Archive for September 2008

Black Hills Staycation

Posted: Monday, September 29, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Well, Linda and I have been off an another of our cost-saving “stay-cations.”  We and our traveling partners, Denny and Joanie Graves are on our annual pilgrimage to the Black Hills..allegedly to drink in the beauty of the season..and it IS beautiful..but in reality it’s to drink up the local wine and to give as much money as possible to the Deadwood Historic Foundation playing games of chance.
We’re staying at the historic (isn’t everything historic in Deadwood?) Bullock Hotel where old Seth Bullock himself is said to still haunt the place.  It seems that everybody who works here has a haunted story to tell and swear they’re being honest. I’m not a big believer in such things but we did find it strange that while watching the football game together on Sunday, we heard a knock on the door and when Denny went to answer it there wasn’t anybody there..or in the hallway either.  We all just looked at each other with eyes wide open and decided if the place is spooked, we might as well invite ol’ Seth in for a drink. We’re not sure if he actually took us up on it but I thought I heard a moan when the Vikings blew another ballgame.But then were are all known to moan and groan when the Vikings are playing.
One of the last things Linda asked before we left home is if I had made sure the power cord for my laptop was in the bag. Yes, of course I said only to find out when we unpacked that it wasn’t. It’s tough enough having to admit to her I was wrong but I don’t have much battery power to play on the computer or to blog so I’ll have to keep things short here.
Lots of stories and pictures to share when we get home Tuesday, though.
Incidentally, all of the golf course low score records out here remain intact and none of the casinos are in danger of going bankrupt due to sizable payouts to our party.

Mark Twain Tonight

Posted: Thursday, September 25, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Ever since I watched Hal Holbrook’s incredible portrayal of Mark Twain on a CBS television special in 1967, the idea of seeing his performance in person has been on my bucket list; you know, things you want to do before you kick the bucket.
Well, I can now scratch that one from the list thanks to Holbrook’s appearance at the Washington Pavilion Wednesday night. 1967 Hal Holbrook at the age of 42 in the role he was born to play..Mark TwainI wasn’t aware that Holbrook was still touring with his one man show, Mark Twain Tonight, so I vowed to be in the front row when I heard he was coming to Sioux Falls..but didn’t get around to calling the box office until late last week. 
There may not be a bad seat in the Pavilion’s Great Hall but, thanks to my tardiness in getting tickets, Linda and I wound up sitting in row X..which is pretty much the steerage section of this wonderful theater.( More on that in a minute.)
At a time when audiences will accept different people playing familiar roles from James Bond to Batman..Hal Holbrook IS Mark Twain and we will accept no substitutes. He has been doing this character for over 50 years and committed to memory nearly everything the great American author and humorist, Samuel Clemens, ever wrote or said. As a result, Holbrook has no set agenda for his performances..picking at will from his vast mental library lending an air of complete spontaneity to each show.
Even though every word Holbrook utters from the stage is from Twain himself, on Wednesday evening, he opted to explore more of the author’s politics than his playfulness which was a little disappointing because it was clear everyone in the house wanted desperately to laugh at the familiar funny and witty side of Mark Twain. There was some of that, of course.“Man is the only animal that has the true religion..several of them.” "Man is the only animal that blushes..or needs to.”  "Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of congress. But I repeat myself.’Hal Holbrook still at it in 2008Most of this evening, though, was dedicated to drawing parallels betweenTwain’s views on politicians, corporate fat cats, and war in 1905 to what’s going on in America right now.  
He spent a good deal of time pointing out Twain’s disdain for religious hypocrisy telling the story of the Christian minister in the pulpit beseeching  the Lord for victory in war; “Oh Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead.”  Deep but not too funny.
There also weren’t many laughs when after an excruciatingly long 25 minute intermission, Holbrook returned with a lengthy oration from Huckleberry Finn in which he assumes the characters of both Huck and his black friend, Jim, telling of the tragic circumstances that led them both to run away and float down the Mississippi on a raft.   I might have appreciated the dialogue more had we been able to hear it. Despite assurances from the box office lady that even though our vantage point at the tail end of the alphabet rows might be marginal, the sound system would allow us to hear every word. Not so. Especially when Holbrook drifted into the southern accents of Huck and Jim. What came through the two small speakers up front was garbled and mushy to those of us back in the boonies. So much so that two ladies in front of us got the giggles and couldn’t stop. Then a guy in row “Y” muttered something about what he was missing on TV, and walked out.
We were all wondering whether, considering how people freak at thought of anyone smoking in a public building these days, Holbrook would use Mark Twian’s most recognizable prop; the cigar. Well, in the first act, he got one out of his pocket and talked about how easy it was to quit smoking because he’s done it thousands of times. Still it wasn’t until the second act that Holbrook finally fired up the stogie filling the stage with a big blue cloud. I’m sure some in the crowd were appalled but I wanted to applaud the fact that Holbrook has remained true to the character of Twain who said, “I have made it a rule never to smoke more than one cigar…. at a time.”
Holbrook also managed to stay in character when, during one of his long poignant pauses, somebody’s cell phone erupted in song and played to the end..echoing through the great hall like a melody from Manheim Steamroller.
But in spite of the crummy seats, crass members of the audience (many of whom obviously had bad head colds that required lots of coughing and clearing of nasal passages) I’m really glad I was there.
Hal Holbrook is 83 now and doesn’t need much make-up anymore to play the role he created for himself so long ago. It was perhaps the best job of casting in the history of show business.

