Bentleyville Lights Up The Holidays

I love Christmas, not just because of the presents but because of all the decorations and lights and the warmth of the season—Ashley Tisdale

Every Christmas there are tons of holiday themed events from light festivals to Christmas Tree lightings. But if you are looking for something that’s a cut above, then look no further than Bentleyville.

img_7216Bentleyville isn’t a place, but an event. It started as a home owner’s annual Christmas decoration display that grew into a phenomenon that is now known as “Bentleyville ‘Tour of Lights’.”

What makes Bentleyville different? For starters, it is strictly native to Minnesota; it is massive; it’s extremely family friendly—even more so than other seasonal Holiday events, and it is completely free.

There is a parking fee of five dollars per car load, or a person can take a train to the event for a slightly higher cost, but the entrance and snacks once inside Bentleyville are 100% free.

The annual festival that has came to be known as Bentleyville has grown exponentially over the years. It’s so large that it is now held in Duluth’s 10-acre Bayfront Festival Park during the frigid months of November and December.

As the sun goes down and a chill starts to move across the icy shores of Lake Superior, Bentleyville comes to life. It runs nightly from Thanksgiving to December 26, with the gates opening at 5 pm.

Visitors to Bentleyville are treated to a spectacular array of brightly lit Yuletide displays, which cover the entire park. Fabulously designed illuminated walk-through canopies crisscross through the park and connect to other sections.

There are several big attractions for kids. Santa Claus is there every night till Christmas Eve. Rudolph is available for pictures, and Mrs. Clause is on hand to tell stories and hand out candy canes.

The free snack stations also draw crowds. The Cookie House with its cookies, coffee andimg_7334 hot coco is a must stop. The Marshmallow Hut and fire pits for roasting marshmallows attracts a lot of people, so does the popular Popcorn Shack. Again…all of these are no charge.

In the center of Bentleyville stands a remarkable animated Christmas Tree. It is a 128′ high manufactured marvel that towers above the festival. The tree has more than 150 thousand LED lights. Its frame is made from 17 tons of iron and 24 yards of concrete. The star that crowns the tree is actually an eight foot ball of steel with 28, three foot long, spikes pointing out of it.

When fully lit the Bentleyville Tree has a cutting presence. It pierces the darkness and welcomes visitors from miles away. It is easily seen from the interstate going into Duluth.

The “Tour of Lights” is a perfect harbinger for the Holiday season. The cold weather enhances the experience and the light displays warm the spirit. Christmas will seem more magical and exciting for adults and children alike after a night in Bentleyville.



Belphegor’s Prime: A Perfect Number For Halloween

Who would have imagined that something as straightforward as the natural numbers (1, 2, 3, 4,…) could give birth to anything so baffling as the prime numbers (2, 3 ,5, 7, 11, …)?~Ian Stewart

Halloween is just days away. And as people search for ways to celebrate the holiday, A Crow’s View has a unique way to decorate your home, office or personal space. Try incorporating Belphegor’s Prime into your holiday decor.

Screen Shot 2017-10-26 at 12.59.20 PMIn demonology Belphegor is one of seven prices of Hell. He is the chief demon of slothfulness, one of Christianity’s seven deadly sins. His primary purpose is to seduce people into laziness by means of achieving great wealth through innovative inventions. In modern society Belphegor is sometimes referred to as the devil of financial bubbles.

Belphegor’s Prime is an enigmatic palindromic prime. It’s an extremely long and complex number comprised of 31 digits, which makes it a nonillion. Millions, billions and trillions pale in comparison to Belphegor’s Prime. And because it is a palindrome, it’s the same number whether read left to right or right to left.

Several aspects to Belphegor’s Prime gives it a mystical quality. Its association with theScreen Shot 2017-10-26 at 1.19.54 PM netherworldly demon, being a palindrome, and having its own symbol––which is similar to pi––adds to its inscrutable charm; however, the actual number itself is the most fascinating aspect of the Prime.

The number that makes up Belphegor’s Prime starts with a one (1) flanked by 13 zeros, followed by three sixes, with another set of 13 zeros; then finishes with a one (1) at the end.f10001

A further breakdown of Belphegor’s Prime is even more interesting than its underworld connection or its prime and palindromic properties. The number is actually a string of unlucky chattel. The 31 digits that comprise Belphegor’s Prime are an inverted 13, and both sets of zeros on each side of the sixes run 13 digits long, which makes up an obvious taboo. The three sixes (666) at the heart of the Prime is commonly known as the Number of the Beast; a number widely considered satanic. Then there are the ones (1) that bookend the Prime. Together they make up eleven or “snake eyes,” if not separated by the zeros and sixes, are also considered ominous.

