Archived Posts from this Category
Archived Posts from this Category
Mark Seeley’s Minnesota Weather Almanac, Second Edition, takes into account the state’s new thirty-year normals (1981-2010), presenting a breadth of scientific facts and fascinating stories.
In recognition of summer storm season, here are a few excerpts from the book explaining weather jargon that will have you talking like a weather expert.
The Heat Index, also known as the Comfort or Temperature-Humidity Index, evaluates the combined effects of temperature and humidity on the body’s ability to cool itself. According to the Heat Index, an air temperature of 85°F with a relative humidity of 60 percent feels the same as a temperature of 90°F with a humidity of 30 percent. For nighttime combined values of 75°F or above and daytime values of 105°F or more expected for 48 hours or longer, the National Weather Service usually issues an excessive heat advisory to warn about health risks, including fatigue, heat cramps, sunstroke, or heat exhaustion.
The dog days of summer are usually associated with the greatest heat of the year, characterized by thunderstorms and high dew points. The phrase’s origin is both ancient and astrological: the Greeks and Romans observed that one of the brightest stars, Sirius the Dog Star—located in the constellation Canis Major, Latin for “greater dog”—rose in conjunction with the sun during the six weeks of midsummer. The usual hot and sultry weather, which depleted people’s energy and wilted vegetation, was attributed to the evil effects of Sirius. In the United States, the dog days occur between mid-July and early September; in western Europe they run from July 3 to August 11.
Doppler radar is a type of weather surveillance that takes advantage of the Doppler effect. Based on the frequency change between outgoing and reflected radar signals, it determines the velocity of atmospheric targets moving directly toward or away from the unit. Doppler radar allows meteorologists to interpret wind speeds accompanying thunderstorms and to view rotating winds associated with funnel clouds.
The term heat lightning is derived from a mistaken belief that lightning is produced by an excessively heated atmosphere, based on observations of lightning under otherwise clear summer skies. What is viewed as heat lightning is actually a reflection of distant lightning flashes off the horizon. All lightning technically produces heat: a single stroke can warm the surrounding air to more than 50,000°F. The air’s rapid expansion causes sound waves, which are later heard as thunder. Sound travels approximately a mile every five seconds: to gauge the distance of the lightning flashes, count the number of seconds that pass between the flash and the resulting thunder, assuming about one-fifth mile for every second. Thus a 15-second interval between observed lightning and the sound of thunder indicates that the flash occurred about three miles away. Lightning strokes from more than ten miles away are rarely heard as thunder.
Four basic thunderstorm types
Thunderstorms occur in a variety of forms.
An isolated cumulonimbus or anvil-shaped cloud, known as a single-cell storm, is usually a convective cloud containing one updraft and one downdraft segment. Single-cell storms may produce some heavy rain, hail, or even a weak tornado, but they are usually short lived, lasting 30 or fewer minutes.
In a multicell cluster, a group of convective clouds moves together as a single unit, bringing multiple updraft and downdraft segments, highly variable rates of rainfall, and moderate hail. These systems may last for hours and can produce flash flooding or weak tornadoes.
A squall line is a row of convective clouds that share a common gust front along the leading edge, sometimes visible as a wall cloud. They can move at rapid speeds and produce heavy rainfall, moderate hail, and even tornadoes, occasionally leading to flash flooding.
A supercell, the most damaging type of thunderstorm, is a massive convective system of clouds that rotate as one unit, contain embedded strong updrafts and downdrafts, and produce large hail, frequent lightning, flooding, and moderate to severe tornadoes. Such storms may last for hours and travel across multiple states.
Explore the seamy side of Minnesota with these popular true crime titles from the Minnesota Historical Society Press, on sale for $3.99 through the month of June from your favorite e-book vendor.
by William Swanson
On a July afternoon in 1972, two masked men waving guns abducted forty-nine-year-old Virginia Piper from the garden of her lakeside home in Orono, Minnesota.
Drawing on closely held government documents and exclusive interviews with family members, investigators, suspects, lawyers, and others intimately connected to the case, William Swanson provides the first comprehensive account of the sensational Piper kidnapping.
