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Jottings from Japan


Mon, Apr 4th, 2011
Posted in Commentary

Some of you may remember that I wrote a weekly column called "Jottings from Japan" for approximately 15 years. My first entries were hand written and sent in an aerogram. It seemed the best way to keep in touch with my Harmony friends and Grand Meadow family. Then came email, and the internet and I found myself repeating stories. I happily retired as a foreign correspondent.

I was contacted by Jason Sethre at the Fillmore County Journal to ask if I would write what we experienced on March 11. Since then I have given much thought as to how to describe what happened.

Doug and I have experienced many, many earthquakes in Japan, and honestly, they did not frighten me. They were sort of a gentle rocking, and if I was walking, they often went unnoticed unless someone said, "Did you feel that one?" I always told people that real fear was when I would go to bed with a tornado watch in effect. Plus, we were aware that the buildings in Japan were built to withstand most earthquakes.

On Friday, March 11, at 2:46 I was in the food lab at the International School of the Sacred Heart actually doing laundry for the PE department. I had just finished watching the high school talent show and excitement was high. That night was the annual Bingo Night, a huge fundraiser and a huge headache for most teachers.

The food lab is on the fourth floor, and I could see some students down the hall, so I went to them and took them to a nearby classroom. We got to the floor and had our heads covered. Our school practices earthquake drills, so we all knew what to do, but I could tell this was much bigger than anything I had experienced.

I did notice that no windows broke, no walls cracked and we just rocked. Soon a teacher came to the door and said we were evacuating to the parking lot and we lined up in our homerooms and committees.

Usually in a drill the younger kids are quiet because the loud siren sounds are ominous, and the older students and teachers are much more nonchalant (ho hum another drill in the middle of my prep period). Today was the reverse; there was true fear on the faces of many, but no panic.

Since the trains were not running, a few students had to stay overnight and sleep in the AV room. Others were collected by their parents. One mom had walked four hours from Yokohama to get her children, though they did not live far from school. Food was not a problem as there was catering planned for 500 for Bingo Nig .....
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Congress needs to build a culture of fairness - 3/28/11

Fri, Apr 1st, 2011
Posted in Commentary

A few weeks ago, the U.S. Senate voted down a Republican attempt to repeal last year's health-care reform law. You may remember this, even though it rated only a mention on the evening news. What I'm virtually certain you don't remember is how the R ..... 
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The new new deal

Fri, Mar 18th, 2011
Posted in Commentary

In President Obama, conservatives face the most formidable liberal politician since FDR. In 2008, Obama won the presidency with a majority of the popular vote, something a Democrat has not done since Jimmy Carter won a squeaker in 1976. With Preside ..... 
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Why politicians overreach

Fri, Mar 18th, 2011
Posted in Commentary

Having dodged a government shutdown for the moment, Congress is now embroiled in a burning debate over cutting the federal budget. The House has passed a bill imposing far-reaching cuts of $61 billion - dramatically slashing everything from educatio ..... 
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Don't squander a buildable foundation

Mon, Mar 14th, 2011
Posted in Commentary

Just about a year ago on March 23, 2010, President Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) after months and months of political wrangling. It is not perfect, may not be complete and it certainly is complicated, b ..... 
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One moment, please... What was I thinking?

Mon, Mar 7th, 2011
Posted in Commentary

Last week's newspaper contained a letter to the editor from Bob Boyum of Peterson, Minn., which has been a point of contention for a few of our readers.

What's interesting to me is the wide range of perspectives on Mr. Boyum's letter and que ..... 
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How is wealth created?

Fri, Mar 4th, 2011
Posted in Commentary



There seem to be but three ways for a nation to acquire wealth:

The first by war, as the Romans did, in plundering their conquered neighbors -- this robbery;

The second by commerce, which is generally cheating;

The thi ..... 
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Guest Commentary: Teachers, unions and collective bargaining

Fri, Mar 4th, 2011
Posted in Commentary



As a retired Minnesota teacher and a former union member, I can sympathize with the teachers in Wisconsin and other states where Republican governors are attempting to weaken or destroy collective bargaining and public unions.

First ..... 
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Government cannot create wealth

Fri, Feb 25th, 2011
Posted in Commentary

Based on millions of instructions millions of Americans give the marketplace every day, the market is super genius in allocating resources. Government however, is a comparative dunce given that the spending decisions it makes is based on politics. I ..... 
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