A Model Fit To A T

Posted: Monday, September 22, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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My dad was one of the million or so guys who suffered a broken arm trying to crank start a Model T Ford. Long before cars had electric starters, the only way to fire up the four cylinder engine was to turn it over manually using the crank provided in front. Trouble was if the spark wasn’t set properly, the engine could fire prematurely causing the crank to spin violently, kickback in reverse and break the hand or arm of the operator.
In spite of that tough painful experience, my dad always spoke almost reverently about Model T’s and what a wonderful piece of machinery they were. When still a bachelor in the1920’s, my dad and a pal of his had the adventure of a lifetime driving their “T” over all kinds of roads and through all kinds of weather conditions from South Dakota to Detroit, Michigan..the motor city where their car was made.Henry Ford and one of the 15 million tin lizzys that rolled off his Detroit assembly line between 1909 and 1927. After 1913 they were all painted black.
When dad retired in the late 60’s he started going to flea markets and auction sales in search of Model T parts. Before long, the folk’s small garage was filled with rusty fenders, wooden wheels and old engines that had been seized-up for decades. He devoted every free moment to the task at hand; trying to create one good car from several piles of junk.  
I can still see him out there..up to his elbows in dirt and grease.. patiently piecing together parts for that relic. Dad was a farmer and a house builder. I was never aware that he knew so much about mechanics until he tackled this project. In truth, though, everyone who ever owned a  Model T had to have some mechanical knowledge in order to keep them repaired and running. Clearly dad had not forgotten a thing about what every part was for and where it went.
By the time he had a rolling chassis, the old man pulled a surprise on those of us who’d been following his progress. This wasn’t going to be your run-of-the-mill Model T sedan, coupe or even roadster. He was building a depot hack…an early version of the taxi cab designed to haul travelers and their luggage from the train depot to their local destinations.  The depot hack’s body was made of wood instead of steel and recreating it would challenge all of dad’s extensive wood-working skills.  
When it was finally finished, dad and his odd looking flivver soon became  familiar sites driving around town and in every parade within a hundred miles of Volga.Harry Lund and his 1924 depot hack Model T that he built from scratch.
He absolutely loved that car which is why we were so shocked to hear that he’d accepted an offer to sell it to a museum in Chamberlain. I don’t think it was because he desperately needed the money. It’s more likely that  his greater joy was in “building” the “T” than driving it because before long he was back at auction sales and scrounging around shelterbelts in search of parts for another one.Dad’s second and last Model T, a 1926 purple and black coupe. It too was driven in lots ofparades until dad died 1977. Mom eventually sold it for 36 hundred dollars and shared the money with us boys. Wish I now had the car instead.
A few years ago I did a story on the museum in Chamberlain..which was going to auction off everything in the collection, including dad’s depot hack.  With Linda’s blessing and some inheritance money in the bank, I decided to try bring the car back into the family. I was prepared to go as high as three thousand dollars if need be. Within 30 seconds, the bid was at four thousand.  I finally stopped bidding at six thousand dollars when it became clear that a fat cat car dealer from Montana who didn’t give a hoot in hell about sentimentality wasn’t going back to Billings without it.
I hate to admit this.. but I was secretly hoping that the first time he tried to crank-start what was rightfully my car, he’d have the spark set wrong and learn a painful lesson about Model T “kickback.”