The nefarious nature of Belphegor’s Prime makes it a great fit for Halloween, and its perception as an evil or cursed number will enhance your holiday decorations.

A Crow’s View suggests posting Belphegor’s Prime on a mailbox, over the front door, or––for a talented individual––carve it into a Jack-0-Lantern. Using Belphegor’s Prime will make an interesting topic for discussion, while blending mathematics with an ancient superstition to celebrate Halloween.

That alone makes it uniquely perfect!



(Rock) Bands That Define A Decade

Music is… A higher revelation than all Wisdom and Philosophy —Ludwig von Beethoven

A question I’ve often pondered is whether a single rock band could define a decade or era they came from. It’s no question that music is powerful. Lyrics from a song or a few cords being played on an instrument can invoke a broad range of emotions or trigger fond memories.

Screen Shot 2017-07-31 at 6.31.03 PMThe modern era of Rock Music began in the 1950s. Many of the artists of that era came up through gospel choirs to gain fame in an evolving music industry. Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis are perfect examples of this. They both signed with Sun Records and went on future to stardom.

In the 1960s, however, the cultural phenomenon known as the “British Invasion” ushered in a new breed of bands, such as the Beatles, Kinks and the Animals. Their brand of music sparked the rise of the counter culture movement and forever changed the trajectory of rock and roll.

The ensuing decades 70s, 80s, and 90s would bring major changes to pop music too. The 70s brought folk singers like Patti Smith and Bob Dylan into the public consciousness, while the 80s catapulted  “glam rockers” or “hair bands” like Poison and Mötley Crüe to the top of the charts. Then the 90s changed it all when the limelight gave way to alternative rock groups like Nirvana and Pearl Jam.

But how can a single band or artist be chosen as one that defined a decade?

That’s a question I’ve often asked friends, coworkers and classmates. I typically phrased it by asking, “which rock bands best define a decade they’re from?”

I’ve always posed the question with few simple rules:

  • Modern rock music is defined as being from 1950s to the end of the 90s
  • Bands from the early 2000s are exempt from the discussion, too new to determine
  • Artist(s) must still be alive, except for the 1950s.
  • A 20 year separation from a group’s or individual’s breakout album or hit
  • Artist(s) must be able to sellout stadiums (no Vegas or fair circuit performers)
  • Reunion tours don’t count

With those five basic rules, I went about trying to answer my own question; knowing full well that certain groups and individuals would unfairly be left out.

After much thought and consideration, I’ve reached a conclusion on which artists best define the decade they’re from:

  1. Johnny Cash
  2. Rolling Stones
  3. Bruce Springsteen
  4. Bon Jovi
  5. Red Hot Chili Peppers

Screen Shot 2017-07-31 at 9.30.42 PMI chose Johnny Cash for the 1950s because of his crossover appeal with fans of folk, rock and country music. Cash stayed relevant long after many of his contemporaries’ died or their star power began to fade. His success outlasted all of his Sun Records alumni, including Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis. 

Screen Shot 2017-07-31 at 9.33.01 PMThe 1960s pick was an extremely easy choice. Although the Beatles may have kicked off the “British Invasion,” they eventually disbanded and moved on to other projects. However the Rolling Stones took up the mantle, they have never officially broke up and they have never looked back. The Rolling Stones are referred to as “the greatest rock and roll band of all time.” It’s a well deserved moniker for the septuagenarian rockers that burst onto the scene more than 50 years ago.  

Screen Shot 2017-07-31 at 9.36.21 PMMy pick for the 1970s was a little tougher to make. It came down to Aerosmith and my eventual pick. Springsteen won out because he aligned more closely with the hit folk singers/songwriters of the 70s; where Aerosmith had success, then broke up, and eventually regrouped to achieve even greater success in the 80s and 90s.

Screen Shot 2017-07-31 at 9.38.45 PMPicking Jon Bon Jovi was a no-brainer. Anyone listing to Bon Jovi in the 80s couldn’t have imagined that of all the “hair bands” of the time; he’d be the one still rockin’ strong in the late 2000s. His continued success is the biggest surprise of the “glam bands.”


Finally, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, even though they’ve formed long before the Screen Shot 2017-07-31 at 9.41.01 PM1990s, they achieved megastar status during the rise of the grunge craze. Unlike Nirvana and other 90s bands that popularized alternative music, the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ appeal hasn’t diminish. Suicides, overdoses or creative differences have not derailed the band’s success or stopped them from playing their fiery brand of alternative rock well into the 21 century.

Of course there is room for disagreement. My picks are simply a suggestion. If you have a list of your own, please comment. I look forward to hearing people’s opinion.



