Archive for February 2008

Night Sweats

Posted: Wednesday, February 27, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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I’ve been having real weird dreams lately.
It usually involves me being late for something.
Now, Linda might say, well, that’s not a dream it’s how I really am and she’s right, I do procrastinate. In fact, I’m the poster boy for putting things off until tomorrow what I could have done today.
It drives her nuts, especially when I seem to thrive on the silly pressures I put on myself when it would be so much easier to get projects completed right away instead of last minute.
But my recent dreams have nothing to do with “projects.” They’re about me getting distracted and unable to show-up for very important engagements like anchoring newscasts or playing in the band..neither of which I’ve done for awhile.
In real life, I never missed a newscast or a dance job due to oversleeping or forgetting..but in these nightmares the clock is always ticking and I can’t get to the studio for one reason or another. My cell phone doesn’t work or I can’t remember the number.
Being late or a no-show, in the TV business is not an option.
It’s all so real. Then, finally, just before I’m about to get fired, I wake-up..heart pounding.
 
Last night, in my unconscious mental meanderings I was in charge of driving the Mogen’s Heroes van to a dance job. I was alone and became distracted by something so I parked to check it out and when I returned, the van..with all the musical instruments inside, was gone…STOLEN.
How am I going to explain this to my band mates waiting at the job for me to show up?  Again, my cell phone is useless. It’s just a bad dream, I kept saying to myself, sound asleep, but none of the usual tricks for waking up were working.
Finally I just forced my eyes open and there I was awake; in a cold sweat..but awfully glad the van was safe. John Mogen and Denny Gale were not going to kill me for losing their stuff.
 
Now, I don’t expect any of you psychoanalyze my dreams but it would be comforting to know that I’m not the only one who drifts off into these strange yet realistic worlds each night.
Linda says I should shut the d*mn TV off but I can’t sleep at all with the sound of silence..so I guess I’m going to take my cell phone with me to bed from now on.
That way it will be close at hand when I need to make an emergency call from dreamland.
 
Speaking of nightmares, a good friend of mine is going through a very real one right now.
Denny Paasch has had a recurrence of the cancer that brought him to his knees five years ago.To complicate things, this time it caught him without health insurance. 
This Sunday, March 2nd,  a pancake breakfast and silent auction (with lots of great items from golf clubs to Royal River stays) will be held from 9:00a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the VFW club on S. Minnesota in Sioux Falls, to help raise a few bucks to help with medical expenses.
He’s a good guy who is always there for others in need so I hope some of you can join us there.
Donations can also be made to:
The Dennis Paasch Fund
At any Wells Fargo bank.
 
Thanks, and sweet dreams.

Bye Bye Buggs & Ole

Posted: Monday, February 25, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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In the last few days, two well known institutions of higher learning in South Dakota have taken on a new look…a leaner, meaner appearance that, according to the image makers, will not only boost the pride factor at each respective school but also strike fear into the hearts of their rivals on the field of athletic competition.
 
South Dakota State University has been trying hard to gain respect in Division 1 sports and now it shall surely have it…thanks to the new Jackrabbit logo.
Gone is the grinning Bugs Bunny look-alike loping along on two feet like a guy in a bunny suit off to give Elmer Fudd a hard time.
He’s been replaced by a furrow-browed lightening-fast jackrabbit that seems to be saying “get the heck out of the way, bub, I’m about to run you over.”
                
Then Augustana College decided it was time to get rid of Ole.
 I suppose it was time since Ole, with his round shield and little sword looked a bit too much like Hagar the Horrible.  
His replacement, on the other hand is no cartoon. He’s a scary guy who appears as though he wouldn’t think twice about pillaging your neighborhood, having his way with your women and then chopping you up into little pieces with his mighty saber.
Unlike the old ole, this more realistic Viking, it seems to me, isn’t the type of guy you would invite over for a cup of coffee or find sitting next to you in the Lutheran church.                 
 
Most everybody seems to like the new..tougher looking images. Some have gone so far as to say they will inspire their teams to victory.
There actually is some evidence to back-up that kind of optimism.
 
Remember the early Tampa Bay Buccaneers? They were the laughing stock of the NFL until they changed their logo from a rather effeminate-looking buccaneer wearing an earring with the big feather in his hat, to a skull and crossbones pirate flag mounted on a rusty sword.
The new Bucs suddenly started to chalk-up victories. They were no longer the league doormat and went on to claim Super Bowl XXXVII.                            
 
Or how about the Denver Broncos? Usually a pretty good team but could never win the big one until they changed their logo from a big letter “D” with a sneezing horse in the middle, to a snorting stallion charging forward over anything in it’s path.
The new Broncos, with John Elway at the helm and that mighty steed on his helmet went on to win back to back Super Bowls.            
 
