A bunch of little things today to wrap up the week--
First of all is a weird thought that popped into my head
yesterday afternoon while eating an apple—do you leave the
stem in when eating an apple, or do you twist it out? I
don't know why the thought popped into my head; it just
did. I personally twist the stem out. I don't know why; I
mean, I could eat an apple with the stem in it. It wouldn't
bother me at all. But for whatever reason, I always twist
the stem out.
I guess I'm just weird like that.
And in regard to twisting the stem out of an apple—is/was
there some kind of weird thing that goes along with how many
twists it takes to get the stem out of the apple? You know;
like if it takes four twists you'll kiss four people this
year, or something strange like that? I seem to remember
something along those lines from when I was a kid, but I
don't remember any of the details. So if YOU know if I'm
remembering this correctly or if I've just moved myself one
step closer to heading off the deep end (a distinct
possibility), let me know.
Secondly, I would like you to read this paragraph--
“In this paper, we develop a cascadic multigrid algorithm
for fast computation of the Fiedler vector of a graph
Laplacian, namely, the eigenvector corresponding to the
second smallest eigenvalue. This vector has been found to
have applications in ﬁelds such as graph partitioning and
graph drawing. The algorithm is a purely algebraic approach
based on a heavy edge coarsening scheme and pointwise
smoothing for reﬁnement. To gain theoretical insight, we
also consider the related cascadic multigrid method in the
geometric setting for elliptic eigenvalue problems and show
its uniform convergence under certain assumptions. Numerical
tests are presented for computing the Fiedler vector of
several practical graphs, and numerical results show the
efficiency and optimality of our proposed cascadic multigrid
My question is this—did you understand it? Please say no.
Please say that only a genius (or, in the case of the person
who wrote it, a lineman for the Baltimore Ravens who's a
math scholar) can understand it. Because, you know, if
that's something most people understand and I don't; well,
then, I even dumber than I thought I was.
And that's quite dumb!
Finally, daily blog reader Kim of Marquette had dropped me a
note asking if I knew anything about a petition to sign to
ask the Michigan Legislature to take up closing the “Black
Box” loophole that big stores are using to cut their taxes,
much to the detriment of local governments and institutions
like the Peter White Public Library. I shared it with her,
and if you're interested in checking it out,
here's the LINK.
Okay; I think that takes care of everything I wanted to take
care of today. You have yourself a great weekend;
hopefully, if there's any snow left after Wednesday and
Thursday the sun we've been promised will melt it off. Keep
your fingers crossed!
I guess I'll never look like I have actual real muscles.
But I'm okay with that.
Those of you who've been reading these ramblings for a long
time know that for the past decade and a half I've been
trying to add muscle to my scrawny frame. I didn't do it to
end up looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger; instead, I just
wanted to look like I had definition to my body. And while
I have managed to not look like the proverbial 98-pound
weakling, I haven't been able to get anywhere near the look
I wanted when I started.
And now it seems like it's not gonna happen.
I was at a History Center event last night and was speaking
beforehand with a woman who happens to be a personal
trainer. She asked if I was a runner, because she says I
look like one. I told her yes, and we eventually ended up
talking about trying to add muscle and my fruitless quest to
do so. She told me I was going about it all wrong, and I
would never build up my musculature unless I gave up one
That's not something I'm gonna do.
Apparently the fact that I look like a runner is a good
thing for my health but a bad thing for trying to add
muscle. I mean, think of it—have you ever noticed a long
distance runner with big arms? Nope. They—we--are all
skinny little critters, especially above the waist. They
way we work out is actually anathema to putting on muscle.
Even if you do work with weights a lot, hard long distance
aerobic activities like running (and biking and skiing)
don't lead to muscle formation. They actually hinder it.
By indulging in my three favorite physical activities I'm
sabotaging my fourth physical goal.
I mean, I kind of always known that running and adding
muscle, especially above your waist, aren't mutually
compatible. You can either do one or you can do the other,
and while I would like to add a little muscle, I'm not gonna
give up running and biking and skiing. I'm just not. So I
guess I'm stuck being a skinny little runt for the rest of
But I'm okay with that.
Even with that news I'm not going to stop working out with
weights; after all, not only do I want to keep whatever
muscle I've added in the past decade and a half, but I also
wanna make sure I have the strength to continue pushing
myself while running, biking, and skiing. I guess I'll just
have to give up the hope that one day I'd have biceps and
abs and shoulders that you actually notice.
Because, apparently, that's not gonna happen. But you know
what? I'm okay with that. Especially now that I know why.
I guess for some people it's news to be shouted from the
I got a call from a listener yesterday, a very nice lady who
says she loves our station. I love getting phone calls like
that; after all, we do what we do for people like the lady
who was on the other end of the phone. She did have a bone
to pick, though, and it kind of made me think.
Her bone to pick was this—every time she hears the promo we
run about being “embarrassed' for once again being nominated
as one of the eight best pop radio stations in the country,
she says she wants to throw something at her radio. She
says we should not be “embarrassed' about it; in fact, she
think we should be strutting around and making sure everyone
knows “just how good (we) are”. She heard the promo
yesterday and decided it was time to call & let me know.
So she did, with a big smile and laugh in her voice. She
says we're being waaaaaaaay too modest.
I suppose we are. Or, more to the point, I suppose I am.
After all, I'm the one who writes the promos and is
responsible for everything that goes on the air here, so
it's all on me. Call it a personality quirk or a
personality disorder or whatever, but I just don't feel
comfortable bragging. There's just something...untoward
about it for me, I guess. I just do what I do to the best
of my abilities, and I hope that whoever's on the other end
of what I'm doing notices that I tried my best. I shouldn't
have to go out and tell them just how “good” I am.
Of course, if that's the case, I probably picked the wrong
field to be in. Working in radio and in TV and in the
public eye probably requires a certain amount of shameless
self-promotion; at least, that what it seems everyone else
does. But me, and by extension the station at which I work?
Nope. Not us.
However, I can see the point of the lady who called. Since
it's because of people like her that we're nominated as one
of the “best” stations in the country almost every year, we
should unashamedly be sharing that honor with as loud of a
voice as we can. It's not (all) about us, after all. She's
right; I should put aside whatever personal discomfort I
feel about bragging and make sure each and every single
person that listens for even a few seconds realizes just
what we're able to do around here.
Because, despite my discomfort talking about it, it is
actually kind of a big thing. And the caller was
right—people SHOULD be shouting it from the rooftops.
So, to whomever called, thanks for bringing it up!
Apparently I am now a dinosaur.
I don't know if you saw
the story going around
about how a particular rule of writing is rapidly changing,
but it's made me realize that I'm on one side of the fence
on this subject, and it's probably, in the long run, the
wrong side. Because of the way in which texting has
insinuated itself into American society, there's now a way
that writing experts can separate “old” people from “young”
people, and that's by this--
If, while typing, you leave two spaces after ending a
sentence, you're “old”. If you leave one (or none), you're
“young”. If you leave two spaces after ending a sentence,
you learned how to write in the 20th century. If you leave
one (or none), you learned how to write in the age of
160-character text messages or 140-character Tweets; i.e.
this century. Now go back to the lines I just wrote, and
count how many spaces I left after finishing a sentence.
Yup. I AM apparently a dinosaur.
I knew this day would come. I knew that, at a certain point
in my life, I'd be faced with something that told me time
was moving on and leaving me behind. I had no idea what
that “something” would be. I figured it would be something
like having my leg break while trying to stand up or
wondering who the heck this Miley Cyrus person was and why
she enjoys riding inflatable things in concert. But nope;
I'm fine as far as stuff like that goes.
I'm a dinosaur because of the way I type.
And when you think about it, it's funny. I never took a
typing class. I never learned how to type “correctly”, a
fact that drives my properly-educated-in-typing wife mad. I
just learned how to type by doing. I started with one
finger, added another, and have sailed through life slowly
adding fingers to my typing repertoire. Over the years, my
right thumb became quite adept at hitting the space bar
twice when finishing a sentence.
Now, as I find out, that skill is becoming about as relevant
as getting up off the couch, walking over to TV, and using a
dial to change the channel.
You DO remember what a TV dial is, right?
One of the reasons “the kids” only use one space after a
sentence is that when you send a text you only have 160
characters to use, and a space counts as a character. So
when it comes to texting, I can understand why you would
only want to leave one space after a sentence. But when
you're typing a note or a letter or an e-mail or (even) a
blog, you're not constrained by the amount of spaces you
leave after a sentence. Heck, if you wanted to, you could
even leave THIS many spaces after a
sentence. Of course, your
paragraph structure would all weird if you did it that way,
but unlike a text message, there's nothing to stop you from
I guess I just find it funny that one particular form of
writing is making all other kinds of writing conform to its
particular quirks. I”m not surprised; after all, I've
studied the English language enough to know that it's a very
elastic, living type of creature. It's constantly evolving
(much, I'm sure, to the detriment of William Shakespeare and
those who've study him the past 400 years). But to change
just because of a 160-character limit imposed by technology,
and then to claim that anyone who doesn't use the change is
out of date?
Well...I guess I now know how those Tyrannosaurus Rexs felt,
just before the meteor hit 65 million years ago and sent
them all into oblivion.
It’s been HOW many miles??
I'm sure I've written about this before, and if it seems
familiar and/or boring, I apologize. But now that the
streets & sidewalks of Marquette are snow-free, I've gotten
to break out a new pair of running shoes. In fact, I did so
for my long, meandering run Saturday. Why is that a big
Well, around this time of the year, or at least this time of
the year when the snow begins to melt, I do that. You’re
supposed to change your running shoes every 500 or so miles,
and if you figure that I run 10 or so miles a week
(sometimes more, sometimes less) then I need a new pair
approximately once every year. And since I don’t want to
take brand-new running shoes out in the snow and the muck
(you know, like the months of October through March or April
around here), I usually wait until the snow & the gunk is
gone and then switch the shoes out. And that's what I did
But that’s really neither here nor there. Here’s actually
what here or there--I started running when I moved back to
Marquette in 1988. That’s been 27 (yikes!) years. If I run
on average 10 miles a week, that’s 520 (or so) miles a
year. And if I’ve been doing that for over 27 years now,
you know what that means?
I have run, in my life, over 14, 000 miles. I have no run
over halfway around the Earth.
My feet hurt just typing that!
14,040 (to be specific) miles in 27 years. Wow. And you
know what’s scary? There are SO many people who’ve run
further than I in the last two and a half (and counting)
decades that it boggles the mind. I mean, I’m just a
recreational runner. There are people out there who’ll do
500 miles in a month, and don’t even break a sweat. I don’t
think I’ll ever be able to do that.
I don’t remember most of the 14, 040 miles I’ve run, mostly
because my mind is occupied with thoughts other than running
while I’m out running, but there are several jaunts that
definitely stick in my head, and probably will forever. One
would be the three miles I ran by myself, early one Saturday
morning, in September, 2004, through the winding and narrow
streets of Bayeux, France. Another would be a VERY sticky &
sweaty 8 miles in Marquette back in ’08 or ’09, one of my
long, meandering Saturday runs when it was 80 degrees at 8
in the morning. I just loved the thought of it being that
warm that early. And a third might be a couple of years ago
when we were visiting Loraine's parents, I went out running,
and found myself getting caught in a massive thunderstorm
that almost turned into a tornado.
Trust me--you DON’T forget runs like that, even after
racking up over 14,000 miles.
I supposed I should set a goal of running at least 25,000
miles in my life, so I can say (at least in jest) that I’ve
run around the world. So far, it’s taken me 27 years to get
over halfway there. I still plan on running for another 27
years, so I suppose the goal is possible. We’ll just have
to see if my feet, my knees, and the new shoes I’m about to
use for the first time hold out.
Wish me luck!!
The book almost seems too strange to read.
Loraine was glancing through one of those weird book
catalogs that we get on a seemingly daily basis, and one of
the titles popped out at her. It's a book that's over 100
years old, and was described in the catalog as a “cautionary
tale for children aged 8 and up with an ironic sense of
humor”. I'm certainly a child aged 8 and up, and I
certainly have quite the ironic sense of humor, so why
shouldn't the book appeal to me? Well, maybe it's because
of the title--
“Jim, Who Ran Away From His Nurse And Was Eaten By A Lion”.
Seriously; that's the title of the book. It was written by
Hilaire Belloc in 1907, and was supposed to teach children
the importance of listening to their elders. However, Mr.
Belloc didn't take his assignment totally seriously, which
is why the book is recommended for kids with an ironic sense
of humor (you know; kids that grow up to be like me).
Apparently, young Jim does NOT follow the advice he's given,
wanders into a zoo, and (spoiler alert) does get eaten by a
lion, with only his head remaining as evidence.
Yup. They had some really good methods of teaching kids
lessons back then, didn't they? And is it just me, or does
that book sounds like a movie Tim Burton's been waiting his
entire life to direct?
Like I said, I have no idea if I'll buy the book and check
it out. It's a mere 22 pages, most of them filled with
Edward Gorey-inspired drawings, and I'm sure it would be a
fun & quick read. But still...
It's a about a boy named Jim who sometime has trouble with
authority and gets eaten by a lion because of it. You don't
think THAT would cause nightmares???????
I'll spend a few seconds this weekend thinking about it.
Not too many seconds, because I'm sure I'll be devoting more
of my time to wondering why the first weekend of Spring has
temperatures more like late winter, but I'll think about it
And with that in mind, I hope YOU enjoy your weekend just as
All the chocolate has arrived.
I know people use their tax refunds for all kinds of
different things. Loraine and I, for instance, use a small
chunk of ours to buy chocolate from Europe. We ordered from
three different countries this year, and now that all the
boxes have arrived (within four days of each other, in a
very Christmas-like flurry), there's nothing left to do but
eat what was in them.
It'll be hard, but somehow I think we'll make it through.
Really, I do.
It's funny; our trip to Europe last August actually found us
in each of the countries from which we purchased goodies.
Normally, we'll only be in one or two of the countries,
which means that we're usually looking forward to getting
chocolate from the place we didn't visit. This year,
though, it's kinda weird. It's like we're basically
resupplying the stock we had on hand. Admittedly, it's a
stock that was running low, but it's not like we hadn't
eaten any of the goodies recently.
Now we just get to eat them again.
Next year, though, I'm sure will be different. This
upcoming year we'll just be in Germany, and not France or
Belgium, which means that in March of 2016 when we receive
French Feast or
Belgian Shop we'll be
really, really excited, perhaps to the point of tearing open
the shipping containers with our bare teeth.
But that's next year. For now, we eat!
By the way, many of you seem to be amused by The Great
Toilet Paper Controversy (scroll down to Tuesday's entry if
you don't know what I'm talking about). Most of the mail
I've received comes from people who, like me, really don't
seem to care which way your toilet paper rolls. Several of
you, though, have noticed a plethora of stories about The
Great Toilet Paper Controversy on the internet. Daily blog
reader Kate of Marquette sent me a link to a
story about the patent for
the first roll of toilet paper (and which way it should go
), while another daily blog reader form Marquette, Jody,
website that's devoted to
the whole controversy.
And just as a side thought to Jody's website, isn't
“www.professortoilet.com” perhaps the greatest web domain
name in history? If nothing else, it certainly describes a
large chunk of what you'll find on the Internet.
I'm just sayin'!
who's fine if you're an over. And is just as equally fine
if you're an under.
Apparently, I'm not who I thought I was.
As you may recall, I've been meaning to do a little research
into the German side of my family, to see if we'd be
anywhere near the area from which they came during our
upcoming trip to the country. It's taken me a bit, but
prodded on by the fact that St. Urho's Day and St. Patrick's
Day made me think of my ethnic makeup, I did a little
digging, and you know what?
I was surprised by what I found.
My grandfather—my mom's dad—was a Marquette Township
Schwemin. In fact, he grew up on the farm where Walmart now
stands. He was the grandson of Andrew Schwemin, one of
three Schwemin brothers who came to this country in the
1860s. I had always assumed that he came to the U.S. from
Bavaria, the now southernmost state in Germany. I assumed
it for a couple of reasons, but you know what they say about
assuming things, right? As it turns out, my great-great
grandfather did not come to the U.S. from Bavaria. Nope; he
came to the U.S. from Prussia, quite possibly from the area
around Berlin, where Loraine and I were on our LAST visit to
Actually, at the time my great-great grandfather left
Prussia it was quite the kingdom; in fact, it stretched from
what is now Poland all the way to what it now the
German-Belgian border. I'm just guessing he came from
somewhere around Berlin based on religious and occupational
demographics. Of course, that's also how I thought he came
from Bavaria, and look how correct I was about that, right?
