I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but if you’re a
business with a
Facebook fan page, like we
are, Facebook does not send your message out to all of your
fans every time you post one. Nope; messages that we send
out are often only sent to four or five percent of the
people who’ve “liked” us, and if you want to guarantee that
more people see it, Facebook will be more than happy to
accept scads of your money to make sure that happens.
Nice racket if you can set it up, apparently.
However, there are ways to get more people to see your
posts, and one of them is by getting your fans to either
“like” or “share” your posts (which, you must admit, is kind
of hard to do if no one can see it in the first place).
Facebook then tells you that you have (and I’m not making
this up) an “engaging post”, and makes sure that more people
see it. Who knows...if that happens, you might approach
having almost ten percent of your total fan base getting
your story on their news feed.
It’s like a Christmas miracle, only it’s not at Christmas
and it’s not a miracle.
Anyway, I notice that every time I put a picture on our
station Facebook site it seems to get a little more
“engagement” that just text-only posts, like the ones we put
up every Monday soliciting suggestions for that week’s
upcoming “Throwback Thursday”. So as an experiment this
week, I added this picture—
on the usual Monday post, along with a little joke abut “Mr.
Sunflower” looking forward to song suggestions. And you
know what? When I checked the post the next day, it showed
that it had been viewed by almost three times as many people
as a normal “Throwback Thursday” post. Wednesday, I did it
again, this time letting people know what “Mr. Sunflower”
was going to play the next day, and once again, news feed
numbers almost tripled.
So there. I guess we now know what you need to do it you’re
a business that wants to get your Facebook stories out to
more of your fans. Use “Mr. Sunflower” as your, uhm, “spokesflower”.
Seemed to work for us...at least until Facebook finds out
and finds some other way to make sure people don’t hear what
we have to say!
On that note, I hope you have yourself a fantastic weekend.
Looks like the weather won’t suck, so I may have to put off
final packing for the trip just long enough to play out in
the sun. After all, by the time we get back, snow may be on
the ground (at least the way this year has been going). So
I’m hoping to take advantage of it as much as I can!
Because I have to go to a funeral and go meet with the
police this morning (two entirely unrelated things, by the
way. And no, Mom, I'm not in trouble!) I'm gonna leave you
with something I wrote five and half years ago, but
something that I'll be doing again in two and a half weeks
on the way home from Germany.
Tomorrow, nothing to do with funerals and cops. Promise!
Now, I mention this because Loraine and I just bought the
tickets for our next trip to France, the one scheduled for
this October. And, of course, if you’re flying to or from
France, you spend a LOT of time staring out of airplane
windows...nine hours, in fact, on the trip back.
And that’s how I know about the algae.
When you leave France, you have about 45 minutes to look out
the window and see land; England and Ireland, to be
specific. Then for four, four and a half hours...nothing.
You can look down and see the north Atlantic. Sometimes you
might see icebergs, sometime you might see waves so big
that, at 35,000 feet, they appear as little white dots, but
mostly you see nothing but water.
Until, that is, you hit Canada.
When you enter Canadian airspace, you first fly over the
Labrador Peninsula, which is nothing but desolate, barren
rock. For half an hour, you stare down at a vast landscape
of nothing-ness; if you were an alien being exploring the
planet for the first time, you’d probably assume that the
planet was devoid of life.
And then you see the green.
The first few times I flew back from Europe, I was intrigued
when I noticed that, about half an hour after crossing over
land, the ponds and lakes sitting on top of the Labrador
rocks looked a little green around the edges. Then I
figured out what it was. . .it was algae building up around
the shores, much like algae builds up on lakes around here.
After over 5 hours of seeing nothing, it’s the first sign
that there’s still life on the planet.
A few minutes later, some of the rocks appear green, as
well, indicating either moss or algae has started to cling
to the rocks. The green increases over time, until you see
something you thought you might never see again--
As with the algae, I had no idea where the roads led during
my first few flights. Then on the last few flights, I began
to notice the roads leading to complexes, complexes that I’m
guessing are mines, or research facilities, or military
facilities. Soon, the roads begin to branch off into other
roads, and along those roads you soon notice more green.
The roads are cutting through grass. And soon, the roads
begin to cut through trees. And then a small town or two.
And before you know it, you see more roads, more trees, more
towns, and then the pilot says you’re crossing over Sault
Ste Marie, Michigan, and entering the U.S.
All a mere 8 or so hours after leaving France, and just an
hour and a half after you thought you’d never see a sign of
If you’ve ever wondered how you kill those 9 hours on a
plane, that’s how I do it. And that’s how I’ll be doing it
again in a mere 9 months.
Wow. I was actually funny once!
With a week to go before we leave for Germany, I've been
spending a lot of time putting together the things that need
to air while I'm gone. And because the program director in
me refuses to allow my afternoon personality to be off the
air for a week and a half, we usually air “best of”s that
I've recorded and saved throughout the years. The past few
trips they've been phone calls with listeners; after all,
that's mostly what we do around here. But this year, I've
dig really deep to see what I could find.
And I found some comedy bits.
The bits are what are know in the biz as “blackout bits”;
just little 20 or 30 second items to run going into or out
of a commercial break. And what with humor being a VERY
subjective thing, I'm sure that there are many people out
there who would take exception with my referring to them as
“comedy” bits. But I've found nine or ten “comedy” bits
that I put together somewhere between 10 and 15 years ago,
back when I was doing “comedy” bits, and you know what?
I, at least, don't think they're half bad!
I was in my phase of doing “comedy” bits while I was also in
my phase of listening to a lot of old-time radio. A lot of
the radio I was listening to at the time were the master
comedians, people like Jack Benny and Fred Allen and Jim
Jordan in his character of Fibber McGee. The one thing all
of these master comedians had was impeccable timing. They
knew how to tell a joke, and they REALLY knew how to sell a
joke. And while I've always thought my sense of comedic
timing was a little better than the average person, it was
nowhere near that of Benny or Allen or Jordan. So while I
was listening to all of these classic comedians, I was also
trying to see if I could preach what they were practicing.
Hence, the “comedy” bits.
Most (but not all) of them revolved around the fictional
“Yooper TV Network”, and some of the, well, Yooper-centric
shows the network might air. The shows might be Yooper
reality shows, or Yooper dramas, but it was a way to make
fun of what was going on in pop culture at the time while
still making it relatable to people who live up here.
At least, that's what I tried.
As with everything in life, I kind of got away from doing
the “comedy” bits as the years went by. I don't know if
they were too much work or if I just had a limited amount of
ideas and used them up, but from what I can tell the last
one was put together in 2007. So it was interesting to dig
them out and listen to them again, a reflection of where my
mind was almost a decade ago. For some, I remembered them
like they were yesterday. For others, I'd totally forgotten
about them. And one of them, in particular, actually made
me laugh when I listened to it again.
Wanna hear it?
As I've written in here many times before, humor is a very
subjective thing. All I know is that it made me laugh when
I listened to it. Your results may vary.
So for the week and a half I'm gone (actually, just seven
days on the air, thanks to Labor Day). You may be hearing
things like that on the air. And even if you don't make you
laugh, think of it this way—it'll at least be a window into
my brain, at least they way it was a decade ago.
One of the things I love about living in Marquette is that
you never know what you’ll see, what you’ll hear, or what
you’ll come across. When you live in a city full of artsy,
creative individuals, that artsy-ness and that creativity
quite often bubbles to the surface. And over the past few
weeks, what has bubbled to the surface is one really good
I don’t know who the trombone player is; I don’t know where
he or she lives, and I don’t know if she or he is a
professional at the instrument or just dabbles. But what I
do know is this—every few days, especially when it’s nice
out and our windows are open, and always with no warning at
all, we’ll hear someone play a trombone. There’s no other
music and no other musicians; there’s just the trombone and
its player, serenading our neighborhood with a soulful
rendition of Magic’s “Rude” or their take on a jazz
classic. They’ll play the one song, and then stop, leaving
me to think two things—
One, that trombone player is really, really good. Their
tone is great, they’re obviously well practiced in their
technique, and their style really lends something to some of
the works they perform. Like I said, they’re really, really
The second thing I wonder about when I hear them? Who are
they, why are they playing outside, and why do they stop
after only one song? Okay; technically those would be the
second, third, and fourth things I think, but still, I
believe you get the idea. I mean, has the person playing
been practicing indoors, and just wants a little fresh air
before they call it a night? Do they enjoy serenading the
neighborhood, and have spent all day practicing the one
piece to get it just right? Or do they just get bored, and
in between social media status updates or chapters of a book
decide to give their lungs a workout?
Inquiring minds want to know!
I am in no way complaining; after all, like I said, the
trombone player is quite good, and it’s much better than
some of the other sounds you get to hear in our neighborhood
when the windows are open (and I’m thinking of you, guy who
lives a couple of houses behind us and loves his leaf blower
just a little too much). It just makes me wonder what’s
behind the impromptu performances, and whether they’re for
our benefit, or if our enjoyment of it is just a byproduct
of whatever the mystery trombone player happens to be doing
at the moment.
Alas, I may never know. And with winter soon to come, our
windows will be permanently closed, and the trombone
concerts will be replaced by the sound of snow blowers and
ice scrapers. So I guess I’ll enjoy the performances while
In a way, it's kind of like we lost our grandmother.
Loraine and I received some sad news over the weekend; our
friend Jeanne Fletcher passed away at thee age of 94.
Jeanne was the sister of Elwood Norr, the subject of
Loraine's first book, and over the years we'd visit Jeanne
and just chat abut everything under the sun. It's like we
were part of her extended family, and we'll miss that.
Not only did Jeanne loan Loraine the letters and pictures
that her brother had sent home from the Army before he died,
but she helped me study Marquette history from a first hand
point of view. She grew up in both the Piqua Location in
Marquette, the area that's now centered around McClellan
Avenue, but, for a time, with aunts who lived in Ishpeming,
as well. Then when she married Al, the love of her life,
she raised her family in South Marquette, where they owned
Fletcher's Market for many years.
If you've ever been on tours I've given in the Piqua or in
South Marquette, some of the stories you've heard were
In fact, right before I gave my Piqua neighborhood tour a
couple of years ago, we convinced Jeanne to hop into our car
and drive around the area, where she regaled us for over an
hour with tales of what the area was like when she was
growing up, and just how much things have changed in the 80
or 90 years since. She was an invaluable resource, and I'll
miss picking her brain about stuff like that.
Of course I'll also miss her bread, too. Every Christmas
I'd bring over a huge plate of those cookies I make, and in
return she'd give us a loaf of whatever she'd made for the
holiday, be it saffron bread or almond bread or one of the
other breads she knew how to expertly whip up. The past few
years she wasn't able to get around well enough to bake, but
that's okay. The loaves she had given us over the years are
things I hope to one day try. I'm sure they won't be as
good as hers, but I'll give them a try.
And in a way, Marquette radio has lost a comrade, too. You
see, when Jeanne was a child, she was a “star”. The aunts
she lived with in Ishpeming had her take singing lessons,
and she had her own weekly show on Marquette first radio
station, WBEO (which eventually became WDMJ). Because
everything on radio back then was live, and there were a lot
of hours in a day to fill, radio looked everywhere for
entertainment. And one of the places they found it was in
the form of Jeanne. In fact, even all these years later,
she still has a cutout of a newspaper ad from the early 30s
mentioning that “Little Jeanne Norr” would be on the air the
next Sunday afternoon for the listening pleasure of the
After all my years in radio, even I'VE never received
anything like that!
I think, though, the biggest way in which she'll be missed
is the soft spot she had in her heart for Loraine. When
Loraine was writing her book, I don't think Jeanne fully
grasped what was going on, because when Loraine presented
her with the first copy, hot off the presses, Jeanne said,
and I quote, “I didn't know you were writing a real
book”! While I think it was hard to read the whole book,
especially the parts about her brother's end, I know she
cherished the fact that Elwood's memory was being kept alive
and now shared with the world. And when Loraine had a book
signing right after the release, she invited Jeanne,
featured prominently in the book in her own right, to the
signing, where she was a more popular draw than even the
author, and where she signed copies the book as “Fatty”, the
nickname given to her by her brother while she was pregnant.
She was a cool lady. And she will be missed. So thanks for
being part of our lives, Jeanne, and sharing everything that
you shared with us over the years. The world won't be the
same without you.
Because I'm hoping to sneak in one last half day today, I'm
gonna re-purpose something I wrote for our upcoming trip
blog. It'll probably
actually be new to most (if not all) of you, so I don't feel
TOO guilty about doing it. A little guilty...sure.
But not too guilty.
Have a great weekend...and I hope YOU get to enjoy the sun a
Another year, another adventure. But at least this time,
we’re not going alone!
As you can tell by the latest title of the blog page Loraine
and I are heading back to Germany this year. This time,
though, it’ll be a little different. It won’t be a research
trip so much as it’ll be a vacation, and we’re bringing a
cast of characters along with us, a cast where you’ve
already met some of the members and a cast where other
members come from a galaxy far, far away.
This is a trip that we’re taking with both sets of our
parents, a trip very similar to the one we undertook way
back in 2006 (before, apparently, trip blogging was
invented). We’re going all throughout Southern Germany,
Bavaria, and even into Austria, all in the capable hands of
Tony the Tour Guide.
Big round of applause for Tony who, if you remember the last
we were in Germany, had to
translate for Loraine during a news conference with the
mayor of Weissenfels. I don’t think he’ll have to worry
about that this time.
Anyway, aside from Tony, here’s your cast of characters, in
a picture from that trip nine years ago—
You know Loraine, and you know me. Next to me are my
parents, Chicky-Poo and Dar (or, to those of you slightly
more respectful than their oldest child, Chick & Darlene).
They’re both retired after a career running several
successful auto repair facilities. My mom has taken up
check out her work HERE,
while my dad does whatever my mom tells him to do. Oh, and
he’s a monster at pickle ball, too. Then on the far
right-hand side of the picture are Loraine’s parents, Betsy
& Floyd, who live downstate in a little place called Reese
(sadly, not the home of the world famous peanut butter
cup). They do a lot of traveling themselves; in fact, once
we’re done with our trip in Germany they’re staying on to
take a cruise through the Adriatic Sea.
So watch out, Zagreb!
Like I said, we’re also taking along two passengers from a
galaxy far, far away. You may recognize them in their
But they’re representing two members of Loraine’s family
who’ve been going through some tough times recently. Boba
Fett is the stand in for Loraine’s nephew Jeremy, a “Star
Wars” fanatic who’s been waging a very good fight against a
form of childhood leukemia the past year and a half. And
Chewy? Well, he’s a stand-in for Loraine’s brother Joe, who
unexpectedly lost his wife at the end of May. We figure
that both of them deserve the chance to get away and deal
with something other than the things with which they’ve been
dealing, so we’ll be taking pictures of their stand-ins at
some of the places we visit.
And where will we be visiting this time around? Well, the
first part of the trip consists of seeing places we’ve never
been before, and the second part going to places we’ve
enjoyed in the past and now want to share with our parents
(and Boba Fett and Chewy). We’ll start by flying into
Frankfurt, where we’ll then spend the first few days of the
trip tooling around the Black Forest, staying in places like
Heidelberg and Tubingen. We’ll follow that up by driving
through the Alps, seeing a few castles and a whole lot of
mountains. We’ll then zig in to Austria, spending a day in
Zell-am-See, before zagging back into Germany for a few days
in this place—
This, of course, is Berchtesgaden, home of amazing views,
wonderful places to hike, the greatest Rewe store on the
face of the Earth, and, well, Adolph Hitler’s summer
getaway. But we won’t hold that against the place; after
all, it’s become a large part of the tourist trade there.
