Author Archive - Doug Lund

Bull Session

Posted: Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 11:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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I’m not proud of it, but it appears that with advancing age, my attention span is becoming shorter and shorter. (No pun intended..oh wait, that was the last blog)

I’ll sit down to this keyboard with every intention of writing something interesting and on schedule only to get hopelessly distracted searching the web for more information about some trivial item that I figure will enhance the project. Next thing I know, several hours have passed. My butt is tired, my eyelids are heavy and the man-cave daybed is only a few steps away. Tomorrow.

I’ll concentrate better tomorrow and finish what I’ve started then.

Pathetic.

Here’s how this week’s endeavor morphed into whatever follows.

Somebody brought up the blog I did on Neal Wanless..the big time Powerball Lottery winner who lives a secluded life on his Western South Dakota ranch whom I saw on TV buying a car at the Barrett-Jackson collector car auction in Scottsdale for an ungodly amount of money.

He’s always reminded me of another South Dakota kid I did a story on back in the early 90’s who, like Wanless, loved rodeo and the idea of being a cowboy; only my guy lived on a Brookings County farm and was the son of a high school classmate, Dale Swartos.

So enthusiastic was this kid about rodeo-ing, that his dad found and purchased a used mechanical bull and set it up in the barn so the kid could practice night and day.

Well, I couldn’t remember the kid’s name but it only took one Facebook message to his cousin Tim Swartos to put me in touch with Kevin..the teen age cowboy from Sinai determined to be the next world champion bull rider. (The following four images are from our 1993 interview)vlcsnap-2015-05-19-08h15m09s204

vlcsnap-2015-05-19-08h19m55s234

vlcsnap-2015-05-19-08h19m08s21

I remember Kevin Swartos as the strong silent type who had already mastered all that mechanical bull had to offer..no matter how high the speed or degree of difficulty was cranked. He made it look easy and it was suggested I give it a go..which I immediately nixed with no possibility of exception after which I’m pretty sure I heard photographer, Kevin Kjergaard quietly making bwwaaak bwwaaak chicken sounds from behind his Keloland camera.

Well..young Kevin Swartos did alright for himself on the amateur rodeo circuit, riding bulls in about fifty of them. His best was his Junior year in High School when he won a third of the 15 events entered.vlcsnap-2015-05-19-11h50m35s158

I remember Kevin telling me during the interview way back when he was 19, that he preferred bull riding because he didn’t have to trailer a horse around to events..plus everybody loved watching the bull riders because of the danger and he kind of enjoyed the attention..no doubt from the ladies

As if it was necessary to further prove his toughness, Swartos joined the Marine Corps during which he took part in the Military Rodeo Association..which has since folded.swartos marine corps

Even though bull riding is the most dangerous event in rodeo by far, Swartos told me he was really lucky. “I escaped serious injury. I got stepped on a few times. Once the hoof ripped my pants off just inches away from turning me into a steer. “

He doesn’t think all those hours on the mechanical bull were that close to the real thing but better than nothing.swartos rodeo twoswartos rodeo

These days, Swartos, now 41, is a happily married father of four who lives on the family farm and works at a nearby ethanol plant.swartos wedding 2013

Rodeo is no longer part of his life.

Well, that’s not entirely true. He’s married to Kelly Jo Scofield..who grew up in a rodeo family whose brother,  Justin Scofield, is a tie down rodeo champion. As a result, Kevin’s kids all love the sport too but even though their dad was fearless in life..the military..and the bull ring..it’s their uncle Justin the kids idolize.

The Swartos kids with their rodeo  hero, Uncle Justin Scofield

The Swartos kids with their rodeo
hero, Uncle Justin Scofield

Kevin told me, “The kids think uncle Justin walks on water and that’s okay with me”. I was never good with a rope. Participating in calf roping and other timed events is a whole lot safer and, thanks to Justin, the kids are good at it.”

Nothing like a family to mellow a legitimate tough guy who wasn’t afraid to put his life on the line for his country..or a few bucks and an 8 second thrill ride in the rodeo arena.

Kevin Swartos with son Cole.

Kevin Swartos with son Cole.

Ain’t That The Berries

Posted: Thursday, April 30, 2015 at 1:36 pm
By: Doug Lund
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WARNING: THE FOLLOWING LUND AT LARGE BLOG CONTAINS MATURE SUBJECT MATTER; READER DISCRETION ADVISED.

 

Ha.. never thought I’d ever feel obliged to post a disclaimer on my scribblings here ..but then again, I don’t wish to alienate any of you good folks by publically discussing, without a heads up, (pun intended)  a subject that most would consider to be rather sensitive…err..umm..

Erectile  Dysfunction. E.D.

But, then if you watch network television these days, including  “60 Minutes” which comes on the air at what used to be considered “family viewing time”, you’ve already been exposed to it without any advanced warning so I don’t know why I bother..but it has to do with advertizing certain products  that have to do with ..errr..umm Sex.  More specifically, intimate relations between people of advanced age (40 to dead)  who are discovering that over time,  attempts to satisfy their desires are coming up short, (pun intended) embarrassingly disappointing or downright painful.