Anyway, he left Prussia right before it managed to, either
by force or diplomacy, convince other kingdoms to band
together into a new country to be called Germany.
But that's neither here nor there. I'm apparently a
Prussian German, and not a Bavarian German. But that's not
the biggest thing I've been taking away from this research.
As you know, I'm a mutt. I have many countries making up
who I am ethnically. But I always thought my grandfather
was 100% German, which would make me a quarter German, which
would make that the biggest chunk of who I am. But looking
into the records I found out, from what it looks like, that
my grandfather was only half German. Although I haven't
confirmed it yet, it appears as if his mother was actually
English, making him half English. Now my grandmother, his
wife, was also half English, which means that if you take
the eighth I get from my grandfather and the eighth I get
from my grandmother, that I'm one quarter English.
The biggest chunk of who I am is no longer German. The
biggest chunk of who I am is now English.
I'm neither disappointed nor surprised; after all, I seem to
favor British music & TV shows over just about anything
else. And I'm hoping one day to master the language,
although some might say I still have a long way to go. I'm
just...surprised by the news. I always thought I was a
quarter German. But I'm not. I'm a quarter English. Like
I said Monday, because I am a mutt, I've never identified
with any single one of the countries in my ethnic
background. As it turns out, though, maybe I have. Maybe
the years of listening to The Beatles and watching Monty
Python was actually my DNA sending me back to the old
Maybe all the time I subconsciously knew I was a quarter
English, even if the conscious part of my brain had no idea
I'll be doing some more research on the matter, to find out
a couple of things. I wanna narrow down the area of Prussia
from where my great-great grandfather hailed, and I wanna
see if there are any more skeletons hanging in my genetic
closet. After all, for someone who's a quarter English
(plus Swedish and Finnish and Scottish and Irish, among
others) I do have an awfully dark skin tone.
Who knows what other surprises I'll find, right?
Which way does your toilet paper hang?
I ask this because, unbeknownst to me, there's apparently a
huge controversy regarding which way your toilet paper roll
is “supposed” to hang once you put it up. There's a large,
vocal group of people who are adamant that the tube must
hang with the paper coming over the top of the roll.
There's another large, vocal group of people who insist that
the tube must hang with the paper coming from the bottom of
the roll. And as far as I can tell, a member of one of
those very vocal groups will never, ever agree that the
other group is correct.
You thought politics in this country was splitting the
nation in two? Heck, that's child's play compared to how
you hang your toilet paper!
This came to my attention because of something that's
apparently going on at work. One of my co-workers, when she
puts a new roll of paper up, pays no attention to the way
she hangs it. However it comes out of the wrapping is the
way that it goes on the roll. However, she's started to
notice something—whenever she puts the roll on one certain
way, with the paper coming off the bottom of the roll, it's
not long before the same roll she put on is changed. It's
flipped over, so the paper comes off the top instead of the
So either another of my co-workers has very strong feelings
about which way the roll should be hung, or there's a Toilet
Paper Fairy out there who feels the need to change things of
which she/he/it does not approve!
I myself could not care less which way the roll is hung. If
the paper comes off the top, fine. If the paper comes off
the bottom, that's equally as fine. After all, it's just
toilet paper. There are way too many problems in the world
on which people should be concentrating and devoting their
time and energy to solving. But which way the toilet paper
Probably not so much.
Of course, and as usual, I seem to be the oddball out in
this situation. I didn't realize this was a major problem
for many individuals. I didn't realize people had such
strong feelings about the subject. I didn't realize that
this was a situation that's tearing at the very fabric of
our country. But apparently it is. In fact, there are
a ton of websites devoted
to which way is “right” and which way is “wrong”. So in the
future, when you sit down with your extended family at a
holiday dinner, here are the topics you should NOT bring up
That's okay. You can thank me later.
who, as someone with an Irish great-grandfather, wishes YOU
a Happy St. Patrick's Day!
You know, if I were a party animal, I would probably be dead
Well, maybe “dead” isn’t the right word, but “in serious
pain” would probably fit in quite easily. Because I’m a
typical American “mutt”, I have seven or eight nationalities
in my ethnic makeup, two of which are Finnish and Irish.
And since today is St. Urho’s Day, and tomorrow is St.
Patrick’s Day, and since both of those holidays
traditionally involve, among other things, drinking. . .
You see where I’m going with this, right? So maybe it’s a
good thing I’m NOT a party animal!
I’ve never really been into any of the traditional
celebrations from cultures that make up my ethnic heritage.
Oh, I enjoy wearing green and purple (especially purple),
even on days that aren’t celebratory, so I don’t have any
problem doing that, but I’ve never been one to go out and
drink green beer or eat whatever it is you eat on St. Urho’s
Day. In fact, until a couple of years ago, I hadn’t really
sat down to figure out who I was, in terms of ethnicity.
But maybe that’s one of those things you actually get
interested in as you get older, because as I’ve gotten
older, I’ve discovered more of who I am, and where my
ancestors came from.
Maybe it’s because I have seven or eight different
nationalities in my background that I’ve never seemed to
care much about ethnicity. I supposed if I had come from a
strong Finnish or a strong Irish background, I’d have more
knowledge of “the old country” and its traditions. But
most likely some Mediterranean country, because the Irish
were apparently QUITE friendly with the Spanish and
Portuguese in the past, which would account for my skin
coloring), I never gave it a second thought. I was just,
you know, me. I wasn’t aware I was a melting pot; in fact,
I kind of thought everyone was like me. But as I’ve spoken
with many other people, people who do have a strong ethnic
background, I’ve come to realize that maybe I should at
least be aware of, if not actively celebrate, who I am and
Now, that doesn’t mean I need to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day
or St. Urho’s Day any more than I should celebrate Bastille
Day or the Queen’s Birthday, or, uhm, Abba Day and Bratwurst
Day, or whatever it is they celebrate in Sweden and
Germany. But it does means that I should realize that my
great-or great-great grandparents came from countries like
Ireland or Sweden or Finland, and made a life in a new and
strange land, so that 120 or 140 years later one of their
descendants could sit in a chair, and in his uniquely
American way, ponder the things that went into making him
So instead of celebrating with beer and food the next two
days, how about if I instead give a short and heartfelt
“thanks” to people from generations long ago, people who
left Ireland and Finland and Germany and Sweden and England
and France and Scotland and (probably) someplace in the
Mediterranean and came to North America. It’s because of
them that I can sit here and think of myself as a “mutt” (in
the best sense of the word) and just wonder what I’ll
discover about my past as the future rolls on.
FRIDAY, 3/13 (!):
I don't have a lot of time to write this morning, because
I'm off to tape the final episodes of “High School Bowl” for
It seems like I just started hosting the show; now, my first
year has comes to an end. The shows won't air for a few
weeks yet, but with the exception of appearing on Public
TV-13 tomorrow while the last quarterfinal airs, I'm done
for the year.
And it blows my mind.
If you've been reading these since September, you know I've
had a blast doing the show. The kids are amazing, the staff
at TV-13 is great, and the audience each and every week is
really good at “pity laughter” during my lame attempts at
humor, so as a first time host, I probably couldn't ask for
So thank you, everyone involved.
I've had a couple of people ask; yes, I will be doing this
again next year. In fact, when we last taped two weeks ago
I was asked by the people running the show if I'd be
returning next year. Well, I really wasn't asked so much as
I was the object of this statement--”You ARE coming back
next year, right?” So I guess I can't turn that down,
especially when someone else chimed in “shoot for 10
years”! After all, if I make it 10 years I can probably
then be replaced by a robot host. But we'll see.
With that, I'm off. Have yourself a great weekend. If you
really ARE bored tomorrow night, watch a 90-minute “High
School Bowl”, complete with pledge break segments featuring
the person who'll probably one day be replaced by a robot
For many years, every March (or whenever the snow started to
melt) I would re-post a blog I wrote back in 2003 about a
problem I've noticed in our fair city. I stopped doing it a
couple of years ago, because I figured you guys were
starting to get sick of it. But after being outside running
& walking the past two days, after the snow has melted and
started to reveal what lies underneath, I figured I'd post
it once again.
You don't have to agree with it if you want; heck, you don't
even have to read it, if you want. But it's something
that's been bugging me forever, so I figured I'd bring it up
once more. Then, I'll keep my mouth shut for another couple
Here it is, as originally written March 24th, 2003 (back,
apparently, when I felt I needed to capitalize almost
everything for emphasis):
I’ve discovered the one bad thing about snow melting in
Piles of dog crap EVERYWHERE.
You know, if I ever run for Marquette City Commission, I
know I may be the biggest loser in the city’s electoral
history. Why? Because some days, I feel like one of the
main platforms of my campaign would be to ban dogs in the
Now, I know MANY people will not agree with that sentence,
but it’s the truth—a city really IS no place for a bounding,
fun-loving, full of energy animal like that. Farms are
GREAT for animals like that. Suburbs with big back yards
are GREAT for animals like dogs. And I really do think dogs
can be a valued member of a family, especially with a single
person looking for companionship or a family with kids. But
to try and keep them cooped up in houses or chained up in a
yard…that’s really not fair to the animals, is it?
Marquette has three specific laws regarding dogs, and while
90% of the people follow them to the letter, it’s the 10
percent that DOESN’T that made we want to write this column.
First of all, let’s specifically address the dog poop
issue. There is a pooper-scooper law in Marquette. If you
dog goes, you have to clean it up. However, just look
around any sidewalk in Marquette where the snow has melted.
You see piles of the stuff EVERYWHERE. You have to jump
over it, walk around it, detour by it…and all because some
people refuse to follow that law. And if you point that out
to someone whose dog does their natural business and doesn’t
clean it up, they get defensive, like you’re persecuting
their poor pet for no reason at all.
Maybe we should just put mounds of bacteria-breeding
material on every street corner and be done with it.
There’s also a leash law in Marquette, one that states you
must keep your dog on a 6-foot (or shorter) leash. Yet
every time I go running or walking (especially in the
summer, near a park) there ALWAYS seems to be a loose dog
running toward me, fangs bared, often times nipping at my
heels or jumping on my leg. When I yell at it or push it
out of the way, the owner once again gets defensive and says
“my dog won’t hurt you”. Well, how do I know that? It’s an
animal showing its teeth and running at me. What do you
THINK goes through my mind at a time like that?
Finally, there’s also a law that says your dog isn’t s’posed
to be outside between, I believe, 11pm and 7am. That way,
your animal won’t bark, whine, or whimper, and keep everyone
in the neighborhood up. Now, I may be a little sensitive on
this issue, seeing as how I have a neighbor who keeps TWO
dogs out and vocal every night, but isn’t common courtesy an
issue in this matter? If your backyard (or wherever you
keep your dog) connects with 6 or 7 other backyards,
SHOULDN’T you think about others before putting your dog
out? My neighbor has said they put the dogs out because
they bark inside the house and keep THEM awake.
After hearing THAT, I just kept thinking “HELLO…if they’re
loud in your house, whaddya think they’re like OUTSIDE”?
I know that I’m in a VERY small minority on this issue. I
know that no one wants to get rid of their dogs, and I know
that no one wants to see more restrictive laws placed on
them. Maybe if that 10% of people I mentioned at the
beginning of this column would just realize that their pets
can be and sometimes ARE a problem, and would do something
about it, maybe we could ALL live in peace.
I guess the third time will have to be the charm.
I've written in here a couple of times about how I haven't
been able to do much in the way of cross-country skiing this
year. Between the lack of suitable snow, the bitter cold,
and the general condition of the trails to which I can walk,
I haven't been able to get out there much this year. There
was a lot of joy in Mudville when I finally made it out for
the first time at the beginning of February. There was even
more joy when I made it out two more times in the following
week and a half. But since then?
Part of me is disappointed; after all, cross country skiing
is one of my favorite activities, and it's perhaps the only
thing that keeps me sane during winter. But then another
part of me doesn't care if I can't go skiing any more,
especially if the reason is because it's 60 degrees out
(like it was yesterday) and all the snow is melting. And
given the choice between skiing and heat, you know which I'd
But like I said, I am a little disappointed that I only went
skiing three times this year. I went just enough to get in
good skiing shape, but then I couldn't put that shape to
good use. I basically lived through all the kinks and aches
that skiing the first few times inflicts on a body, and then
didn't get to enjoy any ache-free skiing.
I'm sure my muscles won't forgive me for that.
Next year I may have to re-examine how I approach skiing.
If I want to ski more, maybe I'll have to actually drive to
places where there's enough snow to properly groom the
trails. Either that, or I'll have to become a better skier,
with the ability to move over icy and crusty surfaces while
not falling down and breaking anything. After all, I've
been skiing long enough; you'd think I'd be able to do that
Oh well; there's not much I can do about it any more, unless
we get a huge storm dumping a foot and a half of white stuff
on the ground. And trust me—I'd rather not live through
something like THAT, even if it meant skiing once or twice.
I guess it's time to put the skis away and pull out my bike,
getting that ready for another season of fun.
A season, hopefully, that'll include going out on the bike
more than three times!
Even if I did have a bad day, why would I bother anyone with
Over the past few years I've received comments from people
regarding something I do on the air, and it happened again
this past weekend. It's something I never really thought
about, but it must make an impression on some people. The
comments have to do with how I never seem to have a “bad
day” when I'm on the air, how I always seem “to have a smile
in (my) voice”. Apparently I always sound like I'm happy
and having fun when I'm on the air, and people notice that.
And from the sound of it they appreciate it, as well.
Trust me, I do have bad days. Some days, I'm dealing with
recalcitrant equipment, other days, it's dealing with a
personal situation. So I do have bad days. But I don't let
it affect my on-air performance. My job is to entertain
people, to make sure they have a good time getting through
their days. They may tune in to try and make their own bad
day better; why would I add to their troubles with troubles
of my own?
I mean, I'm really lucky. Being an optimist by nature I
really don't have a lot of bad days, and even if something
is weighing upon me I have this freakish ability to
compartmentalize. I seem to be able to shove whatever's
bothering me to the back of my head for a few minutes when I
need to do something else. I don't know if I'm lucky in
that respect or if it's a sign of some serious mental
instabilities (neither would surprise me). All I know is
that if people are tuning in for fun or to relieve their own
troubles, it doesn't do much for them if I'm a major bummer.
And it's something, apparently, that people notice.
So, if you don't mind, I'll just continue being me on the
air. In all honesty, I wouldn't know how to do it any
differently, anyway, so I guess you're stuck with an
optimist with a smile in his voice.
Even if I am having a bad day.
By the way, the person who mentioned this to me over the
weekend is a guy I met who also has the greatest name in the
world, Jim. And in the course of our discussion Jim
mentioned that he turns 65 today. So Jim, if you're reading
this, have yourself a great birthday. I hope you get to
celebrate 65 more!
The TV show’s been on the air longer than I can remember,
yet I’ve never actually sat down and watched an entire
episode of it.
Now that it's going off the air, maybe I should.
The show to which I’m referring is “Finland Calling”. I
don't know if you've heard, but Carl Pellonpaa will be
wrapping it up at the end of the month following 53 (53!)
years on the air. And despite the fact that I’ve been on
the show three times (more on that later), I’ve never
actually sat down and watched one of the programs from start
That’s not good, is it?
Yes, I know I’m only one-eighth Finnish, but it does mean
that I do have Finnish blood running through my veins, and I
suppose I really should make the effort, right? After all,
I’m sure some long-lost relative of mine watches it
religiously to find a connection back to the old country; I
suppose the least I could do is to sit down for an hour, see
the people dance, listen to the music, and watch the films,
That’s not to say I’ve never seen parts of the show. I have
seen chunks of it here and there, mostly when I was young
and searching the 7 or 8 channels on Marquette’s nascent
early 1970s cable system in a vain search for Sunday morning
cartoons. But it wasn’t a weekly ritual for me. For
others, though, I know it’s part of their life. One of the
times I was on the show was when Carl taped his 50th
anniversary program at the Marquette Regional History Center
a few years back, and I was speaking with one of the people
attending the show. She was geeked by everything that was
going on, even dressing up in the colors of Finland and
getting pictures taken of her and Carl so she could post
them on her Facebook page. She grew up watching the show
every week; she and her grandmother had a tradition of Carl
and crossword puzzles on Sunday mornings.
A lot of U.P. families have traditions like that, and I
think that one of the cool things that makes growing up in
this area so unique. A lot of that is, I’m sure, a
testament to the power of Carl. At that taping three years
ago I saw the hold he had over the crowd assembled to
watch. He had a real connection to the people who watch the
show. And after seeing the connection, I can’t say I’m
surprised he’s been on the air as long as he has. I’m sure
that if he wanted to and if his health held up, he'd do the
show for another 53 years.
