Archive for November 2010

Street Savvy

Posted: Tuesday, November 30, 2010 at 11:39 am
By: Doug Lund
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If there’s one thing I’ve learned in over 40 years of living here is that Sioux Falls residents do NOT want the city to take any shortcuts when it comes to  taking care of our streets (ALL of them) during (or preceding) winter weather..and they don’t give a rip what it costs.   

Apparently our new mayor doesn’t see it that way and has concluded that there’s plenty of fat to be trimmed from the snow removal budget..so he’s decided that, to save money, Sioux Falls will no longer pre-treat our streets with chemicals before ice and snow storms. Plus secondary routes and side streets will not be treated unless it’s warranted.  Warranted? Nobody’s asking that the plows roll for every inch deep snowfall but folks would certainly appreciate and deserve to have a sand/salt truck to come by rather than wait for a warm sunny day to take care of the frozen rutty streets. 

How many drivers in the last week were involved in fender bending accidents that might have been prevented if somebody at city hall would have glanced up at a weather radar screen to see that freezing rain or snow was headed our way; time to dispatch the chemical trucks.   Nope, that’s not the policy anymore.  Of course drivers need to be more cautious when the weather stinks, but come on…if there’s a way to make the streets safer and we don’t take advantage of it because of the cost…well, that’s just wrong. 

Mr. Mayor, why don’t you have a little public gathering outside the comfortable but cramped confines  of the Wisk and Chop or go door to door and ask local taxpayers how they feel about your bright idea to cut back on winter street services to save a few bucks.

I’ll save you the trouble. Here’s what most will say: “Spend whatever it takes..but we want our streets treated and plowed as soon as humanly possible.” “If we can’t afford to keep our streets up, how in the %$^&* can we afford to spend a couple hundred million dollars on an events center we actually do NOT need.”   

I’ve always wondered what happens to the money in the snow removal budget that goes unused in those years when we have open winters and the plows pretty much stay parked.  Apparently it winds up in some other kitty.

Just a thought, here. Why not create a special account (hey, you could call it a “slush” fund) where unspent snow removal dollars are deposited. Allow it to build up and earn interest during dry years and draw from it when we have those biblical proportion winters?

I can hear it now..hizhonor saying in his infamously colorful language..Lund hasn’t got a  @#$%&! clue about how city government works. And that’s true..but I do know people in this town pretty well and would bet my social security check that the majority look at snow removal like health insurance..it’s expensive and we hope it’s never needed but if and when the time comes, don’t be cutting any corners. We want the best care possible.

I wonder if I let my sidewalk go un-shoveled this winter city officials will show up on my unplowed side street to give me a ticket.

Thank You For Being A Friend

Posted: Saturday, November 27, 2010 at 11:13 am
By: Doug Lund
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I see my friend, Greg Belfrage is taking a lot of heat for finally shoving his eternal loyalty for the Minnesota Vikings over the side and jumping on board with the Green Bay Packers.  My friend, Kerry Thill is discovering how much better things taste and smell after 47 days without a cigarette but still wants one so bad her teeth itch. My friend, Kenyon Gleeson has just bagged a big deer with a bow and arrow after sitting in a deer stand in the cold for hours and hours. He says it was all worth it.  My friend, Randi Hamer swore she wasn’t going shopping on Black Friday but wound up in the Target check-out line anyway with piles of purchases. Loyal listeners to KORN Radio in Mitchell can relax, my friend, J.P. Skelly isn’t quitting from overworking himself. He’s simply taking a badly needed week-long vacation. My friend, Reid Holsen uses White Castle hamburgers as stuffing for his Thanksgiving turkey. My friend, Tracy Roskens is at a standoff with her dog who refuses to pee outside in the rain. Trouble is, she lives in New Orleans so her poor puppy is likely to explode.