From Berchtesgaden we spend a day in Seebruck, which is on
Lake Chiemsee, also known as “The Bavarian Sea”, before
heading to Munich for a day or two in, among other places,
The Englischer Garten.
All this is before we and my parents fly back to the U.S.,
Loraine’s parents prepare for their invasion of Croatia and
Bosnia, and Tony tries to recover from everything we’re
bound to put him through.
Why are we going this time? Well, it’s Germany. It’s a
chance to travel with Tony again. And it’s a chance to not
only spend a lot of quality time with our parents, but to
also show them some of our favorite places over there. And
who knows—in the places we haven’t been yet, maybe we’ll
discover a few new favorites!
The adventure starts September 2nd, so if you haven’t yet,
make sure your virtual passport is up to date and ready to
go. Because, after all, time (and tooling around Germany)
waits for no one!
They're flowers. Can't you just leave them alone?
When Loraine & I were out Sunday taking the pictures that
graced this blog yesterday, we were shooting a few outside
of a home on Fourth Street in Marquette. While shooting,
the lady who owns the home came out, and thanked us for just
taking pictures of the flowers. Why? Well, because a few
people who've walked by don't take pictures of the flowers.
They take the flowers themselves.
I don't know why she came out to talk to us. I don't know
if she wanted to keep an eye on us to make sure we weren't
stealing her flowers, or if she honestly wanted to thank us
for photographing them. But what I do know is that the
activity at her home is just one in a string of pieces of
flower “vandalism”, for lack of a better word, that's been
spreading across Marquette this year. From the doofus who
destroyed Phil's flowers in the downtown Pocket Park to the
people who were caught digging up entire plants in front of
the condos across from Lower Harbor Park, it seems like no
plant in Marquette is 100% safe these days.
And that's just not right.
After hearing this latest story of vandalism, Loraine was
reminded of a comment a Marquette cop once made on an
episode of “Campus PD”, something along the lines of “if
it's not chained down someone's gonna take it”. And while
the officer was referring a drunk college student walking
away with a traffic cone, he spoke the truth. My landlords
have had to (literally) chain down the patio furniture on
their front porch, lest someone walk away with it. A few
years ago I had an ex-neighbor give me a call to tell me
that someone had walked off with an 8-foot long, 100 pound
plaster panther that was on her front porch. And, of
course, it seems like if you have a flower bed in your front
yard, you may wake up one morning to find it gone, with
whoever took the plants just leaving a big hole in the dirt
as a “thank you”.
I don't wanna go on in here once again about respecting
other people and their property; I've done it enough in the
past that if I do it again I might be veering a little too
close to Cranky Old Man ™ territory. But if anyone who's
ever stolen something from someone's yard or is thinking of
stealing something from someone's yard is reading this—which
I highly doubt, because you guys are WAY too nice to do
anything like that—just think of it this way. How would YOU
act if someone took something from YOUR yard?
Then don't do it.
Okay; I'm off my soapbox for today. And since the lady who
spoke with us was nice enough to allow us to take pictures
of her flowers (a great display, by the way), the least I
can do is show you a picture from it!
That, however, is neither here nor there today. Nope;
today, we take care of the request from daily blog reader
Linda in Marquette, who last week wondered why I hadn’t
posted many flower pictures in here so far this summer. As
I explained to Linda last week, it was because I hadn’t
actually taken many flower pictures so far this summer. I
did, however, promise that if it was nice out this past
weekend that I’d try to snap a few.
And Linda (and everyone else), just for you, Loraine and I
forced ourselves to head out in the sun on Sunday to take
those pictures, Loraine scouting the flowers and me taking
Don’t worry; it wasn’t too much of a sacrifice on our part.
Really, it wasn’t!
One thing I really noticed while shooting the flowers,
though, backed up an observation I think I made last week.
The weather this summer, cold & wet, then hot & dry, then
cold & wet again, seems to have wrecked havoc on many
people’s flower beds. Everywhere we went we saw dead or
dying flowers, pedals falling to the ground way too early,
or leaves & stems drooping under the weight of the weird
For the most part, it was not a pretty sight. However, the
other part of the most part WAS quite a pretty sight, so for
everyone who asked, here you go!
I especially like the bee on the last one. Like I said,
while we couldn’t find as many flowers as usual, we tried
our best. And I do have to thank Loraine for getting into
the spirit of it. She doesn’t like hot weather nearly as
much as I do, but she was a trooper in walking up & down the
streets of Marquette, looking for nice flowers. Just how
hot was it?
(ps—if you’d like to see larger size versions of these
pictures, I put them (and a few more) up on a Facebook photo
Just click HERE and you
should be able to check them out, whether you’re my Facebook
friend or not. And if you’re not...
Was it something I said?? 8-))
(pps—Tomorrow, something we discovered while shooting these
flowers. And it’s not a good something at all.)
(ppps—I apologize for all of these PSs in the past few blogs.
I don’t know what’s gotten into me!)
Oh well. I guess we’ll just call it an experiment that
Those of you who’ve been reading this even occasionally the
past few years know that I like to take my vacation a half
day at a time, on days when it’s nice & sunny & warm. But
because May was so cold this year, and because June was
filled with unexpected events like having to go downstate
for a funeral, I’ve been forced to use up my vacation during
the 10-week span between the Fourth of July and this week.
And in order to fit things in, I had to go against my usual
habit and schedule full vacation days ahead of time,
ostensibly to give myself a few three-day weekends, but
without knowing what the weather was like.
And that’s where I failed.
Well, I shouldn’t say that I failed, so much as Mother
Nature failed me. There’s a reason I usually wait until a
day or two beforehand before choosing when to take time off,
and that’s because more than a day or two beforehand you
don’t know what the weather’s gonna be like. Scheduling
vacation days a week or a month or even months ahead of time
means you’re at the mercy of whatever happens. And in my
case, three of the four Mondays I took off were cloudy,
rainy, cool, foggy, and/or any combination thereof.
Not exactly ideal vacation weather, at least for me.
Oh sure, I enjoyed having a couple of three day weekends.
Those are always nice. But to take days off during the
summer and not be able to play outside in the sun...well,
that just doesn’t seem right. It probably says something
about me and my strange psyche, but part of my brain thinks
that taking a day off when the weather’s yucky is just as
bad as being at work. Of course, the other part of my brain
is telling that part to shut up and enjoy the time away from
the station, but the first part of my brain keeps looking
out the window, wondering if the sky will ever clear.
Sometimes, it’s not easy being me. Really, it isn’t.
Now, though, that’s pretty much over. Aside from (perhaps)
one more half day, a half day that hopefully will appear
when the sun is out and the heat is plentiful, I now have to
hunker down and get ready for a couple of things—high school
sports season on
our ESPN station, and
making sure everything is ready to go when WE go to Germany
in 15 days.
Those days when we’re in Germany are also vacation days that
I scheduled ahead of time. Only, in that case, I won’t
consider them a failed experiment...no matter what the
weather is like. But I don’t think I have to worry about
that too much. Germany’s been a lot warmer and a lot
sunnier than usual this summer, and it looks like it could
stay that way while we’re there. Who know...maybe it’s
Mother Nature’s way of making it up to me for the Mondays
I’ve taken off here!
(p.s.—good news from my sister Melanie. After almost a week
of being away from home, her cat Magoo, the one I wrote
about last week, returned home in the middle of the night
Sunday night. They’re now one big happy family again!)
(pps—for daily blog reader Linda in Marquette and everyone
else wondering if I did take a few flower pictures over the
weekend, guess what? You’ll see them tomorrow!)
Today, the weird restaurant story.
We took Loraine's sister Melanie to one of our favorite
restaurants last night, one of the “107 Things to Love About
Marquette County”, Sol Azteca. The food is great, the
people are great, the view is unparalleled, and we have a
soft spot in our hearts for it, if only because Loraine & I
were the restaurant's first ever paying customers.
No, seriously. We were. They took our picture and had us
sign a dollar bill and everything!
Obviously, we've been there a lot. We've been there as a
couple, we've been there with friends, we've been there with
people from out of town...basically, we've been there a
lot. And in all the times we've eaten at Sol Azteca, and
that's probably in the dozens, one weird thing has occurred.
We have never seen anyone we know there.
I'm not kidding. Between me and Loraine, we know a lot of
people, especially if you count the nodding “hey, I know you
from somewhere, right?” type of acquaintances you make if
you're in the public eye. So it's not like we're hermits;
we DO know a lot of people. Yet every time we've been in
Sol Azteca, when we look around, every single face is
And it's not just us. We've been there multiple times with
my friend Deanna who, I swear, knows everyone who's ever
lived in Marquette. Yet even she will look around and
comment that she doesn't recognize a soul (excepting, of
course, us). And if SHE has gone in there without seeing
someone; well, then, I don't feel so bad.
But it's still weird.
Now that I've written about it, of course, we'll be
bombarded with friendly faces the next time we're in there.
And that's okay; much like the string of cold & wet Tuesdays
we've been having this summer, it's just one of those
strange things I notice. It doesn't mean anything in the
scheme of things, and it's probably just a very long string
of coincidences, but still it struck me a weird.
Who knew, right?
I'm taking another long weekend, so there won't be anything
new here Monday. Back Tuesday with more; hope you're able
to make the most of out what, at least here in Marquette,
promises to be a warm summer weekend!
Here's your Jim & Loraine Fun Fact ™ for today—we both have
sisters named Melanie.
Okay, it's not THAT much of a Fun Fact ™ so much as it's an
interesting coincidence. And it's also an interesting
coincidence that we're dealing with them in different ways
this week. I've written about my sister Melanie in here
many times before, whether it's about her going back to
college after raising her daughters, or about those very
same daughters and their occasionally exasperated mom.
Well, my sister's household also consists of a bunch of
cats, and, sad to say, one of them is missing.
Magoo seems to have slipped out of my sister's house on the
west side of Marquette a couple of days ago, and hasn't yet
been found. Posters have been put out, Facebook posts have
been shared, and the Lost Pet Network has been utilized, but
as of this writing, no luck yet. So if you'd send a few
good thoughts the way of my sister, her kids, and her cats,
I'm sure they appreciate them.
That's one Melanie. The other Melanie, Loraine's sister, is
up visiting for a couple of days, taking some much deserved
time off from the job she loves so much (and it's a pity
sarcasm doesn't travel through the written word very well).
She'll be up for a few days to see the sights, and spend
some time with her husband.
Even though she's never been married.
Okay; let me explain. When we were downstate for the
funeral of Loraine's sister-in-law a couple of months ago
Melanie and I were sitting near each other in the funeral
home while she talking with someone who'd shown up to share
their regrets. This someone, a friend of Loraine's brother
Joe, knew that one of Joe's sisters was married to a guy
from Marquette. When she found out that I was from
Marquette and sitting near one of Joe's sisters, she just
assumed that we—Melanie and I--were married. We did
eventually set her straight (and I took it as a compliment
that she thought I was young enough to be married to someone
who's almost 20 younger than I am), and still laugh about
it. And that's why Loraine's never-married sister is up
here to, among other things, see her “husband”.
Tomorrow, the story of a local restaurant to which we're
taking Loraine's sister, and the very weird thing we've
noticed about it.
Going there and coming back are two entirely different
Three weeks from today Loraine, my parents, and I will leave
for our little getaway in Germany, meeting her parents and
Tour Guide in Frankfurt for
a week and a half of fun. We're looking forward to it,
they're looking forward to it, and it should be a grand time
Of course, to get to Europe and back you have to fly. You,
in fact, have to do a LOT of flying. And as I've been
getting ready to go I've come to realize that the flight
there is a whole lot different than the flight back. And
On the flight over, you're excited. You're full of
adrenaline. You're ready to start a new adventure. And
because it's an overnight trip, you try to sleep a little.
It doesn't always work, but even if you lay there for a few
hours with your eyes closed, that's most of the flight over.
But on the way back, not so much. Your trip's over, and you
just want the flight to go as quickly as possible. But
because of the way the schedule goes, it's a daytime
flight. You can try to sleep, but it really doesn't work.
It's just one very long flight in the middle of one very
long day with several flight. This year, for instance,
we'll leave London around 11am and get into Chicago at 2pm,
which makes it an 8-hour flight. This is AFTER flying from
Munich to London, and before we fly from Chicago to
See? Not quite as exciting as flying into Frankfurt to
start a new adventure, is it?
Over the years, I've developed a system to try & get me
through the long flight to the U.S. You know how you have
to pack a lot of toys for kids on a car trip? Well, for the
flight home, I basically do the same for myself. I always
take the newest Vanity Fair magazine and save it for the
flight home. I get a bunch of logic puzzles from a
great website so I can do
them during the flight (and this year, I even remembered the
answers for them, too, unlike (ahem) last year). I also
stick a couple of 5-part episodes of the old radio show
“Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar” into my iPod. All that is
shoved into my backpack before we leave, and isn't touched
until our flight home is in the air. Between all that, a
few meals, whatever magazines the airline has in the seat,
getting up to stretch a few times, and (assuming the person
in front of me doesn't lower their
seat) writing the final blog of the trip, I can usually make
it through a loooooong day.
Of course, then once we're in Chicago (and through Customs)
we have five hours to kill before our flight to Marquette,
but at least you can wander around an airport and kill a
little time that way.
However, I'd prefer not to think of the flight home just
yet. I'm ready for it and my backpack is packed for it; I'd
just rather not think about it yet. That's a month and a
day away. It's the flight over that's the important thing
right now, and that's a mere three weeks from today!
I received a note from daily blog reader Linda in Marquette,
who noted that I haven't done something that I usually do
every year. Says Linda--
“Hey Jim: How come you haven't put up your annual album of
flower pictures yet? I always look forward to seeing what
you come up with”.
First of all, thanks for the note Linda. As always, I enjoy
hearing from each and every one of you, so keep those
e-mails coming! Second of all, looking back I notice that I
really haven't taken that many pictures of flowers this
summer. In all honesty, I don''t think I've taken many
pictures at all, flowers or not, this summer, which is
something I really do need to rectify. And third, and
perhaps most importantly--
You guys aren't sick of flower pictures yet?
Well, Linda, while I haven't shot a lot of flower pictures
(yet) this summer, I hope these make up for that fact.
There are only three, because (believe it or not) I think
that's all I've taken this year. Yes, me, who usually takes
hundreds too many pictures of flowers during any one year,
has only taken three non-lilac flower pictures this
summer. But what I lack in quantity...
I've noticed that purple seems to be a dominant color in
flowers in Marquette this year, for whatever reason. If
nothing else, these (few) pictures seem to back that up.
There you go, Linda...sorry I haven't gotten to them yet
this year, and sorry there are so few of them. I tell ya
what—if the forecast holds and it's really nice out this
weekend, I'll grab a camera and shoot a few more. After
all, I can't be a flower-slacker, can I?
I had an uneventful weekend; aside from watching hundreds of
mountain bike riders come across the finish line at the
To Shore covered in mud, I just chilled
and complained a little about the clouds. So, I guess, it
was a typical weekend in that respect.
