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Beneath Tropical Seas


Fri, Feb 16th, 2001
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Monday, February 5, 2001

Waves roll in and then recede, as the ocean endlessly caresses this lonely tropical shore. Shallow, crystal clear and deliciously warm are the waters of the all-encompassing sea. The white sand beach is deserted, polished smooth, and except for the gentle sounds of the surf is eerily silent, peaceful and serene. Not even a single insect’s persistent whining buzz splinters the mood of pristine tranquility.

Although reading like one of those tourist agency advertisements for some South Pacific Island paradise, the location described in the opening paragraph above is far away from any place so exotic. Could it be somewhere down in the Caribbean then, out in the Indian Ocean, or perhaps maybe one of those isolated rocks that dot the Sea of Cortez?

The answers, however, to each of these questions remains no, as our quiet, wave lapped shoreline is to be found much more closer to home. Somewhere right here in southeastern Minnesota in fact, since it is time and not distance that separates us from this seemingly mythological destination.

To reach our beach we must first travel back into the heart of the early Paleozoic, the "Era of Ancient Life" somewhere in the neighborhood of 400 million years ago. More specifically, we are in the Ordovician, a unit of geologic time lasting some 65 million years and named for a "Stone Age" Celtic Tribe that once inhabited Wales where rocks of this period were first identified.

From outer space the Earth, while certainly recognizable, probably appeared far different than it does today. For starters, all of the present day continents were most likely fused together into a single gigantic mass of land. Known as Pangaea, this island "super-continent" straddled the equator placing what was to eventually become today’s Minnesota well within the world’s more tropical zones.

As was the case in the immediately preceding Cambrian Period, shallow saltwater seas cover much of future North America. The name of this earlier period 500 million years before the present has Celtic connections as well, being derived from "Cambria," which is what the ancient Romans called the Celt’s homeland of Wales.

The Ordovician shoreline, on dry land at least, is equally alien and unfamiliar. There are no trees, shrubs, flowers, grasses, nor are there any ferns or mosses. Away from the water’s edge, the landscape is barren and desolate, almost as lifeless as the moon. Without vege .....
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Hoffman Stables

Escape from America

Fri, Feb 16th, 2001
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Monday, December 11, 2000

I guess I’m a snowbird at heart because every year about this time, once the temperature dips below zero and looks like it’s going to stay there awhile, I start yearning to go south. Way south. All the way down to Ecu ..... 
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Telephones

Fri, Feb 16th, 2001
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Monday, February 12, 2001

It is Saturday and the telephone rang again for about the sixth time and it is only two p.m. The various jingles, tones, and warbling throughout the house barely stir me. The kids will get it. The phone hardly ever ri ..... 
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Tooting our own horn

Fri, Feb 16th, 2001
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Monday, February 19, 2001

It is usually at this time of year, after the groundhogs have seen their shadows and spring seems like an eternity away, that various news organizations hold their annual conferences. This is an opportunity for us new ..... 
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Fri, Feb 16th, 2001
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Fri, Feb 16th, 2001
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Fri, Feb 16th, 2001
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Fri, Feb 16th, 2001
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Editor’s note: The Journal invited the Houston Board of Education to respond to Ms. Tschumper’s letter.

To the Editor,
In November 2000 the Houston School Board approved a three-year contract for the district superintendent. L ..... 
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Monday, February 19, 2001

Fri, Feb 16th, 2001
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To the Editor,
I felt stunned and dismayed to read in the “Notes from a County Kitchen” column (Feb. 12, 2001) the quip that “A small town is where everybody not only knows which men beat their wives, but also which wives need it.”

N ..... 
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