Unfortunately, he won't be. He'll do one last show at the
end of the month, and then call it a career. So if there's
anyone else out there who, like me, has never watched
“Finland Calling” but has always meant to, you'd better do
it then. Because after that, an Upper Michigan institution
will be no more.
Is Spring finally here?
Now that we've left the coldest month in the history of the
city of Marquette, we're looking at moderate temperatures
the next few days. So moderate, in fact, that we may even
see sun and in the 40s by Tuesday, which around here is
cause for wearing shorts and running around without a
shirt. And for those of you who don't live here and think
we're weird? We're not.
We're just happy that it's above freezing!
I know this probably won't happen, but I'm hoping that this
March will be much like March three or four years ago, when
it was 80 degrees on St. Patrick's Day and everyone kind of
lost their mind, but in a good way. Like I said, I know
it's probably not gonna happen, but a boy can dream, right?
Especially since all of the Marches since then have been
brutal and wicked and sick and whatever other negative
adjective you'd like to use.
As long, of course, as that adjective is suitable for a
semi-family friendly blog.
Now that (most of) winter is in the rear-view mirror, I'm
kind of surprised by a couple of things. First of all, I'm
surprised that it didn't seem to be as long as it normally
is. I don't know if that's because your perception of the
passage of time increases the older you get, and despite my
best efforts I AM getting older, or if it's because after
last winter ANY winter would seem to be shorter, but that's
what it seems like to me. Winter just didn't seem to be as
long as usual.
And I don't know if that led into the second thing that
surprised me, but I seem to have mentally handled this
winter better than most. Like just about everyone, by the
time March rolls around I usually just feel a little strung
out, a little tired and in need of more than a little sun.
But for whatever reason, not this year. I mean, sure, I'm
not at my mid-summer peak. But then I'm also not curled up
in the fetal position in a corner, softly whimpering every
6.2 seconds. I don't know if it's because winter “seemed”
shorter this year, or if I was just too busy to notice, or
if it was something entirely different, but there actually
seems to be a little left in the tank this year.
A strange feeling, to be sure, but a nice one nonetheless.
So on that note, enjoy your weekend of temperatures at or
near freezing, and keep your fingers crossed that we do hit
40 soon. After all, a bunch of us have our shorts out and
ready to go!!
The word made my head hurt.
After spending probably way too much time reading about
local hookers and killers and bootleggers recently, I
decided to needed to do something a little more
intellectually stimulating. So I began reading a book
entitled “The Last Lost World” by Lyda and Stephen Pyne.
It's a book about the Pleistocene Era, the period in time
from 2 ½ million to 10,000 years ago, a geologic period that
was flipped on its head around 100,000 years ago by the
arrival of a species called Homo Sapiens.
You know—modern humans. Us.
Anyway, the book talks about how the first species in the
Homo genus—Homo Habilis—showed the first faint signs of
conscious intelligence by decorating the teeth and bones of
the animals they hunted. The authors, PhDs both, used a
word to describe the practice, and that's the word that made
my head explode. What did they call it?
Well, how about osteodontokeratic.
No, I'm not kidding. Osteodontokeratic was the word they
used to describe the practice. Now, I'm not an
anthropologist, nor do I play one on TV, so I'm assuming it
actually is a word and not just something they made up to
grab a high score during a game of Scrabble. And if you
break it down, you can see they probably DID use it
correctly—“osteo”, after all, it the Latin root for “bone”,
while “donto” sounds enough like “dental” to make you think
of teeth. Since they were describing the practice of
decorating bones and teeth; well, let's just give them the
benefit of the doubt.
And the 58 points (or whatever it is) you'd get for using it
Aside from learning a new word, which I hope to someday
sneak into a casual conversation (assuming, of course, I can
ever remember how to pronounce it), the book is also
fascinating from an intellectual point of view. It talks
about how Homo Habilis gave way to Homo Erectus and then
Homo Heidelbergenis and then to us. And it also points out
how intertwined we and our ancestors have been with the
Elephas genus; how we both began migrating out of Africa at
the same time, and how we (humans and our forebearers) have
pretty much wiped out all species of the genus Elephas (like
mastodons and mammoths) except for the modern African
elephant (and how we're currently doing a pretty good job on
that species, too).
See? Just a bit different that reading about brothels on
Lake Street, right?
Anyway, the book ends at the finish of Pleistocene Era
10,000 years ago, when Homo Sapiens settled down to become
farmers and, eventually, kings of the world. So if you're
curious about how we as a species evolved to the point we
are today, it's an interesting book, albeit one that takes a
little concentration. But if nothing else, you'll learn a
bunch of new words.
Even ones that might make your head hurt!
The Billy Bob Thornton comparisons keep coming.
I think I've written in here before about how some people
seem to think that I bear a vague resemblance to the
actor/singer/Academy Award winning writer. It's usually an
attractive college-aged woman who makes the remark, and when
they say it they usually mean it in a good way, such as “he
was married to Angelina Jolie so he must have SOMETHING
going for him”. I'm still kind of ambivalent about the
comparison; however, if it's cool to attractive college-aged
women, I guess I'll deal with it.
After all, I'm not stupid!
Aside from the fact that we both seem to have bizarrely
small heads (at least as compared to the rest of our bodies)
I personally don't see the resemblance between Mr. Thornton
and myself. That, however, doesn't mean anything. After
all, I see me in a way much different than most people. So
even though I don't think I look like him, I'm willing to
give other people the benefit of the doubt. And that's a
good thing, because three more people in the past two weeks
have made the comparison.
One of those people was Loraine's older brother, who noticed
the similarity while watching “High School Bowl” online.
Another was a parent of one of the students at a “High
School Bowl” taping. The third was someone attending my
“Night Life” program for the History Center last Tuesday.
Three people, seeing me in three different settings, and
they all made the same comparison.
And yet I don't get it.
I mean, part of me is actually flattered by the comparison.
After all, the gentleman to whom I'm being compared won an
Oscar for writing a movie, and has been in the company of
some of the most important people on the planet. So who
wouldn't want to be compared to someone like that? The
other part of me, though, keeps thinking of THIS Billy Bob
For some bizarre reason, whenever someone (especially an
attractive college-aged woman) says I look like Billy Bob
Thornton, THAT is the Billy Bob Thornton to whom I think I'm
being compared. I know that's not what the person telling
me is thinking, but that's what pops into my head. Call it
a personality quirk on my part; heck, call it a major mental
deficiency on my part. But whenever someone says I look
like Billy Bob Thornton, THAT'S the Billy Bob Thornton I
think I'm being compared to.
Even if/when it's not.
I'm sure that if the years wear on and I'm still being
compared to him, I'll learn to deal with it a little better
than I currently am. For now, it still seems weird, and I
still don't quite understand. But that's just me. As we
all know, you guys are much smarter than I, so if you say I
look like Billy Bob Thornton, then I guess I look like Billy
And that's that.
Spring break? What’s that? Isn’t it something mythical,
like a unicorn, or a Wall Street banker with ethics?
I know many people, at least here in the U.P (especially
college students), are in the middle of their spring break.
But that’s one of those things like snow days that I just
(with one exception) don’t get to do. While everyone else
gets a week off from work to go south and play or stay home
and clean, I get to go to work.
And I don’t think that technically qualifies as a “break”,
I’m not complaining; even when I was in college and COULD
take a spring break, I usually just came home and slept for
three or four days, trying to recover from the insanity of
finals week. I was never one to head down to Florida and
see how many body shots I could do off of people I’ve never
met. I knew a lot of people like that, and they usually
needed another spring break to recover from their first
spring break. So I’m not really that sad I don’t get a
I get summer days on a beach whenever it’s nice out, and
that’s a whole lot better than a spring break. Trust me on
The one time I did go what might be considered a spring
getaway was 13 (wow...) years ago, and I don’t know that it
actually qualifies as a “spring” break. I went down to
Florida to see my parents and to watch a space shuttle take
This shuttle launch, in fact--
(It was the last fully successful flight of Columbia, if
Of course, the trip was only for three days, and consisted
of two missed flights, lost luggage, and the total shutdown
of Sawyer International due to snow on my way back, but that
qualifies as a “break”, right?
Anyway, if you’re in the middle of your week off, have a
great time. You deserve it. On your way back I hope it’s
missed flight- and lost luggage-free; if you’re just hanging
around home, I hope you get to sleep late and get done
whatever it is you hope to get done. And just remember--if
you’re staying here we’ll be around as usual, and if you’re
going somewhere; well, we’ll be here when you get back.
After all, that’s why WE don’t take a spring break!!
It appears as if I'm Venus Flytrap.
I'm not LITERALLY the character from “WKRP in Cincinnati”.
I'm not an African-American radio announcer of the late 70s
and early 80s played by Tim Reid, a character who once
skipped out of the Vietnam War following the death of a
friend. Instead, I'm a mostly Caucasian radio announcer of
the 90s and 00s not played by Tim Reid who hasn't (yet) been
to Vietnam. But after watching one episode of the show, I
do see a lot of parallels.
As you know, I'm making my way through the “WKRP” complete
series DVD set. I'm at the end of the second season, which
featured an episode entitled “Venus Rising”, where Venus was
offered a job with a competing radio station. That's where
the similarities came into play, because we find out--
-Venus was hired at WKRP to do late afternoons and early
evenings (like me) and was soon thereafter named assistant
program director (like me).
-The station that wanted to hire Venus away from WKRP wanted
him to run a station (in a brilliant example of foresight by
whoever wrote the episode) automated by computer. Venus
would be the only live member of the air staff, something
I've been for months at a time when we've been been between
-Finally, and this is what made me realize I AM Venus
Flytrap, WKRP has a dance studio right above the station.
You know what I have right above my air studio (and my
office)? Dawn Dott Dance, to be specific.
So you see? I'm not strange (well, not much). I really am
the reincarnation of Venus Flytrap.
Okay, I know I'm not. I know it's just a strange
coincidence. But it does point out how much I've enjoyed
watching the shows again, uncut, for the first time since
they originally aired. And I keep noticing things I didn't
pick up back then, especially things that have to do with
the radio business. The people who wrote the show really
knew radio. They knew the business, how things work (or at
least how they worked back then) and the personalities
involved. I guess I didn't have enough experience in the
biz to understand that back when it was first on. Now, I
bow down before the writers.
They knew what they were writing about.
I'm now halfway through the series, and I can't wait to see
what seasons three and four have to hold. One of the things
that I do remember is that the show did evolve in those two
seasons; in fact, that's one of the reasons I liked it so
much. The characters grew, some of the plots became a
little more serious, and the station itself became more
successful. That's what I'll be interested to see—if the
writers dealt with that as realistically as they dealt with
the coincidence between Venus Flytrap and me.
You know--the one that's probably completely in my mind.
I don't have a lot of time to write today, as I have to go
shoot my next-to-last (gasp!) set of shows for “High School
Bowl” (and just as an aside, how did a whole season of the
shows go by so quickly???) but I did want to mention a
I've still been receiving compliments on the “Night Life”
show I did for the History Center last Tuesday, and one of
them made me laugh out loud. You know how I write in here a
lot about how there are different Jims—Radio Jim, History
Jim, and TV Jim, and how sometimes people who know one of
those “Jims” don't know about the others. This compliment
was a prime example.
The compliment came from someone who apparently just knows
History Jim, because she said, and I quote--”If you ever
decide to give up being a history teacher you could always
go on the road as a comedian”. Like I said, it made me
laugh for a couple of reasons. The first was that this
sweet lady actually mistook me for someone who actually does
something worthwhile with their life, like a real teacher.
I'm flattered. But then I also had to chuckle because, once
again, there are people who only know me from one aspect of
my life, and not from the others.
And as much as I'm in the media—and we all know that's way
too much—that surprises me.
She wasn't the only person who thought I'd make a good
stand-up comedian; I actually had several people mention
that. And while that's another compliment I really do
appreciate, I'm guessing it won't happen. After all, unlike
most professional comedians, I'm actually kind of
emotionally stable (or at least think I am). I'm lacking
one of the primary requirements for the job—a shattered
So with that, I now have to go be TV Jim for a little
while. Have yourself a great weekend. I'm still trying to
decide how I'll spend MY weekend now that I'm no longer
searching for stories about drunks, reprobates, and hookers!
I'll be glad when I don't have to walk the dog on a daily
No; I haven't done anything totally out of character like go
out and get an actual dog. As you know, if you've been
reading these at all, I would never do that. Instead,
“walking the dog” has become, between me & Loraine,
synonymous with a daily chore neither of us wants to do yet
still needs to be done--
Taking the car out for a spin.
As you may know, both of us now walk to work every day.
We've toyed with the idea of getting rid of our one
remaining car, but we both realize that we DO need a vehicle
on occasion. So we've kept Loraine's car, which just sits
in our driveway when not being used, which is basically six
days a week. And since we actually want it to start on the
one day we use it, when we hit a cold snap like we've been
in the past three weeks, one where the temperature stays
below zero, one of us needs to get into the car, crank it
up, and take it for a little spin.
And guess who that person usually is?
I don't mind doing it. After all, I want the car to start
when we need to go to the grocery store or if I need to go
shoot an episode of “High School Bowl”. Besides; over the
years I've had enough car batteries killed off by extreme
cold. I don't need to it happen to a car of Loraine's. So
I'll carve out a few minutes of my day to make sure it
But when you have to do it on a daily basis for a long
period of time, like I've had to in February, it becomes a
bit of a chore. It's almost exactly like owning a dog—you
know you have to get up in the morning, get dressed, and
take it out for a walk. The only difference is that I don't
need a leash and I don't have to pick up any poop.
Other than that, it's exactly like walking a dog.
But like I said, that may soon be coming to an end.
If Laura is right, and she
usually is, we'll be leaving the bitter cold behind for the
season after today. In fact, the extended forecast calls
for temperatures in the 20s, which will only make it ten
degrees below average. But the temps won't be below zero,
and that means that I won't have to walk the dog on a daily
And that, I guess, is just one of many reasons to be happy
for the eventual arrival of spring. So let's hope the
forecasts hold, the temperatures stay above zero, and the
dog gets to stay in the driveway.
It went very well. Thanks for asking.
The Jim Koski ™ Marquette Regional History Center program on
Marquette night life was a smashing success at the ore Dock
last night. Around 100 people showed up, and from what I
heard had a very good time hearing about the, ahem,
debauchery that has marked our fair city for the past 166
years. I myself had a blast, and if the tales I heard from
people after the show are any indication, there should be
more than enough material out there for a sequel to the
Or even two sequels!
One of the things I heard involved the Brule Run, which is
how I wrapped up the show last night. The Brule Run is an
annual tradition at NMU, where the gentlemen who live in
Brule House run naked in the snow the first night it's on
the ground. Apparently the Brule Run in 2013 got just a
little out of hand and police had to shut it down, which led
to the fact that there was no Brule Run in 2014. I don't
know if it'll pick up again this upcoming fall, but I hope
so. From what I've heard it's become quite the tradition at
NMU, even if university officials don't like to acknowledge
And I hope it also continues if for no other reason that
when I showed the picture of the streakers I got one of the
biggest laughs of the evening!
Going through my notes afterward, I noticed that I also left
a couple of stories out, one because I forgot about it and
several because I was adjusting my performance on the fly.
That's not a bad thing, though. After all, I've already had
a bunch of people ask if I was gonna do it again, and having
fresh stories never hurts. Not only that, but I also have a
list of (and I'm not kidding) 16 bars that people said I
should look into that I didn't mention last night, so I have
that going for me, too.
I guess people really like hearing about this kind of
stuff. In fact, one of the best compliments I received was,
and I quote, “this is a show you should do a Kaufman”.
That, of course, means that the show should be upgrading to
one of those big fund raising events the History Center does
at Kaufman Auditorium, like the “Lost Buildings” thing Jack
Deo and I did two years ago. I take what this person said
with high praise; after all, not every program is good
enough for Kaufman, but apparently someone felt last night's
So thanks for that.
Now, I get to get to do two things—I get to relax for a day
or so, and I then get to start going through the pieces of
papers, the lists, and the suggestions that were given to me
last night for the next time I do the show. So if you have
any bar or night life stories you wanna share, you know
where to send them!
Still no picture of The Alibi. But you know what? I don't
think I'm gonna need one!
Tonight's the night of my “Marquette Night Life” program for
Marquette Regional History Center,
and I now have the show locked & loaded. I couldn't add
anything to it if I wanted to (although, technically, if
someone WERE to come up with a picture of The Alibi, I
suppose I would break my own rule). All the pictures are
set, all the stories are set, and none of the names have
been changed to protect the innocent.
