Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Poem for foresters

A Walk in the Woods

By Louis Jenkins

Out here in the woods I can say anything I like without
fear of contradiction. I am not faced with solving any of
the great problems. I have only to cross a twenty-acre patch
of mixed hardwoods and spruce from one road to another
without getting lost. Really, I am as free as the birds that
flit from tree to tree, like the white-throated sparrow,
singing "old Sam Peabody, Peabody, Peabody," or the trees
that are doing their usual dance-arms extended, fingertips
raised, feet firmly planted, swaying from side to side. Just
across the clearing there's a group of slender aspen, all in
their spring party dress, chattering away. Now the music
begins again. "Moon River." Ladies choice. That tall
homely one bends over to whisper to her friend and ...oh,
hell, they're all looking straight at me.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Here's your excuse to eat more fried food!

Dan Houg finds way to beat fuel prices with vegetable oil-powered car
Leslie Rith-Najarian, Bemidji Pioneer
Published Friday, June 20, 2008

To avoid the gas pumps, many people have begun to go to new – and sometimes unusual – lengths.

Dan Houg’s vegetable-oil-powered car is an innovative example of this. Houg, who lives in Bemidji, is the chief engineer at KAXE radio station in Grand Rapids. For the past seven months he has been driving a 1991 Volkswagen Jetta that has been converted to run off of any type of vegetable oil. So far, he has driven about 17,000 miles on waste vegetable oil.

This car is not the first of its kind; however, most vegetable-oil-powered cars are used in warmer climates. Because of this difference, Houg had to spend extra time researching how to modify an engine that could function in northern Minnesota's climate.

n order to use this specific fuel method, in addition to the original diesel fuel system, the creation of an entirely separate heated fuel system for the vegetable oil was required. Houg explained that the car starts up on diesel, then after driving six miles, the vegetable oil has warmed up enough to liquefy and he can switch the fuel lines. The car must shut down again on diesel so as not to congeal the fuel lines.

The car can take fuel that comes from vegetable oil discarded from deep fat fryers. Vegetable oil is an attractive alternative for many reasons – it’s renewable, resourceful, low in particulates, and produced domestically. Houg specifically pointed out that waste vegetable oil is distinguished from biodiesel. His fuel is filtered in a four-stage procedure instead of being mixed with chemicals in a more complicated, hazardous process. The mileage achieved with this fuel form is an impressive 45 miles per gallon.

Houg has been getting his oil from ARAMARK food services at Bemidji State University. ARAMARK has been using Frymax Sun Supreme, a non-hydrogenated sunflower oil that was specifically selected for more healthful frying. This selection worked out perfectly for Houg because he believes that it is the non-hydrogenation that has allowed the engine to work in cold temperatures.

“There is a hint of delicious, peppery fried food in the exhaust, but for the most part it smells like burning vegetable oil as you might have when drips fall on the stove,” said Houg.

He said that he has been extremely impressed at how well the engine has held up. There have been no complications to date, and the only maintenance required is switching the vegetable oil filter every 2,500 miles. Also, the car handles cold far better than expected. Houg has driven the vehicle in minus-30-degree weather, and there were only four occasions this winter when he couldn’t use it.

Still, the whole idea isn’t quite unblemished. Essentially he said he’s trading time and labor for money. The fuel filtration process is time consuming; however, in four hours Houg can prepare 50 gallons. Considering the amount of money saved, he calculates his earnings to be about $50 per hour for his labor.

The only other hitch is a specific Department of Revenue excise tax on cars that burn vegetable oil. Regardless, Houg said that the 20-cent-per-gallon fee is incomparable to the amount of money he is saving.

“The best part is beating the fuel prices,” Houg said. “I no longer have to obsess about my mileage. When I hear the diesel prices are up, it no longer affects me.”

It is because of his altered car that Houg has been able to keep his much-loved job. His daily commute is 125 miles, and with gases prices the way they are, paying for that much diesel would not be at all practical.

The engine conversion process can be completed by any person who knows his or her way around a car engine. As Houg put it, “It’s not rocket surgery.”

