As a 66-year-old native Minnesotan and avid fan of our winter seasons, I found Ron Way's Feb. 18 opinion piece, "Hyped-up weather reports cause unnecessary drama," a joy to both read and share. I can't agree more about the growing sensationalization of our broadcast weather reports — do we really need to know how many people will be "affected" by our normal, we-have-them-every-year snowstorms or how many days remain until spring (and is that meteorological or astronomical spring)?
Even though I agree it is difficult to accurately quantify a "feels like" temperature, I think it does help those of us who enjoy going outside in the elements to have an idea what to expect for the "suffer index" or, more practically speaking, the "how many layers must I put on so I won't die" index. The old Norwegian saying that there is no such thing as bad weather, just a bad choice of clothing, has always been my mantra for many years along with my grandmother's saying, "Wear cotton for comfort and leather for looks, but if it's warmth you want, put on the wool."
Bob Joyce, Lakeville
WHAT THEY'RE LEARNING
Government standards were certainly not what inspired me
Gary Martin Davison ("Public school students aren't learning the 'wrong' thing," Opinion Exchange, Feb. 18) really nails it.
I still have scars on my stomach from knots of stage fright endured as a 9-year-old when coerced into playing the role of Christopher Columbus in a classmate's school play. As for learning anything in 1957 about Columbus' role in America's history, the "facts" I was taught have been shown to be mostly frauds.
Plutarch, in "Moralia," had the right idea 2,000 years ago: "The correct analogy for the mind is not a vessel that needs filling, but wood that needs igniting."
My ignition came while hitchhiking through France as an architecture student in 1971. I could easily read roadside signs, in French, warning against off-road wandering due to unexploded ordnance from World War I, thanks to my school district's enlightened program teaching French starting in the second grade.
I wanted to learn more about both world wars thanks to a 1969 lecture by history Prof. Harvey Goldberg, attended almost accidentally at the University of Wisconsin. Goldberg was such a superb storyteller that he routinely received standing ovations from his students.
After 50 years of woodenheaded combustion, my love of reading history burns on. It's safe to say that no "standard" imposed by the feds or locals could have measured or ensured that my bucket was sufficiently filled in grade school, high school or ever.
William Beyer, St. Louis Park
The writer is a trustee of the St. Louis Park Historical Society.
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Have no fear, John Kass, author of "Woke left wants to erase classic literature for kids" (Opinion Exchange, Feb. 8): The works of Shakespeare and Homer are alive and well in today's classrooms. My granddaughter, a senior in high school, has studied them both but with modern writers as well. It is both important and appropriate for schools to incorporate modern classics written by those men and women with Black and brown faces, in addition to those standards written by dead white men.
Ralph Ellison's "Invisible Man," Maxine Hong Kingston's "Woman Warrior," Toni Morrison's "Beloved" and Maya Angelou's "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" are masterpieces that will exercise students' brain muscles nicely and offer "the necessary skills of logic and critical thinking needed to grasp and wrestle with ... great conflicting ideas." Reading Western literature is not the only gateway to critical thinking and reading skills.
I taught high school English for 23 years. And I taught "To Kill a Mockingbird" year after year. As much as I love the novel, it is right that schools find a replacement piece that will make the Black man less the victim in his life. Alice Walker's "The Color Purple" will do nicely. This is not politics; this is common sense.
Jane Pole, Waconia
We are dedicated workers still waiting for our shots
As a longtime grocery worker, age 68, deemed an "essential worker" three months ago by the Minnesota Department of Health, I expected to have received a COVID vaccination by now.
I have not, and neither have most of my co-workers or managers.
Each day, we manage logistics, break pallets in the cold, stock shelves and deliver countless products to serve local families during a pandemic moving into its second year. We also help enforce state mask and social distancing requirements. We are among the front-line workers, as this paper stated in many articles, and most recently, in "Vaccine delays leave grocery workers feeling expendable" (StarTribune.com, Feb. 16). In fulfilling vital services to our neighbors, we risk our lives for the common good.
During the past two months, because of a lack of transparency among state and federal officials about the availability and disbursement of vaccines, I have no idea when I will be vaccinated, and neither do most of my colleagues, whose ages range, roughly, from 18 to 75.
I doubt the state vetted fully and properly the claims some residents made to "cut in line" to obtain vaccinations before essential workers.
Still, I remain devoted to my customers, colleagues and managers. I work hard to put food on my family's table and supply food to my community in the vortex of a pandemic — complicated by political gamesmanship on a national scale.
Those who provide the nation with food and essential supplies have earned their vaccinations. They deserve reasonable transparency from the state. They are as essential as they were yesterday, despite any politician's decision to alter their value.
Neil Ross, Minnetonka
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How many times is the state of Minnesota going to have a debut of a new COVID vaccine sign up? ("State launches vaccine signup tool," front page, Feb. 19.) It's become slightly ludicrous if it wasn't so serious. They first started off with numerous vaccination sites throughout the state and one week later eliminated those sites and changed it to only three sites. They then opened it up to drugstores and clinics, but there's little vaccine available. My question is, when are they going to get it right?
Rod Haggard, St. Paul
If you need help, it's here
It was great to read about a step forward for mental health care in Minnesota with the opening of four new suicide prevention call centers ("Minnesota has joined U.S. suicide prevention network," Feb. 18). During the ongoing mental health crisis exacerbated by the pandemic, I'd like to add that Minnesota has a unique service option for anyone who needs counseling. Walk-In Counseling Center provides free, no-appointment-necessary, anonymous counseling every weekday, now by phone or computer (contrary to our name!). Individuals, couples and families who need professional support but can't afford it, have no insurance, can't wait days or weeks for an appointment, or who need anonymity can get help from volunteer professional clinicians. Loved ones are welcome to use this service as well. And you don't have to be in crisis. We can help with any type of emotional or social problem. Counseling in Spanish is also available. For how to see a counselor, visit walkin.org or call 612-870-0565.
If you are feeling anxious, depressed, overwhelmed or have a problem you don't know how to address, getting help is the healthiest thing you can do.
Mary Weeks, Minneapolis
The writer is executive director at Walk-In Counseling Center.
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