In recent years, our lord in his mercy, has seen fit to hear those cries of despair and frustration coming from the bedrooms of empty nesters around the world and empowered pharmaceutical  researchers with the knowledge to create medications to lift men’s spirits (pun intended) and ease women’s suffering.

All Hail PFIZER!

At first, these miracle medications were discreetly publicized..and then prescribed by a physician only after reluctantly confessing your most private shortcomings. (pun intended.)

It wasn’t long, though, (no pun intended) before Pfizer began a campaign to make ED part of our national lexicon. Nothing to be embarrassed about the ads suggested. Heck, they even got one of the toughest men of NASCAR, Mark Martin, to drive a race car with their logo plastered all over it.viagra mark martin

Mark retired a couple years ago. Sadly, he never won a championship but everyone who follows the sport knows he should have because no driver in the sport ever tried harder. (pun intended.)

In recent years, the product has been well publicized on television with those washed-out color commercials of  macho men getting their pickup stuck in the mud or putting water in the radiator of an overheated muscle car. The announcer did all the talking and the only suggestive part was the sweaty guy arriving home where he presumably popped  a little blue pill he’d picked up at the drug store in town, grabbed a long shower (30 minutes to an hour)  and then headed for bed where this time he would rise to the occasion (pun intended) much to her relief and satisfaction. Well, now for the first time, we’re seeing this lovely lady clad in her negligee looking all alluring telling us in TV land..including the entire 60 Minutes audience..that she’d much rather curl up with a man than a book and there’s no shame for a fella to not be able to finish what he started. Half the guys over 40 have problems in that area. (if ya know what I mean..heh heh) So, why don’t ya load up on Viagra and come over and see me sometime. Now back to Leslie Stahl on preschool education.

viagra

UNLESS, of course, the experience is too painful due to post menopausal dryness.

Yup.. that’s the other commercial I saw on “60 Minutes” shortly after the “cougar” lady promoting  blue pills to help her man finish what he started.

Man, that one made this old prude glad there weren’t any grandkids in the room to ask questions.viagra good one

I’m not unsympathetic to the problem of vaginal discomfort for women past a certain age whose significant other still has longings (pun intended) or recently discovered the power of blue, but frank discussions of creams and application techniques, make me squirm almost as much as if I were to discuss the pros and cons of circumcision at the dinner table.

I used to wonder how I’d know when my time of relevance on this earth was drawing to a close..and it’s showing up every day folks..mostly with how we’re expected to accept stuff that just seems wrong..be it in television, politics or the bedroom.

Which reminds me of how Ole and Lena were sagging (pun intended) in that department so Ole went to town and purchased the item promising to make him more manlike again. He started taking it as directed but when he failed to measure up (pun intended) he finally explained to Lena that the doggon stuff  just don’t work and showed her the package. She said, “Ole, you dumb ting. This  is Vigoro..not Viagra..Vigoro is plant food.”

“Oh, Vell,” said Ole, “That would explain the berries then.”

Hello, This Is Neal

Posted: Tuesday, April 21, 2015 at 12:02 pm
By: Doug Lund
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“What are you going to do today?” Linda yells from downstairs..barely audible over the din of the treadmill she fires up 4 mornings a week.

“Research for the blog.” I yell back from my leather recliner in front of the Vizio HD with a HP notebook  in my lap and a distilled beverage close at hand.

It’s true, I do get a lot of  blog ideas surfing the web but more often than not, I get distracted chasing link after link and end up miles away from the original starting line.

This past week, though, I did come up with what journalists might call an honest to goodness “Scoop.” At least I don’t think anybody else has this one. Maybe nobody cares..but here goes.

How many remember Neal Wanless?

Think back six years to June when a rail-thin down on his luck 23 year old cowboy from Todd County, South Dakota  stepped forward to claim the Powerball Jackpot worth 232 million dollars and rode off into the sunset never to be heard from again. Well, that’s not entirely true. First, he took the one-time payment which, after taxes, came all the way down to 88 and a half million dollars. He and his family then used a big chunk of that to buy land out West near Vale. He became South Dakota’s version of the recluse billionaire, Howard Hughes. (If that name doesn’t ring a bell.. I’m sorry..try Google)wanless check

Well, I’ve not only seen Mr. Wanless, I’ve talked to him.

Here’s the “Scoop”..the “Exclusive”..the..aw, shut up, Doug.

Even though I was able to go to the Barrett/Jackson Classic Car auction in person when we were in Phoenix last January, I wasn’t there for the biggest day of the sale; So I was anxious to watch a replay on television last week when most of the expensive cars cross the block; some bringing millions of dollars. The bidders themselves are fun to watch as they agonize under the constant pressure to keep going higher and higher in an expensive game of chicken over a vehicle two or more people want.

This was one of those cars.

wanless mustang

A 1967 Shelby Mustang race ready GT 500 big block in Midnight Blue. It was a gift from the late Carroll Shelby himself to his son Michael and considered one of the most collectible cars in Shelby history.

Suddenly on TV up popped the bidder in the balcony who seemed determined not to lose out. Immediately, I thought to myself..I’ve seen that skinny guy in the black hat before. You don’t suppose it’s Powerball winner Neal Wanless do you? The bidding went on for some time and the cameras kept going back and forth from car to bidder and then I realized…crap..I’m not recording this. Just then, the gavel came down, “Sold, Sold, Sold..400 thousand dollars.” There’s my guy with a smile as big as his hat getting congratulated by the Barrett/Jackson assistant and I didn’t record it.