However, he also said this alternative isn’t for everyone. Since the car must run for a few miles before the vegetable oil is warm enough to use, it’s not overly practical for those living short distances from their destinations. On the other hand, Houg does encourage this fuel option for those who travel long distances often.

For those inspired to attempt an alteration themselves, or simply to learn more, a more detailed explanation of the motor and filtration process can be found at kaxeengineer.blogspot.com.

The positive feedback and thumbs-up that Houg receives on the road have inspired him to take his ideas further. In addition to broadcasting information about his “grease car” to the public, Houg is now getting ready to step into the political arena. He recently received a letter from the Department of Revenue encouraging him to become part of a movement working to change Minnesota’s policy toward alternative fuel users. This initiative interested Houg and he is preparing to meet with politicians and gathering further information on waste vegetable oil usage.

There will be more to come from Houg and updates can be heard on KAXE stations, 91.7 Grand Rapids, 105.3 Bemidji, 89.9 Brainerd, or found on his Web site. For now, he can be seen driving around town in his blue Jetta emblazoned with vegetable oil pride.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Ojibwemowin: What's For Breakfast? Daataagwa'igan, Bakwezhigan!

Ingichi-minwendaan noondamaan mii apii dazhindameg, "Awegonen maajiyan noongom?" endaso-Naano-giizhigak. I really like hearing the segment "What's for breakfast" every Friday.

Awegonen maajiyan noongom zhebaag? What are you eating this morning?

Inga-miijin daataagwa'igan, naa bakwezhigan igaye indamwaa. I'll eat oatmeal this morning, and some bread, too.

Two different names for 'oatmeal', from two different ends of our Leech Lake reservation: 1)daataagwa'igan 2) ozhaashaaboo.

A basic name for bread: bakwezhigan.

There are two different basic verbs that we use when we talk about eating: 1) miijin & 2) amwaa. The short story of it: miijin is an inanimate verb, and amwaa is an animate verb. Oatmeal is inanimate - from the sentence above: Inga-miijin daataagwa'igan: I'll eat some oatmeal.

And, bread is animate: miinawaa bakwezhigan igaye indamwaa: and I'll eat some bread too.

There is not an easy answer to why some nouns are called 'animate' and why some are called 'inanimate' (which is a linguistic description that doesn't just mean 'living' or non-living - it's the gender of the noun).
We use different verbs that agree with the gender.

Folks who grow up speaking Ojibwemowin as their first language learn it contextually and naturally make the distinctions.

Many of us second-language learners learn this explicitly, and use many different tricks and tips to discern the best way to use these words. A good way to know which verb to use is to know the plural ending of the nouns: if the plural noun ends in -n, it is an inanimate noun. If the plural of the noun ends in -g then it is animate; then we'll know the correct verb to use when we're talking about something.

Off on another gender tangent: in some cases, the gender of the nouns may differ (dialectically) from region to region. What is animate here may be inanimate at another reservation or community. Strawberries, potatoes, rocks, these are classic examples of words that differ in animacy/gender from place to place.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Keeping Risk in Perspective by Marshall Helmberger

Marshall is the editor of the Timberjay - you can hear him on the Friday morning show wrapping up his week of stories at 7:20am. This week he had a story on MinnPost about the risk of venison.

Lead in venison: Keep risk in perspective
By Marshall Helmberger
Monday, June 16, 2008
Are those who eat large amounts of venison at risk of lead poisoning? That was the question on the table [last] week as the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) held a conference in Bloomington with natural resource officials from several Midwestern states.

The DNR first raised the concerns about lead after tests on venison donated to food shelves found lead fragments in nearly one out of five packages. Further tests using venison obtained from DNR employees, found lead fragments in a similar percentage of packages tested. Concerns about the impact of lead on those consuming venison has led the DNR to suspend its venison donation program to food shelves, a program that had shown plenty of promise as a means of encouraging hunters to take more deer, while providing quality meat to those in need.

