Archive for March 2009

Ad Nauseum

Posted: Tuesday, March 31, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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I’ll be the first to admit that I know little or nothing about insurance..other than I’m required by law to have some of it on my house and car.
To me, insurance salesmen have always ranked right up there with Jehovah Witnesses on my “duck around the corner when I seem ‘em coming list.”  I don’t like high pressure sales pitches whether it is to ponder the after life or to purchase whole life.
Selling insurance used to be pretty serious business. Remember Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom TV show and host Marlin Perkins’ sneaky segues from the show into commercials? “Just as the mother hippo protects her young from ravenous hyenas, you can protect your children with a policy from Mutual of Omaha.”
These days, insurance companies are trying a whole new tack: instead of using TV spots that put the fear of god into you by showing disasters and the woe that befalls the uninsured, they’re appealing to your sense of humor and frugality using lizards, ducks, cavemen and an energetic gal named Flo (wearing a tricked out name tag and enough make-up to make Tammy Fay roll over in her grave) as pitchmen.And they’re on ALL THE TIME..day and night..on every channel. It’s not only on television either.  These companies are major sponsors of sporting events from auto racing and ball games to synchronized swimming.
For the life of me, I don’t understand how..when most corporations are crumbling under the weight of the recession, these folks appear to have vaults the size of swimming pools filled with cash to spend on advertising.  I guess they must know what they’re doing but I better not ever see Flo or the white duck or the green little Gecko come crawling on their wings and knees asking for a government bailout.

Are You In The Dark About Earth Hour?

Posted: Friday, March 27, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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People of the world UNITE!
Shut off all your lights and electrical appliances Saturday evening between 8 and 9pm local time (or 8:30 to 9:30 depending on who you ask) because it’s EARTH HOUR.
Just think, if you hadn’t checked out Lund at Large today, you might have missed your chance to participate in this global election aimed at saving  planet Earth. 
Earth Hour was dreamed up by the World Wide Fund for Nature/World Wildlife Fund; The WWF. (Not to be confused with the World Wrestling Federation)
Here’s the official explanation from the organization’s web site:
This year, Earth Hour has been transformed into the world’s first global election, between Earth and global warming. For the first time in history, people of all ages, nationalities, race and background have the opportunity to use their light switch as their vote – Switching off your lights is a vote for Earth, or leaving them on is a vote for global warming.
Well..there you go. You’re either with us or agin us. 
I’m not quite sure how the WWF  plans to wrestle with the problem of getting an accurate world wide head count unless they have access to some super secret satellite that can spy down on us to see if our lights are on or off…but they plan to present their findings to world leaders at the Global Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen 2009.
Silly, you say? Well, some apparently don’t think so. Last year, for example, lights at global landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Rome’s Coliseum, the Sydney Opera House and the Coca Cola billboard in Times Square were all unplugged for an hour.  (Glad I wasn’t on the bridge)This year, they’re hoping a billion people in 74 countries take part. Apparently parts of Africa, Siberia and South America are exempt.
WWF does ask only non essential electrical items be shut down. Don’t for example, turn off your headlights if you’re on the road at that time. Plus, it must be okay to run your computer because the web site would like participants to blog them during the blackout. I wouldn’t  be shutting down my house alarm either because I can imagine Burglars are salivating at the upcoming opportunity to enter a dark house without setting off any bells or whistles.
I’ve always had a problem with these meaningless symbolic gestures.For example, when a group gets together to sleep outdoors overnight in a cardboard box to get a “feeling” of what it must be like to be homeless..then gather afterwards over a cup of hot chocolate to discuss the problem and congratulate themselves.  You want to do something for the homeless? Take a homeless person home for a hot meal and a warm bed.
Even the WWF admits that this proposed 60 minute stand-down won’t do much to save electricity or reduce our dependence on foreign oil or make managers at generating plants nervous. But it will raise AWARENESS about the dire straits our planet is in.
My thinking is such noble causes often have just the opposite effect; once people hear about Earth Hour..they’ll crank up every light in the house in open rebellion.
What do you think? Feel free to comment below.