Wait a sec. I have DVR..I’m always recording live television. Just hit the reverse button, get your camera out and….voila.

neil wanless 005

Barrett/Jackson doesn’t disclose buyer’s names but I was convinced in my mind that the young fella who was last seen by most of us picking up that big check in 2009 was, indeed, the same guy picking up a Shelby in Scottsdale.

I was just going to post the pictures and let you decide but then figured..what the heck..maybe I can find out myself so I called some folks I know in Winner where the winning Powerball Ticket was purchased by Wanless. I don’t know if my intention was to dig up some dirt on the young man who left Todd County shortly after he won the money…but I didn’t find any.

So I called a pal in Belle Fourche which is near the ranch Wanless bought with 10 million of his winnings. “He keeps a real low profile.” My friend told me. “He loves horses and rodeo and is very active in both. Around here, most people treat him just like another rancher and I’m pretty sure that how he prefers it. I’m also pretty sure you can’t just drive right out to his place..but he’s certainly not in hiding.”

My friend did give me a number he thought I might try.

I was kind of shocked when a man’s voice answered on the second ring. So surprised that I asked who it was. “This is Neal,” the voice came back. I nervously rattled off that I was Doug Lund with Keloland TV..which was appropriate, of course, to identify myself as a reporter, but I’d hoped to put him at ease first with a little relaxing small talk.  So I quickly tried to recover, “Neal  that was you I saw on TV getting the Shelby at Barrett/Jackson wasn’t it?”  “Yeah. It was” “That’s quite a car.” “Yeah.”

Short one word answers..he hates this. Come, on..think, man, think.

“Neal, it’s been quite a while since the lottery, just wondering what’s been going on in your life. Have you gotten married or any plans to?”  “No”  “ Would you be open to Kevin Woster coming out to…..CLICK.’

Well, that’s what I get for acting like some TMZ or ET reporter.

I’ve never been cut out for ambush interviews or trying to squeeze answers out of people who just want to be left alone.

So that’s it; my big scoop; three short answers in a phone call Neal Wanless wanted no part of and a screen grab from a TV car auction..all from the comfort of my man cave.

Linda’s right I do need to get out more.

As for Neal Wanless. I’m sorry I bothered you, Bud. I won’t be calling again and I hope others respect your privacy too. I also hope you can understand that not everyone wants something from you..it’s just that you’re living the dream so many have envisioned for themselves and are simply curious.

But  enjoy your fortune your way. Keep respecting God, your parents and hard work.

Oh, and have fun with that special new Mustang named “Shelby” now in your stable with those other prized Ponies.

neil wanless 008

What About Bob?

Posted: Wednesday, April 15, 2015 at 2:09 pm
By: Doug Lund
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schieffer

 

Why in the world is Bob Schieffer  retiring from CBS?

He’s still the sharpest knife in the network’s drawer. His political savvy and general news knowledge is unsurpassed by anybody in TV broadcasting.

Bob Schieffer is just too important to leave. So why is he?

Oh, that’s right. The man is 78 years old. He’s done about all there is to do in the television news business. Covered every story. Monitored every debate. Asked all the questions. Anchored all the newscasts.

Perhaps he just wants to finally put the D.C. Beltway in his rear view mirror and head home to Texas where he can stroll through fields of Blue Bonnets thinking up lyrics to country songs.

It also might be nice to travel abroad without a camera crew in tow and maybe come up with ideas for another book or two before the good Lord calls him home.

I’ve always admired Bob Schieffer for probably the same reasons you do; his incredible knowledge of history and politics and how he reports it on TV..not with the perceptible arrogance of a Dan Rather but with a respect for viewers and in language people understand. Aside from Charles Kuralt and Tom Brokaw, nobody has represented citizen Doug better than Bob Schieffer in asking the questions I want answers to; be they posed to pontiffs or peasants or presidents.

For some reason, Bob Schieffer has never been on CBS’s “A” list for anchoring the “Evening News”..although I hear that after Uncle Walter was forced into retirement in 1981 because of some idiotic network age limitation, Schieffer was 3rd on the list behind Roger Mudd and the eventual successor to the anchor throne; Dan Rather.

Ironic, then, that when Rather..who managed to take a number 1 broadcast into a the comfortable number 3 position with his stiff personality and staccato presentation, finally got himself fired by letting his bias show over the George W. Bush Air National Guard document  fiasco, ..it was Schieffer the network called upon to calm the storm. Schieffer was 68 when he took over the reins..three years older than when Cronkite was forced out. It was understood that he would be interim anchor and Schieffer..being the gentleman he is and always has been, accepted that. What I didn’t understand then and don’t understand now is why the network didn’t just offer him the position straight out. He clearly saved the broadcast; restoring trust in a ship that was sinking with Rather at the helm. His ratings jumped,demonstrating that viewers appreciated the straight talking easy going Texan who’d been a familiar symbol of CBS integrity since the sixties. Plus, he loved doing it.