Questions about the safety of deer meat are more than academic to many folks in our area, and that includes me and my family, whose red meat consumption consists mostly of venison. My take on the question is this: We face risks in everything we do. What's important is to keep those risks in perspective. And on the long, long list of things that can kill us, or make us sick, the risk from lead fragments in venison must be well down towards the bottom.

As the DNR has acknowledged, they are unaware of so much as a single case of even mild lead poisoning stemming from consumption of venison. Humans have long existed with lead in their bodies. We all have it within us, and in most cases, it has no detectable effect. In higher concentrations, it can lead to a number of acute and chronic symptoms, including neurological effects, nausea, headaches, and fatigue, but there are a thousand other substances out there that can do the same thing.

Relative dangers
I don't discount the potential risk, just as I don't discount the potential risk posed from consuming deer infected by chronic wasting disease. But I'm not about to let such remote risks keep me or my family from eating a high quality meat that in many ways is healthier than commercially produced alternatives, like beef.

As always, risk is a relative thing. We've all heard the reports of unsanitary conditions at slaughterhouses, and the outbreaks of real, even fatal, illness from eating contaminated beef. We know that most beef is much higher in saturated fats than a wild food like venison and because most cattle are now raised in close quarters, they are routinely pumped full of antibiotics and other things that most of us probably shouldn't consume. We know that the harmful environmental effects of industrial cattle farming are increasingly significant. Some scientists have even suggested that undetected prions in commercially-raised beef could be responsible for the rising prevalence of what is most often diagnosed in this country as Alzheimer's disease, but could be evidence of the brain-wasting effects of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, which is similar to mad cow disease.

So which represents the greater threat to human health? I know what I'd rather eat — it's venison, hands down. If deer hunters are eating venison rather than industrially produced beef, they're almost certainly better off, regardless of the risks posed by small amounts of lead.

It's much the same issue with fish consumption. For years, the state's Department of Health has put out fish consumption advisories for many lakes in our region due to the presence of mercury. While those advisories are still in effect, the health department recently revised its suggestions and is now recommending more fish consumption, because of the growing data showing the beneficial health effects of many of the other compounds found in fish.
In other words, it appears the health benefits of moderate, regular fish consumption may well outweigh the risks posed by mercury.
Doing a careful job of processing
If deer hunters should take anything from the revelations about lead, it's to consider butchering their own deer, or taking it to a commercial processor that they know and can trust to do a careful job. It's only human nature that we'll take greater care when dealing with food we know we'll be consuming. Given the lead concern, I know I'll probably leave a bit more of the meat around the wound than I have in the past.

It's good to be informed about such risks, and if we can reduce those risks by minor changes in our behavior, it just makes sense. I don't subscribe to the mentality of those who fight or dismiss any new information that they don't like, or find inconvenient. We've had way too much of that thinking in American society in recent years, and it's harmful.

Yet we can't go the other extreme, so often exhibited in the media, where every remote risk is turned into the newest scare of the week and the public isn't provided the sense of perspective that is so critical in assessing relative risk. Let's hope the DNR will use a little of that perspective as it decides where to go from here.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Facing North: Portraits of Ely

Tomorrow morning (Friday June 13th at 8:10am) we're going to talk with Andrew and Ann Goldman about the book they've created "Facing North: Portraits of Ely, Minnesota" published by University of Minnesota Press.

Ann wrote the essays and Andrew is the photographer for this project. The book features more than 100 portraits and essays about the unique people who call Ely home.

Andrew Goldman writes in the photographer's preface:

The idea of documenting Ely, Minnesota, appealed to me for a number of reasons. The visual variety and strength of character in the people offered seemingly limitless potential for interesting images. The town has a timelessness, an enduring spirit directly connected to the early pioneers who settled this area barely one hundred years ago. The context of the Northwoods is present in every person and every endeavor, but primarily I wanted to find the larger story through the faces of the people here.

Do you have a connection to Ely? Post it here!

Did you hear last week's StoryCorps segment?

Most of the StoryCorps segments we hear on NPR's Morning Edition are touching and move me close to tears. Last week's was a whole different can of worms - it cracked me up! Ramon's story was recorded at the StoryCorps Mobile Booth in San Diego. He talks about how all the Mexican-American students at his school had their names "americanized" by their teachers. Ramon became Raymond.

