St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Friday, June 29, 2012

1965 St Croix Falls Interstate Park Flood Recovery

Back in the spring of 1965, just graduated from SCFHS, I took at job with 70 other young men working in Interstate Park cleaning 8 inches of sand off the lower beaches and in general working to improve the park.   I include some clippings and other memories from the friends I had there. 

From Dennis Olson, a member of the same crew as I was on

Our crew started cleaning the road in the lower park while another crew resurfaced hiking trails using crushed traprock.  We next rebuilt the streambed that runs alongside the bathhouse.  I remember much fooling around as there was really not alot to do.  Next we were moved to Lion's Park where we cleared a lot of brush and I believe we finished with another stream project near the fish hatchery in the lower park.

There were many guys from other schools as well as St. Croix Falls.  I remember Simon Nelson from Frederic, Jon Clark from Milltown and Galen Skow from Luck.  From St. Croix I remember; George Gullickson, Marlyn
Olson, Dick Erickson, Jim Rutch, Ron Kurtz, Dick Bulman, Scott Minar, Jeff Minar, Lynn Minar, Greg Lundsman, Lonny Thompson, Ted Olsen, Dave Keyes.  There were a few trips to the clinic.  I remember 2 accidents
with axes.  One of the injured was Dick Erickson.

I have many good memories of the summer but in retrospect it was not a good way to enter the world of work.  There was so little supervision that we spent many hours just hiding somewhere and sitting around.  I think you may have been wise to move on.
Hope that helps,

From Woody Minar
I know that it evolved from cleanup to actually building and improving all the paths in the park.  We re-creosoted (if that's a word) some of the wooden bridges, too.
(First name escapes me - Harvey?) Harlander from dresser was our Crew Forman.  It might have been Dennis Harlander's dad (Marlys Nesseth at the school in SCF might know). 
We packed out own lunches and I remember on the south side of "Berger's Lake" there were wild onions growing so we'd add those to our sandwiches at lunch time.  I took my kids on some of the trails about 10 years ago.  On the north side was a cement step I built and it had my name enscribed in it still).
Dennis has some good memory to remember all those names.  Bob Clayton was on the work, crew, too. 
 Arlen Dombrock's dad was also a foreman.  Arlen lives in Appleton If I think of anything else, I'll let you know.

From Russ Hanson
I called John Nesvold, who was the Park Admin at that time.  He retired in 1985.   He said a fellow, "Rosie" (Rosenkranz) was sort of the overall foreman.  He said that the program lasted until school
started. He remembered as many as 5 crews of up to 15 people working (75) at one time.  He remembers a lot of work getting done for the park and the kids "doing a lot of good work"  He thinks there are photos of the project. 

John lives in Hartford, WI, near my in-laws who live in West Bend.  I plan to interview him sometime later this year when we are down there for a visit.  I called him and he immediately was able to remember theproject and many details.  "one of the better things that happened at the Park when I was there"   He remembers the work on trails, roads, seeding, streambed repair, and of course, removing silt from the 25acres along the river.

The two weeks I worked there, several on my crew were farmboys. George Gullickson and I both remember being told to work slower.  We were so used to the physical work on the farm, and working to get jobs done quickly (haul the hay, clean the barn, etc.,) that we were struck by this "pace yourself" view of the crew boss (I think we had thisRosenkrantz guy).

From Julie Fox of the Park

Hello Russ,
 I was able to ask our own "historian" Steve Jensen about documentation following the flood and subsequent clean up efforts, but he didn't recall ever seeing any paperwork.  That was even before his time here at the park!
I'm sorry that I don't have any more information for you.  I'll look forward seeing the results of your research efforts however.
Have a great weekend,

Frac Sand Developments Update

Some interesting updates can be found at the Barron County News-Shield newspaper site on the frac sand issues, a real issue in the Barron County area.

Sand Pipeline in Barron County Proposed    From the Barron Newpaper we see how pit to railroad might be done by 6 foot diameter miles long pipeline rather than trucks on the road.

Arland sand mine (a few miles SW of the city of Barron WI) frac sand mine update.  This is adjacent to the cemetery where my local relatives are buried  Saw it when I decorated their graves in May.

Railroad Improvements to move frac sand across WI

Barron County board frac sand processing problems

Mine near Grantsburg on the St Croix River info   Nice story from the Star Tribune and other details about the mine leak at Grantsburg

Property Tax from Frac Mines

CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wisconsin (WQOW) -  Chippewa Falls is receiving a boost in revenue thanks to frac sand mining. The city recently found out it would receive twice as much tax revenue from the EOG Sand Plant.  The city had valued the property at about $35 million, but the state recently said the actual value is closer to $65 million. This means-- instead of collecting $700,000 in tax revenue they will receive approximately $1.4 million.
According to Minnesota Public Radio

 Wisconsin is home to more than 63 frac sand mines and 37 processing plants. The state is experiencing a boom in mining for sand used in hydraulic fracturing used in boosting production from natural gas and oil wells.

Talk to your state representatives and tell them to 
    -- set up some state wide rules for these mines
    -- figure how to get state and local mining taxes for the sand shipped to oil country.  The oil producing states get money from each barrel of oil produced and most of them have no state income tax as a result.  They need our sand to produce it, so we should share in the revenue too!
   Texas, like most oil producing states has an oil production tax of 4.6% of the market value of oil.  Frac sand has an estimated market value of $100 per ton, not too different from a barrel of oil which has fluctuated from 80-120 a barrel in 2012.  If we look at the Grantsburg frac sand mine, in which the company website estimates to produce 300,000 tons per year valued at $30,000,000, a 4.6% sand production tax would bring in $s1,380,000 million dollars in tax revenue.  It is estimated that there may be 100 mines in Wisconsin in operation by the end of 2012, of which the Grantsburg mine is certainly one of the smallest ones.  Mine number estimates from the  WI DNR FRAC sand mining paper

Taxing the 100 Wisconsin frac sand mine production per ton at the Texas oil production rate would bring in nearly 1/2 billion dollar if it were in effect in 2012.  The production seems to be increasing rapidly so this is a minimum level.  In addition, states add taxes for oil well inspection and regulation and other fees to return the cost.  

