Archive for May 2012

Emergency Alert System, REALLY?

Posted: Monday, May 28, 2012 at 10:08 am
By: Doug Lund
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I used to dread answering the newsroom phones at Keloland during serious storms because 90 percent of the time those calling were upset about our weather guys cutting into their favorite programs to bring weather alerts. There would be nothing I could say that would calm them down, especially if they were not in the direct path of the storm. They couldn’t care less if the folks up in Roberts County needed to take shelter, “Get The Amazing Race back on the air, dammit.” I would usually listen to them moan and groan; then try to explain our weather department’s reasoning for the program interrupts. “You don’t want viewers to be uninformed about potentially deadly weather do you?” More often than not, though, that didn’t help and the callers would likely resort to colorful expletives to express their displeasure. My rule was if I heard any of the George Carlin words you can’t say on TV, I’d tell the caller I don’t have to listen to that and hang up. 

I mention all this because, during Sunday evening’s severe thunderstorms in Southeastern Keloland, it was ME who was looking to pick-up a phone and scream at somebody. Not the meteorologists at Keloland or any of the other local stations but at Midco cable TV and that *%$#@ computer voice that overrides every channel on my cable system to bring me an Emergency Alert. Okay, I get it, but there are several problems…one of them potentially dangerous. First, during severe storms, time is “critical” and it takes forever for the automated EAS information to come on the air and then go through the warning areas. It’s audio only so there’s no radar screen to see the area mentioned and severity of the storm. If I try to switch to a local station for breaking weather information gathered by their experienced meteorologists using the latest state of the art Doppler’s, Vipers and computer models , the cable’s EAS won’t let me change the station keeping its customers locked-on to that channel until the primitively acquired already dated information runs its exasperatingly slow course..then, after a  few computer beeps and buzzes, finally sets us free.

To make matters even worse was that during the height of the storm Sunday night, the EAS signal would break into programming but it was all garble..a pixilated mess where you not only couldn’t hear that horrid computer voice, you couldn’t see the warning information slowly crawling across the screen. So during that 3 or 4 minutes, we had no idea where the storm was or it’s intensity and, of course, I couldn’t change the cable channel over to Brian Karstens and that new guy to find out what was really going on. I wonder if stormy weather was to blame for the garbled EAS signal. That would be a dangerous irony.

Okay, normally, I don’t get too worked up about thunderstorms and haven’t sought shelter in our basement in years but my dear Linda who had traveled with her sisters to Omaha for a graduation party, was driving home from Sioux Center, Iowa during the thick of it. She needed to concentrate on the road, so I didn’t want to keep calling her cell. The only way I was able to keep her up to speed on the storm’s latest trajectory was with my computer set to Keloland.com. I had a drink ready for her when she finally rolled safely into our driveway..shaken but not stirred.  

I tried to call the guy in charge at Midco to express my displeasure and public safety concerns with EAS cutaways that kill all other channel options and, in this case, offered only garbled unintelligible warning information…but, you know, it was a holiday weekend. Probably at the lake.

If memory serves, the month of June is notorious for tornados in this part of the world and I don’t want to be watching Trobec showing me exactly where the twister is only to have him cut-off and locked out by EAS. Houses could blow away with people still inside by the time that robot voice comes on with its slow antiquated pap. If, weather permitting, it comes on at all.

I’m keeping the Direct TV and Dish phone numbers handy just in case, oh wait..aren’t they both prone to malfunctioning during bad weather too?

How about rabbit ears?  I wonder if I can still buy rabbit ears.

Monday Menu Memories

Posted: Monday, May 21, 2012 at 2:37 pm
By: Doug Lund
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I don’t dread Monday’s like some people do; never have really..except, maybe when I was in High School and Jay Ruckdaschel had promised a Monday biology test the preceding Friday.

I suppose it’s because I didn’t dread my job at Keloland; especially since my work hours were such that I never had to set an alarm clock to jar me into consciousness each morning. For several years during the 90’s I looked forward to the first day of the work week because it was Monday Menu Day on the Early News at 5; a six minute cooking segment featuring invited guests who would come on and display their culinary skills. Co-host, Angela Kennecke and I would assist the cooks in their preparations then…to the delight of our audience..tasted each dish and give our opinion.