I particularly liked moments like this. When most anchors are afraid to break out of their stoic character and give a genuine reaction to a story, Bob Schieffer, never hid his feelings..be they sad or hilarious.

YouTube Preview Image

He should have had the job. But no, the network decided that NBC’s morning darling, Katie Couric, had the right stuff for evenings..so, after nearly a year and a half of grooming, she stepped into the CBS anchor chair with a five year 75 million dollar contract and Bob graciously gave it up. In fact, he was back to being a reporter on that same broadcast the next night and, of course, his duties as host of the award winning “Face The Nation.”

A lot of people were clamoring for interviews with Schieffer upon his departure from the anchor chair and, being Bob, he was busy granting most of them. So I wasn’t expecting anything when I sent him an e-mail saying pretty much what I’ve said above; that I’ve always admired his work..that I’ve considered him to be a class act and that he proved it once again with his gracious exit and his Southern Gentleman attitude toward Katie. I mentioned I was about to retire after 32 years in broadcasting and learned again from him on how to do it gracefully.

It was that very evening I received a reply and..doggonit..I swear I saved but can’t find it. Here, as best as I can recall was what Mr. Schieffer said:  “Well, Doug, that’s about the nicest thing I’ve ever heard. You’ve just made my day. My best to you down the road. Bob.

A couple months later, I actually got to meet the man himself as he came to South Dakota as a recipient of the Al Neuharth Excellence award in Vermillion. It was at that ceremony, we discovered Schieffer’s “country side.”  Here’s the story I did. I must say that as a country music writer and performer, Bob Schieffer is a tremendous newsman.

http://www.keloland.com/newsdetail.cfm/lund-at-large-singing-schieffer/?id=51552

Remembering Trygve

Posted: Tuesday, April 7, 2015 at 12:07 pm
By: Doug Lund
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tryg farm place

I first heard the term “Norwegian Bachelor Farmer” when I fell head over heels in love with Garrison Keillor’s PBS radio show, “A Prairie Home Companion back in 1982.”  My favorite part of the program was..and is..Keillor’s “News from Lake Wobegon;”an account of the people and week’s events in the fictional little Minnesota town of his youth.

Keillor’s humorous and often poignant ramblings have always struck a nostalgic chord with me and all listeners who grew up in and around towns just like Lake Wobegon “where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking and all the children are above average.”

I must admit, though, if there was a real town that most closely resembles Lake Wobegon, not only in size and proximity of lake to land but also in real life characters it’s Hendricks, Minnesota.

My friend and longtime Keloland colleague has been telling me about the unique folks of Hendricks ever since he built a cabin on the lake just a quarter mile or so west of town over 30 years ago. Since that time, he’s turned his cabin into a permanent home with several additions and modifications..several of them made after suffering a series of personal losses. It was during those times, I think, Steve  found comfort among the positive thinking folks in his adoptive home town. Folks like John and Joy Thompson who, went against the grain and turned an old funeral home into a lovely B&B..then continued buying property on Main Street in hopes of jump starting businesses there. Gary and Sherry Johnson who were disappointed that there wasn’t a gymnastics program or facility at the school..so they built one on their farm just outside of town and have been holding matches there ever since.  Jason Markkula has always had a love for brewing beer. Folks were skeptical when he bought the old bank building on Main with plans to turn it into a brewery. Construction went on forever but finally, the “Bank Brewery” is up and running turning out craft beers with a wildlife theme. And, for the first time in over 40 years, Hendricks has a movie theater again on Main Street. Thanks to the efforts of Jay Nelson, Gary Johnson and Ron Rybinski..the Red Barn Theater has recently opened showing first run films in this town of less than 1,000.

I think, though, Steve has been closest to the Trooien family….Phil and Roberta..who live just outside of town…but especially Trygve Trooien, Phil’s little brother and Hendrick’s best known and best loved Norwegian Bachelor Farmer.tryg with cows

I’m not sure how or why Norwegian protocol was broken and the operation and ownership of the home dairy farm was handed off to Tryg…the youngest of the boys. I’m guessing it was because the other two realized Tryg was the natural choice. He loved the hard work and never missed a milking. He was a perfectionist and wanted things run right..the old fashioned way. He also had  a droll sense of humor and was smart as a whip..both characteristics that Hemmingsen admired and cemented their friendship.

Whenever I made my way up North to Hendricks I always hoped Tryg was  around so I could get a dose of his wit and wisdom and hear that genuine Norskie accent that he no doubt acquired from years of living in that big house first with his parents..then his mom..then alone.

I also loved the site of a man in his bib over(hauls). It was all my dad and uncles ever wore except on Sundays. Tryg didn’t necessarily make that distinction..often slipping a sport coat over a clean pair on the Sabbath.  They were his trademark.tryg by old tractor

As a packrat with plenty of room in his 18-room farm house, Tryg didn’t even realize he had a unique collection until about 15 years ago. He had saved overalls his mother had patched as well as brands he had tried to see if they were better than his favorite brand, which was Lee. A friend suggested he put on a fashion show, and the 1,000-acre rancher and dairy farmer added fashion shows to his resume.
He took his show on the road, often pairing up with Used Cotton, a country/bluegrass band out of Brookings.tryg with models two
“We maintain a ‘have fun’ atmosphere throughout the show, which takes about 1 1/2 hours,” Trooien told Farm Show magazine. It takes that long to show 80 different overalls from a collection of 200+ (42 brands including some that have been “gently worn”), modeled by two of Trooien’s models and 15 local high school and college age girls. Trooien provides the loudspeaker system, background music and the commentary, including information off the tags he has saved from the overalls when they were new. For example, Finck’s claimed that their overalls “wear like a pig’s nose”.

