Archive for September 2012

King For A Day

Posted: Friday, September 28, 2012 at 1:57 am
By: Doug Lund
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So far this week out Holiday Vacations tour group has enjoyed exceptional weather for visiting all the tourist places; a bit of rain and wind but, hey, this is Ireland. Linda and I have, in a short time, grown to love it here. Our traveling companions are all top notch; our tour guide is wonderful and our driver guide, well, he’s been exceptional not only with his motoring skills but his knowledge of the country and dry wit. The scenery is spectacular, of course, but I think it’s the Irish people themselves that have won us over.  Oh, I know, most of the people we encounter on these jaunts put on the charm because they’d like our money..but there’s a difference with the Irish we’ve encountered. They’re just friendly and nice; genuinely so, I believe.

Anyway, it’s all going way too fast.

Here are a few more photos with comments..

Ta La for now.   

Our one rainy day at the Cliffs of Moher. This was as close as Linda wanted to get to the edge.

Our one rainy day at the Cliffs of Moher. This was as close as Linda wanted to get to the edge.

What a cute Irish family at the Cliffs, I thought. Turns out they were from Atlanta and the little boy's name was, of all things, Grant. Thank goodness the war is over for some.

What a cute Irish family at the Cliffs, I thought. Turns out they were from Atlanta and the little boy's name was, of all things, Grant. Thank goodness the war is over for some.

On to Limerick and a tour of Bunratty Castle dating back a thousand years or so.

On to Limerick and a tour of Bunratty Castle dating back a thousand years or so.

Inside Bunratty Castle that evening we were treated to a medieval banquet with plenty of honey wine (mead) ribs, chicken and other courses all served without silverware. The entertainment was fit for a king.

Inside Bunratty Castle that evening we were treated to a medieval banquet with plenty of honey wine (mead) ribs, chicken and other courses all served without silverware. The entertainment was fit for a king.

And who should be named Lord and Lady of the evening but Linda and Me. We were presented with crowns and got to sit at the head table. Everyone on the tour are still calling us your highness. I thought about discouraging them but figured, nah..it's good to be king.

And who should be named Lord and Lady of the evening but Linda and Me. We were presented with crowns and got to sit at the head table. Everyone on the tour are still calling us your highness. I thought about discouraging them but figured, nah..it's good to be king.

Our bus is basic white on the outside but looks like a 1960's nightclub inside. A few of our colorful guests taking in the sights of our swing around the Ring Of Kerry.

Our bus is basic white on the outside but looks like a 1960's nightclub inside. A few of our colorful guests taking in the sights of our swing around the Ring Of Kerry.

Spectacular views of the Atlantic from "The Ring."

Spectacular views of the Atlantic from "The Ring."

Tried to have a visit with Tim..who had his own corner at this Killarney pub. He, like everybody else in this country, was really friendly especially after I bought him a pint. But I couldn't understand a word he said.

Tried to have a visit with Tim..who had his own corner at this Killarney pub. He, like everybody else in this country, was really friendly especially after I bought him a pint. But I couldn't understand a word he said.

      

Our group sure knows how to have crack..(fun)

Our group sure knows how to have crack..(fun)

More Mead wench

More Mead wench

Lady Linda and her subjects

Lady Linda and her subjects

Climbing the 105 winding stairs to the top of Blarney Castle. I'm shocked that I made it considering my fear of tight places.

Climbing the 105 winding stairs to the top of Blarney Castle. I'm shocked that I made it considering my fear of tight places.

The line to kiss that bloody stone. Linda is part Irish and wanted to do it but is deathly afraid of heights. This would require special bravery.

The line to kiss that bloody stone. Linda is part Irish and wanted to do it but is deathly afraid of heights. This would require special bravery.

Down she goes to be suspended out the castle wall to plant a wet one on that Blarney Stone. I was sure she'd chicken out.

Down she goes to be suspended out the castle wall to plant a wet one on that Blarney Stone. I was sure she'd chicken out.