Oh, and the story of people running naked in the snow will
be in there, too.
I hope that no one will be disappointed by one aspect of the
show. When I came up with the idea, and based on how the
History Center is promoting it, the show was supposed to be
a history of how Marquette residents have spent their
evenings in bars. But as I dug up more pictures and
discovered more stories, I came to realize that there is so
much more to the history of Marquette night life than just
bars and taverns and saloons. So while bars will be a
common thread running through the show, I'll also be
discussing everything on the cultural spectrum from poetry
recitals to pool halls.
So, hopefully, even if I don't get to someone's favorite bar
I'll have enough other entertaining stuff for everyone to go
I've also made sure that there are enough gags and punch
lines throughout the program. Yes, I know not every history
program people put together also includes stand-up comedy,
but since when have I ever been normal? Besides, that's one
of the reasons I decided to do this program. Marquette,
like oh so many places, has a very interesting history to
share, filled with lots of stories and events that people
might have trouble believing ever occurred. Well, trust
me—those events did occur, and often with hilarious results.
And that's why you get the humor along with the history.
Like I said, unless someone does come up with an actual real
picture of The Alibi, I'm set for tonight. If you're
interested, it starts at 7 at the Ore Dock in Marquette
(right down the street from the History Center). There's a
suggested $5 donation; beer, sad to say, not included. But
if you're in the mood, go ahead and enjoy yourself. After
all, we're celebrating night life, and the last time I
checked there have been one or two nights in Marquette
history where people have consumed beer.
Really. I'm pretty sure that has happened.
Why can't I find a picture of The Alibi?
Everything is set for my big Jim Koski ™ History Center
program on Marquette Night Life tomorrow. I have all the
stories set. I have all the context for the stories set.
And I have all the pictures I need to show when telling the
stories. Well, all the pictures except one.
A picture of The Alibi.
when I did a Facebook post
about the program and asked people about their favorite
bars, The Alibi topped the list. And I'm not surprised it
did; after all, from the 70s through the 90s, it was THE bar
frequented by NMU students (not surprising, perhaps, seeing
as how it sat right across the street form NMU). But for as
beloved as the place was, no one seems to have a picture of
it I can use.
That actually does surprise me a little. After all, you'd
think that people who spent a big chunk of their life in the
building would have some kind of memento of it. But then
when you consider what people were doing in the building
while they were there, you can also understand why there
weren't any pictures. I mean, it is kinda hard to hold a
beer AND a camera at the same time, right?
All I've been able to come up with so far is a newspaper ad
that talks about the bar, and (pardon the pun) barring
anything else popping up by tomorrow I'll just use that. It
would be nice, though, to have a picture of the actual
building, inside or out. I have pictures of every other bar
I'm talking about, including ones going all the way back to
But something from the 1970s? Not so much.
I have feelers out to what seems like 100 groups and
individuals regarding a picture, so maybe one of those
feelers will pay off. And if it doesn't? Well, that's not
necessarily a bad thing, I guess, because if nothing else, I
can spend a few seconds during the show talking about the
freaky fact that no one seems to have a picture of a bar a
whole lot of people claim was their favorite.
So, I guess, keep your fingers crossed that I find a
picture. Or, if you want, keep your fingers crossed that I
DON'T find the picture. I guess I can work with whatever
comes my way, no matter which way it comes.
Okay. It can stop any time now.
We've been rather fortunate this winter. It's hasn't been
really cold, and it hasn't been really snowy. It certainly
hasn't been much like the past two winters. I thought we
were gonna skate through the season relatively unscathed.
Shows what I know, right?
From last Saturday, which was one of the worst blizzards I
can ever remember, to yesterday, which was one of the
coldest days I ever remember, it's been a brutal week. So to
put a hex on the weather, and to remind everyone that we do
live in an area where we DO have warmth and we DO have color
(if even for only five or six days a year, or so it seems),
I offer these pieces of pictorial proof--
See? Better times ARE coming. After all, pictures never
Stay warm, everyone, and have a great weekend!!
How many of you out there are “lurkers”?
It’s not a bad thing being a “lurker”. I don’t mean it like
that you’re hiding in the shadows thinking nefarious
thoughts or that you’re ready to pounce upon unsuspecting
individuals who happen to walk by. Nope; when I say
“lurker”, I’m actually referring to the vast majority of
you. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
I’ve been thinking about “lurkers” after recently receiving
notes from several people who read this every day but who
have never written in. And that’s the kind of “lurker” I’m
talking about--someone who reads a blog or checks a website
every day, but doesn’t actively get involved in the message
boards or comments section of the site. If you are one of
those “lurkers”, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with
that. About 98% of the people who check out a web feature
are “lurkers”, a badge that I myself wear proudly on just
about every single site I check out.
It’s funny; whenever I get a note from someone who hasn’t
written me before, there’s almost an apologetic tone to it,
as if the person writing doesn’t want to intrude on my time
or my personal space. And while I imagine there are a lot
of content posters who feel that way, I’m certainly not one
of them. If you have something to say, I’d love to hear
what it is. After all, I write these things for you guys,
so if you think I’m spot-on when discussing a topic (a rare
event) or think I don’t know what I’m talking about (a much
more common occurrence) just let me know. I promise I won’t
However, that is in no way a requirement. If you want to be
a “lurker”, go ahead and be a “lurker”. Like I said, I’m a
“lurker” on every web site I visit. But if you ever want to
say something, I’d love to hear what that something is! My
e-mail, address, in case you’ve never noticed it? It’s this
I think I finally know what the Bittner Block looks like.
Being (and this is a joke here) Marquette's greatest living
authority on old buildings means that I'm familiar with
almost every old sandstone building that's every stood in
the city. You can show me a picture of a building, and I can
tell you where it was and when it was torn down. I've done
research on buildings that most (living) people have never
heard of, and I've pictures of almost all of them.
There has been, though, one exception, and that's the
For those of you who don't know, and I'm guessing that's
pretty much everyone under the age of 55 with a life, the
Bittner Block was a sandstone & brick building that sat on
the southeast corner of the intersection of Third & Baraga,
where the parking lot next to Fire Station #1 now sits. The
building was up from the late 1890s to around 1960, and has
been described to me as a “nice looking” structure that had
a storefront on street level and offices on the upper
levels. Unlike almost every other sandstone building in
Marquette's history, though, there seems a distinct lack of
pictorial evidence surrounding the very existence of the
No one ever seems to have taken a picture of it.
I had pretty much given up on seeing what the building
looked like. Then Monday evening Turner Classic Movies aired
“Anatomy of a Murder”, a movie that I've seen a dozen times,
but not in the past few years. This was also the first time
I've seen it on an HDTV with a DVR to pause the picture.
About 45 minutes into the film there's a shot where Jimmy
Stewart comes out of the Baraga entrance to the courthouse,
to be greeted by Lee Remick and her dog. In the background
for most of the shot you can see the 100 block of west
Baraga, the block that contains the Children's Museum.
However, right at the end of the scene, the camera pans to
the right, following the characters as they walk to a car,
and if you're watching on an HDTV and can freeze at the
exact frame, you know what you can see?
The Bittner Block.
Now, I realize I'm probably the only person who would
actually freeze frame a movie just to look at something that
appears in the background for three or four frames, but
that's what I did. The picture quality during most of the
frames wasn't the best; after all, the camera was panning
rather quickly. But there was one frame where you could
almost clearly see the building that once sat at the corner
of Third & Baraga. And while I couldn't see the whole
building, only the street level floor of it, I think I may
have finally captured a view of the mythical Bittner Block.
So thank you, Otto Preminger, for framing that one
particular shot the way you did. I bet you never realized
that 57 years after you filmed it a dork would be using
digital technology to try and see something that no longer
exists, but that dork did. And I would know because that
dork is me!
I keep telling people they need to watch “Anatomy”, just so
they can see what Marquette and Ishpeming used to look like,
but I never thought that I would get something out of it in
that way, as well. But look what I found--
I found (part of) the Bittner Block!
One week from tonight! One week from tonight!
In case you haven't realized it yet, the latest Jim Koski ™
program for the Marquette Regional History Center is one
week from tonight, when we invade the Ore Dock Brewery for a
evening of wackiness on the history of night life in
Believe me when I say this—the more I study about what has
gone on after dark in this city over the past 165 years, the
more amazed I am. And the more, well, disbelieving I
become. I tell ya-- Marquette certainly has seen it's share
of stuff you wouldn't think has gone on here. But hopefully
that's what'll make the program that much more fun!
I often joke that for a program to be a Jim Koski ™ program
(and for those of you who haven't been reading these for
months or years, when we refer to a Jim Koski ™ History
Center program we're being snarky. We're not being serious)
it has to have three things in it—it has to have hookers, it
has to have bootleggers, and it has to have murders. This
program has all three and a whole lot more—it has musicians,
it has professional boxers, it has elephants, and it has
flying bowling balls. It has famous people, it has infamous
people, and it has been people running naked through the
In the snow. Seriously, running naked through the streets
in the snow.
When I came up with the idea for the program last year it
was mostly because people ask me about two certain bars
every time I give a downtown tour. So I thought it would be
nice to put together a program on bars, which makes up a
large chunk of what people consider “night life” around
here. But as I've done more and more digging and I've
discovered more and more stories, I've come to realize that
residents in Marquette have done so much more with their
nights than just drinking to excess at bars. Oh, sure, bars
will play a big part of the story I'm telling, but I've
found stories about so many other things—some legal, a lot
not—that bars are just gonna be part of the whole tale.
I thought I had finished my research, but every day finds me
coming across something else, or hearing a new story from
someone I'd not yet heard from. So I have no idea when I'll
actually be “done”. And since this IS a “history” program
and not just tales of debauchery (well, at least
theoretically it's a history program and not just a bunch of
tales of debauchery), I do need to put it in some kind of
context, to somehow explain why people did what they did and
how they were able to do it.
Yes, I'm at the point in my life where I'm putting hookers
and bootleggers in “context”. Who knew that would ever
Anyway, that context (and all the tales of debauchery)
should be unveiled one week from tonight at the Ore Dock.
Hope you can check it out with, of course, this
caveat—parental discretion should probably be advised.
Because, if nothing else, I do have a picture of the people
running naked through the snow. And I'm not afraid to show
I'm not quite sure what was worse about the weather system
we dealt with this weekend—the build-up to it on Friday or
the actual wind/snow/cold on Saturday. I thought the
National Weather Service might've been jumping the gun when
they issued a Blizzard Warning Thursday; some people, after
all, take stuff like that as an invitation to over-react.
And some people did, thinking it was the end of the world.
The rest of us, though, reacted like people who live in the
U.P. Should react--
We went skiing!
I mentioned in here a couple of weeks ago that I hadn't been
cross-country skiing yet, a situation that has now been
remedied. I hiked over to the Fit Strip yesterday, and
since either the trails hadn't been groomed or the wind blew
a crap-load of snow over the trails, I broke my own. It was
actually kind of nice, at least after the first go-around
when I had to ski through a few drifts just to break that
trail. While it was cold, at least it was quiet, or as
quiet as you can get on a trail system stuck within the
heart of a city.
So in a strange way I'm glad the storm came. It got me out
on the trails!!
Of course, cross-country skiing is a physically demanding
form of exercise, especially when you're breaking your own
trail, so I shouldn't be surprised that I now have a very
sore right elbow. I'm not quite sure what I did to it, nor
am I quite sure why only one of my elbows is sore (after
all, you use both arms when skiing), but I've replaced a
sore left butt cheek with a sore right elbow.
But then, are you really that surprised?
Hopefully, now that things are calming down, I'll be able to
get out and enjoy the trails a few more times, sore elbow or
not. It's kind of hard to believe, but we're now in the
last half of February, which means that there's a distinct
possibility that this weather event may be the last major
one of the year. I'm mean, I'm not a meteorologist, nor do
I play one on TV, but two weeks from today it's March, a
month in which we've been known to have temperatures hits
the 60s or even 70s. I'm not saying that's what's gonna
happen this year, but it has happened in the past, so who's
Anyway, hope you survived the weekend weather. And if you
survived with anything less than a sore elbow, you have my
hearty congratulations on being a lot smarter than me!!
FRIDAY, 2/13 (!):
This is weird. I don't have to shoot a TV show this
Almost every Friday morning since the end of September I've
hauled my (now healed, thank you very much) butt over to
TV-13 to tape a game or two of “High School Bowl”. But
seeing as how there are only two shows left to shoot, I have
a two-week break, two Fridays where I don't have to get up
early, get dressed up, and play TV host.
And I kinda miss it.
When I started this whole thing over four months ago I had
no idea what to expect. I've been amazed by the experience,
not only by the fact that I'm the host of a TV show, but
more by the people I've been able to meet while hosting that
TV show. One of the things I say at the beginning of every
show is that everyone watching gets the chance to spend an
hour with some of the brightest young people on the planet,
and I'm not kidding when I say that. Some of the kids I've
met and had the chance to get to know really are
smart...scary smart, in fact, with one of the seniors going
to Harvard, and another to MIT.
And while all the students are bright and deserve to be on
the show, there are a couple of teams that are a hoot to be
with. They wear their hearts on their sleeves, and the
emotion and excitement they show when taping is contagious.
I can't tell you details, but one of the quarter-final
matches involves an exciting ending to the game, and the
reaction of the team that won was just priceless. As a host
of a show like this, I'll be the first to admit that you're
only as good as the people on screen with you. And in that
regard, I've been really lucky.
I've joked in here before about how my ties get more fan
mail than I do, and I'm fine with that. But one nice
compliment that I did get on my performance was from a woman
I've never met before. She had to stop me on the street
just to tell me she enjoys watching the program because, and
I quote, “you (me, the host) seem to be having fun doing it,
and it shows”. To me, that's the best kind of compliment,
because I AM having fun with the show, and when I started
that's the feeling I hoped to get across.
It's nice to know that every so often things go the way you
I have to tape the semi-finals on the 27th, and the finals
next month, and then we're done for the year. I'll actually
miss it, and it wouldn't surprise me if I start looking
forward to September when the next season starts to tape.
It's funny; when I took the gig, the previous host told me
that I'd have the experience of a lifetime, and you know
She was right!
On that note, I suppose I should put some of my free Friday
morning to good use and get ready for work. Have yourself a
great weekend, and don't forget--”High School Bowl” tomorrow
night at 8!
No, Jon Stewart, no. You can't go.
I've now had a day to process the fact that someone with
whom I've spent, as he puts it, “22 minutes four days a week
44 weeks of the year” for 16 years now is stepping down in a
few months. I'm shocked, I'm saddened, and if I'm being
totally honest, I'm a bit selfish, too, if only because I'd
like to see him keep doing something he says he no longer
wants to do.
But I understand. Really, I do.
This may sound funny from someone who's been doing the same
job for a quarter-century, but I understand how hard it is
to do a job and do it well for even 16 years. Especially a
job like his, a job that requires intelligence and passion
and a commitment to excellence, all while there is a sizable
chunk of people watching who think you're the Antichrist.
I'm surprised he actually lasted 16 years. I'm mean, I'm
grateful, but I would also understand why anyone would leave
a job like his after just a few years.
This has not been a very good few months for a TV fan, at
least a TV fan like me. Kari Byron gets fired from “Mythbusters”,
“How I Met Your Mother” ends on a very weird note, Craig
Ferguson quits, David Letterman's about to retire, and now
Jon Stewart says “goodbye”. Is it any wonder, I tell you,
that I'm reduced to watching “Return to the Planet of the
Apes” on DVD? I mean, is it?
But like I said, I understand why he's leaving. In fact,
I've always promised myself that if I ever felt like I
wasn't giving 100% in what I do, that I'd find a way to
gracefully bow out. Fortunately, I've been lucky enough to
be in a job that is constantly changing, and in a job
that''s constantly giving me new and exciting opportunities
outside of what I do inside these walls. And I hope that's
what Jon Stewart finds once he's left the walls of his
studio—something that challenges him, something that he
Something that makes him happy.
I've often joked in here that I'll be fine in life as long
as I have chocolate and someone to tell me when “The Daily
Show” is on. So thanks for everything this decade and a
half, Mr. Stewart. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna make
sure I still have some chocolate lying around.
And now, it's time for Jim's “Pick 'O the Flix”!