And, of course it wasn’t until after the New England Patriots dumped their silly logo of a minute man in a tricorn hat hiking the football, to the profile of a proud patriot in red, white and blue, that the team started winning..and winning and winning.              
 
I just hope that if Augie now starts racking up wins because of the new Viking logo, someone doesn’t get the bright idea to take a chisel to the statue of Ole on campus in an effort to make him look less loveable and more intimidating.
That would be pushing the limits of Lutheran alumni tolerism too far.

So You Think This is Cold?

Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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“Boy it sure got cold last night.”
“How cold was it?”
“It was so cold that the town flasher ran up to a woman and described himself.”
 
As I sit here at my computer desk looking out the window, it’s hard to realize that on the other side of the glass, just a couple feet from my face,  lies certain death if I were to venture out there without my insulated boots and my KELO parka on.
Even then, I wouldn’t last more than an hour or two before turning into a pillar of ice.
Flirting around with temperatures in the 20 below zero range is deadly dangerous so I’m stayin’ real close to the heat register until it warms up or the furnace gives out or Linda and I run out of wine.
 
Truth is, folks, if you think this is cold…as Britany Speers said to the paparazzi just before she got out of the car, “you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”
 
The coldest temperature I’ve ever been exposed to (no pun intended) was in the winter of 1966. I was working for the R.L. Polk Company and had been sent to Williston, North Dakota to update information for the new city directory.
The weather guy on TV in my motel said it was 46 below zero and advised viewers to avoid going outside if possible.
Well, I had a job to do and decided to try starting my 1949 Ford flathead V/8 that was parked just out the door.
The engine groaned but actually turned over a couple times. To my amazement, the thing fired and roared to life. It took a few seconds for the fan belt to get a grip on the water pump and stop squealing but before long, the heater was pushing out little puffs of warm air and I was set to show everybody in town that neither I nor my old car could be intimidated by this obscenely frigid North Dakota morning.
I pushed-in the clutch and managed to get the gear shift lever, stiff from the cold, into reverse.
The engine was running, the transmission was engaged..but when I let out the clutch the car wouldn’t budge.
I stepped out and discovered the reason why; all four cord tires were frozen into position..slightly flat on the bottom and unable to roll.
I took two days of waiting inside that Williston motel before it warmed up enough to allow people and machinery to thaw out and move again.
 
So, 20 below? Ha, that’s nothing. In fact, at the risk of encroaching on Trobec, Karstens, Mundt and Barlow weather territory, I did a little research into the lowest temperatures ever recorded in each of the 50 states.
As you might expect, Alaska rings the bell at the coldest reading; minus 80 at Prospect Creek Camp in 1971. Second coldest was at Rogers Pass, Montana in 1954 when it dipped to 70 below. Tower, Minnesota has that state’s cold record of 60 below in 1996.
It got down to 58 below zero in McIntosh in 1936 for South Dakota’s coldest reading.
Incidentally, South Dakota’s hottest temperature of 120 degrees also occurred in 1936 at GannValley.
Ah, the land of infinite variety.
Somewhat surprisingly, every state in the union except Hawaii has recorded below zero temperatures. It got down to minus 2 in Tallahassee on February 13th 1899. That same year it dropped to 16 below in Minden, Louisiana. 
So you see, there’s really no real escape so we might as well make the best of it where we are and sing a cheerful little song like this one written by Garrison Keillor to the tune of Singin’ in the Rain.
 
We’re singing in the snow, just singing in the snow, What a glorious feeling, it’s twenty below,There’s three feet of snow,So lovely and white,And the weatherman says,We’ll get more tonight.Some folks may head south,That’s fine, let ‘em go,But I’m singin, still singin in the snow.
 
Got any cold weather stories you’d care to share?
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Dallas..Scene of the Crime