But NO! She did it. Thumbs up. So proud of her.  Of course the only camera angle where you can actually see the kiss is hogged by a professional photographer and you can purchase the moment for ten Euros. We bought two for 18.

But NO! She did it. Thumbs up. So proud of her. Of course the only camera angle where you can actually see the kiss is hogged by a professional photographer and you can purchase the moment for ten Euros. We bought two for 18.

                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Top Of The Mornin’ To Ya

Posted: Sunday, September 23, 2012 at 12:38 pm
By: Doug Lund
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Having a wonderful time..wish you were here.

Okay, corny but true.

Linda and I, along with 41 other fine folks on this Keloland/Holiday Vacations tour of Ireland (many of us “Plus Size”) unfolded from 8 and a half hours sitting in way too cramped airplane seats and hit the ground running in Dublin. I suppose if you’re seasoned travelers abroad, the observations of those of us who aren’t might sound tedious but let’s start with the Euro. I went to exchange 100 dollars and received 68 Euros in return. I didn’t realize that the rate had changed so dramatically. Bottom line is there’s not much bang for our bucks over here.

We’d been fully prepared for clouds, rain and cool but, aside from the cool part, the weather has been glorious. Our tour guide, Teresa (who happens to be a South Dakota girl) is taking some of the credit saying the weather always seems to be good on her tours. She’s guided groups to Alaska three times this summer (including the most recent one hosted by Angela Kennecke) and have seen Mt. McKinley each time; a rarity since the mountain is usually engulfed in clouds.

Noel and Teresa

Noel and Teresa

Our driver, Noel, who speaks with a delicious Irish accent, provides colorful and informative narration along the way. An amazing feat considering he has to concentrate on the challenges of being seated on the right and driving on the left; a practice I could never get comfortable with. He suggested we embrace the Irish night life and have lots of crack (craik) which is slang around here for “fun” not the nasty drug. It’s Sunday morning and we’re about to depart our hotel in Galway and tour a crystal factory and the magnificent Kylemore Abbey and gardens.

Here are just a few photos I’ve taken so far with some commentary.

After a bus tour of downtown Dublin..our first stop was at St. Patrick's Cathedral built in the 14th century. We could hear the boy's choir somewhere in the building rehearsing for mass

After a bus tour of downtown Dublin..our first stop was at St. Patrick's Cathedral built in the 14th century. We could hear the boy's choir somewhere in the building rehearsing for mass

 

Although pretty tired, we still had to check out an Irish pub before calling it a day.

Although pretty tired, we still had to check out an Irish pub before calling it a day.

Patrick (of course) our server presented us with a couple pints of Guinness (naturally).

Patrick (of course) our server presented us with a couple pints of Guinness (naturally).

Linda thought that Patrick was all right.

Linda thought that Patrick was all right.

I had similar feelings about my pint.

I had similar feelings about my pint.

Day three off to the oldest Christian settlement In Ireland. Clonmacnoise St. Claren's monastery founded in 545. Many who perished in the potato famine of 1840 to 42 are buired on these grounds.

Day three off to the oldest Christian settlement In Ireland. Clonmacnoise St. Claren's monastery founded in 545. Many who perished in the potato famine of 1840 to 42 are buired on these grounds.

Just a fascinating place along the banks of the Shannon River

Just a fascinating place along the banks of the Shannon River

Our lunch stop was in the village of Athlone. Once again, we chose a pub that served soup for Linda, chips (potato fries) for me and, of course, a couple of pints.

Our lunch stop was in the village of Athlone. Once again, we chose a pub that served soup for Linda, chips (potato fries) for me and, of course, a couple of pints.

Then it was off to Rathbaun Farm which has been in the same family for several hundred years. They survive on raising sheep and entertaining tourists.

Then it was off to Rathbaun Farm which has been in the same family for several hundred years. They survive on raising sheep and entertaining tourists.

 

After a fine feast of homemade scones and coffee or tea..we saw the farmer at work with his boarder collie.

After a fine feast of homemade scones and coffee or tea..we saw the farmer at work with his boarder collie.

