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In Jim's Daily Opinion 04/23/2014


So far the forecast is looking good.

One week from tomorrow we leave for our little anniversary getaway to Savannah, and one of the reasons we compromised on that particular destination was because of the weather.  We both wanted someplace warm—me, admittedly, probably more warm than Loraine—and the average weather there for the first five days of May fits the bill.  Average highs each day we're there are 82, and average lows are 59 or 60; basically, the weather in Savannah next week is like our weather for the three or four nice days we get in the middle of July.

And I'm okay with that.

If we had gone to Savannah this weekend we'd be enjoying forecast highs in the mid to upper 80s, but then we'd also be dealing with the possibility of icy weather here, which means we might not have been able get out of Marquette to get to Savannah in the first place.  But that's this weekend.  The ten-day forecast for Savannah (and as any meteorologist will tell you, a ten-day forecast really isn't an accurate forecast) calls for a storm system to move through the area the day before we leave, leaving a cooler Thursday (the day we do leave) than usual in its wake.  However, things start to warm up again after that.

So let's hope it gets back into the mid to upper 80s!

Several people have asked if we have any places in particular we're visiting, aside from Chocolat by Adam Turoni Well, for Loraine there's the Mighty 8th Air Force Museum (the 8th Air Force being the group in which Elwood Norr, the guy she wrote a book about, served) and for me there's a lot of history, including the one of the first churches where Dr. Martin Luther King served and where he tried out an early draft of his “I Have a Dream” speech.

Not only that, we've also found out we'll have visitors, as well!  Our friends Chris & Julia, who left Marquette to live in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, are thinking of making the drive down on the Saturday of our little getaway.  It'll be nice to see them; it's been waaaaay too long.

Someone else asked if I'll be writing daily reports, like I do when we're in Europe.  And I have to say that as of right now, I don't know.  I won't have my laptop with me (since we have to take three different flights to get there (and back) we're trying a trip without checking any luggage) and I'm not entirely confident about writing more than a paragraph or two on my phone.  I will, however, be bringing my best camera with me, a suggestion from an acquaintance who's been there and says it's one of the best places in the country to let your photographic imagination run wild.  So at the very least I suppose I could post pictures somewhere (assuming, of course, I can get those pictures uploaded).

We'll just have to see.  At the very least, think of the updates you'll get when I get back!

We leave one week from today, so if you would, keep your fingers crossed that the weather forecast holds (or even gets better).  After the meteorological crap we've put up with here in Marquette the first 113 days of this year, a few days in the 80s seems like heaven right about now!


TUESDAY, 4/22:

Well, I can now spill one of the two secrets.

Over the past few weeks I've been mentioning two new projects with which I'm becoming involved, two new projects that I couldn't talk about either because the details hadn't been worked out or because someone else needed to make an announcement about the situation.  There's a big project—one about which I'm really excited—and a smaller one that should be a lot of fun, as well.  I still can't talk about the big project—I should be able to after I get back from Savannah—but can now talk about the little project.

Starting next week, I have a weekly gig on Fox U.P.'s Thursday night news! 

I'll be taking over as host of their “On The Town” segment, which is a 60-second bit where a dork talks about things going on around the area.  They've had other radio people do it before; I guess I'm doing it because my number came up (or because I'm the dorkiest person they could think of).  It should be fairly easy and (most importantly) not very time consuming; a camera crew comes down to the station once a week.  I talk, they tape, and it goes on the air.

That's the kind of gig I like.

So like I said, that starts next week.  The other project, the one about which I can't say anything at the moment, starts up later this year, and that one should be a blast.  The few people who know about it say it's something for which I'm perfectly suited, and I can't say I disagree with them.  That one will require a little more time on my part; fortunately, I'll be part of a very big team, and the other members handle most of the work.  I'll just have to...

Well, that's about all I can say until the official announcement is made.  But I think you'll agree that it should be a lot of fun!


Next, thanks for all the kind words regard following yesterday's blog.  Loraine & I had a very nice anniversary dinner, and both keep marveling that there's no way it can be 25 years.  After all, neither of is is that old, right?

And to daily blog reader Thierry in Auvers, La Manche, France...yes, I DO know I'm married to an exceptional and extraordinary woman!


Finally, one quick picture taken when my anniversary co-hort and I were out walking Sunday--

It's probably the worst and most out-of-focus picture I'll ever post in here; it's out of focus because (I think) I actually squealed when I saw what's pictured above---buds on a lilac tree.  For a few seconds, I was so giddy that I forget to check and see if the shot actually turned out.  My bad; however, if the buds have started to sprout, that usually means that within 6 to 7 weeks we'll see lilacs.

Woo hoo!  Maybe there's hope for this year yet!



MONDAY, 4/21:

There's no way it's been a quarter of a century.  That's just not possible.

Is it?

Today's a big day for me and Loraine; today's our wedding anniversary.  And despite the fact that I can't seem to fathom the quantum mechanics of the whole situation, it's a rather big anniversary for us  You see, we were married 25 years ago today.

See?  Told you it's not possible!

While it doesn't seem like it happened yesterday, it sure doesn't seem like it was that long ago that we stood out on the steps of the Marquette County Courthouse on a sunny Friday afternoon and said our “I do”s.  And when I look at the picture of the two of us from that day, the one sitting in our living room, we don't look that much different than we do now.  But then I look at the other people in the picture—Loraine's sister, who was 8 at the time, and my grandmother, who passed away 8 years ago, and I realize--

We've been married for 25 years!!

When we got married, I don't think there was any way that I could fathom we'd be celebrating our 25th anniversary.  I mean, 25 years?  That's, like, a lifetime.  That's how long your parents have been married, or that's how long your grandparents were married.  When you first get married, or at least when I first got married, a quarter century just did not register in any meaningful way.  Yet, here we are, 25 years later, and still together.

I think I've mentioned in here before about how we have anything but a “traditional” relationship, yet among most of our family and friends we're the only couple of our generation still together.  I don't know if that's because we don't have a “traditional” relationship, or if we've been lucky, or what, but when I look at all the people we know of our generation, and we're among the only ones still together, it makes me feel two things—it makes me feel very happy, and it makes me feel like the past 25 years have been a gift.

Which they have.

And it's funny; if anything, both the passage of time and seeing other people battle with marital difficulties seem to have made our relationship stronger than ever.  Oh, I'm sure (okay, I know) there are times when Loraine wants to throttle me, but those pale in comparison to the times we find ourselves embarking on some adventure or just marveling at the occasional sheer insanity (usually in a positive way) of our lives.  But that's a good thing; it means we've found our groove.

It means that I wouldn't have wanted to spend the last quarter-century with anyone else.

We're spending our anniversary doing one of the things that has connected us over the past 25 years.  You see, we're a perfect match in that I like to cook and she likes to eat.  And even though she's not yet at full appetite following her gall bladder surgery, she asked that I make penne pasta with Gorgonzola and artichoke hearts, a dish that she loves to eat. So that's what we're doing for our 25th.

Like I said, I can't believe it's been that long.  But I'm sure that I'll be saying the same thing when our 30th, our 35th, our 40th, and our 50th roll around.  And if they're anything like the first 25 years, they'll be filled by an amazing life shared with an amazing woman.

Happy anniversary, Loraine!!!!!!!



FRIDAY, 4/18:

I think I’ve finally snapped.

I even know the exact moment at which my “snap” occurred--9:42 am Thursday, April 17th, 2014.  I know that because it was the exact second I was walking out of my apartment on the way to work.  I know it was that exact second because that’s when, while I was walking out of my apartment on the way to work, a huge pile of wet, heavy snow fell off of the roof of my apartment and onto me, drenching my entire body, soaking my backpack, and causing torrents of cold water to run into my jacket and down my back.

You know I sometimes sound like Peter Lorre when I’m laughing?  Well, after being subjected to the avalanche, I started laughing quite loudly at the absurdity of my predicament.  Only my laugh wasn’t sounding like the laugh of the jolly Peter Lorre in, say, “Casablanca”.  No, I started laughing like the whacked-out Peter Lorre of “Old Dark House” or “M”.  You know, the insane Peter Lorre.

That’s how I knew I snapped.

Now, as I write this I know the beast of our April storm is over.  And I know I complain about the weather waaaaay too often in here; I've often, in fact, said that I need to write about it less.  Yet to be hit with an unexpected avalanche of wet heavy snow on April 17th...well, call me weak or call me wimpy, but it was just a little too much for me, at least a little too much for the me of 2014.  I don't know if I'm getting old or if this year has just been a particularly weird one or if I've finally reached my threshold of tolerating winter weather, but it's just a little too much.

When you think of April, you normally think of birds chirping, of grass starting to turn green, and of flowers starting to tentatively push their way out of the dirt and toward the sun.  You sure don’t want to have an avalanche of cold, wet, snow hit you as you're walking out of work.  And it's not like we had been slammed with a lot of snow by the time I left work last night; apparently, though, there was just enough and it was of just the right consistency to cause my own little personal avalanche.

Guess I'm just lucky, right?

I'm looking out the window right now, and I'm trying as hard as I can, but I can’t see one single blade of grass trying to turn green nor one single flower trying to push its way out of the dirt.  I hear a few birds chirping, but it sounded like they too were confused by the white stuff, and wondering if perhaps they’d left their warm & cozy southern homes just a little too early.

Of course, at least they weren’t laughing like the insane version of Peter Lorre, so maybe they’re handling it better than I.

I’ve lived here long enough to know that we almost always receive weather like this in April, and I should be in no way surprised by the avalanche that hit me.  Sure, I should laugh at the absurdity of being in that exact place at the exact split-second everything came off the roof, but I shouldn’t be surprised by the fact that there was enough snow to fall off the roof.  It’s a fact of life up here. I should just accept it, and live with it.

It’s just...

You know?  Oh, well; at least it'll be in the 40s & 50s this weekend

On that note, have yourself a great weekend.  And enjoy the flooding that'll be caused by the snow melting from the warmer temps!!



I don't have much time to write this morning, for a couple of reasons.  And that's probably a good thing, seeing as how I'd probably just complain about the weather, anyway. 

