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I am not sure what I expected our country to look like in 2021, but I certainly did not expect it to be so fractured and so bogged down in hate. My oldest son was a year old on September 11, 2001. The wave of patriotism following that day gave me hope for the America that my kids would inherit.

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Have you ever heard of snapdragon? It’s a game that used to be quite the holiday tradition. Here’s how you play. You put some raisins – and maybe some figs and almonds – into a big bowl of brandy. Then you light the brandy on fire and watch it glow with blue flame. Now you take turns reachin…

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Happy Constitution Week! The U.S. Constitution, which was signed on Sept. 17, 1787, is a highly discussed and debated document, but one gets the feeling that most people who do so have never taken the time to read the dang thing. I strongly, strongly urge you to spend a couple of hours with …

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“In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.” ~ Douglas Adams

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I know I have told you this story before. But even now, after two decades, it still doesn’t seem quite real – how an ordinary fall day became one of the turning points in our American history. 

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As students return to school, toting backpacks, notebooks and pencils — one thing students (and teachers) should bring with them is an understanding of their religious rights and how religious practices play out in a public school setting. 

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“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” ~ Ferris Bueller

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The other day I got a tune stuck in my head that I couldn’t place for the life of me. Has that ever happened to you? It drives you crazy, like an itch you can’t scratch. This one was a weird little synthesizer ditty, something from childhood. 

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A year ago when we were doing our first Readers Choice Best of Pine, Isanti, Chisago and Kanabec county contests, a story was shared with me. The sales consultant had met with one of their customers to talk about advertising in the section where we were publishing the names of the winners of…

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This was a glorious weekend to do just about anything, and it just so happened to be the weekend of Pine City’s Freedom Fest – so everybody and their cousin turned out to enjoy the day’s events and check out the fireworks at night. Congratulations to everyone involved in the planning – it wa…

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I always think it’s kind of funny when people say dismissive things about science. You usually see those comments on social media, which only exists because an enormous and complex technological system that required decades of research and development makes it possible for that person to pre…

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I was thinking about our graduating class of 2021 (congratulations, seniors!) and how they communicate when it occurred to me that there is an entire generation growing up that will have no idea what it was like not to have a cell phone available to you at all times.

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Pine City people are making some extraordinary things happen in our town. Having lived in a few different cities, I have to say that Pine City is really punching above its weight class when it comes to things like volunteerism. And then there’s the arts community. Did you know there are thre…

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Every Saturday and Sunday throughout the pandemic I made a pot of coffee. I drank half, letting the rest slowly get cold only to pour the it down the drain later. 

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I’ve been doing a lot of reading about the presidents lately. I’ve always had one of those woulda-shoulda ideas that if somebody read a biography of each of the presidents, by the end of that they’d have a pretty good sense of the history of our USA. But I’m sure you needed a lot less time t…

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There are few people I despise more than scammers. What makes me especially  angry are the people who use fear and love to rip other people off. 

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In honor of April Fools Day, here’s a story about getting fooled. 

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They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. However, they also say you’re never too old to learn. Hmm. Maybe the lesson is this: You can’t force that old dog to learn, but he’ll probably figure it out if he’s inclined to. 

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It was about this time last year that myself and a lot of other local folks were part of the show that never was. 

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A Pine City couple were on KARE 11 news the other night, after dealing with a terrible health situation – and to add insult to injury, a surprise medical bill. 

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Now that we’re in the seventh week of the new year – how have things been going with your New Year resolutions so far? 

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Happy Valentine’s Day! I sincerely hope that Feb. 14 is a wonderful and magical day for you and the ones you love. 

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I always appreciate feedback from our readers, and though we don’t necessarily agree on the issues I’m grateful to every person who takes the time to share their thoughts. 

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I haven’t played chess for a few years now, ever since my stepkid went from losing to me badly, to just losing, to winning, and finally to squashing me pretty regularly. But I’ve always recognized it as a fascinating game, with relatively simple rules and layers and layers of complexity unde…

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A couple of weeks back in this column I sent out a request to our readers for holiday recipes and tasty Christmastime memories. And I was grateful to receive so many. It was overwhelm - 

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Coincidences. They’re everywhere. Some are small – you might have just seen a picture of an old friend when they suddenly call you. 

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WE NOW HAVE a president-elect who has the great challenge of uniting the country. It may not be possible. The close election tells me that the battle isn’t over. The letters to the editor will diminish, the yard signs are put away and television commercials will go back to medical remedies a…

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I’m pretty easy to please when it comes to food. Fresh vegetables from the garden?  I love it. That smoky char from meat cooked on the grill? Bring it on. 

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It has been said that the only things certain are death and taxes. Everything else is pretty much a roll of the dice – especially if you’re trying something new, which definitely holds true if you’re setting up an evening event like the reverse parade for the 2020 edition of  Holiday Madness. 

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I am honored to have earned the confidence of the residents in Senate District 11 who have chosen me to serve as your voice in the Minnesota Senate once again. Even though I have run for public office a number of times, the feeling of your neighbors choosing you to represent them never cease…

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