However, two things occurred that were anything but typical,
the first being that I signed a couple of papers
guaranteeing that I'll once again be the host of “High
on Public TV 13. I mean, there was never any question about
the matter—I want to do it, and the station, amazingly,
wanted me back—but until the “I”s are crossed and the “T”s
are dotted it's not official.
Well, I can now say that it's official. Taping starts at
the end of September, and the first new show airs at the
beginning of November. So you have until then to break your
The other thing that was anything but typical? Well, just
one of those dinner table conversation between me and my
(much) better half. Unlike me, Loraine grew up exposed to
classic country music. She's a Top 40/rock girl through and
through, but she does know a little about old country
music. She told me about a song from the early 70s with one
of those stereotypical early 70s song names, and, of course,
me being me, I got it all wrong, so much so that I was
walking around our apartment convinced that the name of the
song was this--
“You Ain't Women Enough To Be My Man”.
Now, you'd think that I'd be intelligent enough to realize
that my version of the song title doesn't make a lot of
sense; at least, it wouldn't have mad a lot of sense when
the song came out in the early 70s. But no...I just
wandered throughout the house repeating the title over and
over, driving my dear wife insane to the point that she had
to pull a reference book out to show me that the title of
the song is NOT “You Ain't Women Enough To Be My Man” but is
instead what she told me it was originally--
“You Ain't Women Enough To Steal My Man”
Well, that's pretty much the same, isn't it?
I have no idea why I heard it as “You Ain't Women Enough To
Be My Man”; of course, I have no idea why I hear half the
things I hear and think half the things I think. And in my
(pitiful) defense, I don't know much (if anything) about
country music from the early 70s. The song title probably
COULD'VE been “You Ain't Women Enough To Be My Man”. It's
almost as good as something along the lines of “You Don't
Have a License (To Drive Me Up The Wall)”. But, as often
happens, I was mistaken. I was highly mistaken.
Fortunately, I have Loraine around to set me straight.
Even if I do think that “You Ain't Women Enough To Be My
Man” would be a pretty good country music song title.
So with apologies to Loretta Lynn and to my dear wife,
here's the song in its original form and with its correct
title, if you're curious--
Hopefully, one of these days I'll actually get something
like this right!
That's a thought that always pops into my head anytime
Finish-Line Announcer Jim makes an appearance, as he will
tomorrow at the
Ore-To-Shore. I mean,
there are people coming across the line all the time,
usually in groups of three or four. Their names pop up on a
computer screen and then are replaced by names from new
people coming across the line right after the first group.
That only gives me a second or two look at the name, decide
how I'm gonna pronounce it, and then spit it out.
So to whomever gets their name mispronounced tomorrow, I
apologize in advance. I really do!
Actually, after 15 years of finish line announcing at both
the Noque and the O2S, I feel fairly confident that I'll get
many more names correct than I'll screw up. Practice, after
all, does help, and I've had plenty of practice over the
years. But I think I've also had good training in the
matter in another way. After all, I used to host a telethon
on TV, a telethon where I'd have to read pledges from people
throughout the U.P. And if you can correctly read names
from throughout the U.P., I'm guessing you can read names
from anywhere in the world.
So wish me luck!
If you have the chance, you should make sure you get to one
of the mass starts for the race tomorrow in Negaunee.
They're like nothing you've ever seen; each has over 1,000
riders getting their race underway at the sound of a gun and
a trumpet. It takes over five minutes for all of them to go
by, and it's just an amazing sight. The Soft Race race
(with, ahem, a dork announcing the start) begins at 9 at
Lakeview School, while the Hard Rock gets underway at 945 in
Trust me—you won't be disappointed!
And with that, I have to head to work to put together a
couple of CDs of music to play during the festivities. Have
yourself a great weekend, and like I said, if you have the
chance, check out part of the race!
Over the past few years I have made it a point to record &
watch part or all of four TV “talk” shows. There were days
when I would watch the first two or three minutes of the
program, and there were days when I watched the whole show.
But after tonight, I guess I won't have to worry about that
The four shows were “The Late Late Show with Craig
Ferguson”, “Late Night with David Letterman”, “Olbermann”
and “The Daily Show”. Ferguson went off the air in December,
Letterman in May, Olbermann last month, and now tonight is
Jon Stewart's final “Daily Show”. Every single “talk” show
in which I've been a fan over the past decade has now, over
the span of eight months, disappeared.
In a strange way, I'm thinking Jimmy Fallon is glad I've
never watched his version of “The Tonight Show”!
Actually, I'm pretty sure I had nothing to do with the shows
going off the air. I'm pretty sure that Ferguson, Letterman,
and Stewart didn't get together and decide to retire just
because I was a fan, nor do I think that ESPN decided to not
renew Olbermann's contract just to get back at me for not
watching anything other ESPN show. Nope; it's just one of
those weird coincidences...four really smart shows all going
off the air with a year of each other.
I guess the thing that I'm missing (or will miss) about the
shows is that they took for granted you knew something.
Watching them required that you read something other than
People magazine or had twice daily visits to TMZ. With
Stewart, it required a knowledge of politics to get all the
jokes; with Olbermann, it was old-time football, while with
Ferguson you had to know everything from obscure 18th
century literature to “Foyle's War” (a great British TV show
of the past decade). Most talk shows are mindless, and while
all of my favorites have been from time to time, they more
often than not assumed that you'd done a little intellectual
And now, they're all gone.
But that's the nature of life, right? Things change, time
marches on, and the world into which we enter is a whole lot
different than the world we eventually leave. So thank you,
Jon Stewart, for being a part of the nature of my life for
16 years. As with the others, it won't be the same without
you on my DVR every night.
I have come across two very strange facts, facts that don't
necessarily make any sense, at least when you look at them
together. Here they are--
90 percent of people say that reclining seats should be
banned on airplanes because of the discomfort they cause
when someone in front of you slams their seat into your
knees. Yet 70 percent of people say they recline their
I’m certainly in the 90%. I’ve certainly complained enough
about the morons who sit in front of me and then, with no
warning, slam their seat back into my knees, causing me much
wincing in pain and causing everything that may have been on
my tray table to go flying (including, once the very laptop
upon which I’m writing this). Because of the discomfort it
causes other people I’m fully in favor of banning reclining
seats. And that’s why I never recline a seat in which I’m
Unlike, apparently, 70 percent of people who fly.
I don’t get the disconnect. I don’t get how 90 percent of
people can be in favor of something 70 percent of them
actually do. I’ve never claimed to know much about math,
and I’m sure some old high school teachers of mine can back
that up, but even I know that 90 percent doesn’t go into 70
percent in any sane, rational way.
But then, we ARE talking about air travel, and when have the
words ‘sane” and “rational” ever been used to describe
modern air travel?
Another number the survey tossed out was that 33 percent of
air travelers said someone’s reclined seat caused them major
physical discomfort during a flight. I’m certainly in that
33 percent, and that’s why I will never recline my seat
during a flight. I don’t want to cause someone else to be
uncomfortable. I mean, I know what it’s like when someone
does it to me. Why would I want to do it to someone else?
And that meshes pretty closely with the 30 percent of people
who say they don’t recline their seats. So why do 90
percent of air travelers think it should be banned?
Once again, I don’t get it.
This is also another one of those areas in which I prove
that I’m not really a man, despite what my DNA seems to
think. Almost all of the people who say they don’t recline
their seats are women; men, on the other hand, have no
compunction about whamming a piece of hard plastic into
someone else’s very soft knee. And after having devoted a
(very small) amount of time in thinking back on the matter,
I believe almost every occasion on which I’ve been
inconvenienced by a reclining seat back it’s been by a guy.
Not every time, but a large majority of the times. Men. .
.what are you gonna do with them?
I don’t pretend to have a solution to all of this, except
for airlines to give everyone enough legroom to safely lower
seat backs, and we all know THAT’S never gonna happen. I
just found it interesting that 90 percent of people are in
favor of banning a problem that 70 percent of them
contribute to. To paraphrase a great philosopher, humans
are on occasion, illogical, this being one of those
occasions, I guess.
Never in a million years did I think I would find 600 years
I was doing some research online over the weekend for an
ongoing project of mine when I took a little detour. I don’t
quite remember how I became detoured, I just know that I
was. And once I was on the detour I realized it was
something kinda special, and just kept clicking on links,
and clicking on links, and clicking on links.
This is what I found.
In 1440, a guy named Thomas Bosworth was born in
Cottesbrooke, England. He had a son named Robert in 1470.
Robert had a son named William, born in 1500 in
Leicestershire, England. William had a son named John, born
in 1530. John had a son named Edward, born in 1565. Edward
had a son, also named Edward and also born in
Leicestershire, born in 1589. Edward had a son named
Jonathon, born in 1613, who went to a strange land called
“America” and ended up in the Plymouth Colony.
Yes, THAT Plymouth Colony.
Jonathon had a son also named Jonathon, who was born in the
Plymouth Colony in 1636. Jonathon Jr. had a son named
Ichabod, born in Swansea, Massachusetts in 1676. Ichabod had
a son named Henry, born in 1710. Henry had a daughter named
Sarah, born in 1746. Sarah married a guy named Daniel Jones,
and they had a son they named Daniel, born in New Milford,
Connecticut, in 1769.
I realize this story is getting biblical in its naming of
names. But hang in there.
Daniel Jones had a son named Cyrus, born in Plattsburg, New
York, in 1802. Daniel and his wife Phoebe had a daughter
named Helen, who was born in 1829. Helen married a guy named
Augustus Niles, and they moved to Michigan, where they had a
son named Arthur, born in 1855. Arthur had a son named Lew,
born in 1884. Lew had a daughter named Dorothy, born in
1915. Dorothy had a daughter named Darlene, who married a
guy named Chick, who had a son named Jim.
You know...me. That Jim.
Somehow I managed to stumble onto an almost 600-year history
of one branch of my family tree. Lew Niles was my
great-grandfather, a piano tuner who died when I was barely
out of diapers. While in Park Cemetery a few days ago I
wandered past his grave and noticed that there are two other
Niles buried near him. That’s what I was looking for on my
“detour” Sunday; trying to find out if I was related to
those two Niles buried near my great-grandfather.
I had no idea I’d be going all the way back to my (deep
grandfather in the process.
Aside from the names, of course, I know nothing about the
people who kept popping up on
the site I found, a list
that had been put together by a descendant of the Bosworth
family. I think the fact that this branch of the family tree
came from England was lucky; after all, I haven’t come
across much about the German or Irish or Swedish or Finnish
or any of the other nationalities that went into make me.
Also lucky was the fact that someone had gone through all
kinds of work to find this out, and had then stuck it on a
site that allowed you to keep clicking on links without
asking you to sign up and pay a king’s ransom to find out if
you are, indeed, related to a king.
The fact that I had a relative born at Plymouth Colony? Just
a bonus. A cool bonus, but a bonus nonetheless.
So the next time you’re doing something on the web, and all
of a sudden find yourself taking a little detour you didn’t
plan to take, you know what? Follow it for a link or two.
After all, you never where—or when—you’ll end up!
One month from Sunday, which will be Wednesday, September
2nd, Loraine and I, along with my parents, will be hopping
aboard four different planes and hopefully find ourselves in
Frankfurt, Germany, where we'll join Loraine's parents and
Tony the Tour Guide for yet
another Koski European Adventure. And I can tell it's
serious, not because we're just one month out, but because I
hauled the suitcases up from the basement.
And if the suitcases are out of the basement, you KNOW the
time is drawing near!
For the two of us, this is going to be a “vacation” more
than a trip. There won't be any research, no people to
visit, and no press conferences to give. Instead, we'll
just be spending a week and a half with parents enjoying the
beauty of the Black Forest, Austria, and, for the fourth
time for me and Loraine, the Berchtesgaden area of southern
You know, this place--
I'm really looking forward to it for a couple of reasons—I
get to spend a week and a half with my parents, which means
I'll see them more in those ten days than I'll see them all
year, which is kinda funny when you consider they only live
six blocks away from me. But that, I guess, is life. The
I don't have to drive an inch. Or, if I really wanna get
into the spirit of it, I don't have to drive a centimeter.
And after last year's journey, during which Loraine & I
probably added an extra 200 kilometers onto our trip thanks
to road repairs and detours, that'll be a welcome change.
I'll just get to sit back, take pictures, chat with my loved
ones, and let Tony do the driving.
Now THAT'S what I call a vacation, and it all starts a month
from Sunday. And, as always, you're more than welcome to
Like I did last week, I'm giving myself a three day weekend
again this weekend, so if you come back Monday and don't see
anything new, it's not the fault of your computer. It's my
fault, and I'll try to feel a little remorse as I'm out
playing in (what I hope will be) the sun. So have a great
weekend; see you again Tuesday!
What a difference a year makes. Or, to be a little more
precise, what a difference two years makes.
Over the past couple of years Loraine & I have noticed
something. Over the past two years, despite the fact that
we're both out and about quite a bit, we hardly saw any of
When I was growing up (and even now as I'm still struggling
to grow up) I always thought of chipmunks as a sign of
summer. Unlike their bigger cousins, the squirrels,
chipmunks aren't around (at least outside) the whole year.
You mostly see them during the summer. And that's why, the
past two years, both Loraine and I have been mildly
concerned about the lack of chipmunks we saw. Two years
ago, in fact, Loraine was counting, and figured she saw less
than a dozen chipmunks all summer long.
I count license plates, and she counts chipmunks. I guess
we really ARE the perfect couple!
Anyway, this year has changed all that. Over the past few
months Loraine has noticed so many chipmunks that she
stopped counting, while I actually saw more in one one hour
bike ride a few weeks ago than she saw during all of 2013.
So I guess that means the chipmunks are back!
I'm not an expert on these things (some would claim, in
fact, that I'm not an expert on anything), but I have to
wonder why chipmunks are, all of a sudden, back in full
force. I thought it might've had something to do with the
weather, but each of the last three springs & summers have
been pretty much the same. I don't know what a chipmunk's
natural enemies are, but I highly doubt that those enemies
would've appeared in greater numbers in 2013 and 2014 and
then have disappeared this year, allowing the chipmunks to
thrive again. And I wouldn't think that the food the
critters eat would've gone away for two years and then all
of a sudden returned, leading to greater numbers.
I just don't know. And you know what? I really don't care,
as I like chipmunks. I'm glad they're back. They're cute,
they're fun, they don't poop as much as geese, and they
don't smell like skunks. So if they wanna return in numbers
greater than ever before, I'm fine with that.
Wow. I guess Marquette really IS a major national travel
My little license plate survey is now over. For those of
you who don't know what I'm talking about, every year during
the week leading up to Art on the Rocks I count license
plates. Well, I don't count the plates themselves; instead,
I keep track of how many different state license plates I
see while wandering around for a week. And this year, I (or
Marquette) set a record--
43 states, the District of Columbia, and three Canadian
provinces. That's people from 47 different governmental
units that visited Marquette in a one week span. You can't
tell me that's not some major tourism right there!
Actually, there may have been more. Like I said, I just
keep track of the plates I see when I'm out and about,
mostly in downtown Marquette. I don't spend every second on
the streets counting plates, nor am I everywhere in the city
at every second; quantum mechanics, after all, wouldn't
allow that. But the fact that I saw 47 different plates
just blows my mind.
