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Column: A few observations from a year almost passed

Editor’s note: Former longtime Daily Globe Editor Ray Crippen died Dec. 27, 2015. We will continue to publish previously run “Isn’t That Something” columns on Saturdays, until further notice, as a tribute to Crippen and his knowledge of local and regional history. The following column first appeared Dec. 30, 2006.

WORTHINGTON — From the beginning I believe I heard people say, “You learn something new every day.” Of course we do.

We are 48 hours from a new year. I was trying to remember lately some of the new things I learned in our year now ending.

Truth be told, I probably don’t remember anything I read in January, or in March. Here are some of the things I learned sometime during 2006.

I read:

Of every 100 babies in the United States today, only 15 will go to their high school graduations living in a household with a natural father and a natural mother who were married before the babies were born. Four of every 10 babies in America today are born to a man and woman who never spoke wedding vows. Of the remaining six babies, nearly half are born to couples destined to be divorced. (The U.S. divorce rate of couples under age 45 is 41 percent.) In this mix of 100 U.S. babies there also are babies adopted by homosexual singles and couples, and babies adopted from other continents.

One reader on the Internet asked the writer how all this came to be with no protests from churches or “constitutional amenders.” The writer said “having no marriages or no long-standing marriages” are now American customs. People accept customs.

I read:

By tomorrow night, there will be 250,000 more semi-trucks on U.S. interstate highways than there were one year ago, on Dec. 31, 2005. There will be another 250,000 trucks stirred into the traffic mix during 2007, another 250,000 during 2008, another 250,000 during 2009. By New Year’s eve, 2009, there will be one million more semi-trucks on U.S. interstate highways than there were on Dec. 31, 2005.

I read:

The Minnesota Twin City metropolitan area is adding five new streets every day, Sundays included. New housing is being built in the Twin Cities at twice the national average. This makes a special problem for the Twin City 911 emergency system. A caller says an ambulance is need at 1000 Kentucky Ave. The dispatcher never heard of three-day-old Kentucky Avenue and cannot find it on a map. A Minneapolis publishing firm is turning out a new map of the metro area every month. The firm also has a Web site which posts new streets as they open day by day.

I read:

Well — do you know Sao Paulo, Brazil? (“Sao Paulo” is St. Paul in Portuguese.) I think I was absent the day the teacher told our class about Brazil. I don’t know South American geography.

There are more people living today in the city of Sao Paulo than there are people in all of Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota and Montana combined. The United States has no city so large. Sao Paulo, Brazil, has a population of more than 10 million. The Sao Paulo metropolitan area has more than 13 million people.

(I know Org. I know Reading. How come I never learned about Sao Paulo?)

I read:

Brown pelicans are huge birds; they may have a wingspan of more than seven feet. They are found on both the Atlantic coast and the Pacific coast. Last July — mid-July — a brown pelican was seen by several people on several days on Spirit Lake, south of Jackson County 2. (How do you think he got there? Where’d he go?)

I read:

As of July 2005, three-fourths of all the wind turbines in Minnesota are in six counties in our southwest corner. “We” are producing enough wind-tricity for 230,000 houses.

I read:

The Minnesota Historical Society is preparing a book which will feature the courthouses of Minnesota’s 87 counties. Nobles County took the courtrooms out of its downtown building. Nobles County’s courtrooms are in the north end of the county jail.

Result: Nobles County is the only county in Minnesota that has no courthouse.

I read:

On April 19, 2006, there was no such word in the English language as “decider.” On April 20, President Bush said, “I am the decider.” So fast does language change these days that by this last month of the year, “decider” is included in all online English dictionaries. “Decider” will be a part of all new printed dictionaries.

You now have read enough. I am the decider.