The teachers DIDN'T change one kid's name though. Listen to it here.

And don't forget that the StoryCorps mobile booth is coming to Grand Rapids to include US in the largest oral history project in the United States. They will be here August 25th - September 20th. Stay tuned for how you can sign up to talk with someone you care about!

Tune in Friday mornings for segments of StoryCorps - or check the website for archives and blogs about the project.

Fred and Scott's All-Star Picks

American League

1B Justin Morneau, Twins
2B Ian Kinsler, Rangers (Scott); Brian Roberts, Orioles (Fred)
3B Alex Rodriguez, Yankees
SS Derek Jeter, Yankees
C Joe Mauer, Twins
OF Josh Hamilton, Rangers;
OF Manny Ramirez, Red Sox;
OF Milton Bradley, Rangers (Fred); Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners (Scott)
DH Milton Bradley, Rangers (Scott); Hideo Matsui, Yankees (Fred)

National League

1B Lance Berkman, Astros
2B Chase Utley, Phillies
3B Chipper Jones, Atlanta
SS Jimmy Rollins, Phillies (Fred); Jose Reyes, Mets (Scott)
C Brian McCann, Atlanta (Fred); Benji Molina, Giants (Scott)
OF Ryan Braun, Brewers
OF Ken Griffey, Reds (Fred); Ryan Ludwick, Cardinals (Scott)
OF Matt Hilliday, Rockies (Fred); Nate McLouth, Pirates (Scott)

DH Dan Uggla, Marlins (Scott); David Wright, Mets (Fred)

Off the Deep End

No, I'm not talking about the mindset of most of us here at KAXE, it's the title of a book that will be featured on the Morning Show this Friday, June 13th at 8:40am. The full title is:

"Off the Deep End - The Probably Insane Idea That I Could Swim My Way Through a Midlife Crisis - And Qualify For The Olympics"

Hodding Carter

In February 2004, I decided I was going to qualify for the Olympics. I was forty-one. At that age, most men who are suddenly afraid of yet one more day flying by (read midlife crisis) buy motorcycles or get twenty-year-old girlfriends or they doctor up their bodies with pectoral implants - some even do all three. The majority, however, don't abruptly decide to pit themselves against the greatest swimmers in the world.

Tune in!

Ojibwemowin for Thursday, June 12

Aaniin giin, Noongom gigii-tazhindaamin: today we talked about:
Ajina go gii-mizhakwad gigizhebaag, booch, ani-kimiwan miinawaa. It cleared up for a while this morning, but as it goes, it's going to rain some more.

Ode'imini-giizis ezhinikaazod wa'aw giizis noongom, the moon/month we are in is called the 'strawberry moon' .

Maajiiginoon ode'iminan omaa Anishinaabewakiin, naa wayiiba go wii-aditewan. The strawberry plants are beginning to come up, beginning to grow, and soon the berries will be on the plants and will ripen.

Awiiya na ogikendaan wenji-izhinikaazod Ode'imini-giizis? Daga bi-ganoozhishin giishpin waa-nakwetaman o'o. Does anyone know why this month is called the strawberry moon? If so, give us a call and give us any different ideas you may have been taught in Ojibwe country about this month's name .

Mii go iw. That's it, Saagajiwe

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Team Weaver Racing

Here's a picture of Skyler Smith from Bemidji - the 17 year old driver for Team Weaver. Team Weaver is the brainchild of writer Will Weaver - a racing team featuring a young driver that accompanies his new series of books for young adults "Saturday Night Dirt". Will, Skyler and the car (#16) travel around to talk with young readers. The first in the series came out in April, and Skyler's first ever win happened Mother's Day Weekend.

Skyler and Team Weaver and "The Bookmobile" compete in the stock car races around the KAXE listening area. Keep up with Team Weaver by checking out the blog....

Stay tuned for information on a KAXE event where you can meet Skyler, Will and #16 sometime this summer!