Answer Man in fine form

Today's column, with links:

I hear that President Bush "pardoned" the national turkey and sent it to a ranch in California. When did this tradition of pandering to animal rightists begin? Most of us eat our turkeys. Did the president and his family enjoy a tofu turkey on Thanksgiving? – T.S.

Presidents have "pardoned" turkeys for decades, though the national archives are sketchy on whether pardons were part of the original National Thanksgiving Turkey presentation in 1947 or if a president just winged it at some point. In any event, the animal rights movement can’t claim credit for the pardons – ironically, it’s turkey producers and processors who probably get credit for this annual photo op.

T.S. is correct that the two turkeys pardoned last week went to California, but they didn’t go to a ranch. They were the grand marshals for the annual Thanksgiving Day parade at Disneyland and will remain there as attractions, never to be served with gravy and cranberries.

President Bush dined on herb-stuffed roasted free-range turkey Thursday – not tofu.


Is Assisi Heights still a nuclear-free zone?

Absolutely. For at least 10 years, the Sisters of St. Francis had a sign along 14th Street Northwest that declared the convent and grounds a nuclear-free zone. "We took the sign down when it wore out some years ago," says Sister Severin Duehren, but the Franciscan community remains committed to nuclear nonproliferation and peace issues.

People asked about the sign when it was taken down about five years ago, Sister Severin says. "I think some people felt safer knowing it was there."

The Rochester Franciscan community took its formal position against nukes in the waning days of the Cold War or thereabouts, she says. "We were just saying we didn’t want A-bombs on our place, and we still don’t."

Hello, Answer Man – I didn’t know where to start and just needed to start with someone who’s very good about finding answers. There are so many crows that visit the downtown area in the early morning hours, around the Mayo buildings, that sometimes you can’t see the sidewalk for all the bird droppings. When walking around, I feel like I am reliving part of Alfred Hitchcock’s "The Birds." It sure would be nice to be able to walk on the sidewalks without fear of crows making deposits on us. Is there anything that can be done about this?

Thanks for all the great answers you find out for us. – Lou N.

I hate to crow, but I dealt with a similar question almost exactly a year ago, and Rochester parks director Roy Sutherland said then the city was groping for a solution. Obviously, it still is.

The crow and guano problem has been around since the late ’90s and may be related to the city’s rapid growth and loss of habitat on the edge of town. Noise-makers and scary balloons have been used to disperse the birds, but so far, the birds continue to make their artful deposits on many Mayo-area sidewalks.

Another reader, Don L. of Rochester, wonders about the possible health impact of excessive bird goop on downtown sidewalks, but I think the bigger hazard downtown is getting blasted by bus exhaust on Second Street at rush hour.

Take two doses of You Asked per week, on Monday and Thursday, to maintain good mental health. Send questions to or to P.O. Box 6118, Rochester, MN 55904. For between-meal treats, check out the Furst Draft Web log at, where more Answer Man fodder is posted.

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