Fit To Be Tied

Posted: Wednesday, March 25, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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In the summer of 1965, one of my jobs at Cotton & Company grain elevator was to stuff 100 pounds of fluffy oat hulls into burlap bags..stitch them shut with a sewing machine..stack them up five high on a wooden cart and wheel them into the warehouse.  Next to scooping out moldy grain from underneath the truck hoist, it was the dustiest, dirtiest job the place had to offer.  I made a vow that, if I ever got out of there, I’d never work anywhere again that didn’t require a tie. It was one of the few promises I managed to keep in my lifetime.Since retiring, though, I haven’t felt the need or had the compulsion to wear a necktie more than a couple times.  It’s a good thing, too, because the hundred or so I still have in the house, which Linda has neatly folded, boxed up and stored away, are apparently as out of date as the ones my uncle Abe used to wear with the flying pheasant or Mt. Rushmore scenes on them.The tie on the bottom right is the same one I have on in my mug shot above. Now, I’m noticing guys on TV, like my favorite late night talk show host, Craig Ferguson, are starting to sport those plain old boring mono-colored skinny ties again just like my cousin Grouse and I used to wear when we were trying to look and sound like the Everly-Brothers in the early 60’s.  They certainly didn’t require nearly as much material as during the 70’s when ties got as wide as Orson Wells’ underpants. You needed special training to tie the knot which wound up as big as the head of a Siamese cat."Night Show" band 1973.  Our keyboard player, Dave Nuss, hadn’t gotten his big tie yet.
Things settled down during the Reagan years; mostly medium-width, calm colors and conservative stripes.It was during this time that Keloland weatherman, Dave Dedrick, came up with one of the most brilliant promotional campaigns in the station’s history.As a joke, Dave and his friend, Gary Hartenhoff, would exchange the most god-awful looking ties they could find for Christmas…daring each other to wear them in public. Always up for a challenge, Dedrick put his on during the weather show and told viewers if they had a tie that was any uglier, they should send it in and he’d wear it on TV too. Well, horrid ties of all descriptions and sizes started arriving at the station by the hundreds. People would make it a point to tune in..just to find out which ugly tie dave was wearing that night.Dave with a few of the ugly ties sent in by viewers.
When the ugly tie contest finally ended two years later, nearly three thousand had been received. The title of most ugly was awarded to the one that had images of sewer rats all over it. Dave Dedrick, Steve Hemmingsen, Jim Burt and me celebrating the end of the contest in 1982 with an ugly tie cake baked by a viewer and delivered to the station.
Most of those ugly ties ended up as things of beauty thanks to the gentle hands of church ladies’ sewing clubs who transformed them into colorful warm quilts which were auctioned off for charity.
During the 90’s, neckwear fashion changed again with Rush Limbaugh, of all people, leading the way. The more wild and colorful the better.Rush with a tie made for radio
The 2000’s have been rather modest by neckwear standards;  pretty much any width or color is okay.Until now, that is.I still like the ones I have but maybe I’ll have to break down and go buy a couple of those narrow jobs. I hear they have a slimming effect.

What A Team!