facebook

I know all these things because I’ve become a Facebook junkie; spending way too much time on the social networking website snooping around finding out what people are up to and looking at the pictures they post. It’s odd because initially I wanted nothing to do with Facebook figuring it was mostly used by high school and college kids for swapping pictures and way too much personal information. But, a couple years ago, my daughter helped me sign up and now I have about 325 friends and a hundred more who requested friendship but I haven’t approved yet because, in most cases, I have no idea who they are.    What makes Facebook so addicting is that for every friend you approve, you can see who “their” friends are and discover you know some of them too but havent seen or heard from them in years.  I’ve been able to touch base with lots and lots of folks I used to work with at Kelo or played with in bands. I can look at their pictures and post photos of my own. 

Oh, there’s a lot of garbage on Facebook too. If, for example,  someone is constantly sending me internet games to play, or requesting I attend some event, they usually get the heave-ho or wind up having their name hidden from view.  

Facebook is a good way to keep up with things my kids, grandkids and other family members are doing, although there are some revelations I’d rather “not” know.   Even the Chief Executive has a Facebook page but it turns out to be all politics and no pictures of Michelle and the kids or of his stitched up lip from that basketball injury..so I won’t be asking to be his friend.

I wonder if the Prez would approve me as a friend

 I think, for some of us, Facebook brings out our instinctive need to be nosey; to snoop on people without them knowing it. My mom’s Facebook was the party line telephone. Linda’s Facebook is when we drive through a nice neighborhood at night and she can see inside people’s windows.

I am mostly a window peeker myself; rarely making a comment unless it’s to plug my blogs on keloland.com or to wish friends a happy birthday. But I did write on Facebook the other day that I was concerned about guests showing up for Thanksgiving dinner and falling on their keester because the walks and driveway were covered with ice. When I got home from driving around looking for a place to buy de-icer, there was a 25 pound bag of it sitting on my front porch. It was from a neighbor who read about my dilemma on Facebook and wanted to help out.

Isn’t that nice? But, hey, that’s what friends are for.

  

Bearing It All About Beer

Posted: Monday, November 22, 2010 at 3:42 pm
By: Doug Lund
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I don’t like beer all that much.

Oh, on a hot day after mowing the yard or playing a round of golf, a beer is pretty refreshing..but usually, one or, if it’s really hot outside, two is enough.  I have lots of friends who really love beer and plenty of it but if I were to partake on their level I’d be spending most of my time in the toity or trying to conjure up a giant belch to rid myself of the uncomfortable effervescence attempting desperately to escape from my ample abdomen one way or another.

Funny, I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to buy my first beer legally. It was at the Volga Pool Hall on my 18th birthday; a 15 cent tap. I remember thinking it didn’t taste any better than the illegal sips I’d tried up to then.  It’s an acquired taste, I decided, but also felt a little betrayed by all the announcers on KELO TV; the only channel we got. Brewers picked up a big part of the tab for evening newscasts and KELO on-air personnel were required to do beer commercials LIVE. They did an amazing job making me want to try a beer so bad I could taste it. Sports director, Jim Burt, for example, would hold up a frosty glass of Hamms  and tell us how crisp and clean cut it was: “Refreshingly yours from the land of sky blue waters.” 

beer jim burt

You couldn’t actually drink beer live on TV back then and I once asked Jim what became of that glass of Hamms every night. He told me it  actually got pretty warm under the studio lights  and not too tempting but it usually disappeared.

One of Keloland’s first weather men, Gene Piaat, spent at least two minutes during his weather segments touting the wonders of Grain Belt, “America’s Party Beer.”

Bill Rohn’s weekend sports was sponsored by Storz Beer, “light, dry and smooth.”

beer bill rohn storz

I don’t know when or why local TV personalities stopped being pitchmen for the breweries. Maybe it’s because they made it sound a bit too appealing to thirsty little kids like me watching at home.