Although they raise the sheep for meat not wool, he gave our group a demonstration on shearing.

Although they raise the sheep for meat not wool, he gave our group a demonstration on shearing.

The wool ends up in China..most of the lamb is exported to France for use in restaurants.

The wool ends up in China..most of the lamb is exported to France for use in restaurants.

Sunday brought us to the Connemara Celtic Crystal Company. It's been around 40 years and does amazing work with glass.

Sunday brought us to the Connemara Celtic Crystal Company. It's been around 40 years and does amazing work with glass.

 

It takes years of training to master the art of grinding. Sean, here, is the company's best.

It takes years of training to master the art of grinding. Sean, here, is the company's best.

He demonstrated his technique for us turning a lovely design to this small crystal bowl in a few minutes.

He demonstrated his technique for us turning a lovely design to this small crystal bowl in a few minutes.

It took him 27 WEEKS to complete this huge crystal trophy.

It took him 27 WEEKS to complete this huge crystal trophy.

Sean also crafted this beautiful red chalace. He made a simalar one which was presented to and used by Pope John Paul II during one of his visits to Ireland. It's all pretty spendy. I'm not sure if anybody in our group sprung for the big stuff..settling, instead for a few items in the 100 Euro or less range.

Sean also crafted this beautiful red chalace. He made a simalar one which was presented to and used by Pope John Paul II during one of his visits to Ireland. It's all pretty spendy. I'm not sure if anybody in our group sprung for the big stuff..settling, instead for a few items in the 100 Euro or less range.

The weather couldn't have been much nicer for our next stop; Kylemore Abbey and Gardens. It was built by Industry tycoon, Mitchell Henry in the 19th century as a gift for his lovely bride, Margaret. It was taken over by a group of Benedictine nuns after World War 1.

The weather couldn't have been much nicer for our next stop; Kylemore Abbey and Gardens. It was built by Industry tycoon, Mitchell Henry in the 19th century as a gift for his lovely bride, Margaret. It was taken over by a group of Benedictine nuns after World War 1.

Ireland three 037

Ireland three 038

We have another great group traveling with us; lots of crack..(fun)

We have another great group traveling with us; lots of crack..(fun)

Well, it’s time for Linda and I to take a stroll through downtown Galway in search of some traditional Irish music..and maybe a few more pints. We’ll check in again soon.

Erin Go Lunds

Posted: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 at 10:28 am
By: Doug Lund
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Linda and I, along with about forty other Keloland viewers, are about to be “Enchanted” for the next nine days. We’re leaving on another “Holiday Vacations” adventure which, I’ll bet, has many of you “green” with envy. We’ll be spending 10 hours in airports and another 10 hours on airplanes before arriving in Dublin, Ireland, but it’s a small price for the chance to actually experience in person those 40 shades of green we hear so much about on the Emerald Isle.

Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

ireland mapWe’ll be going around in circles for the next week..actually making the beautiful “Circle Tour” of Ireland from Dublin, Galway, Cliffs of Moher, Limerick, Killarney, Blarney, Kilkenny and back to Dublin.

I wonder if Linda, who is half Irish, will feel the kinship with her motherland as much as I did when we visited Norway several years ago. I hope so.  I suppose it’s possible for me to feel that sense of homecoming too since MY ancestors, the Vikings, have such a long history of invading and settling Ireland.

We hope to do all the touristy things while there from touring castles and kissing Blarney Stones to drinking Guinness, eating Mulligan stew and singing Irish pub songs in REAL Irish pubs.  

Redheads fascinate me. Wonder if her arms move when she dances.

Redheads fascinate me. Wonder if her arms move when she dances.

As always, I’ll have my laptop and camera along; posting several Lund at Large blogs on Keloland.com so you can follow along with us and perhaps figure a way that you can include one of these trips for yourself in the future.

Oh, I Love A Rainy Night

Posted: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 at 2:56 pm
By: Doug Lund
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Finally..a gloomy, rainy, chilly day. I love it!