Posted: Monday, March 23, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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WOW!
South Dakota State University 90Texas Christian University       55
Apparently I wasn’t the only one who missed a good portion of the South Dakota State Women’s incredible debut in the NCAA tournament Sunday night. We were under the impression their game against TCU in Buddy Holly’s hometown of Lubbock Texas was going to be televised by ESPN2 in high definition. It wasn’t until well into the first half that we realized the network had no plans to switch from the Green Bay/LSU contest so by the time I finally found it on channel 48..the Jacks were already up by 30 points. I have to admit that, other than watching Jay Elsen’s game highlights on Keloland sports, I have not seen the Jacks play this season. Now, here I finally had a chance to see them in action but figured with such a big lead, the coach would pull out all the star players and I’d wind up watching the reserves finish out the contest. Well, I quickly learned what most of you already know; this is a “team” in the truest sense of the word.The Jacks’ greatness is in the fact that there are no stars..no egos to coddle. They play as a single smooth-running machine made up of several beautifully-crafted parts; switched-on at the beginning of the game and not turned off again until the final buzzer sounds.  And these are OUR girls; all Midwesterners from places like Mitchell, Yankton, Sioux Falls, Worthington, Salem and Willow Lake. With ponytails bouncing, they run, run, run up and down the floor..wearing out their confused defenders with sharp quick passes back and forth until somebody’s open underneath or there’s a clear shot from outside the three point circle..then swish!  It’s such a joy to behold.   As soon as one needs a breather, there’s another equally talented player on the bench ready to go in. Even though I missed the early part of the game, I didn’t really miss anything because their intensity level never changes. I suppose the TCU coach could have accused the Jacks of running up the score but when these girls are willing to risk injury by diving head first for a loose ball even with a 40 point lead, they’re not showing off..they simply don’t know any other way to play than full bore and flat out.  Their impressive performance Sunday night now has all the sports analysts buzzing about these Jackrabbits from little Brookings, South Dakota who had six players in double figures, tied the record for three pointers, had 28 assists on 34 baskets and were plus 5 in turnovers. “How far can they ‘hop’ up the bracket?” I heard one say. “We’ll, they should be lucky with all those rabbit’s feet,” said another. Cute..but a team as terrific as this one makes its own luck. I wonder if we’ll get to see them in hi-def when they play in the championship game.

MGB For Sale (Maybe)

Posted: Wednesday, March 18, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Best as I can figure, I’ve owned just 16 cars in my lifetime and still have four of them. I’ve told you before about my inability to part with vehicles until they’ve lost all trade-in value and are in such bad shape they could be written off as totaled if the gas tank is about empty.
One in particular I’ve hung on to for 35 years and even though it sits dead in the garage, she’s like Norman Bates’ mother in Psycho..I just can’t let her go.
In 1976, I was in my third year working at Keloland television. I had married for the second time and became step-dad to her two daughters. They, along with my two girls, made for quite a house full and, I don’t mind telling you, money was pretty tight.   I was able to supplement our income by playing music five nights a week at the Station Break lounge located right next door to KELO.  I could be out the back door of the TV station and on stage singing within a matter of seconds.  One night our bass player, knowing my love for sports cars, told me about a neighbor of his who had a 1969 MGB for sale and was only asking $800! This isn’t mine but it’s what she looked like new.Eight Hundred Bucks!? That’s an absolute steal. I’d have to borrow the money… but won’t the family be surprised when I drive that little bugger home? 
Now, I know what you’re thinking and, in hindsight,I probably should have at least checked with my wife before closing the deal but you gotta understand my lifelong passion for two-seater sports cars.
It began in the early 50’s while watching a little remembered TV series called “Boston Blackie.” It was about a former thief who now worked on the right side of the law. Anyway, he drove around chasing crooks in the most fantastic car I’d ever seen..a sleek little roadster..a functional work of art. Boston Blackie’s car was the first all fiberglass vehicle. It was made by a boat company. I still love it. The series only lasted a couple of seasons but I never forgot about that car and vowed to one day have one like it. When I heard about the MG at such a great price, I figured this must be God’s way of saying “Well done good and faithful servant, enjoy your long awaited reward.”
I was right about one thing; the girls, ages 11, 9 and 7, all shrieked with delight when they saw me drive around the corner and into the driveway. They all started begging for a ride and arguing over where they were going to sit. When my wife saw it, she shrieked too..but not with joy.  She apparently had never seen a single episode of Boston Blackie. All she saw was a big green toy purchased by a selfish inconsiderate clod with money we didn’t have.  She was right, of course, and it was mighty cold around our house that hot summer.Eventually, though, she sort of accepted it into the family..especially after seeing all four girls seated on the back lid like homecoming queens, laughing and waving to everybody as I slowly paraded them around the neighborhood. The marriage eventually ended but the MG stayed with me. It would sometimes sit parked for years at a time in need of repair but I wasn’t about to part with my dream car.By contrast, Linda loved the little car and always looked forward to going for rides on nice weekends. She didn’t seem to mind the many times we had to stop at a farmhouse for water because it overheated or would sputter to a stop in the middle of nowhere and I’d have to get the electric fuel pump unstuck by banging on it with a hammer. But love is fickle and after I bought our Camaro convertible in 1996, (with Linda’s permission and blessing and which we still have) the MGB got tucked in the corner of our garage where she has remained to this day.  Today, my little dream car has become a shelf for patio furniture. A few years ago, I decided garage space overruled sentimentality and put her on the street for sale. But I wasn’t all that disappointed when there were no serious takers. After all, according to E-bay, my little dream car is something of a collector’s item and is more valuable now than when I got her three and a half decades ago..which is more than I can say for any other of my investments lately. Still, we COULD use that space in the garage.hmmmmm.