Is There A Doctor In The House?

Posted: Thursday, September 18, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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I’ve been a fan of Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion” since 1982. I used to plan my Saturday’s around the two hour public radio show, especially the weekly monologues in which he rambles on for 20-30 minutes about life in the fictitious small town of his youth, Lake Wobegon, Minnesota.
It wasn’t until Keillor started using the publically-funded program to promote his political agenda that I began to find other ways to spend my Saturday evenings and now listen only occasionally and on-line.
Now, I’ve now gotten hooked on another form of broadcasting entertainment; “House.”
This “doctor show” as some call it, has been around for five seasons and, although I’ve caught a snippet here and there before, I’d not sat down to watch an episode in it’s entirety until a couple months ago; a re-run on the USA network.
Its main character is Dr. Gregory House..who heads a special team of doctors at a big New Jersey hospital that takes on medical maladies that are too tough for others to diagnose.
What makes the show so fascinating is that House, played brilliantly by British actor (accent-free) Hugh Laurie, is not only the smartest and wittiest guy in the room he’s also one of the biggest a-holes to ever come in contact with the human race. He takes handfuls of vicodin to ease the pain from his crippled leg for which he needs a cane to hobble around the hospital barking at bosses, co-workers and patients.
There’s irony here in that House can find the cure for nearly every patient that crosses his path except himself which is probably why he’s such a cranky, sexist, obstinate pig. But there’s also a hint of lovability on those rare occasions when we see brief moments of compassion. It’s just fun to watch House and his team solve medical mysteries.
The series..seen Monday nights on FOX..is intelligently written, wonderfully acted and emotionally stimulating and now that re-runs can be seen every night for two hours at a crack on USA..House is taking up way to much of my time. I even watched an episode on the computer last night.
I could really use a diagnosis and prescription from House himself to cure this addiction I now have to his show.  

Back To The 1st Grade

Posted: Tuesday, September 16, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Funny the interesting things one can discover when one leaves the house to do something besides play golf.
Such was the case on our recent weekend in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Our daughter, Suzan had taken Friday afternoon off so that we could pick-up granddaughter Zoey from her new school, Cavett Elementary,  and perhaps arrive early enough to  spend a half hour or so visiting her first grade classroom. Now, you have to be careful here. There’s a fine age line from when a child is happy to see you show up at school and when they roll their eyes and slump down low in their desks red from embarrassment. 
Fortunately, Zoey is six and hasn’t reached that latter point yet.  In fact, when she spotted us coming into the room, she flashed a huge smile and was actually kind of proud, I think, to show us off to her classmates. Zoey, still okay with Grandma and Grandpa visiting schoolOur presence was a curious distraction to the other kids at first but they soon lost interest..especially when their teacher, speaking in the third person, said “Mrs.Johnson would like you to go to your stations right now and get the workbooks out for our next lesson.” Mrs. Johnson then presented a fun way for them to learn about sentence structure and their attention quickly refocused on the task at hand instead of the grown-up strangers standing off in the corner.
 It’s amazing to watch little kids who are like sponges absorbing so many new and exciting things every day being guided by imaginative caring teachers like Mrs. Johnson.
“This might be a dumb question, I said to Suzan, but I couldn’t help wonder if there’s any connection between Cavett Elementary and Dick Cavett..the long time TV talk show host in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s? He is from Lincoln, I think.” Turns out it wasn’t a dumb question. The school is, in fact, named after his father, Alva, and step mother, Dorcas Cavett, both lifelong school teachers who had a significant effect on the lives of children throughout the Lincoln community.Alva Cavett (Dick’s Dad) was known to inject humor into his English lessons.Dorcas Cavett was once fired for refusing to keep a list of "naughty" kids for the school board.
But there’s more. Dorcas was a young teacher when World War II began. Determined to serve her country, she wound up being the very first female in the United States Marine Corps..serving 3 ½ years and rising to the rank of Captain. After the war she returned to teaching and married Alva..a widower with a young son, Dick, who she raised as her own.
In fact, Dorcas Cavett became a  TV celebrity long before her step son.
She was “The math lady’ to tens of thousands  through the math classes she taught every day for years over Nebraska Educational Television.
When she died last year at the age of 91, city leaders praised her as being one of the most beloved and smartest people in Lincoln. Former students spoke of how she changed their lives in all sorts of positive ways and inspired so many of them to become teachers too.
I don’t know if Zoey’s teacher, Mrs. Johnson, was one of them but I’ll bet there was someone like a Mrs. Cavett in her life too. God bless ‘em all!