I forget the name of our 10 year old guest chef on Monday Menu but years later I did a story on him all grown up and a chef at Minervas; inspired, he said, by that experience on our show.

I forget the name of our 10 year old guest chef on Monday Menu but years later I did a story on him all grown up and a chef at Minervas; inspired, he said, by that experience on our show.

 One of the questions people would often ask me over the years was weather I really liked the stuff people cooked on Monday Menu as much as it seemed or whether it was all an act. Well, truth is, most of the recipes were really good and worthy of our “mmmmm’s” and “oh, that’s delicious” comments. But there were plenty of exceptions.( More about that in a minute.)

I think our bosses at Keloland were pleasantly surprised at the popularity of Monday Menu. So much so that after a while, they built us a fancy new set that included cupboards as well as an actual stove and refrigerator so guests didn’t have to provide their own electric frying pan and ice chest. Each received a Monday Menu apron for appearing and their recipe was written up in the Shoppers News. Before long, Monday Menu was THE place to be for promoting a cause or event. For example, every spring a representative from Freeman’s Schmeckfest would be there to prepare some German cuisine; everything from boiled home-made sausage and kraut to Kuchen and poppy seed rolls. The Sons of Norway would promote their annual Lutefisk feed by force feeding some of that foul fish down our gullet. No amount of butter could make lutefisk palatable to me then or now. But I’d be first in line when we had the lefse bakers on.  Oh, we had some bizarre stuff people tried to pass off as food..especually during the tofu times when there was a nationwide effort to convince Americans that this gelatinous glob of goo could actually be a delicious alternative to unhealthy red meat that was clogging our hearts and shortening our lives. I’ve tried tofu baked, fried, in soups, salads and casseroles and if that’s all there was to eat, life wouldn’t be worth living anyway. I don’t believe I ever went “MMMMMMgood” after sampling anything made with tofu on Monday Menu. My hypocrisy only goes so far. There was the time when somebody made a warm salad that included lemon grass and nearly made me gag as did anything with liver as an ingredient. I was also never big on seafood so when a guest fixed that, I’d have Angela do the tasting honors..including the time we were served a whole trout including the head on a platter for us to try.  There were so many interesting cooks that appeared on the air with us. It was a thrill when Wynn Speece “The WNAX Neighbor Lady” was there. Wynn was a dear friend to the thousands who listened to her on the radio sharing her recipes and gentle conversation for over fifty years and it was such and honor when she came on Monday Menu at my request.

Lawrence Diggs with just a few of the thousands of vinegar varieties for sale at his International Vinegar Museum in little Roselyn, SD

Lawrence Diggs with just a few of the thousands of vinegar varieties for sale at his International Vinegar Museum in little Roslyn, SD

One of the more interesting characters on the show was Lawrence Diggs AKA “The Vinegar Man” from Roslyn, South Dakota. An expert on all things vinegar, Diggs came to Roslyn from busy San Francisco for some peace and quiet and do some writing. Before long, the townfolk thought he should set up a vinegar shop on Main Street which led to the International Vinegar Museum and Vinegar Festival in Roselyn each summer. Anyway, Diggs came on with several different varieties of vinegar for us to taste and to explain his passion for this sour wine. Angela and I sampled each one on a sugar cube and were fascinated by Diggs’ knowledge of something most of us think very little about.

Also memorable was the appearance of our colleague and fellow anchorman, Steve Hemmingsen who agreed to prepare and share his legendary recipe for Beef Wellington. It was by far the longest most complicated recipe ever featured on Monday Menu and we darned near had to join the CBS Evening News in progress because there was no way Steve was going to get finished within the allotted six minutes. Thankfully, there was no liver in his recipe and it was delicious. Oh, if you’d like to have it..click here.

Most everyone who worked at Keloland TV had a turn or two on Monday Menu including Angela and me..several times.

I’ve often been asked which one of the foods featured was my favorite.