Posted: Monday, February 18, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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I was with several other members of the senior class at Volga High School who had just finished eating lunch in the school cafeteria and were slowly drifting back to the study hall for a few minutes before our next class. It was Friday and, as usual, hard to concentrate on school work with the weekend coming up.
Something was odd, though. The portable TV set in the corner had been turned on and a somber Walter Cronkite was on the air reporting that gunshots had been fired at the presidential motorcade in Dallas, Texas.  The Connally’s and Kennedy’s moments before the assassination in Dallas Nov.22nd 1963
We all gathered around the television..the volume was turned up and afternoon classes were called off.
Then Cronkite reported the president and Governor John Connally had both been hit.
A short while later, he announced the news that we all were dreading; President Kennedy was dead.
I can still hear the shrieks of disbelief from my classmates and teachers as we all pressed closer to the TV for more details. It was the same television set on which three years earlier, we were allowed to watch President Kennedy’s inauguration when he asked us to ask ourselves…not what our country can do for us but what we could do for our country.
After 8 years of Ike, it was so cool to have this vibrant, handsome young president with his beautiful intelligent wife at his side representing the United States of America.
Then in a few seconds, it was all over. Camelot was no more and a boisterous old Texan had assumed King Arthur’s throne. I was sad, miserable, angry and disappointed beyond description.
I don’t think I’m over it yet..which became crystal clear as Linda and I visited the Sixth Floor Museum in downtown Dallas. It’s in the old Texas School Book Depository building where Lee Harvey Oswald fired the fatal shots. Oswald fired from the square window on the end..one floor down from the top.Longtime residents would just as soon outsiders would focus their attention on all the good things Dallas has to offer not the place were a terrible chapter in American history was written on November 22nd 1963. But as sure as Texas ranchers use a hot iron to brand their longhorns, Dallas..for many of us..will always be permanently branded with the assassination of JFK.
You enter and exit the museum through a gauntlet of souvenir shops which I found tacky. After paying five dollars to park and 27 dollars for admission we were handed a set of headphones for the self-guided tour. No photos allowed.
The elevator door on the sixth floor opens to a maze of photo and video exhibits tracing the history of the Kennedy’s..stuff I’d seen a thousand times before. But then, we approach the southeast corner and there it is; enclosed in glass..the sniper’s nest with boxes placed just as Oswald had stacked them. Suddenly, a rush of emotion came over me as I realized where I was and what had happened there to change the world. I gazed out the adjacent window at Elm street and Dealey Plaza below..an assassins eye view.
It is an incredible experience.Cameras aren’t allowed on the sixth floor. (I have no idea why) This image of the shooter’s nest is from the brochure.
 The museum has a live webcam placed at the 6th floor window.The grassy knoll from across Elm Street.                  Elm street looking east
 Elm Street looking west to the underpass.        X marks the spot where the fatal shot occured.I realize that a majority of Americans are convinced that the Kennedy assassination was a conspiracy. I don’t happen to be one of them.
Whatever you believe, if you’re ever in Dallas, don’t miss the chance to see where the life of our charismatic  35th president came to a violent end…even if the locals would rather you just forgot about it.

What About Bob?

Posted: Friday, February 15, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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All my life, I’ve had this thing about cats; I don’t like them all that much.
It’s not that cats are particularly evil or anything it’s just that they seem to have this superiority complex and condescending attitude that I find annoying and, yes, intimidating.
When I was a boy, I remember a stray cat that happened to stray into our front yard. My older brother sort of claimed it as his own..naming him Sylvester.
Sylvester liked to hang out amongst the branches of a big elm tree.
He’d venture down for a bowl of milk or to catch a few rays of sunshine on the front porch but, like most feral cats, Sylvester never quite adjusted to humans or much appreciated being petted by one. He eventually snubbed us all and left in search of a higher tree and a better hand-out.
Or he got run-over..I can’t remember for sure.
I used to joke about the worthlessness of cats saying that to me they really amounted to nothing more than plants with feet. Feed ‘em, set ‘em in the sunshine and watch ‘em grow.
Our friend and neighbor, Alona Masters, absolutely adored her Siamese cat named Heidi. I never understood why.
Heidi lived to annoy and hisss at everyone BUT Alona for 22 long years before the last of its 9 lives finally gave out.
 
My attitude started changing when most of our kids became cat owners after they left home.
They have found their cats to be wonderful companions and pretty easy to take care of. Cats don’t need to be taken for walks and will instinctively poop in a box of sand.
 
We got to know our daughter Christy’s black cat, Felix, the best.
He was a fixture in her house on our annual visits to Phoenix.
Like all cats, Felix was aloof  but also pretty friendly as felines go. He would actually seek out a stranger’s lap and seemed to appreciate a little human affection and scratch behind the ears.
 
Well, we came very close to getting our own version of Felix in Texas.
Linda’s sister and brother-in-law have a beautiful home in the Hill Country north of Austin. They have been feeding several cats that show up at their back door and hang out on the patio.
Among them are a couple of brothers..black as coal..and about 4 months old.
One is your typical feral cat, stand-offish and anti-social. The other, who I named Bob, is friendly..comes when you call..and loves to be petted.Bob..lounging on the wicker. A cat after my own heart.He was ours for the taking but we decided to pass out of concern about the long ride to South Dakota. Plus it seemed a shame to take Bob away from the freedom he now enjoys frolicking around with his feline companions in the friendly neighborhood he now calls home..
Still..if any of you happen to be flying to Sioux Falls from Austin and wouldn’t mind buying an extra ticket for Bob, well……. Bye Bob

Miles and Miles of Texas

Posted: Tuesday, February 12, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Howdy folks..
 
