18th Century Cooking

We stumbled across these great, family friendly videos from Jas. Townsend and Son, Inc. illustrating so many of the cooking techniques that have been otherwise lost as a result of the invention of fast foods and modern cooking techniques. Recent findings have shown that much of the research that showed how much healthier cooking with things such as hydrogenated vegetable oils is over more traditional animal fats was driven by money and profit goals of big corporations and not real science.

In fact, numerous authoritative studies have shown that people who often live the longest around the world, consume the most traditional foods and the least amount of processed foods. If readers have other helpful links on heritage cooking and self-reliance, please send them to us so we can share them on our website.

“Hand Made Creations by Humans” Exhibit Oct 7-8

Handmade Creations Exhibit Oct 7 and 8
Handmade Creations Exhibit Oct 7 and 8, 2016

Heritage Center is sponsoring a public exhibition of hand-made articles and inventions.

Many individuals in the Bluff Country area have tool shops where they have created useful items for farm and home use, including children’s toys and scale replicas of farm buildings and other things. The Heritage Center would like to document them and exhibit them both indoors and in Enger Garden. The exhibit will run from Friday at 1:00 pm until Saturday at 6:00 pm.

The idea for this event came from Dr. Jim Gray who has been fascinated for 50 years by the useful creations which he saw on area farms. He says, “Farmers created gate latches, hand tools and livestock paraphernalia that were totally original and very useful.” Early in his career he enjoyed seeing shop creations by almost-pioneer farmers: Andy Kjome, Palmer Bergsgaard, Bert and Lloyd Deters, Orvel Treangen, Gil Myrah, Harold Rosendahl, Elling Solum, Nels Gulbranson, Lowell Vatland, Cy Casterton, Alvin Swenson, Luther Storlie, Leonard Sylling and many, many more. Unfortunately none of these persons can be filmed talking about how they used what they made, although their descendants are invited to bring their pieces in and tell stories in their stead.

We are asking that anyone who has hand-made pieces, old or new, should bring them to the Heritage Center for this event in advance of the 1:00 Friday, October 7 opening. Please bring a written description naming who made it, how it was used, photos of its location or use, and any background information you may have about it. Giant’s purpose for the exhibition is to showcase talent and ingenuity, and to create a permanent digital record by filming brief descriptions of them, how and why things were made and used.
Any exhibition questions can be answered by coordinators Ed Myrah at 507.696.7243 or Dr. Gray at 507.459.9188.

Both men and women are welcome to exhibit creations. There is no fee to participate and no fee to attend, although Giants is a non-profit, and all donations are gratefully accepted.

All exhibits should be picked up between 5:00 and 6:00 pm on Saturday, or at other times arranged previous to the opening.

The Bluff Country Artists Gallery on the opposite end of Main Street is hosting a gala fundraiser “8 by 8 Equals Art” beginning at 6:30 pm Saturday.

The Piecemakers are hosting their annual Festival of Quilts Show and Sale from 12 noon Friday through Saturday at 5:00 at the Fest Building.

“Inventions at Work” focuses on adaptations farmers and others have made to make their work easier.

“Inventions at Play” focuses on how all ages experience various playful habits of mind that underlie invention, such as curiosity, imagination, visual thinking, model building and problem solving. This category includes toys for children and musical instruments.

1. Selection and Examination of the Inventions

All are invited to bring their Hand-made items to the Heritage Center for documentation and an interview. We will ask your permission to film your interview especially so it can be shared with residents at the Care Center and Assisted Living who may not be able to view them during the exhibition. Smaller pieces should be brought in any time the week of October 3rd. Please bring a photo of the inventor if it isn’t you. Larger pieces will be displayed in Enger Garden and need to be in place as early in the morning as possible on October 7. They will need to be taken home by 5 PM on October 8.

Before the items are put on display at the exhibition, they will be examined at two levels. First, the items must be examined for creative innovation by a Giants Judges panel. Second, the judges are invited to assess the novelty and usefulness of the inventions.

2. It is not necessary that the invention be old. It is encouraged to make something special for this event. Judges will be offering preferential treatment to the inventions made by primary and middle school students. The award-winning rate for primary and middle school students is 10% higher than that of the adult inventors.

