Flames from the tap, the Vikings coaching search, and stuck in the ice (5×8- 12/31/13)


While oil tankers on a train continue to burn after yesterday’s derailment in North Dakota, there’s another fireball that’s getting attention in the Oil Patch. This one (language warning):

We’ve seen this in other areas of the country where gas and oil is being extracted by fracking. Jacob Haughney says he took the video in northwest North Dakota, but he declined to tell the Forum News Service where exactly.

Is it calming to know that North Dakota officials don’t believe it has anything to do with oil drilling?

Research shows, however, that occurrences of shallow gas – or methane – are naturally occurring and have been reported for more than 100 years all around North Dakota, said Alison Ritter, spokeswoman for the Department of Mineral Resources.

The North Dakota Geological Survey, a division of the Department of Mineral Resources, has detected methane in water wells in virtually every North Dakota county, including areas that have never had oil and gas development.

The researchers tested 4,325 State Water Commission monitoring wells in every county except Sioux County and detected methane in 20 percent of the wells. They also tested more than 100 private water wells with historical reports of gas and detected methane in 25.

There are no federal health standards for methane in water.

Related: MULTIMEDIA: Casselton train crash resulting in massive fire prompts call for evacuation (Fargo Forum).


Now that the Minnesota Vikings have fired coach Leslie Frazier, the hard part comes: Convincing someone who’s any good to come to Minnesota. Oddly enough, it’s not been our strong suit in recent years with any of the major sports. Some of the best analysis comes from the Daily Norseman, where K.J. Segall writes that without a decent QB, it’ll be tough to lure a decent coach here.

Rick Spielman has his work cut out for him. Honestly, if you ask me, that would explain why he emphasized a long coaching search- not just to be thorough, but I’m sure he’s realized this predicament as well and knows it won’t happen tomorrow. The question of course comes down to this- are there five or six NFL quality head coaching candidates out there? My gut says no. There is easily a list of around 10 candidates one could put together, but several of them might not be interested regardless (commentators like Jon Gruden [who F you if you think is a good idea anyways] and college coaches like Les Miles [LOL just kidding… oh now I made myself sad] might not want to leave their current jobs for any NFL team), and several more might be busts. Don’t forget, many of us were excited for Leslie Frazier when he came aboard. Sometimes you miss, plain and simple.

The only positive I truly feel we have going in this regard is- and stay with me here- Rick Spielman. Why? It’s not because he’s a HC scouting guru, it’s because his very job depends on this. Granted you can say the same of other teams on this list and their respective GMs, but desperation to keep one’s job is a powerful motivator, and I’m hoping it leads to him making an amazing selection and sales pitch. Chances are good Spielman might have to say that his intention is to sell the farm and do whatever it takes to move up as high as possible to land a very good QB. (Who? Dunno. Won’t be Bridgewater, he’s a Texan, bet on that.) He’ll likely have to offer the incoming guy a chance to confer with him about who that QB will be, which is fine by me because he proved he needs help after the Ponder fiasco.

More football: Quantifying the best and worst NFL broadcasters (SportsonEarth.com).

One last trip around the Metrodome (Pioneer Press):

More sports: NBA refs sneak in a late entry for “worst call in sports this year” contest.

You’ll want to hear Alan Horton’s call of the play, especially if you haven’t yet realized he’s the best sports play-by-play voice in Minnesota.


The people on the Shokalskiy, which is stuck in ice in Antarctica, seem so happy that one wonders if they’ve even heard of Ernest Shackleton. Yesterday, they released video of the time they’re having.

Icebreakers didn’t make it near the stuck ship yesterday, the New York Times reports in a blog post featuring additional audio. The stranded were to be helicoptered off the ship and taken to a Chinese ship nearby. But the Chinese ship is now stuck in the ice, too.

The temperature outside the ship yesterday was -1 — presumably celsius — which puts it about 30 degrees warmer than Minnesota.

Which would you rather: Be stuck on a ship in the ice when it’s 30, or able to get about when it’s -6?

Related: Lost Images Come To Life A Century After Antarctic Expedition (NPR).


Idle No More, the movement that started as a protest against Canada’s weakening of environmental laws and First Nation land rights, is vowing to go ahead with a “flash roundy,” as it did at this time last year. The Mall of America officials are warning them not to bother, Twin Cities Daily Planet reports.

Mall officials sent a letter to organizers warning of arrests if they go ahead with the protest.


Is there a more violent place than Chicago, where there’s more than one homicide a day? Yes, it’s Minneapolis, according to NPR.

Natjuan Herrin, who lives on Chicago’s West Side, says, “where I come from, they shoot every day, all day, but it’s not safe nowhere in Chicago. Wherever you go, it’s not safe,” Herrin says.

If it’s not safe there, it’s not safe here — or in a few other large cities, too. A Yale University study says Chicago’s violent crime rate ranks 19th in the nation, on part with Houston and Minneapolis.

Bonus I: The Fabulous Confetti Fête: A Times Square New Year's Eve (TIME.com).

Bonus II: The show must go on. Why TV reporters doing live shots deserve a little respect.

“I am known to faint any time I am in high altitudes and get too cold,” she said on her blog post. “I could feel myself getting light headed and tried to warn the producer that I was sick.”

“After I went down I sat up and had no idea how long I had been out but saw the camera pointed at my face and decided to keep talking.”

Bonus III: More reasons why you should’ve tipped your newspaper carrier (Poynter).

Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: Today is the final day to sign up for MNSure coverage that begins tomorrow. We’ll get an update on issues with our state’s exchange including any continuing problems with the website. We also discuss other healthcare changes that go into effect tomorrow.

Second hour: Taking stock of the intersection between Minnesota’s demography and economy

Third hour: The Oxford Dictionaries chose “selfie.” Merriam-Webster’s chose “science.” What was your favorite word of 2013? We’ll look back at the year in words with linguist Anatoly Liberman.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm) – An American RadioWorks documentary about the history and value of the GED, called “Second Chance Diploma: Examining the GED.”

The Takeaway (1-2 p.m.) – A closer look at Pope Francis immense popularity.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – What changes tomorrow when most of the major provisions of the Affordable Care Act take full effect? Catharine Richert will have the story.

Michael Zoosman was a heavy drinker and stressed-out lawyer. He eventually quit his job, put down the bottle, and got signed up for a bread-baking class. Now he’s a talented baker and has been appointed as a judge. NPR has the story of how this man found happiness in a baking apron and in black