Peruta v. California

The NRA is a true grass-roots organization, and the collective power of its membership is simply unparalleled—Thom Tillis

With The United States Supreme Court passing on Peruta v. California  (a case involving conceal carry outside of the home), and lower courts split on numerous Second Amendment cases, I suspect the NRA will not allow this issue to go away anytime soon. 

Odds are that another gun rights case will come before the court sooner than later; after all, it’s been nearly 10-years since the justices have decided on a major Second Amendment issue. 

In a strongly worded statement by NRA-ILA Director Chris Cox, he makes no bones about where the NRA stands on SCOTUS’s snub of Peruta v. California. 

NRA’s Clout will surely drive this issue forward and force SCOTUS to make another landmark decision on a second amendment case. It will be interesting to watch how this political drama plays out. 

John Wayne Birthplace & Museum

Speaking as an actress, I wish all actors would be more like Duke and speaking as a person, it would be nice if all people could be honest and as genuine as he is. This is a real man – Maureen O Hara

In a small town slightly southwest of Des Moines, IA is a tiny four room house that stakes claim to being the birthplace of one of America’s most celebrated actors: John Wayne. The future actor was born in Winterset on May 26, 1907 as Marion Robert Morrison.

Now the small rural town is making the most of its former resident by boasting about his birthplace with a museum and tours of his childhood home.

The John Wayne Birthplace and Museum (JWBM) is open daily from 10 to 5 pm (winter 10 to 4pm). Its tickets are priced so it’s affordable for anyone. The cost is $15, with discounts for children and seniors, to experience the truly unique life of Marion Robert Morrison. 

johnwaynestatuePeople that appreciate celebrity-driven attractions will enjoy the museum and gift shop. The museum is small, but it has an impressive array of personal John Wayne photos, movie memorabilia and stories that even a casual fan will appreciate, including an explanation on how the nickname”Duke” came about.

IMG_6363As for the gift shop, it is free to visit and has lots of products and merchandise. A Crow’s View suggests purchasing a JWBM pen or pencil; at .50¢ each, they are affordable and easily the best priced items in the store.

I found the house that Marion Robert Morrison, aka John Wayne, was born in more interesting.  Although the actual room of Wayne’s birth is lost to history, its historical significance to American cinema and pop culture is undeniable.

Touring Wayne’s childhood home is a stark reminder of the American dream; moreover, it is a powerful illustration that a child born in such humble circumstances can eventually rise to stardom. In Morrison’s case, he went on to become John Wayne a Hollywood legend and an icon, if not a national treasure.

The JWBM is a must see for any ardent fan of John Wayne. It’s worth checking out. Like John Wayne, it’s distinctly American.

Two-Factor Authentication, Thunderbird & Apple Email

I text and email my friends and family a lot, but that’s about the extent of my high-tech-etude – Willie Nelson

The Complication–

Recently I had an issue getting my email application, Mozilla’s Thunderbird, to send and receive emails from my Apple account. The problem virtually developed overnight, and all attempts to resolve the issue failed.

The crux of the problem was Thunderbird wouldn’t connect to my iCloud email due to password failure. I confirmed that the IMAP, SMTP, port settings, connection security and authentication methods were correct.

Regardless, I still kept getting the all too familiar error message that Thunderbird “timed out” or couldn’t connect to the server. No matter how often I double and triple checked my password and inputs, Thunderbird wouldn’t connect to my email.

When I researched the problem further, I found a complete lack of information on the web. The information I came across was either outdated or buried deep in threads bogged down with centuplicated comments.

I couldn’t solve the problem; my frustration grew; and I nearly gave up, but diligence paid off.

The Cause–

A security measure known as two-factor authentication (2FA) triggered my problem. This feature comes from your email provider. Its purpose is to eliminate possible hacking threats by not allowing third-party applications (Thunderbird, Outlook, etc.) access to its user’s account password.

Screen Shot 2017-04-24 at 8.22.33 PMFor instance, with Apple a person can log in and have access to several areas of the account, including sensitive or personal data. To increase user’s security, 2FA requires all external applications to have an app-specific password (ASP) before it can access the email portion of an account.

ASP passwords only work with the application it’s created for and grants limited access. If you use multiple devices or applications to check email, you will need an app-specific password for each one.

Two-factor authentication is a great feature for securing a person’s identity and personal security. If a user is hacked then only the email is compromised, not the rest of the account

The Fix–

If you’re experiencing log in issues with your email application, there is good news. This problem can be fixed and it’s incredible easy once it’s identified.

To resolve this issue go to your email’s settings page. For example, I went to Apple’s Manage Your Apple Account Site. I logged in and checked my settings; under the security banner is where the 2FA settings can be edited. The display below is what you will see at the Apple site.2FAClick the edit button; an expanded banner will open up allowing the user to access additional settings.