I must have done a dozen stories about beer during my reporting days. I remember featuring a guy in Southwest Minnesota in 1976 who started collecting cans of Billy Beer..named after President Carter’s beer swilling little brother whose very public drinking binges were legendary and an embarrassment to the White House. I hear the beer wasn’t very good and the cans really aren’t worth much to collectors or on ebay.

In 1980, I did a story with a local distributor who had laid in stacks and stacks of beer named after J.R. Ewing, the character on the TV show, Dallas.  J.R. was the subject of a summer-long TV cliffhanger in which the audience was left to wonder who had shot him in the final episode.

beer jrAnyway, Pearl Brewing Company in San Antonio decided to cash in on the “Who shot J.R.” phenomenon and blend up a beer for all the Dallas fans.  

 

I wasn’t a fan but I bought a six pack anyway thinking it might someday  be worth something. It isn’t.,.and, after 30 years, it still sits unopened on display in my basement. Maybe I should just pop open a few cans after I mow next spring..or do you suppose that some of the golden deliciousness might have disappeared in 30 years?

beer maureen ogleOne person who came real close to making me a beer convert, was Maureen Ogle..an author from Iowa who was in Sioux Falls promoting her latest book called “Ambitious Brew,” an ambitious project chronicling the history of American beer.

She’d done a lot of research and over a beer after our interview she explained to me how conventional wisdom has it that giant breweries, driven by corporate greed, have flooded the U.S. with inferior-tasting swill, and the only beer worth drinking is from scattered boutique microbrewers. Ogle doesn’t buy that and says  companies like Miller and Anheuser-Busch are actually near-perfect embodiments of the American dream (in which “liberty nurtured ambition, and ambition fostered success”)—and if their beers became noticeably blander 50 years ago, it’s because consumers wanted it that way.  She even compared beer to wine in that various varieties can and  should be explored to best complement a meal. “So it’s not just good with pizza and hot dogs then?” I asked.  “Heavens no.” She said.

Beer to me is like lutefisk; a little goes a long way and overdoing it will  make me so full of gas they could tie a string to my toe and float me down down 5th Avenue on Thanksgiving Day.

Speaking of Thanksgiving. I hope you all have a happy one. And, if we should run into each other over the Holidays ..hey, say hello and maybe we can go someplace and have a beer. You’re buyin, of course.

Painful Memories

Posted: Tuesday, November 16, 2010 at 3:22 pm
By: Doug Lund
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I can count on one hand the number of times in 32 years at Keloland, that I missed work because I was sick. I mean, REALLY sick..not suffering from one of those mysterious 12 hour bugs which some people get. You know, those that show up at sunrise and disappear at sunset.  There were lots of times when I probably shouldn’t have gone in..choosing instead to contaminate my colleagues with clouds of germs from constant sneezing and coughing. But the truth is, I hated to miss an on-air shift and was just paranoid enough to worry that whoever they got to fill in for me would do a better job and take over permanently so I rarely called in sick. 

I might have this week, though, if I had a real job because an old nemesis, tonsillitis, has raised its ugly head for the first time in years..looking like morel mushrooms at the back of my throat and making the decision to swallow an excruciatingly painful one. 

These are not my tonsils but that's what they would look like

These are not my tonsils but that's what they would look like

I can hear some of you saying..why didn’t you have them taken out when you were a kid?  Well, once my friend made me gag after showing me his extracted tonsils floating around in a jar of formaldehyde. They looked like a couple of the creatures my mom would use to make oyster stew.  Still, my bouts with tonsillitis became so frequent and painful; I agreed to have the surgery next time I had a flare-up. Sure enough, my tonsil troubles returned but this time, mom took me to the clinic in nearby Brookings where the doctor gave me a shot of penicillin and, amazingly, within a couple hours, the swelling in my neck went down and those disgusting white deposits attached to each tonsil disappeared.  I had several more occasions to get that penicillin shot but each time it took longer for the drug to do its magic. Thankfully, by the time I’d graduated from high school, my annual battles with tonsillitis had become a distant memory. Until now, that is.  I woke up in the middle of the night Sunday with a familiar unpleasant feeling in the back of my throat. I’ve been doing battle ever since with dozens of Advil, Amoxicillin (left over from my root canal in May) and something I’d never heard of before that  is saving my sanity; Cepacol sore throat lozenges. cepacolTheir active ingredient is similar to what the dentist rubs on your gums to ease the pain of the anesthetic shots. They don’t taste great but sure do live up to the claims of working instantly to ease the pain. The only trouble is, you have to keep one in your mouth pretty much at all times and I’m running out.