Instead of listing the plates I saw, it's probably easier to
list the ones I didn't see. I didn't see Alaska or Hawaii,
but I doubt I'd ever see those. I didn't see Idaho, nor did
I see Rhode Island or New Hampshire, all states with small
populations. And I didn't see Alabama or Mississippi, but
that's not a surprise. Those are the states with the two
lowest per capita incomes in the country, and I'm guessing
that people there have better things on which to spend their
money than a trip to Marquette.
Other than that, though, people from every single state in
the country, plus D.C., plus Ontario, Quebec, and (friendly)
Manitoba made a point to come and visit Marquette last
week. And for some reason, that blows my mind.
I saw a ton of plates from Minnesota and Illinois and Ohio;
not so many from Wisconsin this year, despite the fact that
it's only a few hours away. And I saw a higher than usual
number from California, Washington state, and New York,
places that aren't just a few hours away, which means that
the people driving those cars wanted to come to Marquette
enough to justify two or three days behind the wheel. I
mean, part of me is not surprised; after all, during the
summer, we live in perhaps the most beautiful place in the
country (and I say that with just, I guess, a little
personal bias), so why not spend a few days in a car to get
here? But when you realize that a lot of people only have a
couple of weeks of vacation every year, and want to come
here bad enough to burn through those days driving to the
Well, I guess that says something about the area in which we
My survey's now done for another year, which means that I no
longer need to walk down the street with my head on a
swivel, trying to see if the car that just passed had plates
from a state that I'd not yet written down. I'm sure my
neck will thank me for that. But part of me wonders if
maybe I shouldn't do it again next week, in the week leading
up to Ore to Shore. Who knows--
If I do that, maybe then I'll see plates from Alaska and
Hawaii and Idaho and New Hampshire and Rhode Island and
Alabama and Mississippi!
It's nice to see today's gonna be a little different than
the past five Tuesdays.
I mean, overall, it'll be a “Tuesday”. It'll be the day
after Monday, it'll be the day before Wednesday, and unless
something goes seriously wrong, it should be 24 hours in
length. So in those respects, this Tuesday will be a
“Tuesday”. It's in one very important matter that it won't
be a “Tuesday”.--
It's supposed to be warm today!
There has been a very freaky pattern here in Marquette this
summer, and it's really shown itself in the last month or
so. For the past five weeks, we've had a warm Monday with a
weather system rolling through, which had led to a colder
Tuesday. In some cases, it's been really cold, with
temperatures only in the 50s following a Monday in the 70s
Laura and I have discussed
this on the air, and while we both realize that it's just a
coincidence, that there's no scientific reason behind the
pattern, it's just...strange that every single Tuesday seems
to be the worst weather day of the week.
You know, like Mother Nature has something against Tuesdays!
Most people probably haven't even noticed it, but for some
strange reason this “Tuesday” pattern has really stood out
to me. I don't know if it's because I (occasionally) obsess
about the summer weather, or if I just notice things that
most people don't (or, more likely, both) but it's just been
a weird pattern that caught my eye. Part of it may have to
do with something I'm trying this summer; because June was
so cold and because I had so many things going on, I have a
surplus of vacation days I have to use up. So instead of
using them a half day at a time, I've been giving myself
some three-day weekends, where I take Mondays off and go
back to work on Tuesdays.
And since the days I take off—Mondays--are the warm days and
the days I go back to work—Tuesdays—aren't, it's something
that's stuck out to me. I just guess I'm special that way.
And yes, I mean “special” the same way you'd mean it when
you see a dog trying to catch its tail or a baby play hide
& seek with itself a a mirror.
You know, “special”.
But, at least I had the sense to take off the days that are
warm and not the days that are cold, even if I scheduled
them a month or so ago. And here I thought predicting the
weather that far out was impossible!
Anyway, I'm glad today won't be a typical 2015 summer
“Tuesday”. I mean, I still have to work and everything, but
at least the pattern is broken, at least for now. So if YOU
have the good fortune to be off today, get out and enjoy
it. After all, next Tuesday it could be in the 50s again!
Those of you who've been reading this for a while may
remember one of the victims of my bike accident two years
ago. Aside from losing a tooth and a whole bunch of skin, I
also lost my wedding ring, which had to be cut off when my
finger started to swell to extremes. Last summer, once my
finger totally healed, Loraine bought me a new wedding ring,
which I love. It looks like something from a futuristic
space station, and it's made out of titanium, which is
Well, after yesterday, I can say one thing for certain—my
wedding ring IS indestructible.
How do I know? Well, I was in one of the studios at work
when I realized I needed to be in another studio in a few
seconds to say something on the air. I ran out of the room,
and somehow—I still don't know how—my wedding ring got
caught on a door jam that was sticking out a little bit. My
wedding ring did what it was supposed to do. It held its
place. Unfortunately, it did its job so well that the door
jam got pulled out of the door frame a little, and thing
that was holding my wedding ring—my finger—is now kind of
puffy, bruised, and missing a little skin.
There's your proof that marriage is dangerous.
I don't know how I did what I did; I'm thinking it's just a
gift that I was given at birth. But while running out of
the studio my ring somehow got caught on that door jam and
started to wrench my finger off. Luckily, I was able to
realize what was going on and stop fairly quickly, but not
before the door jam started to give way and certainly not
before the ring started to damage my finger. I;'m thankful
it didn't do more damage than it did; after all, it took me
almost a year for that finger to return to normal after my
bike accident, and I really don't want to start doing little
finger exercises all over again. So hopefully the puffiness
will go down, the bruises will disappear, and the skin will
At least until the next time I do something stupid!
Of course, if nothing else, the whole incident proves that
Loraine picked out the right ring to get me. She wanted to
make sure that if I had some kind of weird accident (Me?
Weird accident? No.....) the ring would survive unscathed.
And while I can't say the same for my finger or for the door
jam, my ring did just that—survived unscathed.
Hopefully, something like this won't happen again. But it
still leaves me shaking my head, wondering just when
marriage became so dangerous!
By the by, I'm taking another long weekend and won't be
working Monday. I'll be back with one of these on Tuesday.
And I may see you tomorrow at Art on the Rocks.
Since I’ve spent so much of 2015 complaining about the
weather, I’d like to take the next day or two to point out
that Mother Nature has finally—FINALLY—given us something we
can call “summer”.
And boy, is it nice. Let’s hope the second half of summer
is the complete opposite of the first half of summer.
As you can probably figure out, I’ve spent as much time as
possible outdoors the last few weeks. And seeing as how
it’s been in the 80s many days since the Fourth, I’ve been
warm for a couple of weeks now. Don’t get me wrong; I’m in
no way complaining. After all, I love the heat. But even I
will admit that if you spent hours walking around in a hot
city filled with concrete, it’s nice to slip someplace cool
for a few seconds. And in Marquette, we’re lucky enough to
have an urban park that allows you to do that.
Have you yet experienced the joy of the Rosewood Walkway?
It’s an oasis in the middle of concrete. It was built in
the gap that was left after the old downtown railroad
trestle was torn down in 1999, and was originally supposed
to be park of Marquette’s “Linear Park”. That concept never
fully materialized, but the Walkway is a welcome remnant of
it. You can be walking down a hot sidewalk, with the sun
baking you, and all you need to do is take a few steps into
the walkway and you see this—
Once you’re in the walkway, with is nestled between two
buildings, the temperature drops. And since one end of the
walkway faces the lake, a little breeze shoots through the
park, and refreshes both your body and your mind. While in
there, you can take a look at the flowers they’re planted in
Or walk to the lake end, and see the history of the city—
There are picnic tables in the park; you can grab a drink
from a nearby store or ice cream from Donckers, and enjoy
them. Or you can just cool down enough to once again find
yourself ready to face the sun. I’ve used the park for both
reasons, and can give it a very high recommendation for
So the next time you’re in downtown Marquette and you find
yourself a little warm, try one of the city’s hidden gems.
Trust me—you’ll cool down quickly!
Tomorrow, another sign of summer that's been missing the
past few years!
Well, I have to keep up my credentials as a dork SOME way,
For the umpteenth year in a row I'm counting license
plates. For those of you who haven't been reading this
forever, every year during the week leading up to Art on the
Rocks I keep track of how many states and Canadian provinces
are represented by license plates in Marquette. I don't
know how it started or what I hoped to accomplish by doing
this; all I know is that I've been doing it forever.
And aside from being a dork, I can't figure out WHY I keep
on doing it.
Well, I shouldn't say that. I do it out of curiosity. I do
it to see who's visiting Marquette. And I do it as a (very)
general gauge of how the country's economy is doing. During
years when the economy isn't doing well, like 2007 or 2008,
I saw plates from only 15 or 20 different states. And now
that the economy seems to be strong, like in the past two
years, I can see plates from up to 40 or 45 different
areas. In fact, only two days in this year, and I'm up 23
So there's your sign that the U.S. economy is doing well!
I also do it because I notice things while counting plates.
For instance, I can always tell every year when there's
either been a newspaper article written about Marquette, or
if Travel Marquette Michigan launches an ad campaign in a
certain area, if only because plates from those states pop
up more than they usually do (this year, for example, there
seem to be more plates from Georgia than normal, although
I'm only two days in).
I've also noticed that I've become quite good at knowing
which plates are from which states, just by looking. It's
easy for many, because they don't change their plates over
the years, and after a while you know that New York has
orange plates with blue bands, or that Pennsylvania has
yellow plates with blue bands. One look, and I know from
which states they come. Of course, then you get states like
Florida (or even Michigan), which seem to have 22 different
plates in 22 different colors, and those are the ones that
demand your attention.
Sometimes, it's not easy being a dork. Really, it isn't!
Over the years, I've also learned that I don't need to look
at every single car that passes. For instance, if a pickup
truck goes by, odds are that it'll have Michigan plates.
Most people, after all, don't take gas guzzlers on
vacations. And if a Subaru Outback goes by, odds are it
will also have Michigan plates, if only because it's the
official car of the city of Marquette. And if you see a
vehicle with lots of rust on it or parts trailing off the
back of it...well, I can GUARANTEE it'll have Michigan plate
Assuming, of course, the plates haven't fallen off yet.
I'll be curious to see how many I end up with when the week
is over, and if I discover any hidden meanings in what I
find. After all, I should end up with something OTHER that
enhanced credentials as a dork for doing this for so long,
uber-dork and knowledge font of all things license plate
Geez. Maybe I should've put “big boats” on the list of “107
Things to Love About Marquette County”!
By “big boats”, I don't mean a big fishing boat or a big
cabin cruiser or even a kayak built for two. Nope; by “big
boats” I mean ore boats. Because if nothing else, I saw a
couple of examples the past few days of just how people love
their big boats.
The first was Saturday, when Marquette's Lower Harbor was
treated to the sight of not one but two big boats paying a
visit. One was docked at the power plant dropping off a
load of coal (or limestone), while the other was sitting
just beyond the breakwater waiting for the first boat to
disgorge its load. I first chuckled when I saw pleasure &
sail boats cruising around the freighter that was anchored
off shore. Then, as I walked through Founder's Landing, I
People had actually gone down to the small Founder's Landing
beach, pulled out lawn chairs, and were sitting watching the
freighter unload its cargo.
Like I said, people really seem to like their big boats!
Then yesterday as I was tooling around on my bike I happened
to be near Presque Isle when another ore boat was pulling
into the Upper Harbor docks. And as the ship was coming in,
there must have been half a dozen cars in the parking lot by
the power plant, cars with people sitting in them watching
the freighter gently pull up to the dock and then anchor.
Once again, people really seem to like their big boats!
It's funny; growing up around here I always wondered why the
newspaper printed the expected arrival times of ships into
Upper Harbor. I never paid it much attention, and when I
did pay attention to it I just wrote it off as one of those
strangely absurd things that happens in far flung
communities. But now I get it. I mean, I don't necessarily
understand it, but I get it. I now realize why the Mining
Journal prints the arrival times of ore carriers.
Because, apparently, people really like their big boats!
Speaking of the “107” list, I need to thank 10 or so of you
who pointed out a MAJOR typo in Friday's edition, one that
neither spell-check nor my increasingly feeble brain
caught. The phrase was supposed to be “my dear wife”, and
not “my dead wife”.
Okay...let's see if I remember to write a blog about
something OTHER than “107 Things to Love About Marquette
Actually, just let me say “thanks” for the notes & feedback
about that little two-week excursion into another reality.
I do appreciate them, and if you noticed that there was
something I left off, do tell!
So, then...what else has been going on since I last wrote
one of these? Well, the last one I wrote (on July 2nd) had
to do with how I was looking forward to the Fourth of July
parades in Marquette and Ishpeming, and you know what? They
did not disappoint! In fact, if you wanna see some of the
pictures I took, check 'em out
HERE. You can also marvel
at the fact that the winner in our Ishpeming parade was from
Yes, that Cleveland. Which is almost as bizarre as the fact
that I had a “The Beer is Here” qualifier from Berlin,
Germany Thursday. I don't know about you, but I'm thinking
that our transmitter's been a little stronger than usual
What else have I been doing? Well, I've been religiously
Tour de France every
morning and them religiously watching it every evening.
This year they're only passing through one place we've been,
and that was the end of stage seven July 9th in Fougeres,
which we didn't get to see much of because NBCSN, the
American network showing the race, cut away right after the
finish so they could show qualifying for a NASCAR race. Or,
I should say, they were scheduled to show qualifying for a
NASCAR race; instead, they just showed a lot of rain at a
And because of that, I didn't get to see a lot of Fougeres.
Bummer. But I am enjoying the race, as always. I just have
to make sure I avoid seeing who won that day's stage before
I get to watch it, which, believe it or not, can be a hard
thing to do!
One of my favorite comic strips of all time is back!
Berkley Breathed stopped drawing “Bloom County” back in
1990; however, something sparked in him and
he started drawing it again.
This was one of those strips that, when I was in college, I
would devour every day, and I have to say that it's just as
good now as it was then. Besides, it's nice to see Milo and
Binkley and Oliver (& Opus!) again!
Finally, the weather has finally cooperated enough to allow
me to start taking those summer half days that I love so
much. In fact, that's what I'm planning on doing today, so
if you don't mind, I'm gonna go to the beach, but I'm gonna
leave you with one more thing--
If you're old enough, do you know where you were 46 years
And here we are. . .the eighth (and final) day spent listing
“107 Things To Love About Marquette County”.
It’s been quite a trip, hasn’t it? Before I say anything
else, I just wanna thank EVERYONE (and trust me, there have
been a TON of you) who said you just couldn’t wait until the
list was done before dropping me a note about something I
wrote, something I ignored, something I photographed, or
something I triggered in their memory. Thank you all very
much. And now that the list is complete (and soon to head
to the web in one piece) I look forward to hearing again
from you on items that (I’m sure) will make up the new “107
Things To Love About Marquette County That Jim Was Stupid
Enough To Leave Off Of His List” list.
For the past 8 days, I’ve been mentioning how this list is a
reflection of what I do, where I live, and who I am, which
means it’s rather subjective. The wrap-up of it today
perhaps points that out more than anything else, in that
today, we talk about things (and people) that I’ve come
across and believe worthy of the list. Some of these are
personal, some observational, but all of them are from one
person’s point of view. I know your view’s probably
different; that’s why I can’t wait to hear what YOU have to
So here we go…the wrap-up of “107 Things To Love About
The Ishpeming and Marquette FOURTH OF JULY PARADES. I’ve
done these for oh, I dunno, almost 20 years now, and I hafta
admit that it’s one of my favorite days of the year.