So let's save that (my complaining) for tomorrow.  The reasons I don't have much time to write today?  Well, there are a couple, and I can't actually say what they are at the moment.  I can say that one has to do with a way we may be able to have those of you who live in Marquette listen to us better in the month or so it'll take us for replace our antenna array (and by the way, today's day 104 of that long, national nightmare). 

The other thing I have to deal with?  Well, I have two meetings.  One has to do with that new project I've mentioned in here, the one that I can't formally announce yet.  And the other has to do with something almost exactly like it, a something that fell into my lap yesterday, which means I now have TWO new exciting media opportunities coming up.

Once I get the okay to reveal what they are, you guys will be among the first to know.

With that, I should get going.  If I have news on ANY of these things going on, I'll yell, perhaps first on Facebook, so if we're not friends yet, I hope it wasn't something I said.  Send me a friend request and I'll click “yes”.  In the meantime...

Hope you survive the weather!



Have I ever mentioned that I REALLY dislike winter?

Apparently, I’m not the only one, based on several notes I received from you guys following the wicked weather event this past Monday, and then the other wicked weather event we're supposed to receive today and tonight.  It also made me think of something I wrote back seven or eight years ago, when we were having another “non-spring” (or “Sprinter”, as Laura called it Monday).  What is it?  Well, it's a “poem” (for lack of a better word) that just spilled out of me after running through slush.  “Poem”, of course, might be too strong of a word; if you'd prefer, just think of it as the rantings of someone pushed too close to the edge of sanity by a very mean-spirited Mother Nature.

You know, like those of you who've sent me the notes the past few days!

Anyway, here's the “poem”; picture taken Monday, and with an updated reference to a meteorologist--


I want to go outside and play again.

I want to be able to wear shorts and t-shirts.

I want to be able to lose my gloves and not give a rip.

I want to throw my car’s ice scraper away.

I want to forget about wind chill.

I want to forget about lake effect.

I want to not have to cringe every time I see a weather forecast.

I want to be able to talk to Laura, ask her if it’s going to be 80, and have her say “yes”.

I want to ride my bike.

I want to go to the beach.

I want to smell flowers and freshly cut grass and poplar trees along the bike path.

I want to see green.

I want to forget the color white even exists.

I want to be able to pull out my camera and take pictures of something, anything, other than this on an April morning--

I want summer.


That’s it.  Hope you survive whatever's on the way!


TUESDAY, 4/15:

First of all, if you see me today and I look like I'm wincing or I'm in pain, it's just me biting my tongue about this @#$$$%)(&)&$%^ weather.

And that's all I'm gonna say about that.

Second of all, I don't know if you've seen this, but the Detroit Free Press, for Tax Day. has an amazing page on their website where you can find out which Michigan Zip Codes have the highest Adjusted Gross Incomes, at least based on last year's tax returns.  Only one U.P. Zip Code made the top 10 on the list--


That's right; people living in Channing's Zip Code have the highest average Adjusted Gross Income in Upper Michigan.  I can't for certain tell you why; however, only 227 tax returns were filed from Channing's zip code last year, which means that only one or two people with incredibly high incomes could wildly skew the whole Zip Code sample.  And that fact probably accounts for the fact that the next four U.P. communities on the list were, in order, Michigamme, Rock, Au Train, and Champion.  All of them had fewer than 500 tax returns filed, which means their sample skew was, well, skewed.

(In case you're curious, among “unskewed” Zip Codes 49855 and 49801 (Marquette and Iron Mountain) had the highest AGI in the U.P., tied almost to the penny).

By the HAVE remembered to file YOUR tax return, right?


Third of all, have I mentioned I'm going on a short vacation in a couple of weeks?  I'm sure I've written about it, but these days it's hard to keep track what I've written about and what I haven't.  So in case I didn't, here's the skinny—Loraine and I are going to Savannah, Georgia for a quick weekend May 1st (assuming, of course, our flight doesn't get canceled due to snow).  It's an anniversary trip that allows us to do one of my favorite things—go someplace warm—and one of her favorite things—visit a WWII site (in this case, the Mighty 8th Air Force Museum).

So in case you didn't know, now you do.  I'm sure I'll be writing more about it in the two weeks and two days before we leave.

And last of all, I received a note from daily blog reader Kimberly of East Lansing wanting to know if I was still, with everything that's been going on, going to be putting together the latest edition of “107 (or so) Things to Love About Marquette County”.  Yes, Kimberly, I am.  I was planning to do it a couple of weeks ago, but life got in the way.  Right now, I'm hoping to get it started after we get back from Savannah; hopefully, this time, NOTHING gets in the way!


MONDAY, 4/14:

So did you have a lazy weekend or a fun weekend?

The reason I ask is that, somewhere in my travels over the past few weeks, I read an article about how for most people their weekend takes two forms—they either have a “lazy” weekend, where they sit around and don't do much, or they have a “fun” weekend, where they get out and play and do stuff they normally don't do.  According to the article, research has shown something a little counter-intuitive, that people who have a 'fun” weekend actually go back to work on Monday more refreshed and rested than people who have a “lazy” weekend.

Weird, huh?  But based, at least, on my own experience, I kinda think it's true.  I know that in any given “normal” winter (so, basically, any winter but this winter) I spend a lot of my weekends inside, lying around, reading, and generally not doing too much.  Then when I go back to work on Monday, I'm still kind of “blah”.  But during the summer, when Loraine and I are out walking and biking and exploring and doing whatever, I feel recharged when I go back to work.  Now, I always chalked it up to the fact that during the winter it's cold and you don't get a lot of sun, but after reading that article...

Maybe I was wrong.  Maybe I'm proof that the research really IS accurate!

Like most people, I had not given one iota of thought to how I spend my weekends.  Maybe some of that is because I usually work part of a weekend, maybe some of that is because there are just certain chores that need to get done on a weekend, and so that's how I spend part of that time.  But now that I've read the article, and have seen how it actually applies to the real world (or at least MY real world), I'm thinking this--

I'm thinking that no matter how tired I am, that no matter how beat down the previous week had made me, that I need to go and have FUN, even if just for a little bit.  Not sit around and take a nap, not hang out and watch the clock count down the hours until the weekend's over, but to get out and have fun like it was a sunny summer day.

Even if it's the dead of winter.

Now, I realize that won't be possible every weekend of the year, especially if we have many more winter weekends like we've had in 2014 (both weather and crisis-wise).  But if knowing is half the battle, then I consider myself well-armed to get the most of our whatever time off I can scrounge, especially on a weekend.

Hope you can do the same, too!


FRIDAY, 4/11:

I wonder if Craig Ferguson is happy or sad today.

In case you haven't heard (or don't really care) Stephen Colbert was signed yesterday to replace David Letterman on CBS's “The Late Show”.  I think it's a good choice; I've been a Letterman fan since I was in college (you know, back in the 1880s) and I think Colbert's sense of humor (and he'll be doing the show as himself and not the “character” he plays on Comedy Central) will fit in well.  So that's that.

However, I have to admit I'm a little bummed Letterman's replacement is not going to be Craig Ferguson, the only talk show host I watch on a daily basis (aside, of course, from Jon Stewart).  I don't know if you've ever seen Ferguson on “The Late Late Show”, but it's kind of weird.  How weird?  His sidekicks are a wisecracking gay dead robot and a pantomime horse.  THAT'S how weird the show is.  But in a strange way it reminds me of “The Jack Benny Show” from back in the old days of radio.  Both shows had (or have) a self-deprecating comedian at the core, with strange supporting characters (although, in Benny's case, not a robot or pantomime horse) and running gags.  In fact, like Benny, Ferguson has had some jokes that have been ongoing for years now.

Sure, the show's strange, but it's my kind of strange.  And that, I suppose, is a big reason why Colbert's replacing Letterman, and not Ferguson.

So in that regard, I can see why Craig Ferguson would be upset that he's not the new host of “The Late Show”.  However, I can also see why he'd be happy.  You see, according to media reports, Ferguson has a clause in his contract that if Letterman were to leave his show and Ferguson was not named the replacement host, that he (Ferguson) would get an eight million dollar payoff

Yeah, it's a consolation prize, but WHAT a consolation prize, right?

I just hope that, because of all this, Ferguson doesn't leave his show, or that CBS decides that they want to go in another direction and relieve him of his show.  Because while the show is weird, I truly believe everyone needs a little weirdness in their lives, right?


Speaking of weirdness in lives, this may be the first weekend in almost a month where Loraine wasn't either sick, or in the hospital, or recovering from being in the hospital.  We're looking forward to a return to what passes for “normal” in our lives (like a walk down to Cal's to buy cookies).  And trust me—in this case, I'll gladly drop the “weirdness” for a little “normalcy”!

On that note, have yourself a great weekend, as well!



I've seen the bumper sticker on and off for the past few years.  Now I have proof that it finally exists!

Here's another picture taken while I was out with my camera Sunday--

And here's the story behind the sticker, a bumper sticker that's actually 36 years old.

Let me explain--back in 1978, the city of Marquette was getting ready to put the Fit Strip into the wooded area near Park Cemetery.  They needed $1,400 in public contributions to do it, so a guy who worked for WDMJ Radio at the time, John Heller, set a Guinness Book of World Records record by broadcasting non-stop for 240 hours--10 straight days.  He attempted it to raise the $1,400, which he did, but saw his world record fall two weeks later when someone from Oklahoma did a 245-hour non-stop broadcast.  So while he raised the money, he never did get to see his name in print.

That’s neither here nor there, I guess.  I mention it because one of the things people received while donating during the broadcast was an “I’m A Fit Stripper” bumper sticker.  And THAT is the bumper sticker I’ve seen on and off the past few years, 36 years after it was originally around.

The first time I saw the sticker was back in 2011 on a car in downtown Marquette; it struck me as odd because the vehicle it was on was no more than 10 years old, yet it had a (then) 33-year old bumper sticker on it.  Then as I've been out running the past few years, I've seen it pop up here and there, but never had anything on me with which to document my “sighting”.  Now, I have.  But after 36 years, this appearance of these stickers is, to butcher the old saying, a mystery wrapped inside a riddle, wrapped inside of an enigma.

It just doesn’t make sense.