I’ve found that a distilled beverage on ice has a soothing effect too and I believe we have an adequate supply of that in the cabinet.

“Honey, would you mind making me a cocktail? “I’m sick.”

White Lightnin’s Last Ride

Posted: Friday, November 12, 2010 at 7:43 am
By: Doug Lund
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If you’ve ever taken that sad trip to the vet to have an ailing pet put to sleep..you’ll know how I felt this week.  

White Lightnin’ our 1990 Lincoln Town Car, which I’ve had for 18 years and written about several times here, is gone. Her just reward for such long and faithful service is a spot in the Ewe-Pullet yard at Nordstrom’s Auto Recycling near Garretson to be picked over for parts and stripped clean by salvagers like vultures on a dead wildebeest..then squished flat and melted down to hopefully be turned into steel to make another car for somebody some day. 

Nordstrom's..White Lightnin's final resting place

Nordstrom's..White Lightnin's final resting place

I’d been driving Ol’Lightnin’ up until this past week and, in fact, would have kept her through another winter but try as I might, I couldn’t get her finicky heater to function again..so I had to make that dreaded call to Doug at Nordstrom’s.   He had read a blog I’d written several months ago telling about the old Lincoln’s eerie ability to heal itself: a leaky power steering unit that suddenly “stopped” leaking, an air suspension system, radio and heater that mysteriously sprang back to life..and other restorative oddities. But this year, many of those same problems returned so I reluctantly called a Sioux Falls business I saw in the Shoppers News that advertised it will pay top dollar for any vehicle in any condition. But when I told them what I had they said “NO..NOT INTERESTED.”  What an indignity. That’s when Doug from Nordstrom’s let me know that I could bring her out there and he’d even give me a couple hundred bucks for it. (That’s one good thing about big heavy cars..they’re worth more as scrap.) “Should we send a truck out to haul it in?”Doug asked.  “Oh, no,” I said, “She runs just fine. I’ll drive her there myself.”

On that last ride, as we smoothly sailed down the road , I couldn’t help but think of all the places we’d been in that car and how great she looked when I bought it used at Frankman Motors in 1992. Her lovely white paint job glistened in the sun and every passenger commented how she rode like a dream in town or down the highway.  When our daughter, Suzan, got married..the Lincoln served as their private limousine, shuttling the happy couple around on their wedding day with dad as chauffeur.  

When I pulled in to Nordstrom’s, I half expected the radio to come on and the heater to start working as a one last desperate attempt to save herself.  But not this time; she was ready to accept fate.

Me collecting my 30 pieces of silver from Nordstrom's Doug Abeln

Me collecting my 30 pieces of silver from Nordstrom's Doug Abeln

“Do you see a lot of people who get emotionally attached to their vehicles and are reluctant to give them up?” I asked Doug as I’m snapping pictures for posterity.   “ No No..lots of folks feel just like you,” he said. “If you’re taking photos for your blog would you like to hang around for a shot of the fork lift loading it up and hauling her off to the yard?”  “Naw, that’s alright. I said. 

Just then I noticed some fluid start to slowly drip down from White Lightnin’s power steering unit.

I’ll miss you too, old friend.

