Sioux Falls Duck Dynasty

Posted: Thursday, October 16, 2014 at 1:13 pm
By: Doug Lund

Every time I see or hear somebody going gaga over the puzzlingly popular “Duck Dynasty” TV reality series, I think back to an interview I did over 20 years ago with a Sioux Falls gentleman named Frank Heidelbauer who was in the same business as Phil Robertson (creator of Duck Commander duck calls) only he didn’t have a beard or a bazillion dollar business. He simply made, arguably the finest duck and goose calls in the world.   vlcsnap-2014-10-15-13h03m26s202

 

Frank Heidelbauer grew up on an Iowa farm and loved hunting..especially ducks. As a boy he studied waterfowl sounds and leaned to call them out of the sky using nothing but his voice. Unfortunately, that talent disappeared one night when he was 12 or 13 when he awoke to find puberty had arrived and, like a thief, stole his natural duck calling voice so he would quack no more.

But Frank never forgot the sound he knew could get a duck’s attention and was determined to someday come up with a call to recreate it.

That would have to wait, though. His country needed him and after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor,  Frank joined the U.S. Army Air Corps; serving the entire length of World War II from 1941 to 1945  receiving two distinguished flying cross medals and two air medals. Frank would continue to make aviation his life career retiring in 1981 after over 20 years as Chief Pilot and safety director for Raven Industries.

After the war, Frank also got back on track toward his lofty goal of building the finest waterfowl calls in the world. His regular hunting trips became research and development missions.

With the skills of a fine wood craftsman, the mind of a scientist, the discipline and confidence of a military leader along with the faith and fairness of a prophet, Heidelbauer eventually found a combination of Bird’s Eye Maple wood and plastic along with the proper dimensions and assembly techniques that made for the perfect call.vlcsnap-2014-10-15-13h01m41s161

Frank was not a braggart by any means but after demonstrating the call for me; first leaning into it loud enough to get the attention of a flock flying a thousand feet over head or a not-so-understanding neighbor….then softly clucking as if ducks were having a quiet conversation on the pond…Frank smiled at me and said, “There’s no other single reed call that can do that.”

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Not only did Frank once win world championships with his own calls, his reputation quickly outgrew his ability to keep up with demand..especially after write-ups in Field and Stream and other outdoors magazines.

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The thing about Frank was he just wouldn’t settle for anything less than perfection.  I remember him telling me after he stopped making Goose calls for a while because the sheet plastic he’d been using for reeds was discontinued, “Most people wouldn’t know the difference but I would.” He said.vlcsnap-2014-10-15-13h06m23s179

At the time of our visit in 1991, the Heidelbauer Mallard Toller duck call was priced at $275.00. That’s an enormous amount of money for a duck call..probably the most expensive in the world but every Heidelbauer call was personally handcrafted by Frank himself who spent an average of  14 hours on each one and guaranteed them to be perfect upon leaving his shop and bring in ducks for the hunter.   I remember him saying, “You couldn’t hire a plumber in Sioux Falls for 14 hours for 275 dollars.”

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That was the wonderful thing I took from our time together. He wasn’t interested so much in achieving big money or fame.(Although, many of the country’s top guides are on record as using Heidelbauer calls. One, Frank joked, told him he’d part with his wife before giving up his Heidelbauer call.) He was more interested in having people get outdoors and enjoy the hunting experience and if he could help you invite some ducks to the party…well, that’s reward enough.

About four years after our interview, Frank Heidelbauer, who had turned down lots of offers to sell his shop, tools and all his secrets, decided to turn everything over to his young protégé, Todd..his grandson. Todd had not only loved going hunting with Frank but been like a sponge hanging around the shop helping grandpa and learning the master’s skills..both as a craftsman and a gentleman.

Todd is still carrying on the Heidelbauer duck and goose calls tradition: http://www.heidelbauer.com/

As for Frank, he was 73 at the time of our story. I recall him saying he hoped the good Lord would let him keep going until at least  80. It turns out he was still calling in Mallards, Mergansers, Red Heads and Canvas Backs until age 84 when God decided to give the ducks a break.

I don’t know what Frank might have thought about a show like Duck Dynasty..or if he’d ever heard of Duck Commander calls. I can almost guarantee, though, that any duck hunter worth his buckshot..including the bewiskered Phil Robertson.. has heard of Frank Heidelbauer.

Frank Heidelbauer and Grandson Todd after calling in some geese in 1994.

Frank Heidelbauer and Grandson Todd after calling in some waterfowl in 1994.

I’ll Never Forget Ol What’s Her Name

Posted: Friday, October 10, 2014 at 12:26 pm
By: Doug Lund

I had quite a scare the other day.

After waking up from, what has become my regular afternoon siesta, I couldn’t remember the president’s first name.  I don’t know why I wanted to remember the president’s first name but apparently I did and  couldn’t.  (Please don’t read anything political into this.) Obama was no problem. I also had no trouble recalling the name of Obama’s wife, Michelle, but..what the hell?? This is the President of the United States and I’m drawing a blank.

I’ve had these..what I call brain farts..before. I’ve gone into rooms on a mission only to completely forget what that mission is once I get there. I’ve had to call my own cell phone more times than I can count in order to hear the ring and disclose its location. I go to the store and forget one or more of the main items I went to the store for in the first place. I think these are pretty common episodes in most people’s lives no matter how far advanced in age they are.

But this was a doozy for me because it lasted for several minutes; almost to the point of where I was going to check Google on the computer under U.S. Presidents.   Then, as mysteriously as the name “Barack” left my mind, it popped back in.

