As I was paging through the pages of "Minnesota 101: Everything you wanted to know about Minnesota and were going to ask anyway," I realized that I have lived half of my life. Actually, the book told me as much.
There's a "Then and Now" section in the book that lists the life expectancy of men in Minnesota compared to the rest of the nation. In 2000, the life expectancy for men was listed at 76.5 years - nearly a full two years more than it was the year I graduated from high school and seven years more than the year before I was born. If the numbers keep trending the way they have been for the last five decades that number is now probably hovering around 78.
I turn 39 next week. It's official now: I'm depressed.
This is just one of thousands of interesting tidbits of information that can be found in this book, which includes contributions from Andrew Zimmern and southwest Minnesota's own Howard Mohr of "How to Talk Minnesotan" fame.
I'm not a big reader, which is to say I don't read anything that doesn't have the word "sports" on the cover. But I read this book from cover to cover, so you know it has to be worth it.
This is not a shameless plug for the book, either; I simply believe that every Minnesotan should read it, because what's inside this book is inside all of us - from the way we speak, to the jokes we tell, to the foods we bring to church.
John Macintyre, the publisher of the book, said the group that put it together made a concerted effort to go beyond simply relaying information about the state of Minnesota to readers.
"The F. Scott Fitzgerald piece, the state fair, Garrison Keillor - we were trying to capture the fun and essence of the state in a meaningful way," Macintyre said. "Everybody can relate to those subjects or people. You want to really dig deep and make sure you're saying something original."
Here's some of what I learned in reading the book:
Did you know:
That Minnesota actually has 11,842 lakes?
That the Minneapolis Lakers were once the Detroit Gems?
That Prince's full name is Prince Rogers Nelson?
That Best Buy was once called Sound of Music?
That Minnesota is the fourth most livable state, right ahead of Iowa?
That there are more women than men who live in the state?
That 60.7 percent of the state's population is between 20 and 64 years old?
That among proposed slogans for the state is "Land of 10,000 Petersons." Kinda has a nice ring to it.
That the world's largest Paul Bunyan statue is in Akeley?
That Yellow Medicine County got its name from the Yellow Medicine River, which comes from the Dakota word pajutazee, referring to the long, yellow grasses of the region?
That the state mushroom is the morel?
That we even had a state mushroom?
That of all the lakes we have only about half are fishable?
That the pop-up toaster was invented here?
That Minnesota is No. 3 in the nation when it comes to beer consumption? Hah, beat Iowa again.
That the median value of a single-family home in North Oaks is $715,408?
That the median value of a single family home in Lamberton is $72,495?
That there are nearly 81,000 farms in Minnesota?
That there are more Germans in Minnesota than Norwegians and Swedes - put together?
That the man who initiated prohibition in Minnesota was from Granite Falls?
That a fine for a handicap parking violation in Minnesota will run you more than if you get caught with marijuana or for going more than 20 mph above the speed limit?
Consider yourself educated -?at least with the important stuff.
CONTEST: Anyone interested in submitting a phrase or saying that only a fellow Minnesotan would understand or appreciate is welcome to do so by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Your submission might appear in the next edition of "Minnesota 101," due to come out around Christmas.