MG Update

Six weeks ago, while mowing the lawn I started having double vision that persisted from then on.  The next week I went to Mayo Clinic and walked into their emergency eye clinic and was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis.

Since then, I have had a steady decline in my voluntary muscles that has led to a series of doctor appointments; a stay in the hospital, and a handful of pills every day.  Each day seems to be a little slower--more fatigue, less ability to do things, a steady path downward.

MG is one of those Stupid Design functions of our body.  My own immune system decides that a part of me is the enemy and goes after it by building anti-bodies that flood the blood stream and go out and block and kill muscle receptors in the area where nerves and muscles talk to each other.

There is no way to turn off the immune system making this particular antibody, so the treatment is two fold:
   1.  A short acting medicine, pyridostigmine, that acts to make better use of existing function
   2.  Prednisone to shut down the immune system altogether so it stops attacking me

The current strategy is to use enough pyridostigmine to keep me breathing, swallowing, and functioning at somewhat of a livable level while increasing the prednisone gradually and hoping that the side effects will be tolerable.  The doctor says the first few months are the worst, then it gets under control and we move to a "maintenance" level of medicine.

So far, the disease is progressing more rapidly than the treatment.  Patience for the patient is the counsel I get from my neurologist, who by the way is a plain spoken, direct and good doctor at Mayo.  MG patients are actually relatively uncommon and so few doctors see more than a few a year.  At Mayo, of course, there are more because of the nature of the place.

Dad had Parkinsons disease.  Over 20 years he gradually declined from normal to very weak. It was a gradual process that he adjusted to gradually--although he never really adjusted to the level of almost complete weakness at the end.    My adjustment has been overt 6 weeks, a real shocker!
However, I have some hopes of returning to a higher level later in the summer, although, it appears that I may never return to full physical normal functioning again.   The good news is that when I get through the early stages, I should be able to return to acceptable functionality again someday.

I was cheered up by seeing the Supreme Court leave Obamacare intact.  Having worked in the medical field  most of my life, I know that  this is not the  answer to everything, but it certainly was a atart that could be made better if both political parties would work together on fixing problems that show up.  It is ridiculous that in a country as rich as America, there are so many folks that don't have access to medical care except through emergency rooms, and that there are a whole lot of folks that think that is perfectly OK.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sterling Picnic

Helped with the 74th Annual Sterling Old Settlers Picnic Saturday at the Cushing Community Center.  90 folks came, so we thought it was successful!   Wonderful to visit with all the good neighbors and old friends.  Got many memberships for the local historical society too!  Left my camera at the cabin, so can't post the photos yet.
   Monday night gave a talk on what is free in  genealogy research on the internet to the Polk County Genealogical society.  Less than 90 folks out, but the quality of the attendees made up for the lower numbers!  Had to prepare by taking double dose of medicine to make my hands work.
Still  in the declining phase of Myasthenia Gravis.  Doctor says it will get worse before it gets better.  Most annoying is that much of the time I can't type into my computer--hands and fingers just get tired and quit.  The good news is my weight loss diet is much easier with swallowing not working sometimes!  Couple of friends have something called Dragon Speak voice recognition, a program that lets you talk to your computer. Might try it out.  Hope it listens better than Margo!
   Right now the goal is keeping me somewhat functional and out of the hospital while meds start working.  The doctor explained my next few weeks options:
   Have 3 choices:  more meds ($10 choice), a blood cleaning ($7000 each and need 3 or 4  3-hour sessions in the next week or two and it only lasts for a month or less) or an IV gammaglobulin infusion ($17,000) each for a 3 weeks probably relief of the symptoms.
   The last 2 are only if you are so bad you can't function and would otherwise be in the hospital.  We chose the more prednisone with the warning that I have a 50% chance of permanent diabetes as a result.  The doctor explained the $ and said medicare would cover any of our choices, but I should know the costs of my care.  For now, the low cost seemed appropriate so the prednisone is increased and I am eating as if I were already a diabetic (I try not even to look at something sweet, including Margo).

  Visited my friend Gene today in Rochester.  He started making wine at home as a hobby 41 years ago and now in retirement is in it as a business.  His specialty is rhubarb wine, something he started when we had way too much in our garden.  His wine is in several Rochester liquor and grocery stores.  Came home with some bottles as samples. Normally we trade maple syrup, but we have none this year. His wine is really excellent--won awards at local and MN state fair many times.
  Leaving the Sterling picnic on Sunday, I stepped on the brake pedal and suddenly it dropped down a notch.  Backed up and sure enough, a spray of brake fluid on the ground!  The arteries in the 91 Olds are leaking, so need a bypass or stent or something this week.  As I get older, I am more tolerant of flaws in the machines around me too!

My latest toy: The Itomic book reader from Walmart online order. $29 and buggy enough that it gives me great enjoyment in trying to get it to work. Wonderful as a basic book reader, photo viewer, movie player, adequate as a music player, horrendous as a wifi internet browser, but fits my retirement budget and sense of adventure very well. It is one of the few that will read almost any kind of file including Word documents. If you like adventure, this is for you! Absolutely no support including a missing website!!! Wonderful challenge and decent as bookreader. Will even read aloud any book I have on it in a sexy female voice! Only through online order. (this ad brought to you by the society of cheap electronic experimenters).

Wal-mart online Itomic Book Reader link

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Wolf Creek Store History

Wolf Creek Bar 1940s?

Wolf Creek Mill Pond

Wolf Creek Bar

Last Wolf Creek Mill 

Wolf Creek Methodist Church 1890-1958

Birmingham Store 1940 or so when rented by Eugene, Nettie and Alberta Hanson.  The house to the right
of the store is still standing and was the living quarters for the store and post office.  
Eight miles up the St Croix River from St. Croix Falls is the tiny settlement of Wolf Creek.  It is near the mouth of where the creek enters the St. Croix River.  For centuries, it has been a stopping place on the St. Croix River.