Presidents In My Lifetime

Posted: Friday, September 12, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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As November 4th inches ever closer It dawned on me that we’re about to have the twelfth new president in my lifetime. I decided to share some thoughts and memories with you about the first eleven.
Harry S. Truman (The “S” didn’t stand for anything)
I was born several months after Truman inherited the presidency from Franklin Roosevelt so I don’t have any early memories of him. Later, though, I recall that my dad..whose name was also Harry..couldn’t stand the guy.
Dad, like most Americans at the time, blamed Truman for the continuation of war rationing long after the Second World War was over. He also shared the feelings of those who thought the firing of American war hero, Douglas (my namesake, I think) MacArthur, for insubordination in Korea was a travesty.  My mom didn’t like Truman because he swore in public; sprinkling hells and damns throughout his speeches.
General Dwight David Eisenhower.
Everybody seemed to like Ike. I never paid a whole lot of attention to the man other than he always seemed to show up in movie newsreels playing golf with celebrities. He also mispronounced the word nuclear..saying nuke-you-ler. (Just like our current occupant.)
Oh yeah, there was that other thing; Ike and his cronies scared the crap out of all Americans, kids especially, through the build-up of nuke-you-ler weapons and the arms race with Russia during his two terms in office. I suppose the country didn’t have a choice but it wasn’t much fun trying to fall asleep at night after watching images on television of the devastating effects of another nuke-you-ler bomb test in the atmosphere and realizing that hiding under your desk at school during a nuke-you-ler attack, like we’d been trained to do, probably wasn’t going to save our little skins.  
John Fitzgerald Kennedy. 
I couldn’t vote yet but I was pulling for Nixon to win in 1960 until I saw the infamous debates on TV.  Even though he was Catholic, which my Lutheran sisters and brethren weren’t too keen on,  Kennedy came off cool, calm and collected while Nixon looked like a nervous, sweaty, shifty-eyed used car salesman who could use a shave. Most of us never knew about Kennedy’s sexual indiscretions and  I actually got caught up in the whole Camelot thing until October of 1962 when I and most of the country figured we were going to be blown to smithereens because of Kennedy’s decision to stop Russian ships from bringing offensive nuclear weapons into Cuba.  Once that crisis passed, though, I hopped back aboard the Kennedy bandwagon until, of course, he was shot dead in the head by a lunatic Russian sympathizer in Dallas a year later.
Lyndon Baines Johnson.
What a contrast to the handsome young assassinated president he replaced.  Johnson was this big lumbering loudmouth Texan who got what he wanted in congress and the White House through in-your-face intimidation of anyone who stood in his way.  But I felt in 1964 that he was a better choice than Republican presidential candidate, Barry Goldwater who was an even worse diplomat than Johnson. Goldwater gave the impression that the only good commie was a dead commie and he was just the guy to take ‘em all out if need be by whatever means possible.
But as skilled at bullying as Johnson was, even he couldn’t bull his way out of Vietnam and finally just gave up on the idea of running again before he had another heart attack.
Richard Millhouse Nixon.
Never a big fan of this guy. Too stiff..too phony.  I appreciated his breaking the ice with Red China and I sorta felt like the media was unfairly ganging up on him over Watergate. But then I read the transcripts of the Oval office tapes and became less sympathetic.  No tears were shed when he finally gave in to pressure and resigned.
Gerald R. Ford.
Nice enough man. Well liked by members of both parties in congress but his pardon of Nixon in 1974 and his major gaffe during a 1976 presidential debate with Jimmy Carter in which Ford said there was no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe, pretty much threw cold water on  any chance he had of being elected on his own.
James Earl Carter. (just call me Jimmy)
A peanut farmer and former governor of Georgia. He brought so much down-home humility and folksiness to the White House it was almost embarrassing. Sort of like the Clampetts moving into Beverly Hills.
He did get Israel and Egypt to stop fighting for awhile and actually sit down and shake hands which was no small feat. But over 400 Americans were taken hostage in Iran on Carter’s watch and he seemed powerless to do anything about it. Plus he punished U.S. athletes by boycotting the Olympic games in Russia as a way of showing displeasure over the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.  (go figure)
Ronald Reagan.
I never bought into that whole “great communicator” bit.  To me Reagan, the actor, was just playing another role..only it was a part that lasted for eight years.  I know he’s much beloved by a lot of folks but to me he was simply a guy who had a great way with words as long as someone else had written them for him.  
 
