A stretch of bad weather, and a case of bad math

April 1, 2019
By Dale Kovar

In my eighth year in the land of Hale Township during the reign of Lyndon Baines Johnson, the forces of nature determined that it was time.

I was still a boy, but it was time to become . . . a hardened Minnesotan, a winter survivor.

Sometimes it’s hard to tell if I remember an actual event or just the pictures from it.

According to online research, I am thinking of the St. Patrick’s Day blizzard of 1965. It was the third of four major storms in February and March that year, and besides the difficulty it created, that much snow set the stage for major flooding that spring.

At our rural home, the blizzard left such a huge drift that I was able to step over the telephone wire. (The younger people are asking “What’s a telephone wire?”)

At least I think it was a telephone wire. Hopefully my parents didn’t let me hop, skip, and jump over an electric line.

I know there was a photo of it but I haven’t been able to find it.

I also remember – not from a photo – that at the edge of that large drift was an old Chevy, parked and not used for the winter.

It was mostly buried under snow but I was able to get into it from the passenger side, and it made a great fort for a 7-year-old to play in. Either the keys were left in it or somehow I was able to even listen to the radio, at least until the battery died.

In the spring, after all that snow, came the flooding.

Our driveway was about a quarter-mile, and during wet periods it was common to have several inches of water from flooded fields run across the driveway. Farm tiling wasn’t anything like it is today. Most of the time we simply drove through it.

But 1965 was extreme. I did find the photo of my uncle with his car stuck.1965 flood

When flooding got to be too much, we had to leave cars parked out on the township road and hike about a half-mile through the woods to get home or out.

And after a snowy March and wet April, the spring of 1965 didn’t get much better.

In May, six tornadoes went through the area from Glencoe to Chanhassen, including demolishing St. Peter Lutheran Church and School in Lester Prairie.

We were northwest of that so I don’t personally recall the tornado day, just the history accounts of it.

1965 wasn’t a total loss, though. That fall, it was the first time the Twins made it to the World Series, facing the LA Dodgers with Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale.

I don’t recall games being available on tv, or at least I don’t remember watching.

In those days, all the games were played during the day. I do remember the disappointment of coming home from school, only to learn the Twins lost game seven on a 2-0 shutout.

Math problem

Sometimes there are little things that just set one off.

Back on a snowy weekend in February, there was a segment on Good Morning America about the recommended amount of protein everyone should consume.

Dr. Jennifer Ashton presented a formula to calculate that. Divide your weight by 2.2, then multiply that number by 0.8 to determine the number of grams of protein you should have each day.

I instantly recognized that as being overly complicated, and grabbed a pen and scratch paper to make sure I was right (I was). Then I headed to the computer and started a small spreadsheet to test a few examples to confirm I was right (I still was).

Instead of that formula, just divide your weight by 2.75 and you’ll get the same answer.

For people who are nutritionally negligent, they’re probably not going to want to do a lot of math about changing something they may not care much about anyway.

But to pick on Dr. Ashton a bit, I could come up with only three possible reasons why she would offer that formula up on national tv:

• it was intentionally made more complicated than necessary to make her appear as an expert.

• she knows nutrition but is lousy at math and didn’t realize it could be simplified.

• somebody else prepared the information and she was just reading it.

Again, it was a pretty minor thing, but when you’re snowed in for a weekend, it’s easy to become a media critic.

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