There’s no rush quite the like one you get when you walk
down a streets and see hundreds of people holding up signs
with your name on them. It’s really amazing!
FALL FEST, NMU’s annual way of welcoming students back to
Marquette for the start of the school year. Like parades on
the 4th, I’ve been doing Fall Fest forever, and if for some
reason I don’t get to (I’ve only missed two or three since
the early 90s) my entire September just doesn’t feel right.
BIG SHAG LAKE--when I was a kid, I spent big chunks of my
summers there, at my grandparents’ camp. And while I
haven’t been out there for a while now, that lake will
always hold a very special place in my heart.
URBAN RENEWAL--When I redid this list the first time a
couple of years ago, I asked blog readers if there was
anything I should stick in it. Well, one of the responses I
received was from someone who left Marquette for a home
elsewhere in the U.P., and wrote that he missed the constant
sense of change and “growth” in Marquette. Where he lives,
things just get shuttered up or torn down when they close.
In Marquette, buildings and ideas get reused, and what
emerges is usually stronger than it was before. As he put
it, there’s “still a sense of hope in Marquette”. And we’re
fortunate that there is.
And in that same vein, I also have to include the fact that
recently Marquette County has seemed to have adopted a
slogan along the lines of “WE DO BIG THINGS”. Think of
it--in the past year, we’ve had everything from dozens of
civic awards to celebrities coming to play golf for charity,
and from visits from two Presidents to TV shows shooting in
Not many communities our size can make that claim!
The RANGE BANK PARKING DECK--Because I work right across the
street from it, because my dear wife works there, and
because I sometimes use downtown Marquette as my own
personal jungle gym, I often find myself standing on the top
of the deck, either cooling down after a workout or finding
myself in a very zen-like state of calm, thanks to the view
you get from there. You know...views like this--
The LILACS AT LAKESIDE PARK--you know how much I like
lilacs, right? Well, I think the best concentration of them
is in this small park, right next to the Lake Superior
Community Partnership offices. Just walk over there in late
May or early June, standing the middle of all the bushes,
and inhale deeply. If that’s not heaven on Earth, I don’t
know what is!
WILLIAMS PARK--Speaking of Marquette parks, I like this one
because, for a decade and a half now, it’s been my
“neighborhood” park. Yet so few people know about, despite
the fact it has tennis and basketball courts, a playground,
and a terraced stone garden dating back to the Depression.
If you’ve never been there, go, and just take a look. You
can thank me later.
The 400 BLOCK OF HIGH STREET in Marquette. For seven years
of that decade-plus I just mentioned, this was where I
lived, and I hafta admit I still miss it a little. The
people who lived around us were some of the friendliest I’ve
ever met, people with whom we still keep in touch. Everyone
deserves to have neighbors like that!
LITTLE, SEEMINGLY HIDDEN STREETS IN MARQUETTE like Mather,
or Chamberlain, or Fitch, or Blemhuber, streets you can
explore at your leisure with a little stroll, streets that
have their own histories and their own interesting stories
Heck, I also need to add the fact that you can WALK AROUND
MARQUETTE whenever and wherever you want, see so many
things, do so many activities, and meet so many friendly
people. There aren’t a lot of places where you can do that;
we’re very lucky in that regard.
Speaking of FRIENDLY, GREAT PEOPLE, that’s another thing we
have in abundance in Marquette County. You’ll always hear
visitors to the area say “everyone’s so friendly up here”,
and it’s true. And it’s not just visitors who feel like
that; in the last few years, I can’t count the number of
people Loraine and I have met, people who’ve shared their
stories and their recollections and their time with us.
Without people that like, she wouldn’t know what she does
about World War II, and I wouldn’t know all those
interesting little historic facts about the area that I keep
sprouting off. So we can both attest to what visitors to
the area already know--you guys rock!
Finally, speaking of you guys, I wrap up the list of “107
Things To Love About Marquette County” with this item--
YOU. After all, without the thousands of listeners and blog
readers who show up every day, my life would be a whole lot
different than it is now. So thanks for everything!
Well, there you go. The list, after 8 days, is complete.
Now, it’s your turn! Have yourself a great weekend!
Another day, another portion of the “107 Things To Love
About Marquette County” list. Today? Things that are
uniquely “Marquette”. . .
There are very few places in the country where you can find
sandstone architecture still standing. The fact that we
have so many of these buildings still around (and in use) is
ARTSY PEOPLE--This may be one of those things you don’t even
think of, but it’s true. I think Marquette may have more
artists, musicians, writers, and “interesting” individuals
per capita than any other community of its size. Probably
why, among the many honors the city’s received over the last
decade, it’s been named as one of the “Top 100 Art Cities In
The U.S.”. And I’m not just talking about “professional”
artists; I think almost everyone here has that vibe to them
in one way or another. How else could you explain this?
Yup, you got it right. It’s a flower bed.
See what I mean?
And as a very important subset of the above category, let’s
add MUSICAL PEOPLE to this list. When you think of the
amazing amount of musical talent we have around here, from
home-grown to recently arrived, it just makes your just
drop. It really does.
NEW YEAR’S EVE BALL DROP--
I’ll often refer to it as a big party with me and a few
thousand of my closest drunk friends, but it is a
destination every December 31st. And thankfully, every year
when it seems like it may be discontinued, someone steps up
to help out. Here’s to hoping we’ll keep seeing the ball
drop for years to come!
THE NOQUEMANON--In the last 16 years, this has become one of
the pre-eminent cross country ski races in the country, and
for good reason. Over 1,000 people take part every year
over one of the most beautiful courses is the U.S. Oh, and
they get to hear one darn fine finish line announcer, too.
ORE TO SHORE--In the past 10 or 12 , this has become one of
the premiere bike race weekends in the country, and, like
the Noque, for good reason. The mass starts in Negaunee are
jaw-dropping, and the scenery through which the riders ride
is spectacular. Oh, and I hear THAT race has one darn fine
finish line announcer, too!
THE U.P. 200--What the Noque is for cross country skiing and
the Ore to Shore is for biking, the U.P. 200 is for sled dog
racing. If you’ve never stood on Washington Street in
Marquette at least once as the dogs take off, I don’t know
that you can consider yourself a true Yooper!
GLACIER GLIDE--Every year, this is one of the many events
that takes place during the U.P. 200 weekend, and it’s
probably the most unique. Art is spread out around Presque
Isle, and you get to walk, snowshoe, or ski around the
Island to look at it. Okay, you can stop laughing now. .
.it’s actually a blast, and that’s coming from someone who,
as you may recall, really doesn’t like winter!!
ART ON THE ROCKS--However, if you wanna see art outdoors in
slightly more temperate conditions, THIS is the art show for
you. And since they moved the show to another of the 107
Things to Love About Marquette County, Lower Harbor Park,
you can just walk to the show!
THE ROUNDABOUT—Oh, I know our roundabout gets ragged on by
people who are afraid of it, and it's not a true roundabout
in the European sense, but I like it. I think it's cool.
And seeing as how it's about to be joined by another just
down the bypass in Marquette, and a couple out in Ishpeming,
pretty soon Marquette County could be renamed Roundabout
FOOD FESTS--It could be the INTERNATIONAL FOOD FEST or the
BEER FEST in Marquette, or the ITALIAN FEST in Ishpeming,
but these are weekends that draw thousands of people and
raise thousands of dollars for charity. You can’t go wrong
with those, can you?
PETUNIA PANDEMONEUM--Every May, hundreds of volunteers
gather in Marquette, and line the US-41 corridor into the
city with thousands of blooming flowers, which then greet
visitors throughout the summer. You know how they say first
impressions are the ones that count? Those flowers make a
heck of a first impression!
THE SUPERIOR DOME--
We also have the world’s largest wooden domed stadium in our
backyard. I don’t know about you, but I’m having trouble
believing it’s been over 25 years since construction started
on it. We’ve been using the Dome for over 25 years now!!
Here are a few non-physical items to add to the “Uniquely
Marquette” portion of the list. The first? The fact that
PEOPLE START WEARING SHORTS WHEN THE TEMPERATURE FINALLY
GETS ABOVE FREEZING. People never believe me when I tell
‘em it’s true, but you know it is. After a long & cold
winter, when do you start seeing people wear shorts? The
first day it gets above freezing. Some people, in fact,
don’t stop wearing them until it hits freezing again in
September or October. How many other communities are as
hardy as that?
Speaking of weather-related activities, how about a
SOUTHWEST SUMMER WIND in the city of Marquette. You know
those winds, right, the ones that down-slope off the hills
and cause the city to be 10 or 15 sweltering degrees warmer
than the rest of the county? We only get them a few days of
the year, but in all honesty, those are my favorite days of
Finally, there’s one more thing to add to this part of the
list, and, I hafta admit, there’s a bit of personal
preference here. I hafta add the VIEW YOU GET FROM M-28 as
you’re driving into Marquette from the east. There’s that
moment, right as you clear the trees and get to the two
beach turn-offs, when you actually see the entire city of
Marquette before you. When I lived downstate and was
driving back, that was always the moment I knew I was HOME,
especially at night, when you could see the entire city lit
up in the distance.
If that view ever fails to move something in my heart, I
plan on checking my pulse. . .stat!!
Speaking of personal preferences, tomorrow we wrap up this
epic list with the items that are uniquely “Jim”. And since
the words “Jim” and “unique” seem to fit together kinda
well, you may be in for a treat!!
Okay, I’ve figured it out. Three more days, and the list of
“107 Things To Love About Marquette County” will be
finished, and ready to stick up in one piece on our
website. In the meantime, I hope you don’t mind being used
as a sounding board for it. In writing it by sections and
posting it as blogs, I’ve gotten a TON of feedback from
people (and thanks to each and every one of you), which will
allow me to fine tune it before the final posting. Not only
that, but you guys have been contributing lots of
suggestions for the follow up, the “107 Things To Love About
Marquette County That Jim Was Dumb Enough To Leave Off His
Today, some businesses and shops that I would stick on the
list. Of course, you would probably add different ones to
YOUR list, which is why the aforementioned feedback is so
important. So, if you have something to feed back, feed it
I go to THE MARQUETTE FOOD CO-OP quite a bit because I only
work a few blocks from it, but you know what? I’d go there
even if I worked miles away. The selection’s great, the
people are even greater, and you’re constantly amazed by
what you can find there, especially since they opened their
new, expanded store last year.
The same goes for the really fresh (mostly grown in
Michigan) produce at FARMER Q’S. And now that they, like
the Co-op, are open in a new, bigger location, it’s even
I think that we as an area are incredibly lucky to have a
place like JILBERT DAIRY here. I mean, they deserve a place
on this list for no other reason than their Amaretto-Cherry
Mackinaw Island Fudge ice cream, doncha think?
Last week when I mentioned the Farmer's Market I purposely
left off something I get there every week because I wanted
to mention it here—DAVIN'S CHOCOLATES. Davin Makela is a
Marquette resident who makes his own chocolate, grinding his
own beans, adding whatever flavors need to get added, and
then tempering it before he sells it at the market, and take
it from someone who's eaten his fair share of chocolate—Davin
knows what he's doing. Rush down there and find out for
GETZ’S is a throwback (in the best possible way) to
department stores of old, when friendly people sold stuff
they actually knew about. It’s my one-stop shop for Levi’s,
if nothing else!
Believe it or not, I’ve never actually purchased anything at
THILL’S FISHHOUSE, but here’s why it makes the list--every
time my in-laws visit from downstate, the last place they
visit in Marquette is Thill’s, where my father-in-law stocks
a cooler full of Lake Superior whitefish. That, I believe,
says it all.
'WORD ON THE STREET” is not an actual physical business you
can visit; instead, it's a blog about what's going on and
about to go on in Marquette. It's written by Brian Cabell,
who I used to watch on CNN Headline News (back when there
WAS a CNN Headline News”, so he knows his stuff and how to
report it. In fact, you'll find stories on the blog days
(or weeks) before anywhere else. If you haven't read it
yet, do so at
You'll keep going back again and again!
SNOWBOUND BOOKS is a place where you can find yourself lost
for hours just browsing every little thing on the shelves.
Don’t believe me? Try going in there without a watch or
without looking at a clock. You’ll see I’m right.
Speaking (in a way) of books, GLOBE PRINTING did an amazing
job with the two BOOKS Loraine has (so far) written. They
have an incredibly talented and hard working staff, and you
get a bonus when you go into their shop—the “Anatomy of a
Murder” wall. Yes, I may be a history and movie geek, but I
get lost in my own little world just looking around there.
Every neighborhood in Marquette has its own little party
store. In my neighborhood, it’s THE SPOT. Need something
on the spur of the moment? It’s there; in fact, I’m amazed
that they can stock so many different things into a place
that’s so small. Every time I go in I look for the mirrors
and the hidden rooms. Haven’t found ‘em yet, though. Plus,
I like their street signs--
If you ever find yourself lacking a unique gift for someone
who already has everything, just go to A TOUCH OF FINLAND,
and you’ll find what you’re looking for. I can’t tell you
the number of times that store’s saved my behind in that
Finally, I really DO need to include the fine people at IRON
BAY COMPUTER & DESIGN. After all, without them, you
wouldn’t be reading this!
Next time, we start to hit the home stretch with things that
are uniquely Marquette County. Following that, we wrap it
up with Marquette County things that are uniquely Jim.
The ongoing rollout of the fourth edition “107 Things To
Love About Marquette County” continues today, with food.
Like many people, I have my favorite places to eat, many of
which are listed here. And these are places, for the most
part, where you can either sit down & eat, or grab something
while you’re out and about, taking a stroll or running
Like I’ve said since last week, this whole list is this is
VERY subjective, based on the things I do and the places I
go and the people I know. When this is all done (or even
before it’s all done) I’d LOVE to hear from you if there are
any items you think should be on the list, because I’m sure
there are a TON of things that should be on the list that
So with that out of the way just let me say this--I hope
you’re hungry today!
THE PORTSIDE has become, I believe, one of my favorite
Marquette restaurants. The food is great, the people are
great, and the pictures on the wall are great. What more
could you ask from a restaurant?
Right down the street from the Portside, BABYCAKES has the
perfect thing for breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner. It’s
their sour-cream chocolate chip muffin, and while I’m sure
it causes you to add two pounds and shoot your cholesterol
level up 20 points just by looking at it, it’s that’s good.
If you haven’t tried it, try it!
Speaking of something you really have to try, Negaunee’s
MIDTOWN BAKERY makes these chocolate-oatmeal cookies with
just a hint of orange flavor to them. When we’re exploring
parts of the West End, Loraine and I always stop there for
lunch, and get a bunch of the cookies to go with us. After
all, you never know when you’ll need a quick fix, right?
CAL’S PARTY STORE--Speaking of cookies, the ones they sell
at Cal’s are not only yummy, but they’re also the size of a
Frisbee (and no, I’m not kidding!) Ever since I’ve
discovered those cookies, I’ve developed a new favorite
summer pastime--buying one of them, and then burning off the
calories while walking around Marquette. Sure, I may have
to spend several hours walking around Marquette to burn off
said calories, but what’s wrong with that?