It is at the head of 6 miles of rapids that before the 1907 power dam in St. Croix Falls made navigation through this stretch treacherous by canoe and bateau.  Supplies coming up river were off  loaded at St. Croix or Taylors Falls (MN and WI had different names for the area that was composed of a set of steep rapids and short falls).   They were tranported north by road along either side of the river until they reached near the mouth of Wolf Creek where the river again was navigable.

In the winter of 1831-32, Joseph Renshaw Brown built an Indian trading post in this area.  Initially, it appears that it was located on the MN bank, although later trading posts were located on the east bank of the river, the site of Wolf Creek.

Wolf Creek was the stopping place after a walk or oxen trip up river, where 8 miles through the heavily wooded trails was slow and often needed delays to repair washed out sections where rains created new cuts in the road from the steep banks along the WI road.

The first trading post at Wolf Creek was burned in 1832 by the Indian agent, Henry Schoolcraft who didn't like the rumors that J. R. Brown was selling spirituous liquors to the local Indians.  He also didn't like it that Brown had gotten a license from one of Schoolcraft's subordinates.  Schoolcraft would have never allowed this location as it was on the boundary of Dakota and Ojibwe disputed territory, and it brought members of both tribes together, which often led to fights.  Just down river at the Lions Club park, one of the bigger battles is remembered by the historical marker there.

Well, Wolf Creek remained a small settlement with a power dam on the creek built by Samuel Deneen in about 1855, a school started then, the trading post, and other support for local farmers, settlers just coming into the area along with loggers who had been around since the 1837 treaty opened the lands to logging.

Massive log drives came down the St. Croix river every spring sending logs at first to a mill at  St Croix Falls, Marine on the St. Croix, and Franconia. One early spring flood flushed the logs through these local mills so they kept going on down until they got to some stillwater farther down river.  The loggers decided to put sawmills there, near Joseph R Brown's brand new log county courthouse, government offices, hotel and home on the west bank of the north edge of the stillwater (which of course became the city of Stillwater).

Well, Wolf Creek remained small, and calm except for the continuous history liquor and the excesses that came from folks of all origins imbibing to excess.  The loggers spreed, the Native Americans, and even the local farmers could be found on a Saturday night overdoing the drinking.

In 1888 things changed for Wolf Creek.  Loggers, tired of huge log jams down river at the falls, began to build the huge wooden dam at the Nevers home along the St. Croix a mile or so downriver from Wolf Creek (which by then had tried on different names including Avondale, Eightmile and Wolf Creek Crossings).  The presence of two to three hundred builders in the area made the town boom.  Read Rosemarie Vezina Braatz history of Nevers Dam

Several stores and new businesses sprang up.  For one summer there was even a newspaper.  The boom lasted a decade or so but as the 1900s came, the inexhaustible supply of white pines up river were exhausted and by  1914 no more log drives came through.  Nevers became a water regulating dam to hold back water until 3pm when it was released to reach the electric generating plant at St Croix Falls in time for the folks coming home from work to turn on their electric lights all the way to the Twin Cities.

Wolf Creek returned to slumber.  With the depression, the mill was torn down, stores closed and the core of a church, school. bar, store and post office remained.  The main last store was called the "Birmingham Store" from James and Alice Birmingham who ran it (she was the post mistress) from 1911 until 1940, (James died in 1939).  My grandparents and mother (Eugene, Nettie and Alberta Hanson) rented the store for three years.

Fred (Newell) Fisk store in Wolf Creek 1890s?

Alice Birmingham on the steps of her house next to the
Birmingham Store in Wolf Creek

This week, the Polk County Historical Society received an email from Sherry, the daughter of James and Alice Birmingham, wanting to find out about their parents and Wolf Creek.  So, I am digging out the materials from the Cushing Museum and my own records to see what we can find.
I hope to interview some of the local old timers Sunday at the Sterling Old Settlers picnic, noon potluck at the Cushing Community center, to see if they remember anything.
Still want to know more about Wolf Creek?
try these free online books

Wolf Creek School History

Stories of the St. Croix River Road

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Wasting Away

Mlore cartoons where this came from
Last December, before I knew anything other than a sore knee was wrong with me, I had my first physical under Medicare when I turned 65.  At that time I set a goal to lose 25 pounds during 2012.    As my knee was not functioning too well, and I had a knee replacement coming, I knew I would have to do that by eating less rather than exercising more, especially during the recovery time for the knee replacement.

My weight had crept up after the fall damaging my knee almost 3 years ago making my favorite activity of walking briskly any and everywhere difficult.  If you eat for an active live and then don't do the activity, the body's intelligent design starts packing it away for the 7 years of famine surely to come.

Well, it is 6 months later and to be on schedule, I have to be 50% there.  I weighed in this morning and am 14 lbs lighter than in December!   I am on schedule!  It has been hard and promises to become harder in the next 6 months.  At the end of the year, if I have lost the 25 lbs, I promised myself a reward of spending $1000 on anything that I wanted, but normally would be too cheap, thrifty, or sensible to buy.

The next 6 months will be difficult.  The new meds I take for Myasthenia Gravis include side effects of weight gain and appetite gain.  They also include stomach upset and other digestive problems that are improved by eating each time a take a pill and eating more so my stomach has food in it.

The new medications have raised my blood pressure from normal to about 190/95, my at rest heart rate has dropped about 15 beats to the 50s, and my blood sugar has crept up into the almost diabetic level (prednisone does most of this).   So it will be a challenge with the last 11 lbs in the next 6 months.  

The good part is that my knee is wonderfully repaired so I can exercise by walking very well.  The bad part is the MG makes me walk at about half speed for much of the time, tire quickly and in general limit my exercise ability.  Even typing on the computer becomes a strain at times.