Most of you probably don't remember this, but for many years
in the 90s I used to do on-air reviews of movies that no one
else would even think about watching. I used to go into a
video store and find the VHS tapes that were among the
dustiest and most untouched; those were the ones that I
reviewed. (And then I would wrap it up with something really
stupid like “Check it out--'Wrestling Women vs the Aztec
Mummy', starring, in alphabetical order, the Aztec Mummy and
the Wrestling Women”). While I don't go to a video store
any more (or even, for that matter, have a VHS player that
works well) I've still watched two things recently that bear
(And yes, I HAVE been watching things other that the
complete series of “WKRP”. I'm in the middle of season two
and enjoying every second of it. But that's neither here
nor there, so...)
The first review covers a documentary Loraine and I watched
over the weekend called “KZ”. We've always wondered what it
was like for people who live and work in a town that housed
a former German concentration camp, so imagine our surprise
when we came a film that deals with that very same subject
matter. It was shot in Mauthausen, Austria, site of a very
big (and, apparently, quite well preserved) camp, and
focuses on several of the guides who take tourists around
the grounds. I don't wanna give much away, but let's just
say that working at a place like that isn't very good for
your health, both mental and physical
Now, I guess, Loraine and I have the answer to our question!
The other thing I wanna mention is something else I bought
at the same time as “WKRP”, and that's the complete series
of a Saturday morning cartoon from the 70s called “Return to
the Planet of the Apes”. Now, when I say it's a “complete
series” it's only 13 episodes, and it's so ploddingly paced
that you can scan through large chunks of it without missing
any dialogue or plot (including, I might add, one 94 second
shot of people walking across a desert. Ninety four
I only wanted to check it out because I was a kid when I saw
it, and I was curious as to if it was any good. And it's
really not; it's like most cartoons of the 70s. But there
are two things to recommend to it—almost every episode has a
germ of a good idea behind it. Sure, it's a small germ and
sure, that germ never gets to grow amidst the really bad
animation and the horrendous voice acting, but there is a
germ there nonetheless.
The other thing? Well, I didn't even give it a second
thought until 10 or 11 episodes in, but the show revolves
around three astronauts who get caught up in all the
ape-foolery. That's something you'd expect in a Saturday
morning cartoon from the 70s. What you might not expect is
that one of the astronauts was African-American and another
was a woman. These days we don't give that a second
thought. But forty years ago?
Well, maybe there was something to “Return of the Planet of
the Apes” after all.
Anyway, if you ever find yourself in a store, staring at a
discount bin, and notice either of those dvds on sale for a
buck, go ahead and pick 'em up. You might actually enjoy 'em!
You know, at least the spammers could put a little effort
I don't know about you, but I've seen a marked increase in
the amount of spam reaching my e-mail inbox the past month
or so. It's actually getting to the point where I have to
spend five or ten minutes a day weeding out everything from
offers for magazines I've never heard of to promises that I
can make “(my) partner scream for hours”, which is something
Loraine already does, at least when it comes to reading some
of the subject lines in the spam that she herself gets.
I never actually open any of the spam I get; I just click
“delete” and it's all gone. But someone, somewhere, must
click on the spam and then actually reply to it. I mean,
all it takes is for one sucker to justify sending out 10
zillion pieces of junk, right? However, I received one
piece yesterday that made me laugh, and I had to open it, if
only because it seems like whoever put it together wasn't
Now, I know almost all spam comes from a country other than
the U.S. But it seems to me that the more savvy spammers
make it sound like they know where you are and what they're
talking about. After all, they're trying to reel in a
sucker or two, and it's usually easier to do that when you
look and sound like you know what you're talking about. Not
the e-mail I received yesterday, though. First of all, it
came from a company that called itself “Tax Releif” (spelled
that way), and had as its subject line this--
“Taxes is our business”.
Like I said, I don't expect much out of spam (aside from the
occasional laugh) but anyone in their right mind would know
that, based on spelling and grammatical errors, this ISN'T a
company that's legit. However, the errors were so egregious
that I just had to see from where the e-mail came. So I
opened the e-mail, which promised to get me “maximun (sic)
savings on my taxes” sent directly to my bank account. And
all I'd have to do is send my Social Security and bank
account numbers (nothing else) to a website that ends with a
“.ru”. What does that all mean? Well, it means two
things—that someone promised to do my taxes without needing
to see any W2 forms.
And that “.ru” means the company is located in Russia.
Needless to say, I don't think I'll be having that
particular company do my taxes this year. And I would hope
that no one—absolutely no one--would get suckered in by such
a low-rent, low-quality, obvious sham of a scam. But then
that's the thing about spammers and scammers—it only takes
one. Like I said before, it doesn't cost anything (aside
from server time, which is usually pirated) to send out ten
zillion e-mails, and if even ONE person decides that sending
their Social Security and bank account numbers to a Russian
company that promises them a little “tax releif”, then
they've succeeded without even putting much effort into it.
I know you're all smart and that you'd never fall for
anything promised by spam, but just let me say this—if you
ever DO fall for a spam scam, at least make sure you fall
for one where everything's spelled right, okay?
I had a great time at SAIL's annual Chocolate Festival
yesterday, but I'm wondering if it had a weird side effect
on me. I'm wondering if my massive consumption of chocolate
led to a dream I had last night that Regis Philbin was
teaching me orbital mechanics.
And no, I’m not making that up. I don’t think anyone
actually could make that up!
It was one of those dreams that was actually part of a
bigger dream morphing into completely different items before
I woke up. Those dreams are usually the most fun, even if
they may reveal something strange about your psyche. The
thing about the Regis dream is that I don’t remember
anything about what came before or what came after his
“segment”. And that’s strange; usually, if I remember a
dream, I remember it all. But not in this case.
If I had to guess, I’d say Regis’ personality just
overwhelmed everything else!
That’s a bit of a bummer, too, because I’d kind of like to
know why Regis was trying to teach me orbital mechanics. I
know what he was trying to teach me--that if you launch
something from the surface that has to rendezvous with
something in orbit, you have to launch it at a precise time
and at a precise inclination--but I don’t know WHY he was
trying to teach me. Was he just wandering around
post-retirement, looking for something to do? Was he trying
to prep me for a game show? Or does he know that I’d like
to go into space someday and was, in his own mystical way,
trying to get me ready for it.
And if that’s the case, would that make Regis Philbin my own
personal version of Obi-Wan Kenobi? The mind kinda reels at
that thought, doesn’t it?
I can’t remember the last time I read or saw something about
Regis Philbin. In fact, I can’t recall the last time I even
thought about him, which also leads me to wonder why it was
he trying to teach me about orbital mechanics. I mean, I
can understand other random TV personalities trying to teach
me about orbital mechanics--everyone from Jon Stewart to
Rachel Maddow to Jim Parsons, who plays Sheldon on “The Big
Bang Theory”. I’ve watched them all recently; therefore,
they should be stuck in one of the nooks or crannies of my
brain. I would understand that. But Regis Philbin?
I just don’t understand it. Unless, of course, he really IS
my own personal version of Obi-Wan Kenobi. That’s the only
explanation I can come up with at the moment. And I’ll know
it’s true if, when I’m sleeping tonight, he starts in with
his second lesson on orbital mechanics, perhaps dealing with
rendezvous techniques, or something along those lines.
It almost makes me wonder if I should even try shutting my
(ps—I don't know if you've had the chance to
read this column that was
in last week's North Wind, but I highly recommend it!)
I don't have a lot of time to write this morning, as the
(very) bright lights of a TV soundstage beckon, but I do
have to mention one thing--
Tomorrow marks a big day in the history of our little
planet. Tomorrow, one of the two people without whom I
would not be possible is having a birthday. That's right;
my dad managed to survive another year on Earth without
falling off his bike or having a tree he was cutting down
crash upon him, and for that we're very very VERY thankful!
I mean, I don't want to give you the impression my dad can
be a klutz, but you know how I occasionally, for some
unknown reason, do stupid things like smash up my face
riding on my bike, walk into weights lying on the floor and
bruise a toe, or break my butt while sitting in a motor
home? Well, I suppose I have to get those tendencies from
somewhere, and since I don't believe my mom ever did
anything stupid like that...
You can fill in the blanks from there.
So happy birthday, Dad. Have fun playing pickleball
or going for a bike ride tomorrow, enjoy wherever it is you
guys go out to eat, and tell Mom to let you eat as much ice
cream as you want with your cake. Oh, and, as always, have
yourself an injury-free day!
Okay, I'll stop now...
It would be a shame if it gets turned off.
I'm gonna go full-mode space geek on you for a moment, so if
your eyes just glazed over reading the line “full-mode space
geek” feel free to skip down to the end of the blog. I
won't hold it against you. But if you're deciding to stick
it out, I have what could be some bad news--
Opportunity may soon be turned off. Shut down. Put to
death. And that would be a sad thing.
For those of you who don't know (and I'm guessing that's all
of you, with the possible exception of daily blog ready Kate
in Marquette) Opportunity was one of two rovers that landed
on Mars waaaaaaaay back in 2004 and was then supposed to
spend the next 90 days exploring the surface of the planet.
Well, that 90 days has now extended to eleven YEARS, and
Opportunity, despite a few problems with its memory and its
joints (problems just like any old being faces) is still
going strong. In fact, this past summer, it set a record
for distance traveled by a spacecraft on another world.
But now it may be turned off.
NASA's proposed budget for the next fiscal year is going up,
and includes a lot of neat stuff, including funding for the
planning to a trip to Europa, a moon of Jupiter that's
basically made of water and one of the other places in the
solar system that could very well harbor life. However, one
of the things the budget does is cut funding for
Opportunity, which would mean shutting it down after 11
years. While part of me understands the cut, there's also
another (very big) part of me that's bummed by it.
I mean, think of it. Opportunity was sent to Mars 11 years
ago on a mission that was supposed to last 90 days. It's
now lasted over 4,000 days, which means that if Opportunity
were a human and it's 90 days were a full lifetime,
Opportunity would now be something along the lines of 3,500
years old. And you wouldn't pull the plug on a 3,500 year
old just to save a few bucks, would you?
Besides, how many times have you purchased something that's
lasted 44 times past its warranty date? If the computer
upon which I'm writing this has a two-year warranty, that
means it would have to be 88 years old to last as long as
Opportunity has. And in a time when everything—and I mean
everything—we buy is designed to fall apart (so we can buy
another one) Opportunity stands out as something very
Of course, I know all good things must come to an end, and
I'm know Opportunity will itself one day stop working. But
it just doesn't seem right to pull its plug on an arbitrary
date, a date dictated by budgetary reasons. The rover has
served so long and led to the discovery of so much
information that it just deserves better.
Yes, I know it's a machine. But it does deserve better.
Since NASA's budget has to go through the U.S. House and the
U.S. Senate, I highly doubt that it will sail through as
planned. In fact, I can almost guarantee that it'll be
changed and changed dramatically. So maybe my worries are
premature. But it would still be nice to have the little
rover that could be given the (ahem) opportunity to continue
And with that, I'll shut up now.
For those of you who skipped over the space nerd rant,
here's where you should start reading again. I just wanna
make note of the fact that my favorite 15-year old in the
world today becomes my favorite 16-year old in the world!
That's right; my niece Sydney turns old enough to drive
today, which really kind of blows my mind, seeing as how it
seems like it was just a year or two ago that she was four
years old and asking me to come up with addition and
subtraction problems for her to try and do. Now she's grown
into an amazing young woman with quite the talent for
dancing and an unlimited future ahead of her.
I just can't believe she's 16.
So happy birthday, Syd. I'll see you at your birthday
First of all, I'm glad Escanaba has power again.
Not only am I glad for the citizens of Escanaba; after all,
trying to live without electricity, especially during the
middle of winter, is almost impossible. No one should have
to deal with that, so I'm glad for them. And I'm also glad
Escanaba has power again for another reason--so that I no
longer have to deal with questions from people who assume
that because one city in the U.P. is without power every
city in the U.P. is without power.
Just how do they think we live up here?
I'm serious. I received several phone calls at work from
media outlets in other parts of the state (or from outside
the state) wondering how we were “coping” without
electricity. I had to inform them that I was coping just
fine. In fact, I was speaking with them in an office with a
bunch of computers, monitors, lights, and radios turned on
because our power wasn't out. In fact, our power was
working just fine, thank you very much (and thank you
Marquette Board of Light & Power).
What were these people thinking? That just because we and
Escanaba are on the same peninsula of land that what affects
one of us affects the other? Do they not know that 65 miles
of trees separate us? Do they assume that we live in
conditions so primitive that if one (small) part of our
electrical grid goes down that all 301,000 of us in the U.P.
go down, as well?
Or is it something just slightly on another track? Could it
be that those media individuals, upon hearing that a U.P,
town lost power, immediately thought of Marquette because
Marquette's the only place most of them have ever heard of
in the U.P.? I mean, I've noted in here before about how
Marquette seems to generate its share of national news and
publicity far above what other cities of its size do. Maybe
“Marquette” is so ingrained in people's minds that when they
hear of a “city in Michigan's Upper Peninsula” that
Marquette is the first (and perhaps only) thing that pops
into their head.
I mean, I don't know, but that could be one of the reasons
that people thought we had lost all of our power on Monday.
I'd be curious to know what you think about it. But like I
said, I'm glad Escanaba has power again, both for their
sake, and for ours.
FYI, my butt is doing just fine, thank you very much. After
writing about it Monday I had several people express concern
about my derriere, and while it's not at 100% quite yet, it
is on the mend. I even went running on it this morning and
didn't have any problems, aside from a slight twinge while
running up hills. I sure that was nothing more than my rear
end reminding me that it's on the mend and to not push it
too hard. So I didn't.
But (no pun intended) thanks for asking. I'm sure that by
the weekend my rear end and I will be up to 100%!
I guess I have seven months to figure it out.
In seven months (seven months from yesterday, in fact),
Loraine and I are going back to Europe. As always, you're
more than welcome to join us,
at least virtually. And
this will be a trip different than almost every other one
we've taken, because along with
Tony the Tour Guide we'll
be joined by both sets of our parents.
That's right; this'll be a vacation, and not a trip!
I think I've mentioned it in here before, but our parents
will be joining us because we'll be spending 10 or so days
in Germany, heading from the Black Forest into the Alps,
with a side trip into Austria. We've been to some of these
places before, thought they were beautiful and thought our
parents would enjoy them, and then got them to agree.
Tony's coming along because, well, he's Tony & it's Germany
and we need someone who can speak the language.
And since he acted as the translator last time we were in
Germany (you remember, when Loraine had a press conference
with the mayor of Weissenfels), I think he's up to it!
Now, aside from seeing a lot of beautiful scenery in the
forms of hills, trees, and mountains, (hopefully) giving my
material to paint for the
next decade or so, and, of course, buying as much chocolate
as we can all carry home, there's another task we may
tackle, and that's only if I can figure something out in the
seven months before we leave. You see, my mom's dad—my
grandfather—was a Schwemin. His parents (or grandparents)
were among the Schwemins who came from Germany and settled
in Marquette Township 130 or 140 years ago.
My task is to figure out from where in Germany they came,
and whether or not we'll be anywhere near it during our
I don't have much to go on at the moment, aside from the
fact that the family left Germany from Hamburg, which is in
an entirely different part of Germany. Of course, seeing as
how Hamburg is the only major German port of any kind,
almost everyone who emigrated from the country in the 19th
century left from Hamburg. My task will be to find out
where in Germany they lived before shipping out via Hamburg.
Based on what I know about Germany and the people who call
it home, there's a good chance my distant relatives came
from Bavaria, the region we'll be visiting. That's based on
everything from the fact that they were skilled farmers to
their religious beliefs. However, Bavaria, which was its
own country before Germany became a nation right around the
time my ancestors left, is the biggest German state. In
fact, it's bigger than a lot of American states, which is
saying something when you consider that a lot of European
countries aren't as big as American states. That'll be a
lot of territory from which my ancestors could've come.
Hopefully, if I can get it narrowed down, the part of
Bavaria from which they came will be a part in which (or
near) we'll be visiting.
I just need to figure it out sometime in the next seven
months. So wish me luck!
I think I broke my butt.
Well, actually, I'm sure my butt is fine, but the past few
times I've gone running I've noticed a twinge in my left,
uhm, cheek. It wasn't too serious until I went running on
Saturday, and then it was bad enough that it made me cut my
run a little short.
It's actually been acting up for a week or so now, and I
think I know the reason why. Last Saturday when I spent the
day announcing at the Noque I was sitting in a nice warm
motor home. To look out the window of the of motor home and
see who was coming across the line I had to sit on a bed and
scrunch down just a little. When I finished, six hours
later, I noticed my lower back was a little sore, but didn't
think too much of it. Since then my back's still been a
little stiff, and I'm wondering if that's what made the
muscles in my left butt cheek act up. After all, my lower
back and my butt aren't too far apart, and I'm sure the
muscles are on some way connected, so while I'm not a
doctor, nor do I play one on TV, if I had to guess, I'd
guess that would be the cause of it all.