Now, you might think a chronically depressed person such as I would assume the fetal position and cringe into the corner of a dark room when such a day occurs. But after months of excruciating heat, wind and drought, a wet cool respite (which once occurred at regular intervals) is enough to lift my soul. It’s as if God himself is giving assurance that we are not necessarily heading down an apocalyptic path of global warming all because I used too much Aqua Net hairspray in my youth destroying the protective ozone layer.

The rain is too little too late for the Linda Lund victory garden. No matter, she’s  really been vigilant about keeping her plants fed and watered throughout this hellishly dry summer and the fruits of her labor are clearly apparent as you can see in the following photos: 

Okay, so its just one tomato plant and some flowers but still...

Okay, so its just one tomato plant and some flowers but still...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quality over quantity. Actually there are two nice tomatoes in this photo but the one wearing the purple sweat shirt said she'd bop me on the head if I showed her face.

Quality over quantity. Actually there are two nice tomatoes in this photo but the one wearing the pink sweat shirt said she'd bop me on the head if I showed her face.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speaking of photos, just because most everybody with a phone has a camera at the ready these days doesn’t necessarily make them good photographers. Oh, yes..the sunsets you post are real pretty and the out of focus shots of the kids are still precious..but very seldom does an image  grab my attention and my heart like this one from my old friend and colleague, Jeanne Jones Manzer. It’s a shot of her 5 year old great niece, Jayda, of Colome taking part in the Youth Rodeo at Burke, South Dakota. See for yourself:

Ride 'em cowgirl. I love her little black hat flying in the air and the look on her face; more determined than frightened.

Ride 'em cowgirl. I love her little black hat flying in the air and the look on her face; more determined than frightened. I know professional photographers who wait a lifetime for a terrific shot like this. By the way, Jayda took first place in sheep riding.

                                   “AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT” 

I miss the times when network television series were all required to have at least 28 new episodes a season and that season always began in September and ran till summer. Now, series stretch no more than 13 shows and begin and end whenever they darn well feel like it. So, I’ve been slipping out of my television-viewing comfort zone lately and watching stuff I normally would not…like opera. No, not Oprah ..OPERA! Let me explain. I’m a big fan of public TV..but it’s usually the familiar stuff I watch; British comedies, American Experience, This Old House, Nova (sometimes) Dakota Life and some of the music shows. The other night, though, I got hooked on a documentary about how the Metropolitan Opera in New York was preparing for the ambitious production of Das Rheingold ..the first of 4 operas by German composer, Richard Wagner, being staged at the Met.  What really got and held my attention was the incredibly elaborate set that was designed and constructed especially for this opera series. It’s a 45 ton dizzyingly high contraption made of  planks that move about. Thanks to computer wizardly, images are projected on the planks and performers, hooked up to wires like Superman,  are forced to climb on and be suspended from the thing..all the while trying to sing Wagner’s complicated score. It’s a stunning illusion.. when it all works.. but production glitches have plagued the show from the beginning and left most critics cold.  Below is one of the multiple and complicated stage configurations for Das Rheingold at the Met

 

The goddess or the gold say the giants from atop the elaborate and precarious set of Das Reingold.

Give us the goddess or the gold.. say the giants from atop the elaborate and precarious set of Das Reingold.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I said, I liked the documentary.. so when the full show finally aired on PBS’s Great Performances Tuesday night, I decided to watch. Thanks to the sub-titles, I was able to follow along with the silly story about mythical characters choosing between love or money and power. (I can’t imagine sitting through 3 hours of a Wagner opera being sung in German without a clue of what they’re all bellering about on stage.) I’ve gotta say, though,  it didn’t suck.

Amazing effect as the gods march straight up the wall to Valhalla.

Amazing effect as the gods march straight up the wall to Valhalla.

There are three more operas in “The Ring” series coming up on PBS and I will likely watch them as well if for no other reason than to see if Debra Voigt’s portrail of the mighty mythical female warrior, Brunhilde, is more convincing than the Warner Brother’s version I remember of Bugs Bunny in drag.

bugs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, that’s all from Lund’a Cultural Corner. Ta Ta for now.