Why now?  Is there a reason the stickers have all of a sudden re-appeared?  Did someone find a batch of them somewhere and pass them out to family and friends?  Is there some sort of renewed emphasis on the Fit Strip, and people decided to get a new batch of them printed up?  I learned about the stickers when I was doing research for a History Center program back three or four years ago and couldn’t find an example of sticker to show people.

Yet now they appear to be everywhere.

Like I said, it’s strange that they’ve returned, and even stranger that they seem to have returned en masse, at least based on how many times I seem to have come across them.  If any of you know anything about this, please fill me in.  After all, if there’s one thing I don’t like, it’s being publicly ignorant about something I should know, despite many demonstrations of public ignorance on my part.  So assuming this wasn’t the freakiest of coincidences (which, in the end, it may turn out to be), please fill in the gap in my knowledge.

My brain thanks you.  And keep your eyes on the road.  YOU may be seeing a 36-year old bumper sticker out on the road, and may not even know it!


I promised not to write about it in here any more, but if you'd like to see photographic evidence of why we've been at 1 percent transmitter power for three months and seven days, head to the front page of our website and take a look at the picture of a piece of equipment they brought down from our tower yesterday.

Now you may understand WHY we've been at one percent power for three months and seven days!



You know how there's “comfort food”?  Well, I wonder if there's such a thing as “comfort music”, as well.

Like I do every so often, I checked my iTunes playing stats to see what I've been listening to recently.  That's the radio programmer in me, I guess; for work, I like to know what other people are listening to.  And on occasion, I turn the tables and see what I've been checking out.  After all, there are days when I can't remember what I had for breakfast, much less what I listened to while running or working out.

Anyway, I just checked to see what I've been listening to, and what I found surprised me.  The time period I checked roughly coincides with the time Loraine spent in the hospital, so I don't know if it should be a surprise or not that I listened mostly to the same music over and over again.  The music is what I like to call the “Music of my Childhood”--Philly Soul acts like The Spinners, other R&B Supergroups of the 70s like Sly & The Family Stone, and modern music that pays homage to it (I'm thinking of you, Mayer Hawthorne) and from the looks of it, I listened to that kind of music and pretty much nothing but that kind of music while Loraine was away.

And that's what got me thinking about “comfort music”.  You know how, during times of stress, people tend to eat the foods that calm them down, the foods that they grew up with?  Right after 9/11, in fact, there was a study done that showed a nationwide surge in consumption of dishes like macaroni & cheese and meatloaf, meals that would certainly fall into the “comfort foods” category.  Well, maybe some people don't turn to comfort “foods” when they're stressed.  Maybe some people turn to comfort “music” instead.

While I don't have any hard evidence to back me up, I have a lot of circumstantial evidence to prove my point.  Usually when I listen to music, it's all across the musical spectrum.  I listen to old stuff, new stuff, local stuff, established artists, artists no one has ever heard of, and artists no one ever wants to hear from again.  But not in the last couple of weeks.  Nope; in the last couple of weeks, the statistics show that I listened almost exclusively to 70s R&B or to music that is its direct descendant. I apparently skipped over, consciously or subconsciously, anything that didn't fall into that musical category.  And since my favorite music while growing up was 70s R&B, only thing conclusion I can come to is that it's my “comfort music”.

Like I said, I've never come across a study that talks about comfort “music”, like I have with comfort “food”, but based on what I saw when checking my iTunes stats, I can't come up with another explanation. 

Think I could get someone to pay me to investigate further?  Not that I'd want to have us go through another situation like the one Loraine's gone through the past few weeks (a thought I'm sure she'd second in a heartbeat), but it would be interesting to find out.

And if someone would pay me to do it, it could be potentially profitable, as well!



Trust me...I was NOT going to waste a 60 degree day.  Especially not this year!

I'm speaking of this past Sunday, of course, when Spring, at least for a day, showed its head in the U.P.  After I did a bunch of stuff with Loraine, and she just wanted to rest at home, I did something I haven't done for (literally) months—I threw some shorts on, grabbed one of my cameras, and went out to see what I could see.  And just what did I see?

Well, I saw that a lot of other people were happy Spring was here--

And I saw signs of what a horrid winter did to Marquette city streets--

By my estimate, I saw hundreds if not thousands of other people out enjoying the weather, whether running--

Or just introducing a newborn to the outdoors--

I stopped at my favorite beach in the world, where I saw a sign that made me laugh the laugh of the ironic--

And saw a few signs of what the horrid winter did to Lake Superior--

Finally, a couple of shots that captured my fancy, for whatever bizarre reason.  I count FOUR different messages about parking in this one picture--

And, for whatever reason, I like the geometric patterns in both of these shots--

Now hopefully this won't be the ONLY time this year I get to walk around in shorts carrying a camera, but just in case, the whole world now knows it happens.  Keep your fingers crossed that it might actually happen again!


MONDAY, 4/7:

Well, here's one interesting side effect of Loraine's illness--

I've lost four pounds in the last two weeks.

I can't say I'm surprised; after all, with the wacky schedule I've been keeping I haven't been eating as regularly as I normally do.  And I'm guessing stress may have played a little part in it, too.  But I also haven't been exercising as much as usual, which you'd think would also play a factor.  Yet when I stepped on the scale there I was, down four pounds.  As long as it wasn't four pounds of the little actual  muscle I carry on my frame, I'm guess okay with it. 

I just wish there was an easier way to lose it.


Hopefully, things will start to return to normal, and I can stop using these daily musings to complain about the wild & wacky going on in my life.  Loraine goes back to work today; while she's not 100% yet, she's sooooooo much better than she had been, and also looking forward to a return to her usual routine.  Thanks to you guys for letting me vent in here, too.  I appreciate it.

At least I wasn’t complaining about the weather, right?



Finally, I had totally forgotten about a big project that I had hoped to accomplish in here, a project I had written about a month or so ago—the fourth version of “107 (or so) Things To Love About Marquette County”!  As I mentioned back in another month, it's been three years, and since (I think) seven of the businesses or individuals mentioned in it are no longer around, it's time for another update.  So like I said way back when, if YOU have any suggestions, please let me know.  If things really are getting back to normal, maybe I can get started on the update in here next week.

Seem cool to you?  Seems cool to me!


FRIDAY, 4/4:

I wonder how much Jell-O Marquette General goes through on a daily basis?

Before I talk about Jell-O, though, Loraine is back home, gall bladder-free, and for the first time in several weeks, almost pain-free, as well.  From the moment she woke up after her procedure, the area around her stomach felt normal, and after she downed several dishes of the aforementioned Jell-O in just a few minutes, I knew my favorite chowhound was back on the road to recovery.


As with her extended hospital stay last week, I was very impressed by the set-up the hospital has for patients undergoing surgery, and for the loved ones waiting for them.  While you’re in the waiting room, volunteers keep you updated on the progress of the patient, and look after anything you may need.  And then when the patient is wheeled up to the room where they spend a couple of hours recovering, the staff showers them with care.

Once again, a HUGE thumbs-up, MGH!!

That now brings us to the Jell-O.  Because many patients seem to be on what’s known as a “soft food” diet, the dietary staff is probably quite limited in what they may serve.  Almost every single food tray I saw at the hospital—and trust me, I saw a lot—had at least one container of the stuff.  And when Loraine was given her Jell-O, they asked which color she wanted, and within a minute, two containers of green Jell-O appeared.

That means that the hospital must have a boatload of different kinds of Jell-O prepared and ready to serve, not only at meal times but on demand, as well. So just how many boxes (or industrial-sized containers) do they go through on a daily basis?   I may just have to find out; if nothing else, it sure would make a bizarre “What’s Up, U.P.” question, wouldn’t it?


Hopefully, now, this little “adventure” is over.  It’s been an interesting start to 2014, what with cold weather from day one, a broken antenna system at work from day three, and several unexpected weeks of doctors and hospitals.  I just hope the second (and third, and fourth) quarter of the year is a lot more user-friendly!


Before I go today, I just want to (really quickly) wish a “Happy Birthday” to one of the two people without whom I would not be here.  It’s my mom’s birthday, and I knew Loraine was in good surgical hands when my mom informed me that the doctor taking out her gallbladder was the same doctor who did HER emergency surgery when she was hit by a car back in 2010.  So Happy Birthday, Mom; now you & Loraine both belong to the same club!



If I don’t see another segment of “The Today Show” any time soon, that’ll be fine with me.

Greetings from the OR & Imaging Waiting Room at Marquette General Hospital, where I’ve just sat down to wait as Loraine’s getting her gall bladder removed.  I’ll be in here for at least two hours waiting, then I get to take Loraine home, let her sleep, and within a day or two, get her “back” to the point where she can sleep and eat and walk and do all the things that a healthy person does.

Which is, after all, what Loraine normally is!

This is the sixth waiting room I’ve been in in the past 10 days, and in each of them they’ve had a TV playing, usually with “The Today Show” on in the background.  Now, I have nothing against Matt and Savannah and Natalie and the 18,000 other bit players they have running around.  I’m sure they’re great people, and I’m sure they put on a great show each and every morning.  But the only time in the last seven or eight years I’ve seen “The Today Show” is in a doctors or hospital waiting room, and I’m starting to get a Pavlovian response to the show—

The only time I ever see the show is in connection with sickness, so if I were to actually watch it outside of a medical setting, I’d probably still get sick or something.  So like I said, if I don’t have to see “The Today Show” any time soon, I’m okay with that.


That’s about it; now, I just wait.  And as a great American philosopher said a couple of decades ago, the waiting is the hardest part.  But in the end, once life’s finally back to normal, it’ll be worth it.

It’ll be SO worth it.



I don't have a lot of time to write today, because I have to bring Loraine to meet the doctor who'll be removing her gal bladder, but I did wanna mention one thing--

I'm still up in the air as to whether or not I liked the way “How I Met Your Mother” ended.

I was one of those people who watched every single episode of the show while it was on the air.  I was one of those people who marveled at the inventive way that the writers twisted time to tell the joyfully warped story of how one guy met the mother of his future children.  And I was one of those people who, a month or so ago, started to wonder if the reason that the guy who was telling the story was telling his kids the story because the “Mother” had died.