The incident upset me so much that I started wondering if this was an early warning sign of Alzheimer’s which claimed my cousin Bob’s life last spring.  So, back to Google. Turns out, It could be…but most likely, according to a recent report on National Public Radio,  it’s nothing to be terribly concerned about.  If you start forgetting the names of close friends and family members or get lost in familiar places or words that used to be important no longer have meaning..well, then get yourself checked post haste.

I think (hope) this couple is just kidding around.

I think (hope) this couple is just kidding around.

Dr. Kirk Daffner, a Harvard Brain Specialist, says What’s common as people age, is that the speed at which information can be retrieved on demand is slowed. Through much of our lives, it was this wonderful gift; we wanted information and bang, it came to us.”   He says there are lots of reasons why our brains get sluggish.  High blood pressure damages the wiring that connects different parts of the brain. Poor sleep or excess alcohol are enemies of a nimble brain. And many medicines — including common drugs to reduce stomach acid, control asthma or treat depression — can slow the brain down. Hmmm, I take meds for high blood pressure, have goofy sleep habits and have been on Prozac for many years.  Strike one, two and three right? Well..not necessarily.  It turns out you can reduce the risk of losing your marbles by keeping the old brain ACTIVE and CHALLENGED.

So now, I can consider those hours spent in the porcelain reading room doing crosswords as a healthy time of both physical AND mental multi-tasking. Research has also found that social networks (having lots of friends) and stimulating activities are also vital to good cognitive function.   I have that covered; 825 friends on Facebook where I spend so much of my time. It’s  not a waste of time, It’s brain therapy.   And for stimulating activities..what can be more stimulating than watching the Minnesota Vikings or “Blue Bloods” “Hell on Wheels” “Downton Abbey”or any one of a hundred favorite television programs?    “I’ve gotta watch TV, honey. Doctor’s orders.”

“There is one other thing people can do,” Dr Daffner says, “physical exercise.” “Some of the best converging data about successful memory or cognition is linked to exercise.”

Damn. I was almost in the clear.

Neighborhood Mystery

Posted: Thursday, September 25, 2014 at 7:15 pm
By: Doug Lund

Well, some interesting things since we last visited.  A potpourri of items to follow:

First, I suppose, was the wake-up call/reality check from the Minnesota Vikings reminding me that they will always squish my foolish early optimism with humiliating defeats..and,  to make matters much worse, the team’s biggest star, Adrian Peterson, has fallen from the sky and come crashing to earth in a big ball of idiotic behavior and bad publicity all because he has some antiquated ideas about how to discipline his little kids.

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Peterson obviously has no rules of discipline for himself, though,  making regular withdrawals from his unprotected sperm bank all over the country resulting in at least seven kids from five different moms.  Now, he’s getting his full pay while sidelined until the whole child abuse case is settled. Oy Vey.

Which reminds me; Happy New Year ( Rosh Hashanah) to my Jewish friends. I have two.

Fall has arrived without a lot of trumpets blaring. I suppose the lack of fanfare is because Summer has been a bit stubborn about getting out of the way which is fine by me.

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I do find it puzzling that so many people I know proudly proclaim Autumn to be their favorite season when it means so many fun outdoorsy things of our short Summer;  swimming, boating, baseball, picnics, patio parties, golf and gardening are all over.  Oh, sure. The Autumn leaves (especially the sumac bushes) turn pretty colors, the air is crisp and cool, apple and pumpkin picking with the kids is nice so are homecoming parades and football games. Plus, it won’t be long before great armies of guys and gals outfitted in orange and armed with shotguns  will partake in their annual passion for Pheasant hunting.  Thousands will gather on opening day at the edge of fields, shelterbelts and sloughs…then at the stroke of twelve noon, with excited dogs sniffing the air, unleashed and leading the way, will all pile out of their pickups and march forward hoping to blast the beaks off as many of our pretty state birds as the limits will allow.  I hear pheasant numbers are up this year. Hope so.

I see the value of houses in our Ronning Estates neighborhood (an older Sioux Falls subdivision) has about maxed out meaning our ride on the real estate inflation train has pulled into the station. Linda and I have seen it coming for years, of course. These houses were built for first time home buyers back in the early seventies..most of them sold for about 18 thousand dollars but it didn’t take long for excited young families to make them look like a million bucks; adding garages, planting trees, grooming yards and demonstrating a real pride of ownership.  I’m happy to say that still exists out here.…..with a few exceptions. And it’s those exceptions that have us  checking the Real Estate ads for the first time ever. The other night around 10:45, I was in my lair watching TV when the doorbell rang followed by a loud knock on the door.  I’d like to say I raced to investigate but, like the true chicken I am, waited for Linda to join me in the hall before getting up on my tip toes  to peek out the small door window to see what creature might be lurking on the other side who would dare interrupt our slumber so late at night. I flicked on the porch light expecting..I don’t know..one of the grandkids.. a tipsy friend..we had no idea. But there was no one.  Whoever it was had disappeared into the darkness. A mystery that will likely remain unsolved.

Oh, wait. What’s this? A note left by the door with a simple instruction.

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So I open it up and discover this:

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I blacked out the phallic symbol.

A stupid prank by a bunch of kids is all we can figure..but it has really unnerved Linda to the point where the window blinds are now shut tight and the porch light is left on all night.  (It turns out several of our neighbors got similar “notes” and late night knock and runs too.)

So..would we ever really consider pulling up stakes and moving into a condo?  Well, who wants to live in a neighborhood where you have to worry about who might be roaming the streets and banging on your door in the middle of the night?