Anyway, I am celebrating thsi morning by having a big breakfast!   I fried some of my frozen morels from this spring in a coated skillet that lets me add just a touch of butter for flavor; added an egg from a free range chicken and some diced peppers, the crumbles of a strip of bacon zapped in the microwave until the fat all left, and a few shreddings of 6-year old cheddar from Burnett Dairy into an omlet.  I added a piece of wheat toast, thinly spread with last fall's wild grape jelly and with a cup of special dark Arabian coffee blend had a great breakfast.

The only difficult part was that I really wanted about three times as much!  It is quite nice to find that some of my clothes are fitting again.  

Monday, June 18, 2012

June is Myasthenia Gravis Awareness Month!

In normal health, the nerve releases acetycholine (AcH), a chemical that goes from nerve to muscle receptors (green area) and makes the muscles work.  Lots of balls (the ACh) are created, sent, and then broken down into components, ready for the next flush to move muscle.  

In Myasthenia Gravis, my immune system has made some antibodies that have attached themselves to the receptors blocking them so the ACh can't come in and trigger the muscle to move.  
There are literally millions of these receptors all over the body on the voluntary muscles.  Having them blocked makes me weak.  
Myasthenia -- blocked receptors
by antibodies from immune
system of the Rambler so muscle
contractions are weak
Prednisone is used to force the immune system to shut down (I am about at 50% or less right now on output after a week), and thus keep them out of the receptors (the green Ys).  Another medicine I take keeps the little balls (the ACh) from breaking down so quickly so they are reusable for a while.  (this is my understanding of what is going on, although maybe my myasthenia has weakened that too!).   
I found these images at a good basic website on myasthenia located at Myasthenia link

Preparing for WI

Back home, feeling OK again after 3 days getting medicine adjusted so I can breathe OK, and also getting rid of some of the double vision.  Back to functional at about 68.4% of normal!

Scott and I reloaded my rebuilt trailer to put more weight on the front and took it for a run.  It didn't swing back and forth anymore!   So will bring up my planned load of stuff that I would rather have in WI then in MN (a push lawn  mower, a small sized clothes dryer -- for the cabin) and some recycling stuff that I can get rid of at the Restore Store in St. Croix (electric stuff) and metals scrap for Freiberg's Gone Green in Frederic.  Have to pay down here for most everything like that.

Margo headed back to Pine Island from West Bend where she celebrated father's day, her parents 66th anniversary and her father's birthday all on the same weekend.  Myrtle, her mom, is far into alzheimer's but still likes a piece of cake and once in a while responds and talks a little.  She sleeps a lot and walks a little with someone at her arm at the nearby nursing home.  She left for home at 10 this morning with instructions from her brother to leave the car running if she stopped along the way!

Margo is driving the 1991 Olds Cutlass Ciera that she got from her Aunt Lou three years ago with 50,000 miles on it.  It is a pretty good car, but the starter stopped starting on the way down.  It does start with a moan when it is cool, but not when hot--probably bearings gone.  I thought I might try pulling the starter and spending $8 for new bearings and another $10 for new brushes and rebuild it myself, however it looks like getting the starter out is major work!

Studied up on how to replace the starter on the internet.  Most cars have it quite simple to replace--take off the wires and a couple of bolts and pop it off and put another on one.  This one says to disconnect the battery, pull out the radiator, remove the freon from the air conditioner, unbolt the engine and raise it up, remove the A/C metal hose running under it, and then remove wires and two bolts and replace, the put everything back and replace the freon.    Beyond my ability to do -- so our local shop in Pine Island, Ron's Auto, will do it starting tomorrow

Thursday night is the Sterling Eureka and Laketown historical society meeting at Cushing upstairs at the community center at 7 pm.   Mostly we are going to get ready for the Sterling Old Settler's picnic Sunday at noon (potluck in the Community Center too).   Have to bring some stuff downstairs to show, and make sure things are orderly.  I think we will setup two tables of Cushing Tigers baseball memorabilia and pictures.  The Tigers were an outstanding local team that played from 1904 to about 1984 winning many local and state chanpionships especially in the 1960s.

I am preparing for a Monday night talk at the Polk Genealogical Society meeting on the 25th at 7 pm at the Luck Museum.  An update on the 1940 census indexing project, what is in that census, and some of the free places on the Internet where you can do family genealogy.  We will be talking about the Polk County Fair coming up at the end of July--our group is responsible for the Red School house and plan to have genealogy help and exhibits.

Hope to get the car back from the shop by Wednesday and be up to the Lake Thursday.  No mosquitoes down here, so working outside is very nice!   It has been very wet, and a little hail, but things are green and growing well.  Started up the push lawnmower for the first time for a couple of years and ir ran OK.  Decided to do a thorough cleanup up including taking of the plastic and metal covers and then put it back together and it wouldn't start--found that the gas line had rotted out.  I guess using ethanol gas in old mowers dissolves the gas lines sometimes as with Scott's chainsaw.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Alpha Doctors leading packs through the halls

A generic group of doctors borrowed from the Mayo Clinic
Website  What should a group like this
who roam the halls in packs be called.  

At Mayo in the hospital halls, groups of doctors roam through in packs.  They sweep along briskly, pausing in circles to discuss before swooping into a patient room where the patient has been lying in bed for hours wondering if anything is going on at all.  For 5-15 minutes they talk to me and each other, plan what comes next and then swoop on to the next room on the long hallways.

  The pack is led by a Consultant (in wolf pack terminology, the alpha male or female).  This is the case in teaching hospitals where the main doctor who is a full fledged staff member with years of experience,  bringing along the trainees to have them learn on the job and under alpha supervision. 

Accompanying Dr. Alpha are a group of doctors in training, usually what are called first and second and third year residents.   The residents are students who have graduated from college, from an additional four years of medical school, and are in year one through three of on the job training.  Chief amongst the resident is a “chief resident” somewhere from one year or less from being turned out as a completed doctor ready for practice on her own. 