(Before I go any further, I have to say that I'm about to spoil the ending of the show, in case any of you haven't seen it yet.  So if you haven't, don't read any more of this.  Go play on Facebook or fire up your Candy Crush game.  I won't blame you one bit.)

Now, I was right.  The reason Ted was telling his kids the story about how he met their Mother was indeed because the Mother had died, six years earlier (or 2024, in the show's timeline).  However, after listening to his entire story, his kids realized that it wasn't actually the story about how he had met their mother (because she only appears near the end of it) but it was actually the story about how he was in love with another of the show's character, a woman he had been in and out of “like” with during the entire run of the show.  So in the last scene, with his children's permission, he went over to tell Robin how he felt.

I'm okay with that part of the ending.  Ted & Robin, from the very first episode, were meant to be together.  But the part about the dead “Mother”?  That's the part I'm still not sure about.  For several months now I've been pelting my dear wife with theories about what was going on; when watching the show Monday (the only episode she ever watched), she simply said “sorry” when we discovered the truth.

I know it was a bold move on the writer's part, a move they made when the show first started (because they actually shot the scene with Ted and his kids talking about Robin when the kids were still kids, and not the adults they are nine years later).  I really do admire the audacity of it all from a creative point of view.

I'm just not sure how I feel about it from an emotional point of view.

Okay; I said I had to get going, and now I really DO need to get going.  After all, gall bladders wait for no one!



I have now come to realize who some of the greatest people on this planet are.

They're nurses.

Like I was saying yesterday, both Loraine and I have been incredibly lucky in that until last week we've never had to deal with a hospital situation.  So when Loraine was admitted Wednesday and we walked through the doors of Marquette General, we had no idea what to expect.  I mean, sure, we've seen a lot of TV shows sets in hospital, and we've visited people who've been in the hospital, but neither of us ever had to be the person who was admitted. 

That, of course, all changed thanks to Loraine's gall bladder.

Almost from the first moment we were there, the nursing staff amazed us, not only with their ability to handle several thousand things at once, but also with the way they're able to connect with their patients and make those patients feel at ease despite the fact that they're in one of the most stressful of places.  They did everything they could to ease Loraine's pain, they laughed at her my nervous attempts at jokes, and they answered every single question thrown at them (and trust me, they had a LOT of questions thrown at them).  Just because of that, I'm forever thankful to them, but it was in other ways they earned my amazement and my respect.

As we both joked, for a patient Loraine was very “low maintenance”.  Sure, she was in pain and sure, she wanted to get out of there, but she was still quite functional, both mentally and physically.  It was when the nurses on the sixth floor had to deal with patients that weren't “functional” that my eyes were opened to just what amazing people they are.  For a time on her third night there, Loraine had to share her room with a woman brought in from elsewhere in the U.P., a woman who was suffering from (among other things) dementia.  Even though she kept asking the same questions over and over, the nurses would patiently answer them.  When she got agitated and wanted to leave, the nurses explained why she couldn't.  And when she turned angry and confrontational (as people suffering from dementia often do), they handled her with a care and a sensitivity that, if I had to guess,
very few people could muster.

Every time I stopped by to visit Loraine I took note of what the nurses were doing.  Some were performing high-end (at least high-end to me) medical functions, while others were just trying to make their patients feel comfortable with clean sheets or a warm wipe.  And while I'm sure they do among themselves, I never once heard them complain around a patient about what they had to do, even when those patients, through no fault of their own, have made a mess.  They just went about doing what needed to get done to make the people under their care feel as comfortable as possible.

And I don't think a lot of people could manage to do that.

So if anything good has come out of this situation, it's that my eyes have been opened.  I didn't realize it before, but I will now never forget.  Nurses, among them the ones on the sixth floor at Marquette General,  are among the most kind, caring, and special people on the planet, and at every opportunity, they deserve to hear these two words--

Thank you.


MONDAY, 3/31:

It’s nice to have Loraine home again.

It was a day late, but I was able to bring Loraine home yesterday after four days at Marquette General, and a mere nine days after this whole thing started.  While our little medical adventure isn’t quite over (more on that in a bit), things are slowly starting to get back to normal (or at least what passes for normal around here).


This whole adventure has been an eye-opener for both of us.  Neither Loraine nor I had, until last week, ever spent a night in a hospital, so we had no idea what to expect.  But in the past days we’ve learned an awful lot, perhaps the most important thing being that we—Loraine and I—are lucky that we’ve managed to remain healthy, that we’ve managed to (until this past week) avoid anything more serious than, say, a klutz crashing his bike and losing a tooth in the process. 

Over the past five days, we’ve either met or have heard the stories of people who have Parkinson’s Disease, who have Alzheimer’s Disease, who have cancer, who need a kidney transplant, or who just have trouble doing the things Loraine and I take for granted, things like walking or breathing.  I never realized that so many people have so many differing problems.  It was a shock, and it’s made me realize that for many people health care isn’t an abstract thought or a divisive political issue or something you think of only when your doctor calls and says it’s time for your annual checkup.

For many people (and their families), health care is (literally) a lifesaver.

I wrote in here Friday about the amazing care Loraine received, and specifically want to talk about the people who provided that care.  But I really want to devote some thought to it, so I’m gonna save that for tomorrow or Wednesday or whenever, because I really want to get it right.  For now, though, I do have a couple of observations, things those of you with hospital “experience” may already know but things that kind of surprised me.

First of all, I am never leaving home without my phone charger.  When I first brought Loraine to a doctor (last Tuesday, already) I didn’t even think that a fully charged phone battery would be an issue; then, after having it run out a couple of times while I was trying to communicate or get some kind of work done on it, I threw the charger in my jacket pocket and plugged it in whenever & wherever I could.  I know I complain a lot in here about people who are so tethered to their phones that they seem to lose track of the people and the events and the beauty around them, but in a case like this, all pontificating goes out the window.

In a case like this, a (smart) phone (and the battery power behind it) was vital.

Loraine hasn’t cracked too many jokes in the past week, but one of them was an astute observation—our overseas travels have actually helped us with this whole adventure.  It may seem strange, but I think she’s right.  After all, she’s spent many hours the past four days just sitting up trying to rest, a skill she mastered on long overseas flights and was then able to put to practical use during her stay.  And when we were leaving the hospital yesterday, I did a very thorough hotel room-style check, to make sure we weren’t leaving anything behind, the same as I do when we’re leaving one country for another.

And I also think I’ve driven more in the past week than since the last time I drove around France (2012, maybe).  I discovered a couple of things in regard to that—the first is that I really don’t miss driving that much.  The second?  Since when did Marquette become home to some of the world’s biggest potholes?

That’s actually right outside of our apartment, but it’s representative of every third block (or so) of streets in the city.  I know it’s been a wicked winter, and the thaw/freeze cycle of the past few days has been especially brutal, but for those of you who drive these streets on a daily basis, just let me say one thing—

Be careful out there!

Like I mentioned before, our little medical adventure isn’t quite over yet.  Loraine still has to have her gall bladder (the cause of all this joy) removed, a procedure that may even take place later this week (although, thankfully, on an out-patient basis).  Once that’s done, and once she’s fully recovered, then it’s back to a normal, healthy, active lifestyle, a lifestyle that—hopefully—does not include another hospital visit any time in the near future.


FRIDAY, 3/28:

Well, this has been quite the different experience.

For those of you who don't know, the reason I haven't been writing anything in here and have been on the air only sporadically the past few days is that my much better half is in the hospital.  It started last weekend, when Loraine had pains in her stomach.  At first she thought that maybe she had pulled a muscle while working out; then, the pain became so bad she couldn't sleep at all Monday night.  We went to the doctor on Tuesday, where they did some blood work, and they called her back, basically telling her to get to the hospital as soon as she could.

As it turns out, Loraine has pancreatitis.  A number of small gall stones have somehow made their way to the junction where the pancreas meets the small intestine, and have caused all kind of havoc.  For the past two days she's been at Marquette General, getting fluids put in her and trying to rest, and later today she undergoes a procedure to get rid of those nasty little stones.  Once they're taken care of, she'll then have to go back in a week or two and get her gall bladder taken out, so this whole thing doesn't happen again.

So I hope you understand why I've been a little busy and a little absent recently!

The last few days have been a blur; in fact, when I woke up this morning, I actually had no idea which day of the week it was.  (Don't worry; I called up a co-worker, and, thankfully, she knew.  At least I hope she  knew).  I remember we went to the doctors a couple of days ago, I know I've been to the hospital five or six times, been making dozens of phone calls to dozens of people, and remember trying to get all my work done in between everything (which may account for the fact that, if you drive my the station at 11pm, I may be here).  I think I may have eaten a little, too, but I don't remember for sure.  So if you're listening, please forgive me if I mention the wrong day and/or the wrong time.  For once, I actually have an excuse OTHER than stupidity!

Like I said at the beginning, this has been quite the different experience.  Neither Loraine nor I have ever, until this week, spent a night in a hospital.  We've been incredibly lucky that way; in fact, when they hear about Loraine's ailment, almost everyone has said (and I quote) “But she's the healthiest person I know”!  And it's true.  But I guess, at least this time, our luck has run out.  I'm just glad that the doctors caught it when they did, are treating it the way they're treating it, and that it wasn't anything worse.  I don't even wanna think about what else it could have been.

Speaking of the medical care Loraine's been receiving, it's been top-notch.  From the first doctor she saw to the student nurses who come in and check on her every few hours, everyone has been friendly and helpful and caring.  It's funny, because for whatever reason you hear a lot of horror stories concerning hospital care.  But you know what?  I don't believe a single one of those stories.  Like I said, I don't have a lot of experience being hospitalized, but based on the care Loraine's getting, I have no idea what the people who complain are talking about.  Maybe MGH's out of the norm; I don't know.

All I know is that she's being treated like the princess that she is.  And for that I'm grateful.

As it stands now, Loraine won't be out until at least tomorrow, and I suppose that all depends upon how her procedure goes today.  Hopefully, I'll get her back soon, and hopefully, the blur that this week has become will settle down a little.  Because while I usually thrive on chaos, this is NOT the kind of chaos I prefer.  Really, it isn’t.