Now, lest you get the idea that all I eat is cookies (and
muffins, and chocolate), rest assured that’s not true. Why,
aside from getting great ice cream and, uhm, chocolate, you
can also enjoy real food at places like DONCKERS. In fact,
I think the best macaroni and cheese on the planet is
available there. If you haven’t tried it yet, you really
owe it to yourself to do so. After all, when was the last
time you had mac & cheese with several different kinds of
cheeses, including Gouda?
If you’re ever in the mood for something with a
south-of-the-border flair, stop by SOL AZTECTA. True
story—Loraine & I were their first ever paying customers; in
fact, we signed their first dollar for them. But we keep
going back & back (& back) because the food is awesome.
I think my favorite breakfast in Marquette may be the
SWEETWATER CAFÉ’s French toast. I get it made with whole
wheat bread, and when you combine it with U.P.-produced
maple syrup, the whole thing just kinda transports your
mouth to a tasty heaven.
Let's not forget THE NEW YORK DELI; specifically, let's not
forget the Cuban sandwiches they sell on occasion. I'm
actually thinking it's a good thing they're not on their
permanent menu; if that were the case, I'm guessing I could
be quite a bit heavier than I am now!
Speaking of which (weighing more than I do now) it's a good
thing I don't visit GOPHER'S everyday. And that's all I'm
gonna say about that!
Finally, I don’t go to JEAN KAY’S for the reason you think.
I know the rest of you go there for pasties (and they are
good), but Jean Kay’s is another one of those places I like
to visit on those summer walks. They have these really
simple chocolate-covered rice krispie bars that, for some
reason, just seem to hit the spot when you’re out in the
Okay. . .I think I’ve added 5 pounds just by putting this
part of the list together, which means I should stop now,
before you get the idea that ALL I do is eat out. I don’t;
it’s just that when I do, these places are where I go. And
like I said at the beginning, I’m sure you have places just
like that in your life. If you wanna let me know about
them, I’ll make sure they’re in the “107 Things To Love
About Marquette County That Jim Was Dumb Enough To Leave Off
His List” list.
Next time? Businesses that make Marquette County cool.
Today, part four of the “107 Things To Love About Marquette
County” epic. Like I’ve said all week, this is a VERY
subjective list, based on the things I do and the places I
go and the people I know, today more than before, because
we’re talking about certain people that I think make this a
great place to live.
MY FAMILY--I’m incredibly lucky, in that I get to live in
the same area as my mom & dad, Melanie and Marc, Courtney,
Mallory and Sydney, (a.k.a. my sister and brother, and my
nieces and nephews), as well as any other people who share a
snippet of DNA. How many of us can say that?
MY FRIENDS--I’m incredibly lucky again, because Marquette
County’s also home to people like Roxanne, and Justine &
Scott, and Joe & Karen, and a whole slew of others. But I
do hafta single one of them out...
DEANNA--Many of you know of her from her days at TV-6, but
trust me. . .that’s nothing. Every day, there’s something
new with her, and every day, I look forward to hearing what
CO-WORKERS--Speaking of co-workers, over the past 25 years
it’s gotten quite huge. And while I don’t even probably
remember all of them, they certainly have made Marquette
County a special place for me, at least.
MY “other” CO-WORKERS, this time at Public TV 13. When I
stepped in to start hosting a show that they've been doing
for 36 years before me, they both made it easy for me and
made me feel like part of the family. So thanks!
The PEOPLE WHO PUT EVENTS TOGETHER-One of the things you
quickly learn about Marquette County is that there is always
something going on, and each and every one of those
somethings has to be planned and carried through. So the
next time you're at anything from a food festival to an art
show to a bike race, seek out those responsible for it, and
thank them for all of their hard work. They really deserve
The AMERICAN EAGLE GATE AGENTS AT SAWYER INTERNATIONAL. You
know, I’m guessing that theirs is a mostly thankless job,
but every time I fly somewhere, they always ask where I’m
going, in a fun manner and like they’re genuinely curious.
And what’s more amazing is that they often remember where I
flew the previous time, and ask how THAT trip went.
Everyone who works at THE U.P. REGIONAL BLOOD CENTER
deserves to be on here, too. I know I may be a bit biased
(because, as you know, I do a lot of work with them) but
they’re very good at what’s a very hard job--trying to
convince people to get stuck by a needle and give up some of
their body fluids. I know I wouldn’t be that successful at
PHIL NEIMISTO--Anyone who’s walked through downtown
Marquette knows about Phil & his Pocket Pock flowers, and
his incredible window washing skills. He’s just one of
those people who make Marquette Marquette, you know? And
when his flowers were trashed about a week ago, the
community came to his rescue, showing just what a local
treasure he is. And trust me—he really is!!
CAROL PAPALEO--One of my favorite local artists, if only
because that’s what she is--an artist who paints local
scenes (her downtown sandstone series being one of my
favorite). There aren’t a lot of artists from whom I buy
originals. . .she’s definitely one of them!
JACK DEO--I’ve often joked that Jack was my “dealer”,
because I’m addicted to the enormity of his collection of
historic photographs of Marquette. Not only that, he’s a
fun guy to host a history program with, as well (hint
hint—another big one's on the way in January 2016!). Throw
in all he does for the Marquette arts community, and you see
why he’s on the list!
THE PEOPLE OF SOUTH MARQUETTE. Even though my dad was born
there, I never spent much time in that particular part of
the city. But since I’ve started giving tours of it, I’ve
discovered an amazing fact--in an entire city of incredibly
friendly people, the residents of south Marquette may be the
friendliest. I don’t think I’ve ever gone for a walk around
Division or Jackson or Blemhuber and not been stopped by
people wanting to chat (or to just say “hi”). You can’t
Speaking of people, the PEOPLE OF REPUBLIC deserve a special
mention here. Over the past decade my (much) better half
has been “adopted” by the town, and every time we go out
there we're treated like members of the “family”. Plus,
we've learned one very important thing about the town, and I
quote one of our friends out there--”If you leave Republic
hungry, it's your own fault”! And trust me—we've never left
NMU STUDENTS--After all, without NMU students, we wouldn’t
get to see things like this!
I may joke about NMU students and their fondness for
parties, but they are for the most part a great group of
people, especially for those who are a part of THE NMU
VOLUNTEER CENTER. They devote an extraordinary amount of
time into making Marquette a great place to live, and really
don’t get a lot of credit for it. Here’s my way of
correcting that injustice!
Speaking of which, ANYONE who volunteers for any service
project or non-profit agency deserves to be on this list, as
well. And you know what? Now you are!
Finally, today I’ve saved the best for last--LORAINE.
Sure, she wasn’t born here, but with the way she’s woven
herself into things around here, you’d never know! I can’t
imagine what my life would’ve been without her, and I can
only imagine what kind of adventures we’ll get into together
in the future! Besides, she’s managed not to throttle me
even once in all the years we’ve been together, and that’s
gotta count for SOMETHING, right?
Now, I'm off Monday (yay me!) so there won't be a new one of
these. Hope that doesn't throw too much of a monkey wrench
into you plans. Have a great weekend, and come back
Tuesday, we’ll get into food. After all, that’s one of the
few things that makes the early part of a week worth it,
Another day, another section to the ongoing list of “107
Things To Love About Marquette County”. Today, nature, and
what it brings us!
Now, if you know me at all, you know I’m not the
stereotypical Yooper. I don’t like to camp, I don’t hunt,
and, if truth be told, I’m more comfortable around concrete
than I am wild animals. But that still doesn’t mean that I
don’t appreciate what we have around here; in fact, I ‘m
willing to forego concrete just to have the chance to enjoy
these wonders of our environment.
JULY, AND AUGUST--Whenever someone asks me why I want to
stay in Marquette, living through endless months of snow and
cold, I always reply with those two words. During July and
August (well, most Julys and Augusts) I can’t think of a
more pleasant, enjoyable, and beautiful place on the face of
the Earth. It makes living through the snow and the cold
BIG BAY, AND THE DRIVE THERE--Depending upon which season
you drive there, you get awesome views of green, or of
white, or of red, or, if it’s spring, dirt. But it’s always
an awesome view heading up there, and once you’re in Big
Bay, it’s a fun little place to explore (like, in fact, a
lot of SMALL TOWNS THROUGHOUT THE COUNTY).
COUNTY ROAD 492--Two things about the back road between
Marquette and Negaunee have always appealed to me--the fact
that it’s a FUN bike ride, and the fact that, during the
fall, it’s one of the best places in the area to see amazing
fall colors. (The highway center line was also invented by
K.I. Sawyer for this road; that’s just a bonus, I guess).
Okay, I’ve mentioned FALL COLORS twice so far, so I’m
guessing they better make this list, too!
FOG--As far as I can tell, there are very few drawbacks
about living next to Lake Superior. One of those is that
the lake can keep us quite cool during the spring and
summer. But an offshoot of that, when warm ground air meets
cool lake air, allows us to see things like this--
THE FIT STRIP--Ever since I moved back to Marquette over 25
years ago, I’ve used this one-mile trail for everything from
running to skiing. The fact that it sits right smack-dab in
the middle of the city is amazing; the fact that it’s also
home to everything from raccoon to deer is even more
BLUEBERRY RIDGE--When I’m looking for a longer ski than a
few laps around the Fit Strip, this is where I go. There’s
just something about these trails that always puts me in a
great mood. For others, though, the NOQUEMANON TRAIL
NETWORK does the same. You can’t go wrong with either!
The IRON ORE HERITAGE TRAIL—Perhaps the newest thing on this
list, and a trail many area residents don't even know
about. But running from Republic all the way down to
Harvey, it's a great way to run/walk/bike/snowmobile/whatever(depending
upon which section of the trail you use) over part of
Marquette County history.
HILLS--When I first put this list together back in 2000, I
left these off the list, and boy, did I hear about it!
Until you’ve lived somewhere flat, you really don’t
appreciate having a little variety in your terrain. You
DUCKS--I’m not talking about the geese that seem to pop up
everywhere, leaving their calling cards wherever they go.
I’m talking about these cute little things
that make their home at places like Park Cemetery or on Lake
Superior. Just seeing a mom duck and her brood waddling
around is enough to melt even the hardest of non-nature
Trust me on that one!
Next time, the list continues with some of the people who I
feel make this place extra special.
Here we go...part two of the “107 Things To Love About
Marquette County”. Like I said yesterday, this is a VERY
subjective list, based on the things I do and the places I
go and the people I know. When this is all done (or even
before it’s all done) I’d LOVE to hear from you if there are
any items you think should be on the list, because I’m sure
there are a TON of things that should be on the list that
That, however, is a topic for another day. As far as
today’s topic? One of my FAVORITE local subjects...
One of the things that we are so fortunate to have in this
area is a sense of history; a sense of why we became the
area we eventually became. We have people and groups
dedicated to preserving this story and, because of that, we
live among marvels like the following--
How many of you know that this rock, now a nesting place for
seagulls, was an important piece of land for the first
non-native settlers of the area? Ships used to anchor to
the rock, throw supplies (and livestock) overboard, and then
bring them to shore. Before ore docks, there was Ripley’s
Then after Ripley’s Rock, there were indeed ore docks. In
fact, at one time, over a dozen of them graced both
Marquette harbors. And while only one of them is still
functional, they serve as a vital reminder of the area’s
past. After all, Marquette came into existence because iron
miners needed a place from which to ship their ore. Without
ore docks, there never would’ve been a Marquette.
THE MARQUETTE COUNTY COURTHOUSE--
Where else might you find a 111-year old building that’s
still used for its original purpose (a courthouse and county
offices), but has also doubled as a movie set, an
architectural temple, and as a place where some of us get
married? Not many!
PETER WHITE PUBLIC LIBRARY--
Yesterday, we talked about a couple of the civic projects
behind which the spirit of Mr. White lurks. Here’s another;
like the Courthouse, it’s 111 years old, and like the
Courthouse, it’s still used for its original purpose. The
two year-long renovation of a decade and a half ago was
certainly worth it, as well.
FIRST NATIONAL BANK--
Okay, it’s now known as Wells Fargo, but for a lot of us, it
will also be the First National Bank building. When Louis
Kaufman built it in 1927, it was, per square foot, the most
expensive construction project in the country. If you’ve
never been inside it, do yourself a favor, walk in the
lobby, and just stare at the ceiling. You’ll be amazed.
Right before he built the First National Bank building,
Louis Kaufman threw his muscle behind construction of a new
high school, named after his mother’s family. Over the
years, it’s been a high school, a middle school, an
intermediate school, and now an elementary school, but after
almost 90 years, it’s still going strong. Let’s hope it
continues for another 90!
Where did people like Peter White and Louis Kaufman live?
In Marquette’s historic East Side, where a stroll up & down
the streets reveal some of the most amazing houses built in
the last 130 years.
THE OLD ORPHANAGE--
This may be the one historic building that’s not yet been
returned to its former glory. It’s been tied up in legal
proceedings for as long as I can remember, but plans are now
afoot to renovate it and turn it into a housing complex.
Let’s hope it works out!
FATHER MARQUETTE STATUE--
When this was erected in the late 1800s, it was actually
down by the Maritime Museum; now sitting in Lakeside Park,
it allows the city’s namesake to overlook his domain. There
is supposedly another version of this statue sitting outside
what translates to the Father Marquette Middle School in
Post-a-Mousson, France, where he studied as a young Jesuit,
but the school was under renovation when I visited last year
and couldn't confirm it. I'll see if I can get someone in
the town's tourist office to snap me a picture to share!
The next picture actually takes care of two items at once.
First, THE LANDMARK INN--Over the last couple of decades,
many of Marquette historic buildings were falling into
disrepair. Fortunately, most of them have been restored to
their former glory; in the case of the Landmark, Christine
Pesola went waaaaaaay past what the old Northland Hotel once
was, turning it into an amazing place to stay, eat, and
Finally, helping preserve all this history, not just in
Marquette but around the county, are many local groups,
including the MARQUETTE REGIONAL HISTORY CENTER (the dome of
which is in the picture above), NEGAUNEE HISTORICAL SOCIETY,
and the REPUBLIC HISTORICAL SOCIETY. I mention these three
because, in order, I’m a former board member, they’ve been
helpful in providing all kinds of information, and they’re
some of the nicest (and most dedicated) people I’ve met. If
you’ve not visited any of their museums, do so, and see for
That’s it for today; next time, nature makes the list.
As promised, here we go--the FOURTH edition of “107 Things
To Love About Marquette County”!
But a word or two before we begin. As with every edition of
this list, every item on here is SUBJECTIVE. It speaks to
who I am, what I do, and where I go. Most of the items on
the list are from Marquette; that’s only because that where
I spend most of MY time. There are going to be many things
left off that YOU would put on a list like this, and some
things that will just make you shake your head and go “huh?”
when you read them. That’s fine; it is, after all, a list
of 107 things that I love about living here. Your list
should be different.
In fact, I’m counting on your list being different. That’s
why, when it’s all done, I wanna hear from YOU about any
item, person, or thing that should’ve been on the list that
I, for whatever reason, left off. I have a feeling that
you’ll contribute more than enough to populate an entire
Over the next few days, I’ll be listing things not in order,
but by category. This is not intended to be a countdown
leading up to the “best” thing about the Marquette area;
after all, is there really a BEST upon which we can all
agree? And the items on the list won’t be numbered.
Instead, they’ll be capitalized. That’s how you’ll know
what they are.
Like I said before, comments are more than welcomed.
Actually, they’re required, because it’s always you guys who
got me off of my aforementioned duff and made me write this.