George Herbert Walker Bush.
Finally, a vice president manages to get elected on his own. I always liked Bush Sr. He seemed to be one smart cookie who could think on his feet and make tough decisions.  When Iraq invaded Kuwait he put Hussein on notice that we and the rest of the world weren’t going to just stand by and let that happen so he got a bunch of other countries to join with us and go kick Saddam out. A lot of people, including, apparently, the president’s oldest son, thought we should have kept marching right into Baghdad, but that wasn’t part of the deal.
His popularity soared after the Gulf War but came crashing down again when he failed to keep a campaign promise (Read my lips..no new taxes) which likely cost him reelection.
William Jefferson Clinton.
My first exposure to Clinton was during the 1988 Democratic National Convention when this four term governor of Arkansas was selected to make the nominating speech for Michael Dukakis. As Clinton rambled on and on, the crowd started getting restless..yelling toward the podium for him to wrap it up. The jeers got louder..but he kept on yakking. Finally, after 33 minutes of this, he uttered the words “in conclusion” and the whole audience erupted in cheers and applause. What a grandstanding blowhard, I thought, as Clinton just stood there smiling seemingly oblivious to the fact that he’d just made a total ass of himself.  Democrats have short memories, though, because four years later, Clinton was their party nominee and managed to get himself elected president for eight long years; two terms of phoniness and embarrassment. At the height of the Monica Lewinski scandal in 1998, Clinton ordered an unsuccessful missile strike in Afghanistan aimed at taking out terrorist leader Osama bin Laden. That’s what the president claimed anyway. But many, including members of Clinton’s own party, think it was an intentional distraction from the Lewinski Grand Jury hearing and that the attack so enraged bin Laden that he immediately began making plans for 9-11 to get revenge.  If it’s all true, that’s quite a price to pay for the President of the United States playing trouser tag with an intern in the White House.
 George W. Bush.
I was so ready to be rid of anything connected to Bill Clinton that it was a relief when Bush was finally determined to be the winner over Clinton’s vice president, Al (I’m as big a blowhard as Bill) Gore, in the 2000 election. I was hoping that Bush Jr. would be a chip off the old block and right up through 9-11 and throughout his first term, I thought he was.  Most Americans bought into his impassioned pleas for invading Iraq. The madman, Saddam, had stockpiles of chemical and nuke-you-ler weapons and had to be stopped before he unleashed them on his neighbors.  Lots of people were saying that Bush just wanted to go into Baghdad and finish up the job his daddy started 8 years earlier. Nah, I kept thinking, it’s nothing personal, the weapons are there. Well, they weren’t there but American soldiers still are..and still dying while our country goes deeper in debt and bin Laden remains free to dream up other murderous schemes in the name of Allah.  I feel betrayed by G.W. and can’t wait to see him sent packing.
So, who’s next?    
I have no idea but it wouldn’t take much to be an improvement over the last eleven. At least that’s my opinion. I suppose one or two of you may not agree. Don’t be mad, though. In fact, here’s a little image to brighten your weekend. Apparently covering a presidental campaign isn’t always that glamerous.