Now you know, and like I said, I apologize in advance if you're trying to listen and I'm sounding like an imbecile (well, more of an imbecile than usual).  It's just one of those things.



You know, I REALLY dislike doing this again, but I don't have anything for you today, other than to beg your forgiveness.  You see, I'm dealing with a sick wife, and I wanna make sure she get better as soon as possible.

I'll try to be better tomorrow.  I really will!!



Because I'm dealing with a few things I don't have too much time to write this morning.  But since I seem overcome with a sizable amount of guilt whenever I don't post anything in here at all, I'm gonna leave you with something I wrote almost three years ago today.

Back tomorrow with something totally new!



(as originally posted March 21st, 2011)

What do you get when you cross a “Star Wars” geek with a “Gone With The Wind” geek?  You get Jim & Loraine, Geeky Married Couple.  You also get a weird incident that happened last night.

Loraine’s in the midst of reading the book version of “GWTW” for the 112th time.  And last night, I noticed that “The Empire Strikes Back” was on TV, so I decided to watch it for the 112th time.  While my lovely wife was walking by the TV set one time, she stopped, listened to the dialogue for a second, and then shouted out that whoever wrote “Empire” (Lawrence Kasdan and Leigh Brackett, to be specific) was either ripping off or paying homage to “Gone With the Wind”.

And you know what?  She’s right!

On page 339 of her edition of “Wind”, there’s a conversation between Rhett & Scarlett in which the gallant (but puckish) Mr. Butler says “So, you do like me, don’t you”, after which lovely (but spoiled) Ms O’Hara replies “Well, sometimes, when you aren’t acting like a varmint”.  Now let’s change out media, and head back to a “long time ago in a galaxy far far away”.  There’s a scene in “Empire” when the Millennium Falcon is hiding from Empire fighters in an asteroid that’s really the throat of a nasty space beast.  When trying to fix the ship, the gallant (but puckish) Han Solo says “Come on, admit it.  Sometimes you think I’m alright”, after which the lovely (but spoiled) Princess Leia says “Occasionally, maybe...when you’re not acting like a scoundrel”.

Okay, class, compare and contrast-- “Well, sometimes, when you aren’t acting like a varmint”, and “Occasionally, maybe. . .when you’re not acting like a scoundrel”.  See a similarity in there?  Yup.  I do too!

I’m surprised Loraine hasn’t made the connection before.  After all, we have seen “Empire” together several dozen times.  I suppose, though, that the fact she had just read that passage in “GWTW” made it fresh in her mind, and then when she heard the dialogue in “Empire”; well, let’s just say she put 2 and 2 together and came up with a way to link one failed empire with another.

By the way, have I ever mentioned Loraine rocks?

So the next time you watch “The Empire Strikes Back” and/or read “Gone With The Wind”, realize that they’re a lot more alike than you’d ever think.  Sure, there aren’t galactic stormtroopers in Gone With The Wind”, and as far as I know there’s not a guy named Ashley Wilkes in “Empire”, but they do share at least one thing in common.  And now, thanks to Loraine, we know what it is.

TUESDAY, 3/25:

A couple of unrelated things today, so unrelated that we get to bounce around the country for them!

The first comes from Chicago, the sight of the extended stops Loraine & I make while on our way to Europe.  Because we have eight hours to kill between flights, we always jump on the Blue Line Train and head downtown for a couple of hours of fun.  It's a good thing we weren't there yesterday, though!

(photo courtesy of Chicago Tribune)

That's a picture of the El's Blue Line train not stopping when it's supposed to stop at O'Hare Airport and running into the escalator that brings people up into the concourse. 


They should have it fixed in a day or so, which is fine with us—we still have five months (and three days) until we'll be hopping on that train.  And hopefully, nothing like this will be happening on THAT day!


Secondly, let's go to Florida and a request from Chicky-Poo.  While talking to him over the weekend I mentioned that the people who had been climbing our transmitter tower were nice enough to take a picture for me while up there, and he wants to see it.  So if you've ever wondered how far you can see from the 700-foot level of a broadcast tower, now you know!

Teal Lake is the big white thing on the left hand side of the picture; Lake Superior is the blue on top, just so you know where you're looking.  There you go, Dad.


Finally, I don't know if you've heard, but I'm stoked, if only because Farmer Q's is coming back!! 

That's right; my favorite produce store in the whole wide world is returning to business this May, although in a different location.  They'll be renovating the old Cliff's Muffler Shop in south Marquette, a move that should give them better parking and more room for stuff to sell.  The new location also means they'll be just down the street from Cal's Party Store and those amazing cookies they sell, so from a healthy eating point of view I'm not sure if the new location is a good thing or a bad thing, at least for (ahem) some of us.

But the important point is that they're back.  Cool!!!!


MONDAY, 3/24:

I wonder if it's true.

In the past several months I've had two people make almost the exact same statement to me.  If it just happened once I probably wouldn't even give it a second thought.  But the second time it was brought up it started me wondering if there was actually something to this perception after all.  So what do you think?

Do people in Marquette have some form of extra “self-confidence” that people in other communities don't?

I know that sounds weird, so let me explain the context in which those statement were made to me, both by people who live outside of the area.  One of the people lives elsewhere in the U.P., while the other lives downstate.  They both spend time in Marquette, so they know what goes on around here.  The first was made by the Yooper, who was talking to me about a possible new festival for the city.  They thought it would come together and that it would be a success, because, and I quote, “ You guys can do anything”.  The other came from the downstate resident, who knows about the new “public project” I mentioned I was getting involved in last week.  When informed about it, they wondered if I had given it a second thought or are nervous about doing it.  When informed “no and no”, they wondered what was in the water up here, because they don't think they could've said “yes”.

So what do you think?  Do people who live in Marquette have some sort of hidden reserve of self-confidence?  Are we able to do things or tackle projects from which other people might shy away?  And if we do have that hidden reserve, what came first—do people in Marquette who have that self-confidence have it because the city attracts people like that, or does the city, by what it does and the residents who call it home, itself build self-confidence in the people who come here? 

It's like the classic “the chicken or the egg” syndrome, but in an entirely different way.

I myself don't have the answer to that question; in fact, I hadn't even considered it until those two different people made almost the same comment.  But now that I've thought about it a little, I guess I can kind of see what they were talking about.  I mean, I grew up here, so I (for better or for worse) take living in Marquette and doing what other Marquette residents do for granted.  It's just how things are done around here.  We--I--don't give it a second thought.

However, if you try to look at it through the eyes of people who don't live here, who haven't grown up in or are immersed in our “way” of doing things, I suppose you could make a comment like those two individuals made to me.  I don't THINK there's anything in the water up here, but maybe there is a critical mass of “ability” or of “confidence” or of whatever you want to call it, a critical mass that leads itself to people overachieving or not giving a second thought to doing something new.  Maybe it's because of an education level, maybe it's because of a certain level of artistic or creative ability.  Heck, maybe it's because of the cold and the snow and our need to take part in something that DOESN'T involve the snow and the cold.

I don't know myself.  All I know is that there are people from outside the area—I'm sure more than the two to whom I've spoken in the last month—who feel that “we” have something that not everyone does.  I don't know if that something is “self-confidence” or just what it is; I just know that it's a perception that people have.  And as perceptions go, I guess it's not a bad one to have, whether it's true or not.


FRIDAY, 3/21:

The dreams have started again, right on schedule.

Every year for the past ten or so, I’ve had the same dream popping into my subconscious right around the same time of the year; namely, late February or early March.  The dream is some variation on this--I’m running through Marquette’s Fit Strip, it’s warm out, and it’s green everywhere.  Sometimes, there are variations on the dream, like I have to run up & down trees instead of up & down trails, or I sometimes find a lost “downtown” within the Fit Strip, but the dream always involves me running, heat, and the color green.

Every single time.

I’m in no way surprised; after all, during the summer, when it’s warm and everything’s green, part of my long meandering Saturday runs involve running around the Fit Strip several times before heading to other locations.  It’s a great way to cool off just a little after running through the shimmering heat of downtown, and it’s amazing what going up & down those dirt hills do for your endurance (and your calf muscles).  It’s one of the two parts of the run to which I look most forward.

Now because I can only run on the Fit Strip for anywhere from 6 to 8 months a year, and because it’s only hot & green for two or three of those months, those times when it’s “perfect” are fleeting and few.  So right around now, when it’s been six months since the conditions were “perfect”, I’m starting to miss it.  I’m REALLY starting to miss it.  And that, I’m guessing, is why the dreams always pop up right around this time of the year.  It’s been cold and (usually) snowy; I’ve either stopped running for a bit in favor of skiing or have been forced to alter my running route to stay on plowed city streets.  And while I often admit in here that I’m much more a creature of concrete than I am of the wilderness, there’s something about a little bit of nature in the middle of concrete--like Marquette’s Fit Strip--that makes venturing into it something special.

Especially when it’s hot & green, and I get to run up & down its hills.

That’s why I kinda like the dreams I have this time of the year, and that’s why I’d miss them if they didn’t show up on schedule.  It’s my inside reminding my outside that the countdown has begun.  That winter won’t last forever.  And that, hopefully soon, I’ll be reunited with the heat and the green.

Although I'm not counting on it any time soon.

On that note, have yourself a great weekend; if it's possible, stay warm and stay dry!!



Happy first day of Spring.  It sure is green and warm and spring-like outside, isn't it??

So to get our minds off that, you know what we need to talk about today?  We need to talk about chocolate!

Now, I realize that any day is a great day to talk about chocolate, but I've tried a couple of new bars recently, bars that are so good that their praises deserved to be shouted from the rooftops.  The first comes from the organic Endangered Species brand.  They've come out with a series of 72% dark chocolate bars with a crème filling, and the one that both Loraine and I have gone gaga over is their Sea Salt & Lime Filled Creme Dark Chocolate bar.

Now, I know you're thinking to yourself that a chocolate bar with a sea salt and lime filling may not be the most interesting the world, but trust me—the flavors work together.  After all, salt & lime are important parts of a margarita, right?  Well, substitute the chocolate for the tequila and you get the same effect, minus the hangover.  I've tried a couple other of the bars in their new series (the raspberry-orange and the lavender mint) but the sea salt & lime bars are the tops.  You can get them at the Marquette Food Coop if you're interested.