Tryg with his full compliment of overall fashion models.

Tryg with his full compliment of overall fashion models.

It was..in part..a quest to find additions to Tryg’s over(haul) collection that led to some infamous road trips around the Midwest with Tryg, his brother, Phil.. Steve Hemmingsen and Brookings radio personality, Grant Peterson. They traveled thousands of miles..a couple hundred at a time..visiting historic places, farm operations, unique businesses and of course eating joints with lots of laughing to work up an appetite.

Steve, Grant, Trygve and Phil "on the road again."

Steve, Grant, Trygve and Phil “on the road again.”

They must have had a standing order.

They must have had a standing order.

But the good times they are a fleeting. A couple years ago, Grant suffered a debilitating stroke that cut short his radio career.  And then after he was seen driving his pickup around Hendricks on Saturday, Trygve Trooien returned to the only home he’d ever known; the family farm South of Astoria. He sat down in his recliner. That’s where the hired man found him Easter morning. Tryg’s tired heart had apparently given out.

I’d asked Steve if he’d care to write something about his old friend here and he thought Tryg and the family would like it if I would. But then, he did offer the following beautiful remembrance.

I wonder what Tryg…who always had to have brother Phil do his computer work and only had an old-fashioned dial phone…would think had he known anybody in the world can Google up Trygve Trooien, once the smallest dairy farmer in the county, then the biggest dairy farmer in the county and then the only dairy farmer in the county, all with no changes on his part. 

I don’t think most people appreciated the emotions involved when the daily dairy grind just became too much for his heart and he had to ring down the curtain on 109 years of continuous dairying in his barn on the home place south of Astoria. 

I once told him, during one of our many runs to Sioux Falls or Watertown, that I suspected that was a pretty emotional moment.  He admitted it was.  Right up until his death, he was anticipating this spring’s imminent calf crop from the small stock herd he kept, mostly for old time’s sake, I think.  He was also looking forward to spring planting on his remaining acres (he had “farmed out” a good deal of it) with his collection of old Farmalls.  Not many cabs around his place.  Just calves and cats, though a lot of them scattered with the dairy herd. 

On another of our “doctoring” trips he was reminiscing about a long-ago bachelor party that got pretty wild.  Tryg rounded out the account with: “I know for a fact that the party resulted in one marriage and….at least two divorces.”

tryg steve horse road trip

Tryg was married to farming, particularly the home place.  I asked him if he had ever considered any other occupation.  Tryg…who was  a paymaster in Vietnam which involved flying the pay envelopes to wherever the troops were…to my surprise said he kind of liked the military and could have done that for a while.  But his dad couldn’t handle the farm anymore, so it was back to Oak Lake.  In reflecting on his answer, I got to thinking “this makes sense.”  Tryg likes things in rows, nice and orderly.  The military might have suited him. tryg on thrasher

He liked to plant his corn himself.  His machinery is mostly neatly lined up next to the township road that serves as his driveway, where he would watch herds; I mean multiple herds of 20 or 30 deer, grazing on his bale stacks, up on top of the stacks like the Hartford logo.  .  Most farmers get all worked up over that.  It didn’t seem to bother Trygve.  He said his cows ate it even though the deer marked their territory first. 

Thanks, Steve

Tryg’s obit

 

Move Along. Nothing To See Here

Posted: Thursday, March 19, 2015 at 12:59 pm
By: Doug Lund
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I have a new state slogan idea for the South Dakota department of tourism:

“Great Faces, Great Races.”

speed limit

That’s right folks, we admit there’s nothing in our state to see or savor between Sioux City and Fargo or Sioux Falls and Rapid City so we’ve jacked up the speed limit to 80 (which, as we all know, probably means 90 wink wink) allowing you to hammer down and put our boring state in your rear view mirror in record time.   Why heck, if you have a huge enough gas tank and enormous size bladder..you could probably “wiz” across South Dakota without ever having to stop at all.

What amazes me is how this little bit of legislation, tagged on to a gas tax and license plate fee increase, flew through the state capitol and across the governor’s desk faster than a toupee in a tornado.

State highway people are out in force hoping to get the 250 or so speed limit signs changed from 75 to 80 within in the next couple weeks. Apparently the “minimum” limit will remain at 40 M.P.H.   which means those who, for reasons of safety or economy, choose to plug along closer to the minimum than the maximum, will feel even more heat from annoyed drivers extending a one finger salute as they woosh by at  90.  Oh, and those truck drivers who regularly hold up the show blocking both lanes in their feeble attempts to pass one another? Well, I expect they’ll infuriate newly empowered lead foots even more now.

A familiar sight along every interstate in the country.

A familiar sight along every interstate in the country.