Food For Thought

Posted: Friday, March 13, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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I used to enjoy going to the grocery store. Now..not so much. I just get mad.  Food shopping has gotten like buying gasoline last summer: you know you’re getting ripped off but there’s not a dang thing you can do about it. When the cost of food shot through the roof last year, we were told it was because manufacturers and wholesalers we’re shelling out record prices for nearly everything from grain to diesel fuel.  Well, now those expenses are half of what they were so why haven’t we seen those savings passed back to us?  It seems the laws of gravity don’t apply in the business world. Everything that goes up doesn’t necessarily have to come down. Food companies buy many of their commodity supplies on the futures market meaning they lock themselves in to a predetermined rate. Those contracts aren’t up yet so, they say, there are no savings to pass along. They didn’t have a problem, though, with “immediately” raising prices on products already in stock or on store shelves purchased at the old contract price. So who’s to blame for my box of Grape Nuts (which contains neither grapes nor nuts) going up a dollar and a half in the last year? Nobody apparently.  Some point the finger at the ethanol industry for using up a third of the corn harvest to make fuel. Farmers say, don’t look at us, our cost of production offsets any gains at the grain elevator. Grocery stores say they’re just as mad as we are. Several supermarket executives are planning to retaliate by shifting more of their products to house brands.   In the past, I’ve been willing to pay an extra few cents for name brand stuff hoping to avoid things like those chunks of stem I usually find in a can of “great deal” green beans or that cut-rate catsup that tastes like somebody at the factory left the vinegar spigot on too long. But that may have to change..especially when like today I noticed the savings on some store brand items are as much as 30 to 50 percent. Now you’re talkin’ real money. Please, no lectures on how food in this country is still such a bargain (it’s up around ten percent in 15 months) or how I shouldn’t eat so much anyway or about growing a garden this summer or clipping coupons and driving all over town looking for deals.  The fact is that, with a few exceptions like some perishable items, food prices are way out of line. Somebody is cashing-in on a situation that no longer exists. I read where one food company representative actually said that it would be foolish to lower grocery prices now only to have to raise them again when fuel and grain costs go back up as they are expected to do. Besides, he said..and I’m paraphrasing..customers are adjusting to the increases without a lot of complaint. Tell that to the elderly lady ahead of me in line at the grocery store who came up short at the check-out. She had accidentally grabbed the Nabisco oyster crackers for $3.49..instead of the store brand ones on special for a dollar.Same size package..same ingredients..a logical mistake but an illogical price discrepancy. 
 
 