The second piece of chocolate we need to talk about is one of the Easter selections from Russell Stover.  Now, I'm not a big fan of white chocolate, but one of the many bite-sized eggs the company has come out with the year is a White Chocolate Wedding Cake egg.  It's a white chocolate egg filled with a white filling that tastes exactly like the stereotypical white wedding cake you get anytime a friend or loved one gets hitched.  Once again, you may think the combination a bit surreal, but as with the sea salt & lime it's amazing.  It's not what you'd think of as an “Easter” flavor, but trust me—once you take a bite, you'll know what I mean.  You can find 'em anywhere you can buy individual Russell Stover eggs.

It's funny that I mentioned both of those selections, because if you were to combine bits of each of them you'd get a legendary bar I ate the first time I was in Europe and have never seen since.  I picked it up in Germany in 2004; the bar was from Milka, and was White Chocolate with Green Tea & Lime.  As I said, I'm not the world's biggest fan of white chocolate, but the combination of the mild white chocolate, the sting of the lime, and the aftertaste of the green tea was something I've never tasted before, and would really like to again.  The bar was a seasonal experiment on Milka's part, and apparently most people didn't consider it a success. 

All I know is that it made such an impression on me that, even a decade later, I would love to get my hands on a fresh batch, and I would even fly to Germany to get it (not that that would be much of a sacrifice, of course).  I really would!

Okay, that's enough chocolate for now.  After all, I don't want to have to make you brush your teeth after reading this!

Yours in chocolate,



Well.  Consider my mind blown.

I was listening to a commercial yesterday on our station, a commercial about this weekend's activities at Marquette Mountain.  And when Suzie Snowflake (their “spokesperson”) mentioned they were having a qualifying event for a world championship coming up, I have to admit my mind was blown a little bit, not because they were having a world championship qualifying event at the Mountain, but because of what the event was for--

The World Beer Pong Championships.

That's right.  There is a World Beer Pong Championship.  In fact, they have had nine previous World Beer Pong Championships, at least according to the website of the World Beer Pong Championships.  (And yes, the World Beer Pong Championships DO have a website.  Would you expect anything less?)  Some time later this year in Las Vegas people who's qualified at events like the one coming up at Marquette Mountain will put their beer pong skills up against the best the rest of the country has to offer to win, and I'm not kidding, up to $50,000.

Just for playing beer pong.

A couple of years ago I stumbled upon the world Rock Paper Scissor Championships on TV, and thought that was the ultimate in “World Championships”, but I was so, so wrong.  After all, here you have a “World Championship” that involves both alcohol and the Las Vegas Strip.  If that's not a recipe for a good time, I don't know what is.  And if you throw in a chance for $50,000 at the same time?

Well, it's either going to be the most gonzo weekend in the history of World Championships, or one that causes many people to enter any one of several dozen different kinds of therapy.  I don't think there's any middle ground with an event like this.

This event is now in its tenth year, which means it's started to gain a little traction in the “sporting” world.  And since it's being held in Las Vegas, I have to wonder if you can walk into a sports book and place a bet on it.  I mean, you can bet on just about anything in Las Vegas, right?  Why not on a “World Championship” being held right down the street?  And if you can bet on it, is there a fantasy league for it?  I mean, you have fantasy football and fantasy baseball and (and I'm not kidding) fantasy fishing, so why not a fantasy beer pong league?

Why not??

Needless to say, my mind was kind of blown while listening to that Marquette Mountain commercial yesterday.  I'm glad I heard it, if only because my mind has been opened to a whole new world, a world about which I knew nothing, and a world that has now enriched my existence on this planet.

Okay, maybe not enriched my existence on this planet so much as make me wonder about the future of humanity, but that's pretty much the same thing, right?

So if yo happen to be at Marquette Mountain this weekend or in Las Vegas later this year, you might wanna check out the goings-on at the World Beer Pong Championships.  After all, it's only a matter of time before the event shows up in the Olympic Games, and it's a chance for you to say that you were a fan BEFORE it hit the big time!


TUESDAY, 3/18:

You know your life has become a bit chaotic when you pick up a newspaper and on the front page notice an article that involves you, an article for which you sat down and gave a long interview two weeks ago, an interview that you've entirely forgotten about.


Sometimes I amaze even myself, and Sunday was one of those instances.  As I always do, I popped over to The Spot after working out Sunday morning to pick up the Mining Journal and a bottle of Diet Dr. Pepper for Loraine.  As I was walking home I started to scan the front page of the paper, and noticed the article for which I had been interviewed two weeks ago.  It was a spin-off of the “Street Name” program Rosemary and I gave at the History Center last month, and much like the program itself, the interview I gave for the article—and the fact that the article would one day show up in the newspaper—had entirely slipped my mind.

Now I don't know about you, but it seems to me that I should be paying attention to things like interviews I give and the newspaper articles that come out of them.  After all, it's not something a lot of people do, and you'd think that they would stand out in my mind.  You'd think that I'd realize they're kind of a big deal.  You'd think I'd know that I should probably keep track of my actions better than that.

You'd think.

But as you all know (and I've promised not to talk about the “whys” in here again) things have been a little chaotic recently.  Normally that's not a bad thing; normally, I kind of thrive on chaos.  But in the last six months so many things have changed and so many things have gone awry and so many things have been thrown at me that, I guess, I let this one slip by me.


Thankfully I was lucid when I gave the interview, at least from the looks of it.  The article turned out well, my quotes made sense, and I actually sounded like I knew what I was talking about, which, as we all know, doesn't always happen.  So I have that going for me.  And the reporter talked to Rosemary about it, too, so even if I had screwed up she (hopefully) would've covered for my idiocy.  But to entirely forget about not only the article but the interview that led to it?  My bad, I guess.

Hopefully, this won't happen again in the future, but I have my doubts.  While one main driver of the chaos will soon recede (or, at least, it had better soon recede) another one may take its place.  I can't say yet what it is, but you know how some people know me as “Radio Jim” and some people know me as “History Jim”?  Well, there will soon be a third kind of “Jim” out there for people to know.  And while it won't take anywhere near the time out of my life that “Radio Jim” and “History Jim” do, it'll (very much) be in the public domain, so it should provide a completely different kind of chaos with which to deal.

But it's the kind of chaos I think I can handle. 

Now as far as I can remember (admittedly not very much, at least these days) I don't have any other newspaper interviews, TV stories, or other public profiles sitting out there just lurking.  So the next time you see me on TV or quoted in a newspaper story, it should be something new and fresh.

And something, hopefully, that I'll have remembered doing.


MONDAY, 3/17:

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

I'd like to tell you the story of an Irish guy.  His name was James Hogan, and he was born in October of 1878 somewhere in or near the town of Kilkenny, Ireland.  When he was young, like many people of his generation, he left Ireland, making his way first to Canada and then to the U.S., where he ended up settling on the south side of a growing town on the shore of Lake Superior named Marquette.  It was there he met and fell in love with a young woman named Beda Levine, a relationship that was out of the ordinary for those times because not only was he 17 years older than her, but he was Irish and she was Swedish, and back in those days, you didn't often cross that line.

James and Beda made their home on Jackson Street, where he worked for the Duluth, South Shore, and Atlantic railroad.  Over the years, they raised eight children, one of whom was a daughter named Agnes.  Agnes met and fell in love with a young man from Yalmer named John, a relationship that was a bit out of the ordinary because usually south Marquette girls married south Marquette guys, and back in those days, that was another line you often didn't cross.

Agnes and John, while they were married, had two sons named Walter and Jack.  Walter, a south Marquette boy through and through, grew up in the 1950s, raised by his grandfather James, the young man who had emigrated from Ireland.  Like many members of his family, Walter crossed a line you didn't often cross when he met and fell in love with a girl who lived on the border of north Marquette.  Back then, you see, people from south and north Marquette didn't often date each other.  But it's a good thing they did,  because they ended up getting married and having four children, the oldest of whom was...


As I mentioned Friday, I count many different nationalities in my ethnic makeup.  Even though I'm only one-eighth Irish, it's part of my background that I can't ignore, if only because I'm named after someone who was born in Ireland.  I never knew my great-grandfather; he died several years before I was born.  And while I was growing up, I really didn't know that much about him, aside from the stories my dad told.  But over the years, in speaking with both family members and people who knew him, I've found out a few things about the man after whom I'm named.  I know that, even into his 50s, he was a wickedly good softball pitcher.  In fact, one guy who was in his teens when he played against my great-grandfather said he was impossible to hit, a comparative rarity in that sport.

My great-grandfather was also into growing his own food.  I don't know if this was because he left Ireland during the Great Potato Famine, because he enjoyed it, or some combination of the two, but he was into gardening big time.  Not only did he have a vegetable garden at their home, but he also grew potatoes on a plot of land where the Bothwell Middle School now sits.  He used to get his kids & grandkids to help him out; in fact, when I asked my dad what my great-grandfather's hobbies were, my dad replied, and I quote, “Yelling at me to go pull weeds out of the garden”.

Like I said, I don't know a lot about my great-grandfather, his life, or the story of how he left his home country and ended up in Michigan.  I know there are some rumors and tales, some good and some bad, and hopefully I'll get the chance to one day explore them further.  But for now, on this day of all days, I figured I'd share the (admittedly incomplete) story of one of the millions of Irish citizens who made this country what it is today.

An Irish citizen without whom I would not be here myself.


FRIDAY, 3/14:

I wonder how many people around here are like me?

I count among the 7 or 8 nationalities in my ethnic makeup Irish and Finnish.  If I were a drinking person, I guess that might mean that I wouldn’t be sober through, say, next Tuesday or Wednesday, what with having to celebrate St. Urho’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day back to back.  But since I’m not a drinking person, I just have to make sure I wear purple Sunday (a color in which I look good) and green Monday (a color that, to be honest, doesn’t flatter me as much as I’d like).

Oh, the problems we have in life, right?