Seeing Red

Posted: Tuesday, September 9, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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I put on my Minnesota Vikings sweatshirt last night, popped a can of diet cream soda and settled-in on the couch in front of the TV to watch the Vikes finally put a can of wop-ass on the Green Bay Packers. Instead it was another case of Childress confusion as the head coach spent the entire evening staring at his play chart wondering how this game plan against the now Favre-less Packers could possibly end like all the others…in defeat for the 5th straight time.  
It just hurts too much to think about so I’ve turned my thoughts back to last Saturday when Linda and I had perhaps the best football experience of our lives.
Our daughter, Suzan is associate director of sponsored programs at the University of Nebraska (I’m still not entirely sure what that is but if someone applies for a research grant through the university, it’s her job to see if they meet all the necessary qualifications.) Daughter Suzan..the one to see if you need to a research grant or Husker tickets.
One of the perks of the position is access to a couple seats in Memorial Stadium for Nebraska Cornhusker football games and thanks to a co-worker whose tickets were available, she was able to score two more for mom and dad last Saturday.
We’ve not been to a big-time college game before and were excited to finally have the experience especially since our granddaughter, Allison, had been selected to be a member of the amazing Cornhusker Marching Band.
Suzan, her husband Joe, (more about him in a minute) Linda and I arrived an hour and a half before kick-off and still had to park six blocks away. As we, and thousands of others, were walking toward the stadium I couldn’t help but think about images from Communist China a few years back when everyone had to wear those gray pajama-like outfits. This was like that except everybody was dressed in red and in a good mood.Memorial Stadium. They call it the sea of red and actually did the "wave" during the game.
Much of Memorial Stadium, including our section, was built in the ’20’s when people were a lot smaller. We shelled out three dollars each to rent a padded seat that attaches to the bleachers but I could tell it was going to be a tight fit if there was going to be a butt sitting atop of every number painted on the benches. 
My son-in-law Joe doesn’t really need a seat assignment. He spends most of a Husker game, whether at home watching on TV or there in person, on his feet cheering or complaining at the top of his lungs.  He’s a wonderful husband and father but, like most native Nebraskans, Joe was born and raised an over-the-top Husker fan with all its rights, privileges and obligations that go with it, including the mandatory wearing of Nebraska red 12 months out of the year.  
I don’t know if anything prepares you for the site of 84 thousand people all gathered in one spot and all dressed in red. My first thought was it looks like the world’s largest supermarket display of vine ripened tomatoes. (And there were some nice looking tomatoes in the crowd too I’ll tell ya…but I digress.)
As fans arrived at our section and squeezed into their assigned areas, I couldn’t help but notice how many of them seemed to know one another. Then I thought, of course, most of them have had the same seats for years; probably inherited them from their parents and grandparents.Linda and me (center) with our "very close" new friends.
The game against San Jose State was close at the beginning but my biggest concern was trying to spot Allison out of the 290 members of the Pride of all Nebraska marching band at halftime. I caught a glimpse of her through the binoculars and couldn’t have been more proud if I had a grandson quarterbacking the team.Granddaughter Allison after musically inspiring and marching her new team to victory.
Before we knew it, the game was over. The Huskers won, 35 to 12. Linda and I had made some new friends through close association in the stands and had gotten caught up in the thrill of being part of the Go Big Red Machine.
Let’s see, they’re at home again next Saturday.
“Linda..do you have Suzan’s work number?”