Then something else happened that is nearly as mysterious as the note. Three different windy days have caused huge branches to come crashing down from our front yard Maple tree which was severely damaged in the April ice storm and, despite a trimming, continues to give up limbs every time a brisk breeze blows. One I managed to drag to the driveway intending to chop into garbage acceptable size pieces. The other two lay in the yard  awaiting my indecision on disposal. But before that could happen they VANISHED.

We have suspicions about which one of our neighbors may actually be our branch Good Samaritan..loading them up and hauling them away on three separate occasions .. but have decided to take our time figuring it out.

It could take years.

 

 

Early Purple Passion

Posted: Monday, September 8, 2014 at 12:52 pm
By: Doug Lund

I finally got our yard mowed for the first time since my brother…..

Nope, not going down that path again. It’s just that nearly everything that crosses my mind..while awake or asleep..has this common denominator of BD or AD (before Denny/after Denny) and I know it has to end..especially since I have been given pretty good evidence that all is well.  (No further Cardinal sightings to report, though.)

My dear Linda, in our 30 years of marriage, has never once nagged me about anything but in the past couple weeks, she’s rightfully and cleverly found ways to help me “just snap out of it.”  She’s tried to get and keep me moving..which is nearly an impossible task even when not in mourning.

So, I thank her but also..and especially.. THANK YOU for all the expressions of sympathy and encouragement.

Okay, then. Let’s move on.

Vikings Win! Vikings Win!

Cordarrelle Patterson #84 of the Minnesota Vikings runs up field after slipping a tackle. Vikings win 34 to 6

Cordarrelle Patterson #84 of the Minnesota Vikings runs up field after slipping a tackle. Vikings win 34 to 6

Usually winning during the pre-season doesn’t mean a blasted thing because it’s..well..pre-season. But when the Vikings emerged victorious from all four of those dress rehearsals, we long-suffering fans couldn’t help but get a tiny bit worked up and, dare I say, feel optimistic? Then, along comes Sunday and right from the get-go it’s clear there’s a new sideline sheriff in town and we’re gonna do things a bit different from now on. Jared Allen is long gone and now enduring the heartbreak of defeat with the Bears while the defense on his old team looked excited, fresh and effective allowing just two field goals. Okay, it was against the Rams, but still, a pretty impressive performance for a Vikings defense which let everyone score…and score a lot.. just last season.  Quarterback, Matt Cassel continued to look sharp..getting rid of the ball quickly and decisively unlike his bewildered predecessor who oozed lack of confidence at the position. I suppose every Viking fan’s favorite Norwegian player, Adrian Peterson, was the day’s biggest disappointment and he was. At least new head coach, Mike Zimmer and legendary football guru, Norv Turner (calling the plays) got so tired of seeing Peterson ramming his helmet into the Ram’s defensive line for no gain that they decided to put the ball into the hands of the guy who is fast becoming fan’s NEW favorite Norwegian Viking, Cordarrelle Patterson.  It is such a joy to watch him scamper down the field with the ball and into the end zone. Patterson, it seems to me, can only inspire Peterson to do everything possible to regain his top dog status. Oh, I know..it’s a team sport but I’ll bet Adrian notices the growing number of fan jerseys with the number 84 instead of 28.

With a fine couple of kickers in Walsh and Locke along with Teddy Bridgewater learning more and more each week about quarterbacking in the NFL, I feel rather optimistic about Minnesota’s chances in 2014. Perhaps not as optimistic as my friend, Myron Lee who somehow always manages to see silver linings in the darkest of Vikings clouds..including the Les Steckle fiasco of 1984.

Oh, boy..this whole thing could change after next week, though, when Bill Belichick and Tom Brady bring the New England Patriots to the University of Minnesota campus where they’ll try use the Vikings as a means of atonement for their humiliating loss to Miami.

Few things would bring greater pleasure than to have another stellar performance by our defense keeping Mr. Brady’s heels lifted high toward the sunny September Minnesota sky most of the afternoon while my Norwegian brothers take turns romping across that pretend prairie grass running up score after score.

Well, a guy can dream can’t he?

Better than those I’ve been having…

No..said I wasn’t going there.

By the way, The Arizona “Cardinals” play tonight. I expect to see them.

Bird Of Paradise?

Posted: Saturday, August 23, 2014 at 1:48 pm
By: Doug Lund

People die.

That’s the law.

I just wasn’t ready for my brother to die and that’s the truth.

I suppose it’s because he’s bounced back from adversity so many times during his 72 years, we..his family and friends..just figured he wouldn’t let Parkinson’s, COPD, a heart that wouldn’t stay in rhythm, CREST Syndrome and a few other physical ailments stand in his way of recovery this time.

It was too much, of course, and it turned out that Saturday August 16th would be Dennis Lund’s last day on earth. He tried to hang on so everyone could be there but he was hurting and breathing was such a chore. Totally aware of everything going on, Denny accepted our expressions of love and offered his to all of us in the room, then gave the green light for nurse Charlie to administer the morphine and  end his agony.

As requested, Denny’s memorial service at Boom’s wasn’t real traditional. Pastor, Dennis Ellingson..a family friend..agreed to come out of retirement to lead the proceedings that included a memorable eulogy from Denny’s wife, Judy who recounted that final day in the hospital and some of the wonderful and witty things my brother said before dying. Judy was well aware that her husband loved the game of golf almost as much as he loved her yet she made sure there was a definite golf theme to his service; the most obvious being my brother’s ashes contained in a golf-ball shaped urn.  

denny funeral

I got up next trying to keep the mood light telling tales of growing up together..sharing a bed..me wetting that bed and he accidentally rolling into the puddle. That haunted me through the years when Denny would bring it up in front of people who’d recognize me from TV. I also got some chuckles talking about my brother’s various business adventures..especially raising Llamas and how I’d cringe when people would ask me to explain what in the world he was doing that for.  My younger brother, Tom was next and, again, with humor through the pauses for swallowing, talked of Denny’s influence on our lives; his bravado, his lightening-fast wit and his surprising tender side. Then Denny and Judy’s son, Jay summoned up the emotional stamina to tell one of the funniest stories I’ve ever heard about he and his dad digging fence posts at the Llama farm on a cold autumn day.