But that's just a guess.
Now, this is normally the time of the year when I cut back
on my running and spend a lot of exercise time cross-country
skiing instead. However (and I hope this doesn't shock you)
I have not yet been skiing so far this season. I know; it's
quite out of the ordinary, considering that skiing is the
one thing that keeps me sane during winter. However,
because of a busy schedule, some wickedly cold weekends, and
the lack of a lot of new snow, I just haven't gotten out to
the Fit Strip yet. I'm sure other trails are in better
shape that the one in middle of the city; however, that's
the one I don't have to drive to, which means I can go
anytime I want, without having to get in a car.
And it turns out, I just haven't been able to get over there
yet. Besides, there's no guaranteeing that my butt would be
any better if I were skiing instead of running. In fact,
because I know what muscles get used in both sports, I'm
thinking that skiing might even be worse for my butt than
running. I know the smart thing to do would be to just lay
off on exercise for a couple of days to let everything get
back to normal, but c'mon—when do I ever do the “smart”
With any luck, things will get better despite my best
efforts, and I'll be able to return to a normal schedule of
body-bruising exercises soon. However, if you see me
walking funny up a hill (or walking up a hill even funnier
than usual), just be aware it's not me. It's my butt that's
I don't know if you had the chance to check out the “High
School Bowl” that aired Saturday, and were able to hear the
surreal conversation I had with members of the Ironwood team
about how they crochet afghans and make bowls of out of
spaghetti, but when they returned to tape another show last
Friday they gave me a few gifts they made by hand—namely, a
crocheted afghan and, well, a bowl made out of dried
spaghetti. The afghan now keeps Loraine warm, and the bowl
will be sitting in my office holding something. I'm not
quite sure what, but it'll be holding something, that's for
So thanks a bunch, guys!!
This should be a really, really good weekend. After all, I
don't have to do ANYTHING, except watch the New England
Patriots get their butts handed to them.
After everything that's gone on the past few weekends this
weekend will be a welcome change. No presentations, no ski
race announcing, no appearances, no nothing. The highlight
of my weekend, in fact, aside from watching the Stupor Bowl,
may be doing a couple of loads of laundry. Oh, although if
I do get ambitious I might walk down to the library for a
couple of minutes and look through a couple of old city
directories as part of the “After Dark” program I'm putting
But that's only if I feel ambitious.
It's gonna be a weird feeling, this not having anything to
do for two days. I mean I had a three-day weekend the first
weekend of the year, and since then it's been pretty much
non-stop. Hopefully, I won't have to remember to learn how
to relax. Hopefully, buried deep inside my somewhat bizarre
psyche I have the mental muscle memory to remember how to do
it. If not, I'll just be wandering around our apartment all
weekend, thinking I'm supposed to be doing something and
driving Loraine insane in the process. And since I don't
wanna get beat up by my dear wife, I'm hoping I'll remember
how to relax.
So keep your fingers crossed about that!
In fact, the last thing I have to do (aside from work later
today) before the weekend beckons is the shooting of two
more episodes of “High School Bowl” in a few minutes. These
will be the final games in the “Cerebral Sixteen” and should
be a lot of fun to do. Speaking of fun, the shows on
tomorrow night are the final games of the first round, and
you know how I've mentioned that the interviews I do with
the students are my favorite part of the game? Well, let's
just say that one of the teams you'll see
Saturday—Ironwood--figured out that my questions sometimes
come out of left field, and they came prepared. Really,
It's a hoot. Trust me on that!
So with that, I supposed I should head over to NMU and get
ready to go. Have yourself a great weekend; I hope you have
a few minutes in it to relax, as well. And even though I'm
not a fan and I don't know much about the team, go Seahawks!
Colts fan and, therefore, despiser of the Patriots.
I now know what’s wrong with me.
(And I’ll pause here for a second while you say “You mean
there’s only one thing”? Go ahead; I know you want to do
I've finally finished my stretch of 7 or 8 days of non-stop
work, one highlight of which was a weird conversation with
someone. The gist of the conversation was this--I never get
some time to myself not because of an inability to say “no”
as I always thought. Nope; I’m always busy and always on
the move because I, apparently, never stop to ask one simple
question whenever someone asks me to help out or to do
That question? “What’s in it for me?”
Seriously; the person to whom I was speaking said that the
reason I do what I do is because I never stop to ask “What’s
in it for me”? Apparently, this person always asks that
question when asked to do something, and unless they get an
affirmative answer from their brain, they utter “no” and
they walk away. It doesn’t matter if it would help someone
out, nor does it matter if it would do some good for the
community as a whole. Unless there’s something in it for
them, they just say no, which I think explains why this
person has a lot of free time.
I was flabbergasted by the (short) conversation. I mean,
and I hope this doesn’t sound bad, I don’t think I have ever
once even had that thought pop into my head. I’ve never
once asked myself that question. I don’t even know WHY I
would ask myself that question. After all, if there’s
something I could do to help someone out or make someone’s
life better, or to make the community a better place to
live, why wouldn’t I do it. If someone’s life is better,
isn’t that what’s in it for me? Helping someone?
Or do I just not get it? It, after all, wouldn’t be the
first time that happened. Who knows...maybe my parents
raised me funny, or something.
(And to daily blog reader Darlene in Florida; Mom, that’s a
Given the choice between being me and being the person with
whom I had that conversation yesterday, I know which choice
I’d make. In fact, I’d make it every time. And not once
would I ask myself the fateful question of “What’s in it for
I think that night is gonna be a lot of fun.
Four weeks from yesterday—Tuesday, February 24th—I get to do
my latest Jim Koski ™ program for the
Marquette Regional History Center
entitled “Marquette Night Life”. (It was originally called
“Marquette After Dark”, a much catchier name, but that was
too close to another annual History Center event and it was
changed). This is the one that we're holding at the Ore
Dock, for a couple of reasons—the program deals with what
people did after dark, like go to bars, so holding at a brew
pub is a perfect choice.
And it will also give me a chance to work in front of people
who may have enjoyed an adult beverage or two. I've never
done that before!
I'm currently in my favorite part of doing a program, and
that's the research part. I get to speak with people about
what they know, and in this case, it's a lot of fun. I've
been checking out stories from older citizens about their
experiences at the dance halls of the 40s, and speaking with
people my age about what their favorite bar may have been
when they were young. And just let me say one thing about
You people should be ashamed of yourselves for some of the
stories you've told me!
No; actually, the stories are quite fun. I don't know if I
can share all of them with the general public, but it's
certainly given me an appreciation of how little things have
changed, night life-wise, over the years. I mean, sure, the
names have changed and the bars have changed, but I guess as
long as alcohol is involved there will always be shameful
stories to tell. And for a program like this, that's a good
The program should actually veer between the things I find
interesting about night life—drunks and hookers and
bootleggers—and what the “refined” class did for
entertainment. As I've found, what people did at night
mirrors what they did during the day. You had your white
collar entertainment, and your blue collar entertainment,
much like you had your business owners and civic leaders
living in one part of the city while your laborers and
railroad workers lived in another part. It's just the way
things were, and it's one of the things I'll be talking
I've also been trying to collect all the pictures I need,
and trust me when I say that there will some WEIRD pictures
being shown. I don't know what was in the water in
Marquette back in, say, the 1890s, but there are a couple of
shots that (I hope) should make everyone break out in
raucous laughter, even before I explain the stories behind
them. You literally have to see them to believe
them...trust me on that!
So that's 27 days from now at the Ore Dock. If you have the
chance, check it out. I'm hoping you won't be disappointed!
I think I owe Chocolay Township an apology.
Loraine and I went to Munising this past Sunday to visit a
few people and to do a little research. Of course, to get to
Munising from Marquette, you have to drive through Harvey
and other sections of Chocolay Township. And it was when we
were heading through that area on the way to Munising that
we made an horrific discovery--
It's been almost two years since we've been to Harvey.
I mean, how can that be, right? It's the suburb that sits
right to the south of Marquette. It's home to 5,000 of our
friendliest neighbors. It's the gateway to the eastern and
southern U.P.. And yet, if we recall correctly, we haven't
been there since June of 2013, the last time we went
downstate to visit Loraine's parents.
And that's just not right.
We spent most of the trip to Munising wondering if we were
just forgetting something, if we had been in the area or
through the area and had just forgotten. But nope; as far as
we can remember (and recall that unlike me, Loraine DOES
remember things), we went through Harvey four times in the
early part of 2013—twice to get her new car, once to visit a
relative, and once on the way to visit her parents. And we
know it was 2013 because the latter two times were right
after my bike accident, and stuff like that sticks in your
head. But since then?
Since the last time we went through Chocolay Township, I
can't count the number of times we went through Marquette
Township heading west, or through Sands Township to get to
Sawyer International. Heck, we've even been to the Copper
Country more in the last two years than we've been in
Chocolay Township. We've made it as far as the Carl
Pellonpaa Memorial Toilets (right on the line between
Marquette and Chocolay Township) on occasion, almost always
on bike, but never further than that.
Go figure, right? I mean, I personally, blame my sister, who
moved from Harvey to Marquette a couple of years ago. Maybe
she's the reason we haven't been there.
(And Mel, if you're reading this—that's a joke).
We'll have to remedy this situation in the near future. It
just doesn't seem right that we've been in the Copper
Country more than we've been in a place that I can see with
my own eyes from work. In the meantime, Chocolay Township,
if there's anything I can do to make it up, let me know. It
might be two years before I get out there to do it, but if
there IS anything, just let me know.
bad Marquette County resident.
Maybe I should just stop talking. Maybe THAT will help.
Those of you who read this last week may remember how biting
my tounge made it a little difficult speaking for a day or
two. Well, a weekend spent shooting TV, announcing a couple
of thousand names at a ski race, and taking care of a bunch
of other stuff, I now find myself with a very sore throat,
probably thanks to vocal chords that have been pushed beyond
their limits of tolerance.
My tounge's now fine; everything else in there, though,
probably needs a little help.
Thankfully, I haven't actually lost my voice. It juts hurts
a little when I speak, and that makes me think of two
things. The first is what athletic trainers tell you—if
something really hurts when you're working it, you might
wanna stop doing it lest you risk injuring it further. And
I'm not really in the right career field to stop talking for
a day or two to let my voice rest.
It's funny; I'm probably in one of the few jobs where it's
worse to lose your voice than it would be to lose your
mind. I mean, think about it—without a voice in radio,
you're nothing. You're dead air. You're like a mime with
no one to annoy. But if you lose your mind; well, that's a
different matter. You can still speak. What you say may no
make much sense, and you might now be on the air very long
(especially if you boss is listening), but you could still
be on the air.
Unlike, say, someone without a voice.
Like I said, though, I'm lucky in that regard. I can still
speak. It's just a little uncomfortable when I do it,
especially when I speak with any kind of volume. So if I in
any way sound weird on the air today (and I don't think that
I will), you now have the reason why.
I just really need to stop talking for a day or two.
Speaking of the ski race I announced on Saturday, I had a
great time as usual at the
Noquemanon. The thing,
though, that blows my mind? I have now announced at the
race finish line for each of the 17 years it's been around.
I have done all of them. How the heck did THAT happen?
You discover weird things (and start marveling about them)
as you get old(er), I guess...
It snuck up without me even noticing it.
We all have periods in our lives when it seems like we're
overloaded with things to do. In fact, I usually write about
them when they happen, if only to explain why I may not be
posting for a day or two. But without any warning or
(apparently) without me having any control over it I'm now
in a span of a week where I don't even think I have time to
How the heck did THAT happen? And is there any way I can
blame the fact that I bit my tongue on it?
It looks like it started this past Wednesday, when I had to
shoot a couple of episodes of “High School Bowl”, continued
yesterday when I had to make an impromptu early-morning road
trip for my favorite author, keeps going in a few minutes
with MORE “High School Bowl”, kicks into high gear tomorrow
when I spend the entire day announcing at the finish line of
Noquemanon, picks up even
more speed Sunday when I have to be in Munising, and extends
Monday and Tuesday with meetings, research trips, and more
I think I really need to talk to the person in charge of my
scheduling and clear up a thing or two.
I'm normally okay with stretches like this, especially when
I know they're coming and I can either work ahead or
re-arrange things to make sure everything gets done. But
this time around, with me either not paying attention to
what's going on or me not realizing what's going on, I'm
stuck trying to do all my usual crap at the same time I'm
doing all this extra crap. And that, of course, just adds to
the chaos and confusion of the whole situation. I wish I
knew why I wasn't aware that the situation was developing;
that, apparently, is my fault.
Now, I just have to deal with it. And sitting here writing
about it probably isn't helping, right? So on that note, I'm
off to play TV Jim for a bit before I play Radio Jim later
on. If you're in the neighborhood of the Superior Dome
tomorrow and have the chance, check out Finish Line Jim and
the real attraction of the Noque—several thousand of the
best (and those who just give it their best shot)
cross-country skiers in the country. It's always a great
spectacle to see, and this year's there will be an added
benefit—it'll actually be warm out, unlike some years when
the temperature's a couple of hundred degrees below zero!
Have a great weekend...
I’ve bitten my tongue and, as a result, can’t say certain
letters. But that’s okay; it’s not like I have speak
clearly for a living, or anything.
The latest entry in the never-ending parade of my own
self-abuse came courtesy of dinner last night. I was trying
to hurry through it so I could start making the cookies for
Loraine's co-workers. As I am wont to do, I was chewing on
whatever it was I was eating when I, uhm, missed the food
and instead formed a nice little hole at the end of my
tongue with what are apparently my vampire-like teeth. Sad
to say, it’s something I do on occasion; after many decades
of feeding myself you’d think I’d know what I’m doing, but
on those occasions when I bite my tongue, apparently I
Anyway, my tongue has started to heel like my tongue usually
does. But because of the position of this bite--right on
the lower left tip of my tongue--I’ve found myself with the
inability to properly say a couple of letters, mostly
notably “d” and “s”. Well, I shouldn’t say that I can’t
properly say the letters; I can, but when I do, the bite
that’s slowly healing on my tongue hits my teeth and sends
spasms of pain throughout the rest of my mouth, and probably
slows down the healing process, to boot.
I don’t know about you, but a lot of the words I say in the
course of an average day contain either “d” or “s” or both,
and it’s not like I could leave them out of my vocabulary.
Well, I suppose I could leave all words that contain a “d”
or an “s” out of my everyday speech patterns, but then I’d
ended up using mostly words like “Tomato”, “Anxiety”, and
“Iowa”, and if you think I’m occasionally incoherent to
being with, imagine what I’d be like with a vocabulary that
consisted mostly of words like “Tomato”, “Anxiety”, and
Although it would be kind of an interesting mental exercise,
Anyway, my friend Deanna, upon hearing that I was having
trouble talking, sent me a list of long songs that I could
play on the air to avoid speaking. Let’s just say that I’ll
deal with a little pain and forego some of the suggestions
she made, including a 48 minute and 53 second version of
Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells” and a 22+ minute version of
“Chariots of Fire”. I mean, it hurts me to say the letters
“d” and “s”, but it would hurt you guys a lot more to sit
through songs like that.
That’s okay; you can thank me later.
So if in the next couple of days you throw on your radio
and I sound strange (well, okay, stranger than usual), know
that it’s not the fault of either your ears or your radio.
It’s my fault entirely, and because of that, you can rest
assured--one of these years, I WILL learn how to eat. If
nothing else, I’m sure my tongue would appreciate it.
(p.s.--TV Jim is now online! If you weren't able to catch
the first seven or eight episodes of “High School Bowl”, you
can watch 'em now
right HERE. Any episode
that starts with the number “37” is an episode hosted by
me. So if you wanna subject yourself to them...go for it.
And let me know what you think!)
I have to make cookies tonight, this so one of Loraine's
co-workers can celebrate a birthday on Friday, and that has
made me remember I have to unleash a rant about something.
So if you don’t mind (or even if you do), here we go--
How come they still insist putting flour in paper
containers, especially containers that allow holes to be
torn in them way too easily? Last time I checked, it’s the
21st century...can’t they come up with something a little
more high-tech than easily torn paper?
Okay, I’m done complaining. And yes, I know that I could
put flour into a plastic container the next time I open a
bag, but that’s not the point. Why does flour come in a
flimsy bag to begin with? Especially a bag that could
explode into a big mushroom cloud of white powder, something
that MAY have happened in a certain Marquette kitchen a
month or so ago when a certain Marquette resident may have
had to open a new bag of flour to make Christmas cookies.