Never any peppers in Antonitis' recipe

Never any peppers in Antonitis' recipe

There were lots and lots of really good things to eat but, I suppose, the one that sticks in my mind was Philly Cheese Steak served up by our new General Manager, Mark Antonitis; a Philadelphia native . We were understandably uneasy about having the boss cook on the show. What if it was inedible?.  In fact, Angela and I were both so nervous that we each made the mistake of calling it Philly Cheese CAKE during the intro.But we got through it and when it came time for the tasting well..the thinly sliced and quickly griddled sirloin beef served on a long crusty toasted roll with caramelized onions and  melted cheese, was to die for.

Ironically, not long after he cooked that fabulous feast on the show, Mr. Antonitis called a meeting to announce he was changing the format of the Early News dropping all the daily features including Monday Menu. He figured a news show should have more…well, NEWS. Mondays weren’t as much fun after that.

Man, all this talk about food has my gut growlin’ .

“Linda, do we have any sirloin steak, hoagie rolls, onions and Cheese Whiz in the house?

Hail Mary And Tom’s Final Flight

Posted: Monday, May 14, 2012 at 2:30 pm
By: Doug Lund
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Hope you all had a pleasant Mother’s Day.

I got to spend some time with my mom on Sunday. (Okay..Mother-in-LAW)

Mary Trudeau, the matriarch of my wife’s clan, has had kind of a rough go of it in this, her 88th year. Her constant companion these days is an oxygen tank and a hose in her nose but her wits are still about her and that fabulous smile is always at the ready even when she’s not feeling all that chipper which now is the case more often than not.

Mary and Len Trudeau raised 8 kids in their little Alcester, South Dakota house and, Sunday, seven of those offspring gathered around the home kitchen table for what could be the last time. Len has been gone for a dozen years now and Mary..though still plenty feisty..has had to admit that she can no longer live alone so she’ll be staying with daughter, Maria and son-in-law Paul on their Sioux Center farm until she gets better or needs full-time professional care.

(L to R) Chad, Linda, Maria, Renee, Cynthia, Shelle. Seated is Mother Mary, of course.

(L to R)At the table with mother mary are Chad, Linda, Maria, Renee, Cynthia, Shelle. Not picture are Jeff and Bill.

But Sunday wasn’t a sad occasion; never is when the Trudeau’s get together..laughter abounds. Still there was the unmistakable sense of finality in everyone’s glistening eyes at having to face and accept the reality of mortality.  It’s tough to realize there’ll be no more of Mary’s roast beef or fried chicken dinners and home-made fruit pies served up from that tiny kitchen. But it will be tougher still when we lose the amazing lady who made that house a home.

 

tom sullenbergerLinda got to hear Captain Sully Sullenberger speak for the Sanford nurses gathering a few nights ago. He’s the U.S. Airways pilot who force landed his plane in New York’s Hudson River when it hit a flock of geese on take-off  conking out the engines. Everyone on board survived the ordeal and Sullenberger became a national hero.Linda said he was a marvelous speaker..and humble too..saying he was no different than any other pilot thanks to the rigorous and continuous training that all airlines require.

Speaking of pilots. I found out this past week that my kid brother, Tom, has officially decided to give up the love of his life…well, his first love after God and family, of course.

Tom, like Sully, has made a career in the clouds. He graduated from SDSU in 1972 then joined the Air Force as a 2nd Lieutenant fresh out of ROTC. Before long he was training to fly jet fighters which he did for the next 8 years of active duty and 14 more in the Air Guard. It was during his time in the guard that Tom began searching for a job flying commercial airliners. After brief stints with the now defunct Air Florida and People Express, he landed a pilot’s gig with Continental. On May 20th, he’ll close out  32 years in the skies with a final flight to Geneva. His wife, Ilene and daughter Erin will be among the passengers for that journey to Switzerland and back.  

Capt. Lund inspects the landing gear prior to flight

Capt. Lund inspects the landing gear prior to flight

I wish I could tag along. I’ve never been on an airplane flown by my brother and it would be great fun to sneak into the cockpit and visit with the co-pilot and navigator to tell them about what a terrible driver Tom used to be on the ground.