Forgetting To Remember

Posted: Tuesday, November 9, 2010 at 11:21 am
By: Doug Lund
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I started writing a blog the other day and after a while I noticed that it seemed vaguely familiar.  So, I checked though my files and, sure enough, I’d blogged about the very same thing less than two years ago. It’s not the first time this has happened either. I suppose that, after nearly 400 of these compositions, it’s not unusual to occasionally cover some of the same territory…but to re-write things nearly word for word and not be aware of it is scary on a several levels; A) I’m slowly slipping into the wondrous world of dementia which is not uncommon for people of my advanced years: B) I could wind up suing myself for plagiarism. 

Occasionally,  I’ll be telling Linda about something when she gently interrupts to inform me that  I’d already told her the same thing the night before. I usually just write off those memory lapses to having spent way too much time at the 19th hole after a round of golf. But maybe there’s more to it.

Does anyone else have to hold a finger on numbers in the phone book because you can’t retain 7 digits in your head long enough to dial the party you want? Have you ever called someone and, when they answer, forgotten why you rang them in the first place?  

There are times when I’ll see a very familiar word and suddenly it becomes oddly foreign in my mind and I have trouble figuring out how its spelled.  “Yeah, I have those senior moments once in a while too,” Linda says. But I think she’s just being sympathetic. I’ve learned the hard way that she NEVER forgets anything. Her recall of dumb things I’ve said and done over the last 30 years is pristine and available at a moments notice during our rare but rousing disputes.

I was always jealous of people with great memories like Dave Dedrick. Okay, he might light up one cigarette forgetting he had another burning in the ashtray, but boy could he remember stories from his rich and colorful life as a TV icon.   I could listen to him talk for hours and hours sharing his entertaining adventures in remarkable detail. Oh, how I wish I could hear some of those stories again.

Steve Hemmingsen is one of the smartest guys I know and can remember names, dates and pertinent details about stories that made the news way in the past. But Steve will also tell me the same thing he told me the day before. Hell, an hour before. But if he’s aware of this fact or the least bit concerned about it,  I haven’t noticed.

I shouldn’t be worried either, I guess. Someone sent me an e-mail recently which contains a simple test to determine if you’re trending toward the big “A” and I passed with flying colors. I was going to print it here but can’t remember where I saved it.  

Oh, yeah.. it’s HERE 

Something REALLY worth remembering is that November 11th is Veterans Day. A big thanks to ALL of you who’ve served this country in the military.  We have lost so many World War Two vets in the last year. That’s why I’m so thankful for the “Honor Flight” program which has provided surviving veterans a chance to visit their memorial in Washington, D.C . The final flight in South Dakota departs, appropriately enough, on Veterans Day. 

uncle johnnyMy uncle, Johnny Gruseth, who died in the late sixties, always remembered November 11th as Armistice Day; commemorating the end of World War One…his war. All I know is that he fought in it and returned home safely. I sure wish I could have asked him about his experiences in battle and in the trenches. And, oh, yes,  to thank him for putting his life on the line to protect the freedom we now so easily take for granted.

Odds And Ends

Posted: Tuesday, November 2, 2010 at 8:43 am
By: Doug Lund
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Went to see my doctor today fully expecting to be gently chewed out for not having lost any weight since our last visit and fearing that my lab results would reflect the lackadaisical lifestyle I have fallen into. But he was kind, sympathetic and helpful plus the tests of my bodily fluids and a physical exam surprisingly showed no major abnormalities so, I guess, I could have done without all the worrying and sleepless nights. I did promise him, though, that I’d make friends with  the treadmill downstairs which we’ve treated  like a fragile sculpture (look but don’t touch)  instead of a piece of exercise equipment. It’s a promise I’d better keep because I’m scheduled to see him again in six weeks and doubt  he’ll let me off so easy if I fail to live up to my end of the bargain.

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 It sure has been quiet around here since Friday when granddaughter Zoey went back to Lincoln, Nebraska after spending several days with us. She just turned nine and, I suppose it’s inevitable that, eventually, she won’t find these trips to South Dakota as appealing as she does now, but her presence certainly lights up our lives.