A resident is the primary person a patient deals with, the person who gathers the detailed information and makes the initial diagnosis.  This person presents the case to the others, often before they come with ipads, clipboards and such enmass to visit the patient.

The whole effort has two purposes, figure out what is wrong with the patient and train the residents in doing that.  They leader is not only key, but a showman or woman--somewhat in the Dr. House tradition.   One or two residents have already spent time visiting with the patient early in the morning and assessing things to present to the whole group including suggestions for treatment that are mulled over by the other trainees while Dr. Alpha presides, questions, prods both patient and residents.  At the end, the plan is explained, questions answered, presscriptions written and the computer entries made for the support staff to follow.  It is efficient, interesting, educational, and gives you the feeling that a group of highly educated doctors are all working together to fix you.  

My diagnosis of Myasthenia Gravis, is actually relatively rare.  Something like 60,000 people in the USA have the disease at any time.  This means that even at Mayo, a resident is quite eager to visit and test the fatigue-ability and reflexes of one of us rare folks--so they can get experience for the next one.  As such, I was relatively popular and got to do a lot of eyes following the finger, press against resistence, reflexes etc  both in medicated and unmedicated states to show the difference.  

So, watching these roving bands of doctors, one feels the need to give them a name.  Wolves run in packs, geese in gaggles, larks fly in exaltations, so these brilliant, dedicated, focused doctors surely deserve a name too.

The name should be indicative of:   a group; medicine, questions, analysis, diagnosis, treatment, and include the hierarchical nature (i.e there should be like in a chicken flock, a pecking order).  As far as I can find, there is no name for this group.  Team is not correct, as that implies equality.  

Some groups, like sharks have many names.  A group of sharks is called a gam, grind, school, herd, pod, collage, or shiver.  We might use one of these names for a group of lawyers.

My starting list. 
  Practice, order, diversity(my pack includes US, Asian, European doctors), consult, residency (most are residents 1-3) , ganglion (a gang of lions—appropriate for neurologists), school (taken for fish), solution, diagnosis,  think tank, infection and a pestilence, or plague.  The ganglion seems most popular amongst the neurologists I have polled so far!   

The head of my ganglion liked “pack,” as it has strict hierarchy and appealed to his nature.  He
recommended I watch a movie called "The Grey.” 

Scott thought "Death Panels" popularized by Sarah Palin might be the correct name in some cases.  My friend Walt wrote a wonderful story about the use of this term for the end of life decisions that are made that hopefully will show up in the Inter-County Leader in a week or two.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

My Retirement Speech at Mayo in 2006 after 25 years

Sitting here at St Marys Hospital, part of the Mayo Clinic, just few hundred feet
away from my first Mayo office, it got me to thinking about my work here.
I celebrated 25 years and retirement at the same time in 2006 at Mayo.  When
asked who I wanted to speak at the occasion, I, of course, said I would be the
best person likely to capture my 25 years.  So I gave this presentation to an
overflow crowd at Mayo, who knew whatever I presented would be
interesting, controversial or funny.  It went over well.
Sadly, the sound effects aren't working in this version of the presentation.

Charlie and Will Mayo on the edges of this early Mayo Photo
with someone who looks familiar

Of course, each of these firsts were in the technical areas and, as in the first one, were
intended to be both real and funny. 

If you do the google search, you will get a huge number of hits on 100 plus research papers
I co-authored
Russ's Research at Mayo Clinic

St Mary's Day 2

Well, I'm still here in the hospital!  Feeling fine, but experimentation is the order of the day!

I get to stay in the hospital another day.  Although I am feeling fine, they want to crank up the dosage of the medicine and see if things get better or worse while they can watch me squirm and hope my double vision goes away too.  The side effects of the pyridostigmine are the jitters and more bathroom visits, so we will see what happens! 

They also said the last x-ray showed some indications there might be a thymus enlargement, so another cat scan for that is in the works (or it could be just some fat showing up!)  Medicare is getting a workout for sure!
This cartoon came from 

So, Father's day will be here at least part of the day.  Scott was down for part of the day--headed back to help the neighbor Nancy with a tree down in her yard from the storm earlier in the week.  Margo says that her brother Larry is checking out the starter on the Olds down in Westbend.  I told her just get it started and drive home leaving it running at the rest stops or food stops.  It does start when it is cold.  I spent the morning looking into rebuilding starters.  In the old days we always put in new bearings, brushes, and cleaned it out and it cost about $15 for the whole repair job.  

You can hear the starter type sound  for Margo's car at   although it normally started after the first sluggish crank, it stopped cranking altogether until it cooled down when she stopped on the way down there.  

Have started a competition here at the neuro unit at St Mary's to name the roving group of doctors going up and down the halls where there is a consultant (alpha male or female), first second and third year residents all tagging along to learn--group of about 5.  I first thought of "school" like fishes because it is a learning group too, but have considered  "a practice, a consult, quack, gaggle (in honor of Rochester's goose flock), order (like nuns), and the neurology favorite, a ganglion."

  The alpha male of the herd who visited me liked the wolf pack idea with the classifications in the wolf pack with hierarchy.  He recommended I watch a movie called "The Gray Wolf" while waiting for the pack's return tomorrow to see if doubling my dose will fix me one way or the other!

I have my laptop and am getting ready to begin a new book -- "Bringing computers to Mayo"  a tell-all of my 25 years of meeting folks at Mayo.  


Friday, June 15, 2012

Heavy Breathing

One of the muscle problems with myasthenia gravis can be breathing.  As the National Institutes of Health MG info says

"Crisis situations, where muscle weakness involves the breathing muscles, may occur without warning with under- or overuse of medications. These attacks seldom last longer than a few weeks. Hospitalization and assistance with breathing may be required during these attacks. Often procedure called plasmapheresis is used to help end the crisis. In this technique, the clear part of the blood (plasma) containing the antibodies is removed from the body and replaced with donated, antibody-free plasma or with other fluids."