A Bit Of Cheer On A Stormy Day

Posted: Tuesday, March 10, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Snow..cold..gusty Northwest winds..blechhh.It’s March so what did you expect..sunny, mild, bird-song singin’ zip ah dee do dah days until we slip gently into Spring? I don’t think so..not around here anyway. No, the month of March is like Lucy holding the football for Charley Brown to kick. He knows she’s probably going to pull it away at the last second and he’ll fall on his keester again..but he keeps on believing that maybe this once she’ll have a heart. But Lucy, like the month of March, has no heart; only taking pleasure in our gullibility and frustrations.Sometimes, when I need a little cheering up, especially on cold, stormy miserable days like this, I go through old e-mails from people who like to send me jokes or humorous pictures. Most I wouldn’t dare post here and most just aren’t that funny..but a few do tickle me and I hope they may help get your mind out of the snow bank too.Either the police sketch artist is way off or this Anchor has some splainin’ to do.Make up your own joke.A novel idea for a costume party don’t ya think?Herb..sometimes I think we may be spoiling Jeffy. "Like, I hope I got this Notre Dame cheerleading scholorship for more than my good looks."It’s been hard for Sommer to adjust to her state’s new helmet law.Sommer also works at the bakery part time taking cake orders.This was Hemmingsen’s last birthday gift to his wife before the divorce.I vish zey all could be caleefornya girls.Well, that’s all for now. Linda needs to use the bathroom. 

Strike Up The Banned

Posted: Friday, March 6, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Well, unless Governor Rounds pulls a fast one like he did on the abortion ban, smoking in every public place..except a couple cigar bars..will be banned as of July 1st.   Thank god. The wishes of the many have triumphed over the rights of the few.Now people can stop worrying about catching cancer or having a heart attack because they walked through a smoky bar. And thank you lawmakers for helping us all to realize what’s best for us..what’s good for us..especially the children.
It’s too late this session..but next time around why not take an even bolder step and ban the sale and consumption of alcohol in South Dakota?  Oh, sure, we’d lose a lot of tax revenue but if the objective of these bans is to protect our citizens from harm, what could be more fitting than to eliminate the source of half the car accidents in which innocent people, including the children, are killed or injured by drunk drivers? Think of all the other problems that would go away if booze went away. No more families destroyed by alcoholic addicted dads and moms; murders, rapes and other violent crimes would drop dramatically; no more unwanted pregnancies because of guys taking advantage of their drunk girlfriends; no more firings over three martini lunches and on and on. 
Exceptions could be made, I suppose, to churches for communion. But it probably should come with a  strong recommendation for them to gradually phase-in grape juice and phase-out the wine. You might also cut some slack to those clubs made up of old war veterans who’ve been saving a bottle of brandy so the last couple of survivors can drink a toast to their dead buddies and to the freedom they all fought for.
Writer, James Lileks had an interesting observation on all this. He’s from Minnesota..a state that never met a ban it didn’t like. He says, "Now and then it seems that  banning is all they (lawmakers) can do. It’s all they seem to want to do. That’s the problem with a free nation: you can’t make yourself significant by granting freedoms, so you spend your time looking for freedoms to restrict in the name of a greater good, and there’s always a greater good.”

The Lenten Miracle

Posted: Wednesday, March 4, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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(I don’t intend to make a habit out of doing blog re-runs but someone the other day asked me about this one I wrote a couple years ago so I decided to give it a second go around.) 
What are you giving up for Lent?
We Christians love to ask that question and compare the degrees of personal sacrifice and hardship we are willing to endure for a few weeks each Spring.
Christian #1 “I’ve gone without chocolate for a month, thought I’d never get through it.”
Christian #2 “Well, I haven’t had the TV on since Fat Tuesday and missed out on the best parts of “Survivor and American Idol”..who was kicked off?  No don’t tell me until Sunday.”
I guess the main reason people give up pleasurable things during lent is to serve as a reminder of Christ’s suffering.
I usually don’t take part in the giving-up thing because I’m always reminded of His suffering this time of year from an episode in my youth.
During the week of Ash Wednesday, every kid in Sunday School class would be issued a container about the size of a pop can. It had a slot in the top and was wrapped in holy purple construction paper with our names written on it.
It was our responsibility to fill those cans with coins during Lent. The money would then be donated to the poor or to foreign missions or something. We were to bring those Lenten Coin Containers back to church with us on Easter Sunday. Then each class would march up front to deposit them on the altar demonstrating the financial sacrifice we had made for our risen Lord.
Both my two brothers and I always had good intentions of putting every spare piece of change we had into those cans but would wind up blowing it on candy, the pin-ball machine at City Cafe or the must-have spring edition of baseball cards that just arrived at Westaby’s Clover Farm store.
Before long it was the Saturday night before Easter morning and we’d only managed to drop a few measly pennies in those cans over the last 40 days and now faced the embarrassment of having the whole congregation discover what sinful, lazy cheapskates those Lund boys were.
And that’s when God worked His miracle!
As we reached for our mostly empty Lenten Coin Containers and prepared to face the scorn of the masses at church, we were shocked to find the cans were suddenly heavy..filled nearly to the brim with pennies, nickels, dimes and a few quarters.
A guardian angel had come in the night to save us!
I think of that wonderful angel a lot. She was not only there for me at Easter but anytime I needed someone to bail me out of trouble with no questions asked.
I sure miss you mom.

