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Across The Lake

Hope this reminder won't be too late but this is Wildfire Prevention Week, and to kick it off, there will be two presentations today from Forest Service people. They'll be at the Senior Center at 10:45 a.m. and 1.45 p.m. The Blackduck Fire Depart...

Hope this reminder won't be too late but this is Wildfire Prevention Week, and to kick it off, there will be two presentations today from Forest Service people. They'll be at the Senior Center at 10:45 a.m. and 1.45 p.m. The Blackduck Fire Department will have their rigs lined up outside for a chance to let you see their equipment close-up. Enjoy a meal while you're there -- the History Center has put this all together and over the noon hour will provide a chili feed for a reasonable fee.

The first of the new 42¢ stamps go on sale April 22, but you won't need them until mid-May. Five journalists are featured on the new issue. Martha Gellhorn covered wars from the Spanish Civil War to the conflict in Vietnam. Ruben Salazar was a noted writer for the Los Angeles Times and was killed while covering a Chicano event in that city. George Polk was a correspondent for CBS radio covering corruption in the US program of aid to Greece in 1948. He disappeared and his bound, bullet-riddled body was found floating in the bay at Salonika. John Hersey is perhaps best known for a wartime book, A Bell for Adano and for his Hiroshima, which filled an entire issue of New Yorker magazine in August, 1946. The fifth journalist honored in this new series is North Dakota native and University of Minnesota graduate Eric Sevareid, a World War II member of the CBS radio team and later a commentator on the CBS television news.

With all the attention given to wind power, you might think it would attract all the workers needed, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Nearly 3,200 new wind turbines were installed across the country last year, among them the 90 that are furnishing power to Minnkota Electric and thus to its members including Beltrami Electric. Across the country, about another 3,000 or more are expected to be put in place this year, but, and here's the problem, that many new turbines will require more technicians, 800 of them, each of whom can service 8 to 10 units. Among the requirements -- being able and willing to climb 200 feet in all kinds of weather. For the record, wind now supplies about one percent of the country's power.

Len Carrick declined our suggestion that he make the Bemidji Airport a destination on an early flight. He says "health and a nervous wife" have grounded him. He's also had to give up his dental practice (friends tagged him as Dr. Screamdrill) but he hasn't lost his sense of humor. A recent note from him suggests that if carrots are really that good for eyesight, why are there so many dead rabbits on the road. From his home in Redding, CA, he also says he sets a new record every day for the most consecutive days he's stayed alive. Finally, he wonders, why is that most nudists are people you wouldn't want to see naked anyway.

At one time or another, you hear a story about something unusual. Just the other day, someone sent us an e-mail of what was said to be a 26-point white tail buck. It was said to have been shot by the cousin of a co-worker's sister's, uncle's, best friend's, son-in-law's nephew. Can't imagine a better, more direct source than that.

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Closer to home, My Favorite Reader's sister-in-law phoned to tell of a car she was following in Minneapolis traffic. The back of the car warned, "Student Driver." On the side door panel, she noted, was the company's name: "Training Wheels."

If the name Norman Borlaug is not a familiar one, this may help you remember him. He's an Iowa farm boy, a graduate of the University of Minnesota, and a man who in 1970 was said to have been the man whose work saved a billion lives. That was the year when he won the Nobel Peace Prize, back when that honor meant something and before it became so politicized.

"Decades ago, when neo-Malthusians were predicting mass famine, Borlaug used Rockefeller Foundation grants to unlock hidden genes and crossbred different wheat strains to create new dwarf varieties that were resistant to rust fungi. The shorter plants were sturdier and had higher yields." That's how my one-time colleague Paul Driessen describes the importance of Borlaug's work in a recent article. Paul is now senior policy advisor to the Congress of Racial Equality and had his interest in Borlaug heightened when Paul's daughter interviewed the 94-year old man for her high school paper.

Borlaug's own daughter says her father is still like the Energizer Bunny, despite cancer which required his hospitalization recently. He serves as a consultant and attended a recent conference in Mexico on new rust-resistant wheat varieties and modern agricultural methods. By 1960, he had helped Mexican farmers make that country self-sufficient in wheat, and he soon did the same for Pakistan and India. China, Indonesia and the Philippines achieved similar success with wheat, corn and rice, thanks to Borlaug.

"The Father of the Green Revolution" has some advice for those "well-fed Utopians who live on Cloud Nine." He particularly warns of "callous activists" like those who persuaded Zambia to let people starve rather than eat biotech corn donated by the USA. "Our planet has 6.5 billion people," says Borlaug. "By all means use manure -- you can't let it sit around, but if we only use organic fertilizers and methods on existing farmlands, we can only feed 4 billion. I don't see 2.5 billion people volunteer to disappear." There's more in a book Paul recommends -- The Man Who Fed the World by Leon Hesser. It's now out in paperback.

Bemidji's city manager has to be sincere but I wonder if he isn't a little na?ve when talking about the operating costs for that new hockey rink and convention center which state taxpayers will now get to help pay for. Aside from all the other costs, John Chattin sees no problem in operating it. "We believe," he told city council members, "we can find ways to operate this center without raising taxes." He probably believes in the tooth fairy and the Easter Bunny, too.

Thoughts while drying the dishes... You add that $8 or $9 in gas for a trip down plus the extra sales tax collected by the city and those trips to Bemidji to save money don't add up quite the same.

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