The Minnesota Vikings have upgraded their talent and coaching staff and deservedly have advanced to the playoff portion of the NFL season. But, as the Purple faithful scurry to plop down upward of $400 for a seat to Sunday’s NFC wild-card matchup with the Seattle Seahawks, some tempering of expectations may be in order.

Let’s just set aside December’s 38-7 drubbing at the hands of the aforementioned overachieving ospreys; the Vikings are 5-9 lifetime vs. the Seahawks. And, the Seahawks’ total dismantling last weekend of the Arizona Cardinals — a team that sports punditry had reckoned to be an elite group — does not bode well for the home team now.

It’s understandable that local fans are completely absorbed by Sunday’s contest. After all, with the chances of World War III kicking off in the Middle East ratcheting upward daily, who wouldn’t be looking for a little diversion?

But, as the Purple faithful’s behinds are beginning to freeze solid to the bleachers of The Bank toward the end of the big game, let’s hope that there isn’t too big of a letdown if the local squad comes up holding the short end of the icicle.

Gene Case, Andover

SUPERINTENDENT SEARCH

Clouded? Perhaps, but a closer look at Paez can clear that up

I, too, was skeptical about Sergio Paez when I went to hear him at a local coffeehouse (“Despite visit, Paez’s candidacy is clouded,” editorial, Jan. 8). Ninety minutes later, I felt he was the right choice for superintendent of the Minneapolis Public Schools.

I confirmed my impressions by calling Paul Dakin, a retired superintendent from Massachusetts and superintendent of the year in that state 2015. He is currently a consultant to the Massachusetts superintendents’ association, and he has followed Paez from the beginning of his career. He stated that although he would have handled the situation in Holyoke differently, it was a situation that Paez inherited. Paez did not create it. Rather than blowing it up publicly by placing responsibility squarely on previous leadership, he chose to implement quiet reform.

Dakin went on to say that it’s important to understand that Paez went into the most dysfunctional system imaginable — one where no one in the state’s superintendents’ association gave him a chance to succeed. Despite impossible odds, Paez was doing a “good job to overcome … a history of underperformance.” The reforms he put in place are being implemented today.

Dakin characterizes Paez as an intelligent, capable administrator who is well-suited to lead a diverse, urban school district. He stated unequivocally that he would vote to hire him.

I suggest that we give Paez the respect he deserves by looking again at why the Minneapolis school board agreed to hire him. He was the right choice then, and he is the right choice now for our students, our teachers and our community.

Karon Garen, Minneapolis

 

OBAMA’S EXECUTIVE ORDERS

Dictatorial? Only if these several thousand other orders were, too

Wouldn’t it be great if we all referred to facts and data before we make accusations? The suggestion that President Obama has acted like a dictator because he is using his lawful executive powers to make changes in gun control (Readers Write, Jan. 8) is just the latest example of biased, poor thinking. Obama has made 227 executive orders. Ronald Reagan: 381. George W Bush: 291. Richard Nixon: 346. Harry Truman: 907. The writer could have taken two minutes to look up the facts at www.presidency.ucsb.edu/data/orders.php.

Maureen MacDonald, Minneapolis

 

HEALTH INSURANCE

Believe whom you want, but I’ll listen to the expert

Let’s see. A professor of health policy at the University of Minnesota writes in an Opinion Exchange commentary that the Affordable Care Act helps people, and a partisan Republican legislator writes that it doesn’t (“Actually, health care reform is succeeding” and “MNsure is hurting folks, not helping,” Jan. 7). Hum. Whom should we believe? I wonder.

Robert H. O’Neill, Little Falls, Minn.

 

TEMPORARY SENATE CHAMBER

Who paid for those 67 8-by-10 color glossy photographs?

A photo on the cover of the Minnesota section of the Jan. 8 Star Tribune shows the “temporary Senate Chamber, set up to closely resemble the one in the State Capitol, with pictures of senators guiding them to their assigned seats.” The individual color photos on the desks appear to be framed and 8-by-10 or larger. It concerns me that anyone thought it was necessary to print and frame photographs so that senators could find their desks. Can’t these people read a simple name card or seating chart? As government spending goes, the photos are not a large expense, but this effort was an unnecessary waste of time and a clear indication that there is little or no thought to spending taxpayer dollars wisely.

Nancy Johnson, Northfield

 

POWERBALL JACKPOT

No one needs that much. So here’s what we do …

Anyone who wins the $800 million Powerball jackpot on Saturday should be allowed to keep only $5 million of it. The rest should go to our wounded veterans. Think of the many veterans who could be helped in so many, many ways. They deserve every penny of it.

Darryl M. Larson, Edina

 

THE WEATHER

Perfect for ice dams. (That’s not good, so take action.)

Slushy snow on our roofs, followed by the big freeze, followed by an inevitable warmup (and rain?) equals perfect conditions for ice dams followed by water damage. Clear channels through those potential dams ASAP, before they freeze solid. It will also be easier to shovel your walk before Sunday.

David Craig Smith, Minneapolis

 

POPULAR CULTURE

Not so very long ago in a mind far, far away …

I still maintain that I was abducted by aliens, and when I got back, I kept hearing references to something called “Chewbacca.”

At first, I of course assumed it was a chewing tobacco commercial, and then I thought it might be a beef jerky commercial or a drink where you throw “bacca” the bacon and down the drink — silly me.

And then I thought it was an Italian dog chew. (I mean, it ends in an “a” — right?) I searched every damn Italian pet store in the Twin Cities and couldn’t find a dog chew called “Chewbacca.”

And so then I searched every tobacco store in the Twin Cities looking for a special tobacco called “Chewbacca.” And everybody laughed at me.

So, I finally asked a homeless guy on the street: “Dude, what is a ‘Chewbacca?’ ” He said: “Dude, he’s a main character in the ‘Star Wars’ series.”

And so now I’m googling “Star Wars.”

Avoid being abducted, my friends.

Eric Fruchtl, Burnsville