There was actually applause after it was over and, as the overflow crowd slowly exited from the room to the music of Blood, Sweat and Tears “When I Die,”  I couldn’t help overhear many people saying it was one of the best funerals they’d ever attended. Others said the weirdest. Still others mentioned an hour long roller coaster ride of emotions.

In keeping with the theme of celebration over melancholy, everyone gathered at the VFW where a special room was set aside for us to meet and enjoy pizza from Denny and Judy’s favorite place, Tomacelli’s, along with beverages and an open mic for sharing Denny stories.

Denny and Judy’s first born son, Mitchell, along with his wife, Jodi, hardly left his dad’s side throughout the entire stay in the hospital and Good Sam.  But, being even more emotional than the rest of us, Mitch chose not to speak at the service. But later at the VFW gathering, he absolutely brought hysterical laughter telling the story of once running into his dad at one of Mitchell, South Dakota’s more notorious night spots.  Father and son used to joke about the incident with Mitch suggesting he was named after the city to our west. But there was no kidding around on the Saturday of Denny’s passing, though, when..for the first time ever,  he called his eldest boy..”sweetheart.”

The next day was going through sympathy cards and sending “Thank-you’s.”

The last two days I haven’t left the house except to pick up a few essentials. It’s been mostly sleeping and feeling sorry for myself.

My brother’s passing isn’t about me and yet he was such a part of who I am, the reality of what’s transpired seems unacceptable. We didn’t see each other every “month” much less every day yet I always knew he was there to answer a question or offer advice; my one true blood source that I trusted.

As I stood over him last Saturday, I told him again how much I’ve loved and  idolized him all my life and what an influence he’s been on nearly everything I’ve done. What I didn’t ask, though, is about dying itself. I selfishly wanted to know what he’s experiencing…if he could lead the way again and let me know that he sees the light and everything would be okay on the other side.

But it wouldn’t have made a difference anyway; morphine, by that time, had  numbed his reality and within a short time a single tear slid down his cheek and, with a room full of sobbing loved ones looking on, Denny drew his last breath.

 

Okay, this next part might be what journalists call “burying the lead” but then most journalists probably wouldn’t accept what I’m about to relate as anything but pure fiction anyway but here goes.

Facebook is not everybody’s cup of tea but I like it. Of course you have to overlook the  political rambling, silly game requests and other hooey, but it has allowed me to hook up with old friends and new who have been fun to play and celebrate with as well as offer council and sympathy to. Lord knows I’ve been on the receiving end of that a lot lately for which I’m profoundly grateful.

One of those friends is a woman I’ve never met; Greg Latza’s mom, Carol. She posted this on her timeline just as I sat down to my computer feeling very depressed.

 

A cardinal is a representative of a loved one who has passed. When you see one, it means they are visiting you. They usually show up when you most need them or miss them. They also make an appearance during times of celebration as well as despair to let you know they will always be with you. Look for them, they'll appear.

A cardinal is a representative of a loved one who has passed. When you see one, it means they are visiting you. They usually show up when you most need them or miss them. They also make an appearance during times of celebration as well as despair to let you know they will always be with you. Look for them, they’ll appear.

My first thought was chain letter or one of those religious ultimatum sayings that pop up now and again on social media but, there were no demands here. Just a declarative statement that says look for them..they’ll appear. So I said, “Oh yeah?” “Appear then!” and looked out my window at the tree.

Within 5 seconds a beautiful red cardinal landed and paraded around on the branch not 15 feet from the window! I’ve seen them in my tree before..maybe a couple times a year..usually hidden in the leaves. This beautiful representative hopped proudly in full view. When my heart finally left my throat, I hollered for Linda to come quick. But by the time she got here, the scarlet messenger had taken flight.

I only hope that the passage of time and the inevitable skepticism that haunts my being will not dilute this experience..this reassurance I’ve been given..expressed best in words from a favorite hymn:  “It is well…it is well..with my soul.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Denny

Posted: Monday, August 4, 2014 at 11:39 am
By: Doug Lund

It’s been an emotional couple weeks in the Lund house which I’m going to go ahead and use as an excuse for my blog keyboard being quiet. That and there being no comments to the last effort which, for a sensitive writer like myself, causes considerable anxiety and self-doubt.

Anyway, regular readers know that few couples get along better than Linda and me (Linda and I?? Never did get that right) but we had a doozy of a dispute which resulted in words said..doors slammed..and a couple days of silence in  separate corners of the house. I only share this because I sometimes write here so glowingly about us and all the fun times it seems only fair to let you know that even in the best of relationships, differences of opinions can and do arise; each are convinced they’re right and say so. Stubbornness and pride prevail until, weary of the standoff,  somebody quietly knocks on the other’s door..apologies are offered and accepted..before long..thank God..everything is back to normal.

