I built an airplane (5×8 – 6/4/12)

The Monday Morning Rouser:


I try not to write much about me but it’s a Monday, it’s a slow news day, and for this event I’m making an exception. For the last 11 years, you may have heard if you listened to Mary Lucia and me talking on The Current the other day, I’ve been building an airplane. It started in my garage. I delivered newspapers every morning before going to work at MPR in the ’90s to raise the money. Some neighborhood kids worked on it, and so did a lot of other people. All of them signed their name somewhere in the innards of the plane.

When you build an airplane, especially if you flunked shop in junior high school as I did, you never know if it’s going to fly. So you have to marvel at a test pilot — in this case, Tom Berge of Plymouth — who got into a plane built by a radio guy who flunked shop in junior high school yesterday morning in South Saint Paul, and went careening down the runway with every intention of ending up in the sky, just as many people who failed also had intended to do.

Caution: Some minor language occurs after he immediately succeeds.

N614EF is so named to honor my parents — Eileen and Fred — who were married on June 14, 1942, just before he shipped off to the war. They stayed married until the day he died in 2004 and 10 days from now would be their 70th anniversary.

The Twin Cities, you may wish to know, is one of the country’s hotbeds of airplane building. The the other two are Texas and the Pacific Northwest.

Related: Skydiver Aims to Smash Record, Sound Barrier in 23-Mile Jump (Wired.com)


In the dark and unseemly world that was exposed by the death of former Minnesota Wild hockey player Derek Boogaard, no organization comes off with more to answer for than the local NHL team, which has kept its head down since the New York Times blew the whistle.

Now, the Times is back with more damning evidence against the Wild and the New York Rangers. Boogaard received more than 100 prescriptions from team doctors for over 1,000 pills, even after he entered the league’s substance abuse program.

The records reveal the ease with which Boogaard received prescription drugs — often shortly after sending a text message to a team doctor’s cellphone and without a notation made in team medical files. They also show the breadth of the drugs being prescribed, from flu medications and decongestants to antidepressants and anti-anxiety pills.

Most striking, though, are the narcotic painkillers and sleeping pills, which Boogaard had a history of abusing.

“To see him have all that access to those doctors and all those prescriptions, that is mind boggling,” said Dr. Louis Baxter Sr., the executive medical director of the Professional Assistance Program of New Jersey and immediate past president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine. “He had such easy access to prescription medicines.”

Predictably, the Wild, along with everyone else in the league, refused to answer questions.

Boogaard died last year of an accidental overdose of narcotic painkillers and alcohol.


How about a heapin’ helping of inspiration to start the week? Workplace warning: Turn away now if you don’t want your co-workers to see you crying in your cubicle.

This is Matt Woodrum from central Ohio. He has cerebral palsy and had every intention of competing in his elementary school’s traditional Field Day.

He was given the option of sitting the race out but he would have none of that.


It didn’t take long for the Prairie Island Indian Community’s high school graduates to make a difference in the world. Shown yesterday at the front of this celebration, the kids wanted to wear eagle feathers with their graduation caps and gowns Friday night, and for the last several weeks, there was dispute between the community and the Red Wing High School officials who had banned them. The dispute was never allowed to escalate into public view, but on Friday, the school district not only relented, but made it part of permanent policy that Native American graduates will be allowed to wear an eagle feather.

Well done! I may have more on the story later.


Political legend Al Eisele recently invited New York Mayor Mayor Michael Bloomberg to visit his hometown of Blue Earth on June 16 for the big doings there. They’re installing art deco lampposts designed by New York industrial designer and Blue Earth native Donald Deskey. The lamposts come from New York, where they’re being replaced.

And while I noted that my hometown doesn’t have any skyscrapers, I promised that if the mayor found time in his busy schedule to honor Donald Deskey and Blue Earth with his presence, I’d show him the 60-foot statue of the Green Giant on the edge of town on Interstate 90.

But the mayor’s office just informed me that he can’t come to Minnesota in mid-June because he’ll be dealing with budget problems. Too bad. I could see the headline, “From the Big Apple to Blue Earth,” instead of “Mayor Bloomberg to Blue Earth: Drop Dead.”

Pity. The town could’ve toasted him with giant cups of sugary drinks.

More dispatches from exotic lands: A pedestrian explores the suburbs. (streets.mn)

Bonus I: Grand Old Days in 60 seconds…

Bonus II: Is the brain hardwired for religion? (h/t: Nick Young)


Target is taking criticism for selling T-shirts in support of a marriage equality group. JC Penney has faced boycott threats over its gay-friendly marketing strategies. Today’s Question: Are your choices as a consumer influenced by a retailer’s involvement in gay-rights issues?


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: Anita Hill.

Second hour: The rise and fall of elite athletes.

Third hour: Do business leaders make a good presidents?

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): Live broadcast from the National Press Club featuring the Gerald Ford Journalism awards for coverage of the presidency and national defense. With MSNBC’s Chris Matthews.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: The president’s choices on Syria.

Second hour: TBA

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Trying on clothes in a store dressing room could become old-fashioned. What if lasers and 3D cameras took your measurements and made a virtual model of you? Digital fitting room technology could make for a precision fit and change the way we buy and wear clothing. NPR will have the story.