I’m not naming names, but it MAY have happened. Hence, my
complaint about the bags in which they still sell flour.
While I’m all for using environmentally friendly packaging,
and paper’s about the most environmentally friendly
container you can get, why is it the paper and glue they use
is so hard to tear apart? Maybe I’m doing this wrong--it
wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened--but I try to be
very careful when opening a bag of flour. I mean, it does
no good to tear open a bag of flour recklessly and leave a
huge gaping hole in the side of it; after all, have you ever
tried to pour flour out of a bag with a huge gaping hole in
the side of it?
If that’s the case, then why are tops of bags of flour so
tightly wound and tightly glued? I know they have to be
strong sealed enough so they don’t burst open in the store
or in transit--I get that--but why are they sealed so
tightly that it could take either an incredibly sharp knife
or a laser cutter just to get the bag open without traumatic
injury to it? Or to you? Like I said, maybe I’m doing it
wrong. Maybe I still haven’t discovered the secret to
opening a bag of flour properly. But it just seems to be
that there should be a better way of selling flour than in a
paper bag that’s prone to explosion. It really does.
And that, to quote a great American, is all I’m gonna say
about that. After all, I don't wanna start approaching my
quota of crankiness for the month. There are still ten days
left! So with that...
I think I've stumped even myself with this one.
I was going through old “What's Up, U.P.?” questions, seeing
if there were any from 6 or 7 years ago that could be
updated for use again. I found a bunch that can be re
purposed, and then I found a piece of paper that had the
following written on it--
And on and on like that, listing every U.P. county except
Iron. I also had a notation that I had asked questions
about longest and shortest, which makes sense, if only
because I like to keep track of what I ask. There's only
one problem with the whole thing--
I have no ideas what the numbers mean.
For some reason, I didn't write down what I was asking; I
didn't write down what the numbers actually signified. I
assume that I didn't think I needed to write it down, that
I'd remember what those numbers meant, but as with most
assumptions, all I did was made a heinie out of myself. I
mean, I'm sure the numbers mean something—in fact, I KNOW
the numbers mean something. I just have no idea what that
My first thought was that it had something to do with Great
Lakes shore frontage; you know, how many miles of each
county touches a Great Lake. But seeing as how Dickinson
County is on the list, and Dickinson County doesn't even
touch a Great Lake, that theory was pretty well shot. I
then tried typing “Delta County 81.8” into Google, but
nothing popped up, aside from a very weird ad claiming that
Delta Airlines could fly me somewhere for 81 dollars.
Where's that? Negaunee?
I'll have to do a little more research into what that list
actually meant. Total mileage of each county's roads?
Length of snowmobile trails? Longest and shortest piece of
twine in each county? At this moment, I really have no
idea. I just know that I asked questions about the longest
and shortest of those numbers. Now I just have to figure
out the “longest” and “shortest” of what.
And, of course, remember to write it down somewhere so that
I don't repeat this whole thing in another six or seven
Sigh. Some days, it's not easy being me. Really, it isn't!
Do you think you make a difference?
On a day like today, on this particular holiday, I always
wonder if I’ve made enough of a difference. The individual
who we honor today once said, and I quote, “We must work
unceasingly to uplift this nation that we love to a higher
destiny, to a higher plateau of compassion, to a more noble
expression of humanness". I’ve always tried to do my part;
I don’t know whether or not I’ve succeeded, but I’ve always
tried to do my part.
When I look back at everything I’ve done in the past year, I
know that I’ve done a lot of different things, but part of
me always wonders if they’re things that make a difference.
Sure, I give a lot of tours and do a lot of programs and
help with a lot of other things, but is that really making a
“difference”? I mean, when I think of people who make a
“difference”, I think of the people who’ve moved to other
countries to help with victims of natural disasters. I
think of people who selflessly take in homeless children. I
think of people who put their lives on the line every day so
their fellow human beings can live in some semblance of
Those are people who really make a difference, who work
unceasingly to uplift this nation—this planet—to a higher
destiny. Sometimes, I feel like I’m just falling a bit
short in that respect, you know?
When I was young, I wanted to make a name for myself. But
like most people, as I’ve aged I’ve come to understand that
it’s just not in my destiny to change the world
single-handedly. I’ll probably never be written up in
history books, I’ll probably never have a memorial built to
me, and my name won’t be mentioned by generations to come.
As I’ve grown, I’ve become okay with that.
But in my own way, I still want to make a difference. I
want to do whatever I can to make the place in which I live
a better place in which to live, to help my neighbors, and
to leave whatever little mark I can in the time I have on
this planet. I may not be able to change the planet, but I
DO want to make a difference, at least as much of a
difference as possible. And that’s why, on a day like
today, I wonder if I’m doing just that, living up to the
challenge of one particular man who DID make a difference.
And on that note, happy King Day.
I like the scent. What can I say?
One of my many jobs around our apartment is the washing of
dishes. It's something I do every day except one, when
Loraine takes over and makes sure that it's actually done
right. When she did it this week I was in the other room
watching one of my episodes of “WKRP”. She came into the
room with the latest bottle of dishwashing liquid I
purchased, held it up, and said, and I quote, “Here's
another example of why you are so not a man”.
What? Real men don't use lotus blossom and lavender
First of all, just so you know, a very long-running running
joke between Loraine and me is that I basically do nothing
like a “man” would do, and we're both okay with that. So I
wasn't shocked by what she said; in fact, it made me laugh.
After all, what real “man” would buy his dishwashing liquid
because it smelled like lotus blossom & lavender? What real
“man” would buy his dishwashing liquid just because it was
purple and he liked the color?
Heck—do “real” men even pay attention to things like
dishwashing liquid? Do they even know what dishwashing
I like washing dishes; I really do. It's a couple of
minutes of mindless activity in a day filled with activities
where I have to overtax my brain. Sure, often times my
brain fails me, but even if it did screw up while washing
dishes no one would notice. That's why I like doing things
like washing dishes and doing the laundry. And if I'm going
to spend a few minutes each day washing the dishes,
shouldn't I be using dishwashing liquid that smells good and
makes my hands soft all at the same time?
It's like aromatherapy, with the added benefit of giving us
So if you're in the market for a new dishwashing liquid
(assuming, of course, you still do dishes by hand), I highly
recommend picking up a bottle of Palmolive's Lotus Blossom &
Lavender. Not only does it clean your dishes well, but it
smells nice, too. And isn't that what everyone looks for in
a dishwashing liquid...even a “man”?
Yes, I know I'm hopeless. What's your point?
On that note, have yourself a great weekend. And I hope all
your dishes come out clean!
Some days I think my ties are more popular than I am!
Since the “High School Bowl”s I host have started to air
I've received a lot of compliments on the job I've been
doing. And while I appreciate those comments, I also know
that a trained monkey could probably do it just as well (and
probably wouldn't have trouble saying some of the technical
terms in those pesky questions about math). But what does
surprise me is the amount of people who, after complimenting
me, start to gush about what they really like when they
watch the show--
Seriously...the ties I wear on the show seem to get almost
as many comments as do my hosting duties. In fact, my ties
have received their own fan mail, a couple of e-mails that
made no mention of me other than the fact that I was the guy
wearing them. And I think that's very cool. I didn't think
it would happen, but I think it's very cool.
The plan wasn't originally for me to wear ties much on the
show. When we started, I figured I'd just wear an open
shirt with a sport coat, which is a semi-respectable way to
appear on TV. But to make a good impression on the first
few shows we taped I figured I'd wear a tie. Admittedly,
it's not always tied right and sometimes it's worn rather
loosely, but I figured I'd start off wearing ties just to
prove that I was a responsible adult (of course, I'm really
not, but that's just a secret between you & me). However,
as the weeks wore on and people started to take notice of
the ties I was wearing (and when I wasn't wearing one) I
figured I'd just keep on wearing them while taping.
And now it looks like they're the most popular thing I do on
Of course, I can kind of understand why. I've always felt
that ties shouldn't be boring, that they shouldn't just
blend into whatever else you wear. After all, then it's
just a piece of cloth that spends most of the day choking
you. I like ties with color—ties with lots of color
(especially a splash or two of purple). I like the contrast
you get between a solid-colored shirt and a multi-colored
tie. And I'm lucky enough to have a skin tone that works
well with lots of colors and with lots of color contrasts.
So instead of wearing a boring shirt with a boring tie, like
many people on TV, I get to have fun with what I wear. I
get to play with colors and contrasts, and, well, people
seem to notice.
Or, at the very least, they're noticing my ties.
Now, when I started this gig, I had no idea that a splash of
color would be such a big deal, but it apparently has become
such. Who knew, right? And because of that, I'll be
curious to see what new comments I get on my neckwear,
especially on a few of the shows coming up in the next
couple of weeks. For my birthday my parents said to go out
and buy myself a few new ties, and I did. They should start
showing up on the air by the end of the month, and we'll
hafta see if they get more comments than the ties I wore
when the show first started.
Because of they get MORE, I may have to get my ties their
They're here! They're here!
A week or so ago I wrote about how I was anxiously awaiting
the arrival of the complete series collection of “WKRP in
Cincinnati” on DVD, and I can finally say that yesterday my
waiting came to an end. The package arrived at work, I
brought it home, popped in the first disc, and in the span
of the first four episodes saw two scenes that had been cut
out of existing prints of the show. When the people who put
the collection together said they were trying to restore the
show to its original broadcast versions they weren't
kidding. I'm looking forward to seeing what else I haven't
seen before (or at least haven't seen since the show first
aired when I was a teenager).
Sure, it was a long wait, but in the end, I think it's a
wait that's gonna be worth it!
The DVD set was a Christmas gift to myself, and I just
finished reading another gift given to me over the
holidays. That's Billy Idol's autobiography “Dancing With
Myself”. While I've never been a huge Billy Idol fan, I
have enjoyed his music over the past few decades, so I
figured that the book might be a fun read. And it was. But
more than that, it was one of those cautionary tales that
everyone who's ever thought about getting into the music biz
should read. Because you know what?
Whoever coined the phrase “sex, drugs, & roll and roll” was
probably thinking of Mr. Idol when they came up with it!
The book starts with a motorcycle crash that almost killed
him, a motorcycle crash that was caused by his on-going
substance abuse problems. He had been using various
chemicals for a decade and a half at that point, sometimes
using one drug to wean himself off another, and by 1990, the
time of the crash, it had finally all caught up with him.
He's quite open about his problems, and that's one of the
things that makes the book such an interesting read. Throw
in tales of how some of the more iconic rock songs of the
80s were recorded, and you have yourself a fun read.
And a primer on what NOT to do if you ever make it big!
Okay. I have to run out and tape a make-good for the “High
School Bowl”s postponed last week because of the cold, so if
you don't mind...
Sometime soon, someone in downtown Marquette could be saying
“the sky is falling”. And you know what?
They’ll be right!
Over the weekend, when Loraine and I were walking up Front
Street in front of the building that houses the station, we
happened to notice this, perched 3 floors above the street--
It’s a piece of snow that’s hanging over the edge of the top
of our building. It’s weird; I’m not quite sure how it’s
hanging up there, physics-wise, but it is. And in the two
weeks since we first noticed it, it’s grown even bigger.
Like I said, the physics don’t make too much sense. Unless
it’s being held up by a solid bed of ice, it should’ve
fallen before it formed. Yet there it is, just hanging 35
feet above the street, dangling over our heads. Now, if
there’s one thing we’ve learned from Mother Nature this
winter, it’s that she’s not messing with us. You can’t go
around and violate one her basic laws--the law of
gravity--without expecting payback.
I just hope that when that payback comes, there’s no one
standing underneath it.
Just eyeballing the snow pack, it looks like it’s 8 feet by
3 feet by 3 feet. That’s...uhm...let me think here...72
square feet of snow. That means that if someone is standing
underneath it when it finally decides to let go, it would be
like being buried under a pickup truck bed full of snow.
A pickup truck bed of snow dropped from 3 stories above the
Now, hopefully, one of two things will happen. Either it’ll
fall when there’s no one around and the sidewalk plow will
take it away, or it’ll slowly melt away, being forgotten
until someone looks up in the sky and says, with a little
curiosity, “Whatever happened to that strange wall of snow
up on the building last winter”?
I’m hoping for the latter, but would be happy with the
former, as well. Because the only other option would be for
someone to be walking up Front Street and uttering those
“No, really. The sky IS falling”!
For the first time in almost eight years I got to shovel a
driveway Friday. And boy, could I feel it on Saturday.
Those of you who've been reading this forever—and by
forever, I mean since I started writing this on a regular
basis back in 2002—may remember that I used to enjoy
shoveling my driveway. No, I wasn't a freak (or, at least,
any more of a freak than I usually am). Instead, I would
look at a shoveling as a way to get a great aerobic workout
that used muscles in almost every single part of my body.
And from 1998 to 2007 I would get that high-intensity (at
least high-intensity the way I did it) workout on a regular
basis each and every winter. But when we moved into our
current apartment in 2007, an apartment that has our
landlord and his snow blower on site, I got rid of my snow
scoop and haven't shoveled since.
That is, until last Friday.
Our landlords decided to make a much-deserved three week
cruise to the Caribbean, and when Loraine woke up Friday to
go to work she noticed that entrance to our driveway was
plowed in. And since no on else seemed to have the time to
dig it out, I got up and went to work. Believe it or not, I
actually enjoyed it, although it took a long time—an hour
and a half—because our driveway is quite a bit bigger than
the ones we've had at previous houses. At the end of it,
though, I was able to look at a vast expanse of land that I
had cleared by hand, and felt happy.
It was actually one of those rare times when I felt like a
“guy”. Just don't tell anyone about it, okay? It'll be our
I was sitting in my office that afternoon when I went to
stretch and noticed that a few muscles in my back were a
little sore, and it was then that I kind of had an inkling
that my first attempt at shoveling in eight years might've
exacted a small toll on my body. Now, it's not like I'm out
of shape—in fact, I'd like to think that I'm in very good
shape, especially for (snort) someone my age. But shoveling
uses a few different muscles than I usually put to use
during my regular workout routines. In fact, it wouldn't
surprise me if there was a muscle or two in there that
hasn't been used since the last time I shoveled. And those
are the muscles I noticed when I did that stretch.
Saturday, when I woke up to go running, I REALLY knew that
I'd had a workout. Aside from my back my arms were a little
stiff, my legs were groaning (assuming, of course, a
non-mouth body part can “groan”), and even one of my feet
was sore. Not both my feet, but just one, the right one,
which is apparently the wimpier of the two. Things loosened
up after I ran for a bit, but throughout the day I could
still tell that my body was getting its revenge. I didn't
mind; at least this time I knew what was causing my aches
and pains, as opposed to the times when they pop up for
unknown reasons. But still my body was getting its revenge.
And I was fine with that.
I have no idea if I'll be shoveling again before my
landlords return. But seeing as how it IS January in Upper
Michigan, I have an inkling that I may need to move snow
once or twice more before they return. I'm cool with that,
and I have the feeling that, as it gets used to doing it
again after eight years, my body will be cool with that.
But I tell you what—keep your fingers crossed, just the
same. After all, with me, you never, never know!
I hope it gets here soon.
There are very few things that I have wished for in life
other than health and happiness for my loved ones and for
peace on Earth. I'm one for two so far; maybe some day I'll
get lucky on the second, as well. But for me I really don't
actively want for things, especially material things.
Therefore, on that rare occasion when something pops up that
I really DO want, it becomes a big deal.
And when it gets delayed, it then becomes a really REALLY
One of the few material things I ever wanted was released to
the general public in time for the holidays, and that's a
complete series DVD collection of one of my favorite TV
shows of all time, “WKKP in Cincinnati”. Because of some
really complicated issues involving all the music used in
the show, the complete series has never been released. The
first season was, with most of the music taken out, but
nothing ever happened beyond that. However, this fall,
Shout Factory released the whole series, with most of the
music and all of the scenes cut because of the music they
contained intact. For someone like me it's the holy grail
of releases, and one of those few material items to which
I've looked forward.
So guess what's on back order??
Yup, I ordered it before Christmas, thinking it would be a
very nice holiday gift for myself. And I'm sure it will be;
at least I'm sure it will be when it gets here. But it
hasn't arrived yet. I guess there are a lot of people like
me out there, and we all ordered the series at once. So
every day when the mail carrier shows up at work I stick my
head out in the lobby, probably looking very much like a
puppy awaiting its human, but so far...
Nothing. Nada, zip, zilch.
