, thus leaving the schools open to hostility because they are such a distance from the county sheriff.

My view: Putting guns in a school is a bad idea. Pretty simple.

This is the first school district in the country to invent such a policy.



Ness To Stop Duluth's 'sprinkling allowance'?




I've generally been a fan of Ness' approach to city finances (not that it matters - I didn't vote for or against him anyway).

The latest idea that him and his administration came up with though doesn't seem all that thought out to me.

The city currently bills water/sewer users based on their winter water usage, figuring that a larger amount of water use during the summer is for water that never makes it into the sewage system (such as lawn mowing). Thus the city doesn't bill that extra sewage the same that they bill the water. Your sewage bill is based off what your usage is during the winter months. The "sprinkling allowance".

The city administration is asking the city council to eliminate the allowance, which Ness calls a discount to residents. Instead he wants to bill residents sewage based on their full water bill.

Hello?! This is water that wasn't injected into the sewage system. How can you call that a discount? I call it not paying for something you didn't use.

His second argument in favor of the proposal to eliminate it is that it promotes conservation of water. Ness says, "by having a policy in which we’re essentially subsidizing sprinkling of lawns." I don't understand where he comes up with this. The policy doesn't subsidize the sprinkling of lawns - it creates an environment by which the city doesn't overcharge it's customers for sprinkling their lawns.

The conservation concern is, to me, a joke. We live next to the third largest freshwater lake (by volume) in the WORLD. City water comes straight from a pipe that sticks out into the lake. Do you really think that having the residents of Duluth water their lawn will affect the lake? To top that off, whatever water gets put on the lawn will, eventually, end up back in the lake anyway.

I'm impressed to see that Ness is taking an 'outside the box' approach to fixing the city finances, but there's a point where the proposals go too far. This rates right up there with his idea to charge people to call 911 (an idea I wish I would have had time to write about as well - a real "winner").



Google Street View in Duluth?




Today on the way to work I passed a car stopped at the intersection of Skyline Parkway and 24th Ave W that had a "Google Maps" sticker on the side of it and an apparatus that stood about 2' tall mounted on the roof. I can only imagine, based on the little bit of research I've done about Google's Street View, is that this is a Google Street View car. It looked very similar to this (not my picture):


Time will tell if it actually was or not I guess.



Caching Bemidji




So here I am. Stuck in Bemidji, MN, the home of Paul Bunyan and Babe, the Blue Ox. Well, I wouldn't really call it "stuck". I'm here for my employer, so I like to think of this as a work-sponsored geocaching vacation.

I spent most of yesterday morning solving the numerous puzzle caches in the area (wow - there's lots!). As you may recall, I am not exactly fond of puzzle caches. In fact, I hate them. Yet I still do them - don't ask why - I don't know. I was pleased with the puzzles here though - I would term these as "solvable" puzzle caches that don't require endless hours of actions that would make most people bald. I like puzzle caches that require some thought. Less than an hour is good. :) We'll forgive the fact that Cindy of fargnots told me that the puzzles were intended to take much longer to solve.

I'm currently left with two puzzles that I haven't solved. One I'm not sure I would have gotten without a small kick in the rear (it was just a little too subtle for me). The other one I haven't really looked for more than 2 minutes yet.

So I spent a large part of Monday searching out some of the area caches. The last time I was here (two years ago) there were only a handful of caches in the area (perhaps 6 in a 10-mile radius). Today there are 68 in a 10-mile radius. There are a number of cachers in the area that have invested a lot of time to put out some quality hides. "If you build it, they will come."

While it's hard to single out any one cache, and I don't want to give away any of the hides, I do have to say that I'm amazed by the containers, the job that they've done on hiding these containers - often not your typical ammo can under some sticks thing, which is fine by me (it's what I do), the locations (a nice mix between park and grabs and 1/2 mile+ hikes), and the cache pages themselves. Fargnots remind me a lot of one of my favorite Oklahoma City cachers, Darkmoon. Both enjoy putting stories in the cache pages - stories that are quite creative, quite fictional, but yet add to the cache itself.

This is definitely an area that is worth the trip as far as I'm concerned. Take the time to solve the puzzle caches before you come (very few are hard). I'm hoping by the end of the week I'll have some good recommendations on caches to do here. I'm sure that there will be a MnGCA Cache of the Month nomination or two coming from me in the near future...



A Couple of Site Updates...




I went through and tried to find all instances where I linked to my now moved gallery2 collection. As you may know, my entire online photo collection got moved earlier this year to Flickr. At the time I only corrected a couple of the links for any old stories. I went through today and tried to find the rest of the links to correct (and I changed probably 15 stories or so), but I'm sure I missed one or two along the way...

I also eliminated the taxonomy module, which allowed me to tag stories by their content (I guess). Bill used the module with great success when he ran Drupal, and I had to turn it on for gallery2 so I tried it at the time with little to no success, so I decided it was time to kill it.



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