Play in the snow.

You must already think I’m crazy. More than 20 years of my life were spent in Minnesota: seven in Richfield, 10 in Rosemount and four at the University of Minnesota. (Go, Gophers!) I played hockey in the winter, baseball in the summer, swam in Brainerd lakes and grumbled about the weather just like every other hard-blooded true Minnesotan, who, despite being shaken to the bone every winter, would refuse to ever leave.

Then came graduation. B.A. in economics (thank you, Dr. Sahi) and I was off to work in large banking in Charlotte, N.C. As I sit here and write this on the eve of 2016, it is 68 degrees with humidity of 88 percent, and I hear there is a lot of snow back home.

All I want right now is 30 degrees and snow. Again, you think I’m crazy. But there is reason to my madness.

Growing up, all I did in the winters was strap on my boots, puffy jacket and snowpants, build snowmen and throw snowballs at the girls on the street. Yes, I was that kid. I spent hours freezing my toes on rinks with my good buddies whom I sorely miss. I sledded, I ice fished, I took in all that fresh air.

What’s the point of the story? There are two.

1) Minnesota gives you the best of both worlds. You experience beautiful summers and equally beautiful winters. Don’t get me wrong. I love my 70-degree weather, but there is something to be said for variety, and man, I miss those rosy cheeks and ice skates; don’t take it for granted.

2) Snow is better than Netflix, Xbox One, Snapchat or Facebook. If I look back at everything that makes me miss Minnesota, not once do I think about sitting inside, unless it was by the fire to warm up my toes over a nice cup of cocoa.

I urge you to take advantage of the winter whilst I cannot. I think age is something that shouldn’t be constraining. If you’re 23, 12 or 50, you should be out there in your snowpants, boots and puffy jacket. It’s a happy time of year — make a memory or two.

Matthew Foley, Charlotte, N.C.


After cleaning up streets, clean up the process at impound lot

Declaration of a snow emergency in Minneapolis means long lines at the impound lot. This seems inevitable. Long outdoor waits and freezing toes are not. Poor management is responsible.

The dysfunctional conditions I encountered when I took my son to recover his towed car on Dec. 30 are unnecessary. We arrived at 7 p.m. with about 150 people ahead of us. Roughly one in four were passengers, so the number of cars being recovered was about 110. If this had been a major sporting event, the money would have been collected and everyone served in 30 minutes. There were about 15 staff people, ample for that size crowd. Instead, my son drove out with his car at 9:45; we stood outdoors for about 45 minutes going from a temporary to the main building.

An employee was stationed outdoors to greet newcomers. Better training and outdoor signage could easily have explained what became apparent only inside the main building: one window served those who had prepaid online, while six windows were for “cash” — that is, cash, checks or credit cards. Dividing the lines outside would have avoided the crush through the single doorway; better yet, having more than one window for those trying to speed the process by prepaying is a no-brainer. Issuing a paper tab on arrival is another obvious part of the solution.

No expensive study is needed to implement these changes. All that’s necessary is a visit by the mayor or a City Council member on a cold winter evening.

Stan Jacobson, St. Paul



Never mind candy; beet farmers should focus on seed diversity

Regional sugar-beet farmers are worried about losing candy companies as customers, but their misguided response seems limited to hoping this phenomenon does not spread (“Hershey says ‘bye’ to beet sugar,” Business, Dec. 28). They are ignoring the most important threat to their industry: limited seed choice and suppliers.

The CEO of American Crystal Sugar, David Berg, notes in the article that “sugar-beet growers can’t get non-GM seed anymore.” Shouldn’t that be the cause for alarm? Beet farmers, like all farmers, must know it is risky to rely on limited strains and suppliers for their seeds. Instead of hoping that health fears around GM crops can be contained, they should focus on ensuring that they have diverse choices in suppliers and types of seed they can buy.

The sugar beet farmers are already well-organized into cooperatives. As primary consumers for beet seeds, they should demand more seed options to ensure those seeds’ ability to adapt to any changing environmental or market conditions.

This seems like a much more viable approach for dealing with loss of buyers for their product than hoping that other candymakers will not begin requiring non-GM-sourced sugar as well.

Cheryl Quinn, Minneapolis

The writer is a biochemist.



Coverage of Bernie Sanders, for one, has been sorely lacking

As we approach the 2016 political season beginning with the Iowa precinct caucuses on Feb. 1, it should be incumbent upon the mainstream media to provide the electorate with a fair balance of dependable and essential information on all candidates. On the whole and relatively speaking, paying such attention has been sorely missing for two of the three Democratic presidential candidates: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.

Thus, as far as I can tell, the Star Tribune has barely, if at all, given space in its “Campaign 2016” column, among other places, to the unique, grass-roots, revolutionary movement of the Sanders campaign. Despite a rigged political establishment attempting, for instance, to favor the apparent current Democratic national front-runner with superdelegates, the senator has outperformed all presidential contenders — Democrats and Republicans — in rally attendance and small contributions.

Not just hundreds and thousands but tens of thousands of people across a broad political spectrum have attended his appearances; now he is also focusing on speaking in smaller groups for more intimate exchanges. His contributions (none from billionaires or millionaires) average a little over $30 per donor, with 99 percent of them less than $250 and over 2 million people contributing, breaking Obama’s 2008 fundraising record.

As the “candidate for all seasons” writes in his new book, “Outsider in the White House”: “A politics of struggle is rooted in values and vision, and above all trust.”

Richard Laybourn, Bloomington