This time, though, our quarrel came to an abrupt end  after a phone call from my nephew, Mitch who said his dad..my brother Denny..had been taken to the hospital and was in the ICU where he was about to undergo a procedure to stop internal bleeding. Denny is four years my senior and, even though I outwardly hated him growing up because of all the typical big brother teasing and tormenting…inwardly he was and still is my idol.

keowee and olav 025Denny has been dealing with erratic heart rhythm problems for years and, after a mini stroke in 2008, has been on a blood thinning medication. He’s also on medication for Parkinson’s and a bunch of other ailments. (Look up crest syndrome..it has nothing to do with toothpaste) In the hospital he underwent 3 procedures to deal with his problems and now he’s staring at the walls and little TV at Good Samaritan on 46th and Marion Road awaiting his next rehab session. There’s no prognosis and no time table for how long he’ll be there.

Judy, Denny’s wife, knows all about those husband/wife fights..having lived with my brother for..what will be 50 years this December..but even though she, herself, is in desperate need of shoulder surgery, has barely left Denny’s side through these tough times. She, like the rest of us, keeps looking for a silver lining in the dark clouds that keep drifting over Denny’s illness and hopes for recovery.

Spiritually speaking, I’ve been such a doubting Douglas lately that I hesitate to request others, who know me, appeal to the Deity on my brother’s behalf.  But just like his illness allowed Linda and I to put aside petty differences and instinctively find agreement on what’s really important, I ask you to look beyond my perceived religious hypocrisy and lift Denny up by whatever means you feel will get the challenge met.

I really appreciate it, but there’s no need to comment or acknowledge your thoughts and prayers. I just hope you’ll really do it and that God will hear and God will heal my brother.

 

Space: Going Nowhere Slow

Posted: Tuesday, July 22, 2014 at 4:42 pm
By: Doug Lund

malaysia11I don’t mind telling you, this shooting down of a Malaysian airliner over the Ukraine killing nearly 300 people is not only an enormous tragedy to the victims and their families but it has raised some old personal fears about the possibility of nuking it out with the Russians that I haven’t felt in decades. I don’t pretend to understand much of what goes on in that part of the world or why a significant number of people living in former Soviet Communist states are now rebelling against the very independence they craved in 1989 and are now siding with Russian premier…excuse me, “President” Vladimir Putin” the longtime KGB guy who sure seems as though he’d like to get the old Soviet gang back together. How some idiot could possibly think that firing a surface to air missile at a civilian jetliner and bringing it down in a ball of fire would help their cause, is beyond belief. Instead, what we have once again is a world on the brink.

We better not get too mad with the Russians though..or they with us. We could lose our only ride into space.

At about the same time Americans were celebrating the 45th anniversary of Neal Armstrong’s first steps on the moon this past week, NASA was announcing that it intends to buy six more seats, at 70 million dollars a pop, on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft to ferry American astronauts to and from the International Space Station for the next four years.malaysa astronauts

NASA is funding development of a couple of commercial space craft:  SpaceX’s Dragon and Orbital Sciences Corp.’s Cygnus. Both have made successful supply missions to the station but won’t be ready to carry actual astronauts until 2017 so we continue to hitchhike with the ruskies.   The United States hasn’t sent a manned vehicle into space since NASA scuttled the shuttle in 2011. The Soyuz is one of only two operational orbital manned spacecraft in the world, the other being China’s Shenzhou which until a couple years ago was still sending up test dummies  meaning its working out bugs we solved decades ago so  nobody outside of China is lining up to ride with them just yet.

Outer space used to be so exciting. I vividly remember that day in late July of 1969 watching history unfold on television with my young family. Two year old Patty was more interested in her toys than TV, but I do recall holding 4 year old Suzan in my lap during the moon landing and again later when Neal Armstrong first set foot on the surface. I was hoping to make sure she would have these historic moments imprinted on her brain. It wasn’t long, though, before she lost interest and squirmed free to join her sister at play.

malaysa neal

I’ve  loved and followed every tidbit of news about space exploration from Sputnik to the Mars rovers but, I’m afraid, like my daughter so many years ago, I’ve lost interest in launching astronauts into orbit and would rather just play with my toys.   This isn’t to say the universe has no appeal. On the contrary, it is fascinating beyond measure to see close-up images from Mars and other planets and moons in our solar system and beyond but, let’s face it, we were hoping to discover life and haven’t and likely won’t. The pictures from space telescopes have opened our eyes to how mind-blowingly vast not only our galaxy is but revealed that ours is just one of billions of other galaxies; all of them impossibly out of reach to humans unless aliens come by and give us a lift.  (Watched the last third of Close Encounters of the Third Kind last night. Looking at it now, they could have easily cut the movie length by a third shortening those dragged out reaction shots at the Devil’s Tower landing site and John Williams’ crescendo-filled score. But it’s still a fun flick.)   The problem is, everything in space is so far away. Voyager 1, launched 30 years on an exploration mission is the fastest man-made vehicle ever built and has reached a top speed of 36 thousand miles an hour. It has only recently slipped out of our solar system. Light travels at 186 thousand miles a “second” and it would take 490 years traveling at the speed of light to reach the closest planet detected so far by astronomers that could sustain life as we know it.

I guess there are plans for another manned (and womanned, presumably) mission to the Moon in 2018. The idea would be to set up a base for future missions to Mars and elsewhere.

Future Moon base? meh.

Future Moon base? meh.

I hate to be a pessimist but I’ll believe it when the rockets roar. Americans love a challenge and discovering new things. But we also have short attention spans and get bored after objectives are achieved (The Moon and Mars) and other agendas ( Space stations and shuttles) aren’t so exciting.  I can already hear the outrage over NASA wasting money on building vehicles to go where we’ve already been.  What about health care, they’ll say, and the homeless and global warm…er, I mean climate change?

