I’m thankful for ...

My next-door neighbor who tolerates my barking dog.

Newspapers that can and will print both sides of the issues.

Surgeons’ know-how and courage.

Firefighters’ and cops’ know-how and courage.

Libraries.

People who are willing do what I haven’t done — tend to the homeless face-to-face.

Writers who can make me laugh and cry.

The anonymous person who snow blows my sidewalk.

Teachers who really know their subject and care about kids.

Drivers who don’t hit the gas pedal when the light is yellow.

The cashier at the grocery store, who warns me with a serious smile to stop buying chocolate so often.

Our newspaper delivery person, who leaves the paper within inches of our front door — every time.

How the change of seasons around here reminds us that life offers the chance at “do-overs.”

BBC radio in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep.

Columnists who can put into words what I’m thinking but can’t express.

That joke about the snail someone told me that I laugh over whenever I think about it.

Miss Mengelkoch, my eighth-grade teacher, who made us memorize and recite the “Queen Mab” speech from Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.”

Watching and listening to really old people laugh with each other.

Dick Schwartz, Minneapolis

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP

California fire wisdom: Look for the flash in the pan

As with much of what President Donald Trump says, there is often a kernel of truth contained within his verbal hash. Take, for instance, his recommendation for California authorities to “spend a lot of time on raking and cleaning and doing things … .” (“Why Finland doesn’t have wildfires and Sweden does,” Nov. 20).

It seems what the Finnish president had conveyed to Trump was a program that enables Finland to “clear away underbrush” with controlled burns. Trump’s signature intellectual torpor processed nuanced forest management into “raking … and doing things.” Yet, there probably is something useful that California can learn from Finland’s approach.

Since our nation is, more than likely, going to be led by Trump for two more years — possibly six — a similar exercise may be a good approach for dealing with the Trump presidency for whatever length of time he remains in office.

Rather than merely rolling eyes and moving on, it may be useful for citizens to attempt to ferret-out what fragment of reality Trump is referencing in his public statements — whether spoken or tweeted — and decide whether he has a legitimate point to make or not.

Like it or not, Trump has the support of a large segment of the American populace, and to discount everything he says or tweets as rubbish with no anchor in reality will make for a very long, divisive and unproductive two to six years.

Gene Case, Andover

• • •

As of Wednesday afternoon, the toll of the very sad and tragic wildfires in northern California stood at least 81 killed and counted about 700 missing. The president did what was necessary in visiting the site and by pledging millions in federal aid to the area. But he was so quick to blame poor forest management by officials at the fires’ onset.

Most experts have said that he was wrong to blame these officials, as well as his previous touting of the expansion of logging and clear-cutting parts of the area. A scientific study of increased logging, as a type of forest management, found that it causes more intense burning and more fires in the dry areas of western states. Logging leaves dry and combustible twigs, branches, stumps and dead logs behind. Also, invasive weeds take over in the cut areas, become dry and add to the kindling. The fact is that the wildfire areas had been logged in previous years. Forests that are dense actually block and reduce winds that fuel wildfires.

The president alleged that Finland rakes its large forests, but Finland’s president said this never was said and is not true. Finland has much more rain than the very dry forest areas of California. The droughts in California are caused by climate change and global warming. This is the major cause of the wildfires.

Gary Thompson, St. Paul

PUBLIC SAFETY

Lettuce gets our full attention. What else might warrant that?

In Wednesday’s paper, all people in the U.S. were encouraged to not buy romaine lettuce because 32 people have become ill from eating it (“Romaine gets rare federal warning,” front page, Nov. 21).

On Monday this week, 10 people were killed and many injured in shootings in four states, but we can’t get any movement on limiting gun access in our country.

Marion McNurlen, Edina

POLLINATORS

Contrast Iowa and Minnesota.

One possible partial solution to the pollinator problem (“Bee panel split over pesticide proposals,” front page, Nov. 20) can be seen driving north on Interstate 35 from Iowa. In Iowa, the highway borders seem to be growing plants that could help pollinators. In Minnesota, they are mowed grass. The Iowa plan not only helps bees but saves money.

Phyllis Kahn, Minneapolis

The writer is a former member of the Minnesota House.

UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA

Regents selection is indeed a critical task. So it must change.

If only the regents did provide effective oversight of the University of Minnesota administration (“An unheralded but critical task lies ahead: Selecting regents,” Opinion Exchange, Nov. 21.) Instead they rely on the senior administrators to sift through the volumes of information about the operations of the university. So (with perhaps a couple of exceptions) they see only the information selected by the administrators. They develop a bond with the senior administrators with whom they spend most of their time on campus. So as a group they tend to dismiss the perspectives of other people (on the rare occasions when they hear other perspectives).

Each biennium the citizens of our state invest more than $1 billion in general appropriations for the university. With that much at stake, legislators should appoint a qualified person to monitor the operations of the university and the use of state appropriations on a continuing basis. This legislative liaison (or watchdog) should have the responsibility to review the information produced by senior administrators, to collect additional information through independent research, and to meet with all groups at the university so that the perspectives of other well-informed and thoughtful members of the university community are presented to the Legislature.

Michael W. McNabb, Lakeville