Expanded SettingsInside the expanded banner (shown above) you may make any changes needed. A user has the choice to turn off the 2FA feature and/or use the generate password option.

If you choose to turn off the 2FA feature, then your original password should now start working with your email application.

For those who decide to use two-factor authentication and the app-specific password feature, click the “Generate Password” link and follow the prompts.

A Crow’s View suggests copying and pasting the random generated password into your application. The password is fairly long and includes several sets of numbers and letters.  Once the random password is pasted into your email application’s settings, everything will work perfectly.

The Master’s Masterful Finish 2.0

Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated –Arnold Palmer

This year’s Master’s golf championship was one for the ages. Much like the 2013 Master’s, the 2017 edition had its share of amazing shots, compelling storylines, and finished with a thrilling sudden death playoff; Arnold Palmer’s recent passing also injected an emotional element into the tournament.

Palmer’s memory took center stage at the opening tee shot ceremony, which he took part in from 2007 to 2016. In what could be described as Golf’s version of the “missing man” formation, an empty chair with Palmer’s green jacket draped over it was prominently placed near the ceremonial tee off site in tribute to his absence.

Screen Shot 2017-04-11 at 10.14.35 AMHonorary starters Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player were both visually moved during a moment of silence honoring their long time friend and competitor.

Once the pageantry concluded, the serious side of professional Golf returned to the forefront setting in motion a great Master’s tournament, which would crown a new champion and snap a string of heartbreaks for “El Nino” Sergio Garcia.

Garcia’s victory was an epic breakthrough for a man who has came up short several times on Golf’s biggest stages. Over his career, Garcia’s best performance in a Major was two second place finishes at both the PGA and Open championships, and taking third place at the U.S. Open.

However, Garcia’s stunning victory at the 2017 Master’s not only breaks his streak of disappointments, but also erases the title of “best player to never win a Major.”

Garcia’s road to victory was like a heavy weight fight. He and eventual second place finisher Justin Rose traded blows and leader status several times before a playoff round finally settled the match.

Garcia led for much of the day until back-to-back bogeys on the 10 and 11 holes resulted in a two stoke deficit to Rose. During this stretch, Rose took advantage of Garcia’s play and made some stellar shots to gain the lead. All indications pointed to another disappointment for “El Nino.”

The dynamic shifted when Garcia birdied and eagled the 14 and 15 holes, respectively, to regain the lead from Rose.

With everything all knotted up going into the 18 hole, both men were playing well. It was just a matter of who would falter first. When Rose missed a putt for birdie and settled for par, Garcia was poised to win with a birdie. He pared. The Master’s was going to a sudden death par four round.

The playoff had challenges for both men. Rose’s drive went wide right into some trees, and Garcia had to exorcise his own mental demons after years of disappointment.

Rose would work his way onto the fairway and with his third stroke. He put himself into position to putt for par. If he makes par after a bad start in the playoff, he’d put pressure on Garcia. Rose bogeyed the hole.

On the other hand, Garcia put together an excellent playoff round. His drive from the tee placed the ball perfectly on the fairway; his next stroke landed on the green about 18′ from the pin.

When Garcia went to putt, Rose was already in at five strokes, so par would win.

Garcia’s putt had the makings of a Hollywood movie, the ball looked like it was going to tickle the left rim and roll away from the cup, but it miraculously circled the pin and dropped in for birdie and the win.

The victory for Garcia look very unlikely a few holes earlier. He was trailing Rose by two strokes late in the final round, and Rose was playing great golf.

Then things changed.

Garcia’s turnaround looked to be divine intervention. After all, the final round of the 2017 Master’s happened to fall on what would’ve been the 60 birthday of his childhood hero and idol, Severiano Ballesteros. Could the late Spanish golfing legend be trying to help a fellow countryman?

Ghostly intervention does seem plausible if one looks at some of the developments late in the tournament. Garcia’s shot for eagle at 15 appeared to stop short at the rim, then make one final rotation to fall into the cup, and his final putt in the playoff dramatically circled the rim and dropped in. Both shots looked as if an invisible hand prodded the ball to its final destination.

Whether a person wants to believe it was providence or inspired play, it doesn’t really matter because Garcia won the Master’s outright with a spectacular shot for birdie. He didn’t back into the win by simply putting for par.

The Ballesteros storyline is a heartwarming narrative, but Garcia deserves all the credit for his victory. Neither supernatural forces nor an epic collapse by Rose tipped the Master’s tournament. Garcia persevered, played well and overcame personal setbacks to win his first Major and an Augusta National green jacket.

Screen Shot 2017-04-10 at 10.52.57 PM

 Screen Shot 2017-04-10 at 10.50.52 PM