It’s human nature to desire the exploration of new worlds in the heavens but, I’m afraid, until somebody figures out how to get there through wormholes or alternate dimensions, we’ll have to fill our space fantasies through the courtesy of Hollywood and 3D.

One of the great thrills of my professional life was getting the chance to meet and interview Wally Schirra..one of the original seven Mercury Astronauts and the only one to fly in all three manned space flight programs; Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. He was in Sioux Falls speaking at Augustana, I believe, and agreed to visit our Keloland Early News show.
He talked about working alongside Walter Cronkite during television coverage of Apollo 11 and how both tried rather unsuccessfully to maintain their composure on-air during those critical moments before and after the moon landing.

Walter Cronkite (left) and Wally Schirra (middle) react after "The Eagle has landed" on the moon.

Walter Cronkite (left) and Wally Schirra (middle) react after “The Eagle has landed” on the moon.

After our interview, he needed a ride to the airport which I was more than happy to provide. During that short trip I asked if he would have liked to have flown aboard the shuttle in later life like John Glenn. I’m sure he said yes but added he wasn’t a big fan of the shuttle program reflecting on it like most Americans, I think, saying he didn’t see how it was challenging our imagination for space exploration.

Wally Schirra used to get on his bosses nerves at NASA saying things like that. It made me like him all the more.

Keeping An Eye On The Road

Posted: Monday, July 14, 2014 at 12:48 pm
By: Doug Lund

 

Steve Hartman (top) Charles Kuralt (bottom)

Steve Hartman (top)
Charles Kuralt (bottom)

I’m Facebook friends with Steve Hartman. I doubt if  Steve is aware of that because he has tens of  thousands of friends and FANS.. not only on the internet but all over America thanks to his “On The Road” features aired each Friday on the CBS Evening News. His reports..mostly about ordinary people doing extraordinary things, are not only loved by viewers but admired by reporters in newsrooms across the country who are constantly having it hammered into their heads by consultants that viewers want hard news..not fluff.   Yet, I remember when Steve Hartman was in Sioux Falls a few years ago and agreed to stop by the KELO newsroom, it was like a rock star was coming and he had our news staff mesmerized. I’ll admit, I wasn’t a big fan at first. I thought he was too young to try fill the legendary Charles Kuralt’s shoes.  But his amazing talent for discovering and telling the hidden story in everyone..eventually won me over and I do believe CBS was right in not only bringing back “On The Road” but in making Hartman the rightful heir to Kuralt.

It’s been 17 years now since Charles Kuralt died on the Fourth of July.
My colleagues at Keloland  knew how much I idolized him and that we actually..kind of, sort of, knew each other; so they showed up at my house with a camera and reporter that day for a reaction to his death. I have no idea what I wound up saying. All I remember is fighting back tears when it suddenly sunk in during the course of  the interview that he was actually gone.
We first met in Sioux City where he was the featured speaker at a regional news media gathering of some  sort. Keloland TV has always been a well respected affiliate of the CBS network and managed to pull a few strings to get me a half hour exclusive interview. I tried not to appear as nervous and star struck as I was but I’m sure it showed. I had written out a list of, what I thought were,  profound questions hoping to  impress him but as it turned out, we just sat there and talked as the camera rolled. He really was just like he appeared to be on television; accommodating, friendly and humble almost to a fault.  When I asked for advice on writing he said, “Doug, what I try to do is begin each story with a sentence or two that will get people’s attention; arouse their curiosity so they’ll want to read on. I like to end a story the same way, perhaps with a turned phrase or touch of irony that will leave the reader with a smile or at least with something to think about. Oh, yeah..I like to remind myself to keep it simple, stupid.”

Before long the time had flown by and I’d hardly gotten to any of my notes.  I thanked him for our visit and as I was leaving he asked if I had a card or something.  He probably did that to every young reporter he spoke with but at the moment it was to me like Mean Joe Green throwing a sweaty towel to the kid who gave him a Coke.

It’s not that Charles Kuralt couldn’t do hard news. When first  hired at CBS he covered uprisings, politics and wars including Vietnam.  But he didn’t like competing with fellow correspondents and hated the daily deadlines. Eventually, amid  the turmoil of the 60′s and 70′s  he managed to convince CBS to let him just wander around the country for three months chronicling the lives of everyday Americans in search of something positive to report; to show that it wasn’t all protest marches, gas lines and hate filled political rhetoric. Well, that experiment turned into “On the Road with Charles Kuralt” and lasted for 25 years. He and photographer, Izzy Bleckman logged thousands and thousands of miles crisscrossing the country in a motor home looking for stories and finding them at every turn. Each were beautifully shot and brilliantly written. But the magic happened because of Kuralt’s narration. He played his folksy voice like a master violinist; always at an unhurried pace and with just the right inflections to create moods of  joy, reverence, patriotism, whimsy, or sadness.  He could read the book of Genesis and hold an audience mesmerized..even with all the boring begats.
Here’s a case in point that is one of my all time favorites.

YouTube Preview Image

We met again when Keloland sent Steve Hemmingsen and me to New York to do some promos with the network personalities. While on the set of  CBS Sunday Morning I thought about asking him if he still had my card..but didn’t.
Then in 1986, during the height of the farm crisis, Dan Rather decided to take the CBS Evening News on the road for three days. The network set up shop in our Keloland studios. After just one day, though, Rather had to leave so they called in Charles Kuralt to anchor the broadcasts. Not only did I get a chance to watch my hero on the job but after the news we actually got to hang out together. He asked Steve and me bring our wives along and join him along with CBS Evening News Executive Producer, Lane Venardos,  for dinner. He asked what’s a good place? We said..the Lafayette.   Linda still loves to talk about how Charles Kuralt himself actually hopped in the back seat of our car for a ride to Sioux Falls’ only French restaurant with CBS picking up the tab.  It was a magnificent evening filled with cigarettes, cocktails, great food, laughter and the unforgettable stories especially with Charles spinning yarns of his travels..becoming more animated with each scotch.