Anyway, like I said, I’ve been wondering how many people in the U.P. have both Ireland and Finland as part of their heritage?  I mean, I know there was a large Irish population in Marquette, especially in south Marquette (which is where I get mine), and I think everyone knows that one or two (or perhaps a few more) people emigrated to the U.P. from Finland a century or so ago.  Over the years, I’ve met a people with a lot of Finnish in their blood, and I’ve met a lot of people with Irish in their blood, but I don’t know how many have both.  And that makes me curious.

(Of course, I’d also be curious to know how many people also have English, Scotch, German, French, Swedish, and whatever else I’m made up of in their blood, as well!)

Now, despite my curiosity, I have to say that I’m be a very poor excuse for someone curious about his ethnic background.  I don’t know any Finnish or any Gaelic; I don’t eat foods from either country, and I certainly don’t have any tales of the family back in the “old country”.  For many years, I didn’t even give a second thought to anything in my background.  After all, I was just “me”.

But since I’ve started traveling some of my “old” countries (and, I’m guessing, since I’ve started to get older, despite my best efforts to stop it) I’ve started to wonder a little about all the little ingredients that were part of the recipe that became “me”.  I find parts of it kind of interesting, too.  I’m both Irish and Swedish because a young Irish man married a young Swedish woman over 100 years ago at a time when young Irish men didn’t usually marry young Swedish women.  One of the ancestors of that young Irish man may have been a poet back in the old country.  And one of my long-ago English ancestors had children who were circus clowns or who ran away to join an elephant act in a carnival.

See?  It explains a lot, doesn’t it?

So if you happen to be one of those people who has Finnish blood or Irish blood (or, if you’re lucky, both) enjoy the next few days.  Wear purple and/or green.  Try not to drink too much.  And if you do, remember--drink lots of water before you go to bed that night.  Lots and lots of water.

At least that’s what someone once told me. . .

Anyway, happy St. Patrick-Urho Daze.  And if you have more than just Finnish or Irish in your background, enjoy celebrating the days devoted to those countries, as well!!!



You know, I don't even remember that I have a fake front tooth any more.

It's been almost ten months since I had my little bike accident, and while there are still a few lingering signs of it—the big scar on my left knee, and a few knuckles on my right hand that are a little stiff when I first wake up in the morning—most of the damage has healed.  In fact, I've forgotten most of the damage.  When I was shaving a couple of days ago, for the first time in months I remembered to look at  my right eye, the area where I had six stitches put in.  You can barely see the scar from that; in fact, unless you know where you're looking , you can't even tell the “scar” is there.

And then yesterday, when munching on an apple for lunch, I remembered that one of the two front teeth with which I was biting isn't actually my own.  That's right; it only took me a few months to forgot that I have a fake front tooth.

In fact, it's kind of funny.  When I first had the cap put on the remaining stub of my upper front right tooth (the one I lost most of when I face-planted on the bike path back in May) I was really paranoid about eating things like apples and corn on the cob and other things that are hard to chew.  Having lost the tooth once to an accident, I didn't want to lose it again to stupidity.  So I was very cautious the first few times I ate an apple; I tried to bite into it with the left side of my mouth, something you can never do quite successfully and something at which you will always look like a dork when doing.  However, over time, I came to realize that my fears were unfounded and that I could bite into an apple without worrying.

Or, in my case, without even thinking about it.  After several months of cautiously eating things like apples, I've now been biting into them with zest, forgetting my previous fears and, apparently, even forgetting about the fact that my tooth isn't real.

I'm glad; after all, when I was starting to recover from my moment of stupidity and was outfitted with a fake front tooth, I was envisioning a future with a diet that consisted of yogurt and pre-mushed beans and vegetables.  While I'm sure that's a healthy diet, it's also a boring one, especially for me.  I enjoy eating a lot of fresh food, especially fruits and vegetables.  I love to sink my teeth into apples and corn on the cob and carrots.  Not only that, you guys know how I love to gnaw into a piece of good chocolate.  And sure, while you can break off a piece of chocolate and stick it into your mouth, that's nothing compared to cracking off a piece between your front teeth.  It just adds a little something to the whole experience. 

But now I don't have to worry about that, because I'm thinking that even forgetting I have a fake front tooth means that I'm totally comfortable with said fake front tooth.  I'm able to do everything I was able to do with a real tooth, and I get to continue treating it like I treated my real front tooth.  I just have to remember not do another face plant into a bike path, and have it knocked out like my real front tooth.

After all, it deserves better than that.



You should be proud of me.  I actually learned from one of my mistakes.

The mistake is one that you guys know about, if only because I was able to get two blogs out of it last week.  As you may recall, Loraine and I were having a discussion about something that I thought would be a good blog.  The only problem is that both of us forgot what we were talking about, and we never did remember.  That was our mistake.

A couple of nights ago we were having another discussion about something, when the very same thought popped into my head—this would make a good blog discussion topic.  And since I knew what happened the last time that occurred, I immediately grabbed a piece of paper and a pen, and wrote myself a note so I wouldn't forget.

See?  You really CAN teach an old dog new tricks!

What were we talking about that was so interesting I thought I should write about it?  Well, I was reading a book a couple of days ago about the history, development, and sales of candy in the U.S., and one of the things discussed in the book was Wacky Packs.  Admittedly, Wacky Packs weren't a candy, but since they stuck sticks of bubble gum in the package, I guess that allowed it to qualify for inclusion in the book.  For those of you who don't know Wacky Packs, they were stickers satirizing products of the day (for instance, Crest Toothpaste was turned into Crust Toothpaste), something that appealed to those of us who were nine years old  back then (as opposed to those of us who occasionally act like nine year olds now).

Anyway, I had quite the collection of the stickers, so reading through the section of the book about Wacky Packs made me chuckle.  I was reading in our bedroom, while Loraine was somewhere else in our apartment.  I left the bedroom to show her the page, and in doing so walked past one of the dressers we use.  I've had this particular dresser since I was a kid, and on the side I passed while leaving the room there are several areas where the stain had been peeled off a long time ago.  It wasn't until I walked passed the dresser  carrying that book on candy that I realized why the stain was peeled off.

The stain was peeled  because of the fact that when I was a kid, I once had a bunch of Wacky Packages stickers stuck onto it, stickers that were at one time removed, causing the areas where the stain had been peeled off.

It's funny, because I hadn't looked at the side of the dresser for years now.  And I have no idea why I looked at it at the moment I was also carrying the book with the section on Wacky Packs.  I just know that I, for some reason, looked at the dresser at that exact second and made the connection.  It's funny, too, because if you look close enough you can see the stain that's peeled off is actually peeled off in the shape of stickers.  I suppose if I had pictures of each and every Wacky Pack sticker from my youth I could tell you which sticker on the dresser was planted where, but that would probably be bordering on the obsessive.

Just a little.

Anyway, because I couldn't let THIS particular incident pass without writing about it, I jotted down my note right as it happened, so I wouldn't wake up the next morning and remember that I forgot about it.  See?  We CAN learn from our mistakes.  And all it takes is a book that mentions Wacky Packs for it to happen.


TUESDAY, 3/11:

Well, it was option number one.

If you recall, yesterday I laid out three options that could happen following our latest attempt yesterday at repairing what's broken at our transmitter.  Well, after a three hour tower climb yesterday we found out that our long national nightmare will continue.  There was apparently a lot more damage up there than anyone thought, which means that for the foreseeable future we'll be broadcasting the way we've been broadcasting for the last two months and eight days--

Hardly broadcasting at all.

I'm not gonna dwell on it; in fact, I can't dwell on it, lest I spend most of the day just shaking my head at the wonder of it all.  It's just something that's happened, something that's out of our control.  I just have to make sure that while we're “down” we continue doing the best we can, and that when we come back we come back better than ever.

Ironically, it appears that watching the Colts lose to the Patriots in the playoffs over the years may have paid off, because if nothing else I'm quite familiar with the concept of hitting bottom and then climbing back out again to fight another day (or football season)!

At least we're on the air.  Sure, we're on the air like a very low power station instead of the supernova that we usually are, but we're still on the air.  As my boss is fond of reminding me, had we not purchased a backup piece of equipment we would've been totally off the air for two months and eight days now instead of still being on the air, albeit at a (much) lower power.  So that's a start.  And like the Colts picking themselves off the turf and looking ahead toward next season, that's what we'll do here.

The last time we had bad news I promised that I would stop writing in here about all these turmoils, if only because I know you guys are probably getting sick of me whining about this more than I whine about the weather (and that's saying something).  So I won't write about it in here again until we're actually back on the air at full power and with a full load of working equipment. 

Just keep your fingers crossed for us, if you would.

Tomorrow—the story of how I've started to learn from my (many) mistakes!


MONDAY, 3/10:

I guess today's another pins & needles kind of day.

I know I said I wasn't gonna write about our ongoing transmitter/antenna difficulty until it was finally fixed, but I probably should mention it today, because today's the day it may finally be fixed.  Unless the weather drastically changes in the next couple of hours, they'll be climbing our tower later this morning and taking us off the air.  They'll be replacing one part, and running tests on another, and when they're done one of three things will happen--

--The part the change out will work, but they'll find yet another thing that's broken, and we'll be back to the way were were until they can climb again.

--The part they change out will work, everything will be fixed, and our long national nightmare will finally be over.

--The part they change out will work, but there will still be something wrong with the piece of equipment they're testing.  However, we can still temporarily operate without that one piece of equipment, although we'd be at 25,000 watts instead of our usual one hundred until everything can be repaired.

See why it's pins & needles day again today?

When you read this tomorrow hopefully option two (or even option three, which after two months and eight days I could live with) will have occurred, and we can all run up & down the streets singing a very off-key version of “Happy”, because that's what we'll be.  But if it's option number one, well...

That would suck.

So if you're in the Marquette area and usually listen to us (or are trying to listen to us) during the day, be aware that we probably won't be around much, especially this afternoon.  Hopefully, though, by the time you get done with work we'll be back.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that when we're back it's with good news, but as I said last time they climbed, I've become too much of a jaded realist (as least as far as our antenna array is concerned) to expect that's what's gonna happen.

If you wanna keep YOUR fingers crossed, that would be appreciated.  And I'll let you know how it turned out tomorrow!


FRIDAY,. 3/7:

It's nice to know my reputation precedes me.