3. People’s Choice Award at the Exhibition
The public will have an opportunity to vote for their favorite inventions.

Download (DOCX, Unknown)

Be Your Family’s Hero

Lack of TVNZ News Oct 31, 2012.
With Hurricane Sandy beating down on millions; millions without power; and a rising death count-a lot of people are glad they thought this through in advance. Those who didn’t are wondering “What was I thinking?–that I could go indefinitely without a natural disaster happening to me?

Fitness Cartoon

One of the worst heritages we are passing down to our children is a sedentary lifestyle. Many physicians are calling SEDENTARY DEATH SYNDROME the leading cause of death in America–and avoidable medical costs resulting from Americans’ sedentary habits are bankrupting America.

Ironically, many of the most out-of-shape people work the hardest and longest hours. Their strong work ethic causes them to view exercise as something for the leisure class. But the irony is that working extended sedentary hours consumes more resources than it generates because people who don’t exercise become debilitated and unable to work 20 years earlier than those that do. Our ancestors generally didn’t have so many health problems because they engaged in vigorous physical activity for at least one hour a day. They didn’t have all these labor saving devices.

Back in the olden days when people worked so hard physically, it was okay that their leisure activities were sedentary. Today, just look around. Our work is generally sedentary, so it is essential that our leisure activities be physically vigorous–or else we will have what we have right now. So scheduling sedentary leisure activities for ourselves in the evenings and weekends after a week of sedentary work is like putting butter on your lard. Let’s stop sentencing ourselves and our children to an early death.

Let’s do something STARTING NOW.  Resolve not to watch another moment of television unless you are on the floor alternating between situps, pushups, and other exercises. Let’s put treadmills in the cinemas. Let’s make resolutions to go for family walks rather than sit in front of the TV. Why read a book when you could listen to one for an hour every day and get in 5 miles of walking or 10 miles of jogging? Have you ever met a fat person who has been jogging 10 or more miles a day for any length of time. Excess fat cannot endure such exercise and it disappears.

Poor exercise habits are almost always a choice and not something people can’t do anything about, so let’s stop dancing around this issue for fear that someone might take offense. Like every other habit, bad habits are infectious, so without active counter measures bad habits frequently spread. Although it is good to worry about not hurting out-of-shape people’s feelings–obviously brushing this issue under the rug is not working for our kids. We need a serious propaganda campaign to demonize bad habits if we are to not lose those we care about to an early, unnecessary death.

Bad habits, including and especially overscheduling sedentary activities, are the number one killer in America. In short, if you are home now and have spent a whole day sitting, stop reading this blog and go for a jog and listen to a book on tape instead. Come back when you are pleasantly sore and resume your reading. And, if you want to help create a culture that empowers healthy habits, please share this article with your friends on facebook or through email.


Contagion Review

A recent movie, Contagion, brings up a number of variables which parents, community leaders, and pretty much every other mature adult should be aware of. Briefly, the science is quite good compared to most previous movies on the topic and the scenario is all-too-plausible. (My specialty is human virology and vaccine development.)


Speaker from Norway Nov 18th

Norwegian Roar Moe speaks at Spring Grove Cinema Nov 18 at 715 pm v2 poster

Roar Moe, teacher, historian, sailor .. the last husmann?

November 18th, Thursday night at 7:15 Spring Grove Cinema shares with the public his concerns and successes – Here in SE MINN, NE IA, SW WI—Spring Grove and Norwegian Ridge, Minnesota
As technology develops, we ignore the traditional skills and practical problem-solving abilities of our earlier and immigrant ancestors?  Do we always buy a new one or call someone to fix everything? Are we in front of a tv too often?
Follow the trail from the past of Norway’s fishing and farming coast through a story in pictures of self-sufficiency and practical skills without the engine or computer.  Discuss where this story is heading and what it means to students attending Roar Moe`s Litle Færøy Coastal Academy.

See the attached flier and please forward this invitation to friends.  Please post in any local bulletin boards.  Students will enjoy this engaging presentation as well.  Invite them to dinner in Spring Grove (Ivy Grove, Doc`s Blue Moose, The Skyline) before the program and free coffee and goodies afterwards with Sons of Norway Valheim Lodge at Giants of the Earth Heritage Center next to the Cinema at the Ballard House.  You can see the new renovation and Sigmund Årseth’s artistic depiction of the immigration from Norway and early days of Spring Grove and Norwegian Ridge.

SEE YOU THERE 7:15 November 18th.. NEXT THURSDAY!  Meet Roar after the program at The Ballard House.