Linda and I posing with my hero at a Sioux Falls reception in 1986

Linda and I posing with my hero at a Sioux Falls reception in 1986

I think it would have been great fun to have Charles Kuralt for a friend but he was a pretty private guy; a master at finding out everything about other people but equally masterful and keeping his personal life to himself.
That’s why shortly after his death so many of us were shocked to find out that he’d been leading a double life..keeping time with a woman in Montana, who wasn’t his wife, for nearly 30 years.  How could this gentle self-effacing poet of the common man who warmed our hearts with so many stories extolling the virtues of honesty and good character in the American people, be, himself, dishonest and flawed? I don’t know and can’t say I care all that much. What I do know is how he influenced my life and career and how I still put everything I write to the Kuralt litmus test.

I wonder if Steve Hartman ever met Charles Kuralt and if the master asked the disciple for his business card too.

I’m Going Bald

Posted: Wednesday, July 2, 2014 at 8:19 pm
By: Doug Lund

Yup..you read that right.  Ol Lund is watching hairs die and fall to the ground  quicker than an old fashioned Jackrabbit hunt. Okay..bad joke; misspelled hare. But look, I have to find something to smile about because one of the few things I’ve had going for me all these years is a full head of hair and now that is hightailing it faster than the five Supreme Court guys after the Hobby Lobby vote.

I think I was already on my second haircut here at about six months.

I think I was already on my second haircut here at about six months.

 

Unfortunately, my mom (propping me up here) and my sweet aunts were great knitters and crocheters and felt the need to cover my ample locks with an odd assortment of head wear

Unfortunately, my mom (propping me up here) and my sweet aunts were great knitters and crocheters and felt the need to cover my ample locks with an odd assortment of head wear

I’ve been pointing this out to my barber, Steve, over the last several visits. By the way, you should not blame Steve for me sporting the same hair style for the last 40 years. He’s often done that delicate dance of trying not to offend while still encouraging me to try different looks. The reality is, though,  there has been only so much that can be done with my formally thick growing, low-brow wire-like follicles; a butch cut which, with my ginormous ears, would only bring shame upon the house of Lund, or leave it like what you have been seeing over the decades; glued into lock position with copious clouds of spray. I was always dubious about making any type of radical change to my on air appearance fearing the viewers would let me have it as they so often did with my poor female colleagues who frequently had to endure a lot of callous commentary from clods who didn’t care for a hair style or outfit.

In the 80’s I did succumb to pressure and allowed myself the embarrassment of letting Steve give me a perm. I think he was really anxious to claim victory over my long term self conscious objections to change…until he started unraveling the curlers and my mighty locks proved too tough to tame. The best he could muster was a little wave which nobody noticed and disappeared within a few days. Anyway, Steve is more familiar with the top of my head than anyone and, aside from God..who according to scriptures, knows my exact hair count.. should be able to tell if any of those once mighty dark brown strands, which have since turned grey as a January sky, have deserted their post.  But, Steve is such a nice guy, I really can’t bank on his honesty to the question, “Am I going bald?”

He  knows that being a good barber is not always enough to keep the customers coming back; you’ve got to be part psychologist, bartender and diplomat too. So, he’s not going to come right out and tell me, “Yeah, Doug it won’t be long before you can dress in white, wear an ear ring and start peddling cleaning products.” No, he says something like “Well, we all can expect to lose some hair as we get older but you’ll be fine.”

He means well, but he lies.

Every time I scratch my head, dozens of hairs get wedged between my chubby fingers and give up without any kind of serious struggle. I combed out my brush yesterday and it looked like a huge wisp of cotton candy made from rocky road ice cream.

I now wonder if my decision to grow facial hair last Christmas was a subconscious compensation to this mass exodus occurring just a few inches above my lips.

Sure you may not notice it here but in the sunlight you can see my scalp through the thinning grey forrest of hair.

Sure you may not notice it here but in the sunlight you can see my scalp through the thinning grey forrest of hair.

I shouldn’t be surprised. I’ve been abusing my hair for years.  In my adolescence, all those gobs of Brylcream glopped onto my skull allowing me to use a comb and sculpt great waves of hair in front and and duck tails in back all to impress the girls couldn’t have been good.  Then, when the wet head was officially declared dead, I, along with millions of other would be Rock and Rollers, got the ball rolling on ozone layer destruction by spraying can after can of Aqua Net  onto our heads and into the atmosphere.

I just wonder how I’m going to handle this going bald thing;  with matter of fact acceptance like my pal, Vernon? Will I seek out the finest toupee makers in the land like Myron and Mitch? Will I have Steve shave me shiny like Shaq?

All I know is that in 15 years I’ll probably be done shedding; , there will be no hairs left upon this head for God to count.

Oh, wait a minute..in 15 years I’ll be into my, ahem..fourth score and probably trying to work up enough energy to yell “Bingo” loud enough to be heard above the other bald guys  at the Center for Active Generations.

By then, being on the grassy side of the dirt will probably be more important than a full head of hair anyway.