Radio Days

Posted: Monday, March 2, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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It’s a long drive between Sioux Falls and Phoenix..lots of time to spend listening to the radio.  For some reason, (I can’t imagine why) Linda and I enjoy the oldies stations best. We must not be the only ones because no sooner would we drive out of one station’s signal range than we’d press the scan button and find another. Besides the old music, near every one also carried something else old and familiar; Paul Harvey News and Commentary. I couldn’t help but notice on our trip this time that the great communicator’s voice, while still clear and steady, wasn’t quite as powerful as it once was.  What hadn’t changed, though, was his method of delivery; filled with those famous pauses to keep listeners hanging onto his every word..waiting for a poignant point..a chuckle or an ironic twist.  He applied the same techniques to the many commercials he narrated..coming very close on more than one occasion to selling me a Bose acoustic wave machine.Time Magazine photoI got to thinking about how different radio is going to be when  Paul Harvey is no longer a part of it.  Little did I realize we would have to find out so soon.  The 90 year old broadcast legend’s voice fell silent over the weekend. I know not everyone always appreciated Mr. Harvey’s folksy midwest manner or his rather conservative points of view, but few can dispute the man’s ability to hold a radio audience through skills honed over more than 60 years behind the microphone.Speaking of radio legends, I spent some time with three of them last week. Joe Morrison, one of the original voices on KXRB, and still there, asked if I’d like to come on his morning program to chat for awhile. Joe, whose mind is like a country music encyclopedia, tried himself to retire a couple years ago but just couldn’t stay away from the profession he’s loved for so long. Well, we managed to zip through the better part of an hour sharing radio and TV stories with his listeners. While in the studios, I also got the chance to catch up with my longtime pal, KXRB news director, Jerry Dahmen. Jerry has won just about every broadcasting award the industry has to offer..several times! He spent 17 years at WSM in Nashville rubbing elbows with and interviewing all the stars of country music. He has also written two books and recorded a couple CD’s based on his long running radio series, “I Love Life” in which he tells the stories of people who’ve overcome all sorts of obstacles life has put in their path. With Joe Morrison (left) and Jerry Dahmen (right) of KXRB radio.Later that day I was on the air with Grant Peterson during his “Great Afternoon Smorgasbord” program over KBRK radio in Brookings. Grant has been doing radio since 1959 and is a big hit especially with “seasoned” listeners. Like Paul Harvey, Grant does his own commercials and also possesses the unique ability to make you feel like you absolutely must have whatever product he happens to be pitching.
Both Joe Morrison and Grant Peterson gave me a chance to talk on the air about my involvement as a board of director’s member in the South Dakota Rock and Roll Music Association and Hall of Fame.  Big things are happening with that new organization including our first induction ceremony Sunday May 24th at the old Arkota Ballroom..the El Riad Shrine Mosque..just across the street from Keloland Television at 14th and Phillips downtown Sioux Falls. The other big news is that the Washington Pavilion has agreed to provide a special space on the second floor for the Hall of Fame which will have all sorts of memorabilia on display from South Dakota’s rock and roll music history including musical instruments, band posters and rare recordings. To find out more about the ceremony and this year’s inductees or to share a South Dakota rock and roll story or two, check out hall of fame website by clicking here.