Health Secret: Warrior Mentality

Can history reveal the secret to keeping fighting fit?

“…In the course of a long peace, the people relax into sloth and indolence…”-Manners of the Germanic Tribes by Cornelius Tacitus (end of 1st Century CE)

Perhaps the secret to health is recognizing the reciprocal duty and bonds between oneself and ones countrymen–and endeavoring to maintain the health reserves you could potentially need to pull your weight in an emergency.

Consider the lyrics of the Norwegian National Anthem:

“And, as warrior sires have made her

Wealth and fame increase,

At the call we too will aid her

Armed to guard her peace.”


–And the Norwegians take this seriously as evidenced by the popularity of the Biathlon.  Here is a video that shows just how much of an athlete one must be to do well at this sport.

IT Blog

Giants of the Earth is excited by the power that computer technology brings for storing, editing, and sharing older community videos. While ancestry.com and geni.com provide a great framework for uploading your ancestral images, they currently do not have the storage space to upload all your high definition videos to.

Giants is seriously considering providing a digitization station for Giants of the Earth members at our Heritage Center. This might be one or two stations with a VHS VCR, and one in which people can attach their own video cameras in VCR mode, whether they be digital 8, hi8, or something else.  Because demand is likely to be high for these stations, we may need to develop at first a policy in which those videos most related to the community have digitization preference. These include videos which have community events, interviews with senior citizens, trips to Norwegian family farms, important speeches and sermons, etc. In addition, pre-1995 videos that are community related are of particular importance. These are degrading quickly as the years pass and must be digitized to prevent them from degrading to the point of not being watchable.

We are currently deliberating how we might store the digitized data, and while we will certainly return the original tapes, whether or not we can initially afford to make a double density DVD copy of every video that gets brought in. Currently, Windows Movie Maker allows for very high resolution digitization, resulting in the use of 13 megabytes per hour of video. At that rate, one family that brings in 19 hours of videos could quickly fill up 1/2 TB of space (using RAID storage). Currently, the price of a terabyte of space if we went with an external hard drive is a little over $100. Thus, if we figured that we had about 40 families and that we would need to have additional space for edited projects for public Spring Grove movies that would be displayed at the Spring Grove Cinema, one could imagine that within two years we could fill up a server with expandable and hot swappable drives sufficient eventually to hold 40 TB of community videos. Alternative ideas would be to buy online storage space, but the limiting agent there is uploading, downloading, and editing, since even with a high speed connections, 13 GB per hour equals 3.6 MB/s–something that would use up much of the bandwidth for the center. Further, editing online would be limited to crawl rates unless we compressed and degraded the quality of the videos, which would be undesirable if we ever wanted to view them in higher definition.

In contrast to slow online storage, having a media uploading and editing station within the Giants of the Earth Heritage Center building would be lightning fast.  If we had an external hard drive or server with eSata connection we would get 200MB/s interaction with the media and not use up any Internet bandwidth at all. We could make videos available over the Internet to families, but this would probably require a passwords for everyone, so we would have to look into IT software which would do the work for us while maintaining people’s privacy. A starting 7.5 TB server currently runs about $2200. I have included a link below to one that could possibly suit our needs and be hot swappable so that we could expand later as we needed more drives with minimal additional expenses or changes. If families wanted to buy their own swappable drives that they could take home with them for private storage, that might help defer the cost and provide people with a sense that they had more control over what they decided to share. Again, the fastest type of connection is eSATA, so getting hardware with this connection speeds things up a lot. Personally, I would imagine that many people’s videos would contain scenes of public importance interspersed with private videos that they might not want to share. Thus, the best way for us to collect these videos would be for residents to bring in pre-made digitized media on an external hard drive that contained only those clips (at the best resolution possible) that they wanted to share with our public. Alternatively, with a server, they might be able to edit their videos at home and upload them to the server space. This might require investment in the services of an IT professional or perhaps user friendly software that does the work for us.


Finally, feel free to comment on the risks associated with different types of storage during unforeseen disasters. For example, although RAID technology helps allay fears of drive failure cauusing a loss of data, do we need to back up everything additionally online in case there is a fire? Or do we need to physically remove a backup drive/drives from the building every night? What about lightning strikes to the building we are in or other power surges? What kind of surge protectors will we need? Also include more remote concerns and affix links to help people understand new potential threats such as electromagnetic pulse weapons, computer viruses, spam, etc.