Well, I am sitting here, on my Friday night out, in St. Mary's hospital after some breathing problems that annoyed us all enough to think I needed to be watched for a time.  I had a breathing test earlier in the day and it showed such poor results that I couldn't even do my "heavy breathing" phone calls to random phone numbers anymore.

Things seem to have stabilized this evening.  The doctors thought that it may be the "crash" that some MG patients get a week or so after starting prednisone (to knock down the immune system which has gone crazy producing antibodies that attack your own nerve-muscle interface).

So I am to be poked, prodded, tested, including lights in the eyes, toe and finger wiggles, breathing into a pressure machine every four hours round the clock until I either escape, croak, or "the symptoms resolve."   It may be a few sessions on the blood cleaner machine too, hopefully not, as that will force me to stay near the hospital rather than feeding the mosquitoes along the St. Croix.

I had a call from my good friend Ed from Cushing.  Three years ago or so he went through a lot of radiation and chemo for cancer.  He says his local doc says it appears to be coming back, and he has to had down to the Twin Cities for more tests and possibly treatments again.  He is less than a year away from starting Medicare, so is hopeful that it will be around for him too, as it has been for me in my treatments (I have Mayo as supplemental and Medicare as primary, so between the two, get by OK).

It has been a dreary 2012 for blogging--all hovering over my rapid decline at age 65!.  My knee, sleep apnea, and now the MG, has been focused on my own mortality.  When the Doctor asked me today did I want a DNR, DNI,  or whatever if my heart stops, I told her and son Scot, that I valued my mental functioning most, and if that was gone, I didn't care much about anything else.  I have too many books left to write!

And, after putting a new battery in Margo's car because the starter was hesitating at startup and sending her off to West Bend to visit her parents for her father's birthday, Father's day, and their 66th anniversary, it turned out that the starter was bad and half way there it didn't start.  Having had these problems before, she waited at the rest stop until it had cooled down for 1/2 hour, and then it started as the bearings loosened up again.  I imagine I will hear about it when she gets back Monday!

I have to go look on internet at how hard it is to replace the starter on Aunt Lou's 1991 Old Ciera that Margo got after Lou passed away (53,000 miles on it -- now 120,000 three years later).  Runs great!  Of course I have the car computer stuck in the glove compartment so you can whack it with the hammer when it won't run the speedometer and let the overdrive shift in and out, and the left rear brake light will only work if the headlights are turned on (you take it out, study it, put it back in and it works for a few days...).

Here comes the nurse; time for some heavy breathing again!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Myasthenia Update

The MG is progressing rapidly.  In the mornings I feel it most.

May 17th  I started having persistent double vision, one image above the other.   After a series of tests at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN (where I  worked most of my life), I found I have an autoimmune disease, Myasthenia Gravis, a condition where your body attacks the nerve-muscle interface.  Now, almost four weeks later, I am in a treatment program, watching my symptoms progress far too fast.

The symptoms have progressed rapidly beyond just the double vision.  Early on I noticed weakness in chewing--after a few bites, my jaw felt tired.  I also overall felt tired, somewhat weak and dizzy.   This morning, I notice that even my fingers have trouble typing--sort of worn out.

I take pyridostigmine (Mestinon) as soon as I wake up.  For the first few weeks, I woke up relatively normal for a little while, but I have less time now.  I take the pyridostigmine right away with the other longer term prednisone.  Pyridostigmine takes 30-60 minutes to kick in and then makes me dizzy and weaker before catching up and jump-starting me towards a more normal day (although I suppose the side effects might be from the prednisone--will try taking pyrid first and then an hour later prednisone to see tomorrow).

Eventually, in a two hours or so, I can do physical things OK.  I am supposed to take 3-60 mg pyrids per day, but find that they wear off in about 4 hours, so am taking an extra one in the evening.  The medical information on the internet says that each person has varying requirements.  I think I might end up with 5 per day to function OK while the prednisone knocks down my immune system creating the problem in the first place.

I am debating this morning whether I continue spraying the 30 full size apple trees at Mom's this year.  I want to, but my ability to do it is questionable, especially in the morning while waiting for function to improve.

What bothers me most is the rapid increase in symptoms and weakness--going from what seemed normal 4 weeks ago to being unable to follow the garden tiller around the sand garden yesterday without several rests and feeliing like I was going to fall over.  If I get too weak, Mayo does a blood apheresis,  where they run your blood through a filter machine and remove the unwanted antibodies and clean you out for a few months improvement.

However, much of the day is better; the prednisone should soon be helping, and in a few months I hope to be functioning normally.  My brother, Ev, who three years ago went through 5 months of chemo for leukemia and now as been in full remission for several years told me "five months of misery followed by 5 years of decent living is an acceptable tradeoff."

Frac Sand Revenue

Former MN Governor Tim Palenty has taken a job with the Smart Sand company.  The moratorium on frac sand mining in many counties requires big political clout to move it!  The press release says "This appointment follows the announcement last week that funds affiliated with Clearlake Capital Group, L.P. have made a major investment in the company’s state-of-the-art frac sand facility in Oakdale, Wisconsin. The facility, located on more than 1,100 acres, has an initial processing capacity of over one million tons per year, an extensive base of in-place permitted frac sand reserves, and is expected to be operational later this month."

North Dakota (and other oil producing states) get revenue from oil and gas extraction and use that in place of a state income tax.  In ND the policy is:

 "The gross production tax rate on gas is subject to a price index change on July 1 each year, the rate through June 30, 2011 is $.0914 per mcf. The gross production tax rate on oil is 5% of the gross value and the oil extraction tax rate is 6.5% of the gross value; 4% if the well qualifies for a reduced rate; 2% from qualifying wells in the Bakken formation; and 0% if the well qualifies for an exemption"

Wisconsin and Minnesota are in the frac sand business in a big way, but get no tax on the actual product--the sand.  