107 THINGS TO LOVE ABOUT MARQUETTE COUNTY, PT. 1—Natural &
I mean, do you know just how lucky we are to have what we
have, and right outside our back door? It’s what draws
people here to visit in the first place, and it’s what draws
many of us who’ve left Marquette to come back, even if it
DOES lead to some wind chill-induced cool spring days!
LOWER HARBOR PARK--Whenever I tell someone who doesn’t know
what used to sit on that land before it became one of the
crown jewels of the Marquette park system (an old coal yard,
if you're curious), they’re amazed by the transformation.
Besides, can you imagine life without all the activities
that go on there, everything from food fests to Frisbee
playing? Neither can I.
The other crown jewel in Marquette’s park system. I don’t
even know where to begin talking about the park itself, so
just let me say this—of all the things we need to thank
Peter White for doing over 100 years ago, this may be the
PARK CEMETERY—Of course, this may give Presque Isle a run
for its money in the “thanking Peter White sweepstakes”.
Now, I may be a bit prejudiced in this matter, seeing as how
much time I spend in the cemetery, but how can you honestly
NOT think that this may be one of the most beautiful (and
peaceful) places you’ll ever come across?
SUGARLOAF MOUNTAIN—Think about it. When you have company
come and visit you, company who’s never before been to
Marquette, where’s the one place you take them AFTER taking
them to Presque Isle? Yup..you climb Sugarloaf, don’t you?
MOUNT MARQUETTE—Yet while the view from Sugarloaf is amazing
in its view of nature, I personally don’t think ANY local
mountaintop view can beat THIS—
Although it looks pretty impressive from Mount Marquette,
it’s not until you walk up and down Front Street that the
history of Marquette hits you. I’ll get into a few more
specifics as this list wears on, but if there’s indeed an
epicenter to the entire U.P., this may be it.
THE (OLD) COAST GUARD STATION—I’ve written blogs about this
before, and I’ll put forward the thought again. Can you
think of ANYTHING in the U.P. that is painted, photographed,
sketched, drawn, and doodled about more than this?
THE BIKE PATH SYSTEM—Yeah, I know Marquette’s one of the top
5 places in the country to go mountain biking, but what if
you just wanna go for a ride in the fresh air, gazing at
some of the most beautiful scenery on the planet? That’s
what these 12+ miles of paved trails are for! In fact, the
stretch between downtown & McClellan, the one that comes out
near McDonald's, may be one of my favorite places to bike or
walk on a warm summer day!
MCCARTY’S COVE—Sure, it’s one of those places I visit when I
play hooky on those aforementioned warm, summer days. But I
do so for a reason. . .I’ve often thought that the stretch
of beach between McCarty’s Cove and Shiras Park may be one
of the finest stretches of cold water beaches ANYWHERE. Can
you imagine how packed it would be if it were in Florida?
THE DOWNTOWN FARMER'S MARKET—It blows my mind to think that
we didn't have this weekend gem in the city up until a few
years ago; now, I can't even imagine a Saturday without it.
From farm-fresh produce to the best home-made sticky buns in
the world (just to name a few), it's one place we always
make sure we stop!
Over the past year or so I've written in here about how I’d
been stunned by the fact that it’s been (now) four years
since I last updated the “107 Things To Love About Marquette
County” list. At that time, I mentioned that it needed to
get updated because of the fact that several people,
businesses, and activities mentioned in it are no longer
around. I also asked if YOU guys had any suggestions for
items and/or pictures to be included. Well, I did my part,
you did your part (and I say thanks for that!) so beginning
tomorrow, and taking however long it takes, I’ll start
posting version number four of the list.
As I look at what’s going into it now, it’s actually gonna
be longer than 107 things, but this is one of those lists
that I really don’t feel comfortable in trying to winnow
down. I mean the 107 is an arbitrary (although chosen for
an obvious reason) number and I really don’t want to leave
off something that’s deserving just to get down to that
107. So if it ends up being 112 or 116 things to love about
Marquette County. . .well, so be it. Just consider the
extra 5 or 9 items bonus items that come free of charge,
much like the extra set of Ginsu steak knives you get if you
call in the next 10 minutes.
And you don’t even have to pay the extra shipping &
There’s another reason I’ve chosen now to put together the
newly revised list, and that has to do with time. A good
chunk of the list is already written; I just have to
correct, revise, and update what’s already there, and make
sure the pictures go where they’re supposed to go.
Hopefully, that’ll save a little time, which will be in
short supply this week and next, as not only do I have to do
everything I normally have to accomplish in a usual day, but
I also have to accomplish most everything our office manager
Carol has to accomplish in a normal day. She's gone for a
week and a half, and guess who gets to fill in for her? Add
to that the fact that I also have appointments, TV shoots,
and meetings to attend to, and you can see where every extra
second I can beg, steal, or borrow will come in handy.
So starting tomorrow, version number four of “107 Things to
Love About Marquette County”. It’s always a labor of love
on my part, and it’s always one of those things that gets a
huge response from people reading it. I hope this version’s
Saturday is usually one of my favorite days of the year.
I mean, overall, Saturdays are usually my favorite day of
the week, but this Saturday will be something special—Fourth
of July parades in Marquette and Ishpeming, parades where
for almost 20 years now we've been giving away cash in our
little “July Parades of Ca$h” contest. And trust me on
this—there are few things as good for your self-esteem as
being in a parade where people want money from you!
I have a blast at these deals every year. Because I'm
broadcasting while we're parading, and not giving out
certificates, I just get to walk along the route, talk to
people, and take pictures of the signs everyone's put
together. Many people just print out the sign we have
on this site, and that's okay, but others go through a LOT
of effort to get our attention. Don't believe me?
That's one sign from last year. In my office, I have a
collection of signs from past years, signs that were so good
that I just wanted to display them somewhere. My favorite,
in fact, sits on my file cabinet, and is a painting (on
Styrofoam) of me chilling in the sun lying on a hammock.
It's gotten me through many a long winter afternoon, in
The other thing that's cool about the parades is that, like
many things around here, we've been doing it so long that
it's become a multi-generational event. I've heard from a
bunch of young parents that they made parade signs when they
were kids, and now they're doing it with their own kids. I
think that's neat; I mean, I'm not quite sure how I feel
about being so old that people can make that comment , but I
think it's neat that it's become the tradition it's become.
And THAT'S why this Saturday will be one of my favorite days
of the year. Hope to see you guys at one or both of the
A note--because tomorrow is our “holiday” day at the
station, there won't be one of these again until Monday. So
on that note,, have yourself a fun & safe holiday weekend.
And don't forget to bring your signs!!
Okay...today's the day I talk about unicorns or rainbows or
something, right? Well, how about fruit?
Once again, I need your help in figuring out something plant
(or technically, tree)-related. Two summers ago, Loraine
and I were walking down the Lakeshore bike path between
Shiras Park & McCarty's Cove, when we noticed a lady picking
berries off of a tree. Being curious, we stopped and asked
her about them, and she gave us a taste of of these amazing
pieces of fruit (and they were yummy!) Of course, we forgot
what they were called, and while walking past the trees last
year, we noticed that nothing was happening. The fruit
Well, this past weekend (or, as we call it around here when
it's 45 degrees on June 30th, our two days of “Summer” for
this year) we walked past the trees, and low and behold,
guess what we saw!
The berries are growing again. Now, this leads us to
wonder—exactly what kind of berries are these, and why
didn't they grow last year? Do they just bloom every two
years? Did someone or something pick them before the fully
grew? Were we just blind? Since we were curious enough to
stop when we saw the lady picking them two years ago; well,
now we're curious again. And since, as I mentioned last
week, you guys are among the smartest people on the face of
the planet, we're hoping you can help us out.
Thank you in advance!
As I (snarkily) mentioned, the October-like weather as we're
heading into July makes me glad we were able to get out and
enjoy our “summer” this past Saturday. One of the reasons
was so I could take pictures for the new version of “107
Things To Love About Marquette County” that I've been
promising you for a year and a half now. Well, you know
I'm thinking it starts Monday. I don't wanna promise
anything I can't deliver, but I'm thinking Monday. Wish me
Repeat after me—the sidewalk is NOT a parking lot!
I'm sorry, but I'm gonna spend this blog complaining about
something. I know I seem to have been doing that a lot
recently, and if you don't want to hear me do it again, you
have my permission to come back tomorrow. I promise to talk
about something cheery, like sunshine or rainbows or
Now, on to my rant. There is a household at the corner of
Pine and another street in Marquette where the people do not
know how to park. I know this because I run and walk up &
down the street all the time, and I always have to duck into
the roadway when I come across this yard--
Not only is the pickup truck waaaaay too long to fit into
their driveway, it even sticks out into the street, where
it's (as you may be able to see) surrounded by two other
pickup trucks on either side of the driveway. That means
that every single person who walks or runs down the sidewalk
on the east side of Pine Street, every parent pushing a
stroller, every child riding a bike, and every person who
needs a wheelchair or some unblocked access to the sidewalk,
has to veer out into Pine Street, past the pickup trucks
into the middle of the street, where traffic, because it's
on a hill, is often speeding past at 110 or 15 miles an hour
over the speed limit.
All because one individual does not know now to park.
Now, if this was just a one time event, I wouldn't be
raising any kind of ruckus about it. But whoever lives here
has been doing this for months now, oblivious to the both
the fact that the sidewalk is not a parking lot and the fact
that they could be putting people in danger by making them
veer out into a very busy street. I don't understand people
who do things like that. I don't understand why people
would break the law by using the sidewalk as a parking lot.
The sidewalks belong to everyone, not just whoever happens
to live next to it.
They're OUR sidewalks, not yours.
I think that's what getting my goat here. It's the same
thing that gets my goat when I see dog owners bring their
pets on a beach or some other place where there are “No dogs
allowed” signs. These are public areas; they're not your
personal playgrounds. By using them as your own, and by
willfully flouting the rules, you're disrespecting every
other single person who might need to use them and every
single person who does try to follow the law. There are
22,000 of us living on a small piece of land, and the rules
(like not blocking the sidewalk or not taking your dog on
thee beach) are there to make sure that we can all live
together in harmony. I try not to disrespect any of the
other 21,999 people in Marquette. I'd hope everyone else
would return the favor.
Apparently, though, that's not the case. At least for
that's the case for one individual thoughtlessly blocking
the sidewalk on Pine Street.
Okay; I'll shut up now. I just needed to get that off of my
chest. Like I said, tomorrow we'll talk about puppies or
flowers or chocolate.
I wonder what you'd find if you DID look down there.
While in Chicago last weekend Loraine had a thought, a
thought that popped into my head again this weekend as we
were walking through downtown Marquette. And Loraine's
thought, as we were riding the L train, was this—what would
you find on the bottom of yours shoes if you did a DNA test
on them after a day in Chicago?
Odds are, the results would not be pretty. Especially if
you, like we were doing at the time, had just ridden the
Like I said, I thought about that again this weekend as we
were walking through Marquette, past bars where you know
some vomit had to have been hurled, through an alley where
who know what had occurred the night before, and down a bike
path where people had not (despite the bags everywhere)
cleaned up after their dogs. Add to that the spit & sweat
of runners, the blood of bikers, and the, uhm, wastes of
people who may have spent the night on one of the path
benches, and your shoes would probably be covered with a
gumbo of humanity.
But, sad to say, probably not a very tasty gumbo. Or a very
Until Loraine had made that crack last weekend, I never
actually devoted much thought to what I walk through on a
daily basis. But maybe I should. I mean, when I go running
early on a Saturday morning, before people have had a chance
to clean things up from the previous night's activities, I
can see some pretty nasty things. I don't run through them,
but they're there. And even after the clean-up occurs, I'm
sure some trace lingers. So when you consider everything
that gets “expelled” by humans and animals on a sidewalk or
a bike path, it's a wonder our shoes don't somehow mutate
from all the DNA, and get up and walk off on their own.
Although that could be an interesting concept for a horror
movie, when you think of it.
Of course, we come in to contact with all kinds of
disgusting stuff on daily basis, and don't give it a second
thought. I suppose if we did, there would be some among us
so repelled by the thought of everything we're stepping in
that we'd never want to step outside again. Thankfully, I'm
not one of those people, although, like I said, I'd never
devoted an ounce f brain power to it before last weekend.
And now that I'm thinking about it...
Don't worry; I shan't become one of those people I just
mentioned. Too much of my life (many of my favorite parts,
in fact) are lived outdoors. There's no way especially
during what passes for “summer” up here, that Id lock myself
inside just to avoid a little “human gumbo”. However, that
does not mean that I won't be looking a bit askew at the
bottom of my shoes next time I take them off.
After all, you never know what might be residing down there!
We agree on an awful lot in life, but there is one thing on
which Loraine and I will, apparently, never compromise.
I was reminded of the whole issue by my repeated listening
to the latest song from Fall Out Boy, a cute little ditty
called “Uma Thurman”, in which the group samples the theme
song from “The Munsters”. And that reminded me of the
“issue” that has come between my dear wife and I in the
20-some years we're known each other.
You see, she likes “The Munsters”, and I like “The Addams
The whole issue probably goes back to our childhoods, and
the ways in which we grew up. She grew up downstate, in a
farming community. I grew up in Marquette, a college town.
She had older siblings; I was the first-born. She was a
relatively normal child, while I was (and still am) a dork.
And I think that once you know those differences in our
upbringings you’ll fully understand why we have this chasm
I like “The Addams Family” for the same reason I like two
other shows Loraine’s not really that fond of, “Rocky &
Bullwinkle” and “The Gilmore Girls”. I like the shows
because they’re hyper-verbal. They feature offbeat
characters doing offbeat things, and what they say is often
much more important than what they do. That’s the kind of
kid I was growing up, and that’s pretty much the way I am
now. So I guess it’s no surprise that I would gravitate
toward shows that feature characters like that, especially a
show like “The Addams Family”.
It’s also not a surprise that Loraine would favor “The
Munsters”. Like I said, she wasn’t a dork, so she probably
wouldn’t find appeal in a show full of dorks. Not only
that, but she had an older brother who gravitated toward
movie monsters, and seeing as how “The Munsters” was a show
put together so Universal could feature their famous movie
monsters of the 1930s, I can see entirely why she likes the
show. And it’s not like it’s a really bad TV show.
It’s just not “The Addams Family”.
As I said before, it’s just one of those things about which
Loraine & I will have to agree to disagree. She feels, from
the depths of her heart, that “The Munsters” is the superior
show, while I feel, from the depths of my dorky heart, that
“The Addams Family” will never be topped. To quote a great
American philosopher, “We’re obviously separated by
denominational differences”. And I guess we’ll just have to
live with it.
You guys are among the smartest people on the face of the
Now, I'm not saying that to butter you up for much of
anything. It's just that smart people seem to read this (as
opposed to, say the person who writes it). I base this on
the fact that many times I've put out a question to which I
did not know the answer, and before an hour passes at least
one of you tells me what I need to know.
So with that in mind, can any of you tell me what kind of
trees has blossoms like this?
They're on this tree--
Which I pass on my way to work each day. I'd like to know
because, after lilacs, the short-lived blossoms on the trees
may be among my favorite smelling things on the planet, if
only because they smell exactly like Faygo grape pop.
Go ahead, laugh. I know you're dying to do so.