Ah bet y’all were fixin’ to call out the police figerin’ that yer trusty ol’ blogger had been abducted  by aliens around Roswell,  New Mexico or had ventured a mite too close to the Mexican border at Juarez  and wound up in the back of a truck headed off to an avocado field or an orange grove to pick fruit.
Truth is..my computer picked up one of them dang viruses and I’ve been sort of lost without it for the past week.
The missus and I have had a fine time mooching off relatives from Nebraska to Arizona to Texas and have oodles of experiences I’m ah  hankerin’ to share with y’all as soon as we make it back home later in the week and we have a little time to shake off this southern drawl that descended on us from over exposure in Texas. 
Say what you want about the Lone Star state but they don’t seem to fret too much about sendin’ convicted killers to their just reward. No crowds of anti death penalty protestors waving signs outside the prison walls and no debates over the number of lethal doses used in the inmate’s final “cocktail.” “Any last words?” “Next!.”
Texans also don’t have a real problem with getting from point “A” to point “B” in a hurry. The maximum speed limit on the most boring interstates is 80 miles an hour. 
If you figger in the 6 to 8 MPH fudge factor, a feller can clip along at dern near 90 without fear of bein’ pulled over by the fuzz. 
It’s been so much fun that I’ve almost forgot about the stock market and Hillary both stumblin’ while McCain and Obama are startin’ to sniff the sweet smell of victory for their respective teams.
It’s almost as excitin’ as catchin’ a Texas large mouth bass on a sunny 74 degree day along LBJ lake while a friend is back at the home place blowin’ 3 more inches of snow from our drive-way.

Seeing Stars

Posted: Friday, February 1, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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I’ve been looking around trying to spot some of the hundreds of celebrities that are in Phoenix for the Super Bowl and the FBR pro golf tournament but haven’t seen a one.
Perhaps that’s because Linda and I rarely leave the peace and tranquility of this lovely town called Fountain Hills.
Located a dozen or so miles East and a couple thousand feet above the hustle and bustle of Phoenix, you can’t help but get a sense of superiority as you gaze down at the greenish- brown smog that hangs suspended over the valley below like one of those heavy crazy-quilts your aunt made that is too hot and confining.
There’s also a city ordinance in Fountain Hills that bans street lights so on most any night you can stand right in the middle of town and be engulfed in a ceiling of stars or watch the lights of one airplane after another approach the big city for a landing.
They’re too far away to hear but fascinating to watch as the air traffic controllers work their magic and get each plane stacked into position for touch down.
There is one spot ..oddly enough in a supermarket parking lot.. which provides a particularly grand view of the Phoenix area at night. Lots of people go there just to park and stare down onto the millions and millions of lights that stretch for miles and miles.
I suppose somebody with a piercing squeaky voice (you know the type)  will eventually stand up at a Fountain Hills Town Hall meeting and make a big to-do about the dangers that lurk in a community without street lights. Think of the children..they’ll say. And before you know it, others will chime in and because nobody wants to be against safety..the council..out of guilt, will vote to turn the lights on and Fountain Hills will lose a major part of its charm.Day or night, the town’s namesake..a fountain that can shoot water nearly 600 feet into the air..is beautiful to behold but I can only watch for a short time before having to find a rest room.
Just a few thoughts as we wind down our time here which has gone way too fast.
I somehow don’t mind not having visited some of our familiar haunts in Old Scottsdale like the Rusty Spur..featuring live music every night where the band has been known to let me get up on the small stage and belt out a country song or two..or Patty’s Bar which is sort of half indoors and half outdoors and crazy after 9 O’clock, or singing Karaoke at the Grape Vine with Bob Hefferan..former guitar player with John Denver’s band and the Chad Mitchell Trio.
Bob and I got to know each other a few years ago through our daughter and have had many good times talking music and playing golf.That’s John Denver (with guitar) in 1966 in Chicago before or after a show.  Bob Hefferan is seated on the couch. Denver’s wife, Annie, is on Bob’s right.
No, Linda and I have been pretty content this time to just relax and look at the stars…the ones in the sky..not those beneath us throwing Super Bowl parties.
By the way, I’m picking the Giants in an upset over the Patriots.
Remember, I have the power to edit that last sentence out after Sunday.