By the way, I just learned that many..if not most..trucks have speed limiters..or governors..installed on their engines restricting how fast they can go. In fact, a measure mandating those speed limiters is awaiting final approval in Washington. I’m not sure what their maximum speed will be..or is; 68 is what I’m told. It’s also not clear if the new rule, to take place in June, will apply to all big rigs on the road or just the new models. What I do know is that we can expect no end to road blocks by 18 wheelers as they try in vane to get around another semi set at the same exact maximum speed. From what I’ve read, truck drivers detest speed limiters while fleet owners love ‘em citing publically that it’s all about safety while they pocket profits from lower diesel fuel consumption.

I know a lot of you couldn’t be happier about this newly granted freedom to pour on the cobs, but I’m wondering if this could be a different kind of speed trap. Suppose the highway patrol no longer looks the other way at drivers who fudge the current limit by six or seven miles an hour and start nailing you for ANY reading on their radar that’s over 80. That would put a lot of extra money from fines into the road and bridge kitty, I’ll bet.

“But officer, I was only doing 82.” “Sorry, sir, no excuses any more.” “So I was actually able to get places faster when  it was 75?” “ That’s about it, sir. Here’s your ticket. Have a nice day.”

Oh, great, another excuse for road rage; ticked off truckers vs speeders who’ve just had their pockets picked.

Of course it’s all a moot point anyway. With all the new money for road and bridge construction, fired-up motorists who are seeing red..will likely be seeing more orange instead….as in barrels and cones where the speed limit is 45 and fines are doubled.

Boy, Doug You Sure Have Some Nerve

Posted: Thursday, March 5, 2015 at 1:12 pm
By: Doug Lund
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Sitting in the doctor’s office the other day..I heard those words no patient ever wants to hear.

“I’m sorry, Doug. Your condition is irreversible.”

He went on to list my short list of options; both are scary to ponder but offer my only hope to end the pain.

Okay, okay..enough with the theatrics; the doctor is my new dentist. (Previous one retired..presumably with a good dental plan.) My irreversible condition is an upper molar which was professionally covered with an expensive crown several years ago..but has decided to become  troublesome..like a gremlin sitting on my shoulder with a ball peen hammer banging on my cheek. It was called a “permanent” crown back then..but that wasn’t entirely true. Oh, it still looks okay on the outside and an X-ray showed no gaping holes beneath the surface, but the nerve below molar number one has decided, in my old age, to erupt into convulsions each time anything with a temperature that’s  hotter or colder than tepid.. slides by; manifesting its displeasure with a knee-buckling jolt of pain that eventually mellows into an agonizing ache which can then only be moderately tolerated through the use of copious amounts of Ibuprofen.

( At least 16 a day.)

Well, it was bad enough to get me out of the house and into a dentist’s office; no small feat especially since I don’t have dental insurance any more.

That’s when I learned about my options; root canal or extraction.

dentist

I once had my wisdom teeth pulled (no jokes please) and don’t remember anything about it since I opted to be put under during the procedure and never felt a thing.

In fact, I used to visit the dentist on a regular basis because I’ve always had pretty good teeth (in spite of the David Letterman-size gap up front and canines that are so long and pointy I could play Dracula without a special dental fitting) and wanted to keep them that way. Plus, my dentist wasn’t fussy about cranking up the Nitrous Oxide to help mask any discomfort I might experience in the chair. The only problem with Nitrous, I found, was holding back the urge to giggle when imagining all the commotion going on in my wide gaping mouth including occasional wisps of smoke coming from the drill as he tore through an old metal filling. Hilarious.

I won’t say my family and I ever looked forward to dental visits but I didn’t worry about them either knowing that whatever needed doing was covered by our plan at work.

The sad reality is, however, once that expires after retirement..you’re pretty much on your own. At least Medicare doesn’t give a fat rat’s patootie about the care and keeping of teeth. That may explain why so many of us geezers are such a misery; our teeth hurt and we don’t have the coin to pay for insurance or money in the bank to see a dentist as often as we need to.

By the way..I went with the  root canal. It’s more expensive than pulling but it turns out that particular molar is one of the busiest guys in the chewing line and would be sorely missed..where now it’s just sore. We are lucky in that we have enough in savings to cover it and our family dentist gives a 10% discount to antique people.

I  don’t mean to get too political here but it seems if the government would clean up half of the Medicare fraud and abuse exposed by 60 Minutes or PBS in just one year, there would be more than enough in the kitty to fund assistance toward dental and vision care for seniors.

Oh, and the next elected representative who calls Social Security or Medicare (which I and millions of others have paid into our entire working life) “entitlement programs” don’t be surprised if you see a bunch of grey haired folks with bad toothaches storming into your offices prepared to give a lesson on who’s entitled to what.

Remembering Gary Owens

Posted: Friday, February 20, 2015 at 10:53 am
By: Doug Lund
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Gary Owens died the other day.  He was 80. I don’t know the exact cause of death but he’d suffered from diabetes for years.  In 2011,  as a member of the board of directors for the South Dakota Rock and Roll Music Association, I recommended we induct Owens into the Hall of Fame in the disc jockey category which we did.  