Sale price $3.99
by Tim Mahoney
Among the most dangerous criminals of the public enemies era was a man who has long hidden in history’s shadows: Tom Brown. In the early 1930s, while he was police chief of St. Paul, Minnesota, Brown became a secret partner of the infamous Barker gang. He profited from their violent crimes, he protected the gang from raids by the nascent FBI—and while he did all this, the gangsters gunned down cops and citizens in his hometown.
Sale price: $3.99
by Neal Karlen
A treasury of family secrets exposes the seamy underbelly of Minneapolis—gangsters, gambling, brothels, and the social life of organized crime.
Sale price $3.99
by Bruce Rubenstein
When a small midwestern gallery is burgled, artworks by an American icon disappear into the international market for stolen art, but the gallery’s owners refuse to give up the search.
Sale price: $3.99
by William Swanson
A white police officer is assassinated in a troubled St. Paul neighborhood. Thirty-six year later, two African American grandfathers are convicted in controversial trials that force a city to relive a contentious past.
Sale price: $3.99
by William Swanson
A haunting re-creation of the brutal death of an American housewife, the conviction of her husband, and the family trial at which their children determined for themselves how their father should be charged.
Sale price: $3.99
by Steven J. Harper
A forthright teamster faces off with Jimmy Hoffa in this true saga of corruption, betrayal, intrigue, and courage.
Sale price: $3.99
Sue Doeden is as busy as a bee with a wide variety of culinary-related endeavors. She teaches cooking classes, writes food stories, develops recipes for food companies, conducts workplace wellness education, appears on a weekly television news segment called Good Food, Good Life, 365, and is a hobbyist beekeeper. Her new book, Homemade with Honey—the sixth book in the Northern Plate series, celebrating the bounty of the Upper Midwest—brings together all these activities.
In today’s post, Sue describes how she got her start in beekeeping.
“A beekeeper friend of mine invited me to watch as he introduced a wooden box of at least 30,000 bees and one queen to their new home–a hive positioned on a grassy space near basswood trees across the road from his house. Wearing a baggy white jumpsuit and a headpiece with a screen covering my face for protection, I cautiously looked on as the beekeeper expertly went through the annual spring process of getting a buzzing batch of bees into the hive.
“Before I headed home that evening, I dipped my finger into a frame of thick, sticky golden honey. Sweet and delicate, the natural substance produced by honey bees melted on my tongue. It was that one ambrosial taste of local honey that began my obsession with what honey lovers refer to as ‘liquid gold.’
“A couple of years after that first introduction to beekeeping, I had my own hives–and my own honey.”
Sue shares her tips on keeping bees happy and healthy as well as 75 recipes to entice all cooks, from beginners through the well seasoned, to spend time in their kitchen with honey. Recipes in the book range from savory starters to dreamy desserts and from quick and easy ways to enjoy honey to impressive gourmet delights. Check out her recipe for a salsa that’s excellent with grilled chicken or beef.
Honey Balsamic Black Bean and Mango Salsa
My younger son brought this salsa recipe home from college. Over the years, I’ve added some ingredients and taken away others to create a salsa that has just the right amount of heat, fresh crunch, color, and balance of sweet and tart. And you can do the same. Feel free to customize the salsa to suit your own taste buds. Just don’t leave out the honey.
Makes 3 1/2–4 cups
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons honey
1 chubby clove garlic, minced
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 jalapeño, minced (you decide whether or not to remove the seeds)
1 firm, ripe mango, peeled and diced
1/2 cup finely chopped orange bell pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped yellow bell pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1–2 plum tomatoes, seeds removed, diced
1 avocado, diced
2 tablespoons minced cilantro
In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lime juice, honey, and garlic. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine black beans, jalapeño, mango, orange and yellow peppers, red onion, and tomatoes. Stir in oil and vinegar mixture. Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day. At serving time, add avocado. Sprinkle with cilantro or offer cilantro on the side. Serve with tortilla chips.
The January 2015 issue of CHOICE Magazine features its annual list of Outstanding Academic Titles, chosen by the editors for their excellence in scholarship and presentation, the significance of their contribution to the field, and their value as important treatment of their subject. We are honored to have Curiosity’s Cats: Writers on Research edited by Bruce Joshua Miller as one of this year’s selections.