Actually, in all his years and all the hours in the left seat he’s only had a couple emergencies i.e.: engine failures. But in both instances, Just like Capt. Sully said, the years of training and experience came to the forefront and he was able to bring the passengers, crew and aircraft to a safe landing.

Both my brother, Denny and I couldn’t  be more proud of all Tom has accomplished..especially after he suffered a brain aneurism while jogging twelve years ago.  Thanks to his ever present guardian angel, though, Tom not only survived but made a complete recovery.

May that same angel continue to be at your side as you safely soar over the Alps and home again next week. And, may you find satisfaction and comfort in your retirement knowing that you have had the rare honor of actually living the life written about here in the poignant poem “High Flight”   

 Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds – and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I’ve topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

In good hands

In good hands

 

I Could Just Scream

Posted: Monday, May 7, 2012 at 9:52 am
By: Doug Lund
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Silly me. I thought if I dropped a few pounds the odds of me experiencing the debilitating excruciatingly painful episodes of my back going out of wack would decrease dramatically. Well, I have and it hasn’t. I made an innocent but apparently awkward body turn on Saturday and  felt that familiar twinge of pain like I’d stepped on a spine mine. At first I thought I’d be able to walk it off but soon I’d assumed the position of a guy standing on the side of a hill unable to straighten up. By Monday morning, I was barely able to get out of bed and to the Advil jar. So now I’m sitting sideways in my big chair all doped up on Ibuprofen and probably shouldn’t be trying to write coherent sentences but it’s been way too long between blogs and there are a few things I’d like to say.

First off, I don’t like the idea of extorting mega millions from Minnesotans for a new football stadium. But I don’t like the thought of losing the Vikings to Los Angeles or Tucson even more so bite the financial bullet dear lawmakers in St. Paul and I promise not to complain too much about the exorbitant price of tickets, brats and beer when we come visit your new digs.

Seems to me, though, that there are lots of people in this world with lots of discretionary income; billions to burn for things like stadiums or art.  

scream

We still don’t know for sure who had the top bid at Christie’s last week when Norwegian painter, Edvard Munch’s pastel version of “The Scream” went for a record 120 million dollars.  Most likely one of the filthy rich Arab oil barons from Qatar, Abu Dhabi or Dubai bought it. These guys have so much money they’re running out of ways to spend it like creating palm-shaped islands out of desert sand on which to erect their mansions.

Palm Island..they have two and are building more

Palm Island..they have two and are building more

They also built an enclosed Alpine mountain resort in one of the hottest places on earth complete with snow and ski slopes.

Ski Dubai outside view

Ski Dubai outside view

Ski Dubai inside view

Ski Dubai inside view

Of course if they ever do run low on cash, they just turn off a few spigots to their oceans of oil..create world wide shortages and drive up the price.  Anyway its probably one of those Sheiks who wasn’t rattled when he rolled out 120 mil for The Scream..likely from petty cash and ..perhaps to hang above the urinals in the executive wash room on the  top floor of Burj Khalifa..the world’s tallest building in downtown Dubai never to be seen again by the general public.

I didn’t know until this auction that The Scream is actually one of FOUR versions Munch did.  Linda and I actually saw the one hanging in the National Museum when we were in Oslo years ago. Now, I’m full blown Norwegian and proud of it but I’m afraid “The Scream” leaves me cold. I just can’t get beyond the thought that it looks like refrigerator art in the Addams family kitchen.

I wasn’t sure if sports was a big deal in the turban belt until I noticed several horses entered in the Kentucky Derby were owned by guys with a lot of J’s in their name so maybe if Minnesota lawmakers shake a nod to funding a new Vikings stadium, they should put in a call to one of the movers and Sheikers in Dubai or Qatar.

If they should buy our team, though,  I hope they don’t insist that Vikings players wear golden silk slipper spikes with turned-up toes.

Have I gone too far?

I’ll apologize when I hear an “I’m Sorry” from them for having me over an oil barrel every time I fill up at the pump or for trying to make me feel like I’m getting a bargain when gas drops to ONLY $3.50 a gallon.