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MN Blog Cabin Roundup: 1/27

This week: cofficing tips, the joys of ice fishing and new plant hardiness zones come to the state.

The big news story this week was the return of the Minnesota Legislature, and with it, discussions of what should get done  — and not get done — this session. The Minnesota Budget Project chimed in with their legislative priorities, including opposition to constitutional budget amendments of any kind:

Three proposed amendments dealing with the state budget would result in even more government gridlock and shutdowns, budget gimmicks, and cuts to critical services. They would make it more difficult for Minnesota to recover from the recession and invest in economic growth.

Individuals hoping to be engines of economic growth themselves might enjoy Communications Conversations7 tips for working out of coffee shops, which doesn’t skip the fundamentals:

Tip #1: Find the outlets
You know the guy who walks into the coffee shop and is immediately looking at spots along the floor boards, quietly roaming the room? Yeah, that’s me. Don’t be that guy. But, you need to be sure the coffee house you’re working in has ample outlets. So, make sure to note which coffee shops have more than one outlet. After all, no outlet means, no power cord. And no power cord means a dead laptop. Don’t get caught with a dead laptop. Quick productivity killer.

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If you don’t plan on spending that optimized coffee shop time hashing out your next entrepreneurial breakthrough, why not try putting together a poem or prose for Hibbing’s annual Dylan Days? Entries due March 1:

For poets, Dylan Days accepts a single poem up to 1,000 words on any subject. The contest is divided into an open division for most poets and a student division for currently enrolled high school or undergraduate college students.

For writers, Dylan Days accepts a short story in any genre, limited to 4,000 words. All writers are invited to submit stories on any subject.

Of course, some would rather spend their winter days enjoying the great Minnesota outdoors. Certainly Gary Sankary is one of them, as detailed in his moving paean to ice fishing:

At the core of every outdoor experience; fishing, hunting, hiking, camping.. is a chance to connect with a part of ourselves that, at least for me, gets lost in the day-to-day grind of work, chores.. for me that means feeling like I’m a part of the environment. In the north woods, winter is an immersive experience. The jet skis and boats are gone. This year, thanks to the lack of snow, there are not many snowmobiles, the trails are all closed so the sleds can’t get to the lake.

But if the idea of sitting in a tiny hut in the middle of a frozen lake for hours sends chills down your spine, maybe it’s better to stay indoors and think of the warmer times ahead. It’s never too early to start planning that garden — and as My Northern Garden reminds us, big changes are ahead for Minnesota gardeners with the USDA’s new plant hardiness zone map:

A sliver of Minnesota is officially in USDA Zone 5, according to the new hardiness zone map released today by the USDA, the first update to the map since 1990. Beyond that corner of Jackson and Martin Counties going officially zone 5 (a place where the lowest winter temperatures don’t sink below -20 degrees F — like say, Chicago), a huge chunk of Minnesota is now rated zone 4b (lowest temp: -25) and the area around St. Cloud has shifted from borderline zone 3 to a firm zone 4a — break out the Japanese maples!

If warmer conditions do bring widespread Japanese maple cultivation to the state, I expect Minneapolis photographer Paul Udstrand to capture them beautifully. Check out some of his photos from Minneapolis and around the state.