Rain may be falling, but this is Sunshine Week regardless of the weather. Sunshine Week is the nationwide celebration of your access to public information — especially government information — and what this access means for you and your community. The theme for 2019 sums it up nicely: "It's your right to know." That's right, it's your right. You have the same rights to public information that any member of the press has. Some people don't realize that and think they need a journalist to request information.
The forecast calls for another blizzard. What do you do? Head to the grocery store, load up your cart, restock your cupboard and then relax ... content in knowing you can weather the storm. You won't go hungry no matter how long or hard the snow falls. Why do we do this? We know the grocery store is close by. We know the roads will be plowed soon. To paraphrase psychologist Lisa Brateman quoted in the November 2012 article "The Psychology of Stockpiling," this behavior gives us a sense of control in an uncontrollable situation.
The love month wraps up this week. While most of us likely will remember February 2019 for its onslaught of winter, another avalanche of sorts should be on our radar: lack of vaccinations. Ten states, according to federal health records, have reported people contracting measles this year, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting 159 confirmed cases as of Feb. 21. That's right, measles — a disease that was declared eliminated as a major U.S. public health threat nearly 20 years ago.
President Donald Trump thinks if he says something, it must be true. And if he says something long enough and loud enough, he's convinced the American people will think it's true, too. We've seen him do this over and over in his first two years in office. He won't take no—or the truth—for an answer.
The streets are a mess! Vehicles are slipping, sliding and skidding. When you come up to a four-way stop, the odds are that either you or the cross traffic won't be able to stop. You just hope it isn't both at the same time. Crash. A turn signal indicates your intent, but on some of the iciest roadways means you just plain miss the turn ... and the next one. Better that than landing in the snowbank. Crunch. This is ridiculous. Why aren't the roads clear?
You can define polar vortex as an area of low pressure — a mass of swirling cold air once parked over the Arctic that breaks away and migrates down across the Midwest, freezing us solid. Or you can define polar vortex as a high-pressure system that can bring out the best in people. That's just what happened last week when temperatures neared 30 below zero and the wind chill factor was pushing 60 below. Sensible decisions. • School districts closed. Superintendents didn't want to risk children suffering frostbite.
Long gone are the days in which local libraries served solely as places to check out books or study. Today libraries provide wider, varied services—in addition to these essential ones, of course—to an ever growing audience.
Temperatures keep dropping. Snow keeps falling. The season of ice dams has arrived. The trouble — especially with a snow-covered roof in subfreezing temperatures and a partially frozen federal government — is that more ice likely will build up as January heads into February. Eventually, water will start seeping into the House and Senate.
It's been said that a computer keyboard and a degree of anonymity can be a volatile mix. There's a term for making offensive comments over the internet that one wouldn't do in person: keyboard courage. A few years ago we joined other publications in our parent company as well as newspapers around the country and around the world in removing the comment section from our websites. But the conversations continued on Facebook, where we routinely share links to stories.
If you have the "Charlie Brown Christmas" music handy, turn it on now and select "Skating." The Vince Guaraldi Trio's light, joyful tune evokes emotions of how outdoor winter fun is supposed to be ... glide, spin and do it again. And while you perhaps reminisce, resolve to talk with children in your life about ice safety. Ice thickness varies greatly on lakes, ponds and rivers throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin. Some bodies of water have no ice, others have a thin glaze, and "up north" the ice may appear firmly solid — but ice is never 100 percent safe.