Keeping roads streets and sidewalks clear following the snow storm last week taxed all of the resources available by state, county and city crews. They kept at it and their work is greatly appreciated.

Normally the sand and salt mix that’s spread by our highway and street crews does a good job of melting ice or snow on our roads, but salt doesn’t work so well, or at all, when the temperature dips below zero. The near-zero and sub-zero temperatures during the day on Friday and Friday night meant that highways and streets were in tough shape, with rough ice and compacted snow glued to the pavement.

The oddity of Minnesota weather was well illustrated by the difference in conditions on Thursday, just a few miles apart. During the white-out conditions here, south-central and southeastern Minnesota had warmer, and rainy, weather. We were in Rochester on Thursday when it was 42 degrees with a steady drizzle. Our drive toward home on Friday afternoon started in rain and temperatures in the mid-30s.

Although I was wary of what could have been freezing rain, we had good driving conditions through Owatonna, Mankato, and New Ulm. However, just west of there, the cold front became evident with fresh snow and icy, bumpy roads that got worse the further west we traveled. Highway 19 west of Redwood Falls was particularly rough and had plenty of snowdrifts on the westbound lane.

A bit of a warm-up on Saturday helped inspire some melting and by that evening road conditions had improved. When we drove back to the Redwood Falls area, for a concert at Jackpot Junction that evening, the road conditions, especially on Highway 19, were much better, but still a bit icy.

The warm sunshine on Sunday was a big help to those dedicated highway and street crews. It also gave many of us a chance to chip and scrape away at the ice on our driveways, sidewalks and steps and decks. That’s just the kind of exercise a guy needs to keep in good shape during the winter. Or maybe not. 

The on-going federal government shut down is happening during what most folks call the slowest news week of the year. Some think that will make it seem like less of a problem for the politicians involved but I wonder if it won’t do the opposite. Being a slow news week, there is little else to report on and it remains the top story in the national news, day after day.

Keeping the federal government running is a very minimal requirement of their jobs, a basic task that they should be able to accomplish without much effort. Even so, our national political leaders seem clueless on how to accomplish that rudimentary task. They also seem to have no plan in place for dealing with the consequences of sticking to their so-called principled positions and what will happen when, or if, someone actually does make a move. That is amazing. Leadership involves a lot more than just blurting out an opinion and staking yourself to it. Leadership involves taking a good look at the other side of the coin and finding a way to make things work. Work is the key word and something these folks need to get on with. 

The Vikings embarrassed themselves, once again, and we are left to wonder what in the world went wrong. This writer is far from an expert on football, but the time-honored nugget of wisdom is that the game is won or lost on the line of scrimmage. We can blame the highly-paid quarterback or the pass-dropping glory hounds who are supposed to catch the ball, but the offensive line play on the offense was porous at best and had quarterback Kirk Cousins on a flat-out panic most of the game.

There is plenty of blame to go around but the head coach and his staff deserve a big share of that as does the team’s general manager, who seems to be incapable of understanding the need for bolstering the offensive line.

Add to that the Vikings’ vaunted defense that couldn’t stop the Bears’ mediocre offense and you have a sluggish team performance that looked uninspired and confused. Like in Washington DC, it seems like a change in leadership is needed.