Global Warring

Posted: Thursday, June 19, 2014 at 2:22 pm
By: Doug Lund

 

Bright and sunny outside today but I’m not buyin’ it.  Even though the radar is echo free at present, I fully expect the skies to darken into faux night time again by early afternoon followed in order by that familiar rumble from above then endless relentless waves of rain creating rivers of water gushing through overflowing gutters onto ground that was already way over saturated from previous record breaking downpours. Then, of course comes the telltale tick, tick tick of hailstones; oblong frozen spheres that look like the eyeballs of a goat, banging into the windows threatening breakage with each thwack.hail eye

Worst of all, of course, is when something even more devastating than rain and hail descend from the black clouds which happened in Wessington Springs where a tornado tore through town ripping up dozens of homes but, thanks I believe, to plenty of advance storm warnings through the media, lives were spared.

So, what’s the deal with all the weird weather we seem to be having more of  every year..big snows..no snows..ice storms..floods..droughts..tornados by the dozen one year..none the next?

Well, after this latest deluge, it hasn’t taken long for the experts to offer their learned explanations such as Kasey Abbott who made this Facebook comment on my friend, Mike Henricksen’s timeline: “ Unfortunately, it is not at all surprising that we are seeing this. 9 of the 10 warmest years on record since 1880 have occurred in the last 10 years. People can argue all they want about what is causing this warming, but no one can dispute the fact that this additional heat energy causes more evaporation, and that the amount of moisture that warmer air can hold increases dramatically. This moisture has got to come down somewhere. A review of the weather data shows a considerable increase over the last 60 years in torrential rains.”

Except when it’s dry and there’s drought…or “drouth” as my Norwegian uncles used to call it.  Last year, the Midwest did see more precipitation than normal but darned if it didn’t result in the largest corn crop and third largest bean harvest on record.

weather extreams tempweather extremes

When the ditches and fields dry up, like they will, I wouldn’t be surprised if this disastrous rainfall will be just a memory come October..provided we get a good rain in late July and a couple nice showers in August.

Okay, I realize that those of us who have a few questions about all this panic over what’s happening to the planet’s climate are, in the mind of most scientists, misinformed lunkheads too  stupid to grasp the reality about what CO2 emissions are doing to the earth’s protective ozone layer. Why, we probably go out and club baby seals to death  on the weekends so the wife will have something nice to wear around her neck at the NRA convention.

Well, here’s a shocker: I’m not denying that the planet is getting warmer but I’m sure as hell at a loss as to what I’m supposed to do about it. To me, it’s just irresponsible to scare the bejesus out of people saying millions upon millions world wide  are doomed as the ice caps melt causing the oceans to rise and city’s to flood then blame us without offering a workable realistic solution. Oh, I see all the P.S.A’s about how we can drive less, put more air in our tires for better fuel efficiency, recycle, change light bulbs to those squiggly kind, use less hot water and plant trees but I don’t think that’s going to do it.

Half the homes in the country get their electricity from coal fired power plants. There are over 600 of them and they shoot a lot of carbon dioxide into the air; even more than the methane from farting cattle that environmental/vegetarians have been trying to eradicate. President Obama recently announced the EPA is cutting those coal plant emissions by 30% by 2030 and any new coal fired plants must be built to run cleaner. It may just be lip service though. Experts (including several former EPA heads) say the move won’t have any significant effect on CO2 pollution unless countries like China, Brazil and India agree to play along.

So, perhaps it’s a P.R. problem.       I’ve come up with a few suggestions.

Rather than making movies about it being my fault that polar bears are running out of ice chunks to float upon, we get our best government promotional people to approach the heads of those major polluting countries, who depend on America for much of their livelihood, and tell them we’ll be shopping elsewhere if they don’t clean up their act like we plan to do….and mean it.

Back on the home front, we have to know for sure if big oil companies actually do put roadblocks in the way of fossil-fuel-free vehicle development. If the world as we know it is going to end unless something is done to stop CO2 emissions, those companies have to be made to see the big picture or put out of business. How do you do that? I would suggest the government offering a major financial incentive to the first auto manufacturer to successfully develop an affordable electric or hydrogen-powered vehicle that meets public demands both stylistically and from a performance standpoint. I know this sort of thing has been tried before but..hey, Armageddon is coming so the stakes are pretty high this time  It has to be a sizeable prize.  This is still America though..so once the reward is given, the blueprint must be shared with other auto makers and then pollution-free production of all kinds of different cars and trucks can begin in a spirit of competition much as we have now which will not only hold prices down but offer consumers the variety they desire. An added bonus would be sticking it to the Arab oil producing countries who’ve been sticking it to us for a century and been the cause of way too many wars.

Nobody’s going to pay attention to this, of course. We’ll continue to be bombarded with partisan B.S. as if this was a political problem. Environmentalists will continue to group all of us Americans into one big stinking pile of CO2 violators hoping that guilt will convince us that wrapping our water heaters in a blanket is going to make a global warming difference. Maybe, like my friend and former Keloland News colleague, Steve Hemminsen recently wrote, it’s time to stop trying to stop spinning..beginning with the latest terminology.

Climate change is one thing, global warming is another.  Of course we’re having climate change.  We always have climate change.  Lake Hendricks wasn’t here until 10 thousand or so years ago when there was “climate change” and the glaciers melted, probably some cosmic or natural cycle.  Man sure had nothing to do with that one.  Do our  last couple of winters represent global warming?  Hard to make that case.  Do they represent climate change?  Maybe, although a lot of us remember a lot harsher winters and hotter summers in our youth than we’ve had until the last couple of years. 

Linda and I won’t live to see how any of this turns out, I suppose. But our grandkids and their offspring likely will.. and we naturally want them to experience earth’s joys and challenges too.

I only hope the next generation gets their noses out of their phones long enough to figure out ways to make it possible.