Sex Stings, Roadblocks And Texting

Posted: Friday, September 7, 2012 at 7:28 am
By: Doug Lund
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I’ve started several blogs in the past week but have stopped after a little voice in my head seemed to be saying, “Idiot..do you really want to go there?”  But, what the hey. The first has to do with that reverse sting by the Sioux Falls Police Department in which they placed an ad on the internet offering the services of a couple women available for “escort” (heh, heh) services. The escorts were, of course, “undercover” lady officers. Well, I’ll be darned if the phone didn’t start ringing within a few minutes and rendezvous were arranged.  When the guys showed up..a few of them were looking for more than someone to share a dinner with at HuHot.  As soon as they offered the ladies cash for whoopee, the cops swooped in. When the night was over, 8 fellows had been charged with trying to hire a hooker (or in a couple cases BOTH hookers at the same time) and charged with a misdemeanor. The lads also got their names on the news for all to see. The public has been assured by Chief Doug Barthel that the department will be renting more motel rooms and giving some of their female officers double duty in the future..so ya better watch out. I sure would like to see that ad but am not about to go searching for it on-line. Don’t need anything like that permanently stored on my hard drive.

Now, I’m not defending these lonely and apparently horny guys or advocating legalized prostitution but, for heaven’s sake, is the crime rate in Sioux Falls so low that police have to dream up busy work for its officers with these fishing expeditions trying to lure people into breaking the law?  I know it’s not legally considered entrapment but it sure seems to come awfully close. Chief Barthel says he was disappointed at the large number of responses to the  ad.  Really? You didn’t realize the internet..even here in Sioux Falls..was teeming with men looking for a roll in the hay even if they have to pay for it?  What happens now? Will any of the eight guys arrested actually spend the maximum one year in jail or will they plead guilty, pay their fines..go and sin no more? 

I also understand the dangers of drinking and driving but am not a fan of those flock-shoot police roadblocks in which motorists must basically prove their innocence to pass through. I realize they snag a few violators by using these sobriety checkpoint techniques but police used to need “probable cause” to pull a person over.  Now, don’t yell at me saying that I don’t seem to care about getting drunk drivers off the road..I do. But if that is, in fact, the main objective here, wouldn’t it be more efficient and effective for police to station officers outside the most popular bars in town and nab patrons as they leave and get behind the wheel? You know for a fact they’ve been drinking and there’s a better-than-average chance they’d test positive for exceeding the legal alcohol limit allowed for operating a motor vehicle. Sure the bar owners would cry foul..but, after the smoking ban, it’s apparent they don’t have any rights anyway.

Now, the city council has decided that it is going to be illegal to text and drive. Violators face a 200 dollar fine. I’ve written here before that I think texting drivers are far more dangerous than those who’ve had a couple drinks. Just this past week, Linda was coming home from Alcester when she came upon a car doing about 45 miles an hour. She passed only to have the car race past her..weave across the center line then slow down again. Drunk you say? Nope. When they got into town Linda could see the other driver typing away on his phone.  My problem with this new ordinance is enforcement. How in the world can police know for sure if a driver is composing and sending an electronic message (Illegal) and not just dialing a number or receiving a text or playing Angry Birds? (Legal)  Even they haven’t quite figured out the rules of engagement yet.

I don’t have any answers on this one; the genie is out of the bottle. I’m afraid people (young people in particular) aren’t going to stop texting and driving but will now try keep their activity out of sight which is even more distractingly dangerous.

Let’s give this a try: “Hey, all you kids out there, Grandpa Doug here with a request; don’t be dumb with your smart phones. I know you believe that keeping in touch with  friends at all times is really important but please, please don’t text when you’re behind the wheel or allow your phone to distract your driving in any way. I’ll bet each of you knows someone who has had an accident or a close call because of it. Don’t let that happen to you. Remember,  there are lots of people, including me, who love you dearly and only wish to protect you from harm.”