It was then up to me to let him know and extend an invitation to come back home to South Dakota so we could honor him in person.  I managed to do that with the help of my pal, J.P. Skelly of Mitchell’s KORN Radio and long time friend of Owens.  Below is the blog I wrote at the time about my encounter with this true broadcast legend and South Dakota gentleman.

I had a rather surreal experience the other morning. One of the biggest names in Hollywood gave me a call on my cell. Nah, it wasn’t an offer to be in a movie or TV show..but to respectfully decline an invitation to come home and be present in person for his induction into the South Dakota Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

gary owens young

The Hollywood big shot is GARY OWENS!  Okay, I’ll bet I’ve lost some of you 40 and under types; “Gary who?” you say, “Never heard of him.” Oh, yes you HAVE!  Even if the name doesn’t automatically ring a bell you’ve certainly “heard” him.  Here’s a little background: Gary Altman was born and raised in Plankinton west of Mitchell. His mom was a teacher and county auditor; his dad was the sheriff.  As a kid, he loved the idea of being on the radio and was determined to make that happen. He was just a teenager when KORN Radio in Mitchell gave him a chance.  From that humble beginning, he went on to become one of the best known radio voices in the country. At a time when AM radio deejays were superstars who could influence the careers of rock and roll singers just by playing their songs, Gary Owens (he dropped the Altman) was one of the biggest.

gary owens

With his delicious baritone pipes, clever off- the- wall commentary and crazy comedy characters, he conquered stations thoughout the Midwest and Southeast taking every one of them to number ONE in the ratings. During the fifties and sixties, he not only played the records of Elvis, Buddy Holly and all the other big names in rock and roll but he knew them personally. “I always worked off a playlist, though. I never took a penny in payola,” Owens told me. By 1961, he’d had made it to the top station in Los Angeles. From there he began breaking into television with guest appearances on the Jack Benny Program, McHale’s Navy,  and The Munsters just to name a few.  He also began doing voices for cartoon characters like Roger Ramjet, Space Ghost and hundreds more.  In 1968, because of his quirky sense of humor,  he was picked to be the straight laced, gibberish-speaking announcer on the wildly popular Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In which ran for six seasons on NBC. He was known for coining the phrase, “Beautiful Downtown Burbank.” Owens has done over 30 thousand commercials, is a member of the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame right between Walt Disney and Betty White.

gary owens today

Even though partially retired, Gary Owens is still busy. In fact, as I was writing this, I heard him on network TV voicing a movie trailer for an upcoming film.

Anyway, Owens was calling me back to express his genuine gratitude for being inducted into the South Dakota Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and disappointment at not being able to be in Sioux Falls on the 16th because of a prior commitment in San Francisco. We did interview him live for about an hour on Grant Peterson’s radio program over KBRK  in Brookings. He is an absolute delight to visit with; humble, hilarious and the pride of Plankinton.

During the induction ceremony, family members from Plankinton were on hand to accept Gary’s plaque and to read a wonderful letter from their famous relative expressing his appreciation.  Gary Owens is survived by his wife of 57 years, Arleta, and sons Scott Owens, a producer and Chris Dane Owens, a musician and producer.

I can hear him now with a classic line from “Laugh-in”. ” “This is Borgal the friendly drelb signing off from beautiful downtown Burbank.”

R.I.P. good sir.

My Shattered Life

Posted: Wednesday, February 11, 2015 at 12:38 pm
By: Doug Lund
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Knowing my predisposed propensity for being a clumsy oaf, especially as I grow older and wider, I should not be at all surprised that a relationship which began a year and a half ago and has grown from awkward curiosity to an indispensable part of my daily life, has come to a crashing halt; shattered before my very eyes and I’m sick about it.

My smart phone has taken a three foot dive onto the pavement..leaving the glass screen looking like a tarantula’s living room.

My screen..like my heart..is broken.

My screen..like my heart..is broken.

I was a bit tardy getting to my recording session at Keloland Tuesday and, instead of safely tucking the phone in my coat or pants pocket, I slipped it into that open-ended hand warming pouch stitched to the front of all 100 hooded sweatshirts I own.  (I live under the delusion that these somehow masquerade my massive girth..hence most are dark colored which we all know further fools people into thinking what a slim fella I am.)  I have made this mistake before but always lucked out when the phone would fall out harmlessly onto the carpeted car floor. Not this time, though. It apparently got hung up on my Keloland parka and waited till I made the trip to a full stand before tumbling in slow motion to the asphalt below, landing on its back with a sickening splat. I looked down to see fingers of broken glass spreading across the screen like a June lightening storm on the South Dakota prairie.

Again, I wonder what words a minister or real Christian utters at such times as these.

I’m afraid that in spite of my promises to the Almighty to mind my mouth and my temper, the Ralphie Parker hubcap incident from “A Christmas Story” becomes reality for this old hypocrite at times like these and the “Oh Fudge” slips out because nothing else seems to express a feeling so accurately or satisfy so completely. (How could you be so stupid? Fudge. This screw-up will likely cost a week’s worth of groceries to make right. Fudge. Why were you too cheap to take out the insurance? Fudge.)

So, now I’m discovering that..based on the number of smart phone repair places I see on line, it’s apparent I’m not the only klutz in town. The thing is, none quote a price for replacing the glass screen which, as far as I can tell, is the only thing damaged to my Droid Razr.