The Oakdale WI mine (Pawlenty's sand hole) is expected to produce 1 million tons per year valued at $100 at the mine (taken from estimates seen on the internet at various sites).  One million tons x $100/ton is 100 million dollars.  6.5% of 100 million is 6.5 million dollars.   If we end up with 100 mines, that would be 650 million dollars per year revenue. 

Frac sand mining is happening.  It is moving ahead with extreme speed!   WI and MN need to get on top of the regulation as well as share in the revenue.  The oil producing states are all consistently red states and yet tax oil and gas significantly.  We surely can get something similar passed here in the midwest. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Grantsburg Frac Sand Mine WI St Croix River Update

Some more info about the frac sand mine along the St. Croix River at Grantsburg, WI.
Soderbeck Frac Sand mine along St. Croix near Grantsburg WI

1.  State of WI taking company to court for 5 day spill into the St. Croix River
Account of WI DNR taking frac sand company to justice dept
2.  Friends of the Sunrise River meeting minutes
Grantsburg Frac sand problems in MN
   This article says the mining company, Tiller is hauling sand to a pit near Sunrise MN and North Branch MN for processing (washing) and shipping.  The quantity of sand being mined is detailed:

"Tiller has been using the Sunrise site to store sand that will be processed at the North Branch facility.  In Nov-Dec of 2011 they hauled 190,000 tons of sand from their Grantsburg WI mine to the Sunrise site.  One concerned citizen stated that they counted 20 trucks in 10 minutes on MN River Road, which is gravel."   

This sand is estimated to be worth about $100 per ton as it comes from the mine and about $200 per ton at the oil wells in ND.  The November/December 190,000 tons is $19.000,000 that a private company is getting for selling part of our glacial heritage.  What do the citizens of Burnett county get other than a small amount of property tax and a hole in the ground.  

North Dakota is voting whether to drop property taxes state wide this week while they already have eliminated any state income taxes because of the $5 billion they receive as their share of the oil being pumped out of ND lands.  To get that out, WI and MN frac sand are needed in the order of 15 train car loads per oil well.   

We too should be reaping some of the benefits of our natural resources for the citizens of the state.  MN has it's taconite tax, we should have a sand tax.  Interstate Energy Partners paid a very very small property tax on the land in 2011--based on the evaluation before the 2011 sale.  One would assume the property tax would increase dramatically this year based on the actual value of the land.  

Using public records available from the Burnett County Wisconsin web site we find that Interstate has bought about 180 acres of land in the mining area.

Parcel ID Tax ID MapID Name Property Address Municipality Acres Year
Parcel 1
07-010-2-38-19-07-3 04-000-011000 3925 INTERSTATE ENERGY PARTNERS LLC , TOWN OF GRANTSBURG 40.0 2011
Parcel 2
07-010-2-38-19-07-4 03-000-011000 3928 INTERSTATE ENERGY PARTNERS LLC , 23920 GRAVEL PIT RD TOWN OF GRANTSBURG 39.05 2011
Parcel 3
07-010-2-38-19-07-4 03-000-011000 3928 INTERSTATE ENERGY PARTNERS LLC , 24297 TENNESSEE RD TOWN OF GRANTSBURG 39.05 2011
Parcel 4
07-010-2-38-19-18-2 01-000-011000 4242 INTERSTATE ENERGY PARTNERS LLC , TOWN OF GRANTSBURG 32.0 2011
Parcel 5
07-010-2-38-19-18-2 04-000-011000 4246 INTERSTATE ENERGY PARTNERS LLC , TOWN OF GRANTSBURG 30.0 2011

Burnett Co land transfer March 2011 for the Sand Pit
The Wisconsin state real estate transfer fee is $0.30 for each $100 of value or fraction thereof (an effective rate of 0.30%)..  With it one can calculate the selling price of the land to the frac mining company.
From the Burnett Co Tax files:  

The transfer fee of fee of $1305  which is charged at .3% of sale price indicates $435000 for selling price of 3 parcels of between 30 and 40 acres each.

Location Plat Block Lot Type Lot # Description Municipality Parcel
NENW, Sec. 18, T38, R19 METES AND BOUNDS 38-19, 18 - NE NW (EXC PCL)
SESW, Sec. 7, T38, R19 METES AND BOUNDS 38-19, 7 - SE SW (EXC PCL)
SWSE, Sec. 7, T38, R19 METES AND BOUNDS 38-19, 7 - SW SE (EXC PCL)

Gary and Jeanne Marek sold 30 acres   transfer fee of $270 indicating that at .3% the sale price was  $90,000

Location Plat Block Lot Type Lot # Description Municipality Parcel
SENW, Sec. 18, T38, R19 METES AND BOUNDS 38-19, 18 - SE NW (E 30 ACRES)
For those of you still wondering about property taxes, check out the Wisconsin Towns Association site Frac mine property tax assessment    An example there discusses frac sand land selling for $10,000 per acre and about $1 million per site.  Folks, this already happening, we aren't going to roll it back, so we need to regulate it to protect our own neighborhoods and water and tax the heck out of it so we can become like TX, WY, AK, ND and the other oil producing states that have no state income tax.  They need our sand to produce their oil!

You've Got to Hoe Your Row!

Sand Garden 2-weeks ago.  Headed to hoe there tomorrow
morning.   There is a 6-foot deer fence around it.
Having been off at Mayoland for almost 2 weeks after the big rains, the gardens had gotten out of control with weeds.  Spent several hours with the Cub Cadet and little cultivator trying to clean up the half acre of pumpkins and squash by the lake and with a few more hours of hoeing will have it pretty good.  About 1/3 of the plants didn't come, so will replant some short season squash.  This garden is on the "heavy soil" and the rain turned it very hard.  This garden is not fenced, so the deer stroll tbrough.  They leave the pumpkin and squash plants alone until late in the year when they start in eating the ripe pumpkins.