“In bringing together 13 riveting, informative essays on the thrills, pitfalls, and minutiae of documentary research, Miller (a writer and independent publishing industry representative) illuminates how writers convey the truth about the life of their subjects. Contributors explain how they succeeded (or failed) in various writing projects throughout their careers, working in traditions spanning historical and ethnographic research, biography, journalism, fiction, and film. . . . A well-crafted, well-conceived volume, deserving an index. Summing Up: Highly recommended.” CHOICE (link to the full review here)
Bruce J. Miller and Ned Stuckey-French will be signing copies of Curiosity’s Cats at the AWP Annual Conference in Minneapolis on Thursday, April 9, 2015, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. in the Minnesota Historical Society Press booth. If you are attending, please stop by!
On a July afternoon in 1972, two masked men waving guns abducted forty-nine-year-old Virginia Piper from the garden of her lakeside home in Orono, Minnesota. After her husband, a prominent investment banker, paid a $1 million ransom, an anonymous caller directed the FBI to a thickly wooded section of a northern Minnesota state park. There, two days after her nightmare began, Ginny Piper––chained to a tree, filthy and exhausted, but physically unharmed––awaited her rescuers.
Stolen from the Garden: The Kidnapping of Virginia Piper by William Swanson recounts the inside story of the shocking Piper kidnapping: from the abduction and recovery, through the grueling investigation and trials, and into the Pipers’ haunted final years.
Below is a clip from the press conference with Virginia Piper on July 30, 1972, just a day after her rescue. However, this is only the beginning of the story. As Swanson writes:
“But whatever the intentions of their preemptive statements, the Pipers’ nightmare is not over, nor does the story belong to them. The case is now a million-dollar whodunit driven by the US Attorney in Minneapolis and FBI personnel here and in Washington. The black-and-white patrol cars stationed at the bottom of their driveway will be gone in a few days, when the family is no longer deemed in imminent danger, but the lives of the Pipers and many of their friends, neighbors, and associates, not to mention innumerable strangers who may or, more likely, may not have had anything to do with the case, will be changed forever.”
For author events and more information, please click on the title’s hyperlink, above.
Farmers market season is here! Looking for inspiration on how to use fresh, seasonal produce? Check out these titles in our Northern Plate series—each celebrates the bounty of the Upper Midwest by focusing on a single ingredient, exploring its historical uses as well as culinary applications across a range of dishes.
Rhubarb Renaissance by Kim Ode
Modern Maple by Teresa Marrone
Sweet Corn Spectacular by Marie Porter
Smitten with Squash by Amanda Paa
Homemade with Honey by Sue Doeden (available May 2015)
Minnesota Historical Society Press Fall 2013 Titles
Sweet Corn Spectacular (out now!)
Making Marriage: Husbands, Wives, and the American State in Dakota and Ojibwe Country (August 2013)
Catherine J. Denial
Powwow Summer: A Family Celebrates the Circle of Life (September 2013)
Marcie R. Rendon with photographs by Cheryl Walsh Bellville
Children’s Book Ages 8-12
Leaving Rollingstone: A Memoir (September 2013)
Secret Partners: Big Tom Brown and the Barker Gang (September 2013)
Soda Shop Salvation: Recipes and Stories from the Sweeter Side of Prohibition (October 2013)
Rae Katherine Eighmey
Minnesota in the ’70s (October 2013)
Dave Kenney and Thomas Saylor
The Creator’s Game: A Story of Baaga’adowe/Lacrosse (November 2013)
Art Coulson with illustrations by Robert DesJarlait
Children’s Book Ages 8-12
Original Local: Indigenous Foods, Stories, and Recipes from the Upper Midwest (November 2013)
Heid E. Erdrich
Big Little Mother (November 2013)
Kevin Kling with illustrations by Chris Monroe
Children’s Book Ages 3-7
On Stage with Kevin Kling (November 2013)
You know it’s summer in the Twin Cities when there is at least one street festival somewhere in town. Head on over to Lake Street between Blaisdell and Pleasant in Minneapolis to experience the Somali Independence Day Festival this Sunday, June 30, from 2:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Here is Ahmed Ismail Yusuf, author of Somalis in Minnesota, on Somali Independence Day:
“Other than the religious holidays, Somalis gather for one major event: Somali Independence Day. The date celebrates Somalia’s independence from colonial British and Italian rule and the founding of the Republic of Somalia in 1960. Though Djibouti commemorates the event on May 27, northern Somalia on June 26, and southern Somalia on July 1, in Minnesota Somalis from Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia, and beyond join others from the mainland to celebrate on the weekends between June 20 and July 1. They gather together, dance, and compete in soccer games to honor the memory of their motherland and her independence.
