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Which way does the tornado swirl?

Dear Answer Man, I have a teenager at JM who thinks he knows it all, so I've come to you. Do tornadoes twist to the right (clockwise from top view), left or either way? I told him that I don't know everything. There's only one person who does.

Thanks for your help! — High School Parent

You're correct in that there's only one person who does — and when I find out who that is, I'll let you know.

Being the parent of two JM graduates, I can relate to their knowing everything, which just means it's a good school.

Regarding twisters, they generally twist counterclockwise in our hemisphere and clockwise on the lower half of the planet. Every now and then, a tornado will switch-hit, but those are typically land spouts or tinier twisters that form in association with bigger funnels.


I strongly advise not trying to figure this out first-hand. Just take my word for it that the twister that nearly destroyed Auntie Em's house in "The Wizard of Oz" should have been rotating counterclockwise; now rent the video and see if it does.

ABOUT THAT RESTAURANT:You read it here first: The Victorian house that was home to the tres magnifiqueChardonnay restaurant in Rochester was sold last month, and the good news is, it'll be home to another restaurant.

The Caffes family, which has a four-generation history of restaurants in Rochester, has a long-term lease on the first two floors at 723 Second St. S.W. and hopes to have its newest business open by mid-July.

The name? The Restaurant, according to Chris Caffes, who was born and raised in Rochester and has been in real estate locally for the past decade. With his father John and other family members, they intend to create a place every bit as memorable as Chardonnay — "it'll be American cuisine, a little less expensive than Chardonnay was, with a blackboard menu and food from fresh local suppliers," Chris says.

With help from Wagner Construction of Austin, they're renovating the main floor and also may use the second floor for both private dining rooms and regular table service. And they're expecting to be open for breakfast and lunch as well. I'll tell you more about the Caffes' long history in the Rochester food business next month.

The new owner of the house is Curt Schuster, who lives in Rochester but also has farms about 100 miles west of here. "I'm basically a farm boy," he says, but with family here in town, he bought the house for "something north of $400,000" and will be living in the upstairs apartment.

The former Chardonnay house will take some work, but "old properties are old properties," he says. "I love 'em. Not everything is going to be square and level, but that's what makes them interesting."

MORE ON OLD GLORY:Earlier this week, I offered a brilliant exposition on U.S. flag etiquette and why it's not a bad thing to fly your flag at half-staff all through Memorial Day weekend. That led to this question from Jeremy: "Having read your article on flag etiquette, I am still puzzled by something. How did the mayor of Rochester have the authority to order all city flags at half-staff for about a week? It was the week leading up to the funeral of the Marine from Rochester who was killed."


Fair question. The Marine hero was Lance Cpl. Curtis Swenson, a Mayo High School graduate who was killed in Afghanistan on April 2. His body was returned to Rochester the following week and his funeral was on Saturday, April 10.

I asked Mayor Ardell Bredeabout it this week and he said that after doing his due diligence on the issue and finding no one or no source that told him it was inappropriate, he decided to lower flags to half-staff on city buildings from Tuesday, April 6, through the Monday after Swenson's funeral.

"I know the governor can authorize flags to be lowered on state buildings, but I didn't know exactly the whole protocol," Brede said. "So I called the governor's office and ... while I was not encouraged, I was not discouragedfrom lowering the flags" on city buildings for more than one day, which is the typical honor.

Brede said Rochester public schools followed suit, and flags were lowered elsewhere around town as well. Flags were put up on Broadway and remained posted through that weekend.

While a few people questioned it, the mayor said he thinks it was an appropriate honor. When the plane arrived that carried Swenson's body home, Brede said he was talking with a military officer who noticed the flags when he came to town that day and the officer said, "That's Rochester — they'll do what's right."

Did the mayor follow protocol? Probably not. Was it an appropriate honor for a 20-year-old man who gave his life for his country? Absolutely.

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