The other garden is on our sand land along the River Road.  I had tilled it just before we left, after the rains as the sand never gets muddy and you can always work it.  Looks pretty good.  It is a fenced in patch in the middle of a large sand corn field.  We grow watermelons, muskmelons, and miscellaneous stuff there, things that must be fenced in to keep the deer out.  All but one of the peppers were eaten off by some bug, and about 1/4 of the melons actually came up.  Will replant those too.

When my three brothers and I were kids on the farm, every morning about 5:30 Mom called upstairs to wake us up, "Time to get up and hoe your row."   Mom believed in getting out in the huge garden before the heat of the day, so we grumblingly dressed, got our hoes and headed to the garden, child labor, cheaper than illegals.  

The morning hoe was two hours of work.  Mom always raised something to sell.  Sometimes it was strawberries or raspberries; many years cucumbers for the factory.   She planted enough potatoes for 10 sacks in the fall to go into the basement.  She had string beans, sweet corn, peas, beets, carrots, and other to can.  She had fresh lettuce, spinach, early peas for the table.  The garden was an acre or so, and we had no tiller to help out.

Dad made a marker that spaced the rows so he could drive through with the Super C Farmall and corn cultivator until the garden sprawled across the rows, so that helped.  We had to hoe around the plants, up close.

We four boys thought of the morning garden work just like prisoners in the south felt about the chain gang labor crews.  Couldn't wait to serve our time and be free.  No time off for good behavior for us.
Marv, the oldest, led the chants and songs.  Our favorite was a Tennessee Ernie Ford number sung during cucumber picking season:
Morrning vsitor to the huge oak on the lake.  The eagle rests for an hour
watches the lake, then swoops down to catch a morning fish.
Meanwhile, the Rambler has been hoeing his garden for the
same hour.  Seems one of us has his priorities mixed up.  

"You load 16 tons,
and what d'ya get?
Another day older
and deeper in debt.
St. Peter don't ya call me,
cause I can't go,
I owe my soul to the company store.

  So late spring and early summer was mostly hoeing followed by picking and helping with the canning. We much prefered driving the tractor cultivating and even liked hauling hay better, though it was a lot of hot work too.  Hoeing required a mixture of strength and delicacy to rip the hard ground and to spare the tiny plants.   If we got ahead on our garden, then we helped Grandpa and Grandma with their even larger garden.

Money we earned from picking cukes went into our "school clothes" fund.  It certainly was exciting knowing that after all the work, the money went for underwear, socks and double-kneed jeans.  And we didn't even get to pick them out--Mom just sent an order off to Sears or Montgomery Wards.

Don't know what happened to change, but the three of us that are left of the four boys still have gardens. Mom, who is 90, has her garden, and we still hoe there too.   We are headed there for brunch this morning, where we will have fresh lettuce, maybe a few early peas, fresh strawberries, and radishes from the garden, picked just an hour earlier.  Hope when we are 90, we are still able to hoe our row every morning.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Unbearable Happenings at the Cabin

Back at the Cabin again today after almost two weeks of medical appointments.  A bear has rummaged through the area knocking over lots of stuff and generally making a nuisance.  He dug up all the Jack-in-the-Pulpit bulbs under the plants by the cabin and the potted ones I had planned to move.  Guess they must be edible.

I have been on prednisone to slow down my immune system building the antibodies that are causing myasthenia gravis, weak muscles.  The biggest side effect that is noticeable to others is what is commonly called "moon face" where your face fattens up.  I took a before photo and then one after 3 days--don't think it is doing much yet.

The Rambler is taking prednisone for his Myasthenia Gravis.
Can you notice any side effects yet?  Before is on the left. 

The gardens have jumped with some great fresh lettuce to pick.  We have to get the hoes out.  I took the old Cub cadet with the back cultivator and did the pumpkin and squash garden both ways.  I planted it so the tractor would drive through up and down the rows, and then cross ways--like the farmers in the old days when they "checked" there corn to cross cultivate. 

Went to the Northwest Regional Writers meeting this afternoon after dropping the 91 Olds off at Jensen's garage in Cushing to replace one of the exhaust pipes up front that made driving from Pine Island to Cushing a real noisy ride.  He had it done by 5:00 pm.  

The writers got a proof copy of the anthology of poems and stories we are planning for this fall.  It looks like a good book, even though it is only half there and needs a lot of editing.  The 5 proofs cost a total of $20 through Amazon's including postage and came in seven days after I sent the file in.   The title is being mulled over--titles are the most important thing in getting a person's attention to pick up the book and consider buying it.  

We dropped over to the Luck Museum to see Marilyn Berg who started working there this week.  The museum is open Monday 1-4, T-F 11-3:30 and Saturday 10-1.  The brand new geology of Luck display and rock collections are finally all out and on display.  The photos of an old barn in the neighborhood are also on display.  Should be an active summer. 

The rest of the evening has been spent picking off wood ticks.  In Pine Island there are none.  Two years ago, due to a single deer with Chronic Wasting Disease, 1000 deer in the area were shot off.  The tick count there is zero!   I suppose the glut of deer around this area (the sand barrens with 10 miles of woods on the west and the farm fields and pastures on the east) causes so many ticks.  

Saturday Margo and I volunteer at the Luck Museum and Sunday we visit Mom for Sunday brunch.  Then Margo heads back to Pine Island and then down to her parents for father's day and I head back for another appointment on Thursday at Mayo.  They need to keep increasing the prednisone dosage to get rid of my MG, and they want to check to see if they are going too fast.  Too fast and my head will blow up rather than just stretch.  

Nice to be back in Wisconsin where the ticks, mosquitoes and now deer flies are flourishing.    Oh, by the way, we planned to pull my new trailer up north, but getting it out on the road it started swaying back and forth terribly.  My guess is one of two things: I loaded it with too little weight on the front or I built it backwards on the axle and wheel set (I got the toe-out forward rather than the toe-in to the front).  Tried to get Margo to ride on the tongue while I took it up to 40mph to see if extra weight on the front would help, but she was notably uncooperative.  Since she turned 65 last week, she has been real bucky.