Leave a comment if you have any recommendations.

February.

Nearly half gone already.  I used to like February because it’s a short month and winter couldn’t end fast enough. Now, I’m not so sure. Time is on a fast track for some reason and I wouldn’t mind putting on the brakes a bit.

February also reminds me of the running friendly argument between Hemmingsen and me over the correct pronunciation of the month. He apparently had it drilled into his head at the Brown School of Broadcasting that it is pronounced as it’s spelled Feb-roo-ary. I prefer to pronounce it like most of the people in the world.. who don’t have a pretentious stick up their bum.. do. Feb-You-ary.  I would even bring out Webster’s to prove that both pronunciations were acceptable and he would counter with, “Well, Webster just caved to pressure from the ignorant masses.”   I tried to point out all the other words that don’t include the “r” sound in their spelling like surprise or governor. I reminded him that his Holiness, Walter Cronkite, pronounces it Feb-you-ary.

So, after building such a convincing case, my friend Steve Hemmingsen changed his mind right??

STEVE: “Most people say Nuke-you-ler instead of Nuke-lee-r are you gonna cave on that too? How about Eye-rack instead of Ear-rock..how about Real-ah-tor instead of Real-tor. Where do you draw the line?”

Nah, Hemmingsen will never change..nor would any of us who know and love the big lug want him to.

I think the only real reason he preferred the old English pronunciation was because it’s too difficult for the rest of us to spit out.

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C’est la vie Arizona

Posted: Friday, January 30, 2015 at 3:22 pm
By: Doug Lund
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Tiger Woods at 16. Booed by crowd. Shot worst round ever as pro.

Tiger Woods at 16. Booed by crowd. Shot worst round ever as pro.

Tiger’s in town..Tiger’s in town. And no, I won’t be seeing him in person. I did check to see if my Keloland ID was good enough to get me some sort of special credentials into the golf tournament but was quickly informed that all the media passes were long gone. (Because of Mr. Woods.)

It’s okay, I’ve been out to the Phoenix Open golf tournament a few times before; once..thanks to desert daughter Christy,  as the guest of a club member which brought lots of special privileges including both a limo ride to the course PLUS free adult beverages which, for me, was like turning Cam Lind (Facebook friend and noted cured pork connoisseur) loose at a bacon carnival. It was at that event I got a chance to meet Vikings’ Defensive End, Jared Allen, who stopped by our little member/guest tent for a beer and b.s.   I’m ashamed to say I didn’t even recognize him at first having spent way too much time accepting the host’s hospitality. In fact,  I couldn’t tell you who won the Phoenix Open that year but it was a good time and, thankfully,  I did very little walking.

Now that I think about it, though, my most unforgettable experience here in Phoenix, was the year both my brothers came out to visit.

Christy was house sitting for Sandy..a kindly gentleman attorney from Kansas City..who needed someone to take care of his place in Scottsdale. He rarely used it and trusted Christy completely for many years to keep it occupied and use  as her home which meant Linda and I..along with occasional visitors from South Dakota..were more than welcome. In 2001..a few months after my kid brother, Tom, was on the mend from his brain aneurism, he and big brother Denny came out for a few days in January to help celebrate my birthday and play a few rounds of golf. We had a wonderful time of it. Tom had to leave first so Denny and I made the most of his last two days which included a run out to the Phoenix Open golf tournament. We got there early and hooked up with Phil Mickelson’s entourage and began walking the course. By hole 15, we were both pretty tired  and sat down with our backs leaning against the Hole 16 grandstand wall watching Phil and the others putt out. Then the wall we were leaning against began to shake and the crowd at 16 erupted in noise because one of the golfers in the group had gotten an ace.

We were just on the other side and had missed it.

Oh well, the memory of the miss always made for a better story anyway.

Now, I just miss my brother.

Anyway, they won’t be playing golf today. It’s raining like coyotes and iguanas here in the desert. As I listen to it come down on the patio tile, I’m reminded of Dave Dedrick’s  famous line about “flat rock” rain. (The cow pissin’ offa is implied.)Arizona trip  rain 001

It won’t matter for the Super Bowl, of course, the University of Phoenix Stadium has a retractable roof  which should keep those folks.. paying thousands of dollars for a seat.. dry and happy. Happy as they can be having paid thousands of dollars for a seat. Earlier in the week, Linda and I took a drive out to Glendale to see where all the action was. Of course, security was on high alert..but, even though I didn’t have any Keloland TV credentials, I did manage to sweet talk the young lady guarding the parking lot to let us Midwest out- of- towers in so we could just take a couple pictures.

Arizona trip U of Phoenix stadium 005

As we’re packing up to leave, I was thinking that it’s been five years ago that, right here in this condo, when Linda and I got the news of Dave Dedrick’s  passing. Now, two of my life heroes are gone. Sure do long for their company though.

Well….in spite of my battle with the “cold of the century..”both Linda and I have had a wee of a time while here amongst the palm trees and snow birds..comforted in the knowledge that we’ve managed to, once again,  avoid January’s nastier side so that we may return home to the short month of February and then look forward with eager anticipation to another  Spring in South Dakota where we belong.