When it does show up I'm sure I'll probably go just slightly
insane, just because of the fact that I'll actually be able
to hold the holy grail in my hands. It's not like I'll sit
down and watch all 90 episodes at once. Although, come to
think of it, that WOULD be an interesting way to spend a
weekend, wouldn't it? Nope; I'll just be happy to know that
I have it, and any time I want I can view an episode or two
the way I haven't since they first aired 30 years
ago—unedited, the way they first shown on TV, the way the
producers intended them to be.
So for now, I wait. I've always joked that one of my
greatest strengths is the fact that I have almost unlimited
patience. This may drive Loraine crazy on occasion, but
it's an ability I have. Unfortunately, it's an ability that
being stretched to the limit at the moment. Oh, don't
worry. I'll be fine. It's just that until it arrives I'll
have to keep up my impression of that little puppy, and I
hope it 's something not a lot of people see. After all, I
DO need to keep a little shred of dignity in my life,
Oh, who am I kidding, right? Let's just hope the DVDs get
Have yourself a great weekend!
Wow. It is STILL butt-numbingly cold!!
Admittedly, it's not quite as cold as it was yesterday
(temperatures are actually forecast above zero today), but
it's still a joy to be here. Really, it is. And I feel for
people who live away from Lake Superior, where it was
apparently even colder than here in the city. It looks as
if—finally--we get a break this weekend, and temps should be
in the 20s by next week.
This week has been like the evil twin, weather-wise, of one
of those balmy stretches of 80 degree days in July. No, the
cold hasn’t driven me over the edge, at least not yet. Just
think about it--if July is the summer equivalent of January
(both are months following the change of seasons), then I
guess this week is the ying to a nice July week’s yang. But
at least when it’s 80 or 90 degrees you can still venture
outside without worrying about losing a body part or two,
and at least when it’s 80 or 90 degrees out you don’t have
to spend close to an hour putting on enough clothing just to
venture outside to then worry about losing those
aforementioned body parts.
Given a choice between good twin and evil twin, and at least
when it comes to weather, I’ll take the good twin every
So with that in mind, here’s a picture taken on a 80+ degree
July day last year.
Six more months. . .six more months. . .six more months!!
Finally, I know we have several people in France who read
this on a daily basis, so in light of the horrific shooting
in Paris yesterday--
You have our thoughts and best wishes.
If, when everything thaws this Spring, you happen to see a
right ear and part of a lower lip lying somewhere on the
street, would you please pick them up?
They're probably mine.
I can't believe how cold it was when I went out running this
morning. Of course, I can't believe that I actually went
out running this morning in a windchill of about 150 below,
but I did. In a concession to the weather I did actually
wear long pants (several layers of long pants, in fact), but
I did go out running. Call me crazy, if you'd like. You
wouldn't be the first person to do so.
The cold has also forced the cancellation of my TV job, at
least for today. So many schools have closed every single
day this week that it didn't make sense for half the teams
taking part in the taping for “High School Bowl” to show up
and the other half not to. Because of that, I won't be
taping today. I'll probably get to do four shows next week
instead of two.
And that got me to thinking. I really do not wanna sound
like one of those people who start off every sentence with
the phrase “Back when I was a kid”, but (ahem) back when I
was a kid, I don't remember having school canceled because
of bitter cold, especially having some schools closed three
days in a row (and counting) because of bitter cold. I
remember being at school on days when the air is frigid and
the wind chills were extreme. In all honesty, I don't
recall if the conditions were as harsh as they are now, but
it seems to me like they were, and yet I was still in
Now, though? Not so much.
I realize that there are legitimate (and very good) excuses
for keeping schools closed for most of a week (and counting)
because of the cold. I mean, the fact that seem to have
lost two parts of my body while out running today is
basically the best reason for closing schools. Still,
though, it just seems (at least to me) that they close and
cancel things quite a bit more than they did (ahem) back
when I was a kid. I don't know if it's true, I don't know
if my perceptions are just askew. But all through my
life—when I was a kid, and now that I'm what passes for an
adult—I just seem to think that many more things went on as
normal despite the bad weather.
Like I said, I don't know if that's actually the case or if
my perceptions have been warped by whatever's been warping
my brain since I was young. But I tend to think that it
might actually be the case. After all, if I'm stupid enough
to go out running on a day so cold that you lose body parts,
I must've picked up the habit somewhere, right? There must
be something in my brain that tells me it's okay to go out
on a day when the wind chill's around 150 below.
Well, it's just a thought. Hopefully, some day soon, kids
will get to go back to school, TV shows will return to their
normal taping schedules, and I'll be able to run without
losing parts of my face. After all, with only one ear and
no more than one and half lips left, I'm rapidly running out
of body parts left to fall off.
I don't even wanna think about what happened one year ago
this past Saturday.
A windy snowstorm moved in on January 3 rd, 2014, ushering
in a cold snap that lasted, on and off, and almost two
months. But that's not why I don't wanna think about what
happened a year ago this past Saturday. Nope; the reason I
don't wanna think about what happened a year ago this past
Saturday is what occurred at 9:03 pm, most likely caused by
the wind and the snow and the cold, although, in all
honesty, we may never know the exact cause.
What happened at 9:03 pm one year ago this past Saturday?
That's when our antenna array blew up, ushering in a five
month period of us being, well, not much of a radio station.
Those of you who tried to listen on the air or who read my
daily bouts of whining about the situation know that it was
not fun. Something happened 600 feet above the ground that
caused metal to melt and things to fall apart. Instead of
our usual 100,000 watts of power, we were broadcasting at
100 watts—and that's if we were lucky. Because of the
extreme cold the first three months of the year, our
engineers couldn't climb up on the tower to find out what
was wrong. And on the days that they could climb, they had
to trace every single inch of feed line, radomes, and
antenna couplings to try and find out what the problem was.
Once they found all of the problems (and there were multiple
problems) we then had to order a whole new antenna array,
wait for it to be built, wait for it to be delivered, and
then wait for the winds to die down enough for the engineers
to haul it up 600 feet
above the ground, install it, plug it in, and hope that it
All that was done, and we were finally back up and running
at full power on June 3rd, five months to the day after
storm that started the whole thing.
It was not a five months that I'd recommend anyone go
through. It's certainly a five months that I never want to
have to experience again. It was bad enough not being able
to do what we usually do and have everyone listen who
usually listens. The worst part of it was the not
knowing—the now knowing what the problem was, and the not
knowing when it would be fixed. It was okay the first few
weeks; we figured the weather would break soon and we'd get
things fixed. But as the weeks stretched into months and as
we were all of a sudden looking the the real possibility
that a half a year would pass before things returned to
normal; well, that's when the absurdity of the situation hit
Thankfully, though, things DID return to normal. We found
out what the problem was, we had a new system built, and on
the afternoon of June 3rd a button was pushed and our long
national nightmare was over. If anything good comes out of
a situation like this it's what happened after we returned
to full power, and had people from all across the U.P. tell
us how much they missed us and how glad they were that we
were back. It was nice to know we were missed. And trust
me—we missed each and every person who couldn't hear as much
as they missed us!
In the seven months (and three days) since life returned to
normal there hasn't been a day when I haven't been thankful
for the fact that it is normal. It's amazing what you can
take for granted, and it's something that I promise never to
do again. Hopefully, though, we won't ever have to go
through that again.
After all, five months is more than enough.
MONDAY, 1 /5: No
blog, 'cuz I'm off Today.
FRIDAY, 1 /2:
It's been a fun 27 years. Good luck, Dennis.
Hope you guys had a good New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.
My New Year's Eve was as hectic as it usually is, what with
broadcasting from the ball drop and spending time with 4,000
of my closest drunk friends, this time in freezing
temperatures. And for one final time, I was also there with
the individual who, for a big chunk of this century, was my
standing “date” for the New Year--
From the time we moved the station to Marquette—2002--and I
started broadcasting from the ball drop, Dennis helped.
Even for a couple of years after he left the station and
joined 8-18 Media, he would stop by and ring in the New
Year. That's why it was nice he did so again Wednesday,
especially because it'll be our last New Year's Eve
together. Dennis, you see, is moving to Florida on Monday.
It was actually 27 years ago today that Dennis & I first met
. I had just moved back to Marquette from Flint and started
the job (not this one) that brought me back here. I was not
the only new employee at that station; Dennis, who was still
in college at the time, also started that same day, and
that's when our friendship began. On and off for the next
19 and a half years we would be working together, sometimes
in the same office, sometimes right across the hall from
each other. And even since he left to join 8-18 Media we've
still been working “together”, as we're one of the stations
airing the young people's reports.
That's why I was glad the two of us were able to spend a
little time together before he left. We didn't know if it
was gonna happen; we were having trouble getting our
schedules to match up. So when he suggested that he pop
down for the ball drop; well, let's just say that it fits.
It fitted quite well, in fact.
If you're curious, the next step in Dennis' life should be
quite interesting. He and his wife Joanne are literally
building a new life in Florida by purchasing what could be
charitably called a “fixer-upper” and trying to get it,
well, fixed-up. I have no doubt they'll succeed; after all,
they did the same thing with their home here in Marquette,
and that project turned out quite well. This time, though,
they're blogging while they're doing it,
so check it out if you have
Assuming he gets his U-Haul trailer Dennis is leaving the
cold Monday, so keep your fingers crossed that he gets his
trailer and has a safe trip down. After all, he has quite
the project ahead of him. And on a personal note, thanks
for hanging around for those 27 years, Dennis. Even though
you're just a computer keyboard away, you will be missed.
Speaking of Monday, things did work out, and that means I
get a three-day weekend! I'll be back Tuesday, so make sure
you have yourself a great weekend, even if it isn't three
Then afterward I have to join my three dear nieces in a
super-secret multimedia project, details of which I can NOT
divulge, if only because it's the holiday season and someone
will be seeing the end results of the project on Christmas.
So that's OUR weekend. I hope yours is just a little less
hectic but just as much fun!
By the way, I had several of you write and ask why I didn't
mention it was my birthday yesterday. I didn't think it was
that big of a deal. All I did was survive another year of
living. My only hope is that the next year isn't quite
as...weird as the previous year, what with dead transmitters
and bitter cold for months on end and gall bladders on the
fritz and whatever the heck else happened (that I've
mercifully blocked out of my memory).
And that's why I didn't write about it yesterday. But for
those of you who knew and who wrote to wish me a happy
birthday, thanks. I appreciate it!
Now, I'm off to do TV, so then Loraine can go and do her
TV. And yup—that's a sentence I never thought I would
Okay, I think
Laura can stop thinking I'm
Several times, my favorite radio meteorologist and I have
been discussing my outdoor recreation habits, and she has
thought them weird. Well, actually, she finds one more
painful than weird, and can't quite understand why I keep
doing it. I've tried to explain to her that by doing it
during the summer I'm actually getting ready to do something
related in the winter, but she still thinks it's either
masochistic or weird.
But now I can say that it has paid off.
The activity Laura thinks is so masochistic and/or weird is
how I will run on the beach during the summer. For some
reason, she seems to think it's painful, but I would have to
respectfully disagree with her on that. After all, when
it's warm out, why WOULDN'T I run on the beach a little? I
mean, c'mon—it's the beach. It's the place where I would
live year-round if I could. So why wouldn't I run on it?
Actually, I have an idea why she thinks it's a bit
masochistic. Even I will admit that it's hard running on a
beach. It's not like running on a smooth surface; you
definitely have to work harder, and you definitely end up
hurting a lot more than you would during a “normal” run.
But that's a good thing for two reasons. One, by having to
work that much harder, you torch a LOT more calories than
you would during a “normal” run. And isn't that why most
people run in the first place? And since running on sand is
a whole lot different than running on pavement, you develop
different muscles. That's a good thing, too.
The second reason is something that a lot of people wouldn't
even think of, but at least for me, it may be more important
than the calories you burn while running on the beach. You
see, once the snow falls and you go out running, you often
find yourself trudging through a quagmire of snow, sometimes
mushy, and as well as all the sand thrown down by road
crews. You may think I'm weird for running on a beach
during summer, but you know what?
It gets me in shape for running on city streets during the
Yes, I'm actually a rather serious about this. If you've
ever tried to run down a city street in December or
January—heck, if you're ever tried to even walk down a city
street in December or January—you know that it can be a lot
like walking on a beach, or at least walking on a beach
minus the sun and the heat and the water and all the things
that make walking on a beach so much fun. The composition
of the crap on a Marquette city street in the middle of
winter is very similar to what you find on a beach. You
find sand mixed with water on a beach, right? Well, what do
you find on a city street in the middle of winter? You find
water mixed with sand. Maybe it's not the exact same
proportions, and it may be 60 or 70 degrees cooler, but it's
pretty much the same stuff you run on on a beach.
I rest my case.
So, Laura, the next time you think me weird or masochistic
for running on a beach, remember two things. Remember that
I'm running on one of the most beautiful cold water beaches
on the planet. And also remember that the four or five
months I run on a beach is getting me ready for the seven or
eight months that I may have to run on snowy Marquette city
streets. You see, there IS a method to my madness!
Although it may not appear to be a match made in heaven, I
actually kind of like going to Big Lots.
I know; I'm just as shocked as you. I usually don't spend a
lot of time going to discount stores. However, once or
twice a year, I find myself going to the Big Lots store in
Marquette, and walking out with a bag full of stuff that I
didn't intend on buying. Why, you ask? Well, I answer,
it's all the fault of their international foods shelf.
Darn them, anyway!
I find it very interesting that a store like Big Lots has
one of the best collection of weird foods from around the
world. The image people have of the store and the foods
they carry do not go together like pears and carrots. Peas
& baklava, maybe, but definitely not peas & carrots. Yet
you can go into the store and, if you're like me this past
weekend, walk out with jam from Turkey, pasta from Italy,
chocolate from Germany, and cookies from Poland, among other
things. Of course, the sad thing is that I didn't NEED to
walk out of the store with all that food, but let's face
it—how often do you get to walk out of a store with jam from
Turkey, pasta from Italy, chocolate from Germany, and
cookies from Poland?
Not that often, at least from one single store.
That's what I find kind of amazing about Big Lots' foreign
foods selection. All throughout the store you see a large
collection of off-brand merchandise, everything from picture
frames to, I dunno, rubber gloves. But not in the foreign
foods section. Everything I bought Saturday was from a big
and/or gourmet label in its respective country. In fact,
the Polish cookies were from the same chocolate company that
produced one of, if not the best, cherry laced chocolate bar
I've ever tasted--
Now, they just need to start stocking the chocolate bar
pictured above, and we'll be all set!
So if you ever find yourself curious about any of the above
foods, or, say, honey from Macedonia, cake mix from Ecuador,
or canned shrimp straight from Thailand, you know where to
go. It might not be the first place you think of for weird
food from around the world, and from the outside it may not
look like the place to go for pancake mix from Latvia, but
trust me—it's a great place to go in, look around, and see
what you can come out with.
And if you're like me, you come out with something you never
expected to find!
I wonder—does anyone even remember Melvin the Christmas Elf?
We're in the middle of our “25 Days of Christmas” contest on
the air, a contest where we give away a gift certificate to
a local business each and every day. I'm the one who
actually calls the winner and lets them know they've won,
and I do so by shouting out “ho ho ho” in an elf-like voice.
Specifically, the voice of Melvin the Christmas Elf.
Now, if you have no idea as to who or what Melvin the
Christmas Elf is, don't worry. The vast majority of people
on the planet have no idea who Melvin the Christmas Elf is,
or even WHAT Melvin the Christmas Elf was. In fact, I may
be the only person on the planet who knows about Melvin, if
only because I created him for the first version of this “25
Days” contest, which was, if I remember, 22 or 23 years ago.
That's who Melvin is.
If I remember correctly (and since it was 22 or 23 years
ago, my memory may be, well, foggy) I created Melvin because
people were supposed to call in and qualify when they heard
him. I don't know why we did it that way; we just did. And
he was named Melvin after one of our part-time workers at
the time, who just happened to me by sister Melanie.
Melanie, Melvin. Get it?
Anyway, as the contest evolved, the use of Melvin, both in
name and in voice, slowly disappeared. Yet every year we've
done the “25 Days” contest I've used the voice when calling
the winners. I don't know why. I just have. I don't know
if it's tradition or laziness on my part or what, but every
time a winner in our “25 Days” contest is contacted, they're
met with Melvin's greeting, even if they have no idea who
So if YOU happen to qualify some time before December 23rd,
and you happen to find your name drawn as the winner, you'll
receive a call from me. And sometime in our conversation,
you'll be given a “ho ho ho” in a very strange voice.
You'll probably think I'm having a seizure, or something.
But I'm not. I'm just carrying on a holiday tradition that
has been part of Upper Michigan radio for over twenty years
Even if I'm the only one who knows about it.