Zoey looking convincingly fierce at the Pavilion

Zoey looking convincingly fierce at the Pavilion

 

Linda and I have gone to the movies twice in one week; unheard of considering our disdain for twenty dollar popcorn and noisy patrons. But we thought Zoey would like to see the film, “Secretariat.” It turns out; she loved it as did we. Then, Sunday, we decided to give ourselves a “treat” on Halloween by skipping out on the annual door to door extortion ritual before the bell started ringing and go see Clint Eastwood’s latest film,” Hereafter.”  It’s hard to believe that the same guy who made his mark in Hollywood playing characters like Rowdy Yates (Rawhide TV series) and Inspector “Dirty” Harry Callahan has developed into such a brilliant and sensitive movie director. Like millions of others, I really like just about any film that Matt Damon is in and Lord knows he’s been in a lot of them. He’s he’s really fine here too as a psychic who is the real deal but reluctant to use his special gifts of communicating with the dead because it is just too hard on him mentally. The film only gives us a few quick blurry glimpses of the hereafter but the clear message is that there is indeed life after death only perhaps not as perceived by organized religions.  It’s a touchy subject and few directors besides the 80 year old Eastwood could take on such a project and pull it off.

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 My team, the Minnesota Vikings are beyond disappointing this season..but you all know that. This time, though, I’m inclined to give Randy Moss a pass because coach Childress and Brett Favre sure weren’t sending any his way. As soon as they made the deal to get Moss back, I said they better not just use him as a decoy or he’ll pout and quit again. If this South Dakota couch potato has that figured out..how in the world could those calling the plays for Minnesota be so dumb not to? So what if Moss was in double coverage, Favre was back to throwing interceptions by the bucket load anyway, why not send a few bombs Randy’s way so he could show off a little by doing what he does best; out leaping and out running his defenders no matter how many there are? Stroke his enormous ego a bit..it will win games. Nope, instead, like I said on Facebook, Childress’ decision to only use Randy to free up the other receivers is like hitching Secretariat up to the Budweiser beer wagon.  Ugh..don’t get me started.

AND NOW, A FEW QUICK OBSERVATIONS AND CONFESSIONS:

 The Gillette Fusion razor is the greatest invention since men first began scraping whiskers off their face and women started shaving their underarms and legs. Unlike politicians, It really lives up to the advertising hype. 

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 I hardly watched any of the World Series this year. Didn’t care which team won.

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I don’t think those who are enamored with wind energy have really thought it through. Take a drive around the Buffalo Ridge in Minnesota and see if you can honestly say..yeah, I really like these giant wind turbines covering the landscape in every direction as far as the eye can see sort of like the oil derricks in Oklahoma 100 years ago. I sure hope they stick ‘em up on every breezy hill in South Dakota.  It’ll be worth it to save the environment.

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 I did not vote for anyone who made those annoying campaign phone calls to my house leaving a recorded message. Just stop it.   I also couldn’t in good conscience vote for either lady in the U.S. House race. Their campaign ads attacking each other were not only lame and full of B.S. but demonstrate that neither candidate has a clue about South Dakota sensibilities. I don’t know of one person who wasn’t sick and tired of them both and wondered how the job could possibily justify all the millions spent and venom spewed to get it. I gotta believe those who did cast a vote for one or the other held their noses while doing it.  Too bad the third party candidate brought nothing to the table or if he did..nobody was paying attention.

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 Finally, you got to hand it to Sioux Falls mayor, Mike Huether. He’s somehow managed to divert people’s attention from “whether” we actually need or want a new events center to “where” it’s going to be located. Just pretend folks hadn’t already said no. It was quite a trick because, according to the Keloland/Argus Leader poll, a majority of voters now want the thing. With such power of deception and persuasion, just imagine what a great congressman he would make.