“On June 26, 1960, the first Somali flag was hoisted to float and flap in the air. Then on July 1, it was raised in the south of Somalia, and Somalis everywhere sang, danced, and composed ceremonial poems for the occasion.”
Today’s post is by Judith Koll Healey, author of Frederick Weyerhaeuser and the American West. Weyerhaeuser was one of the great industrialists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and founder of the international timber corporation the Weyerhaeuser Company.
Judith will be reading and signing at Common Good Books in St. Paul on Wednesday, June 5, at 7 p.m.
Biography is the stepchild of history and the first cousin to fiction. The history is necessary for accuracy: the details of the times, the sights, the immediate background to set the scene. The reader has to enter the period with the writer as guide. Even more important, the writer must be as accurate about the subject’s life as possible. So the questions continually arise: What to put in? What to leave out? How to tell the honest story as closely to how it happened as possible?
But certain elements important to fiction must also inform the story. What was the main character like? How did he feel? What was he thinking in his youth that changed later in life? How was he with his family? His grandchildren? His tough-minded associates? Did he ever doubt himself? Was he generous or close fisted? Quick to decide or careful? The fiction writer must create these details that bring a character to life. The biographer must chase down the material that allows the honest creation of the character as a living human being, of interest to others.
We were fortunate in the Frederick Weyerhaeuser project to have an unprecedented amount of primary material from which to work. As the Weyerhaeuser family office moved from the First National Bank building in St. Paul, Minnesota, to a new space, many letters surfaced that had been long forgotten. Some were business letters, others far more personal. There were letters between Frederick and his wife Sarah when they were separated by his long winters in the Wisconsin forest. There were later letters to the sons, and the grandchildren.
And there were diaries from the early years in the long Wisconsin winters and later reflecting his anguish when his honor was challenged publicly by an associate who wanted a favor that Frederick refused to grant.
An astonishing and valuable cache of letters kept by one branch of the family was stored in multiple boxes in an attic at Woods Hole, Massachusetts. These were freely offered and the biographer was delighted. In those boxes rest a century of Americana, letters from the 1880s and 1890s that drew a fine picture of Frederick and Sarah’s later years through the correspondence of their daughter Margaret–who lived with them–and her husband Richard, who was teaching in a foreign land.
Even more wonderful were letters discovered in Saulheim, Germany, Frederick’s birth village. The family was given all of his letters, and those of the villagers in return make a composite picture of Frederick’s warm, funny, and personal relationship with his childhood friends and their now-grown children.
The Weyerhaeuser Company in Tacoma also had material, as did the Laird Norton group office in Seattle.
Finally, there was a remarkable resource created in the 1930s by Frederick and Sarah’s youngest son, also called Frederick but referred to in the family as F.E. This man, the youngest of the seven children, collected letters and recollections from many friends and associates of his father and put them into a five-volume work called A Record of the Life and Business Activities of Frederick Weyerhaeuser, 1834-1914. He added many of his own recollections, and there are many amusing anecdotes sprinkled among more serious stories and letters. In the interest of gentlemanly behavior of the times, some of the anecdotes involving others were crossed out in the work, apparently with the feeling that someone might take mild umbrage. An example is the description of Frederick’s brother-in-law and first partner, F.C.A. Denkmann, as having a “peppery disposition.” As the reader might imagine, these excised parts were among the more descriptive of the work and are a welcome resource to the later biographer. Many are included in this biography.
With this plethora of material and trips to east and west coast and eventually to Saulheim, Germany, to meet the descendants of Frederick’s childhood friends, a one-year project turned into four years. The result was satisfying. The book does its best to present a fascinating character in all of his stages, his business accomplishments and challenges and his family life.
This writer was grateful for the support of the family in opening archives and resources, in correcting my early misunderstandings of the differences among timber, logs, and lumber and, most of all, in never asking me to alter the text or remove personal anecdotes. This allowed me not only to get to know this fascinating nineteenth-century character but to draw freely a literary picture of him in this biography that is honest, accurate, and, in all of its humanity, real.