Not a Packer..But a Husker

Posted: Monday, September 8, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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It was not a fight, really, Linda and I don’t have many of those, thank God.  But when one of us does something wrong..okay ME..things tend to get real quiet in our house.
Such was the case Friday morning as we approached the scheduled departure time for our weekend in Lincoln.
I had promised, the night before, to lay out the clothes I wanted to take along.  Linda is really organized..especially when it comes to packing. The suitcase had been out for several days and she had me regularly checking the weather forecast for Nebraska so she could have some idea whether to bring jeans and sweatshirts or shorts and tee shirts.  Well, she went to bed and I stayed up playing on the computer until 1 a.m. then fell asleep on the couch. Next thing I know, it’s an hour before we’re supposed to leave and I had  failed my assignment. Not only that, I made the mistake of saying, geeze it’s just a weekend, all I need is two shirts two shorts two pair of socks and two underwear. It’s no big deal.   Big mistake.
“We have to wear something red at the ballgame, right?” she said.
“Well, yah, I guess.”
“Did you lay out either of your red shirts?”
“Well, no.”
“And what about church..are you planning to wear shorts to church?    (Here’s where I should have just admitted that I’m an idiot and moved on.) “I’ll bet Joe (son-in-law) does. But you can grab my black dress pants and a nice shirt if you want.”  
That’s when it got kind of cold and quiet in the house. I apologized and went to the closet to pick out the appropriate attire which, unfortunately, didn’t include long pants like she suggested.
Now, it’s ten after nine and we’re behind schedule. “Let’s see, have we got everything she said?” “ Yeah, yeah, let’s go.”
I think we were just pulling into Omaha in a steady cold rain when she noticed that the garment bag, containing our freshly pressed church clothes, wasn’t hanging in the back. “Ooops, my bad,” I said while turning up the car heater to ward off the sudden chill brought on by incredible incompetence.
That’s how we came to be clothes shopping in the Lincoln Shopko with our daughter, Suzan and granddaughter, Zoey, late Friday afternoon; looking for something more church worthy.
No long pants in my size but I did find a spiffy Nebraska Cornhuskers bright red pull-over jacket to wear at the game. God would just have to accept us dressed like heathens on Sunday.Slow to anger..quick to forgive. What a woman!
Thanks to our granddaughter, Allison, who made it into the University of Nebraska marching band, Linda and I have now become full fledged members of Husker Nation. More about that and what it’s like to be two of over 80 thousand Big Red fans at a Husker home game..tomorrow.

Bill Connor R.I.P.

Posted: Thursday, September 4, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Bill Connor died this week and I was shocked at the news.
I just knew that even though the leukemia he fought off before had returned, he would lick it again.
I first met Bill Connor 8 or 9 years ago. He called me at Kelo wondering if I’d be interested in featuring his new bus business, Prairie Coach Trailways in Dell Rapids, on Lund at Large.  He said he could bring one by the station for us to check out.  I couldn’t believe his enthusiasm over BUSES of all things so I said sure. Soon a huge motor coach pulled up across from the TV station. The door opened and there sat this smiling guy at the wheel inviting me and my camera guy aboard. Bill Connor said his goal was to live to age 50.He made it by just a few months.It was quite a bus..decked out like one of those expensive motorhomes that the NASCAR drivers all have but this one was designed to accommodate 20 or so people. Bill gave us the guided tour and talked excitedly about all the amenities and outlining plans to build up a whole fleet of high-end busses to accommodate all sorts of transportation needs from political campaigns to fall foliage trips to New England.  
During our interview as he drove us around Sioux Falls, I learned that his love of busses began as a child in St. Paul when he rode the city transit system daily.  That passion led him to give up a successful career as president of a credit card bank to live his dream of owning and operating a luxury bus line. Dell Rapids was chosen because it was close to Colton, hometown of his wife, Nola.
Bill’s mood became more somber when he told me about his son, Jaran, who was undergoing chemotherapy at the time for inoperable brain cancer. To make Jaran’s  long and frequent trips to the Twin Cities for treatment more pleasant and comfortable, they went in style aboard one of the nice busses. That inspired Bill to form a nonprofit corporation named Angel Bus; coordinating travel for terminally ill children in luxury motor coaches around the country.
Just three weeks after Jaran’s death in 2004, Bill, himself, was diagnosed with leukemia and was pretty much told to get his affairs in order.  A year or so later, I got another call from him wondering if I’d be interested in telling our viewers about the medical procedures that saved his life. But when we met at the Avera Cancer Institute he seemed more interested in the plight of other cancer patients than himself. He told of his concern for those who were being forced by their insurance companies to often travel long distances for treatment in other cities when the very best care was available right here. He also asked if I’d interview Dr. Kelly McCaul..the cancer specialist who harvested Bill’s own stem cells; a very specialized procedure which, along with Bill’s unwavering faith in God,  led to remission.  
Shortly before my retirement, Bill gave me a call to offer well wishes and say thanks for the stories we’d done with him. He even offered me a job hosting some of his bus tours. When we met for lunch I inquired about how he was feeling. As always, he thanked me for asking and hinted that his old enemy, leukemia, was itchin’ for a fight again. In spite of Bill’s ceaseless optimism his battle ended last Tuesday afternoon. He never really got to enjoy his dream landscape and pond constructed at his home by the River of Hope Foundation in appreciation for Bill’s own unselfish generosity in helping people in need.
In all my years, I’ve never met anyone more considerate of others or more open and passionate about things than Bill Connor.
He was one of the good guys and a lot of people, including me, are really going to miss him.