Okay, now that that's out of your system, I really AM
curious as to what kind of tree it is. I don't seem to come
across too many of them in my wanderings, but when I do and
when the tree's blossoming it's quite a treat. After all,
there aren't that many blossoms that smell like a
Michigan-made soft drink, and I guess you should take 'em
where you can get 'em, right?
It's ironic that the blossoms come out just as summer's
beginning, because for me the taste of Faygo grape pop was
always the taste of summer. When I was a kid I always used
to drink the pop when it was hot out. I don't know why I
only drank it during the summer; maybe there's something in
the chemical makeup of it that my body craved when I was
hot. Or maybe I only wanted a purple tongue when I wasn't
in school. But for whatever reason I would only drink it
To me, it just tasted like “summer”.
Over the years, as Faygo reformulated their sodas and added
different sweeteners, I stopped drinking it. But when the
company brought out their “classic” line of sodas with real
sugar (as opposed to the crap with high fructose corn syrup
that they have now) last year I waited until a hot day to
try the grape.
And you know what? It still tastes exactly like summer.
I'm sure that's one of the reasons I like the smell the tree
gives off, an odor that you can notice almost a block away.
That's how strong the smell is. So if you have any idea as
to what the tree is, I'd appreciate it if you could let me
know. My curiosity—and my weird sense of “summer”--thank
you very much!
I thought they were just a joke, things created in the minds
of comedians for a cheap laugh or two.
Shows how wrong I was!
I promised you two more pictures from Chicago today, and I
shall deliver. I jokingly say that they both point out
what's bad with my second favorite place in the world, and
the second of the two pictures will deal with the item I
thought was just a joke. The first, though, is a little
The one thing I REALLY don't like about Chicago is the
amount of cigarette smoke you encounter there, especially on
the street. I've joked in here on occasion that the only
people in Marquette who seem to smoke are college students
who come up from Chicago, but it was a joke that could've
been based in reality. Everywhere you go in the Windy City
you run into people puffing away. I'm sure some of it has
to do with just sheer numbers; with millions of people
living in the city, at, say, a 20% smoking rate, that's a
lot of smokers. There's nothing you can do about it. And
when you throw in the number of tourists visiting,
especially foreign tourists from countries where smoking
doesn't have the stigma it does here...
Well, I guess you have to take the bad with the good in a
city. But too often this weekend we saw exactly with I
captured in the hastily-taken picture above, that being both
parents smoking around a child. Now, I'm not a parent (nor
a smoker), so I'm really not in a position to judge. but if
I had become a parent I'm sure wouldn't have done things
like smoke right in front of my kids. It may just be me,
but that really seems like sending impressionable kids the
wrong message. I might be wrong, and not being a parent I
probably shouldn't judge, but that just doesn't seem right.
But like I said, that might just be me.
Now, onto the picture showing what's “wrong” with Chicago.
Everywhere we went, almost as much as we saw smokers, we
also say this--
Yup. That's a family using a selfie-stick. Like I said at
the beginning of this post, I halfway thought selfie-sticks
were just a figment of our pop-culture imagination. But
nope; they're real. I lost count after the first three
dozen or so so I can't tell you exactly how many people I
saw using selfie-sticks, but they were everywhere. Not only
that, but just about every store we went into had the sticks
What IS this world coming to?
Like I said, though, if you can only find two things “wrong”
with a place, it must have something going for it. And
that's one of the reasons I like going back to Chicago again
and again. You never know WHAT you're gonna see!
Wow. What a difference it makes writing a blog on a real
I never thought writing a blog on a phone, like I tried to
do Sunday from O'Hare Airport, would be so hard, but thanks
to a phone screen that probably wasn't big enough and to an
auto-correct program that should be thrown in the trash, I
barely managed to get one out. That's why it's nice to sit
here, type like a normal person, and tell you about our
adventures in Chicago, complete with pictures!
Like I mentioned in the phone blog, the weather wasn't the
greatest, at least until Sunday afternoon, just as we were
getting ready to leave. I mean, it wasn't as bad as it was
here (from what I heard), but it wasn't what we were hoping
for. The first couple of days gloom and fog filled the
I mean, if you're looking at fog, it's not a bad place to
look at fog, but we were hoping for a little sun & warmth.
Speaking of nice things to look at, here's the view from our
What did we do? Well, we went to lots of places and saw
lots of things, accompanied by many of our close personal
I know for some people, being in a city of Chicago's size
can either be intimidating or suffocating, and I can
understand why. But it energizes me; I don't know why, but
it does. Between the “seething mass of humanity” (as
Loraine called it) and the non-stop symphony of sirens and
car horns, there's just something so...Chicago about it all.
And that's the best way to explain it.
We went into a lot of stores, especially grocery stores,
where we saw some strange, exotic foods--
And had lots of good eats, including perhaps the best Mole
Chicken I've ever tasted (and I've tasted lots of it)--
Apparently, a Chicago sports team just won a championship,
at least according to the lions at the Art Institute--
But mostly, you just have to go to Chicago to look at the
skyline, whether it's in real life--
Or done up in Legos outside of the Lego Store--
So all in all, we had a great time in one of my favorite
places in the world, even if we did put a damper on the
weather the people in Chicago were expecting. Next time,
we'll make sure we bring GOOD weather with us!
Tomorrow, two more pictures, this timer pictures that show
what's “wrong” with Chicago. One is kinda serious, one is
really, really not. So until then...
For a while, I was starting to wonder if we were gonna owe
the people of Chicago an apology.
First of all, I owe you an apology, because this is gonna be
short. I'm writing this on my phone at O'Hare, and it's
not working very well. I'll write a LOT more tomorrow, but
I did want to get something up. And that something was
this--as of 36 hours before we left, the Chicago forecast
called for sun & temps in the 80s. But both Friday and
Saturday, it was foggy & gloomy & chilly.
We seemed to have brought our weather with us.
Fortunately, at least for the people of Chicago, the weather
warmed up the way it was supposed to. It wasn't good for
us, because we had to leave mid-aftrernoon, but it was good
for the people of Chicago.
So I guess we lucked out there, at least apology-wise. And
we did have a great time, sometimes in spite of the weather,
so I guess I can't complain, at least too much.
Okay...autocorrect is driving me crazy, so much more
tomorrow, including pictures!
Yup; Loraine and I are making a little getaway tomorrow to
my second-favorite place on the planet, a short little
weekend jaunt that'll allow us to walk around, eat a lot,
are stare up at some of the most impressive architecture
you'll see anywhere on Earth.
I can't wait.
Why a weekend getaway, and why now? Well, we always try to
get to Chicago at least once a year, and we're usually able
to do it when we're flying to Europe. You know the
routine—we leave Marquette early in the morning and have 9
hours to kill in the Windy City, so we hope the Blue Line
train to the Clark/Lake station, do everything we want to do
downtown, and then get back on the train to O'Hare, where we
then fly out. It's a great way to visit Chicago and not
have to pay for extra airline tickets.
Unfortunately, that's not in the cards this year.
This year, because of the merger of American Airlines and
U.S. Airways, and because we're flying into Frankfurt
instead of Paris, we leave Marquette, fly to Chicago, spend
4 hours at O'Hare, then fly to Philadelphia, spend 4 hours
in the airport there, and THEN fly to Frankfurt. We won't
have the chance to play in downtown Chicago like we usually
And that's why we're going this weekend.
We sat down and tried to figure it out, and we think this is
the first time since 2007 then we're actually spending a
weekend in Chicago instead of just the day. That'll be
nice, if only because we won't be rushed in trying to get
everything done before we have to board another plane (plus,
we won't be hauling carry-ons and laptop bags with us
everywhere we go). We can take our time, go places we
haven't been in a while, and maybe even explore
neighborhoods we've not yet explored. That's one of the
reasons we like Chicago; it's always changing, and there's
always something new to see.
So hopefully this weekend, we'll get to see something (or a
bunch of somethings) new! And since the forecast is still
calling for temperatures to be warmer there than they are
here (keep your fingers crossed for us, please) we may
actually get to enjoy the “summer” that we've not yet had
On that note, have yourself a great weekend, even if it's
just at home. I'll be back here and on the air Monday, and
it wouldn't surprise me if I had a few pictures to share!
I'm not quite sure how my mind gets trapped into learning
about these things, but once it does it does not want to let
Every so often I will find myself being introduced to an
intellectual topic, and then wanting to learn more and more
about it. The latest subject that has piqued my interest
is, for the lack of a better term, evolutionary paleo-history.
Or, to put it a little more reader friendly, the story about
how modern humans became modern humans. I read a book that
kind of dealt with the topic a couple of months ago, and
since then I've come across stories and facts that relate to
how creatures exactly like us popped up in East Africa
150,000 years ago, moved across the planet, and then led to
us sitting on the shore of Lake Superior complaining about
I guess I'm hooked on the subject.
Like I said, since I started reading about the subject I've
recently come across a couple of things that either relate
to it or shed light on it. The first was a fascinating
article on the subject of PTSD by Sebastian Junger in the
June edition of
Vanity Fair, which posits
that being a soldier in a combat situation is the closest
modern humans get to the living conditions of the first
humans. When they originally moved out of Africa, the first
humans did so in small groups, where they lived together,
worked together, and depended up the help of each other for
survival. In fact, that's how our ancestors lived up until
the development of the agricultural age a mere 10,000 years
ago. And how humans lived until they settled down to become
farmers is a very close approximation to what soldiers in a
war zone go through; Junger says that it would be much
treatment for their PTSD if they were left in small group
and recovered together. That's how the first humans dealt
with stress, and genetically, it's still encoded that way
into our DNA. Instead, soldiers are sent home to family and
friends who have no idea what they've gone through, and
really have no support system that helps them out.
The soldiers are basically having to go against everything
encoded into their DNA while trying to recover from the
trauma that's been inflicted upon them, at least according
to Junger, and I can see where it makes sense. We haven't
evolved enough in 10,000 years to change the way we mentally
deal with traumatic incidents. Like I said, it's a
fascinating article, and one that ties into this subject
that I've been kinda obsessed with recently.
The other fact about the topic that's popped up recently?
Well, in a couple of books I've read, scientists have
theorized that sometime after modern humans popped up on the
planet, probably 20 or 30,000 after we evolved into what we
are now, something happened. It may have been a drought, or
it may have been another natural disaster, but something
happened that caused the number of humans to drop
precipitously. In fact, by studying the DNA of members of
modern civilizations, it appears that for perhaps 100 or so
years way back in our pre-history no more than 40 human
beings were alive.
The modern human race came incredibly close to extinction,
but somehow survived.
For some bizarre reason, I find that fascinating. Seven and
a half billion of us are descended from just 40 or so
individuals, and if those 40 or so hadn't found a way to
survive until whatever natural disaster wound down, life on
this planet would be incredibly different than it is today.
If those 40 or so modern humans hadn't survived, would
Neanderthals have taken over the planet? Would some other
intelligent and mobile species have arisen instead? And are
modern humans the only species this happened to? Or was
there another race or two or three of primates that
developed intelligence, but didn't find the way out of a
natural disaster that those 40 modern humans did 100,000
Like I said, that fact blew my mind. It blew it in a good
way, but it blew it nonetheless.
So that's what I've been reading recently I'll try not to
go all gaga about it in here like I do the lilacs or the
weather, but I just wanted to mention those two stories.
After all, they really made an impression on me.
First, let me explain how I came across it. I'm in the
middle of a long-term project—cleaning out my office. Over
the 12 years the station's been in Marquette things have,
uhm, started to pile up on my office floor, on my desk, and
in every nook & cranny you can see (and some you can't). So
for 30 seconds a day, I grab something and see if I need
it. If I do, I file it away. If I don't, I toss it. I
figure it's a painless way to clean; after all, it doesn't
take much time, and at the rate I'm going, my office should
be spotless when I'm ready to retire in 20 or 25 years. And
it must be working—when my Mom got back from Florida and
came over to visit she noticed something was quite strange,
and then realized that my office actually has carpeting on
the floor, that my floor is not just a collection of
cardboard boxes and stacks of paper.
I guess, if nothing else, I'm on the right track.
Anyway, when I was doing my 30 seconds of cleaning Friday I
came across a list I once wrote. I have no idea when I
wrote the list, nor do I have any idea about the context in
which I wrote it, although I'm thinking it might've been
during one of those bouts of “Is Jim a Yooper or Isn't He?”
that seems to occur every few years. I don't know if I ever
used it on the air or in here. All I know is that I wrote
it, printed it out, and must've promptly stuck it in a wire
basket, where it's sat buried under a bunch of other papers
(and a thin layer of dust) for an unknown number of years.
So without further ado, here's the list:
SEVEN SIGNS YOU MAY NOT BE A TRUE YOOPER:
7. If you've never—even in a dream—thought about buying a
6. If, when someone says “hilltop”, you think of a
mountain, and not a sweet roll.
5. If you don't salute when you hear the name Vince
4. If you don't own a single piece of clothing in hunter's
3. If you've never gone ice fishing, because you're afraid
of cold feet.
2. If you realize the Appleton is NOT the shopping capital
of the universe.
And the number one sign you may not be a true Yooper?
1. If you've ever—even once and even by accident—pronounced
Well, that's the list. Like I said, I'm not quite sure of
its date or its origin, so if any of the lame jokes seem
familiar; well, maybe you can help me figure it out. I know
I'd appreciate it.
That line, from my second favorite Charlie Brown cartoon
ever (and bonus points if you know from which cartoon that
line comes) has popped into my head recently when thinking
about the “summer” we've had, at least here in Marquette, so
far this year. We've had many days when the forecast sounded
promising then turned out to be nothing like what it was
supposed to be, and we've had days when the forecast sounded
promising yet a lake breeze decided to play tricks on us.
Last weekend (with the rain and temps in the 50s) was a
perfect example, and it marked the first time that I
actually said the above-quoted line about restitution out
And now I can't seem to stop.
Yes, I know that complaining about the weather is about as
futile as trying to change the weather. There's nothing you
can do about it. You get what you get, and you have to take
it, no matter no much you may loathe it. You'd think that
after living here most of my adult life I'd realize that.
But for some bizarre reason I still think that Mother Nature
is making this personal, that she's doing this just to make
me whine. Yes, I know that I have absolutely no bearing on
the weather, and whatever happens is not because of me. I'm
self-aware enough to know that.
I just wish Mother Nature knew that, too.
I know I shouldn't complain, not when you look around other
parts of the planet and see extreme heat or extreme drought
or extreme rain (and as an aside, we're currently living
through the hottest year, planet-wide, on record, with some
areas being either dryer or wetter than they've ever been
before. Maybe Mother Nature's just pissed we broke the
planet, and is taking it out on us!). In that respect, we're
lucky. We have enough water to live normal lives, we're not
dying because of flooding or extreme temperatures, and our
lives, unlike the lives of many people, aren't torn asunder
by weather. Just because it's 10 degrees cooler than it
should be, or a little foggier than normal, or because we
have a breeze coming off the world's largest freshwater
lake, a lake that still has water in it, is no reason to
I know that. I realize that. So yes, I should stop
complaining about it. Yet still, for some weirdly bizarre
reason, I still think Mother Nature owes us restitution.
And no, I don't know why.
I'll shut up about the weather now. After all, I'm sure
you're tired of me complaining about it, the same way you're
tired of me waxing rhapsodic about lilacs. Besides, our
summer has to show up SOME day, right?