As you may recall, I had to get up REALLY early yesterday morning—before 8 am, in fact (and yes, you may roll your eyes now at that statement if you'd like.  I know you want to).  The reason for my early rise was the fact that the Lake Superior Community Partnership's Leadership Academy was coming in for a tour of the station, so that the future leaders of Marquette County could a see how a radio station works.  Or, in our case, how a radio station occasionally works.

Anyway, the tour went well; everyone seemed to have a good time and learn a lot, and the questions they asked were of a higher quality than we get during an average tour, something you'd except from the future leaders of Marquette County.  One of the questions, though, kinda took me by surprise, and that was when someone asked--

“Are you ready for the beach yet”?

Now, as those of you who read this regularly know, I kinda like the beach.  I spend a good deal of my summer (at least a good deal of a warm summer) just walking up & down beaches, basking in the warmth of the sun and the zen-like sound of the waves crashing on shore.  Those of you who read this on a regular basis also know that my dream job would be “beach bum”, only I've yet to figure out a way to get someone to pay me to do it.  That's why I was surprised when the question was asked and it turns out the person doing the asking doesn't read these.

I guess my secret's out!

It's funny; I didn't think I talk about it a lot on the air or mention it much on Facebook, but my little secret must've gotten out somehow.  I know I've spoken with the person who did the asking several times; maybe that's how she knew.  Or maybe I've seen this person at the beach on occasion.  All I know is that when I'm giving a tour of the station, talking about audio recording, and someone asks me about my favorite summer time activity...something just doesn't seem right.  I'm not complaining; after all, it was a great question, and it shows that a lot of people seem to know me a lot better than I thought they ever did.  It was just an interesting question to be asked by someone in that group of people at that particular function.

But then, that's maybe why they're the future leaders of Marquette County!

The question actually stuck with the group, too, because as they were leaving, one member noticed the sun was shining and commented that it looked like “perfect beach weather” outside.  And while the sunshine DID add a beach-like glow to the day, the fact that it was glaring off of four-foot snowbanks kind of took away the whole allure of going to the beach, at least this weekend.

So I guess I'm now known not just as the history geek on the radio who walks everywhere; many people seem to know me as the history geek on the radio who walks everywhere and really wants to be a beach bum.  I guess, though, there are worse reputations to be had, right?

On that note, have yourself a great weekend.  I wish I could say I'll see you at the beach, but as we all know, that's not gonna be happening for quite a while yet!



I don't feel so bad now.  Loraine can't remember what the blog was supposed to be about, either.

If you recall yesterday's ramblings, there was a topic that I was going to write about, but couldn't remember what that topic was.  All I did recall was one of two things--that it came up in a conversation with my dear wife, or it was all a dream.  Well, I can now confirm it was NOT a dream.   We did have that conversation.

We just don't remember what it was about.

This isn't anything out of the ordinary.  We both have so much going on—her with the book she's in the middle of writing and with me being, well, me—that quick little conversations are bound to be forgotten as soon as they're held.  I'm sure whatever we were talking about, and I'm sure that whatever made me think I should write about it, was interesting and quasi-important at the time.  It just wasn't THAT important.

One of two things will now happen.  I'll either totally forget this happened, until I re-read these blogs four or five years in the future and try to remember what exactly it was I was trying to remember.  Either that, or I'll wake up at four in the morning one day next week and remember exactly what I was gonna write about.  I'll then be faced with a choice—roust myself out of bed, looking for a pen & paper upon which to write the idea down, or roll over, go back to sleep, and by the next morning forget what I remembered.  Assuming, of course, I remember I remembered and just don't forget that I remembered I remembered. 

Or something like that.

Anyway, part of me is now thinking that forgetting what I as gonna write about is actually better than remembering what I was gonna write about.  After all, had I remembered, I wouldn't gotten a single blog out of it.  But now, because I forgot, I was able to get two blogs out of it.  And while I'm sure you're probably getting sick of the topic, I was able to kill half a week just by forgetting something.

And given my history of forgetting things, it's too bad I can't profit from the habit in other ways!

Okay; I promise that I won't write anything about forgetting (or forgetting to remember) tomorrow.  I'll write about something new and something different and (sarcasm alert) something wildly entertaining and we can all go away happy and content in the knowledge that I stuck to my word.

Unless, of course, I forget to do that.



If you've ever wondered how long I can sit and stare at the wall while trying to come up with a topic for a blog, you now have your answer--

25 minutes.

Yup; I've just completed 25 minutes of sitting around and trying to think of what to write about today.  In all honesty, I've also been eating and doing a few other things, but most of the past 25 minutes has been spent in quiet contemplation of which topic of Earth-shattering importance to discuss today.

And you can see how successfully THAT turned out.

I actually had a topic in mind; it was something Loraine and I were discussing last night and something that made me say out loud to her, “I should write a blog about that”.  But because she's at work and I'm, well, me, I have no idea what that topic was.  Hopefully, you'll get to read about it tomorrow, or you'll get to read about how it was all actually a dream and I didn't really have a conversation with Loraine about a blog topic.

Either way, you'll have something a little more substantial than this to read.

Actually, as I discovered in an article in the Huffington Post recently, doing things like daydreaming (or, in my case, staring at the wall) is actually a sign of a creative mind, something I'll gladly accept.  I actually think that another sign of a creative mind, the ability to notice things other people don't, has served me much better (after all, look at all the blog topics I've discovered and pictures I've taken THAT way), but I think daydreaming (or staring at the wall) has worked out well, at least for today.  After all, it looks like I got a blog out of it, right?


Now, if I could only remember what it was Loraine and I were talking about, then I'll have something to write about tomorrow!


Before I go, I must pass along condolences to the family of John Anderton, the NMU professor who died while skiing on the Fit Strip Sunday.  John and I served on the History Center board together for several years, and last year even co-hosted a walking tour around Presque Isle where he talked about rocks and I talked about weird things.

He will be missed!



I had a very nice day off, thanks for asking.

Despite the fact that it was cold outside and despite the fact that our landlords did start their construction project, I took a day off yesterday; the first day off I’ve had since August.  And I was able to do just about everything I wanted to.  I went skiing, I baked, I listened to a bunch of music (remind me to write about the Nick Hexum Quintet some time), and I just walked around with few cares in the world.  About the only thing I didn’t get to do was take a nap, but as it turned out I had so many other things I wanted to do that I wouldn’t have had time for it anyway.

So that’s okay.

Now it’s back to the real world, and you know what the first thing I get to do today is?  No, go ahead.  Guess.  You get a bonus point if you said the first thing I get to do is being interviewed by a Mining Journal reporter, because you what the first thing I get to do today is?

Get interviewed by a Mining Journal reporter.

Yeah, I know.  If there’s one person in Marquette who really doesn’t need to be in various forms of the media any more, it’s me.  But we also all know that I have a serious problem.  We all know that I can’t say “no”.  So when a Mining Journal reporter called last week and wanted to know if she could talk to me about the street program that Rosemary and I put on for the History Center last month, I said “yes”.

I know; I’ll learn the meaning of “no” one of these days, right?

Apparently the reporter went to our show and now she’s interested in putting together a feature article on how some of the city’s streets got their name.  Since both Rosemary and I were able to gather the stories and put them together in a semi-coherent manner, she wants to talk to both of us and get a little background.  So that’s why I’m meeting with her later today.

And the fun keeps going later this week.  Thursday, in particular, looks promising, as we’re hoping to have out tower climbed again, and we’re also hosting the Lake Superior Community Partnership’s Leadership Academy.  They want to know how a radio station works, and since they (cough cough) couldn’t find a real one they asked if they could come and visit us.  We’ve actually done this particular tour many times before.  However, we’ve never done it at 8 in the morning, a time I’m usually just rolling out of bed, so that should be an interesting presentation.

We’ll have to see if I’m awake for it!

So I guess it’s a good thing I took a day off yesterday.  It doesn’t look like I’ll have another chance in the near future.


FRIDAY, 2/28:

Just a couple of little things today to wrap up the week (or the month, for that matter).

First of all, I was very heartened to hear that the Empire Mine is staying open for at least a few more years.  I don't know if you're aware of this, but what you're reading right now actually kind of owes its existence to the Empire Mine.  You see, the first time the Mine rain into the possibility of closing, back in 2001, I wrote something for our website on how it wasn't the end of the world, and I called it “In Jim's Opinion”, because, well, it was my opinion.  After putting it up I received some good feedback on what I wrote, and 13 years later both the Mine and I are still in business.  Who knew, right?

Secondly, there's this trend going around Europe of communities putting together videos of their residents singing and dancing to Pharrell Williams' song “Happy”.  I've seen a bunch of them recently from places we've visited in Poland, Germany, and France, and while some of them look like they were shot with a 15-year old camcorder, some of them are amazingly slick productions.  In fact, if you'd like an example, here's the one from Metz, France, where we'll be staying a little later this year!

Speaking of which, six months from today (SIX MONTHS!!) we leave Marquette to head to Luxembourg and begin this year's adventure.  This is the one where we'll be in all of our favorite chocolate and cereal countries—Belgium, France, and Germany—for at least part of a day, so we can come home fully stocked.

Oh, and Loraine's doing some war research and we'll be seeing friends while we're over, too.  But we're gonna be in all of our favorite chocolate and cereal countries while we're there.  That's the important thing, isn't it??

Finally, there's the chance that I may be working on Monday after all.  Oh sure, I still wanna take a day off soon to remember what it's like to have an actual weekend, but the wrench in the plan this time centers around a construction project our landlords have scheduled for next week.  If it starts Monday, there will be lots of noise and building racket throughout our house.  And as much as I'd like an extra day off, I don't know that I'd like listening to saws and hammers and drills and the like while I'm trying to enjoy it the day.  So we'll just have to see how things turn out.  If you come back here Monday, you'll know I had to put my extended weekend off.  But if you come back here Monday and you still see this entry, then you'll know I'm off either skiing or napping.

Or both.

On that note, have yourself a GREAT weekend, and stay warm, if that's at all possible these days!


Jim & Loraine's Trip To France 2012

Jim's Blog

 Jim’s 2011 trip to Belgium, France, and Germany, click here

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