Is Laughter Really The Best Medicine?

Posted: Monday, September 1, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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“Sanford emergency.”
“Yes, this is Linda Lund.  I think my husband needs an ambulance.”
“What’s wrong?”
“Well, I’d rather not say.”
“Please..we have to know the nature of his affliction.”
“It’s kind of embarrassing.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, we were watching America’s Funniest Home Videos and when a fat lady tried to break a balloon against a fat guys butt, my husband started laughing so hard he fainted…oh, he’s coming around now. Are you alright honey?  Okay, I guess he’ll be fine..sorry to bother you.”
Just about everything above is true..except the 911 call. Oh, and I really didn’t faint but I DID laugh so hard I started coughing and felt like I might pass out. (apparently I’m still not fully recovered from 40 years of Marlboros.)
Aside from that, it felt great to laugh out loud..especially with Linda who, in spite of being married to me, is one of the happiest people I know. In fact, it was her smile that won me over nearly 30 years ago and has continued to refresh my life every day since.
I don‘t know why I’m not a happier person.  Aside from a few bumps and sidetracks in my personal life over the years (and who hasn’t had those?) I’ve had a wonderful time and been extremely fortunate with a terrific family and career.  
Recently, after a couple of liquid refreshments at the 19th hole, one of my golf buddies said, “Lund, you’re way too serious.”   I don’t know about being “too” serious..I do have quite a few laughs with the guys but it’s true that I’m not as jovial as some. In fact, I tend to be suspicious of  people who walk around with a big grin and in a good mood all the time.  
Even though the scriptures tell us to have faith and leave the worrying to God..I probably worry too much about things. Things like being overweight. Biblical contradictions, (Once saved always saved?  Do good works help you get to heaven?) Losing all our hard-earned retirement investments while trillions are being thrown down the drain on a stupid war we shouldn’t have gotten into and can’t get out of.Gasoline prices that have gotten so out of hand that we now think $3.49 a gallon is a bargain worth lining up at the pumps for.The idiotic running mate choices of the two presidential candidates.The real truth about global warming and the energy crisis.What kind of world will we leave for our grandchildren?And, who’s going to fix the holes in my yard caused by huge falling branches from the cottonwood tree removed by our neighbors?
I know, lots of people fret about such things but I seem to wear worries on my sleeve. I’m not sure what to do about it.
Oh, oh..Linda just reminded me that I forgot to take my Prozac. Later we’re going to catch a re-run of AFV. It’s the one where the little kid sneezes on her birthday cake and puts the candles out and the old guy whose pants fall down at a wedding dance. Now that’s funny stuff right there.So is this. Have a HAPPY day!